We would like to thank the team at chocolate muffin for giving both of our daughters the opportunity to write their own stories and then have them published. The experience was unique and we found it really inspired our children with their writing. In particular, our eldest daughter, Emma, who has high functioning autism and severe anxiety disorder benefitted hugely. At the time Emma was not attending any other clubs outside of school and this was such an enjoyable, positive experience for her. The staff were incredibly supportive, encouraging and professional. Class sizes were small and Emma felt completely relaxed. She looked forward to her sessions each week. The experience really helped her confidence and she felt so proud of herself for having her own book published. She then went on to complete two more courses!
In Emma's own words - 'It was fun and you get to publish your own book. I liked the book signing evening as it was good to let everyone see my book.'
When the offer came through school to write a book, Dan wanted to do it but his anxiety was preventing him from doing so. He is diagnosed with aspergers and gets easily overwhelmed but when we explained all this to Kate, it was not a problem.
She extended the time frame in which Dan could complete his book, so the pressure lifted. He would make excuses to not go, but really wanted to complete it. Having Kate or someone else collect him from his class created a bridge for him to cross, with the help of a physical person. Then being given a lad to work one 2 one with him on the book meant he was able to complete it. The sense of accomplishment this gave Dan was immense in his world. It gave him a confidence boost he desperately needed and he treasures the book still and shows it off with complete pride...pride you can clearly see at his book signing.
Most students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are anxious at the prospect of writing. Even a simple writing assignment can trigger a major meltdown. So, what can we do to help? We listen. We are patient. We adapt to individual needs. We do not concentrate on spelling, grammar or punctuation. We allow their imaginations to run wild with ideas and most importantly, we make writing fun!
I would unreservedly recommend CMP for children with high functioning autism. It was a very safe, calm and nurturing environment for Thomas.
On reflection, the ethos of the club chimes well with kids on the spectrum. It celebrates their unique view of the world, allowing them to work alongside others without the pressure of forced interaction. The clearly outlined, structured format of the course made Thomas feel less anxious as he could anticipate, mentally prepare for and actually look forward to each session. The long term goal of having his book in print was an enormous motivation and, on a short term basis, there was always thought of a chocolate muffin when he left the classroom. Even the book signing ceremony worked well for him. It was a celebration without the unpredictabilty of a being a full blown party.
Thomas is usually very reticent about starting after school activities and usually abandons them after a couple of attempts. But CMP was different for him. He got one to one help from teachers who embraced his ideas, allowing his imagination to go wherever it wanted. He came home enthused about what he was going to prepare for the next lesson. It seemed as though creating his book gave Thomas a new avenue for communication, facilitating lovely discussions with us about his plans for illustrations and twists and turns in the plot.
I'd like to say a huge thanks for bringing CMP to Weeke and hope you come back soon.
“I am really proud of how well Fin has done with chocolate muffin. It has helped him to provide an outlet for his amazing imagination. It's a myth that autistic kids have no imagination, and is was in fact one of the major things that delayed his diagnosis. He has an amazing creative side, which offers him an outlet and a relief from his anxieties.”