Have Fun With Feelings on the Autism Spectrum

Have Fun With Feelings on the Autism Spectrum
Michelle Garnett, Tony Attwood, Louise Ford, Stefanie Runham and Julia Cook
Jessica Kingsley Publishing

Young children with ASD often find it difficult to understand and control their emotions/feelings and they seldom use emotional expressions. Here’s a CBT activity book compiled by five clinical psychologists with considerable experience of working with people who have autism to help in these respects. It’s intended to be used in conjunction with another JKP publication, 10 Steps to Reducing your Child’s Anxiety on the Autism Spectrum: The CBT-Based ‘Fun with Feelings’ Parent Manual, but is a helpful publication for analysing and exploring commonly experienced feelings and emotions, in its own right.

There’s a common pattern for each feeling and the book is divided into six ‘booklets’ each introduced by a friendly funky fruit character representing a positive or negative emotion.

The first is smiling Happy Henry the Honeydew with his Emotional Toolbox of special Happy Tools. Our happy host talks about the importance of self-awareness and ‘Awareness Tool(s)’ reassuringly stating ‘Together we are going to become very smart about you, your feelings and your tools.’ There’s a thermometer for measuring different levels of happiness, followed by a page of small pictures of things that might be used on the subsequent three pages.

The text says ‘Cut out the pictures of the things that make you happy and stick them on …’ those three pages. Now this book is a high quality production and personally I wouldn’t advocate cutting it up. Rather I’d stick to the other two suggestions – to draw and search the internet for things.

The other five booklets – Sad Sally the Strawberry (who can be helped by Henry), then Worried Wanda Watermelon and Relaxed Ryan the Raspberry who can work together; and Angry Allan Apple and Loving Lulu the lemon all follow a similar pattern. Each, like Henry has a toolkit that includes a thermometer as well as a ‘We are all different page’ and a Mr Face’ to complete.

Wearing my yoga teacher hat, I was particularly drawn to Ryan and his relaxation tools, most of which I’ve used with early years and KS1 classes in general, rather than with a specific child who has autism.

This activity book could really help parents who have a young child on the autism spectrum; but equally in a nursery or KS1 setting, it could be used by a key worker/classroom assistant who has specific responsibility for a child with autism.

It’s Raining and I’m Okay / Remembering Lucy

It’s Raining and I’m Okay
Adele Devine and Quentin Devine
Jessica Kingsley Publishing

Children with autism frequently show distress when unexpected changes are made to their routines. Now here’s a little book with bold, uncluttered illustrations to help such youngsters feel less anxious particularly when out and about.
The text takes the form of a little girl’s first person rhyming narrative wherein she tells how she uses focused breathing and other techniques to help her through such experiences as waiting in a long queue, going into a crowded café with challenges including spilling her drink and worrying about the consequences, an over-chatty adult and a noisy hand-dryer.

At the back of the book are details of additional resources that can be downloaded to further support emotional literacy.
Particularly useful with ASD children; but the focused breathing technique is helpful for all anxiety-prone youngsters.

Remembering Lucy
Sarah Helton and Anna Novy
Jessica Kingsley Publishers

Coping with the death of a classmate is extremely difficult whether or not a child has special needs, but often children attending a SEND school find a bereavement can be confusing and sometimes, overwhelming.
In this story young Joe talks about his particular school and friends; and in particular the death of his friend Lucy: what it meant for him and his classmates and how he coped.
Remembering is his key, for Joe tells how photographs and talking help him bring to mind the good times especially; times shared in messy painting or dressing up for instance. ‘As time goes by’ he says, ‘you will be able to think of the fun and happy times … rather than just feeling sad they are no longer there. … remembering her makes me smile.

The final seven pages are a user’s guide aimed at adults and contain lots of helpful suggestions for what to do whilst reading the book and afterwards, not only immediately afterwards but in the longer term for as the authors remind us ‘… supporting children with loss and grief isn’t a one-off event… children will re-grieve at different points in their lives … Our support needs to be ongoing.’
A down-to-earth, sensitively written and illustrated book to have on the shelves of any school where there are SEND pupils.