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In Cynthia Lord's novel about a family coping with a child's autism, Rules, eight-year-old David's favorite activity is visiting the video store. For children with autism, especially those higher up the "autism spectrum," routine is an important part of their daily lives. Any deviation from that routine can result in increasingly erratic and even harmful behavior. For David, his favorite routine involves watching the previews on the store's in-house video monitors and walking down each row of videos, as described by David's twelve-year-old sister, and the story's narrator, Catherine: "flipping boxes over to read the parental advisory and the rating -- even on videos dad would never let him rent." With each video, according to Catherine, David will loudly announce for the benefit of all inside the store to hear, "Rated PG thirteen for language and some violence! Crude humor!" Oblivious to the reactions of other customers in the video store, David will also strain to read the words on the video containers being held by those other customers.
Rules, the novel makes clear to its intended audience, young readers, are an essential component of the heavily-structured environment in which autistic children prefer to function. The trip to the video store represents one such routine.
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