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MAKING A MARK: Chesapeake mom writes children's books on autism awareness

1 in 44 children has been diagnosed with autism. That's according to the CDC. Laura Hales' children's books aims to spark conversations about autism in classrooms.

CHESAPEAKE, Va. — Laura Hales is on a mission to make a more inclusive world for her sons and those who are similar to them.

"Leo is 6, and Noah is 12, and they are both autistic," Hales said.

"My boys need the next step as a community, which is the acceptance piece."

She wrote two children's books that promote autism awareness and compassion. 

Her books, "Alex and the Drummer" and "Alex and the Muffin Man" tell stories from the point of view of a character with autism.

"When we can relate... more foreign autistic behaviors... then suddenly, we're not viewing it as an autistic thing to do or an autistic way to do things," Hales said. 

"It's a human reaction to behavior."

Hales said the stories are based on real-life experiences for her family.

"This is what happens to us all the time. Good, bad, ugly. And beautiful," Hales continued. 

 "Once we can get you emotionally engaged in our story... it's going to change your perspective, which changes your behavior, which changes communities."

But of all she packed into the books, what Hales left out is also remarkable.

"I deliberately left the word 'autism' or 'autistic' out of our first story," Hales said.

"They're not going to be wearing a nametag that says, 'Hello, I'm autistic'. And they shouldn't have to, either," Hales said. 

"We need to have things explained to us in order to extend that grace and compassion to people. Why can't we just do it?"

Hales has shared the stories in schools across the country, hoping to help children better relate to their peers on the spectrum.

"'You express it this way, I express it this way. Now, we can understand each other'," Hales said."

"Alex and the Drummer" and "Alex and the Muffin Man" are available for purchase, along with accessories and apparel that promote autism awareness, through Hales' website.

You can also follow Hales on TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube for related content.

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