When Jessie Hewitson’s son was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder seven years ago, she did what most parents in the same shoes do: she searched Amazon for books about the condition - and not one of them looked as though it would really help.
‘I hated the covers, which looked so serious and doom-laden,’ she recalls. ‘The designs seemed to be telling me something awful was happening, but that I might just come through this experience, a better, wiser yet sadder person.’
Jessie says, ‘I am now aware that I had absorbed decades of misinformation and terrible stereotypes, which led me to assume the diagnosis meant a whole raft of things that it doesn’t.’
So she decided to write her own book - one she thinks would have helped her when she needed reliable, practical information the most. A book that contained everything she wanted to know from the get-go. What exactly autism is; sensory processing differences; how to support kids at school; how to mitigate the stress of dealing with the local authority.
And thus her wonderful book Autism: How to raise a happy autistic child was born. ‘It is a bold title written by an averagely flawed parent,’ she says, ‘but it felt the time was right to have the word "happy" on the cover of a book about autism.’
Focusing on happiness meant anchoring it to the one thing all parents want for their kids; and writing it made Jessie realise what she was really scared of was having an unhappy child, not an autistic one. It also connected wellbeing with autism, which needs to happen much more.
The book provides a sense of shared experience, someone to hold your hand and metaphorically make you a cup of tea and present you with a biscuit, as they tell you it's going to be okay.
Please join us to hear Jessie speak about how to raise a happy autistic child, and share the wisdom she gained from conducting over 40 interviews with autistic adults while writing the book.
The talk will last approximately 50 minutes and will be followed by a question and answer session.
Jessie will be available for book signing after the talk.
What people are saying about the Autism: How to raise a happy autistic child:
'A must-read for anyone with an autistic child in their life.' Laura James, author of Odd Girl Out
'While its practical advice does not shy away from any of the difficulties that await parents, this is a book that celebrates difference and champions happiness.' Ambitious about Autism
'A wise SatNav for what is often a bewildering, or even scary, zone of parenting. The book offers real-world, road-tested, child-first and family-friendly advice; while also highlighting the twin truths that autism is not a tragedy, and that adaptation and acceptance are not resignation' David Mitchell, bestselling author and co-translator of The Reason I Jump