As a special education teacher, I have worked with a number of students on the autism spectrum. I believe it is very important to remember that they are all unique individuals even if they share a particular diagnosis. However, just like every child, they all have happy days and challenging days. Lauren, the main character in Slug Days by Sara Leach, calls them butterfly days and slug days.
Slug Days is written from Lauren’s perspective and she talks about her struggles with reading social cues and dealing with changes. She has moments when she knows she is going to “flip her lid” and is sensitive to different feelings like gooey dried ice cream and the sticky orange juice spot in her desk. Students who read this book might notice that Lauren needs different things than they do, like things to squeeze when she is upset, but they might also observe that Lauren is like them in a lot of ways, too. She is artistic and enjoys building an insect world with her family. She is a good big sister who is able to empathize with her baby sister even when that is a challenge. And, like all children, she wants to fit in with her classmates.
This book would be a great read aloud in a primary classroom. Classmates could share moments in their own lives that felt like butterfly or slug days. They could also talk about their own individual differences and the things they have in common. This book provides many opportunities to build a classroom community through conversation.
Teaching Tolerance Social Justice Standards:
Identity 1- I know and like who I am and can talk about my family and myself and name some of my group identities.
Identity 4- I can feel good about myself without being mean or making other people feel bad.
Diversity 6- I like being around people who are like me and different from me, and I can be friendly to everyone.
Diversity 9- I know everyone has feelings, and I want to get along with people who are similar to and different from me.
SL.1- Participate in collaborative conversations around topics.
SL.2 Recount or describe key ideas or details from a text read aloud.
SL.4- Tell a story or recount an experience with appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details.