Autism-Related Illustrations By Local Artist Kathleen Petitjean On Exhibit In Warner Theatre Gallery
Kathleen Petitjean first took a crayon to her bedroom ceiling when she was 3 and has been painting, drawing and sculpting ever since. Her 30-year adjunct career as a school-based Occupational Therapist for children with autism laid the foundation for her illustrated book of manners, "The ABC of DOG." Based on the "social story" format used to teach social skills to children with autism, the book's messages and images resonate with all ages and walks of life. The Newfoundland "teacher" in this story is based on Galileo, Kathleen's real-life therapy dog, who worked with Kathleen in the classrooms for children with autism.
The illustrations used in the book are now on display in the Warner Theatre Gallery. There will be a book signing and reading with the author on November 17th, 12:30-2:30pm. Galileo the Therapy Dog will be there, too!
A hallmark of autism is difficulty learning to interact with others, however, individuals with autism frequently respond readily to calm pets. To augment her work with the children, Kathleen trained her gentle Newfoundland dogs to accompany her in the classroom. As the "Newfs" earned the children's trust, the children engaged with them, eliciting profound milestones like uttering words or answering questions for the first time. Incorporating her Newfs into first-person "social stories" that Kathleen wrote, illustrated and brought to the classrooms, helped the children practice social skills with the dogs so they could generalize those skills with their classmates and others.
This "ABC of DOG" book of manners, featuring Kathleen's Newfoundland, Galileo, was inspired by the "social stories" she used with children with autism, but, really, can't we all use a little more kindness towards each other nowadays?