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Local author wins awards for autism novel

Mt. Juliet author D. G. Driver has written a children’s novel about autism and school bullying titled “No One Needed to Know.” Over the past year, the book has earned four literary awards. To celebrate Autism Awareness Month, she will be doing presentations about her book for the public at Lebanon Public Library on Thursday, April 5 at 4 p.m. and at the Donelson YMCA on Monday, April 16 at 6 p.m.

“No One Needed to Know” is aimed at readers 8-13 years old and is about an 11-year-old girl named Heidi dealing with the pressures and responsibilities of having an older autistic brother. She sees her brother bullied by kids in the neighborhood and worries that if her friends find out about him, she will get bullied too. She’s often impatient with her brother and blames him for when things go badly for her at school. But Heidi also needs to learn more about her brother’s condition and ultimately teach others why he’s special and how to be kind to all people with special needs.

Books about teaching empathy and kindness to children are gaining in popularity. For that reason, “No One Needed to Know” won the 2017 Children’s Literary Classics Seal of Approval and the Silver Medal for Best Preteen Fiction. The novel also won the 2017 Purple Dragonfly Children’s Book Award and the 2017 Human Relations Indie Book Gold Medal Award for Special Needs Awareness in Children’s Fiction.

It is also earning wonderful reviews: “This is the best story about dealing with bullies and with a child with Autism I have ever read. I found myself crying from the sheer heartwarming moments in this story about a sister who looked out for her older brother.” Quill, Ink, and Parchment.

“In this very sensitive novel about autism awareness and bullying, Driver develops characters that are realistic and evoke sympathy. This is an important novel that is as much about anti-bullying as it is about autism awareness. I hope schools and educators discover this story and encourage their classes to read it and discuss its relevant themes.” Lavender Inspiration.

It has been compared to “Wonder” by A. J. Palacio and “adults who have read books by Katherine Patterson and Paula Danziger will recognize the honesty with which it is written.” Kid’s Book Weekly.

Driver was inspired to write “No One Needed to Know” based on her own experiences as the younger sister of a brother with developmental disabilities.

“My brother wasn’t diagnosed as Autistic because we were kids in the late ’70s, early ’80s. Autism wasn’t a Special Education category yet.” Much later on, when Driver became a teacher in Special Education, she and her mother put the puzzle pieces together and realized he was on the spectrum.

As a kid, she didn’t understand her brother’s odd behaviors. She wanted to write a book about that challenging time in her life when she became aware that he wasn’t like other kids his age. This book can help start a conversation with children about bullying and being kind to people with different abilities.

During her presentations at Lebanon Public Library and the Donelson YMCA, she will be talking about how her personal experience led to writing this novel, a quick overview of autism, a discussion about school bullying and why it’s especially hard on people with special needs, and there will be free coloring sheets for the children who attend.

Driver will have copies of “No One Needed to Know” and some of her other books available for signing at the Lebanon event. It has been proven that children who meet an author or get an autographed book are more likely to become excited about reading, so consider bringing your 3rd grade or older child after school to one of these literacy events.

Books cannot be sold at the YMCA event.

Lebanon Public Library is located at 108 S. Hatton Ave., Lebanon, TN 37087.

Donelson YMCA is located at 3001 Lebanon Pike, Donelson, TN.


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