Viral video leads to book to help autistic children

April 06 2022

A VIRAL video of an autistic schoolboy reading a poem has led to his mother publishing her own book.

Eli reading the story about himself

A year ago Eli Smith, age six, recorded a poem for his classmates at Beacon Rise primary school.

The poem, What Makes Me, ME!, explained that everyone is unique and autism is part of who he is. It was viewed more than 50,000 times on social media.

Eli’s mother, Tracey Lear, 42, was inspired by the response to the poem to expand it and turn it into a book. The book is called Eli’s Story: What makes me, ME!

Tracey, from Hanham, said: “Lots of parents of autistic children got in touch with me after they saw Eli’s video.

“I thought it would be nice to turn it into a book so parents could use it as a tool. For example, if their child has just received their diagnosis and they need a simple, positive way to have a conversation about autism.

“It would also be useful for other family members who might not know much about autism.”

The book tells the story of Eli wanting to talk to people about autism. He invites his friends to a party and reads them his poem.

The book ends with him asking his friends, “What makes you, you?” emphasising that everyone has things that make them different.

Tracey worked with an illustrator in Germany to create cartoon images of Eli and sister Millie, age two. She then self-published the book through Blue Falcon Publishing.

She said: “Millie absolutely loves seeing the pictures of her in the book.

“I did a lot of research for the book including talking to autistic adults to get feedback. I didn’t want to write anything that would upset anybody. They gave me feedback on certain wordings and I made a few tweaks.”

She has donated copies of the book to several schools who don’t have funds to buy copies.

She said: “I am getting good reviews from other parents of autistic children.I hope the book will help children understand their autistic friends more easily, and help all children celebrate what makes them unique.”