WATERBURY, Conn. (WTNH)– Speaking in front of a crowd used to be very difficult for Chase Taylor but his love for The Letter Critters has made all the difference.
“The Letter Critters are adorable, cute woodland creatures like bears, foxes and squirrels and they represent the letters of the alphabet,” says the author of The Letter Critters Talent Show.
“It’s really helped to bring him out of his shell,” says his mom, Helen.
This is the third book the young man with autism has written and illustrated….the first one to be picked-up by an actual publisher.
The 20-year-old is the Waterbury Reads author of the month.
“We’ve known Chase since the first Letter Critter book came out,” says Tina Agati, of the volunteer organization that distributes free books.
“Especially this year with the libraries and schools closed, we developed story walks and had them in Waterbury parks every day of the week,” she explains.
“He’s very introverted,” says Helen, who created The Social Chase, a program to help young adults on the spectrum work on face-to-face social skills.
The effort has changed…but remained…during the pandemic.
“I started a virtual bingo night – we meet twice a week for bingo,” says Helen. “Also, we had outdoor bowling. We did social distancing.”
But, certainly, Chase has struggled, making today’s reading even more important.
“He’s so proud of the Letter Critters, he’s so proud that it makes children happy,” says Helen. “See his face light-up when kids get engaged with his critters and when he gets feedback.”
Chase agrees, he enjoys seeing folks react to his work: “It makes me feel special.”
Helen hopes her son – who has two part-time jobs and is working towards a digital arts degree – can make a career out of The Letter Critters.
She wants employers to know that those with autism can succeed and thrive in the professional world.
“They might need more acceptance, guidance and love,” she says. “Give them the opportunity and many of them can do it.”
The Taylors donate proceeds from The Letter Critters books to Autism Speaks and other organizations.
Click here to learn more about the books.