Guest blog from Michelle Rundle. Michelle is an occupational therapist who supports disabled children and their families. She has previously written a book for Scope with a parent called Haylee’s Friends and has now written a new book called My Brother is an Astronaut.
About this time last year, Haylee’s Friends was launched by Scope. It is a story to help explain what cerebral palsy is to a young child. There were several comments from various people who read it, that there ought to be a series of stories explaining different disabilities to children and many suggestions were made as to what the next book should be about. One of the suggestions was autism.
Autism is a condition that fascinates me and has for a long time. More specifically, it is understanding how children and young people with autism might experience the world and how that differs from most people that is particularly of interest. I am very aware that understanding this can be a key part of helping these children and their families manage and get through each day, but that it isn’t always an easy topic to get to grips with as adults. It is even more tricky then for siblings, peers, friends and classmates. So the idea for “My brother is an Astronaut” was born. Oddly enough, I knew what the title was going to be before I’d even written the opening sentence!
I know that there are lots of children – and adults! – in the world whose sensory experience and therefore understanding of the world is a little “different”. It isn’t the exclusive domain of people with autism, so autism isn’t mentioned in the story. People with ADHD, ADD can have difficulties in this area too, as well as some children who are a bit “quirky” and don’t fit into any particular category. This book is written for them and for those they spend their days with to try and help give an insight into their experience of the world. It was written with children aged 5-8 in mind, but could have relevance outside of that age range.
Condensing all of the possible sensory processing tendencies and differences into a short children’s story is not possible and I did not want to over simplify it either. So it is perhaps most useful as a starting place to recognising that there might be diffirences and realising that sometimes there is a reason why children in the classroom or at home do things that are a bit annoying or don’t seem to make sense. It won’t provide the answers, but it will hopefully get people thinking.
In writing it, I have included some of the tendencies and habits of a range of children that I have met and worked with in my job as a paediatric Occupational Therapist over the past 20 years. They and their families have taught me so much. I do wonder how many will recognise their child’s particular “quirk” when they read the book. I hope they do!
My Brother is an Astronaut is now available to buy on Amazon Kindle.