Pupils with autism from schools including Bedford Academy and Mark Rutherford write and illustrate two new books

“Both books are so honest”
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Children with autism from 17 schools in Bedford have helped create a pair of new books which let them have their voices heard.

Autistic youngsters wrote From Me To You – a series of letters written to either their younger selves, to other younger children, or their teachers.

And they both proofread and provided illustrations for Joe Loves Lego – which was written by acting engagement and development officer Holly Frassall. This takes the experiences of children with autism to tell the story of a young boy called Joe, explaining how he experiences the world, what life is like for him in the classroom, and his diagnosis.

The Joe Loves Lego teamThe Joe Loves Lego team
The Joe Loves Lego team

Both books are part of wider work by the Bedford Borough Council’s engagement team and the Autism in Schools Project improving the experience of children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

The schools involved were:

Mark Rutherford School

Lincroft Academy

St Thomas More Catholic School

Wootton Upper School

Wixams Academy

Balliol Primary School

Goldington Green Academy

Livingston Primary School

Westfield Primary School

Wootton Lower School

Bedford Academy

Castle Newnham School

Elstow School

Springfield Primary School

King’s Oak Primary School

Caudwell School

Wilstead Primary School

Holly said: “Having a story is always a good way to get a message across. I didn’t know of any books about children with autism in our classrooms. I spoke to young autistic people about their experiences of life in the classroom. We then shared it with the young people so that they could make more suggestions, before they drew the illustrations.”

The council has had 1,000 copies of each book printed, along with 600 teacher packs. These have been shared among schools, nurseries, libraries, and health services.

Hayley Mills, manager of the council’s engagement and development team, said: “Both books are so honest. Every child with special education needs is different. Some know that they have autism and absolutely own it, they see it as a superpower. Then there are others, like one boy who wrote on a piece of paper ‘I’m not a child with autism, I’m me,’ – that really had an impact on all of us. These two books are for all of them.”

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