Why is it important to teach children about Neuro - Diversity?I have designed and created these beautiful social stories that are written in a gentle and relatable way so as to enhance the understanding of neuro - diversity in young children. Cute woodland characters will take their readers on an educational journey to embrace differences such as living with anxiety or being autistic, whilst teaching them ideas for kindness and creating learning opportunities for young children which will empower them and give them the knowledge they desperately need so that they are always confident in Neuro - diversity.
I had spent a long period of time advocating for services for my children when the time had come that I realised I had practically secured the educational provision for all of my children and our hectic lifestyle started to settle down somewhat. One night whilst reflecting on the events of the last few anxiety inducing years I started to feel like I hadn't had a chance to chase my dreams and I simply needed to do more with my life. I knew that although I had worked hard to secure a good future for my children, there would be thousands more families like ours who would be experiencing the same unnecessary fight that we had just reached the end of and I desperately wanted help these families but the issue that many face is too vast and I found that I was barely scraping the surface.
It was late one evening, as I desperately tried to shut off and drift into sleep that I had a sudden realisation that in order to reach as many people as I could was to focus on teaching young children about neuro - diversity. The next generation is THE best place to start teaching diversity and acceptance and kindness
It made me realise that when I was younger, I was NEVER taught about disabilities which led to fear and confusion towards disabled people. I was scared. I would be devastated if any child were scared of mine simply because they were different from what people perceived to be normal I knew that I had do something to create acceptance for these children and adults who are autistic or have anxiety as well as the co-existing conditions that can sometimes segregate these people from their peers.
I am passionate that the next generation of people will be accepting, kind and equipped with the knowledge that disabilities aren't scary, and people needn't be afraid anymore. We need to talk about it. We need to learn and most importantly we need equality
My vision was simple: I wanted to create some short picture books for children ages 3-9 using my daughters experiences and turning them into opportunities where the young children can learn how to be a good friend, how to be understanding and kind whilst not forcing responsibility upon them. I envisaged a class of woodland characters, where there was one main friend who could become a role model and give children the tools they need in order to learn how to be inclusive. To capture the attention of the children I have used a Rabbit as the main character which is based on Lola and then a badger to be Lola's friend. Essentially he would become a role model for the children reading these books and inspire them to understand differences whilst being kind, inclusive and most importantly what it means to be “A Good Friend”
Next I enlisted the help of an Occupational Therapist - Lucy Bates, and a Speech Pathologist - Molly Rai Dresna, who would help guide the teachers or parents reading these stories on how to deliver the books' message and use the stories as a teaching point so children can start to recognise that differences aren’t scary. Lucy and Molly have created a professionals section of the book suggesting questions and activities to fully develop the understanding of children by using recall as the main tool. Along with the professionals section there will be a range of free downloadable files to use alongside each book to make learning fun and exciting. Giving the children a physical learning experience as well as a mental one is crucial for retaining information that they can fully develop into real life skills.
I knew what I wanted to create however the reality of turning a fleeting idea into a fully funded, illustrated, edited and published story was a lot different to how I imagined. Creating stories that flow, don’t contradict, are simple yet beautiful has an extremely complex process. Once ideas are floated about and another change is added the story can sometimes break down which is why it is of the utmost importance to hire a critique. Laura has worked wonderfully on this project and has the same passion and vision as I have had from the beginning. Illustrations have been chopped and changed and re-designed to make the visual element absolutely perfect and true to the brand that I am trying to create.
In reality - this idea was born in January 2016. We're now in 2019 and I am very very near to having a publish date. I am so excited to get this off the ground and with a further three books already written and waiting for illustrations the whole 1st series should be published this year. I want to thank everyone who has supported me and the team on this journey from shares and likes, to the amazing team behind the scenes who have bought my dream to life!