"What eventually was shared as this picture book, is a glimpse of what I believe kids deserve. What I believe we all deserve. To live safely in our experience, with the support of our loved ones."
Have you ever felt inadequate? Or like you just didn't fit in? You are too much of this, or not enough of that?
We all yearn for belonging and acceptance. For someone to really see us, to know us. Beyond what is seen on the outside, there is so much more within us.
When I wrote Wiggles, Stomps and Squeezes Calm My Jitters Down, I did not set out to write a book about neurodiversity or sensory differences. I wrote about the little things that happened in my home, little moments with my autistic daughter and neurodivergent son.
I wrote about reactions I wish I would have had in some of those moments.
I wrote about feelings I remember having as a child with undiagnosed ADHD.
I wrote about how it felt.
There were sensory differences that I had as a child that were considered “weird” or “strange,” not like other kids I knew. My siblings and friends were able to cope with certain things that made my skin crawl. I couldn’t sit still. I was labeled a dreamer, spaced out, obnoxious, lazy, that I wasn’t applying myself. Labels that I carried with me well into adulthood, and worked hard to overcome. If I just tried a little harder…
My daughter was diagnosed as autistic the day after her second birthday. Like many families new to a diagnosis, we dove in to find out how we could “fix” it.
But here's the thing - She's not broken.
The most impactful decision I have made on this journey is to seek out, listen to, and learn from autistic people. It sounds wild that you'd listen to those with lived experience, right?
The autistic adult community has reframed what autism means to us. They have introduced us to neurodiversity. Helped us learn that all our brains are just wired differently, and our job is to help find ways to support her in the ways that she needs. They have shown me more about my daughter, and myself, than I ever expected. And I am forever grateful.
This experience also opened up my eyes to the sensory differences that I had as a kid. I was diagnosed with ADHD at almost 40, and so much of my struggles as a neurodivergent person finally made sense!
I’ve realized how much neurodiversity has and will always affect my life and family, with positives and challenges, strengths and weaknesses.
What eventually was shared as this picture book, is a glimpse of what I believe kids deserve. What I believe we all deserve. To live safely in our experience, with the support of our loved ones.
One of my favorite parts of the book is that the child is accepted and understood. She is not asked to change, she is allowed to be herself, she is loved.
There are so many areas of life that our kids are told they are not quite enough. But they are not broken. Make sure your kid knows that. Make sure you believe that. You are not broken either. Society already tells us that so much of who we are is wrong. Make your home a safe space for everyone to be fully loved and accepted for who they are.
As a parent, I know I am going to get a lot wrong on this journey through life. But my goal is to listen, and learn a little more every day -- because this part I want to get right.
You have value, just as you are.
Wiggles, Stomps and Squeezes Calm My Jitters Down, a picture book about sensory differences, by Lindsey Rowe Parker, Illustrated by Rebecca Burgess.
Lindsey Rowe Parker is a mom at the tail end of toddler-hood, embracing the next phase of parenting while learning to navigate and advocate for her young autistic daughter. With a recent adult diagnosis of ADHD, and a new deeper understanding of her own sensory experiences, she has begun to delve into the neurodiversity community learning all she can from neurodivergent voices. This is her first picture book, and she hopes it connects with everyone who has felt the need for a wiggle, stomp, or squeeze! Visit her at wigglesstompsandsqueezes.com.
About the Illustrator: Rebecca Burgess
Rebecca is an autistic illustrator living in the UK. They love history and nature, but comics and illustration most of all! Rebecca’s passion has led them to work with the likes of The Guardian and Jessica Kingsley Publishing. Rebecca is most famous for an online comic, 'Understanding The Spectrum', explaining autism -- it has been shared in several books and used by parents, teachers, and doctors.
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