Photo by Martin van den Hemel
Five-year-old Lazarus will star in the launch of his mom's new children's book Aug. 26 at the Richmond Olympic Oval.
The inspiration for Kaye Liao Banez's 'See Yah in the Morning! A bedtime story,' he'll be delivering a special reading of the book at the launch and fundraiser from to 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the oval.
Lazarus is among the estimated one in 68 children (according to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention) diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. And it's knowing this frequency, and having a son on the spectrum, that led the Richmond mom to write the first in a series to celebrate the uniqueness of every child.
"It's meant for all children, but I wanted to make sure the book also had certain features or elements we call autism-friendly," says Banez. "The characters in the book are always waving, a gesture that unfortunately for some kids in the spectrum is not innate. In fact, my son took two years to learn to wave and point at objects. I 'm really mindful of where a child's development is at, so I wanted to put that feature in so children can practice that when they 're reading the book."
Banez also selected appropriate words to learn such as goodnight and goodbye.
A fierce advocate for autism awareness and inclusiveness, she hopes the series of books will help build stronger communities for all children but especially those living with autism and their families. She says it is important that children on the spectrum are able to achieve at their own pace and to ultimately feel they they belong to whatever they are part of.
"The thing with autism is that it's not like something where you have symptoms you can classify," Banez explains. "There's such a huge spectrum and it manifests itself differently in every child."
Banez is also reaching out to support organizations that are advancing understanding and inclusion. The Canucks Autism Network is a main beneficiary because, she says, the organization does amazing and tireless work to create meaningful memories and milestones for children and youth living with autism.
One dollar from every book will be donated to the network in support of autism awareness.
At the August book launch, there will be food served, entertainment, door prizes, raffles and community building, as well as free admission to the ROX, Canada's only Olympic museum. Banez is also encouraging people to drop a loonie or toonie into a piggy bank for one or more of the supporting non-profit groups that also includes Autism Speaks BC, Pacific Autism Family Network, Richmond Cares, Richmond Gives, and the B.C. and Alberta Guide Dogs.
Further, she welcomes other non-profit organizations or school or sports teams to use the book as a fundraising tool from which they will receive $2 from every book sold.
"Sharing is caring," Banez reminds Lazarus, and his sister Estella, daily.