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Nathan Blows Out the Hanukkah Candles Paperback – September 1, 2011
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That night they would light the first candle of Hanukkah with the "shamash, the helper candle," but that afternoon there was something else that was as exciting. A new boy named Steven moved in next door. They played together until Jacob's Dad came home with their Hanukkah desert, a box of jelly doughnuts. The family gathered around the menorah and the first candle was lit. After the blessings were said and everyone sang "ma'oz Tzur" Nathan leaned forward, took a deep breath and BLEW out the candles! Jacob was very angry, but Mom and Dad gently put their hands on Nathan's shoulders while Dad said, "Hanukkah candles are not like birthday candles. We don't blow them out." The next night the when Steven and his family came over Jacob just knew there was going to be trouble when his Mom invited them to stay and light the menorah. Would Nathan blow out the candles again? Would Steven still want to be his friend when he found out that Nathan was autistic?Read more ›
As a Jewish mother of four boys, two of whom are on the autism spectrum, I found no valuable message within this story. There is no coming together of the family around the challenges of autism, there is only a pat resolution of a social crisis where the neurotypical child is helped to feel less marginalized by his brother's odd behaviors.
My children who are on the spectrum are wonderful individuals who really add to our holiday experiences. Their siblings who do not share their diagnosis love and appreciate them. They also understand them and their quirks.
I think a children's book about autism from a Jewish perspective should provide a positive vision of differences where neurotypical kids interact with and grow with their friends or siblings who have neurological differences. This is especially the case as more and more families and friends experience close encounters with autism. The diagnosis is only becoming more prevalent over time.
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