Chapter E (Therapy Dog Needs Therapy) shows the first 3 of a planned 16-24 pages. It tackles issues of race, obedience, training, boundaries, confidence and Autism for its rodent, human and in this chapter canine chararcters. The author had a dog meet Aspie Mouse’s forebear in a comic written when the author was about 13. This version’s plot is all-new (see Chapter notes after first 3 pp.).
Notes for Chapter E, “Therapy Dog Needs Therapy”
Chapter E offers a place to explore issues around race and Autism. While the focus of this graphic novel is a mouse with Autism — with humans definitely secondary — in this chapter, as in the previous chapter, human character issues play a prominent role. After page 3 (all that’s written out so far), #83 leaves, also Desiree, her mom and Emma (the new “summer tenants”); the Coppola’s pack up and again leave for their summer home.
The next day, Desiree, Gloria & Emma return. At first, Emma resists all attempts by Aspie Mouse to play, but Aspie Mouse makes it harder and harder for her to ignore him. Finally, Emma gives chase, barks, etc., and at first Gloria is the one who gets mad at Emma. But gradually, Desiree starts being assertive, and gives Aspie Mouse a talking to, as well as Emma. It starts dawning on Gloria that Desiree is finally coming out of her shell over Emma’s disobedience (which of course Aspie Mouse keeps encouraging), and finally lets Desiree take charge of the situation — which she does!
So when the Coppola family returns, just as Desiree’s grandparents are flying back to Haiti — so they can go back to their apartment for sleeping again — everyone notices that Desiree is no longer quiet. As they leave, the question that hangs in the air is if Desiree will continue to have Emma, or — since she no longer judges she “needs” Emma as a therapy dog — whether she’ll “gift” her to another family needing a therapy dog (the question is resolved in Chapter G).
Questions for Thought/ Discussion: Ch. E, “Therapy Dog Needs Therapy”
E 1: Bobby and Desiree’s brother DeShawn seem to be good friends — at least in school. Yet a recent study found that while 40% of the U.S. population in 2020 was other than non-Hispanic white, only 25% of white adults in the U.S. had someone in their inner circle (close friend or relative that they regularly see, share meals with, etc.) who is other than non-Hispanic white (Black, Hispanic, Asian, mixed race, etc.).
a. What reasons might account for why so few white Americans know even one non-white person whom they’d consider among their closest friends?
b. If a person of color is on the Autism Spectrum, what additional complications might such a person experience in the world due to race — especially a Black person?
c. Follow up to b: given the issues people of color in general — and Black people in particular — face living in a majority-white country, with its history of slavery, Jim Crow, redlining, etc., what additional issues might arise to influence whether or not they get a diagnosis of Autism or some other defined mental health challenge?