David Fox, from Newcastle, is hoping that the Pop Fantastic series, featuring his young son Oliver, as the lead character, will help to raise awareness of autism and promote a more positive understanding of the condition.
“Pop Fantastic is a fantasy, based in a world where an autistic child like Oliver can really fit in and fulfil his potential,” said David, 39, a marine engineer and former lecturer. “The idea behind the books is to let children like Oliver make sense of the world around them, while also showing their friends and siblings what life is like for them.
“Like many other children, Oliver was given a diagnosis of autism at a young age, and both myself and my wife, who are continually learning about his condition, are aware that no two ASD children are completely alike. We do know, however, that a great many of them share the same mannerisms and attributes, which means they see and experience our world very differently to us.”
David has now launched an online Kickstarter campaign to help create the first Pop Fantastic book. He is hoping that he can secure the funds to help turn his vision into reality, so that he can share the books with families around the world.
David added: “One thing I’ve observed many times is that other children don’t always know how to relate to autistic friends and classmates. It could be as simple as the child preferring to play alone, covering their ears when things get loud or not liking physical contact with others. Also, they tend to flap their arms or rock back and forwards, which is known as stimming, and is a way to calm down. This can seem strange to others who don’t understand the condition.”
Oliver, who is now 10 and a pupil at Gibside School in Whickham, is the inspiration for Pop, the main character in the books. Pop, which is Oliver’s nickname, is a six-year-old autistic boy who discovers a magical world, where all the traits that make him different become his superpowers. For example, when Pop flaps his arms he can fly, and his ultra-sensitive hearing can warn him of impending danger.
“There is no shortage of reference material on this topic, but in an age where the number of children with an autism diagnosis is on the rise, I felt it was time for something informative, fun and engaging,” David added. “It’s my hope that, through these books, we can increase awareness and understanding of autism, whilst also telling stories that all children, including their families, will enjoy.”
Anyone who is interested in finding out more or contributing to the project can visit the Pop Fantastic page on Kickstarter at http://tinyurl.com/popfantastic.