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Pedro's Whale


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Justin Canha is an accomplished artist who also happens to have autism. His childhood passion for drawing animals and cartoon characters revealed an innate talent that attracted the attention of the mainstream art community when Justin was just 14 years old. Just explores a wide range of subjects that showcase his clever sense of humour and unusual sensitivity to human and animal relationships. Featuring unique characters he has created, Justin's computer animations are full of action-packed stories, while his paintings celebrate still life and portraiture. Justin's drawings and illustrations demonstrate the intensity and perspective of the autistic mind and serve as a powerful form of communication.

Justin first appeared on the New York art scene in the well-received Autism/Aspergers Art Exhibit in January 2005. Since then, Justin's career has been steadily gaining momentum. He received an Honourable Mention at the Studio Montclair Taboo Exhibition, and portions of his animations were recently incorporated into a hip-hop music video. Justin's work has been shown at the Beacon Firehouse Gallery, Montclair State University, and most recently at the JCC in Manhattan and at Bloomfield College. Justin's artwork has been featured at the Ricco/Maresca booth at the Outsiders Fair in New York city; in Sidecars, a short documentary by Ben Stamper; and in Autism: Communicating in a Different Way, a documentary by Gary Keys. It also was shown in the August 2006 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine. In April 2009, his artwork was shown at the Art Chicago, the world-renowned international contemporary and modern art fair. Most recently, Justin's artwork was exhibited at the Morris Museum in Timeless: The Art of Drawing and at the Adelphi University. In October 2009, Justin received an award for his artistic achievement at the Louder Than Words autism benefit held at Montclair State University.

In addition to illustrating , Justin's illustration commissions include the cover of "Just Give Him the Whale!" as well as a new line of math books for young children on the spectrum called IBET (Integrated Behavioural Experimental Teaching).

Justin is presently taking college-level courses in cartooning and animation at Bloomfield College, Montclair State University, and Pace University and working in the community in Montclair. For more information on Justin and to see more of his artwork and his animation, visit his website:

Paula Kluth, Ph.D., is one of today's most popular and respected experts on autism and inclusive education. Through her work as an independent consultant and the high-energy presentations she gives to professionals across the country, Dr. Kluth helps educators and families create responsive, engaging schooling experiences for students with disabilities and their peers, too. An internationally respected scholar and author, Dr. Kluth has written or cowritten several books for Paul H. Brookes Publishing Co., including "You're Going to Love This Kid!": Teaching Students with Autism in the Inclusive Classroom, Second Edition (2010); Pedro's Whale (2010); From Tutor Scripts to Talking Sticks: 100 Ways to Differentiate Instruction in K-12 Classrooms (2010); "A Is for All Aboard!" (2010); "A Land We Can Share": Teaching Literacy to Students with Autism (2008); and "Just Give Him the Whale!": 20 Ways to Use Fascinations, Areas of Expertise, and Strengths to Support Students with Autism (2008).

Patrick Schwarz, Ph.D., is Professor of Diversity in Learning & Teaching for National-Louis University, Chicago. A dynamic author and motivational speaker, Dr. Schwarz is also Chief-Executive Officer of Creative Culture Consulting, LL. His books Fr

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About the Author

Paula Kluth is an independent education consultant and scholar in Illinois. Patrick Schwarz is Associate Professor of Special Education, National-Louis University


"Enlightening . . . turns our negative views of childhood obsessions around. Just give every teacher, parent, professional, or child you know this book!"--Susan Gust"parent of a child with autism; Founder, The Christopher and Susan Gust Foundation" (06/01/2010) "A testament to creative parents and educators who spark the imaginations of children. Pedro shows us that by using our passions we become both teachers and learners."--Catriona Johnson, M.S."parent of child with autism; former Chair, Autism Society of America Government Relations Committee" (06/01/2010) "When I first heard Pedro's Whale, I cried because that's how inclusion should be and how often, it is not. I'm going to buy it for my school."--Carolyn Hyman"parent of a child with autism" (06/01/2010) "Brilliant in its simplicity, Paula Kluth's enchanting book shares a powerful message for adults and children alike. We are reminded of the extraordinary opportunities we have in ordinary moments to promote a sense of belonging, comfort, and well-being."--Elizabeth J. Erwin, Ed.D."Professor and Coordinator, Graduate Program in Inclusive Early Childhood Education, Montclair State University" (06/01/2010) "A much-needed contemporary parable about turning a problem into a positive, illustrating practical ways in which a student's 'narrow' interest can be directed into expansive activities that benefit the entire class."--Ellen Notbohm"author, Ten Things Every Child with Autism Wishes You Knew" (06/01/2010) "A gift for all children whose deep interests and passions are misunderstood, or even dismissed. It clearly communicates the imperative that 'to advance the mind, we must nurture and energize the spirit."--Barry M. Prizant, Ph.D., CCC-SLP"Director, Childhood Communication Services; Adjunct Professor, Center for the Study of Human Development, Brown University" (06/01/2010) "This book entertains and teaches a whale of a lesson: When any child has an unusual interest, the smart teacher who accepts and encourages that interest will open academic and social doors for that child and his classmates as well."--Jerry Newport, B.A."Adult with Asperger Syndrome, author and inspiration for the movie, Mozart and The Whale" (06/01/2010) "A wonderful story . . . so helpful and inspiring to children and adults alike. It helps us all imagine new worlds of possibility [and] provides a concrete vision for how children with autism and limited interests can have a place alongside their peers."--Susan L. Spitzer, Ph.D., OTR/L"Occupational Therapist, Pasadena, CA" (06/01/2010) "In a pedagogical sense, Paula's writings speak to all readers on several levels. She tackles education through her creative and positive energy."--Jenn Seybert (06/01/2010) "One simple, beautiful book . . . Endless new ideas! Paula's suggestions should be used in every elementary school classroom."--Susan J. Moreno, M.A., A.B.S."President, MAAP Services for Autism and Asperger Syndrome" (06/01/2010) "A perfect companion to Just Give Him the Whale! . . . makes the concepts readily accessible to children, and provides practical how-to ideas for educators, professionals, parents, and caregivers."--Phil Schwarz"Vice President, Asperger's Association of New England; Director, Autism National Committee" (06/01/2010) "Paula Kluth has done it again! With humanity and humor, Paula uses this true-life story to remind us to honor and celebrate every student's passions."--Carol Tashie"Seeing the Charade: What We Need to Do and Undo to Make Friendships Happen"" (06/01/2010) Pedro's Whale by Paula Kluth, Ph.D. and Patrick Schwarz, Ph.D., is a picture book about autism many were waiting for. After their award winning guidebook, Just Give Him the Whale: 20 Ways to Use Fascinations, Areas of Expertise, and Strengths to Support Students with Autism, the authors realized a children's book about areas of interests was needed. Educators, who were using the ideas in Just Give Him the Whale in their inclusive classrooms, wanted a resource to explain their strategies to their students. Parents, who had a child with autism spectrum disorder or Asperger's syndrome and who had fascinations, wanted a way for siblings and family members to understand. About the Book Pedro's Whale is based on a true story about a young boy with autism. Pedro loved whales above all else. When his new teacher told him to put his toy whale away he was devastated. When the principal, Ms. Gomez, saw Pedro crying and crouching under the classroom table she suggested allowing his toy to help him feel safe and to do his best work. The rest of the year, his teacher and classmates honoured his passion by incorporating his special interest into the whole curriculum. This simple accommodation is a "win win" solution for all parties involved, child with autism, classmates, teachers, and parents. I would suggest reading first Pedro's Whale alone with the child who also has special interests. The child with these facinations will be pleased that Pedro is like him. He can use Pedro's story as a springboard to share his feelings about his strong passion. He will value this time alone with you to ask questions or comment on things that have troubled him. While discussing the book with him, explain why you want to read it to the others in his life. Educators and parents using Pedro's Whale will appreciate the three page section How to Use This Book. One activity they suggest is to use Pedro's Whale to teach classmates or siblings about individual differences. The child in question will p "A wonderful story that helps children and adults understand the extreme attachment to a special interest that are common in individuals on the autism spectrum"

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