by Joni Astrup
A Rogers woman has written a children’s book about autism.
Barbara Paschke is the author of “I Am Nathan … I Have Autism,” which is about her grandson, Nathan.
Autism affects one in 68 children in the United States, said Paschke, who spoke Tuesday at the Elk River Activity Center.
Nathan is 11 years old and in fifth grade now. Paschke described him as very intelligent and artistic. He is good at drawing and at mechanical things.
“He does read some. He does talk up a storm now. It took him a long time before he could talk,” she said.
Nathan has an assistance dog named Sinbad from Can Do Canines in New Hope. Nathan has been known to wander away from home and the dog has been trained to deal with that. Paschke said Sinbad sleeps in Nathan’s room at night and is tethered to Nathan when they are out in the community. If Nathan wanders, the dog will sit and stay to keep him from walking away. Sinbad also is trained to alert someone if Nathan has a seizure.
“He has given us a lot of comfort,” Paschke said of the dog.
Both Sinbad and Nathan’s older sister, Madeline, are also featured in Paschke’s book. Paschke said Madeline is “incredibly caring” with her little brother.
Paschke encourages people to be supportive of families with children who have autism.
“Help these families. Become their friend. Take care of the children when you can. Maybe go mow the lawn for them. Pull the weeds. Run errands. Take a dinner over once in awhile,” she advised.
The divorce rate is higher among parents of children with autism and support can help, she said.
“We can’t change the autism, but what we can change is the divorce rate,” she said.
Paschke hopes her book will be out the end of April or in early May.
She began writing for personal pleasure in 1972 and became serious about writing children’s stories in 2000. She was first published in “The Catholic Spirit” as well as Kindle in 2011.
Paschke had landed a contract for her autism book with a small publishing company, but the publisher backed out a week before her book was to be published.
She is now publishing the book under her own banner called Nathan’s Stories.
“I Am Nathan … I Have Autism” is illustrated by Julie Henderson. The book includes a testimonial from Kari Dunn Buron, an autism education specialist and author.
The book costs $9.99 plus tax. To order, contact Paschke at 763-428-4955 or email [email protected]