If you have ever been around a dog, you already know how loyal they are. Their unconditional love surpasses all events, as they stay by your side for life. Gracie is no different. She is a sweet Great Dane that shares her home with Zachery, a child who has autism.
As Zachery, investigates the world around him through sports, music and play, you will find Gracie by his side. No matter how silly other human friends think Zachery's actions are, Gracie doesn't care.
The story of Gracie's loyalty is one to read to all children. The colorful and "real-life" illustrations accurately depict life with autism. The words used to describe Zachery's encounters with society encompass what children and families go through on a regular basis.
Gracie embodies the true meaning of forgiveness, loyalty and trust. Her actions are those we hope every person who encounters a child with a delay will imitate. Everyone is unique, and has their own strengths which should be celebrated. The story of Gracie teaches young children these concepts, in hopes that our next generation will be truly inclusive, accepting everyone as they are.
Brilliant illustrations, simple words, along with the hard cover, enable every child, regardless of age, to read, appreciate and implement the lessons that Gracie has to teach.
The Reason Behind the Story
The author, Ruthann Cramer, wrote this true story about her son who was diagnosed with Autism, and their sweet family dog, Gracie. She describes her experience and the reason for her story below:
"It was August something 2010. We sat across from the doctor’s desk. I’m sure the color left my face because even my thoughts went gray on the day my son was diagnosed with ASD, autism spectrum disorder. It was a day that two small sentences completely changed my world.
We do not know all the causes of ASD. There is no known cure for ASD.
My husband and I, like so many others, began the search for the answers we needed to help our son, Zachery. Somebody said this, and somebody said that, some were helpful, some were not. Somebody said that I was the best thing that Zachery had going for him. I didn’t feel like the best thing, not compared to our Great Dane, Gracie. She was the most loving, hopeful, patient, forgiving person in our family. Her relentless faith that a good time was about to happen never wavered. Sure, somedays she was just the dog that needed to be fed, but on most days, to me, she was her namesake, she was grace; the grace to live when there are no answers. She was my inspiration to write Gracie Doesn’t Care.
But it was children who pushed me to put my pen to paper, well actually, colored pencils. When Zachery and I met children at the playground or other places, they asked the questions that have no answers. I did my best to explain autism symptoms without embarrassing Zachery. That happened a lot. It was sort of like going out into public with a blue-haired child. But the defining moment happened the day I watched a teacher try to explain to a class why Zachery was not doing what the teacher required the others to do. The entire situation was uncomfortable. Because she was such a nice, well-meaning teacher, I decided I’d write a book to help her and others like her, to talk about the question without answers. And so Gracie Doesn't Care was born.
There were three main ideas about caring for a child with ASD that I wanted to express in Gracie Doesn't Care: identity, finding truth, and inclusion. Throughout the book the illustrations were designed to provoke discussion about these topics. Each illustration has a story behind it. For example, in one place, Gracie has Zachery surrounded by children. The children in the illustration are representations of real care givers and teachers who helped Zachery understand himself and navigate social situations. And in another illustration, Gracie as a pirate dog shows just how far she is willing to go to meet Zachery in his world. I wanted Gracie to be empowered, so I gave her the ability to bark away the meaningless words that somebody said. And in the end, I gave her the strongest power a grace-filled caregiver can possess, love."
For a sneak peak video of the book with the author Here!
About the Author:
Ruthann Cramer is a children's author/illustrator. She was born in the flattest part of Ohio. There she learned to see the world through her baby blue eyes. She sees hope for families that face tough times. She sees lives full of healing and joy. She is a naturally talented artist. She loves to color and embraces the spirit of kindergarten. And of course, she is a storyteller. She loves learning but doesn’t want to be a school teacher anymore. She loves Great Danes, the Great Wall of China, and other various great things, including grated cheese. She lives in Dublin, Ohio with two guys; the big one is her husband, and the little one is Zachery.
Be A Part of Something Great!
Did you know there are dogs that are trained just to help children with autism? 4 Paws for Ability is a wonderful organization that trains these fabulous animals. According to their website: "4 Paws Autism Assistance Dogs can be trained in a variety of tasks to assist a child. These include behavior disruption to distract and disrupt repetitive behaviors or meltdowns, tethering to prevent and protect a child from wandering, and search and rescue tracking to locate a child who has wandered." Check out their page to learn more abut 4Paws and how to help out this wonderful cause.