A BUCKLEY woman has used her time in lockdown to help children better understand autism by creating a book featuring lovable sea creatures.

Amy Le Dain, 26, has spoken with the Leader about how she drew on her own experiences living with an autism diagnosis and helping young children understand how autism can be different from person to person.

She said: “During lockdown I wrote and illustrated the book to help kids understand more about autism. I made the book because there is not really any book out there for kids, other than ones that are quite stereotypical.

“Autism covers such a large spectrum and I wanted to help kids to be able to understand themselves as well as other individuals around them by showing them that it’s okay to be different. We are all unique.”

Throughout Amy’s book - called "Autism & Sea" - three sea creatures called Finn, Ollie and Astrid explore how they each live with autism but in different ways.

She says: “I relate to the three characters a lot in different ways. The first character that came to me was the octopus who wears his headphones a lot like me as it blocks out noise and things that I struggle with.”

Amy talks about how she grew up knowing something was different about her, but it all made sense upon getting her autism diagnosis, but it did not come until later in life.

She adds that she wanted to reflect this fact in her book that autistic girls often get overlooked in childhood compared to boys in terms of identifying their autistic tendencies by including a female character.

She said: “I knew I wanted to include a female character in the book as it can be common for girls to actually go undiagnosed until later in life compared to boys. Girls are very good at what is known as masking, and essentially copying certain social cues around them so it goes unnoticed.”

The National Autistic Society says that autism is a lifelong developmental disability that affects how people perceive the world and interact with others.

Stereotypical associations of someone on the autistic spectrum include forming routines, highly specific interests, and sensory sensitivities. Autistic people also generally have trouble in social situations.

Amy explains: “There are so many stereotypes around autism and some of the character do follow stereotypes, but I wanted characters that didn’t necessarily fit what people perceived as autistic. I wanted to show that it is not always aversions to things.

“For example, Astrid the starfish in the book is the opposite to this. She loves touch and pressure, so she likes to be tickled and enjoys really tight hugs.”

If you are interested in getting a copy of Amy’s book, you can contact her directly via her Facebook page – Atypical Blogger.