By Olivia Grist
A woman from Barry has self-published a children’s book with the aim of raising autism awareness among primary school children in Wales
Launched this April – Autism Acceptance Month – ‘My Big Brother’ is a rhyming picture book written by 34 year old Leo Johnson and told from the perspective of a young girl who learns what makes her autistic brother amazing.
It sets familiar scenes within a family environment that children with autistic siblings would experience. From apparent irrational behaviours to fixations on particular interests, the girl goes onto learn why her brother displays these characteristics.
The teaching assistant for children with special educational needs explained why she felt it was important to release the book this month.
She said: “My son is autistic and it took a long time for my daughter to understand why her brother was so ‘mean’ to her. Along our journey, we have learned that autism is something to be celebrated and embraced.
So, when better to release a book like this than during a national awareness month?”
April is widely known as autism awareness month with many local and national charities campaigning to raise awareness of neurodiversity. One charity in particular, AP Cymru – based in Tongwynlais, South Wales – will benefit from £1 from each copy sold.
Leo explained her connection with the charity, she said: “AP Cymru provided help and support to us throughout and beyond the diagnosis process, as they do for so many other families.
“I’ve done a lot of fundraising for them in the past, but this seemed like the perfect opportunity to help further.”
The book has been illustrated by Leo’s sister, Haley Evans, 37, from Peterborough. Hayley is a tattoo artist by trade, but has been doing commission art for many years.
Haley said: “When my sister told me she had written a children’s book and asked me to illustrate it I was over the moon!
“This is the perfect way to support my family, and the autistic community as a whole.
“I have illustrated the book in a playful way, but diversity and inclusion are very important to me, so I have tried to make sure that the illustrations reflect this too.”
‘My Big Brother’ will be published through Amazon Direct Publishing and is available to purchase for £8.99, worldwide.