‘Brody the Lion’ Teaches Awareness and Acceptance on Autism
Dr. Kristin Wegner publishes fifth children’s book about autistic lion protagonist
The COVID-19 lockdown did have some positive effects. One of them was the chance that Dr. Kristin Wegner, owner of the Autism Behavior Center in Altoona, had to publish the first book of Brody the Lion, a children’s series about being on the spectrum.
“There were very few books with characters having autism and even fewer having strategies and tools for the children and families,” said Dr. Wegner, who holds a Ph.D. in clinical psychology.
Her fifth book, Brody the Lion Needs a Haircut, was published on April 1. Each book details different life scenarios Brody navigates as an autistic individual, from visiting the doctor to going shopping, and showcases affirmation for who he is while also teaching him strategies to cope with his scenarios as someone on the spectrum.
“What we want instead of punishing, consequences, or forced compliance, (is) to help kids know that being autistic is absolutely fine, there’s nothing wrong with not making eye contact, engaging in self-stimulatory behaviors,” said Dr. Wegner. “But at the same time, we need to provide tools and strategies for someone to be successful.” Brody the Lion is one fun way to showcase those strategies.
With a rhyming and repetitive style along with detailed illustrations by Alexandra Garcia that depict just as much importance and detail as the writing, the books create a message of acceptance that is important not just for autistic children but everyone.
“I want neurotypical people to understand and learn about autism,” said Dr. Wegner, who is neurodivergent herself. “I want autistic friends and children with other disabilities to feel empowered and be seen in a book. And I want parents to also feel empowered and have the tools to address some of the challenges.”
The five Brody the Lion stories are available on all online platforms, such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and the book’s website for $23 hardcover or $9.99 paperback, as well as in local public libraries such as Altoona, Eau Claire, Chippewa Falls, and Menomonie.
Also, every Friday from 10-11am, Dr. Wegner’s Autism Behavior Center (919 S. Hillcrest Parkway, Altoona) hosts story time, where children – whether they are the spectrum or not – can come for some public reading, and have the chance to be themselves.
Brody the Lion can show everyone, using Dr. Wegner’s words, that “not everybody acts exactly the same and that’s OK.”