I am proud to present this guest post by Shawn Colton, who is currently working on a book called, “Legends of the Boo-Monster.” It is a fictional story based on the real-life family adventures of him and his son, David, who lives with low-functioning autism.
It was a piece of artwork that turned what originally had been the idea for a non-fiction e-book about my son David’s low-functioning autism into the fantasy project that I’m working on today. Last year I commissioned a piece of artwork which would depict our little family of three as fantasy characters, but in the style of a very earthly family portrait. Seeing my non-verbal son David, who we affectionately call the Boo-Monster, as an actual monster immediately made me rethink what kind of book I’d be writing. What if I decided to tell David’s story as a sweeping adventure that just happened to focus around a little monster with autism? It might be a very good, and very different way for kids and adults alike to better understand the condition and the challenges that come along with it.
That piece of artwork was created by the man I named my son after, David “Ragz Dandelion” Hanson, and I’m very fortunate to have Ragz at my side to do the artwork for this illustrated novel.
When I began my Kickstarter campaign to get this book made, Debi Taylor of Spirit of Autism was one of the first to contribute to the project. So instead of writing a guest post in the blog, telling the story of the project, I decided to give her readers a sneak peek with an exclusive excerpt of the book.
This excerpt focuses on the Boo-Monster’s unique mind, and how his parents deal with it, in the fantasy world known as the Continent of Monsters.
The Boo-Monster was creating Boo-namis in the bath tub. I was getting soaked. “Has it ever occurred to your unique mind,” I asked him “that perhaps I wanted to wait for my bath?” He laughed. I was still trying to wash the mud out of my fur, maybe he was trying to help.
The Boo-Monster loved water. But a bubble bath? The one thing the Boo-Monster loved more than water was bubbles. Water and bubbles equals Boo-Monster heaven. He also liked to splash; and by splash I mean he liked to create tidal waves that soaked not only the bathing room floor but whoever was giving him a bath, which was usually me. The Boo-Monster had an endless supply of bath foam delivered secretly each month for the last couple of years by the mysterious “Friends of the Boo-Monster.” They always just left it on the porch. I had an idea who these angels of suds might be, but I didn’t want to ruin their fun by staking out the porch all night to be sure.
Monsters who meet the Boo-Monster for the first time are always stunned by, and maybe a little afraid of, his energy level and ability to create cheerful havoc. The Boo-Monster rarely stops moving. He’s forever running, hopping, flapping, shaking his head back and forth like he’s dancing to some dissonant music that only he can hear. The Boo-Monster may not speak but he yelps, yodels, babbles, buzzes, and occasionally delivers a thunderous “Ah-BOO!” Boo-Monsters also like to jump. A lot. The impact from his jumping results in what might be described as small earthquakes. Things needed to be practically glued to shelves in the “prime jumping zones” or they’ll come crashing to the floor; which he seems to enjoy seeing. Recently a group of industrious web-spinning monsters and pluckables have created a trampoline for him to jump on that absorbs some Boo-Monsters seismic impact. We love the web-spinners here at Stately Boo-Monster Manor.
As I reached for a towel to dry Boo-Monster off I saw a reminder that the Boo-Monster was not indestructible. It was lizard-skinned, water-proof sheath we needed to use when bathing the Boo-Monster after he fractured his wrist at school a couple of years ago.
One of the things that always amazed Selana and me about the Boo-Monster, during his first seven years, was how infrequently he got hurt. He seemed fearless, but his balance was amazing, he hardly ever fell, never tripped over anything, or stepped on things that would hurt him. While non-distant monsters were frequently getting bruised and scraped during play, the Boo-Monster seemed impervious to any sort of physical damage. It was as if he was more keenly aware of his surroundings than other little monsters. As it turns out, however, he is not as keenly aware of the presence of other little monsters.
One morning, at the Brehm School for the Distant, the Boo-Monster was attempting to swing from some playground equipment and a tiny classmate ran underneath him, surprising him and caused him to crash to the ground. The note I received from the school nurse when he returned home told me of the incident and noted that he had scraped his face and seemed in shock, not wanting to do much else for the rest of the day, but showed no signs of pain such as crying or whimpering.
I sat Boo-Monster down to have some juice and an after school snack and I noticed that he wasn’t using his left hand for anything, and he was left handed. By the end of the night we Selana and I decided it would be best to take him to urgent care the next day.
The Boo-Monster had fractured his wrist in the fall. Now I know if I fractured my wrist I’d be in a lot of pain and would not be able to ignore it, but the Boo-Monster proved to us that he was a warrior. With the cast they provided he was able to use his left hand a little bit and dealt with the whole process bravely. Eight weeks later he had the cast removed. There was some difficulty in keeping him calm during the whole process, which was a frequent challenge in public places. Other monsters looked on disapprovingly as if we needed to control our child better, which was a fairly typical reaction from monsters that just didn’t know any better, but if I started letting that bother me I’d be in an asylum by now.
I was drying a very squirmy, flapping Boo-Monster when Selana walked in looking stunning, as always. “I’m off to the Research Symposium where I plan to dazzle the academic world.”
“You dazzle well,” I said, and gave her a light kiss on the lips.
“How’s my lipstick?” she asked, as she always did when I kissed her before she went somewhere.
“It looks lucky to be on such a pretty face,” I answered.
The Boo-Monster, no fan of displays of marital affection from his silly parents, forced himself between us before I could get him dressed.
“Stop!” I roared and chased after him with his singlet in hand. Selana laughed and told us she loved us before leaving. I managed to get the Boo-Monster in his singlet and looked out the window as her carriage with a dragon horse driver trotted down the road. The Boo-Monster was saying something like “Ba-be-ba” behind me and I was struck in the back of my head with a big rubber ball. Someone wanted to play catch.
If you want to read more about the wonderful adventures of the Boo-Monster, make sure you head over to Kickstarter and make a pledge to back it. Every dollar helps this creative project come closer to fruition.