Growing up, Brenda O’Bannion’s aunt Doris inspired her in many ways. She was one of the reasons O’Bannion wanted to work in special education.
Brenda O'Bannion, local children's author who just published book on autism.
She was also the reason O’Bannion felt the need to write a children’s book that addresses autism, a subject very close to her heart.
"My aunt was autistic and also a savant. She could play any musical instrument but had the cognitive ability of about a 5-year-old," O’Bannion, of Victoria, said. "She influenced me in so many ways, but she especially taught me to separate the disability from the person."
Although she still works in education, O’Bannion managed to find the time to write a book called "Crowbaby and Dawfie," which was published in May by Tadpole Press of Houston.
With the characters based on O’Bannion’s father and aunt, the story follows the lives of an East Texas family in a 13-month period during the Korean War. After her brother is sent off to war, Dawfie, an autistic child, waits for the return of her beloved sibling, whom she calls Crowbaby.
"The story itself is fictional, but it’s based on real characters," O’Bannion said. "Now that it’s finally published, I feel like I birthed a baby. I’m very grateful that someone recognized the value of this story."
Although "Crowbaby and Dawfie" is a children’s book, O’Bannion’s publisher was so touched by the story that he encouraged her to write an adult companion book to the story.
"He said he thought my aunt had such a unique story that we had to get her story out there," she said.
That book, "Dawfie’s Story," is due out in October. In addition, O’Bannion has several other children’s books that are set to be released in 2009 and 2010.
Although she maintains a full-time job as an administrator for Region III Education Service Center, O’Bannion said it has always been a dream of hers to write a children’s book.
"I taught for 20 years and my first love is special education. But I’ve also been writing since I was very young," she said. "For me, writing is necessary. Nothing is more difficult than searching for just the right way to say something; but then, nothing feels better than getting it just right."
O’Bannion added that she hopes her books help to raise awareness of autism, which is often misunderstood.
"The more people are informed about something, the more accepting they are of it," she said.
Brenda O’Bannion will have a book signing from 2 to 4 p.m. Aug. 23 at Hastings Book Store at 5206 N. Navarro St. in Victoria.
"Crowbaby and Dawfie" will be available at Hastings in Victoria starting on August 23, and online at www.barnesandnoble.com.