I’ve been asked to write a few words about me so here goes….
My name is Deborah Brownson and I’m 39 years old and am lucky to live in a small village in the Lake District in the United Kingdom, with my husband, two sons and our cocker-spaniel Loki.
Before I became a mother, I worked as a Solicitor in Manchester for over 10 years.
However, my childhood dreams of motherhood didn’t quite turn out the way I’d planned. After years of turmoil, stress, medical appointments, school meetings and an ocean full of tears, both of my beautiful sons were diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome.
As is often the case with this condition, it didn’t end there. My eldest son was also diagnosed with ADHD. My youngest son was also diagnosed with an extreme Sensory Processing Disorder, Sleep Disorder including frequent horrific night terrors, a gluten intolerance, some Tourette’s Syndrome ticks and is currently under investigation for Dyspraxia. A veritable cocktail of medical conditions all bouncing around under one roof with sleep-deprived, exhausted and stressed out parents trying to keep it all together, living two hours away from our nearest relative, whilst my husband worked four jobs in order to keep me at home caring for our boys.
After diagnosis I was devastated, overwhelmed and crippled with worry about what the future would hold for them. I thought gaining a diagnosis would be the turning point for our family, but sadly it wasn’t. We got a label, but as is often the case, no help.
When I think back to those years, caring for two children on the spectrum with very different needs, I feel really sad. We shouldn’t have had to struggle on our own and find our own path but thankfully somehow we did. How we managed to stay together as a couple through it all, I’m not really sure.
Just when we thought things couldn’t get any worse, they did, much worse! My youngest son’s first attempt at our tiny village school was an unmitigated disaster, as Jake and his many medical conditions were not understood and he was emotionally damaged by some of the teaching staff’s treatment of him and by nasty childhood bullies. We reached the point where we could take no more, when we found our precious son crying under a table wearing nothing but his underpants whilst other class members were making fun of him. He’d not been able to dress himself due to sensory overload, following a P.E. class and being treated as naughty and refusing to do as he was told, he was just left under the table in a distressed state and we were called in to deal with him. To this very day he’s never set a foot inside that school again.
It’s heart breaking to think that right now as you read this, there are families all over the world going through exactly the same as we did. Struggling, crying, worrying, sleep deprived and wondering when things will ever get better. Having been brought up to act not moan, I decided to write down everything I wish someone had told me, when I first began on this journey, but in a concise and fun way.
I don’t profess to be an expert in all things autism. I write with experience on how my children are affected. Hopefully this insight will help others understand the child in their life better.
The title for the book, ‘He’s not naughty!’ was born out of utter frustration at the never ending disapproving looks as one or both of my sons had public meltdowns, often running in different directions! If anyone could spend a day watching, feeling and truly understanding how hard life can be caring for a child with autism or indeed being a child with the condition, then they may think twice before making judgments. Sadly that can’t happen, so I thought I write a book.
During those stressful times dealing with his old school, I’d often considered getting the words, HE’S NOT NAUGHTY tattooed on my forehead, so the teaching staff there might just get it, so it seemed a fitting title for my book and I know first-hand it’s a title that other parents can identify with too.
Often having wondered how my children’s minds worked, I searched high and low for two years to find a talented illustrator who had also been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, in order to give a true visual representation of what it’s truly like to have autism. I found that in Ben Mason. He was recommended to me by a lady who was giving therapy to my son. She had been Ben’s teacher when he was the same age as my son and she said they were very similar to each other. I also thought that Ben’s success would give hope to parents like me, as Ben is now an illustration graduate from the University of Central Lancashire and lives independently away from his childhood home. He was just like my son is now, but went onto graduate from university and has produced 67 of the most insightful illustrations I’ve ever seen on autism. That was very important to me when choosing an illustrator.
The project took over four years to complete, with invaluable input from other parents, grand-parents, teachers, teaching assistants, Educational Psychologists, Consultant Paediatricians, Health Visitors, School Nurses and even the Clinical Director for Children’s Community Health Services in Cumbria, so although I may have been at the helm, I like to see it as a team effort.
My hope is that my book will help everyone surrounding a child with autism understand him or her better and also that parents receiving a diagnosis of Autism don’t feel like it’s the end of the world, but see that it’s the start of a new and very colourful chapter in their lives.
My book helps explain why children with autism behave the way they do. If everyone around the child understands them, life can be good. Sadly even children with Autism who can speak, often cannot communicate effectively. This book does that for them. I don’t want any child to be placed in the heart-breaking position Jake was in ever again and if it helps just one child, then I’m happy.
Here’s a quick overview of the book:
He’s not Naughty! A children’s Guide to Autism
Lovingly written by a mother of two boys with Asperger’s Syndrome, this book is ideal for those who have just had a diagnosis. Although created for children of all ages and abilities, this 67 page fully illustrated book, is also a quick and fun way of explaining to family, friends and classmates why children with autism behave the way they do. It has also been well received by health professionals and teachers too. Coupled with the distinctive talents of illustrator Ben Mason, who also has Asperger’s Syndrome himself, this book provides a unique visual representation of what it’s truly like to have autism.
To keep the attention of young children, Jake’s favourite toy Ted Ted has been hidden on every page of the book and our website.
I’ve also commissioned a whole range of ‘He’s not naughty!’ merchandise to remind all those surrounding your child when they are out in public or even at school, that they have autism.
The range includes boy and girl options of wrist bands, water bottles, PE bags, t-shirts. They can also be purchased from our website.
I’m already working on my next book, ‘He’s not naughty! A children’s guide to ADHD,’ but similar merchandise should be available before the completion of the book.
This is the best feedback I’ve had so far, completely out of the blue by email, Alison from Alberta Canada.
I just wanted to thank you for such an amazing book. I have worked with autistic adults for 6 years, so I have a certain level of understanding. Now I have an autistic son and getting people to understand his condition is so very difficult but now I have your words! I only hope that getting my family and friends to read your book, will help them understand him better. Well done on a very well thought out project, with amazing illustrations that conceptualise exactly the written words. You probably have some idea but maybe not as much as you should…. THIS BOOK WILL MAKE A HUGE DIFFERENCE TO MILLIONS OF PEOPLE’S LIVES!!! So thank you!
Find out more about Deborah, her book and merchandise on: