Local author encourages austistic kids to overcome fears and explore

Courtesy of Sheletta Brundidge

Just in time for Autism Awareness Month in April, Minnesota media personality Sheletta Brundidge is releasing a new picture book. “Brandon Spots His Sign” is the third in her series of stories taken from real-life challenges experienced by her family; three of Brundidge’s four children are on the autism spectrum.

 Published by Beaver’s Pond Press, the book focuses on nine-year-old Brandon, the second of Brundidge’s four children, a thoughtful elementary school student who lives with social anxiety as well as autism. Using his imagination and an unlikely source of inspiration, Brandon finds a way to overcome his fears and hesitations.

Beyond its simple story and warm illustrations of the Brundidge family, “Brandon Spots His Sign” has an uplifting message that tells readers, young and old, that the world is a friendly place if that’s how you choose to see it. 

Adults know that “Let’s Go Brandon” has become code for those who are, to put it mildly, displeased with President Joe Biden. But when Brandon reads that slogan, which he spots on signs, flags, T-shirts, and baseball caps, he sees it as evidence of support. 

Courtesy of Sheletta Brundidge

He interprets “Let’s Go Brandon” as a cheer from people who are rooting for him. That encourages him to try what feels new and scary to him. Brandon breaks and reinterprets the code to find his own personal message of strength and confidence.

The book concludes with an autism resource page with information about social anxiety in children on the autism spectrum. It offers parents, teachers, and other caring adults practical ways to boost self-esteem in boys and girls who struggle with anxiety.

Brundidge told the MSR that she hopes families “learn new ways to encourage children who have autism to try new and different things—whether that’s new foods or taking the training wheels off of a bicycle or saying a scripture at church in front of the congregation.” 

She added, “Our kids with autism oftentimes have undiagnosed social anxiety that causes them to be afraid to do things. By learning new and creative ways to encourage them, they can advance in their learning, social and emotional growth, and communication skills.” 

Brundidge became an author after her daughter Cameron was frustrated when she could not find a book featuring a Black girl like her with autism. Her picture book “Cameron Goes to School” was a best-seller and was quickly followed by “Daniel Finds His Voice,” a book featuring Brundidge’s youngest child, who was non-verbal until music showed him how to communicate. It also was a huge success.

In addition to writing children’s books Sheletta Brundidge is an award-winning radio and television personality and the founder of ShelettaMakesMeLaugh.com, a podcast platform that amplifies Black subject experts. 

She was recently selected as USA Today’s Woman of the Year and won an Anthem Award for her advocacy work building community and promoting social justice.

Find books by Sheletta Brundidge at ShelettaMakesMeLaugh.com