Browse our latest collection of Special Educational Needs and Pastoral Education books for 2015

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Driving Change through Simple Acts of Kindness

Celebrating the 30th anniversary of the anti-bullying national charity Kidscape, 12 charities come together in How to Create Kind Schools to offer an insight on their specific projects and techniques, but who all share a single hope – that no child at school feels scared, isolated or excluded. In this interview, Jenny Hulme offers her insights on the importance of introducing kindness through projects at school and the drive for positive change by creating a more successful setting for children.

 

Why do wHulme-Knights_How-to-Create-K_978-1-84905-591-8_colourjpg-webe need to learn to be kind?

We encourage children to treat others as they’d like to be treated, and trust they’ll do the right thing. Life is complicated, though, and if the culture of our school or workplace is inequitable, we can find the things we value (kindness, security, opportunity, friendship) in conflict with each other. Children who turn to Kidscape for help are often as bewildered by the bystanders as they are by the bullies; bystanders being those children who they thought were kind, or considered friends, but who do nothing to stand up for them when the bullying starts. When that happens, children who are bullied often blame themselves and that knocks their confidence even more.

 

Why is this so important in schools now?

This is where the learning can come in, driving change by providing the information, skills and confidence children need – we all need – to be able to live our values, follow our better instincts.

 

Did you have a favourite project from the 12?

They were all mesmerising in different ways, and every school I visited taught me something new. I think if I had to direct teachers to one chapter first from How to Create Kind Schools, it might be the peer mentoring chapter, if only because it answers questions a lot of teachers posed to me. They often see play times as the ‘hardest lesson’ of the day for children, and also – sometimes – one that is in some way out of their control. They are, naturally, reluctant to ‘force children to play together’ and quite rightly want to see children developing social skills and friendships in free time.

This chapter also very simply answers some concerns teachers have about finding the time to do anything else in their over-packed day. The chapter illustrates that – while there was some investment of time to set up the scheme – it paid back in so many ways, including enhancing teaching time, reducing time dealing with upsets or bullying, improving attendance and attainment. All the projects in this book had the same positive impact on schools, but I think the peer mentoring scheme might open hearts and minds to just how positive that impact could be.

 

What do you hope schools will take from How to Create Kind Schools?

How to Create Kind Schools highlights the idea that it is the children themselves who can drive change, and become the greatest ambassadors for inclusion, diversity and kindness. But that only happens when they’re given the skills and education, environment and support to empower them to make a difference.

I also hope it will raise awareness of the phenomenal work Kidscape does – and the tools and training they can provide to help every teacher in the UK make their anti-bullying policy more effective.

 

What makes How to Create Kind Schools different?

It is wonderful to have 12 charities in one book, all working to the same end. I hope that it provides a meeting place for parents and teachers to quickly and easily share the successes they’ve had and the lessons they’ve learned, and also to signpost others to the charities that helped them make a positive change.

 

How can our experience with kindness or unkindness at school impact us as adults?

So many adults I speak to say they are only learning now, in their adulthood, how kindness can enrich their lives, as they work and live alongside people from different social and religious backgrounds, of all abilities and disabilities.

I have heard from schools how the impact of kindness at schools on later life can be undervalued. In some schools there is still a feeling that bullying is part and parcel of growing up, preparing children for adulthood in some way.

It’s clear, though, that bullying brings no benefits at all, to the bully or the bullied. It can, instead, trigger a cycle of victimization that can last a lifetime. Studies have shown victims of bullying, including children who are very able, stand a much lower chance of doing well at school and are more likely to experience depression, anxiety and poor physical health as adults.

 

So how do we teach kindness?

Research into the phenomenon of bystanding demonstrates that groups who are given a seminar on compassion, or a better understanding of an  issue were, indeed, more likely to go against the majority and help someone in need.  However, the schools and charities I visited illustrated how complicated bullying is and how much more children require than an instruction to be kind. Children really do know that they should be kind and that bullying is wrong, but they often lack the understanding and skills to do anything about it.

Out of this comes a realization that lessons in kindness and schools’ anti-bullying policies have to break down barriers and create opportunities for children to better understand their peers (perhaps via mentoring or lunch clubs or visiting role models), and to feel how much they can benefit from that process.

The idea is not to single out or patronize children, but to help classes understand each other (their disability, family situation, sexual orientation or religion) and nurture friendships in a more proactive way. Marginalized children then rediscover their confidence and value and place in the group, while the children who had misunderstood them are given the chance to come out of their comfort zone or clique and learn about their differences.

 

A version of this interview appeared in Psychologies Magazine (April edition).

Jenny Hulme is a freelance journalist, writer and PR consultant. For more information on Jenny Hulme’s book How to Create Kind Schools visit www.jkp.com and about the work of Kidscape visit www.kidscape.org.uk; or let her know your views and the projects you’re involved with on Twitter at @hulmejenny.

 

 

 

Autism Spectrum Disorder de-escalation strategies: Creating safe spaces

 Brown9781849055031In his third entry for the JKP blog Steve Brown offers another short practical insight into how professionals working with children that have an autism spectrum disorder can create the most comfortable learning environment possible and de-escalate situations that can lead to volatile meltdowns. Today Steve covers the importance of creating a safe space to learn and how one goes about doing just that. Steve Brown is the author of Autism Spectrum Disorder & De-Escalation Strategies: A Practical Guide to Positive Behavioural Interventions for Children and Young People – for more information on the book visit the JKP website

Creating safe spaces

Where do you prefer to go to when you feel anxious, angry or embarrassed?

Picture yourself in one of these states complete with an audience. As a means of protecting yourself I imagine you would ideally like to take yourself to a place that makes you feel comfortable and calm.

08-autism-afpgtThis is a major problem faced by a number of children with ASD – the acting out, the confrontation, the aggressive incidents are the result of them feeling great stress in the class environment and not being able to find that comfortable and calm space. One of the things that we as professionals should be doing is creating safe, calm places for children to feel good, learn and thrive in.

5 ways to create calmer spaces for children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder.

  • You can define any ‘safe’ area by giving it boarders. You can use a carpet tile, coloured spot or taped floor area to let the child know where to sit or stay provided this will help them feel safe.
  • You can introduce big bean-bags in classrooms or corridors for children to sit on when they need to calm down or have time to think. Bean-bags are flexible enough for the child to relax into, don’t pose a great deal of threat when thrown and are portable.
  • Set up a separate workstation (table and chair facing blank wall – low stimulation) inside or outside the classroom. This is a simple idea to allow the child to be slightly detached but still involved in lessons and work activities (not a punishment – just a safe space for them to be alone).
  • Comfortable chairs located in quieter areas for children to sit in or lean against help them to concentrate on what is bothering them or what they need to do next, rather than uncomfortable seats in busy areas which can provoke agitation and distract the rest of the class.
  • Designate a specific room that offers privacy and protection. In that room have slogans and pictures painted on the walls that offer positive thoughts such as ‘stay safe’ or ‘talk and listen’. You want a room that is a good size, is painted a calming colour and has soft furnishings or bean bags for children and staff to sit on.

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Children with ASD who abscond or hide under furniture often do this because they don’t realise there are other options and thus default to a pattern of behaviour that can cause a great deal of disruption. Offering an alternative space where the child can feel safe means as professionals we have a greater degree of control and can help diffuse a volatile situation much better.

The learning environment is often one of the last things we consider when trying to help manage emotions and behaviour. Have a good look at your work place and see if there is anything you can change to provide the children and educators with calmer, safer spaces.

Brown---ASD-and-Deescalation---CLICK-HERESteve Brown is the author of Autism Spectrum Disorder & De-Escalation Strategies which is available in paperback from Jessica Kingsley Publishers

Autism Spectrum Disorder de-escalation strategies: Non-verbal communication

Brown9781849055031In the second of his special blogs running this March Steve Brown is offering another short practical insight into how professionals working with children that have an autism spectrum disorder can create the most comfortable learning environment possible and de-escalate situations that can lead to volatile meltdowns. This week – the importance of non-verbal communication. Steve is the author of Autism Spectrum Disorder & De-Escalation Strategies: A Practical Guide to Positive Behavioural Interventions for Children and Young People – for more information on the book visit the JKP website

 

Non-verbal communication

Sixty per cent of communication is supposed to be conveyed through non-verbal communication according to Borg (2011.) Experts in this field disagree on the exact statistic (don’t all the academics disagree? it’s their job!) but it is generally agreed upon that body language makes up a large part of what we communicate.

How many times have you gazed across a sea of children’s faces and picked out the ones that are looking to cause trouble or show signs of needing help just through reading their body language? Now think back when you were a child and did something that was bad enough to warrant serious consequences, you could probably gauge how severe your punishment was going to be from the adult long before they opened their mouth.

An angry teacher holding a composition book and pointing a ruler.As professionals working with children on the autism spectrum it is essential to be aware of the power our body language has. There are things we should always try to avoid – negative messages that automatically send out a bad vibe such as, double tea pot stance (hands on hips), turbo boost eye brow lift eye contact (a really stern look) and finger wagging are all non-verbal wind up techniques that are confrontational and can raise anxieties in children with an ASD.

We all know it is difficult to manage body language, to keep control of eye contact and limit our negative gestures but it is important that we try and remain aware at all times of the power these signifiers can have.

The trick is to be relaxed with body language, appear confidant and assertive and send messages that convey clear statements without appearing aggressive or authoritarian.

eye contactYour gestures are going to give away a lot of your overall message to a child long before you have said a word – as professionals we should start thinking a lot more about using our words to back up our gestures rather than allowing our gestures to give away something we might be thinking but isn’t helpful in a potentially volatile situation.

With that in mind we should try to align our non-verbal messages with the words we use. If you are asking a child to sit down – point at the chair and not directly at them. Make your gestures in a confident and assertive manner remembering the whole time that rapport is often built on non-verbal communication.

Brown---ASD-and-Deescalation---CLICK-HERE

 

Steve Brown is the author of Autism Spectrum Disorder & De-Escalation Strategies which is available in paperback from Jessica Kingsley Publishers

Autism Spectrum Disorder de-escalation strategies: Avoiding confrontation

Brown9781849055031

Throughout March author and de-escalation expert Steve Brown is offering short practical insights into how professionals working with children that have an autism spectrum disorder can create the most comfortable learning environment possible and de-escalate situations that can lead to volatile meltdowns.  Steve is the author of Autism Spectrum Disorder & De-Escalation Strategies: A Practical Guide to Positive Behavioural Interventions for Children and Young People – for more information on the book visit the JKP website

 

Avoiding confrontation
I often get asked how best to de-escalate in different situations – particularly when it comes to working with a child that a professional does not know well or has been able to establish some level of working relationship with.

In times of doubt or when a child of any age is displaying unpredictable behaviour, the space we have between us and the child is really important. Stand too close and we are physically vulnerable, stand square on and lean in and we put ourselves at further risk. This also looks confrontational. As an adult if someone gets too close what is our reaction? I often witness adults stepping back, instructing the person to back off.

armbentThe length of space between the elbow and the shoulder is deemed as intimate space, a space that we reserve to invite people into.

The next closest space is personal space which is defined from the elbow to the finger tips. This space is often entered unnecessarily or unintentionally. This is where problems occur. Eighty percent of injuries to staff are to the head and four to five year olds cause 3 times more injuries to staff than any other age group. Staff can fear older, taller children, yet it’s the younger, smaller children who cause the most damage to the most important resource: staff.

teacher_telling_off_sonEven though the staff who work with younger children get down to the children’s height, they tend to lean in and therefore bring faces closer into striking range.

If more staff stood sideways on and tried to keep in social space they would be safer and reduce the risk of injuries. The child would be less likely to be wound up or feel intimidated and have their emotions heightened.

An easy way to remember this is “sideways is safest”.

In times of trouble keep your distance and reduce and deflate your body language, by approaching sideways on you increase the chance of lowering the child’s anxieties which will help to reduce behaviours that challenge us as professionals. This doesn’t mean staff have to walk around placing their arm out pointing towards the children shouting “back off!” it has to be a controlled approach that is as calm as possible. The important thing is to not aggressively invade the child’s personal space. I once witnessed a staff member get so close to a child that when he was speaking little bits of saliva landed on the child’s face. The child kept on stepping back and then looked towards the member of staff, wiped his face and said “I asked for the news not the ******* weather!” It is important to remember that initially the professional must maintain that personal distance and approach side-on.

Emotions drive behaviours that get reactions and staff can wind up emotions or wind them down. De-escalation is subtle and can look like nothing is happening but done the right way it can make learning environments more comfortable for all involved. To avoid confrontation and winding up children staff can remain assertive, look confident, naturally smile, reduce body language by getting sideways on and stick to a positive script.

Brown---ASD-and-Deescalation---CLICK-HERE

 

 

 

Steve Brown is the author of Autism Spectrum Disorder & De-Escalation Strategies which is available in paperback from Jessica Kingsley Publishers

“It’s just a bit o’ banter, innit?” – Why “That’s so GAY!” still needs to be challenged

Jonathan Charlesworth is the Executive Director of the charity Educational Action Challenging Homophobia (EACH), UK, and author of That’s So Gay! – Challenging Homophobic Bullying. He has over thirty years’ teaching and training experience and regularly delivers training and consultancy on homophobic bullying, harassment and crime to schools, colleges, universities, and the police service. In this post he explains why homophobic name-calling is still a problem, and one we must work together to challenge.

“Got your little clarinet, have you? You’re so flippin’ gay, you are!” I heard this one sneered at a pupil in a corridor not so long ago. This is a fairly straightforward one with which to deal. Our ‘perpetrator’ had targeted her insult directly at another pupil and called him gay. Presumably those dishing out homophobic name-calling, perceive it to be okay for a girl to be seen carrying a clarinet but not a boy, so one must assume effeminacy equates to ‘being a girl’ with the two seen as interchangeable? There is always interesting work to be done here around sexism and gender with all our pupils and youth group attendees.

Charlesworth_Thats-So-Gay-Ch_978-1-84905-461-4_colourjpg-print

That’s So Gay! – Challenging Homophobic Bullying, by Jonathan Charlesworth

It’s certainly easy here for a member of staff to recognise that one pupil has denigrated another and this requires an intervention or sanction. What’s harder to challenge for staff in schools or informal youth settings is the ‘victim-less crime’ of something being called ‘gay’ like homework, or a pop band (who aren’t – or can’t all be), or something intangible like the cold as in “Oh, God, this weather is so gay!”

How often have you spoken to your son or daughter about ‘calling things gay’ and they retort with, “But it’s just banter!” Or you’ve spoken to a young person if you’re a teacher or someone who works in children’s services and they fob it off as being just a ‘joke’ whilst someone who is the target of homophobic bullying and who is really worrying you misguidedly dismisses their abuse simply as ‘a bit of a drama’.

Many schools will be indicating consistently that homophobic bullying is wrong and pupils will recognise that it is unacceptable to treat someone differently because they are gay or are thought to be. Where schools often struggle is with the use of homophobic language and phrases such as ‘That’s so gay’. In these cases pupils will often not see that their actions have a direct consequence for anyone. As a result it will often be perceived as ‘harmless banter’.

Any of us who work with young people will recognise that homophobic language is frequently used without its perpetrator’s thinking and is often overlooked or even ignored because it can be difficult to know how to respond without awareness-raising or appropriate training.

I recently explained to a Deputy Headteacher in a secondary school that we were soon to see the publication of my book to help schools challenge homophobic name-calling and bullying: That’s So Gay!. “Oh, yes!” she exclaimed. “But they don’t mean anything by that, do they? They say it all the time and it more often than not has nothing to do with sexuality!” I did my best to explain diplomatically why it is important to take homophobic name-calling as seriously as racist or disablist, but by this point she was smiling at me with that look of someone who is thinking about something else and has ‘checked out’. It may come as no surprise to learn that the pupil whom I’d come to support and discuss left the school a few weeks later because of homophobia and cites being much happier in their new school.

This is just one localised example of how homophobic name-calling is regularly brushed off as ‘harmless banter’ and not thought to be particularly hurtful. Its use, and homophobia in schools in general, does need to be challenged because ignoring it absolutely allows homophobic bullying to gain a foothold, continue, then escalate.

To be borne in mind however is that a lot of pupils will be reluctant to admit that they are upset by the homophobic abuse whilst the desire not to be seen as weak or a victim can make pupils equally reluctant to report any form of bullying.

If you’re being bullied because you’re, for instance, black, Asian or Jewish in all likelihood your parents will have had several conversations in front of and with you about faith-based or racist bullying and harassment. There’s comfort at home provided by understanding, compassion and shared experience. With disability often comes the sense that it’s ‘not their fault’ and despite the ‘retard’ and ‘spaz’ insults, which have so charmingly resurfaced in recent years, pretty much every pupil acknowledges disabilist name-calling and bullying as a taboo.

Sexual orientation meanwhile is too often considered by both young people and adults alike to be a ‘choice’ rendering the gay person a legitimate ‘victim’ of their bigotry and disapproval. Gay or lesbian young people invariably also don’t have the luxury of someone at home who shares their sexuality and who can empathise with feelings of awkwardness or ‘get’ what their ostracism ‘feels like’. If you’re being bullied because you’re heterosexual but your ‘Mums’ are lesbians this can present its own set of problems.

Although young people who hold on to stereotypes may not wish to withhold equal rights from gay people they may well have their sense of who gay men and women ‘are’ skewed by television depictions and not see it as a priority or empathise with the issue.

The belief that being gay is inferior to being heterosexual leads to subtle behaviours such as jokes and vocabulary that can be very damaging to gay young people. One of the most obvious examples is the pejorative use of the word ‘gay’ among young people to describe something as worthless, wrong, dull, stupid or inferior.

Way too often pupils in school believe that reporting their bullying looks like taking it too seriously which will simply attract more abuse. We also know that too often, pupils are  not confident in the mechanisms schools put in place to respond to bullying. Similarly too many feel that their teachers will not take the problem seriously. They can also be unsure how to report if homophobic bullying is not specifically cited as unacceptable within school policies and practice.

Pupils regularly tell me and my colleagues at Educational Action Challenging Homophobia (EACH – www.each.education) about a lack of clear and consistent sanctions in school when responding to bullying. Many fear that by reporting bullying they themselves will be excluded from activities in order to avoid being targeted by their perpetrator(s). EACH regularly hears stories of targeted pupils being asked to change separately for sports lessons, physical education, or leave lessons early in order to avoid running into their tormentors.

When so much legislative progress has been made for lesbian, gay and bisexual equality, pupils might question whether co-opting the word ‘gay’ as an insult really matters. Language changes all the time and many young people will argue that calling their homework gay has nothing to do with their opinions on same-sex relationships. In fact young people who themselves identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual will use ‘That’s so gay’ in this context. For these pupils the word can have several meanings which they think has no connection to their attitudes towards themselves and other gay people. Education about historical oppression and the tremendous battle fought for equality evidently needs to be for all. There is also a chance pro-behaviour is at play here. This is when someone who is conscious of feeling ‘outside’ of society’s ‘mainstream’ deploys self-deprecating humour to divert attention away from their, for example, disability, ethnicity or sexuality. It sometimes works but to those who can see what is happening it is more often embarrassing.

If a pupil or a young person in your care uses homophobic language we should all point out the effect their language is having on other people: remembering that phrases such as ‘That’s so gay’ are not harmless banter but part of wider homophobia whether the pupil appreciates this or not. This is not just an Ofsted requirement but a moral responsibility we share collectively as part of our Duty of Care.

This article has been adapted from Jonathan Charlesworth’s That’s So Gay! – Challenging Homophobic Bullying.

Educational Action Challenging Homophobia (EACH) is the multi-award winning registered charity providing training, resources and support to affirm representations of gay and transgender people, challenge homophobia and reduce discrimination experienced because of sexual orientation or gender identity. (www.each.education)
• EACH’s National Homophobic Bullying Actionline: 0808 1000 143

Supporting young people suffering with self-harm and eating disorders – three key lessons

Pooky Knightsmith is a specialist in student mental health and emotional well-being, and author of Self-Harm and Eating Disorders in Schools. Through her company In Our Hands Ltd, Pooky works with schools, parents and organisations to promote awareness of and provide training on topics related to mental health. She is also the Mental Health and Emotional Wellbeing Advisor for the PSHE Association in the UK and a trustee for Beat, the eating disorder charity. She has personal experiences of the issues she teaches and writes about, having personally overcome eating disorders and self-harm herself.
Here she shares her top tips for supporting young people suffering with self-harm and eating disorders, gathered through years of research and training.

“How on earth have you ended up doing what you do?” A colleague questioned me today “Teaching people about self-harm and eating disorders is not exactly the kind of job you dream about when you’re 14 is it?”Knightsmith

And he was right.  I didn’t dream about doing my current job when I was 14.  In fact, I didn’t dream about anything in my future when I was 14.  All I really wanted was to be dead, but I lacked the motivation to make my ‘dream’ a reality.  I was living a half-life, walking around each day in the shadows of anorexia and self-harm.  So in answer to my colleague, I suppose that I started down the path I’m currently traversing in order to try and stop other children feeling the way I felt.

Fortunately, things have moved on somewhat from my own school days.  We have a far better understanding of self-harm and eating disorders – unfortunately that’s at least in part due to a huge increase in prevalence in both conditions which has forced us to learn, fast, and taught us some difficult lessons along the way.

I feel we’re currently at the tipping point, with schools and agencies ready, willing and increasingly able to offer support to the young people who need it most.  But what are the key lessons that we should bear in mind when offering support to young people in our care?  If I had to boil down many years of research on the topic into three key learning points (and anyone who’s attended one of my training sessions will know how keen I am on having three take home points!) it would be these:

We need to enable young people to feel in control of their own recovery

A desire to take control of one aspect of their lives is a key reason young people cite for the development of self-harming and eating disordered behaviours.  Bearing this in mind, we need to ensure that in our keenness to support young people’s recovery, that we don’t take this process straight out of their control.  Contributing to their sense of lack of control is likely to exacerbate rather than alleviate their harmful behaviours.  We can help young people to feel in control of their own recovery by employing truly person-centred practice where the young person is the key initiator in recovery goals and all information and meetings are designed to be accessible to the young person concerned.

We are stronger when we work as a team

When school staff, sufferers, parents and any external agencies involved come together and work as a team to support the recovery process with unified goals; progress is both more rapid and longer lasting.  This type of team working can be difficult to implement but it reaps dividends in terms of positive impact for the young person trying to overcome their self-harming or eating disordered behaviours.

Recovery doesn’t stop when someone looks healed

Finally, we need to ensure that support doesn’t drop off the moment someone looks physically better.  When a healthy weight has been restored or cuts or burns have healed then it’s normal for support to drop away.  Tight health budgets often mean that therapeutic or psychiatric support may dwindle at this point and parents, friends and school staff can often begin to step away feeling that the worst is over.  For the young person concerned though, this can be the most difficult phase of all as they are probably still working to overcome the underlying difficulties that drove them to their unhealthy behaviours, but they no longer have these behaviours to turn to as a means of coping.  Whilst underlying issues are being resolved and new, healthy coping mechanisms are still being embedded, young people are very vulnerable to relapse.  To minimise the likelihood of relapse, we need to ensure we extend our support, care and guidance into the weeks and months following physical recovery.

Things are looking up.  More than ever I find myself welcomed with open arms when I go to teach colleagues about how best to support the young people in their care who are facing self-harm and eating disorders.  A few short years ago there would have been no market for the book I’ve spent so long researching and writing and there would be no place for my training sessions; so taboo and under-recognised were these topics.  We’re opening our eyes to the problem and our approaches are evolving fast.  I’m hopeful that soon I’ll be able to reflect that a lot less young people are feeling like I did when I was 14.

I certainly hope so.

You can download one of Pooky’s PDF handouts, which gives alternatives to self-harm suggested by former self-harmers themselves, here

Find out more about Pooky’s book Self-Harm and Eating Disorders in Schools, read reviews or order your copy here

Call for Comic and Graphic novel submissions

Jessica Kingsley Publishers and Singing Dragon (an imprint of JKP) have recently started developing an exciting new line of comics and graphics novels and we are now open for submissions.

At JKP we are committed to publishing books that make a difference. Our range of subjects includes autism, dementia, social work, art therapies, mental health, counselling, palliative care and practical theology. Have a look on www.jkp.com for our full range of titles.

Singing Dragon publishes authoritative books on all aspects of Chinese medicine, yoga therapy, aromatherapy, massage, Qigong and complementary and alternative health more generally, as well as Oriental martial arts. Find out more on www.singingdragon.com

If you have an idea that you think would work well as a graphic book, or are an artist interested in working with us, here is what we are looking for:

Graphic novel or comic – Long form

We are looking for book proposals that are between 100 and 200 pages, black and white or colour, and explore the topics listed above or another subject that would fit into the JKP/Singing Dragon list. Specifically we are hoping to develop more personal autobiographical stories.

Here are the guidelines for submission:

  1. A one-page written synopsis detailing the plot/outline of the book, as well as short bios of all the creators involved.
  2. Character sketches of the main characters with descriptions.
  3. Solo artist/writers or writer and artist teams should submit 5 to 10 completed pages to allow us to get a sense of the pace, art style and writing.
  4. Solo writers will need to submit 10 to 20 pages of script as well as the one-page synopsis from point 1.

Comic – Short form

We have some shorter comic projects underway and are looking to expand the range of topics covered. These books can run from 20 to 40 pages, black and white or colour, with dimensions of 170x230mm. We are mainly looking for comics that provide ideas and information for both professionals and general readers.

For example, the first in this series, published by Singing Dragon, is a book exploring the latest developments in chronic pain research.

Here are the guidelines for submission:

  1. A one-page written synopsis detailing the narrative style and subject matter to be explored in the book. Also include short bios of all the creators involved.
  2. Solo artist/writers or writer and artist teams should submit 3 to 5 completed pages to allow us to get a sense of the pace, art style and writing.
  3. Solo writers will need to submit 5 to 10 pages of script as well as the one-page synopsis from point 1.

When submitting please provide low-res images and send them, along with everything else, to Mike Medaglia at mike.medaglia@jkp.com

If you have any other ideas that don’t directly relate to the subjects described above but you feel might still fit into the JKP or Singing Dragon list, please feel free to get in touch with ideas and enquiries on the email above.

‘Contact with Nature can be immensely healing.’

Caroline Jay founded and runs the Seeds of Hope Children’s Garden, a national charity which aims to promote the use of nature in helping children manage loss. For twelve years she ran a SAND (Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Charity) group, supporting families after the death of a baby. We spoke to Caroline about using life cycles to teach children about change, how nature can help us come to terms with loss, and how her own experiences inspired her to write her new book, Seeds of Hope Bereavement and Loss Activity Book.

What inspired you to write the book?Jay_Seeds-of-Hope-B_978-1-84905-546-8_colourjpg-print

A love of Nature and of being outside in the sun and air has been my inspiration for the Seeds of Hope Activity Book – that and the realisation that so much in Nature echoes the changes that happen in life.  None of us can live life without change.  All change implies loss and new beginnings  – and this is a pattern ever present in Nature.

In your book, you use life cycles in Nature as a means of explaining death.  Why did you choose that particular method?

Mainly because life cycles are fun!  How amazing to see frogspawn turn into tadpoles that then turn into frogs!  Or a grub become a caterpillar that disappears into a chrysalis out of which bursts a butterfly!  Also because looking at the lifecycles that happen all the time in Nature can help us understand that change and loss are part of a natural order.  “Death is a part of life is a part of death is a part of life is …” and so on as the circle turns.  A seed becomes a plant that becomes a flower that becomes a fruit that contains the seed from which a new plant will grow.  A baby becomes a child who becomes an adult who becomes an old person who will eventually die as new babies are born.  The 4 stages of the life cycle in Nature reflect the 4 stages of a human life.  The pattern continues: there are 4 seasons in the year, 4 weeks in the month, 4 quarters in the year.

Have you found yourself applying the methods you describe in the book in your own personal life?  Have they been helpful?

When my first child, Laura was stillborn, I found myself completely out of balance.  My hospital notes said I was a mother but I had no child.  The world around me seemed suddenly full of babies and heavily pregnant women.  The pain of grief was palpable.  I took long walks in the woods.  I found contact with Nature and the outside world to be immensely healing and grounding at a time when my world had been turned upside down.  Grief for most people can be a very dark place.  Planting seeds or plants and watching them grow in the Spring after the darkness of Winter can be uplifting and provide some hope of brighter times to come.

Does the grieving process for children and adults differ greatly?

The huge range of emotions we may feel when grieving – sadness, anger, shock, disbelief, fear, guilt, numbness to name a few – are generally speaking the same for children and adults.  One difference is that children are usually only able to stay with their feelings for short periods of time – a bit like jumping in and out of a puddle, they may be very sad one minute and want to go out and play the next.  Adults will generally have easier and clearer access to the information surrounding a death or a loss whereas children will generally be dependent on the adults around them to tell them the facts.  It is a natural instinct to want to protect children from painful life experiences but, in the case of a death, this can lead to confusion.  Children fare better when they are given honest information.

What has your experience with SAND and the Seeds of Hope Children’s Garden taught you about how people deal with loss?

Everybody responds to loss and bereavement in different ways.  There is no right and wrong way to travel the road and there are no shortcuts.  Very generally speaking men and women tend to grieve differently in that women are inclined to want to talk about their feelings for longer while men are more inclined to want to take action to restore the status quo.  Partners, whether male or female, often grieve in different ways and at different speeds.  In the case of a child’s death, the loss is equal and therefore no one person is better able to support the other.  Some seek out a support group while others prefer to grieve privately.

How do you hope your book will make a difference?

The activities in the book serve to provide structure for and clarify the grief process for a child allowing them to see the natural process of the cycle of life in Nature.  The images encourage exploration and observation of creatures, plants, and seasons.  The way in which a child’s journey through grief is handled will fundamentally determine how they manage all future losses in adulthood.  I hope the Seeds of Hope Activity Book will empower children to explore their feelings in ways they can understand – by drawing, playing, exploring and having fun.

You can find our more about Caroline’s book, read reviews or order your copy here.

Learning about Sexuality and Safety with Tom

 Learning about Sexuality and Safety with Tom

Autism---Tom-Books--white

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.

What's-happening-to-Tom---Mirror

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.

tom-likes

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.