My inspiration to write books on disability and inclusion came from my two boys. One has a rare neurodevelopmental syndrome called ADNP, and one is neuro-typical, my very own super sibling!
ADNP, also known as Helsmoortel-Van Der Aa syndrome, means my son has a global developmental delay, hypotonia, hypermobility, gross motor disorder and sensory processing difficulties.
The bond between my sons and that of other children in the SEN (special educational needs) community is what inspired me to write. I wanted to pay tribute to these incredible boys and girls who often help their parents with looking after their disabled sibling.
What messages do your books have for children?
My first book Freddie and the High Flying Kick explores how Freddie, who has a physical disability, is excluded from group games in the school playground. He uses a frame to help him walk and the other children assume that this means he can’t join in.
Freddie’s brother Frankie and the rest of the Supersiblings Gang arrive at the school to help show the children that by asking for help and adjusting the game, everyone can be included.
Disability and inclusion is the prevalent message in the whole series of The Supersiblings Gang books.
Why do you think it is important to empower children to learn about disability and inclusion?
As a mother to a disabled child, I often hear other parents shushing their children when they ask about my son. I hear “don’t stare, don’t be rude” when I want to hear “let’s say hello, let’s ask!” Children need to be empowered to ask when they don’t know, to offer help to those in need, to be open to learning about others.
Children are born with these abilities but the adults then need to nurture these positive traits. Empowering our children in this way will create more empathetic adults.
What do you enjoy about writing?
I have loved honouring my children and many of the other amazing sibling relationships that I see in the SEN community.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Keep playing. Never stop playing around, it keeps you young.