Kerfe's Reviews > With the Light: Raising an Autistic Child

With the Light by Keiko Tobe
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Feb 18, 11

bookshelves: graphic-novel, fiction
Read in February, 2011

The graphic novel format works well as the reader is gradually immersed frame by frame in the realization and acceptance of Hikaru Azuma's autism. The diagnosis is resisted by the Azuma family, but acceptance brings help, relief, and a strength they did not know they had.

As they navigate social situations and the already competitve and difficult Japanese education system, the reader learns both about autism and how an autistic child can be accomodated and even integrated into the larger world. As one early childhood teacher remarks, she learned from watching Hikaru that all her students can benefit from some of the methods used to ease his discomfort with the chaos of life, such as explaining clearly what is going to happen before it occurs.

Especially when Hikaru is very young, his mother, Sachiko, is often the target of cutting remarks. All parents have experienced a similar judgemental attitude about their parenting skills when a child does not exhibit perfect behavior--and of course in the case of an autistic child there are so many potential problems to navigate. But in a larger context, all children have their difficult moments, parts of their interaction with the world that just don't fit into the increasingly narrow and often not age-appropriate sprectrum of what is expected of them. "With the Light" is another reminder that all would benfit from thoughtful and patient help with these difficulties--and that sometimes it's the adults who need to modify their behavior, not the child.

"Hikaru's life is like rays of light shining in and out during a storm...," says Sachiko. "Is every one the same? No they're not. But that's why the world is wonderful."

A good story, absorbing, well-told, with expressive illustrations and some moving and insightful text.

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