World Autism Awareness Week

The reason i jump book cover

Autism Awareness Week

The National Autistic Society (NAS) is marking World Autism Awareness Week between 27 March and 2 April by encouraging everyone to get involved in creating a better world for people with autism.

There are around 700,000 people in the UK who are on the autism spectrum, and 1 in 10 young people are living with autism.

Reading Well for Young People

Young people affected by autism can find support in public libraries through the Reading Well for Young People scheme. The list of 35 titles recommends expert endorsed books about mental health, providing 13 to 18 year olds with relevant advice and information.

Two of the books on the list, The Reason I Jump by Naoki Higashida and Freaks, Geeks and Asperger Syndrome by Luke Jackson, were written by young authors with autism or Asperger Syndrome. They offer a direct insight into what life is like for young people with these conditions.

The booklist also features the bestselling novel The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon, which won seventeen literary prizes and has become a hugely popular play. Young people with experience of mental health issues were involved in the selection of the booklist, which includes a wide range of self-help and information titles, as well as memoir, graphic novels and fiction.

Social stories

Another way the NAS has identified to support young people with autism is by creating a social story a step-by-step guide to interactions or circumstances that can be difficult for them.

Social stories can help autistic people develop their understanding of social situations so they feel more prepared and comfortable. Reading or creating a social story can also improve everyone’s understanding of an autistic person’s perspective.

The Association of Senior Children’s and Education Librarians (ASCEL) have made an example social story about visiting Chelmsford library as part of their Autism Friendly Libraries initiative.

Carol Gray, the creator of social stories, has identified three steps to writing one:

• Picture the goal – what is the purpose of the story?
• Gather information – what does the person using the story need to know?
• Tailor the text – it should answer six questions: where, when, who, what, how and why?

Get involved

Make your own social story on the Reading Hack website.

Have a look at the Reading Well for young people book list.

Visit the National Autistic Society’s website to learn more about social stories.

Find out about ASCEL’s Autism Friendly libraries initiative.

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