Things Ellie Likes – Kate Reynolds
There are some topics that need to be approached with autistic children and teenagers that can be difficult to know how to talk about. Sexuality and masturbation are two such topics. Things Ellie Likes is one book of a series of six (with Ellie and Tom) that broaches a number of difficult to talk about topics and offers a resource for parents who need to discuss these topics with their children.
The book starts with two pages about things that Ellie likes to do such as dancing or making pizza, and then swiftly moves on to the topic of masturbation, explaining throughout the book that these are all things that Ellie likes to do and that there’s nothing wrong with any of them, but that some things are okay to do in public but some things are private. This then leads on to a few pages that talk about private and public behaviors, and also includes a few pages about appropriate physical contact both towards and from other people.
The book then has a short social story about Ellie being out in public and wanting to touch herself and takes the reader through the process of going home, masturbating and cleaning up afterwards.
The book is illustrated throughout, with nudity of Ellie on a few pages and one page with an unnamed male character who is used to show the difference between their bodies.
It’s difficult to know what to write about a book like this – it fulfills a specific purpose. It is a very common occurrence, especially approaching and during puberty, for all adolescents to masturbate and be generally curious about their sexuality and autistic teenagers are no different. The difference lies in the fact it can be more difficult to know how to explain appropriate behaviors to autistic children and teenagers, especially the concepts of public and private behavior. This book fulfills that purpose.
We have, in my workplace, used this book. We used the book like any other social story, reading it once or twice a day initially and after redirecting students to the designated private room and allowing them privacy. We also frequently combine this book with teaching the students to hand the adult support a card requesting ‘private time’ to go to the designated room. This method works for some students very well, and not so well for others. It’s not guaranteed to work, but it is worth a try.
Is it worth reading?
Again, difficult to answer because it depends on if you have an autistic teenager who you feel might benefit from the use of this social story. If you do then yes, give this book a look and it might help you approach the subject of sexuality and public/private behaviour.