Sharice Rascoe drew on personal experience for her debut novel Shaina’s World: My Family and Autism.
Tell me about your latest book.
I wrote a middle-grade chapter book for kids called Shaina’s World: My Family and Autism that is loosely based off of my life growing up as a child having two siblings diagnosed with autism. I know my target audience is tweens (kids aged 9–12), but I know some adults will enjoy the story as well. It’s my first book, so I’m feeling very excited and I’m proud of the work I’ve done.
Why did you decide to write it?
I chose to write about this experience because I know there are other kids who are feeling the same way I felt growing up, and I wanted to them to have a book they could read and hopefully relate to. Having a sense of support is important for kids growing up like I did, so I wanted them to see they weren’t alone. I also wanted children who don’t have that same experience to read it and gain a better understanding of what it’s like to have family members with special needs.
What do you want readers to learn from the story?
My overall goal was to help bring more autism awareness. I want people to learn more about autism and the struggles that families that have relatives with special needs face daily. It’s important to me that kids who don’t know much about autism read this so they can start developing empathy towards others that are different from them at an early age. Hopefully, adults will also read it with their kids and gain a better understanding about people with special needs and how it impacts the whole family.
Your book focuses on a girl whose siblings have autism. What is one piece of advice you’d offer to people who have siblings with special needs?
First off, I know it’s not easy. It requires you to make a lot of sacrifices that your friends wouldn’t understand because they don’t have to. It can also feel very lonely at times, but just know that you aren’t alone. It’s important to have someone that you can talk to about your feelings because there are some days where you’re going to feel sad, frustrated, and even angry, and that’s okay. Also, don’t ever let someone make you feel like your emotions and what you’re going through aren’t valid or important.
What is the biggest misconception people have about autism?
There’s several of them. One is that it’s a mental health disorder, and it’s really a developmental disorder. Another one is that people who have it all act the same. People diagnosed with autism can show different signs and symptoms depending on the person. My oldest brother and my youngest brother both had very different quirks when we were growing up. There’s also the misconception that all people with autism don’t speak, and I know that’s not true because my brothers have always spoken and now talk all the time.
What’s next for you?
I’m currently working on what to write for a second book that will be the continuation of the first one. It won’t be finished until early 2022.
Do you have anything you would like to add?
I hope everyone who decides to check it out enjoys reading it. It was a labor of love!
Use my affiliate link to purchase your copy of Shaina’s World: My Family and Autism.
To learn more about Sharice Rascoe, visit her website or connect with her on social media.