Anna Kennedy Online – Autism Awareness Charity

Ready Eddie Go!

Ready Eddie Go! (3+), is based on the Eddie Series Books, written by award winning-author, Nikki Saunders. The series sees loveable character Eddie who is autistic taken step-by-step through new experiences and situations such as a trip to the barbers, so when he encounters this in real life, he’s ready to go. Narration from Jodie Whittaker. The Eddie books are inspired by the author’s authentic beautiful autism journey with her son. 

https://www.skygroup.sky/article/a-splash-of-sky-originals-soon-to-air-on-new-sky-kids-channel-with-narration-from-daisy-haggard-marcus-bentley-and-jodie-whittaker-

About the author – Nikki is the author of the Eddie Series Books, mum to two lovely boys and worked in Special Education. Nikki’s son was diagnosed autistic aged 3 and she found a lack of inclusion on the bookshelves. After scribbling social stories for mainstream situations, Nikki used her creative eye and went on to publish, “My Awesome Autism” for her son. It was such a success, that she wanted to share this with other children and their families worldwide and normalise conversations about neurodiversity everywhere. Nikki receives many heartwarming comments and messages in receipt of her books connecting with families globally. 

 

As a child I had always enjoyed reading stories and writing my own. I was a very grounded, happy little girl with challenges around me that I didn’t understand, however this taught me great empathy for others and their needs. We didn’t have much material wise growing up, not that I had ever noticed. But what we did have was family, friends, strong morals of kindness, respect and the gratitude to see the beauty in everything! Growing up, I would call out unkindness, or any wrongdoing to others. Lifting others up and empowering them was very much important to me from a young age and still is. Later in life I went on to work with adults with learning disabilities, then in mainstream and SEN provision with children with severe and complex challenges and beautiful hearts, who taught me so much.

 

My son was diagnosed autistic, with sensory processing and hypermobility at 3 years old. His speech came later, but as his mum I knew what he wanted and his words came when he was ready. The wait for a diagnosis and being passed around to different people was very frustrating, though I know too well that families are sadly waiting years. He has taught me so much, slowing me down to look at life through his beautiful lens finding patterns and beauty in everything. He had a huge love for wheels, anything that could spin, numbers, letters, shapes and being outside. Changes in routine, certain social situations, and busy places were a big challenge for him. I wanted to show everyone that if you could just slow down and join his world, you will experience so much love and joy like us. In 2019 Nikki wrote ‘My Awesome Autism’ for her son and what a beautiful success it was in their home. A very special moment! I had searched for books when my son was a toddler, something bright and beautiful for children! I couldn’t find anything and again in 2019 I couldn’t find anything then either. There wasn’t a lot of talk about autism then and no one in my friends circle had experienced autism before. I asked the assistant in the book shop for a children’s book about autism to be told.. ‘we don’t stock that sort of book.’ Wait, what? Why? She didn’t mean anything by it, but it really bothered me, I wanted better for my son and for so many other children! A clear indication right there on why we need to do more and build some steps ourselves and jump over these fences! We have a long way to go. There should be a broad representation in books and T.V for many different neurodiverse children including physical differences, not just one or two. So back to my trusty pen, paper and stapler, I sat and scribbled my social story like I would with any previous scenario. I really wanted to get this right for him as I felt like we are in a world that doesn’t fully understand autism yet. I wanted to show him how wonderful he is, highlight his strengths and visually explain strategies he can use and how much I am there to support him with any challenge, knowing how much he is valued, loved and will shine inspiring others too. There wasn’t much discussion about neurodiversity as there is now, however the book is all about differences we can see and some we cannot. The fact we are all different from one another is wonderful and special! We read the book together at a time that suited him, it’s a lot to take in when relating it to yourself. The result was magical! He loved it and felt SO proud. After laughing at my stick men and correcting my grammar… he told everyone about what makes him who he is and about his special book! I then decided to publish the book, build up my social media and try to reach other families too! He was very excited about this! The book and series is very special to us as I had the character designed to look similar to my son, with his great grandfather’s name ‘Eddie’ who sadly passed away after my son was born. His great grandfather Edward Saunders was from Bethnal Green and fought in WW2, he wrote the most incredibly insightful and humbling life stories.

 

Parents, carers and teachers began asking me for a book for siblings, so along with our journey of experiences came more books in the Eddie Series! My youngest son had started school and also needed visual supports so along came my next book ‘I’m Going To School’ transition workbook! It’s something that I could have done with when my eldest went from nursery to primary school. I felt like the nursery understood him so well and that I had to start again with primary and help them to understand everything about my child. I can remember asking for photos and doing things a bit differently from other parents just to try and make the transition easier for him. In lockdown I released the ‘I’m Going To School’ PDFs for free because I wanted parents to have a useful resource they could use to explore how their child was feeling. I know that not everyone can afford lots of resources, so I wanted to find those people and help. The idea is that you can add photos to the workbook with the child to help them become familiar with the new setting – they could be photos of the teacher, the toilets, where to put your bag, and how to ask for help. With those visuals in one place for the child to enable processing time, this also creates good communication between home and school. It was very popular and I was up late for a good few nights emailing it out! Shortly after this a team of Educational Psychologists asked me to collaborate in creating ‘Welcome Back Eddie After Lockdown’ to support children in their return during the pandemic. What an honour. Children are at the heart of everything I do. I want to help lift up and encourage all children who come into contact with me, whether it be directly during my day or through my work. Ready Eddie Go! is all about children being able to fulfil their wishes, achieve their hopes and dreams! I hope many neurodiverse individuals feel represented and others can also be encouraged whilst learning how to help and support their friends. This isn’t just about goals for me, these are my values and my passion.

 

After releasing My Awesome Autism, my Dad and I had conversations about autism and said he thinks he is autistic. He has always been a very wise and kind person, but struggled a lot back in the day. I could always feel when he needed a little help with something or had to plan ahead. I think it’s wonderful that his grandsons’ experience has helped him too. We are all learning all the time. I am grateful to him too, for the experiences he taught me as a child as I trotted beside him, subtly learning about autism. One thing he did teach me was ‘you just have to find another way!’ Everyone deserves to feel represented and heard. Therefore I am super grateful to the wonderful production team behind Ready Eddie Go! and to Ian France and Lucy Murphy at Sky Kids for listening to our story and believing in my passion 

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AnnaNikki Saunders sees the launch of new animated series “Ready Eddie Go!” Narrated by Jodie Whittaker