I started writing S.E.N.D. in the Clowns years ago; it started off as a collection of diary entries and was mainly cathartic – I would write through tears of injustice. Through increasingly detailed research, I could see there was a compelling story to tell. So here we are – my aim isn’t to tell a personal story, but to help parents untangle red tape, stay engaged and feel empowered as they march, with their autism or ADHD child, through a system that struggles to educate children who are different.
Packed with guidance with a moving personal story running through it, S.E.N.D in the Clowns is an uplifting read. I describe it as unique handbook of self-care and practical advice for parents who find themselves on the autism merry-go-round. S.E.N.D in the Clowns is a play on the acronym Special Educational Needs and Disability hinting that these children’s behaviour may look like they are either the sad clown sitting quietly in the corner or the zany clown performing slap stick tricks to make everyone in the classroom laugh. The reality is more poignant, these neurodiverse children are highly sensitive individuals who mask the pain and confusion of their neurodiversity in a school environment that is often frightening and confusing.
The subtitle, Boys Behaving Badly, is based on the statistical reality that boys are more often identified as being disruptive in the classroom than girls, (DfE). S.E.N.D in the Clowns is the story of one such boy, my son, excluded from school aged five due to ‘bad’ behaviour.
Structure of the book
Follow the sub-headings if you want to dip in and out. Or read straight through, there are MANTRAS and ‘lessons learned’ at the end of each chapter so you can continue your journey with a sense of positivity and confidence.
S.E.N.D. in the Clowns takes you on two journeys:
- Personal Story from parent and child – from babe to pre-teen and…
- Professional guidance for parents and professionals who work with, teach or support autistic or ADHD children.
One of the early indicators of my son’s autism was his drawings. Some of his early work is jagged, angry and symbolic of his inner confusion. He went through a stage of comic book drawings, in playing card size. He drew my wedding venue, in Surrey, UK, in about thirty minutes, creating a brilliant likeness. (See below) Some of his artwork is used to illustrate sections of the book, showcasing the hidden talents of so many autistic children.
The book is written broadly in chronological order using real-life anecdotes to bring the experiences to life. The ‘drama’ is underpinned with analysis, thoughts, suggestions and lessons learned, which you can apply, copy or take with a pinch of garlic – whatever you wish. It’s no exaggeration to say that for some of you this book could be a life-saver, a friendly voice on each page, helping you to understand how the system works, and how best to advocate for your child. You are always the expert in that.
Whatever influence and experience I’ve gained over the years, I share with you. I’m an ordinary working mum, with an extraordinary passion for equality in education. I know you’re with me on that. If you’d like to go on the mailing list to follow the journey of this book from brain to bookstore, please fill in the form. It will be great to connect with you 🙂
© Suzy Rowland