I would like to share with you our story. Got an idea to send 10 signed copies of my book “The A Word” to the lucky winners. As humans, we are experiencing difficult times. Many parents of children with additional needs are worried. Our children became anxious, some of them lost their routines and this time is very difficult for them. This including our 10-year-old boy.

We try our best to cope, to comfort our loved ones. It’s hard to reach out and help. It’s difficult to receive help when everything is in lockdown. I wanted to send a few books with personalised dedication, to say: “We will overcome this, we need to have hope, we can do this.” I don’t have much to offer other than warm words and virtual hugs, so I came out with the idea of this book give away. I hope that my book will give you comfort, will make you laugh or will get you for a moment to a better place. I hope. This what we need now- hope. Nothing wrong with trying, yes?

A few words about The A Word by its editor Fergus G.

Part memoir, part Autism Spectrum Disorder handbook, The A Word starts with a short opening chapter about the author, Niko Sadlowski, and the colourful story of his past. After too many parties and too many drugs, Niko ends up in a rehab facility. Close to rock bottom, he decides to change his life, find a job, and leave Poland to live in the UK. Later, he also becomes a father.

This autobiographical introduction provides the backdrop to subsequent events and changes in Niko’s life. One day he and his wife find out that their son Maks, almost three years old, is autistic. Niko describes coming to terms with the diagnosis and the conflicting emotions it stirs up – anger, pain, and denial through to gradual acceptance – something which finally becomes an incentive for positive change and the reason to fight for a better tomorrow for his son.

In presenting his family’s everyday reality, Niko describes Maks’ needs and behaviour alongside bitter and sweet moments where developmental milestone and regression are never far apart. He likens his son’s struggles to that of a superhero fighting with everyday life, something which can very often seem ordinary and boring for neurotypical people. He tells us how it feels to be rejected by friends who don’t understand what life with an autistic child means – and how common depression can be for parents.

The A Word underlines the importance of schools and other institutions in the development and education of both autistic and neurotypical children. Addressing specific issues such as communication, there is a discussion of alternative ways for autistic people to reach the world, including use of the Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS).

More humorously, Niko also educates the reader about the things they shouldn’t say to parents of autistic children. The intention is to bring autism out into the open and demolish its stigma as a taboo subject by emphasising that it is not a disease.

The end of the book finds Niko thanking Maks for giving him a reason to change. Starting as a lost boy, kicked out of every high school in the region, Niko has become a responsible husband, a father and an award-winning college graduate, named Student of the Year by his peers. He tells us how grateful he is for his wife and his second child – a daughter – both of whom he credits with making him the person he is today.

What happened to Niko’s family helped him to discover an inner mission to speak out and educate the people around him about autism and what ignorance of the condition is doing to society. By honestly and directly engaging with the subject, the author’s aim is to build awareness of the condition by helping the reader understand it. He has turned a family tragedy – a diagnosis of severe autism – into a source of power and will.

So, what you need to do to have a chance to get my book “The A Word” for free with some special words from myself?

  • Share this blog post on social media – doesn’t matter if it’s Facebook, Instagram or Twitter – with a wee story from your life – a moment which made you be the proudest autism mum/dad/career. Do you think someone from your friends or family has a story to share and you would like to give him/her a chance to win the “The A Word”? Write their story!
  • Tag @theapparently.com and use #theawordbook hashtag so I can find you.
  • I will choose the most amazing/moving stories and post the winners on my Facebook page on the 15th of May – later winners will be able to DM me about details of postage of the book and dedication.