After reading the children's book, Zack; Through the Eyes of a Lovable Hippo with Asperger's I had to reach out to the author to learn more about the inspiration for its creation. The book not only educates the reader about Autism but also shares a message about tolerance and acceptance. The author Maria Bohuslawsky, begins the book with an explanation about Asperger's Syndrome and shares her own experiences with her son Zack. Maria is the mother of three boys, a teacher, and a wife. Maria collaborated with her oldest son Alex Bohuslawsky, the illustrator of this loveable book.
Recently, I had the opportunity to correspond with Maria and asked her some questions about the book and its creation.
Being an art therapist, I was curious to learn more about the creative process that Maria and her son Alex experienced as the writer and illustrator of the book. Maria explained, that the process of creating the book was a bonding time for the two of them. The Bohuslawsky home life is usually very scheduled and set in routine to help create a calm environment for Maria's two other sons Zack and Ricky. Both boys have an Autism Spectrum diagnosis.
Last year a day before the Christmas vacation, Maria took her oldest son Alex, an honor student out of school for the day. During their day together, Alex and Maria had lunch and were able to finalize the book. They even fit in some much needed "silly time" and had Menchie's yogurt as a treat.
I was interested to learn more about the inspiration for the book. I didn't want to summarize Maria's explanation, as the story is more meaningful told through Maria's words. She explained how her son Zack, reacted to an illustration drawn by his older brother Alex. Since Zack lives with Asperger's his thinking is more concrete. Therefore he doesn't always understand the subtly of a joke which could be very frustrating. The following excerpt is Maria's explanation of the true story:
It was interesting to learn how the family took a daily life happening and turned it into such creative story.
The book's purpose of educating and creating further awareness of Autism Spectrum Disorder helps accomplish a second goal; promoting tolerance and understanding of others. Upon reading the back cover, this quote left an impression on me, "...She [Maria] dreams of the day when bullying and indifference are replaced by tolerance and acceptance no matter what your idiosyncrasies are." This book helps teach and remind people about the importance of understanding that we are all different and that it is okay.
I asked Maria if she hoped that the book would help teach young children to be more aware of others to aid in the prevention of bullying. Maria explained, "Not only did we hope to spread Autism awareness to as many people as possible, we wanted to encourage tolerance and acceptance for ALL people no matter what their differences are, thus, sort of an anti-bullying message."
She further explained that her own school district went through some changes. According to Maria, "Now, almost ALL students in the district have multi-handicap classes in their schools, and they SHOULD be educated on this." Maria has shared her book and information about Autism and Autism Spectrum Disorders, along with her message of tolerance and acceptance of others with half of the schools in her district.
I thank the entire Bohuslawsky family for sharing their story and their book with us! They are truly an amazing family. Maria explained that her family is a great team that works together. In speaking about her husband she stated, "He is my rock and main hub of support."
To learn more about the book connect on Facebook:
Zack Through the Eyes of a Lovable Hippo with Asperger's
To purchase the book visit AuthorHouse
*Thank you to Maria Bohuslawsky for the book and family photos.