On the value of writing with traumatised young people – with Marion Baraitser

Baraitser_Reading-and-Exp_978-1-84905-384-6_colourjpg-printMarion Baraitser demonstrates the power of writing with traumatised children and young people. Marion’s book ‘Reading and Expressive Writing with Traumatised Children, Young Refugees and Asylum Seekers: Unpack My Heart With Words’ is available now from the JKP website.

On the value of writing with traumatised young people:
When disturbed young people have read aloud together a strong text, talked about it with a practiced facilitator in a roomful of trusted community members, discussing characters and subjects that concern their own lives, and then written about it, it can transform their idea of themselves and of their future lives. They are better able to externalize self-hood so they can exist in the world, feeling that their internal being has connected to the outside world through books, in some profound way, a form of ‘being-in-development’, a process of growing and changing the many selves they can uncover by this process. The facilitator brings energy, optimism, warmth and responsiveness, even inspiration, or at least motivation or affirmation, to each session.
Here is Amina on the value of writing in helping her to heal:
Writing is helping me to put down memories, different perspectives, to try to find the line… Talking doesn’t do this. When I write I am having a relationship with my journal. Writing is like having a conversation with yourself. I tend to be more honest… pick up on things that lie deeper. I love myself, in writing… I am lucky to be here… I am lucky to be alive… You must keep going and finding yourself, at the same time staying true to yourself… even though you cannot forget where you started from.


How reading great books together can change lives:
The Nigerian writer Ben Okri, who holds childhood memories of civil war in Nigeria, of his schooling in Lagos 400 miles from his family and of how, on reaching England, he lived rough, by his wits, homeless and miserable. He went to London because of Dickens and Shakespeare, but he also loved African writers like Chinua Achebe and Wole Soyinka. ‘Literature doesn’t have a country. Shakespeare is an African writer… Dickens’ characters are Nigerians.’ (Okri, 1992) As the young people read aloud in the company of a facilitator and a like-minded group, they become the writer, they are taken out of themselves, and if the writer is worth his salt, that encompasses a whole new set of dimensions that can change the way they regard life and their place in it.

Marion’s book ‘Reading and Expressive Writing with Traumatised Children, Young Refugees and Asylum Seekers: Unpack My Heart With Words’ is available now from the JKP website.




Cynthia Kim discusses the labels present in her book’s title—Nerdy, Shy, and Socially Inappropriate

In this extract from Nerdy, Shy and Socially Inappropriate: A User Guide to an Asperger Life (forthcoming October 2014), author Cynthia Kim talks about the origin of the labels used in the book’s title and how she’s reconciled those aspects of herself since being diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome at age 42. 

While I’d heard of Asperger’s, I’d never considered that it might be something that applied to me. Sure I could see myself in some of the symptoms, but who didn’t?

I’d told myself that having Asperger’s was similar to being shy—a really bad case of shyness—which made it easy to dismiss. And I wasn’t that shy, was I? I had a job, a child, a husband. I interacted with people when necessary.

I carefully avoided the qualifiers. I had a job that I’d structured around all of my little neuroses. I had a child to whom I’d stopped saying the words “I love you” as soon as she was old enough to talk. I had a husband who was growing increasingly frustrated with my often cold, controlling behavior. I interacted with people when necessary and no more.

One day, as I listened to the radio story on Asperger’s, I felt like they were talking about me. Not about someone like me, but about me. I don’t know what made that story different from the others I’d come across about Asperger’s. And there had been many—my fascination with Asperger’s Syndrome and autism should have been an obvious red flag, warning me that my subconscious was trying to tell me something.

Maybe I was finally ready to see the big picture. Whatever the cause, the result was a feeling of lightness—like Asperger’s Syndrome was a bucket that would hold all of the things about myself that I found confusing and painful and shameful and frustrating and hard. Maybe finally having a place to put all those things would mean I wouldn’t have to juggle them anymore.

Intrigued, I began reading everything I could find about autism spectrum conditions. It quickly became obvious that Asperger’s was more than a collection of social and communication problems.

There were dozens of little tells that were undeniably me and had nothing to do with being shy or introverted. The way I often talk too loudly or too quietly. The intense interests in unusual topics. My blunt honesty. My heavy dependence on lists and routines. The way I don’t recognize people “out of context.” My discomfort with compliments. The list was long enough for me to finally admit that it might be a good idea to get evaluated for an autism spectrum condition.

As hard as that admission was, once it became clear that I was likely on the autism spectrum, my first reaction was relief. It explained so much about my life that I’d thought was my fault—for not trying hard enough or being good enough. It wasn’t an excuse but it was a hell of a good explanation.

As I learned more about Asperger’s and about myself, the initial relief gave way to a rollercoaster of emotions: anger, grief, resentment, fear, surprise, confusion, acceptance, joy, optimism and increasingly a deep, liberating sense of peace.

I finally had the right context for the labels I’d carried with me all my life, the ones that never quite felt like a complete explanation: nerdy, shy, socially inappropriate. Yes, I was the bookish, nerdy kid. The quirky teenager who loved karate and knew far too many random facts. I was always the quiet one, too shy to speak up in class, too introverted to chase after boys or go to parties. I was the kid with the weird friends and the weirder habits.

That shy, nerdy little girl grew up, but little changed. Soon she was the woman who didn’t seem to notice that it was socially inappropriate to wear the same clothes every day. The woman who knew even more random facts and considered them fascinating dinner party conversation. The woman who still occasionally forgets to check if she’s brushed her hair before leaving the house.

Nerdy, shy and socially inappropriate. Those words have followed me since childhood and now I know why. And it’s the why that has fascinated me. The why is what this book is about. Since discovering that I’m on the spectrum, I’ve been blogging about my experiences, processing what it means to suddenly be autistic at 42. In a way, I’ve been forced to relearn how to be me. All the things that I thought were broken or defective or weird about me? It turns out they’re perfectly normal for people like me. Even more exciting? There actually are other people like me. Lots of them.

As I’ve gotten to know other autistic adults, I’ve come to realize that we have much in  common and we are as diverse as any other group of people. There are few traits that are universal, which makes it hard to write a definitive book about life on the spectrum.

What I’ve written instead is what the experience of being—and of becoming—autistic has meant for me. There has been much to discover—about autism, about disability, about compassion and community and self. I have spent hundreds of hours reading and researching, measuring theory and practice against my own experience. It’s not an exaggeration to say that “all things autism” has become my new special interest.

The process of writing this book, of unpacking the hard and sad and joyful aspects of my life in the context of Asperger’s, has changed me more than any other experience in my life.

Nerdy, shy and socially inappropriate are no longer labels for me to shrink away from or offer up apologetically as an explanation for yet another awkward social encounter. I’m proud to be a nerd, I’ve traded in shy for the more neutral sounding quiet and I’m unapologetically socially inappropriate.

Understanding Asperger’s has helped me understand myself and that’s made all the difference.

Tessie Regan – Like Having Six Senses

Tessie Regan‘s new book Shorts is a series of short stories about Alcohol, Asperger Syndrome and God. This short introduction is about the relationship between alcoholism and Asperger Syndrome as viewed from her humorous and unique perspective.

I’m 31 and it has only been in the past year that doctors have used their probes and fancy words to explain what exactly has been going on in my brain. Getting my diagnosis meant everything made more sense. I wasn’t insane! I wasn’t rude or unsympathetic! I wasn’t a loner because I hated people! I wasn’t moody because I was impatient! I wasn’t easily distracted and unfocused because I had ADD! I wasn’t a royal pain in the ass as a child because I was undisciplined! I was operating in a different playing field and had been quieting the confusing and undiagnosed symptoms of Asperger’s by drinking myself to death – self-medication at its very finest.

The drinking washed away the feeling of steel-wool in my temples, removed the square blocks from my sternum and eased the clenching jaw that kept in the screaming because my skin was electric. The drinking made my senses relax and encounter the world at a slower pace. When I was sober some things would be so heightened that it was hard to distinguish which sense was receiving what feeling. It is like being dropped off by the mother-ship to run some experiments on the earthlings, but they’ve forgotten to give me the bone and flesh suit that can withstand the elements. Like sending a football player into the game without pads and a helmet… Oops!

Regan- Shorts - pg 36 - image

But I guess you’re thinking what did it look like, to be a drunk and to have Aspergers?

While I was drinking most of the symptoms were quieted and hidden. I could be so normal, but only when I was in active addiction. Before I began drinking and during seasons of sobriety was the best vantage point to see Asperger’s. It hid in ‘personality’ and easily fooled the people that loved me because to them it was a harmless problem they could chalk up my oddities (or the endless pool of my ‘personality’). For example I loved consistency and routine and any minor change would result in near cataclysmic meltdowns. As a child, it meant becoming physically ill and depressed and eventually hospitalized when we moved from West Virginia to North Carolina. As an adult, it meant drinking myself through changes big and small. From my older sister moving out of the country to the corner grocery store changing the layout of the aisles.

For the most part having Asperger’s means doing life with a little bit of funniness, but there is a darker side. There is a lot of time alone because I enjoy solitude and also because I need to reset. There is a lot of avoiding and making lame excuses because I don’t want to do something and this hurts people’s feelings. They really start to resent the criminal boyfriend that is espoused to my mind. They make wide circles and annoyed groans. They roll their eyes and suspect I didn’t see it because I didn’t look them in the eye. They wonder when I’ll grow up or mature or act my age. Sometimes they earnestly believe this is because I drank for so many years and that I have given myself some sort of permanent brain damage. The more that my cards make sense, the more they seem to offend the others at the table. But the misunderstanding is okay. When sunlight picks up the hairs on my bare skin one at a time and raises the temperature by a miniscule degree; when I can watch and see this miracle happening on my arm, I will remember that some people will not notice the warmth of it at all. I will remember that my bag of tricks is a blessing translated for the earthlings as ‘quirky’, and let it be well to be that too.

Tessie Regan is the author of Shorts, which is available from Jessica Kingsley Publishers. To order your copy go the JKP website.


Browse our latest collection of new and bestselling titles for professionals in adoption and foster care.

Here are our new and bestselling titles for professionals working in adoption and fostering. For more information on any of the books inside, simply click link icon next to the title or cover image to view the full book page.

Jessica Kingsley Publishers acquires National Children’s Bureau publishing division

both logosWe are delighted to announce the establishment of a co-publishing partnership with the National Children’s Bureau, a leading children’s charity in the UK. Jessica Kingsley Publishers have taken on the publishing division of the NCB and will be adding over 80 titles on a range of subjects including education, social work, disability, counselling, and adoption and fostering to our existing backlist.

“The acquisition of the National Children’s Bureau publishing division represents an exciting proposition for JKP,” said Jessica Kingsley, Managing Director of JKP. “They are an excellent children’s services publisher with books founded on the expert knowledge of their staff. The chance to acquire classic NCB texts paired with a formal ongoing publishing relationship will enable us to further extend our existing publishing in the field of health, social care and education. It also provides us with a platform to expand our publishing in the field of early years, where National Children’s Bureau have an outstanding reputation for their work. The list perfectly complements the Jessica Kingsley Publishers’ aim to publish books that make a real difference to society.”

The National Children’s Bureau has been improving the lives of children and young people, especially the most vulnerable, for 50 years. It works work with children and for children, to influence government policy, be a strong voice for young people and practitioners, and provide creative solutions on a range of social issues.

Annamarie Hassall, Interim Chief Executive and Director of Programmes at the NCB said: “Jessica Kingsley Publishers Ltd is a tremendous new home for National Children’s Bureau books, where they will benefit from the publishing, marketing and sales expertise that Jessica Kingsley Publishers represent. We are also extremely excited about the opportunities for new publishing and we look forward to working together in future.”

View the top 10 most popular NCB titles here.

2014 Living Now Book Awards JKP/SD Medal Winners Announced!

The Living Now Book Awards were established in 2008 to honor life-changing books, and to bring increased recognition to the year’s best lifestyle, homestyle, world-improvement and self-improvement titles. The awards celebrate the innovation and creativity of books that enhance the quality of life. The gold, silver and bronze medalists in the 2014 Living Now Book Awards highlight titles that represent some of the fastest-growing segments in book publishing today.

We are proud and excited to announce that one book from Jessica Kingsley Publishers and two books from our Singing Dragon imprint have been selected as Medal Winners!

From the Jessica Kingsley Publishers list…Final Chapters: Writings About the End of Life

Gold Medal WinnerGold Medal Winner in Grieving/Death & Dying
Final Chapters: Writings About the End of Life
Edited by Roger Kirkpatrick



From Singing Dragon…Chasing the Phantom: In Pursuit of Myth and Meaning in the Realm of the Snow Leopard

Gold Medal WinnerGold Medal Winner in Enlightenment/Spirituality
Chasing the Phantom: In Pursuit of Myth and Meaning in the Realm of the Snow Leopard
by Eduard Fischer


Bronze Medal Winner

Bronze Medal Winner in Healing Arts/Bodywork/Energy Techniques
Qigong and Chinese Self-Massage for Everyday Health Care: Ways to Address Chronic Health Issues and to Improve Your Overall Health Based on Chinese Medicine Techniques
Compiled by Zeng Qingnan






Jessica Kingsley Publishers/Singing Dragon would like to congratulate our 2014 Living Now Book Award Winning authors.

For more information on Living Now Book Awards or to see the full list of 2014 Medal Winners, please click here.

Learning about Sexuality and Safety with Tom

 Learning about Sexuality and Safety with Tom


The idea for storybooks about sexuality and safety came from being the single mother of a boy with severe autism and the worries I had about his future independence. As he matured physically he was going to want and need to do things for himself and there were going to be certain situations when it was inappropriate for me to be involved. It was becoming less appropriate for me to take him into the women’s public lavatories when the disabled toilets were unavailable (unfortunately a pretty common event) as small children and ladies would gawp at him unless he was jumping and arm-flapping. Without a male role model I realised it would be down to me to teach him how to do things such as use a public toilet on his own. I had no idea of the social etiquette for males (why would I?) so this led me to have a lengthy discussion with my brother, who was able to educate me in the ways of male lavatories. It was after this discussion that I started to think about all the difficult subjects that parents of children with autism encounter as they grow up.


Perhaps the most troubling aspect of having a child with autism (or a related condition) is their exposure to adult sexuality and how this can make them vulnerable to sexual abuse. Writing the book Sexuality and Severe Autism helped me realise that equipping our children with knowledge and skills makes them more robust and less likely to become victims. Unlike typically developing children, those with autism do not learn from their peers by ‘osmosis’ and may not ask appropriate questions – they need to be taught explicitly how to be safe and physically appropriate. With this in mind I enlisted the skills of illustrator Jonathon Powell and we set about producing a series of storybooks to give the parents of autistic children a means of educating their offspring about puberty, sexuality and social etiquette.


The first three storybooks are for boys and young men and feature the character, Tom. They are written in explicit language using ‘proper’ terms for sexual parts of the body and are illustrated with anatomically correct pictures, so that our children and young people can identify what kind of contact is appropriate and report accurately if sexual abuse occurs. The idea is that these books are read alongside generic reading material, rather than being a sex education lesson.


  • Things Tom Likes examines masturbation and sexuality and helps boys and young men understand what behaviours are public and private.
  • What’s Happening to Tom? is about puberty and enables readers to learn about developmental changes that they find challenging.
  • Tom Needs To Go refers back to that conversation I had with my brother about what is appropriate behaviour in public toilets and how our young men can be safe in such a space.


My hope is that these books will help ease the worries that parents and carers of young boys on the spectrum face as they grow up and will give them the opportunity to communicate about these difficult subjects.


Early in 2015 I will be able to introduce you to Ellie who will feature in similar books aimed at girls and young women.


Kate E. Reynolds is the author of What is Happening to Tom? Tom Needs To Go, Things Tom Likes and Sexuality and Severe Autism all of which are available through Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

Changing Offending Behaviour

Changing Offending Behaviour is a one-stop resource of practical exercises for professionals to use in direct work with offenders aged 16+, written by Clark Baim and Lydia Guthrie. In this blog post Lydia explains why they decided to write the book, as well as sharing one of her favourite exercises which you can download and try out for free at the bottom of this post.

This handbook of practical resources is our contribution to the growing knowledge base about effective and evidence-based interventions with people (age 16 plus) who have committed offences of all types. We hope that it will be of use to front-line workers in a wide range of settings, including the criminal justice, social work, forensic hospitals, drug and alcohol rehab services, voluntary agencies, etc.

Baim-Guthrie_Changing-Offend_978-1-84905-511-6_colourjpg-printIn our work as trainers, supervisors, facilitators and the authors of offending behaviour programmes, it has become clear to us that there is a need for a practical, theoretically coherent and user-friendly workbook for busy frontline practitioners. This book is explicitly not a manual – it is a practice guide which invites the worker and the client to enter into a dialogue about which approaches and exercises may be relevant, and which may be less so. The book also offers guidance about how to adapt each exercise for clients with particular needs, or learning preferences, and there is a focus upon active and brain friendly methods of learning.

The aim of working with people who have committed offences must always be to prevent further reoffending (and the associated harm to victims and the community) by supporting the person who has offended to develop and maintain a positive and offence-free future. Our value base is that people who have committed offences are first and foremost “people like us”, and will have far more in common with every other human being than they will have differences. (This may seem like a glaringly obvious point, but one which some approaches to rehabilitation seem to miss!)

It is our belief that most people are capable of personal change when motivated, given the opportunity to express themselves differently, the correct support, and the opportunity to try out new ways of dealing with life’s challenges. Change is difficult, can be frightening, and there are often setbacks.

In writing this handbook, we have drawn upon a wide range of evidence-based methodologies, theories and treatment approaches, including Desistance Theory, The Good Lives Model, Cognitive Behavioural Theory, Attachment Theory, Social Learning Theory, Motivational Interviewing, Mindfulness and Self Compassion and Skills Practice. Chapter One of the book offers a brief review of these theoretical approaches, among others. Chapter Two focuses on essential skills for practitioners, such as the skillful use of questions, forming a therapeutic relationship and working motivationally with denial and resistance. The rest of the book is devoted to over 30 exercises which are designed to promote positive change. These exercises include some which you may recognise, such as a family tree, a life line, a cognitive behavioural analysis of the offence, and exercises designed to promote increased empathy with the victim or others affected by the offence. The common theme running through the exercises is that they are designed to support the client in understanding his or her life narrative, how harmful patterns of behaviour may have developed, how to build constructive and healthy relationships, and how to set positive goals for future life. All the exercises are clearly described, with a range of adaptations, and photocopiable worksheets.

You can try out a sample exercise from the book, ‘The Relationships Ladder’, by  downloading it for free here.

Find out more about the book, read reviews or order your copy here.

You can find out more about the training and consultancy work Lydia and her co-author Clark Baim provide on their website Change Point Ltd, and you can also find them on twitter here.



Request a copy of the latest collection of new and bestselling titles in adoption, fostering and looked-after children.

Cover image - Adoption ProfessionalsOur brand new collection of new and bestselling titles in adoption and fostering for professionals will be available soon.

Click here to sign up for a free copy.

Including essential new titles from Paolo Hewitt (But We All Shine On and The Looked After Kid) and the new book from Sally Donovan (The Unofficial Guide to Adoptive Parenting).

This is a great opportunity to check out the fully updated second edition of Lynn Davis‘ bestseller; The Social Workers Guide to Children and Families Law, and for professionals working in child protection the new Assessing Disorganized Attachment Behaviour in Children from bestselling authors David and Yvonne Shemmings will be invaluable reading.

These are just a few of the fantastic new titles included in this latest collection –  to request your free hard copy of the catalogue sign up to the mailing list here.

Click this link to see our full listing of books on Adoption, Fostering and Looked-After Children.

Read an extract from Very Late Diagnosis of Asperger Syndrome (Autism Spectrum Disorder)



In this extract from Very Late Diagnosis of Asperger Syndrome author Philip Wylie  talks about the importance of getting the timing, manner of communication and choice of confidant right when revealing that you have been diagnosed with ASD.

Read the extract now

You can find out more about the book, read reviews and order your copy here.