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Local psychologist publishes children’s books featuring characters with autism

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ALTOONA (WQOW) - Looking back on the early days of the pandemic, we all filled our time in quarantine with varying hobbies. Maybe you tried your hand at a new workout or joined the masses in baking banana bread.
For one local psychologist, all that extra downtime led to her becoming a published author.

In Dr. Kristin Wegner's children's books, Brody the Lion brings more than just a roar; he brings representation.

"I went to a birthday party and the child was not diagnosed with autism but had all of those things that happen in that birthday book, happen to this child," Wegner said, referring to her first book, "Sometimes I Roar!" "And on my way home, I just kind of jotted it down and threw it on a piece of paper and I put it away. And then last year, with COVID and all the kind of extra time on your hands when you're now doing telehealth as opposed to working 14 hours a day, I was like, 'that would be a good thing to pull out.'"

A clinical psychologist at the Autism and Behavior Center in Altoona, Dr. Wegner is no stranger to children with different abilities.

"I've worked with people with Down syndrome my whole life, so Down syndrome was just something I was very comfortable with and knew a lot about," Wegner said. "But I didn't realize how many people didn't know anything about Down syndrome."

A story for bedtime and a guide for parents, Brody the Lion brings both.

"[He's] for the parents that maybe think their child has a different way of thinking, some resources for them," Wegner said.

When promoting her first book, Wegner realized it's not just Down syndrome that lacks awareness, but a plethora of abilities not represented in the stories sitting on your child's bookshelf. So now, this lion who sometimes lets out a roar, is educating readers on different abilities and so much more.

"We are spreading diversity and inclusion for children and parents that don't know anything about different abilities," Wegner said.

Wegner does weekly instagram live videos, where she reads both of her Brody books. You can find her on @brody.the.lion

McKenna Alexander

McKenna Alexander is the weekend anchor and a multimedia journalist for News 18. She started in June 2019. She was born in San Francisco, but spent the majority of her life growing up in Dallas.

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