I can’t remember when we first purchased Lllama Llama Mad at Mama. I think it was after J’s diagnosis. I do distinctly remember thinking “This Llama sounds a lot like J when it comes to shopping or public outings.” I also remember reflecting on how Little Llama didn’t like all the people, all the noise, all the waiting and has a terrble outbursts. J liked the rhyming in the book, but it got lost along the way.
This week a shipment of Scholastic books came in and it had “Llama Llama Red Pajama,” “Llama Llama Misses Mama,” and “Llama Llama Mad at Mama.” I had never read the other books in the series so Little J and I read the Red Pajama one Tuesday night. I then realized that Llama Llama is not autistic, he is merely young and young kids are not patient and have outbursts. I know this now because Little J is older and I have his experiences to compare to as well.
There is always that question in the back of my mind (and some of yours as well). Is this the autism acting this way, or is my child displaying unwanted but totally typical behavior. I think the difference comes in the fact that in all of the stories whether Little Llama is feeling mad, sad, scared, etc. he is able to get his emotions under control very quickly after a few words from Mama Llama. Where we diverge is that J is not easily calmed once he reaches an extreme emotion.
I think he recognizes himself in the stories. Last night we all read together, Llama Llama Misses Mama which is about Little Llama going to school for the first time. He gets emotional and doesn’t want to do any of the other activities that the other kids do. On the page where they show a tear drop in his eye, J stopped the reading. He spoke directly to Little Llama, “Llama Llama, don’t cry. Ms. S my parapro tells me to take a deep breath like this: breathe in (demonstrated) and blow out (demonstrated). That is how you calm down the easy way. I used to cry at school too but now I like it.”
Wow! I had a hard time not crying listening to him comfort Little Llama. At the end of the book Little Llama loves his mama and school too. We had a really good conversation about it and how Little Lama’s mama came back and that J is always picked up from school too either by his babysitter or by me.
So Llama Llama probably isn’t autistic but the author sure knows how to write a good social story. I know next on my wish list is Llama Llama Holiday Drama.