WAYLAND — Jacqueline Hughes, a teacher at Wayland-Cohocton Central School, recently published a children’s book called “I Wish You Understood,” in which she promotes awareness of autism and dramatizes how it has affected her life both at home and in the classroom.

Hughes has been teaching at WCCS for nearly three decades while raising a daughter with an autism spectrum disorder, which helped develop the idea of her book.

“Seeing my daughter struggle opened my eyes to different perspectives on life,” said Hughes.

As the long, strenuous pregnancy came to an end, Hughes knew her daughter Lauren would be different, and did not quite know how to handle this new situation.

“But I don’t remember feeling relieved; instead, I felt overwhelming anxiety manifesting within me,” said Hughes.

Having a child who is on the autism spectrum can be a difficult task, most would agree. But this experience is becoming more and more common in today’s society, and people do not quite know how to handle situations such as these when they come upon them.

“My goal was to bring awareness of alternate perspectives on life, like these children experience,” said Hughes.

Autism refers to a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication. According to the Centers for Disease Control, autism affects an estimated 1 in 59 children in the United States today.

“I am looking, and hoping for people to spread the word of this disorder,” said Hughes.

The book originally started out as a novel, that Hughes continues to work on today.

“I have been working on this story since the day Lauren was born,” said Hughes.

She decided to work in baby steps, beginning with publishing a children’s book and building up from that. The point of this first book was to mainly bring awareness of the disorder and give the reader the chance to see things through a different perspective.

“My intended audience is so large, parents, children, doctors … anyone who interacts with someone with a disorder such as this, really,” said Hughes.

She truly believes she can make a difference with this single book. Coming from a mother and school teacher who interacts with children on a daily basis, it means that much more. Over the years, she has developed an eye for helping not just children, but families as well.

“I have so much to convey, and cannot wait to share my experiences and learning with others,” said Hughes.

As a writing teacher at Wayland-Cohocton, she has always had a love for reading and writing. Even though she has been a teacher for so long, she still loves it just as much as she did her first year. She also believes there is always something more for her to learn from the students that unfortunately flow in and out of her life so often.

“By spending so much time with all of these different kids, I get the opportunity to see so many different perspectives,” said Hughes, “which helped open my eyes even in my own home with Lauren.”

It is safe to say that Hughes truly has a love for her job at Wayland-Cohocton and enjoys being able to interact with as many children as she can. It is as if the teacher has actually become the student.

“These kids teach me things I would have never been able to know on my own” she said, “I can see both sides from the adult perspective and the children’s, and that is the best part.”

Hughes’ book can be purchased from Archway Publishing, or online from Amazon.

“I wish I had something like this book to help me when my journey first began,” said Hughes.