Author Deb Stevens with Jessica and Eloise Mungall, Elizabeth Healey and Bailey Small.
Author Deb Stevens with Jessica and Eloise Mungall, Elizabeth Healey and Bailey Small. Madeline Grace

'It's OK to be different'

FOR Autism Awareness Month Kingaroy-based author Deb Stevens read her picture book I Am Wren to South Burnett children to spread positivity and acceptance.

Kingaroy Library hosted the special story time on Wednesday, April 4.

The illustrations were done by Jess Alfred who is also from Kingaroy.

"It was a project we were working on together and she was able to really help bring the boys Wren and Jacob to life," Mrs Stevens said.

"The book was intended for parents to read to their children. Especially for children who are on the spectrum or who have family, siblings, or friends who are.

"It's really to help kids understand that it is alright to be different and to be themselves."

Mrs Stevens also works as a therapist and said sometimes children who are on the spectrum process life in their own way.

"For kids on the spectrum to have a friend who understands is actually really special. Wren in my book has a friend who really helps him with processing," Mrs Stevens said.

Mrs Stevens drew inspiration from her family and work life.

"I have two grand children who are on the spectrum. I've also worked with a lot of little boys who are on the spectrum and they don't always feel very good about themselves," Mrs Stevens said.

"I have this idea that we are all on the spectrum somewhere, and that it's all about how we process life.

"I just wanted to let everyone know that it's okay to be different, to be yourself, to have only one friend, or to have heaps, to like what you like, and to do what you want to do."

Internationally, April is autistic awareness month.

"It's a good time to remember that there are people out there who are different and that's not a bad thing," Mrs Stevens said.

"They might not always understand emotions and might struggle with relationships but they are still important.

"It's about making these children feel valued and special. Because everyone should feel that way."

Mrs Stevens said she enjoyed spending time with the children.

"Books are a really important part of life and are a great way to share with others," Mrs Stevens said.