A mother-of-two whose daughter’s autism and brain damage has seen her become the victim of cruel bullies, has penned a children’s book in the hopes of raising awareness among youngsters.
Emily Bunny, 25, from Marbella, Spain, whose daughter Aurora, four, was diagnosed with autism two years ago, has written children’s autism awareness book Aurora’s Gift, to improve how the condition is perceived.
The author gave birth to Aurora by emergency caesarean section and says her daughter showed no signs of brain damage or autism before birth.
Speaking to FEMAIL, Emily said she wants to use the money raised from the book sales to fund Aurora’s treatments and therapies.
Emily Bunny, 25, from Marbella, Spain, explained how her daughter Aurora, four, (pictured) inspired her to write children’s autism awareness book Aurora’s Gift
Aurora is currently unable to talk, but has learnt to communicate using pictures and is in the process of learning sign language.
She said: ‘Aurora was diagnosed with autism at two years old. From the age of six months, Aurora would have muscle spasms in her arms where her arms would be stuck out at a funny angle for a few seconds at a time, up to 30 times per hour.
‘At 13 months she had a developmental regression, where she stopped making eye contact.’
Emily added of her symptoms: ‘She has never responded to her name, which became more noticeable as she got older, and she has never understood any words including key words such as ‘mummy’.
‘She also has never been able to talk although she crawled and walked at the expected age’.
Recalling her daughter’s birth, she continued: ‘She suffered trauma at birth but there were no signs before birth. We didn’t realise the birth trauma had affected her until she was around two years old.
Emily (pictured) revealed that her daughter Aurora can get upset when others don’t understand what she’s trying to communicate
‘I didn’t know much about autism at all. The only awareness of autism I had was the stereotypical characters you see on TV like Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory.’
Revealing how diverse the symptoms can be, she explained: ‘These characters have no relation to Aurora in any way.
‘The autism spectrum contains an incredibly diverse range of symptoms from characters like Sheldon, who can find communication and social interaction difficult but not insurmountable, to people like Aurora who are non-verbal and considered a ‘flight risk’.
‘This means she may run away from her carer given the opportunity) with absolutely no sense of danger.
‘Many people don’t realise the width of the range on the spectrum and this can make it difficult for Aurora when people ask silly questions like ‘what is her special power?’.
Emily explained that Aurora (pictured as a baby) didn’t show signs of suffering from autism or brain damage until she was around two-years-old
Emily explained that her idea to write a children’s awareness book was sparked by a fellow parent asking about autism.
She said: ‘One day another mum said to me ‘I really hope you don’t mind me asking, but I would like to explain to my child a little bit about Aurora so my child can understand what she goes through and understand her a bit better, but I’m not sure what to say’.
‘I explained to her about how Aurora can sometimes get upset when others don’t understand what she would like to communicate and how she likes making friends but struggles.
‘While explaining, I realised I can’t spend my whole life explaining to people, it would be much better if they already knew somehow, especially the children who otherwise get upset or angry with Aurora.
‘So I came up with the idea of a story book that other children can read where the main character, Aurora, helps them to understand how life can be with autism.’
Talking about the plot, she said: ‘In the book, we firstly meet Aurora. The book is written from the first person point of view, as if Aurora is writing the book herself. The book rhymes on every page which children love.
‘Aurora’s character explains how she has autism but that she still likes to do things like making friends and going to the park. The book follows Aurora as she goes on a trip to the park and how she loves soaring up high on the swing and running around the playground.
The mother-of-two was inspired to write Aurora’s Gift (pictured) after a fellow parent asked for more information about autism to tell their own child
‘The book also explores how Aurora’s character can be very aware of all of the noise, from the loud sounds of children playing to the background singing of the birds.’
Describing a real life challenge Aurora may face, she said: ‘Aurora then sees a balloon and decides she would like her own one, but she faces a problem. How can she ask for a balloon without talking? Aurora tries different ways including pointing, taking someone by the hand to the balloon stand and drawing a picture so people can understand her.’
Emily claims Aurora has experienced bullying from other children who don’t understand the symptoms of autism.
Children notice her stimming and get scared so hide from her or they may try to talk to her but laugh at her and tease her – Emily Bunny
She continued: ‘The bullying occurs in many places such as at soft play centres, extracurricular activities and even just at the park.
‘Children notice her stimming (a repeat of physical movements) and get scared so hide from her.
‘They may try to talk to her, but laugh at her and tease her when they notice she cannot speak.
‘Some children get physically violent towards her, when they realise she can’t talk and they don’t want her to join in, she often gets pushed or kicked away.
‘During one incident she was spat on by a similar aged child whose parents felt the spitting was acceptable as Aurora has additional needs.’
Emily added: ‘Aurora has never hurt another child and I closely follow her around while in public to try to prevent any bullying, but it’s much better if children accept Aurora and she can play freely without being shadowed around the park.
‘We communicate using pictures for example PECS (picture exchange communication system) cards and sign language, however Aurora only currently knows one sign which is the sign for food.
Emily revealed many parents have praised her book based on Aurora (pictured) and have recognised the importance of educating children about autism
‘Otherwise, I just watch Aurora closely to try to understand how she is feeling.
‘I can often tell what she would like to communicate by watching her behaviour, for example I can usually tell if she is thirsty or hungry but I often have to guess what she would like to eat or cook and offer multiple meals to work out what she would like.
‘She has a limited number of acceptable foods which include toast, pesto pasta, ice cream and apples.’
THE SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF AUTISM
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people with autism have trouble with social, emotional and communication skills that usually develop before the age of three and last throughout a person’s life.
Specific signs of autism include:
- Reactions to smell, taste, look, feel or sound are unusual
- Difficulty adapting to changes in routine
- Unable to repeat or echo what is said to them
- Difficulty expressing desires using words or motions
- Unable to discuss their own feelings or other people’s
- Difficulty with acts of affection like hugging
- Prefer to be alone and avoid eye contact
- Difficulty relating to other people
- Unable to point at objects or look at objects when others point to them
The mother-of-two revealed plans to use money from the book sales to pay for Aurora’s occupational therapy, speech therapy and equine assisted learning.
She also hopes to invest in a new special needs buggy, a disability swing for their garden and sensory equipment for the home.
She added: ‘Other parents who have children that are autistic have been very happy with the book and are excited to show others.
‘Some parents have told me how they have shown the book to multiple children in their child’s class at school or living in the same neighbourhood the book with great success, with the other children now understanding a lot more about how autism can present itself other than the stereotypical character.
‘Parents of neuro-typical children are equally happy with the book with many contacting me thanking me for writing the book as they recognise how important it is for their children to understand, especially with autism rates rising.
‘Aurora is a lovely, friendly, happy girl who would love for other children to just understand her. This book really achieves that.’
Aurora’s Gift: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Auroras-Gift-Childrens-Autism-Awareness/dp/1916051715/