Joanne Atkinson and Elliot: Autism and The Book of Everyone

I’ve run the Facebook page of The Book of Everyone for a year and a half now. I read and respond to just about every single comment that comes in.

Out of the thousands of questions and stories, there are a select few messages that really stand out for me. And the one I always tell people about is Joanne Atkinson’s, about her son Elliot:

Hadn’t seen my son for 6 months due to a court battle. Bought him this book to show him how unique and special he is to me. He is 12 on the 19th August and has autism – nothing impresses him. But when he opened this book, he just kept saying “WOW! How did you know all these things, mum?” I’m so thrilled I got it right, thanks to you!

We always have the hope that our books help bring people together, but we never anticipated that it could mean so much to a parent who hadn’t seen her son in half a year.

I contacted Joanne to find out what made the book such a brilliant fit for Elliot.

What made The Book of Elliot a lovely gift for someone with autism

Before meeting Joanne, I had never thought about our book as particularly appropriate for people who have autism. Really, I didn’t know much about autism in the first place.

As Joanne puts it, “Elliot was so thrilled with his book because children who suffer with autism believe what they see and hear.”

Children with autism often gravitate towards factual information, which can provide comfort in its stability. With just his name and date of birth, Joanne was able to make a whole book full of facts all about Elliot in just a few seconds.

The Book of Elliot is full of all kinds of factual information. He found out that he had eaten the equivalent of 0.9 African bull elephants’ worth of food in his lifetime. And that the megamouth shark had been discovered the same year he was born. And that he had 2 chromosomes fewer than a common potato.

“He believed that THE BOOK WAS TRULY ABOUT HIM AND NO ONE ELSE,” Joanna told me. “He believed this because it had his name on it and it was a proper professional printed book – so if someone has printed it, then surely it must be true.”

Reaching friends and family of autistic people worldwide

What Joanna told me about Elliot got me thinking. If the book made such a great present for him, maybe it could be a good match for other children with autism, too.

Just a few months later – and totally out of the blue – Annie Sands of Autism Anglia contacted me, letting me know how much her son Sebastian loved his book. A few phone calls later, and we found ourselves invited to attend Jimmy’s Festival with the Autism Anglia folks this past July (read all about it here).

So Joanne and Elliot’s story has really gone much further than just The Book of Elliot. It was a key part of kicking off a much larger collaboration, one which we hope will have people worldwide loving books with their names on the covers.

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