Thursday, 1 June 2017

Seeing things from another point of view with AniMalcolm

Anthony reading the AniMalcolm novel

Sometimes it's not easy to think about others.  It's easy to think about ourselves. And that's the most natural thing to do.  Evolution has mostly meant looking out for one's safety and we even develop by first thinking about ourselves in what seems like a selfish fashion.  Young children need to be taught to share because the part of their mind that allows them to think about others is still developing.

My boys are autistic and it's fair to say that their minds don't work in a typical fashion. And being able to see another's point of view is one of the common areas that autistic people can struggle with. The understanding that people don’t share the same thoughts and feelings as you do develops during childhood, and is called 'theory of mind'.

At a basic level, 'theory of mind' meant that David got upset with me when I handed him the wrong biscuit (he believes I will want what he does and know what he knows) and in our eldest it means we need to explain to Anthony why I don't know what happened at school (because I wasn't there so I didn't see it like he did). This can sometimes make it difficult to understand how other people are feeling and has led to the myth that autistic people are unable to empathise with others.  

Some believe that the ability to gauge what others are thinking continues to develop throughout your life and doesn't stop when you reach adulthood.  It's something that can be practiced.  And I recently came across a great book that worked on this called AniMalcolm.

Malcolm is in Year 6 at school.  He enjoys computers and games and doesn't understand why the rest of the family appear to be besotted with pets and animals in general.  His home is beginning to feel like a zoo and the only fun thing he was looking forward to, his school residential, turns out to be a trip to a... farm.

Except of course, Malcolm gets more than he bargains for when he questions a rather old (and seemingly magical) goat.  Let's just say there's a few transformations and Malcolm ends  up experiencing what animals think and feel up close, up very close in fact.

Our son, Anthony is eight years old, and he I read some of the book together and he read some himself.  He found the events hilarious and enjoyed the fun pictures while we chatted about what it might be like to be different animals.  And about how Malcolm was interested in computers and how he may have felt about things when he had.... transformed.

This worked really well as Anthony himself has just had a birthday, and like Malcolm, was very excited to get computer related items. But he was also able to think with the help of the book about what other people in the story thought too.  Plus he thought the book was hilarious in places.

Do you know any great books to help kids think about how others are feeling?

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This post was in collaboration with Harper Collins and we received a copy of AniMalcolm for purposes of review.  Please see the bottom of my website for my full disclaimer. 

4 comments:

  1. Ohh I don't but I would be very interested to know some, I think it would be very helpful :) Thanks for linking up #bestandworst

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  2. Ooo I hadn't heard of this one! Off to order it for my classroom now x #PostsFromTheHeart

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  3. OOO I didnt known David Baddiel had written books! I used to love him and Frank Skinner on tele as a kid! This sounds a fab book and one that everyone could relate to and learn a lesson from. Sometimes it is easy to forget others think differently, whether autistic or not.
    Thank you for sharing this with us at #TriumphantTales. I hope to see you back next week!

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  4. This sounds a really useful book for us to have at home, my T is very similar to Malcolm in his ways of thinking.
    Thanks for linking up with #SSAmazingAchievements

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