Autism Awareness Month at Gregory Features West Orange Author Kristy Gray
WEST ORANGE, NJ – Gregory Elementary School held several Autism Awareness assemblies on April 17 featuring West Orange resident and children’s author Kristy Gray and her book “The Magically Brilliant Boy,” written about her 19-year-old son Zachary.
“My inspiration for the book was Zachary and the wonder that is his life,” began Gray, “and I wanted there to be a book in the world for families that have children with "different abilities" to relate to. I wanted to give just a little insight into the world of a child with autism.”
Zachary, 19, is autistic. According to Gray, “Zachary is doing really well. He attends a private school for children with Autism called Academy360 Upper School (in Livingston) which falls under the Spectrum360 Schools. He is simply thriving there.”
“He will always have challenges and will have to work harder than most in everyday life,” she continued.
“However, he is all things pure and innocent in the world and has a heart of gold. He is so smart and has this incredible witty sense of humor that just makes you smile. Zachary loves the fact that I wrote a book about him and is really proud of it,” she went on to say.
“The Magically Brilliant Boy” is a snapshot of Zachary when he was in elementary school. It makes note of his sensitivity to sound and sight, and Kray told students that he wears headphones to block out loud and jarring noises when they are in public.
“We have always told Zachary that he is magic in our lives and that he is brilliant,” stated Gray, “so when coming up with a title, it came quite organically. The Magically Brilliant Boy just seemed perfect.”
It took Gray almost a year to craft the book from start to finish. The illustrations by Deborah Burow are stunning and add to words that clearly convey the mind of a child with autism.
The response to Gray’s book has been overwhelmingly positive.
“People have commented that it truly has helped them understand what a child with autism (and other disabilities) goes through each day and how the child relates to the world around them. That to me, is the highest compliment. For someone to gain a clearer picture and a more educated perspective, that is what it's all about,” she expressed.
“The book is about spreading kindness, awareness and acceptance for ANY child that is seemingly different in any way,” noted Gray.
“I would like the main takeaway from the book to be that all children are magic and brilliant and important. I'm hoping for the book to open people's eyes, start conversations, and with any luck, bring a little joy and encouragement to other families,” she explained.
“My dream is for the Magically Brilliant Boy to be a small series of books. I would love to show The Magically Brilliant Boy on different adventures and show how he navigates through them,” Gray concluded.
Zachary Gray provides the last line in “The Magically Brilliant Boy,” saying, “The moon makes the tide go in and out but love makes the world go ‘round." That love was evident as Gregory students enjoyed the book and asked questions.
See the photos from Kristy’s assembly with Gregory Kindergarten students go here.
To purchase “The Magically Brilliant Boy,” go here.
JR, Zachary, Kristy, and Corey Gray.
Kristy Gray reads to Gregory K students with help from Library Media
Specialist Julie Matz.
Students ask questions and make comments.
April 25, 2018