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Autistic Anxiety

Sherley L. Mondesir
Sherley L. Mondesir
This newsletter is called Autism Empathy. It connects parents, teachers, therapists, caregivers with the autistic community. Autistic people have a lot to say, especially about their childhoods. So, let’s listen! I will focus on a specific topic every month. This monthly published newsletter includes:
·        a Bible verse or passage that teaches us to have empathy for each other,
·        my topic-focused report on insightful blogs by autistic individuals,
·        my review of a children’s book that portrays neurodiversity,
·        a quote that inspires us to have empathy for autistic individuals. 

My name is Sherley L. Mondesir. They are Eden (right) & Jonah (left), and I’m their mom. Jonah is autistic. I’m gaining insight into autism by learning from autistic people. I’m glad to share my knowledge with you.
My name is Sherley L. Mondesir. They are Eden (right) & Jonah (left), and I’m their mom. Jonah is autistic. I’m gaining insight into autism by learning from autistic people. I’m glad to share my knowledge with you.
This month’s topic
Autistic anxiety
*** I dedicate this month’s newsletter to Multicultural Children’s Book Day (1/28/2022) because it celebrates diversity, including neurodiversity. #ReadYourWorld ***
Bible verse relating to empathy
Galatians 6:2 NIV
Galatians 6:2 NIV
The apostle Paul wrote this verse, which is part of a letter to a church he had founded in Galatia (located in modern-day Turkey). He wrote the letter sometime around the years AD 53 and AD 54. Another way of saying this verse is “Help carry one another’s burdens, and in this way you will obey the law of Christ.” It’s telling us to have an empathetic concern for the pain, hardship, or anxiety that someone else is experiencing. By doing that, we obey the law of Christ, which is to love one another.
What I learned
This month I decided to research and report on autistic anxiety. I read a lovely children’s book titled George J. and the Miserable Monday by Sivan Hong. It’s about a neurodivergent boy having anxieties about going back to school on a Monday. We all dread Mondays because it means that the weekend is over. But this anxiety – and anxiety in general - can be more intense in autistic people.
According to the National Library of Medicine, anxiety is the feeling of fear, dread, and uneasiness. CalmClinic says that chronic anxiety is one of the most common mental health problems in the world. Lastly, the American Psychiatric Association defines anxiety attacks (panic attacks) as a sudden episode of intense fear that triggers severe physical reactions when there is no real danger or apparent cause.
Here’s what autistic adults say about anxiety:
“I am constantly in pain and discomfort. I am constantly put in situations that are not natural to me. I am constantly trying to figure out and analyze the world and my surroundings. So, yes, this makes me more anxious.” – Julia, writer of autismthoughts.
“There are so many things that cause anxiety and distress. It’s all from my years of fatigue and burnout… I’m afraid of chaos, emotions, crises, panic and anxiety.” – Sara, writer of Pebbel Art.
“I suffer from anxiety very easily. Over most things, over little things. I get very OCD. I panic quickly. I need reassurance.” – anonymous writer of Pharaohs World.
“My anxiety first started to become a problem when I was a teenager and, if I’m completely honest, I had no idea how to manage it. I was constantly on edge and anxious, especially if I was outside and away from my house, but I had no idea what I could do in that situation to help deal with the intrusive thoughts that filled my head.” – Jade Marie, writer of Jade Marie.
“Between being autistic, having depression, and having anxiety, it’s by far my anxiety that affects my daily life the most… If I’m going somewhere new, that’s a whole new anxiety, and whole new set of panic attacks.” – Dana, writer of Carry On Beautiful.
So how should we, neurotypical people, approach an anxious autistic child or adult? The answer to this question comes from Ido Kedar, an autistic self-advocate and author. He writes, “being treated with respect and kind empathy helps reduce anxiety, even in a kid everyone labels as ‘low-functioning.’” 
My prayer
My God, my King, your Son Jesus Christ is the perfect example of empathetic love. Please guide us and show us how to love and show kindness to those who carry the burden of anxiety. This is my heartfelt prayer in Jesus’ name. Amen.
(Find out what it means to carry one another’s burdens: https://www.gotquestions.org/bear-one-anothers-burdens.html)
My review of a children’s book that portrays neurodiversity - a book that I truly enjoy reading
George J. and the Miserable Monday
Author and illustrator: Sivan Hong
One of the reasons I enjoyed reading this book is that it portrays neurodiversity. It is a 26-page illustrated children’s book that is written from the perspective of a young, neurodivergent child. The main character George J. is also the narrator. The lighthearted story is cleverly written as if George J. is having a conversation with us. He is talking directly to us, which makes me feel as if I’m his friend and he’s opening up to me about his anxiety.
As a reader, I can feel the love and support that surrounds George J. as he faces anxieties about going back to school on a Monday. Neurodivergent children will relate to the type of worries George J. feels about Mondays. Neurotypical children will understand and empathize with him.
The illustration is bright, charming and straightforward. A child will easily understand it and follow it along with the story. The vivid colors caught my eyes right away, and they will certainly catch a child’s attention.
This story will absolutely inspire children to help a friend or classmate who is having a miserable day.
But did George J. get through his miserable Monday? Read the book to find out!
My interview with the author, Sivan Hong:
1. Who is the ideal readership for this book? Who would benefit from this book?
This book is designed for any young child (ages 4-7) with school anxiety. Particularly now, there is an increase in school anxiety/avoidance even at the elementary school level. 
George J. is part of a larger book series called the Super Fun Day Books, which focuses on neurodiverse (autism, ADHD, dyslexia, etc.) children. Many neurodiverse kid have a hard time with change and experience varying levels of school anxiety. In addition to having neurodiverse characters, these books have deliberately simple pictures (so that the child stays focused on the story), dyslexic friendly font, and are all available as audiobooks (to be accessible for different types of learners). They are also structured based on “social stories” - with a clear list of child centered concerns and then the overcoming of a challenge. I find that most kids this age, and particularly neurodiverse kids, find the list structure in the books appealing. 
2. Who or what inspired you to write this story? 
In addition to raising two neurodiverse kids, I myself am neurodiverse. I found there to be very few books for this younger age group that depicted neurodiverse kids. Some of my books show kids wearing headphones, playing with fidget toys, and thriving with schedules. I love having parents tell me that their child recognizes themselves in the pages of my stories. All of my books are based on true stories with real feelings. 
3. What are you hoping a reader will learn or take away from this story? 
I am hoping that George J and the Miserable Monday open up a conversation between child and adult about feelings and concerns; children realize that their worries happen to other kids as well. With all my books, I want neurodiverse kids to have mirrors of themselves and for neurotypical kids to understand the difference they see among their peers, talk to their parents/teachers about them and accept those difference as just that, differences. 
Word scramble for kids.
Word scramble for kids.
(RIGHT-CLICK ON THE IMAGE ABOVE TO DOWNLOAD OR TO PRINT THE WORD SCRAMBLE)
Inspirational quote
“Neurodiversity isn't a diagnosis that is bestowed upon us by a doctor. It is our word to recognize that we are different, our brains are wired different.” - John Elder Robison
“Neurodiversity isn't a diagnosis that is bestowed upon us by a doctor. It is our word to recognize that we are different, our brains are wired different.” - John Elder Robison
John Elder Robison is an autistic adult. He is the Neurodiversity Scholar in Residence at the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, VA. He is the author of these books: Switched On, Raising Cubby, Look Me in the Eye, and Be Different.
Blogs by autistic individuals mentioned in my report
Pharaohs World! - aspiepat66.wordpress.com
Jade Marie (Mental Health & Autism Awareness) - jademarie.co.uk
Carry On Beautiful - carryonbeautiful.com
Ido in Autismland - idoinautismland.com
Disclaimer
This newsletter does not give medical or professional advice.
Credits
Family photo by Audra Nicole, advertising professional and photographer.
Audra Nicole Photography - audranicolephotography.com
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Autism Empathy logo (in my Twitter profile) by Kate Jones, neurodivergent artist and therapist.
Kate Jones Illustration - facebook.com/katejonesillustration
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More about Multicultural Children’s Book Day
Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2022 (1/28/22) is in its 9th year! This non-profit children’s literacy initiative was founded by Valarie Budayr and Mia Wenjen; two diverse book-loving moms who saw a need to shine the spotlight on all of the multicultural books and authors on the market while also working to get those books into the hands of young readers and educators.
MCBD’s mission is to raise awareness of the ongoing need to include kids’ books that celebrate diversity in homes and school bookshelves. Read about our Mission & History HERE.
MCBD 2022 is honored to be Supported by these Medallion Sponsors!
SUPER PLATINUM: Make A Way Media
PLATINUM: Language Lizard
MCBD 2022 is honored to be Supported by these Author Sponsors!
Charlene Mosley (official MCBD2022 Poster Creator)
Illustrator Isabelle Roxas (Class Kit Poster Creator)
MCBD 2022 is Honored to be Supported by our CoHosts and Global CoHosts!
MCBD 2022 is Honored to be Supported by these Media Partners!
Check out MCBD’s Multicultural Books for Kids Pinterest Board!
FREE RESOURCES from Multicultural Children’s Book Day
Join us on Friday, Jan 28, 2022, at 9 pm EST for the 9th annual Multicultural Children’s Book Day Twitter Party! Be sure and follow MCBD and Make A Way Media on Twitter!
This epically fun and fast-paced hour includes multicultural book discussions, addressing timely issues, diverse book recommendations, & reading ideas.
We will be giving away an 8-Book Bundle every 5 minutes plus Bonus Prizes as well! *** US and Global participants welcome. **
Follow the hashtag #ReadYourWorld to join the conversation, connect with like-minded parts, authors, publishers, educators, organizations, and librarians. See you all very soon on Twitter!
Hashtag: Don’t forget to connect with us on social media and be sure and look for/use our official hashtag #ReadYourWorld.
Don’t miss out on the other issues by Sherley L. Mondesir
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Sherley L. Mondesir
Sherley L. Mondesir @EdenAndJonah

Autism Empathy is a free newsletter that connects parents, teachers, therapists, caregivers with the autistic community. Autistic people have a lot to say, especially about their childhoods. So, let’s listen! Each published issue will focus on a specific topic. This newsletter includes:

• a Bible verse or passage that teaches us to have empathy for each other,
• my topic-focused report on insightful blogs by autistic individuals,
• my review of a children’s book that portrays neurodiversity,
• a quote that inspires us to have empathy for autistic individuals.

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