6-Year-Old Boy Writes Book About Mom's Autism to Spread Awareness

Heath Grace, 6-years-old, is now Britain's youngest published author after writing and illustrating a book on how to handle a mother who has autism.

Heath lives in Carnkie, Cornwall, with his mother, Joanna, and his three-month-old brother, Elias. When he was just five, his mother was diagnosed with autism. She processes language more slowly than an average person, causing misunderstandings when someone talks too fast. At such a tender age, he has learned how to live with his mom's condition and understand the struggles that she goes through. 

She hears everything but it "buffers" a little in her brain

She said she could hear and understand everything; it just that it "buffers" a little as she absorbs it. An incident at the supermarket led to the idea for the book. She accidentally ran over Heath's foot with a trolley because he was speaking too fast, and it was too late for her to process the word "stop."

Joanna, 41, explained that Heath was talking "super fast," and in the middle of his sentence, her son spotted what he was looking for and told her to stop. She was several words behind in the sentence, and so couldn't stop, and Heath leaped from the trolley. And as he landed in front of where Joanna was headed, she ran over his foot.

She explained to her son that she has a different brain and processes words at a much slower speed than other people. Joanna said that when she checked the next morning if Heath had understood her condition, she said she was slightly exasperated when he showed her his drawing to prove he understood.

Joanna, who is also an author herself and a teacher, thought that the pictures were clear, and this exercise would be a good way to practice writing. She told him that the pictures were good and that he could explain to other people how her mom's brain works so they could understand.

Read also: Mother Modifies Dolls for Children With Disabilities

Over the next few days, Heath drew more pictures, and when he got tired of drawing, Joanna packed them all away. She initially planned on just stapling the drawings together as a book for home, but then she saw them as brilliant drawings, so she sent them to one of her editors at Routledge, who also loved them.

"If a five-year-old can understand and explain autism," she told Cornwall Live, "it asks a question of the wider world."

When the BBC wildlife reporter Chris Packham heard about their story, he reached out to Heath and volunteered to write the book's foreword. Packham was diagnosed with Asperger's and produced the documentary "Asperger's and Me," FOX 28 Spokane noted.

"There is remarkable tenderness here," Packham wrote, "between mother and child, an acceptance which is both beautiful and charming and heart-warming."

The book "My Mummy Is Autistic" was published by Routledge on October 22. Joanna said that the publishers were pleased that Heath's book looks at adult autism from a child's perspective instead of what is often portrayed as a "child's problem."

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