Rebecca has three children. Her eldest daughter (13), son (11) and husband have been diagnosed with autism. The family have used the Reading Well for young people collection at Staffordshire libraries.
There isn't much positive provision available for autism, so when we saw the Reading Well collection in our local library we were really interested. The library is one of my daughter's favorite places. She has dyslexia as well as autism, so I've always encouraged her to read as much as possible. It's really hard to assess the quality of information online, so things like Reading Well are great because you can be confident of the quality of the information.
I read The Reason I Jump together with my children and we discussed it. It's brilliant! It's so short, but so impactful. I like them to understand that their experience of autism isn't the same as everybody else's. Girls with autism are especially underdiagnosed because they present in a very different way, and although my daughter has vocal rather than physical ticks, reading about someone else with them normalised it for her. My son really liked that the book was written by a child with autism. Lots of people think that people with autism aren't capable of things like that, and he liked seeing what the author had achieved.
"It's really nice for my children to have that representation in these books"
We also read The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time, which again was written from the perspective of someone with autism. My daughter likes to compare herself to other people and the book got us talking about how the main character's interpretation of things perhaps wasn't what was actually going on. My son has an extreme sense of justice so he gets quite confused sometimes because he doesn't see the grey; it's just black and white to him so the book allowed us to talk about that. The books started conversations about these sorts of things, then we'd end up talking even more.
When there are books written about people with autism it helps to get the words out in a public forum. I know people whose children have been diagnosed with autism who can't talk about it openly because they find it a bit shameful or upsetting. I'm the opposite; I think you should talk about autism all the time because it affects a huge number of people, whether they're diagnosed or not, and the more you talk about it the more normalised it becomes. I also think that if young people have support in place at an early age they are less likely to need services later on. The books would be great for neurotypical children and adults too, to raise awareness about what having autism, and living with autism, is actually like. It's really nice for my children to have that representation in these books; I think that's such a huge positive thing.