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Book Review: Squirmy Wormy: How I Learned to Help Myself by Lynda Farrington Wilson

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It's not often that I see a book which comfortably sits across several age groups and brings useful and different information to each. Squirmy Wormy is such a book.

Squirmy Wormy is a picture book which deals with Autism and Sensory Processing Disorder. As someone with Aspergers Syndrome and two children on the autism spectrum, the book was of particular interest to me.

Squirmy Wormy is a quick and easy read. The story itself is a mere 18 pages with about five lines of new text on each page plus a little repetition which is great fun for reading aloud. It's easy reading for average young readers and even for struggling readers in grades three and four.

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 read the entire story, is that 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."

Other pages suggest breaks for the child and even provide some 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 colorful. They're also very easy for children to relate to. There's a lot of detail in the illustrations and my children had great fun pointing out various bits and pieces.

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 Squirmy Wormy 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 grab a copy, too. If nothing else, it's the kind of book that they should have in their waiting rooms.

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