While out shopping, Logan bumps into a customer. His grandma asks him to apologize, and later teaches him about good manners. When at age five, my grandson bumped into another customer while out shopping, and I asked him to apologize, he couldn't understand why, as it was obviously an accident. I told him that apologizing was having good manners, to which he questioningly replied, "Manners are...?" It was a perfect opportunity to teach him, so after we returned home, we made a list of the most important good manners together, which I later put to rhyme and included in this book, "Manners Are...?" I found that posting a Good Manners Chart, and offering a Good Manners Certificate after my grandson filled up the chart with stickers, was a great incentive and visual way to reinforce particular manners that needed focus at any given time. I have included a sample chart and certificate in the back of this book, which you can cut out, photocopy, or laminate if you wish. Once copied or laminated, you can fill in the blanks with additional manners that you would like to focus on with your child. Even with charts and positive reinforcement, learning good manners doesn't happen overnight and is a continuous process. Just the other day, at 8 years old, while my grandson was pushing the shopping cart for me at a grocery store, he energetically moved forward, shouting, "Watch out, you guys " to people in his way. I explained to him that was not the right way to ask people to pass, and that the well-mannered way to say it was, "Excuse me, sir or ma'am, may I pass, please?" He picked it up quickly, and was so pleased when someone commended him for his good manners. Of course, there are many more manners than the ones included in "Manners Are...?", but these were what my grandson needed to learn and focus on first. I hope that they can be a good start for other children with autism too, and that this book will make it just a little easier for you to teach them.
Ymkje Wideman-van der Laan is a writer, editor, and proofreader. In 2006, she assumed the care of her 6-month old grandson, Logan. There were signs of autism at an early age, and the diagnosis became official in 2009. She has been his advocate, and passionate about promoting autism awareness ever since. Logan is the inspiration behind Manners Are...? and other children's books she wrote for him. You can find out more about her and her books at www.ymkje.com and www.autism-is.com.