Tuesday 9 February 2016

Beautiful Belle has a point about books for autistic kids

Girl reading Beauty and the Beast

It's not uncommon for Disney characters to appear to have the odd autistic trait. The little mermaid was obsessed with the human world and Rex from Toy Story doesn't like change for example. But maybe the most common similarity is characters who aren't understood by others, like Belle.

Belle from Disney's Beauty and the Beast is perceived by most of the characters in the movie as odd.  Indeed, the opening song is a scene in which she is reading a book around a town where the rest it's population declare her as a girl who is 'different from the rest of us'.

She is sensitive to smell, has difficulty making friends in her village and seems to miss some obvious social cues.  She seems to be declared odd because she likes reading and she uses this as her imaginative outlet, and this is a great point.

Many autistic children have difficulty using their imagination. Anthony our eldest has come along way, and his imagination can now run circles around mine in the right circumstance. David on the other hand needs a lot of help. One of the ways he may access this is through books. He loves them, not a birthday goes by without more books. There is an enormous basket of them in his bedroom. 

Books are great because they can give you a starter for your imagination. You don't have to think or imagine everything, you are given most of what to imagine you just need to let it take shape. Kids books in particular are full of pictures and simple plots that make this easier. 

There is also security in imagining through books. The plot of the book is the same everytime you read or look at it.  The pictures and pages are the same so as a reader you don't have to worry about the unexpected.   You can also get books in a series.  David particularly likes these, they again appeal to an autistics persons desire order and routine but they also allow him to see different ideas in a familiar format. 

As I'm watching the end of Beauty and the Beast with Jane snuggled into me, I'm thrilled to see that the Prince and Belle are finally accepted for who they are and live happily ever after... with their enormous library of books.   Then we go off to read the book.

What do books mean to your kids?


  1. I love books and although I wish my boys did they aren't really readers. My big lad likes reading Donald Duck graphic novels. We have loads of picture books and I read most nights with the little man and we have a great library. I wish they had more interest and would choose to read for pleasure. Interesting the Disney characters being 'different' i'd never throught of it like that before. TY for linking up with #FamilyFun 🌸

    1. Well after that was inside-out I suppose.

      Jane and I look at books with lots of pictures, I often ignore the story completely and make something very short up for each page based on the pics instead. It's so short she can re-tell the story and that's fun for her too. Thanks again.

  2. My daughter is 15 months old and LOVES books. She now opens them and babbles away as if she is reading. This fills me with immense happiness as I think it's the only trait she has inherited from me. She looks and behaves exactly like her dad, but when she reads I see a tiny bit of me in her...For me, books teach me how to empathise with others and they open my eyes to other worlds. I really hope that they do the same for my daughter. It makes me happy that your boys seem to get so much out of their reading. Long may it continue!

  3. My son loves reading. Like me, he's learned to read young and is well ahead at school. He always has at least five on his bed at night - like me lol. When it comes to imagination, I know autistic kids who have it in abundance but it's different to how neurotypical children's imagination. I love my books, always have and I've noticed that my son gets involved with the characters as I always do. Think Never Ending Story..Books can give the autistic child an outlet and it's escapism from an overwhelming world especially if they can connect with the characters. Lovely post. #SpectrumSunday

  4. I wish my boys enjoyed books more, I was a total bookworm at school and would often be found sat on the wall at playtime with a book in my hand, so I'd really love to spend time with the boys reading but they just aren't into it at the moment! Hopefully one day! Thanks for joining me on #spectrumsunday lovely, I look forward to this weeks link up! xx ps I think there are a lot of Disney characters that show signs of autism if I am honest...a post for another day perhaps xx


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