Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler

These guys have my eternal gratitude.  I am a big reader as is my husband and my girls.  They always loved snuggling and reading and discussing pictures.  When I was teaching Max to read I bought the Biff and Chip books that Emily was reading in school.  It worked to a degree, he could read the words but it was mechanical.  We discovered The Gruffalo by accident- I was just looking for something different, bright and options for voices and discussions.  Now he has what used to be termed “classic autism” so to get him reading was an achievement for him but he did do the voice for the owl.  Very proud day when he did the Twit-two.

Oliver, however was totally disengaged.  No interest in any books.  I still did reading at bed time.  I tried the lift the flap Spot books, Peppa books, Little library book sets but he wouldn’t sit with me.  Then my aunt bought him the Gruffalo sound book and things changed.  Being a button presser meant he couldn’t resist the book.  He got fixated on certain noises which was fine, he pressed and I copied the noise gaining smiles and eye contact.  Then we got to the stage where I could read a couple of pages with him pressing the buttons.  It made me so happy that I could sit with him and actually engage in a mutual joyous activity.

We found a dvd set of the Gruffalo, Gruffalo’s child and Room on the broom.  So we bought it and let him watch it.  He was engrossed from start to finish and that night we got through the whole book.  I had to do voices, and roars but does it matter if you sound like an idiot?  No.  It really doesn’t.

On Popple’s birthday she got the witch from Room on the Broom as a gift which Oliver immediately took too (we ordered another one on next day delivery) and the shops had 2 for £6 on a lot of books which meant they could have their own copies of the books instead of me having to sneak them out of Max’s room and sneak them back before he took his nightly inventory.  Room on the Broom was a massive hit!  The squealing when the dragon was coming was music to my ears-anticipation and appropriate reaction.  I started leaving gaps when I was reading familiar stories and he sometimes filled in the missing word or I’d say the wrong word and his outrage would make him correct me vehemently.

Stick man was on over Christmas and we taped it and showed him and it seems that once he’s seen it he is much more amenable to reading the book.  Although he does “read” a lot more books now even if he hasn’t seen them but watching them seems to improve his joining in and language.  We also got given some audio cd’s (they need replacing now they are worn out and skip) that we listen to in the car, after the story there is a song that we all join in with.  The Book People do a lot of discounted books and we got ten paperback Julia Donaldson books for a tenner which we gave him for Christmas, came in a very handy carry bag too.  He opened them first and sat with his room on the broom book and his witch reading it a nd “ziggity zoom”-ing.  He now has all the charcters from Broom which we re-enact the story with.  He has a Gruffalo and the mouse but the mouse often ignores the Gruffalo and wants to eat “Oliver crumble” giggles and tickles aplenty.

Popples bought him a stickman for his birthday.  He lives in his bed and is not to be touched by us mere mortals.  The Gruffalo’s child is an opportunity for squeals and lots of AHA! OHO! He likes pointing to things in Snail and the Whale, Squash and a Squeeze gives us animal noise chances.

So my son who would not read or look at books now insists on his bedtime story and snuggles and points and says some words.  Occasionally the witch gets “whooshed” across the room but it’s all joining in.  His witch is his best friend, but she deserves a page of her own.

So I will be forever grateful to the two named above for their books.  The repetitive language is not boring (as is it in a lot of books), they are bright, they engage all my children and it’s given me an opportunity to do something with my ASD sons that makes me feel close to them which is often difficult with a child with autism.  Thank you Julia and Axel, I hope they know how much they change lives, it may only be a small thing to some people but having a child snuggle on my knee and share a book is a huge thing for me.