How reading helped this mum from Layton to connect with her autistic son

Seven year old Logan is now talking and making eye contact, thanks to a love of animal character books

By Lucinda Herbert
Thursday, 30th December 2021, 3:45 pm
Updated Thursday, 30th December 2021, 3:53 pm

Blackpool residents have been taking part in the Blackpool30 challenge to encourage reading for fun.

It is part of a wider 10 year plan to improve literacy skills in the resort.

Reading is about more than literacy - it leads to better mental health, social skills and is strongly linked to better life outcomes.

The autistic 7-year-old from Layton, Blackpool, has improved his communication skills by sharing his love of animal-themed books

It also improves confidence.

Danielle Griffin, of Layton, said that reading has really helped her and her partner, Dean Hamilton, to connect with their autistic son.

Seven-year-old Logan wasn’t keen on reading, until he discovered a series of books about animal characters.

Now the couple have filled their house on Laburnum Avenue with books including The Gruffalo, Zoggs and The Hungry Caterpillar.

Ms Logan, 27, who cares for Logan full-time due to his special needs, said the books have really helped his communication.

She said: “The books really get him talking. Even if he doesn’t know the words we are engaging in conversation so much more. He’s even making eye contact, which he normally struggles with”

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But it’s not just kids books - they recently read one about sea creatures and wildlife that he found fascinating.

“There were a lot of big words but we were able to talk about what we see in the pictures.

He’s becoming so knowledgeable on animals. He even loves to look through encyclopedias. It’s helped us to share his world. ”

Logan, who attends Park Community Academy on Whitegate Drive is great at maths, but struggles with social skills and often finds it hard to concentrate.

Teachers at the special school nurtured his interest by picking out similar books to ones he was enjoying at the time.

“They saw he loved the characters Kipper And Chip, so picked him a similar book. He was getting the characters mixed up, so they sent him home with a list of names from the book, so now he can read it without getting as confused.”

The Blackpool30 challenge is very relaxed - you don’t have to achieve a goal and it’s open to individuals of all ages.

Schools are also taking part. Some ways they have been encouraging pupils include setting up classroom mini-libraries, giving out free books, and offering prizes to the most active readers.

Jasmine Short, deputy headteacher at Highfurlong school said it’s great to see such a strong focus on the pleasure of reading in the resort.

The school on Blackpool Old Road has a little library in each classroom, and every pupil spends at least 30 minutes on reading and phonics every day. There are also posters around school sharing what staff members are currently reading.

Coun Jim Hobson, Blackpool Council Cabinet Member for Children’s Social Care and Schools, said: “Our aim is that everyone who lives in Blackpool is confident at speaking, listens well, enjoys reading and writes with clarity and in detail.

“Reading is a passport to the world, it helps people to enjoy learning and better their career prospects and life chances. It also improves wellbeing and confidence and helps children to connect with their emotions.