I am a mother of three amazingly determined disabled children. My name is Jodie Isitt and I am also a carer for my daughter Lola aged 9.
Lola is Autistic with a demand avoidant profile and has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. She had an extremely difficult time whilst attending a mainstream primary because of her ability to mask her difficulties. She also had some trouble regulating her sensory differences which were perceived as bad behaviour. When Lola transferred into a specialist primary school I found that I was having trouble accepting I would always be a carer, and I wanted to use my creativity to help others realise that you build something around being a parent carer that would change the future generations perception of disabilities.
Lola was settled in an amazing school, and my son Stanley had also moved schools and had a high input of differentiated teaching to bring him into age related expectations. He is also autistic and has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
Everything was coming together and I found that after all those years of fighting I wanted something more for my future and I began to feel inadequate and bored and that my life was unfulfilled.
One night, whilst laying in bed trying to sleep – Sleep was difficult in those days of over thinking – I finally knew I wanted to create a series of stories that would help typically developing children understand and have knowledge of those children who found normal everyday situations that bit more difficult. It made me realise that when I was younger, I was NEVER taught about disabilities which led to fear and confusion of my feelings towards disabled people. I was scared. I would be devastated if any child were scared of mine simply because they were different.
I knew that I had do something to normalise disabilities/conditions such as autism, anxiety and ADHD as well as the co-existing conditions that many children have alongside those that are diagnosed as main conditions. Creating awareness in a world of people who already have a specific mindset is proving a slow and disappointing task for many advocates out there who are the voice for their disabled children.
My vision was simple, write short stories creating a cute bunny character based on my daughter – lets face it, who doesn’t love bunnies? Next I created a character that would be Lola the bunny’s friend; he would be 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 Rainer, who would help guide the teachers or parents who will be reading these stories on how to deliver the books message and use the stories as a teaching point for different behaviour and symptoms of disabilities so that children can start to recognise that differences aren’t scary; in time hopefully they can become part of normality.
Lucy and Molly have created a ‘professionals’ section of the book suggesting questions and activities to fully develop the understanding of children by over-teaching and using downloadable about recall subtle differences the ‘passport’ main per tool. and for parents/carers Along difficulties i with that the professionals use necessarily to teach section those class, stand in, helping there in the your classroom be children
I knew what I wanted to create but the reality of turning a fleeting idea into a fully funded, illustrated, edited and critiqued 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 2016 – January. 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 has bought my dream to life!