It's not often that I see a book which sits so comfortably across several age groups and brings useful and different information to each. Squirmy Wormy is such a book.
Squirmy Wormy is, at first glance, a picture book which deals with Autism and Sensory Processing Disorder.
The "story" itself is a mere 18 pages, so it's a quick and easy read but don't let that deceive you. Beneath its storybook exterior, Squirmy Wormy provides a wealth of explanations and tips. It's a book that you and your children will be going back to, time and time again.
Suitability for Young Readers
Young readers will find Squirmy Wormy easy to read because there's only about five lines of new text on each page plus a little repetition of sound-words. None of the words are particularly difficult, making it a great book for good-reading children as young as kindergarten.
If your child is a slower reader, the book is still good reading at grades three and four. It's also a great book for reading aloud. In fact, it's the sound words like "flappy, flappy, pinchy, pinchy, hit, hit, hit" which make it a particular joy to read to an audience.
A Book with a Difference
What makes Squirmy Wormy so different from your average picture book though is that apart from having a generally non-linear story from which you can simply read one or two relevant pages without having to re-read the entire story, it offers a great deal of advice for parents but more importantly, for children.
One of the main aims of this book is to encourage children to help themselves.
Taking a child's point of view, it's easy to see the advice for given situations.
For example; one page reads,
"Sometimes I just get upset and confused and I just don't know what else to do but scream or cry"
The advice follows on quickly;
"But I just close my eyes, take a deep breath and think of something that makes me happy."
There's also a reassurance of normality;
"It's okay when I feel upset. I will feel better soon."
It's great that the book provides reassurance because all children, particularly those on the spectrum, really need constant reassurance. They need to know that they're okay and that other people experience the same sorts of feelings and frustrations that they do.
The advice is great too. Sometimes it's directed at parents and sometimes at the children. It's always understandable and it's always achievable. Sometimes the advice suggests breaks for the child and sometimes it provides interesting ideas for parents to implement. Best of all, a child who is reading the book may begin to implement or recommend their own therapy for a given problem.
The illustrations in the book are all bright and colourful. I was amazed to find that Lynda did these as well. They're very easy for children to relate to and there's a lot of detail in them. My children had great fun pointing out various bits and pieces and there's a unique textured look to them which makes them even more attractive for those on the spectrum with a fascination for patterns.
I read the book aloud to both of my children and they stayed attentive throughout. Best of all, it provided me with some great ideas and opened some enlightening discussion topics with them. It was interesting to be able to point to pages and ask them, "do you feel like that?".
I'd recommend this book to all parents of children on the autism spectrum, with SPD or even with non-autistic conditions such as learning difficulties and ADHD. There are a lot great ideas in it which are suitable for a much broader range of children.
Professionals working with special needs children really need to get a copy of this book too. It's one big step on the road to self-management.