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Sheletta Brundidge and teen son Andrew go on the road to raise autism awareness with their new children’s picture book

High school senior Andrew Brundidge of Cottage Grove, has written an original picture book     that’s being published just in time for Autism Acceptance Month in April.

 

Now the first-time teen author is traveling to New York City to use “Andrew Does His Dance” to raise awareness about autism. The oldest of four children, Brundidge is big brother to a sister and two brothers diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

 

Andrew and his mother Sheletta will visit a Harlem elementary school on April 8 where the Park High student will read his new book to students in the autism program and donate 100 copies to students, teachers and the school library at PS 133.

 

“Sometimes they need more understanding, extra patience or extra time to explain things,” said Andrew. “My siblings are as smart as I am but they see things differently than I do.”

 

“Andrew Does His Dance” tells the story of his role as the sometimes-overlooked non-disabled child in the family. In the book, capable Andrew is unaware of how his good deeds on behalf of his siblings are noticed and appreciated.

 

One day while just being himself, the fun-loving teen spontaneously reveals a part of his personality and finds the spotlight shining on him beyond anything he could have imagined.

 

This is the fourth picture book in the series about the warm, lively Brundidge family. The previous three books, with Andrew’s siblings as main characters, were written by Andrew’s mother.

 

“In communities of color, often our kids get disciplined instead having an autism screening so it’s vitally important we educate the educators,” Sheletta said.

 

“Our family is on a mission to make sure everyone knows what autism is, what parents can do if they spot the signs, and, most, importantly, how early intervention is key to these children being successful.”

 

The best-selling picture books about Andrew’s siblings, “Cameron Goes to School,” “Daniel Finds his Voice” and “Brandon Spots his Sign,” broke ground by providing badly-needed literary representation of Black children with ASD.

 

“Andrew Does His Dance” is certain to strike a chord by spotlighting the role of a non-disabled sibling. Andrew's position is hardly unique; one in 36 American children is diagnosed with autism and most of them have siblings who are not on the spectrum.

 

“Andrew knows we love him but sometimes we get so busy going to IEP meetings or taking his siblings to speech therapy that he can get left out or left behind,” admitted his mother. “He thought about how many siblings are in his position and wanted to open that conversation. That’s how he came up with the story for this book.”

 

“Andrew Does His Dance” concludes with tips from a Black school counselor about how to support and reinforce non-disabled siblings in families with special needs children.

 

“I think it’s a good way to spread awareness. People will appreciate this book for the light it shines on how we try our best to make sure everyone is taken care of,” Andrew said. “There’s room for more understanding out there.”

 

“Andrew Does his Dance” is now available at all metro Hy-Vee stores and local bookstores including the Red Balloon Bookshop in St Paul, Gullywubbles in Stillwater, Barnes & Noble stores and online at Amazon.com.

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