April is National Autism Awareness Month. We at Oceanhouse Media often hear from parents who have children with autism. Below is a heartwarming story and photos from one of our young readers that we wanted to share with you this month.
It’s Sunday morning and for seven-year-old Sam, that means it’s his time to enjoy reading on his iPad. Three of his favorite book apps are The Cat in the Hat, The Cat in the Hat Comes Back and Green Eggs and Ham. He sits on the couch snuggled next to his parents wearing his headphones as he ritualistically reads his omBooks (Oceanhouse Media digital books). It can take him well over an hour to finish all three because he reads them in such detail. For Sam, the Dr. Seuss omBooks and their narrators are synonymous with the iPad.
Sam has high functioning autism. His mom, Erika, says the iPad combined with the Dr. Seuss omBooks help him cope with long trips in the car, and with stressful environments such as airplanes that used to be much scarier for him.
“Sam has been reading since he was three,” says Erika. “Because he’s autistic and thus perceives the world as such a loud, bright, and overwhelming place, he finds order and repetition soothing, so he has focused on letters since before he was 18 months old. He can trust letters. The omBooks have enchanted Sam and taught him to be more imaginative as he reads his other books.”
Erika says Sam was so enchanted by the narration in The Cat in the Hat omBook that he asked, “Is the man reading The Cat in the Hat real?” When he found out it was voice actor Joseph Narducci, Sam wrote a fan letter to Joseph (“Dear Josif your voice is awsome love Sam”). Subsequently, Sam wrote fan letters to the narrators of The Cat in the Hat Comes Back and Green Eggs and Ham omBooks.
In addition to the narration, Sam enjoys the background music and tapping features in each omBook. He knows the nuances of his omBooks so well that he is especially tickled whenever he discovers a tiny detail that he hadn’t noticed before, for instance, a new item to tap, such as “Porthole!” when the train crashes onto the boat in Green Eggs and Ham.
“Sam ‘plays iPad’ by tapping and naming things in his environment,” said Erika. “He also has a rhythmic routine for making the omBooks pause and resume as he is reading them. ‘Resume’ has now entered his vocabulary. If he is not playing with a toy right now, it is ‘resuming’.”
Sam’s creativity doesn’t stop there. He’s quite interested in fonts (see picture above) and has also memorized all three of his Dr. Seuss omBooks. He’ll put on costumes, grab his stuffed animals (and parents) and act the books out.
“Sam’s love for The Cat in the Hat, nurtured by his omBook, inspired our Halloween costume a year ago when he was 6,” Erika adds. “He told me he wanted to be Thing One. I was thrilled because in previous years he didn’t have enough language skills to comprehend the nature of Halloween. When I asked if Daddy and I should be the fish and the Cat in the Hat or Sally and Nick, he replied ‘No, you should be Thing Two and Thing Three.’ ”
After all, Erika says, if there are Little Cats A through Z, why not Things One through who-knows-how-many?
Thanks Sam and Erika for kindly sharing your story with us. Families such as yours encourage our team to continue developing apps that uplift, educate and inspire. And thank you Dr. Seuss for still inspiring young minds with your brilliant stories and illustrations.
Have a story you’d like to share with us? Feel free to leave a comment below or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to hear from you!