Maria and Me: A father, a daughter (and Autism) ISBN: 9781785923814
Published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2017
This unique, comic-style book by an award-winning Spanish illustrator and his autistic daughter will be of most use to families with autistic siblings. They will recognise the problems dad faces when travelling with his 12 year old daughter and enjoy the often funny situations. They will also recognise the great love shared between these two people. We are told at the beginning that Maria has 'an infectious smile and a great sense of humor'. She also has regular meltdowns when upset, and the trauma of getting on a plane with her when she is rushed and unsure of what is happening is all too real. The flight from Barcelona to Gran Canaria is three hours long, but on arrival they very much enjoy the big resort they are booked into. Dad can drink all day, and they go to the beach where Maria loves to sift sand through her fingers for hours on end. She loves lists too and has a remarkable memory for names. She can spend lots of time listing people they have met at various occasions and sometimes remembers people her dad has forgotten. Her speech is erratic with few words, but she gets her point over. Dad is immensely proud of her and hates it when people give her funny looks. They love swimming in the warm resort pool and eating lots of interesting food, and when people get to know Maria, they find her enchanting in spite of her unique ways. The illustrations in this story are unique too. Miguel Gallardo has a wonderful way of getting people's expressions and personalities with just a few lines, and his drawings are so expressive of life with his daughter. Splashes of red add to the dynamics of the story. Maria keeps all the pictures he has drawn for her - family and friends - and these are a good way for her to think about them and remember happy times. A beautifully produced hardback, this book will give lots of pleasure to families coping with the sometime difficulties of living with autism. Not just for children, but for adults too! Available from Amazon, from good book shops, and from the publisher: www.jkp.com.