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Writer chooses autism-friendly Port aux Basques to launch book

Author and registered psychologist Florence Strang with her son, Ben.
Author and registered psychologist Florence Strang with her son, Ben. - Contributed

Florence Strang’s latest project aims to help children

After reading Florence Strang’s book, Calm the F**k Down – A day in the life of an autism Mom, Autism Involves Me (AIM) co-founder Joan Chaisson knew she had to invite the author to visit Port aux Basques.

“Her book is fantastic. It’s a picture book for adults,” Joan told the Gulf News. “Except for the title you’d think it would be for children.”

The book depicts a typical day for a mother of a child with autism. While she works to keep her son calm due to unexpected changes in his routine, she finally loses her temper with a librarian who believes the boy is an undisciplined, misbehaving child throwing a tantrum.

Beneath the colourful pictures are accompanying facts about autism.

One of the more striking tidbits cites a 2009 study by the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, which revealed that chronic stress in parents of children with autism is on par with that of combat soldiers.

Strang’s book reveals that while autism awareness may be growing, that doesn’t necessarily mean there is more autism awareness and autism acceptance when it comes to routine public interactions.

Chaisson wholeheartedly agrees with Strang’s assessment.

“You’ve got all these little whispers,” says Chaisson, who works closely with children on the spectrum, often taking them out in public to perform routine tasks like purchasing a treat at a convenience store. “That’s why it’s such a good book for training purposes.”

When Strang visits she will discuss her experiences as an autism parent, but will also launch her new book call The Mindful Turtle, a children’s book designed to teach coping skills to children. She’ll even be bringing along her pet turtle, Malcolm.

“We know we have a huge number of children in Port aux Basques that are diagnosed with anxiety,” confirms Chaisson. “Anxiety and autism go hand in hand.”

Chaisson says while Port aux Basques is now recognized as an autism friendly town, there is still more work to be done to further acceptance.

She mentions a recent incident disclosed by the parent of a child who had a meltdown, where one onlooker remarked to another about ‘poor parenting skills.’

Chaisson says that’s why their group feel it’s important to bring in people like Strang, to help the public understand more about autism.

 Strang, who is a registered psychologist and cancer survivor, has a son, Ben, who is on the autism spectrum.

Before fundraising the $800 to bring Strang to Port aux Basques, Chaisson fully disclosed her intentions to potential sponsors.

The Mindful Turtle is set to launch on Saturday, Oct. 20 starting at 11 am at the Port aux Basques library and is open to the public.

“Being the mom of a child with autism, I can think of no better place than Port aux Basques, the most autism friendly town in Canada, to launch my new book,” wrote Strang in a press release. “While it was written for all children, to help them develop coping skills, I think it will have a special appeal to children with autism, ADHD and anxiety disorders.”

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