Friendship & Autism: A Kids' Story

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I don't care how old you are reading children's books are just so much fun! Ones with a message?

Even better.

This is insanely true about Kristi O'Callahan's "Jacob and Sam: A Friendship Story". Her story is about a new kid at school named Jacob who tried to befriend Sam, a child with autism. My kids loved it! Even asking them about things they didn't like they couldn't come up with anything!

Melody (7): "I liked all of it! Especially the end!"
Cashe (5): "I liked Sam the best!"
London (2): "Roar!" (Well, I'm sure that's a term of endearment.)

The story is great and it was easy for my kids to understand. I think any parent could use this as a teaching tool to talk to their own children about how to handle those kids they might not fully understand. 

The illustrations may not be a favorite for some but my kids love them and isn't that what matters??? It's a full-color book with lots of little details that kept the littles scanning the pages over and over again.

It's just a perfect kids' book! You've gotta check it out yourself!


I also got the opportunity to interview Kristi, because she isn't just a children's author. She has big goals for her writing with a lot of experience and heart to back her up.

Hey, Kristi! I am so glad to have you and your book on Mama Bear Reads today! First tell us a little about yourself and your decision to write a children's book:

My name is Kristi O’Callahan and I am a mom of 2 boys…soon to be 3!! I have worked in the field of Special Education for over 13 years.  I’ve worked primarily with children in pre-school and through Early Intervention.  My decision to write “Jacob and Sam” was because in all of my years teaching and working with children with disabilities it was always so difficult to find stories the children in my class could connect with.  I want to create characters for them to relate to but also to educate our general education children on various disabilities and social issues to increase awareness and acceptance. 

What was your favorite part of the whole experience writing, Jacob and Sam?

Well, my brother James Corless actually illustrated the book.  My favorite part was watching the character’s that I created in my head come to life.  We specifically discussed how each of the characters would look and how Leona would be in a wheelchair, Jenny would have braces on her legs, and so forth.  Not only the character’s but I specifically wanted the classroom to look a certain way.  Children sitting on balls, sensory toys around the classroom, and more. 

What would you do differently?

At this point I don’t think I would do anything differently.  I just love Sam’s story.  It literally puts a smile on my face every time I think about the end of the book in the snow globe.  I guess because I know firsthand what it feels like when a child on the Autism Spectrum or any child really makes a breakthrough.  Every achievement is so powerful and exciting, and that is what I get from this book every time I read it.

Is there a book or person you drew your inspiration from?

Not one person but all of the children I’ve worked with over the years have inspired me.  I want these children as well as my own to live in a society where people who are “different” are not made to feel uncomfortable.  People with a physical limitation, speech impediment, autism, or any other unique ability should not be stared at instead they should be befriended.  

What was your favorite book as a child?

Oh, definitely The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle.  I love all things, Eric Carle!!

Will you continue to write or do you have anything else in the works?

My goal is to create a series of books around my 5 main characters.  The second book of the series is titled “For Leona”.  Leona, a little girl in a wheelchair realizes that she is unable to play on her school’s new playground equipment.  When Leona tells Jacob that she is sad and feeling left out he creates a game where Leona is center stage around the playground equipment and can be included in the fun!

In "Jacob and Sam", Sam is a very special kid that the other kids at school don't really get. What is your advice for parents on how to interact with autistic children?

Just like all children, kids on the Autism Spectrum are vastly different.  I would start by getting on their level, speaking quietly to them, and observe what they like to do.  Insert yourself in what they are doing because it’s obviously motivating to them.  Little by little you can pull them out and engage it different activities Try and make a connection…the smallest connection is an accomplishment.  The connections will become more frequent and lengthier in time.  Children with ASD are still children.  The want to play, laugh, and learn.  It just takes more time, strategy, patience, acceptance and a willingness to learn through them.       

Can you tell us a little about "Special Senses" and how we, as readers, can help out?

Special Senses is working to design tools and resources that can be used to educate our “typical” children through stories of inclusion as well as creating awareness for children with disabilities.  Children learn to play openly with a child in a wheelchair or in braces and how not to be afraid or shy about the unique ability of their peer. Special Senses looks forward to making our stories available in all early education classrooms and learning through play environments. Raising awareness for all children is a key to a world of inclusion, comfort, and acceptance. Special Senses looks forward to sharing this world, one book at a time.  Our books are the foundation of our mission which we use to educate others.  We’ve designed handcrafted sensory tools and created resources to be used by parents, educators, and therapists.  We are also in the process of creating a blog to discuss everyday issues, topics, and challenges.  We look forward to communicating with everyone!!

Where can we find you: 
*I received this book in exchange for my honest review*

Kids learn the Matthew while playing with bricks! Includes 70+ pages of challenges, copywork, and notebooking pages.

Gymboree Kids Clothing Newborn to Size 12


  1. Love the review of the book. This and For Leona sound like something my daughter will enjoy and she mighy relate to. Going buy it for her Kindle and save the author for when For Leona comes out.

  2. Love the review of the book. This and For Leona sound like something my daughter will enjoy and she mighy relate to. Going buy it for her Kindle and save the author for when For Leona comes out.


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