An interview with Kathy Hoopmann & J.S Kiss, authors of the award-winning childrens novel Elemental Island


Elemental Island is the first written collaboration between bestselling author of Blue Bottle Mystery & All Cats Have Asperger Syndrome Kathy Hoopmann & exciting new JKP author (Judit) J.S Kiss. In this interview for the JKP Blog they discuss challenging the stereotypes around autism, bridging the gap between mainstream and special ed and winning the Silver Nautilus Award for middle-grade fiction.

Continue reading

Special Educational Needs Catalogue 2016

Browse our latest collection of books and resources in Special Educational Needs.
For more information on any of these titles go to

Being Me (and Loving It): Stories and Activities to Help Build Self-esteem in Children – author interview


We talked to Julia Hague about why her new book Being Me (and Loving It) is such a valuable resource for building self-esteem in kids.  She discusses the common self-esteem and body image issues affecting children today, and provides advice on how to support them.  Co-written by Naomi Richards (the UK’s number 1 kids coach), Being Me (and Loving It) includes 29 activity-based lesson plans designed for teachers, youth workers, educators and parents supporting children aged 5-11. Continue reading

The trials and tribulations of talking to young people about sex

In this exclusive Q&A, Nick Luxmoore shares what he’s learnt about helping young adults to cope with the trials and tribulations of sexuality. With nearly 40 years’ experience of working with young people, Nick’s book Horny and Hormonal provides advice on how to deal with the difficult situations faced by  young people and strategies to help reduce their anxieties around this crucial and sensitive part of their lives.


Continue reading

Read an extract from Luke Jackson’s brilliant new book Sex, Drugs & Asperger’s Syndrome (ASD): A User Guide to Adulthood

14 years after the publication of his bestselling book Freaks, Geeks & Asperger Syndrome, Luke Jackson is back with the sequel, Sex, Drugs & Asperger’s Syndrome (ASD): A User Guide to Adulthood and you can read an extract from the book only on the JKP blog.
Continue reading

Talking about homophobic bullying – LGBT History Month

Jonathan Charlesworth is the Executive Director of the multi-award winning charity Educational Action Challenging Homophobia (EACH), UK, and author of That’s So Gay! – Challenging Homophobic Bullying. With over thirty years’ teaching and training experience, he regularly delivers training and consultancy on homophobic bullying, harassment and crime to schools, colleges, universities, and the police service. In honour of LGBT History Month, Jonathan talks about how his book can help schools to address homophobic bullying, with examples of how some schools have already put strategies from the book into practice. 

Continue reading

‘The Forgiveness Project’ book – 12 years in the making.

Author Marina Cantacuzino explains how a journalistic idea evolved into the charity  The Forgiveness Project; dedicated to building understanding, encouraging reflection and enabling people to reconcile with pain and move forward from trauma in their own lives. Eventually, her work with the charity led to the publication of The Forgiveness Project: Stories for a Vengeful Age – Marina explains how it came about and why she wanted to create a book from the stories she’d heard and the messages she’d learned. 
Continue reading

How CBT and attribution retraining can improve self-belief – including a free extract

Alicia Chodkiewicz, Child Development psychologist with over ten years’ experience supporting students both inside and outside of the classroom, and co-author of Believing You Can is the First Step to Achieving, shares her insight into some of the issues and solutions surrounding self-belief in students. You can also try out some free sessions from the book by downloading the extract at the end of this post.
Continue reading

Specific Learning Difficulties: What Teachers Need to Know; an interview with author Diana Hudson.

Diana Hudson is a tutor and mentor to students with Specific Learning Difficulties (SpLD), as well as a subject classroom teacher (biology) and learning support teacher and SENCO. She has a diagnosis of dyslexia, and is a parent to four children, three of whom have been diagnosed with SpLD. We talked to her about the inspiration for her book Specific Learning Difficulties – What Teachers Need to Know, and she shares her advice for teachers on how to support children with SpLD’s. 

  1. Tell us a little about your writing process. What inspired you to write the book?
    I became aware of Specific Learning Difficulties because my children were diagnosed with dyslexia. As I supported their learning through school, I could identify the teachers who were helpful and proactive and gave the children confidence despite any difficulties. These teachers are remembered fondly to this day.
    As a biology teacher I tried to encourage and help students with SpLD in my classes and to make my lessons multisensory and fun. I became the first SENCO at a high achieving academic school and I ran staff insets to help teachers understand students with SpLD better and to adapt teaching styles and materials to allow them to thrive. The booklet that I wrote for the insets became the basis for my book.
  1. Your many years of teaching must have provided you with extensive experience and knowledge. What kind of support for students with specific learning difficulties would you like to see more of in schools?
    Early identification of SpLD makes a huge difference.  People usually feel relieved if they are diagnosed and learn that they are not ‘stupid’ after all. Strategies can then be put in place in order to help them achieve their potential.
    A designated adult mentor at school is a great support. It is important that students meet regularly with the mentor and can talk openly and confidently with them.
    The mentor or SENCO should regularly pass on information and any teaching tips to the relevant teaching staff and listen to the teacher’s concerns. Tips could include simple changes such as reacting to the student’s preference for print on a particular coloured paper, preferred fonts and print size, use of technology, any friendship issues, and seating preferences.  Everyone is different so these will vary.
    Hudson- Specific Learning Difficulties - What Teachers Need to Know - pg 17 - imageTeachers should be aware of the student’s strengths and try to work with them, where possible to achieve the learning objective.  Could they, for example, make a poster of a power point presentation rather than writing an essay? Celebrating success is an important step to improving confidence and aspirations.
    Regular communication between the mentor or SENCO and the parents ensures the student knows that school and home are all working together.
  1. You have personally only recently been diagnosed with dyslexia, although you did struggle somewhat in school. You went on to gain a PhD in Zoology and have taught successfully for many years. How do you manage to cope with such a demanding workload? What are some of the techniques and tricks that you use?
    I have learned to work hard and to be stubborn and tenacious if I have a goal in sight. I do not give up easily. I still make errors sometimes but I try to keep my sense of humour and sense of proportion and focus on moving forward counting them as learning experiences and not catastrophes.
    Tricks I use for learning included mnemonics, silly rhymes, repetition, using colour and visual aids, trying to represent things with models. I sometimes make up phrases, poems or songs to fix facts. I record play lines or poems to learn them.
    I have to be well prepared for teaching lessons and I always check key spellings in advance. I set off early for appointments to allow extra time to get lost.
    I enjoy walking, acting and dancing and these hobbies help me to relax and keep a sense of balance.
  1. Your book aims to help teachers support students with learning difficulties better. Was there anyone that supported and mentored you while you were a student? What impact do you think this had on your experiences of studying?
    I was at school at a time before dyslexia was really recognised or understood so I was in the class that was not expected to go to University having failed the 11+ exam.
    I really have to thank my parents for their great support throughout my school and University days, they backed me and had faith in my ability and this helped build my confidence which was of key importance.
    Some of my teachers rated my academic potential as poor but a few stood out as having higher expectations of me. They recognised my skills and potential and tried to help me to work round difficulties and would spend time with me individually.  I was nervous and afraid of some teachers so I really valued those who were cheerful, smiled, and I felt safe with.
    Once at University my professor was very kind and a few of the lecturers helped me individually.
    My PhD supervisor was excellent.
  1. What do you think is the most common misunderstanding about specific learning difficulties?
    That people with SpLD they are unintelligent, careless or not interested.Hudson-English_Specific-Learni_978-1-84905-590-1_colourjpg-print
    Some feel that they are merely used as an excuse to get extra time in exams.
  1. What is the number one thing you hope teachers will take away from your book?
    That SpLD’s are real and cause anguish. A teacher who listens, is sympathetic, supportive and cheerful can makes a huge difference to the life, outlook and prospects of a student with SpLD.

If you want to know more about identifying and supporting students with SpLD’s, check out Diana’s book here

You can also watch  a video of Diana speaking about the topic here.

Fight, flight or freeze; your body’s alarm system – author interview

K. L. Aspden has worked as a therapist with both children and adults since 1998. She has particular interest in the areas of trauma and anxiety, and she has experience working in both mainstream and special schools. She currently works in a school for children with emotional and behavioural difficulty, and is the author of Help! I’ve Got an Alarm Bell Going Off in My Head!: How Panic, Anxiety and Stress Affect Your Body.

1) What inspired you to write this book?
I work with some amazing children and teenagers, many of whom are frequently triggered into the fight/flight/freeze response. This can result in upsetting behaviours such as shouting, crying, hitting etc. They have no idea what is happening in their bodies and often feel too ashamed to talk about it, even when they are calmer. This is very sad. Having seen and heard what they go through, I wanted to write something to assure them that it is not their fault. I wanted to teach them about the physiology behind their feelings and show that there are things we can do to help ourselves.Aspden_Help-Ive-Got-an_978-1-84905-704-2_colourjpg-print
Above all I wanted to normalise this experience. Whilst we may not all react with the same intensity, everyone has an in-built ‘alarm bell’ (known as the amygdala) which can trigger powerful responses. An understanding of this can help anyone when they are going through periods of stress or anxiety.

2) Why did you decide to use the metaphor of an alarm bell?
I heard the panic response described as a ‘false alarm’ and decided to develop the idea. Alarms are so intrusive and distressing when they go off too frequently and at the wrong times – just like the overpowering feelings that can take over our bodies, minds and emotions when we are stressed. I wanted to communicate something of the jarring and disruptive effect of this through the alarm bell metaphor. I also thought it would be a non- threatening way to approach this tricky subject with my young clients.

3) You have worked as a therapist and at schools with children who have emotional and behavioural difficulties. What insight has that given you into how different people’s alarm bells work?
I think the alarm bell works in the same way for all of us, though it may affect us in different ways – could be trembling, feeling sick, withdrawing, tears, swearing…
For some people the alarm bell is set off more frequently because there are more triggers; this is especially true when trauma has occurred early in life or someone has high anxiety (for example, in autism). Children who have emotional/behavioural issues often live in a state of hyper-arousal – the alarm system is on red alert. In addition to this, they may lack the maturity or capacity to process their emotions which makes life even harder.
Those who have a stable background and an ability to reflect, often find it easier to learn to manage their responses. However, even the most vulnerable can benefit from being understood and supported by people who have an appreciation of the alarm system .

4) What triggers your alarm bell, and how do you take control back when you are feeling anxious or stressed?
Aspden - help i've got an alarm bell - pg 23 -imageOver the years I have carefully considered my own triggers and where they come from.
When I was a teenager life was much harder than it is now. Like many young people I wanted to be liked and didn’t understand that sometimes others can put you down to make themselves feel better. I was often bullied. This affected my confidence and I became reluctant to speak in groups, preferring not to be noticed. When put on the spot in a group setting, my internal alarm bell would ring loudly and I would experience a sense of wanting to disappear; lots of thoughts would rush round my head about how bad the situation was, and of course, this made me feel worse. There are occasions even now when I can revisit those feelings, but I am much more equipped to deal with them.
The thing that most often sets my alarm ringing these days is ‘technology’ – when my laptop goes wrong or I don’t know how to do something because everything changes so fast and it’s hard to keep up.
If this happens, I remind myself that I am having a ‘false alarm’. It is not a real emergency.
I also use two suggestions from the book that work quickly in any situation:

  • breathing more slowly
  •  doing a simple exercise like counting things to turn the thinking part of my brain back on.

In addition, I use Mindfulness in my everyday life (a discipline which helps to bring us back to the present moment), as well as a variety of creative activities. I find these tools are very soothing for the nervous system especially in times of stress or busyness.

5) Finally, what is the most important thing you would like readers to take away from your book?
I hope that an understanding of ‘the alarm system’ will help readers to feel more in control and more able to ask for help if they need it, without feeling embarrassed. I think a lot of people struggle because they don’’t know their difficulties are physiological.
Perhaps some readers will go further and become motivated to learn more about themselves. I would be especially pleased if they were to find the benefits of creativity in calming the nervous system, but that may be a subject for a whole new book.

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