Everyone knows the story of “Goldilocks and The Three Bears.” The well-known fairytale focuses on self-awareness and respect for others. Apollo Beach author Amy Nielsen has published a one-of-a-kind retelling of the story. Neilsen’s picture book, “Goldilocks and the Three Bears: Understanding Autism Spectrum Disorder,” is an endearing retake on the story that provides an understanding of autism.

When Nielsen’s youngest of four children, Barclay, was born, she decided to leave her career as an educator and librarian to focus on raising him. At 18 months, Barclay regressed with his previously learned skills. Within a year and a half, he was diagnosed with childhood apraxia of speech, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and autism spectrum disorder.

“It was a lot in a short time for our family to absorb. But that’s what families do — you shift. For me, that shift was learning everything I could about autism, finding the most qualified providers and making sure my son never felt his diagnosis defined him,” Nielsen said.

Neilsen became passionate about autism awareness education. She created a blog and podcast to share her family’s journey, educates Barclay about his autism and teaches him to be part of the conversation in advocating for himself and educating others. She says she is most proud of her “Goldilocks” picture book.

“I wrote it as an educational tool for nonautistic children to learn about the complexities of the disorder through a familiar fairytale. But, coming from an educational background, I wanted to also give educators and parents a framework for how to take this story to the next level,” Nielson explained.

The book is an excellent classroom tool. It includes a glossary of autism terms along with easily understood definitions and discussion questions to bring a child’s understanding of the autistic traits seen in “Goldilocks” to real-world scenarios they might experience with their autistic friends.

Barclay has benefited first-hand from his mom’s book.

Last year, when he started second grade for the first time in a public school, his teacher used “Goldilocks” with his peers prior to his arrival. The students were excited to have an autistic classmate, and, for the first time, Barclay has many same-age friends.

Nielsen’s publisher, Wild Ink Publishing, is offering teachers a 20 percent discount for the month of August. Email abigail@wild-ink-publishing.com with the grade and school. Also, if any students draw pictures of “Goldilocks,” Wild Ink will include them on its website.

“Goldilocks and the Three Bears: Understanding Autism Spectrum Disorder,” second edition, was published in May and can be ordered on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. In addition, Nielsen has a media company, Mayflower Media, where she creates book trailers for authors, with which she is publishing a young adult novel, Worth It, in May 2024. To learn more about Nielson, visit https://amynielsenauthor.com.

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