Book Title – Sundays with Matthew: A Young Boy with Autism and an Artist Share Their Sketchbooks
Author – Lancelle, Matthew & Lesada, Jeanette
Primary Subject – Disability Awareness
Includes information about Children’s Book: Ages 4-8
Sundays with Matthew: A Young Boy with Autism and an Artist Share Their Sketchbooks
Sundays with Matthew: A Young Boy with Autism and an Artist Share Their Sketchbooks by Matthew Lancelle and Jeanette Lesada is a positive and encouraging example of a special relationship between two artists sharing a passion for art and life. Since many children and youth with autism have well-defined special interests, it is valuable to determine what those interests are and find ways to use them to reinforce appropriate behavior. Sundays with Matthew demonstrates that using a special interest and talent is a proven way to help a child reach his full potential. Jeanette’s sketchbook tips at the end of the book will inspire others to engage in similar ventures. Jeanette met Matthew through the Wisconsin Early Autism Program (WEAP) in Milwaukee. WEAP underwent funding cuts and Jeanette was laid off the payroll; however, she decided to stay on with Matthew once a week—on Sundays. Now free from guidelines, Jeanette started her own program with Matthew. They began to sketch in order to “talk” about topics, including emotions, behavior, likes and dislikes. She utilized Matthew’s favorite things, such as monsters and sea creatures, to capture his attention and interest. According to Jeanette: “Matthew went from being a child who hardly sat still for more than two minutes, to a child who can now sit still for long periods of time drawing. Pictures of stick figures with eyeballs taught Matthew to look at people’s eyes, and now he stares me down. Instead of reciting things to me he has memorized, Matthew asks me questions about things that are on his mind. Matthew reads full pages aloud from Harry Potter, and he feels like he can ask me deep questions and get straight answers. I have watched Matthew blossom into an incredibly chatty, inquisitive twelve-year-old, and our time together always flies by with hardly a behavioral incident. Matthew still has his difficult days, and there are still things we are working on, but Sundays with Matthew is something he is proud of, something that not even the ‘regular kids’ get done every day.” Sundays with Matthew includes illustrations from both Matthew and Jeanette. Their shared interest in drawing has led to a friendship that will inspire others to look for commonalities instead of differences in people. The relationship between Jeanette and Matthew portrayed in this unique book is sure to warm hearts.