Review: Dogs and Autism

A short while ago, Future Horizons put out a set of new release to add to its collection. One of those books is Autism & Dogs by Dr. Annie Bowes. To give you more background, Bowes is a woman living on the autism spectrum who was diagnosed later in life. She currently works as an emergency veterinarian and lives in Idaho with her husband and her dogs. She picked up her passion while being raised by a father who fostered her connection with her dogs.

In her book, Bowes discusses her autistic brain and her veterinary career expertise. She covers everything from selecting the right breed to dogs in mythology. She often talks about not being much of a social person and how she isn’t bothered with the idea of making friends; she would rather spend time with her dogs. Of these dogs, she describes her toy poodle, Bazinga, who often has her fur dyed different colors. She makes the mention of going out in public with her little dog who helps her socialize with other people. Additionally, she talks about how she never socialized as a little girl; she was home schooled and instead traveled around the world, receiving acceptance from her autistic father and spending time with her canine companion.

All in all, this Bowes not only is able to reach the autism community, but people who are interested in owning a dog. Beyond that, her book could educate those in the community who are unfamiliar with autism and the spectrum in general. Yet, I had expected Bowes to write the book in the form of an instruction manual where one could train a dog to work with autistics. I also expected to see more research related to autism and dogs. Still, this was a great read and it was wonderful to see someone take their passion and turn it into a career.

My Special Brother Bo

Currently, I just read the newest release of the children’s book “My Special Brother Bo,” which was written by Britt Collins with illustrations by Brittany Lynn Bone-Roth. While Collins has a background in occupational therapy post receiving her education from Colorado State University, Bone-Roth has a background in art. The pair both have their share of experience working with very young autistic children in addition to other types of special needs. A short time ago, they paired up to create and publish this newest book that will be available through Future Horizons. It can be picked up at various autism conferences or online.

The story is told from the the point of view of a seven-year-old girl named Lucy who is the older sibling her pre-school-aged brother, Bo. While Lucy appears to have a normal childhood, she explains that her brother has special needs. Though Lucy does not directly mention that he is autistic, she implies that this is the case. One such instance is that Bo was enrolled in an early intervention where he was taught to speak and eat in a special gym. Lucy describes some of her frustrations of living with an autistic brother and not being able to do specific activities with her brother because he is scared of them, such riding on the swings. She also discusses feeling ashamed of inviting her friends over in the fear that Bo might not be accepted. Lucy also goes on to talk about how she loves her brother and feels proud to be his big sister, and to help him learn new things and succeed.

As a reader, I really felt that this book should be in elementary and daycare settings so that children can learn more about autism spectrum disorders, autism awareness, and autism acceptance in mainstream settings. At the same time, there should be more than one book and preferably describing what autism is. Not only that, there should be books similar to the one written above written by real children who have siblings on the spectrum with the help of their parents. That way, children will better be able to understand what it’s like to live with an autistic or neurodiverse sibling.

References

Bone- Roth, B.L. (Illustrator). (2019). My Special Brother Bo. [Illustration]. My Special Brother B. Arlington, TX: Future Horizon’s Books.

Collin, B. E. (2019). My Special Brother Bo.   Arlington, TX: Future Horizon’s Books.