After his daughter’s autism diagnosis, he decided to write stories with pictograms to help children with special needs
As the little girl had not developed the language, Valeria relied on the pictograms to capture, in an emotional story, the hard times they were living.
We have interviewed this mother, born in Ukraine but living in our country for 13 years, to learn more about her excellent work. Here he studied Hispanic Philology, he teaches at the University of Malaga and is the author of nine children’s stories, three of them aimed at children with special needs.
“Stories with pictograms have been a great help for my daughter”
His oldest daughter’s ASD diagnosis was a jug of cold water for the whole family. His daughter was then two years old and one of the main features she presented was the non-development of language.
” Receiving this diagnosis was very hard. You feel alone and the world is coming to you. These are moments of great uncertainty because you do not know what awaits your daughter, nor do you know what you can do to help her” – explains Valeria.
“In addition, the time factor was added to the equation. And it is that from the diagnosis until it began with therapy it took a long year and a half, and that is a long wait … You spend nerves, moments of anxiety, sadness, hopelessness … It was very hard. ”
Valeria accompanied her daughter to the speech therapist and there she learned techniques to put into practice also from home. Little by little, her daughter developed the language and Valeria wanted to capture this whole process in her first story with pictograms called “The Princess Learn to Speak” , which she published in 2016.
Pictograms are symbols based on drawings and colors that represent in a simplified way a real object, figure or concept, synthesizing the message and helping to understand, in a simpler way, certain daily actions or activities.
“This was my first story with pictograms, and I wrote it in honor of my daughter and all the professionals who turned to her and helped us in those hard times. Tells the story of a girl who does not know how to speak, but a fairy ends teaching how to do it. That fairy symbolizes all the specialists who treat children with autism with such love and dedication. ”
After this story, Valeria published “The princess goes to the dentist”, which explains with pictograms how children should brush their teeth and why it is so important to visit the pediatric dentist. His third, and for the last moment, a story with pictograms is called “My doll”, and aims to help children with special needs to integrate the symbolic game in their lives and to encourage their imagination:
“My doll” is an allegation to the symbolic game and the importance it has in the child’s life. Children with ASD do not have this plot developed, so the story explains how they can play with their dolls, washing them, dressing them, feeding them, taking them to the park … In short, opening the path of learning and imagination. ”
And although pictograms are an excellent resource to make it easier for children with ASD to understand the world around them and initiate literacy, these types of stories are very practical for any other child, as pictograms help children who do not They know how to read to interpret the text and follow the thread of the story:
” Young children like this kind of stories very much, because they don’t need an adult to read them to understand the meaning of the story. With the help of the pictograms, they themselves know how to interpret the writing, encouraging their independence, confidence, and self-esteem”
Other stories in prose and verse for the little ones
But for Valeria, the vocation for children’s literature does not end in these three stories, because beyond the books with pictograms this mother devoted to writing has published six more titles, both in verse and prose.
Among them, “The wandering cat,” which aims to explain to children the theme of refugees, “1,2,3 what painter is he?”, to bring art closer to the little ones, or “Earthquake”, where the importance of cooperation to achieve objectives is explained.
As a mother and writer, Valeria is a strong advocate of bringing children closer to reading: ” Reading has multiple benefits for children’s development, whether or not they have a disability. That is why it is important to read to our children, tell them stories and make them participate in the reading. “