Awesome About Autism by Jude Lennon
Two years ago I met Jane Hawkes at a Business Networking event. Jane’s son Will is Autistic and she had founded an online business Seashore No 4 which could offer Will a job once he left school. She was passionate and enthusiastically determined for Will to have a chance to reach his full potential.
Will was also passionate, but in another area – drawing. Jane, Will and I embarked on a project which would allow Will’s passion to develop. Together, we have created a series of children’s books with an autistic main character. Hal was born from Will’s imagination and by careful questioning, I was able to build up a character profile not just of him but of his entire family. The first book Hal and the End Street features Hal as a thirteen year old living with autism in 1974. The book takes the readers through social situations that Hal finds himself in and shows how using strategies can help him to cope with them.
Hal and the End Street launched on World Autism Awareness Day (April 2nd) 2018. It became an Amazon Number 1 Best Seller in its category and has received great feedback from children, teachers and parents alike.
Although Hal has enjoyed success, the best thing has been the effect on Will. From a shy teenager who avoided eye contact, Will has grown in confidence. Initially Will said he wanted nothing to do with the promotion of the book. He didn’t want to have his photograph taken, be interviewed, talk to people about it. He certainly didn’t want to go on Radio or be filmed for television and there was no way at all he’d be speaking at the launch events. Will has achieved all of these things!And now we are celebrating the launch of Book Two ‘Hal and the Parties’. Set in 1977, Hal is now leaving school, embarking on a college career and dealing with new friendships as well as a host of celebrations and parties. Will’s illustrations have developed in style and texture and this time he took promotional events in his stride.
Jane came up with the tag line Awesome About Autism because she really wanted to show that Autism needn’t be a barrier to achieving dreams, holding down a job, making friends or being part of society. Will is studying Art at college (just like Hal) and is hoping to have a career in illustration ahead of him. He has already been commissioned for work. Being the author who had the chance to work with him on this is a real privilege. And we are already looking ahead to Book Three!
For more information about Hal’s Books please visit https://halsbooks.co.uk/
Seashore No 4 is still going and now employs another young person who is Autistic.