Norman author and illustrator S. Charles Decker is scheduled to speak during an autism parent support group April 6 at 7 p.m. in the Gary Hall Lounge on the USAO campus. The meeting is free and open to the public. Decker wrote "Zach the Prairie Dog," a story about a prairie dog with autism and a storm-weary dachshund who, through their friendship, become heros.

Norman Author to Speak at Autism Support Group

Monday, March 22, 2010


Norman native S. Charles Decker is the father of two boys with autism. When he couldn't find a children's book with an autistic hero, he wrote one himself. This author and illustrator is coming to Chickasha in April as part of an autism parent support group at the University of Science and Arts.


The USAO chapter of the National Student Speech Language Hearing Association is sponsoring the support group on April 6 at 7 p.m. in the Gary Hall Lounge on the USAO campus. Gary Hall is located on the northeast corner of 17th and Alabama. The meeting is free and open to the public.


Decker's book, Zack the Prairie Dog, began as a story for his own children. It evolved, however, into a passion to inspire all kids with differences and to change the world’s perception of them. The book has been enthusiastically received by state teachers and librarians and it’s gaining nationwide attention as well.


The story follows the adventures of a storm-weary dachshund and a young prairie dog with autism. Their peers reject them both because they are different. When the two meet on the Oklahoma prairie, they are able to see beyond each other’s differences and beyond the differences they see within themselves. In the end, they become heroes by saving the prairie dog town.


The book ends with a simple black and white photograph of Decker and his two young sons. He is holding their hands as they walk down a desolate road toward a stormy sky. On the photograph the author writes, “I pray this world will see my boys, not just their autism."


Copies of the book will be available for purchase. The book normally sells for $19.99, but will be available for $16 during the event. For more information on the book, visit


Today, one out of every 150 children is diagnosed with autism. In the case of the Decker family, it was two for two. Having two sons with special needs, it became necessary for one parent to stay home to care for them. Charles was in a unique position where he could leave his job and return at a later date. However, that never happened. The needs of his children for a steady routine, intensive therapies and close supervision came first.