A father who has written two books about autism said he wanted to help his daughter’s peers understand why she does some things differently.
Jon Roberts based the main character on his daughter Kya who was diagnosed with autism when she was four.
He gave Through The Eyes of Me to his daughter’s school in Swansea to be read out during their assembly.
After a positive reception, 47-year-old Jon approached publishers Graffeg – and is now planning his third book.
“I wasn’t an author, I’m just a web developer,” he said.
“When we found out Kya had autism, I wanted to write something down that answered children’s questions.
“It wasn’t going to be published and out there, I gave it to the school and people said it was a lovely book to get published so I approached Graffeg.”
Kya is now seven, and while Jon is still working full time as a web developer he has since released a second book and hopes to keep writing so fictional Kya can grow up with real-life Kya.
Jon said autism was not well represented in children’s literature when Through The Eyes of Me was published in 2017 but added this has since changed – along with more characters with autism appearing on television too.
“It’s been picking up over the last couple of years, since the first book funnily enough.
“In [Kya’s] school they read out the book in assembly, she’s a bit of a celebrity.
“Primary school is the best age to educate about it because they haven’t made their minds up yet, it’s easy to learn about why somebody does something differently.
“The children in her class look after her, say hello to her, and it’s lovely to see.”
Jon’s second book Through The Eyes of Us, released last August, introduces another girl with autism, nine-year-old Martha, who is based on Jon’s friend’s daughter.
She has a completely different personality to Kya, with different likes and dislikes – showing the vast spectrum of people with autism. While the pair have not spent much time together in real life, in the book they are best friends.
“Autism is a huge spectrum,” Jon said.
“Everybody is really different, one person with autism is never the same as the next and they all have their own traits.
“Kya doesn’t speak but she loves cuddles and enjoys loud noises which a lot of children with autism don’t.
“Everybody is different on the spectrum so the two girls both have autism but they are so different.”
‘Diary of her life’
The book was illustrated by Hannah Rounding from Cardigan, Ceredigion, who Jon found via a website for freelancers.
“I sent her what I’d written and a couple of pictures of Kya but no pictures of me or my wife, and she managed to capture me and my wife spot on, which was pretty amazing.
“I’d like to carry on with the books about Kya and how she’s getting on, a diary of her life.”