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Saturday, 8 May 2021

Nottingham student’s book to help those like her niece who have Downs Syndrome

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An illustration student has developed a book to help children, like her three-year-old niece Dorothy, who have downs syndrome.

Amy Hurst, 26, created ‘Where’s Fred?’ a sensory children’s board book which is suitable for children with sensory processing disorders.

Children with Down syndrome hugely benefit from sensory play as it engages them and encourages working through feelings of frustration as well as learning how to interact with people and objects. Sensory processing disorders affect five to 16 per cent of school-aged children.

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The book itself tells the story of a naughty cat called Fred and his every day adventures. The story was inspired by the real life cats in Amy and Dorothy’s life, one of which is called Fred.

Although sensory books are common in the mainstream market, Amy’s research identified that few are designed for children with sensory processing disorders.

Amy who lives in Beeston, Nottingham, and is studying MA Illustration at Nottingham Trent University (NTU), said: “I knew I wanted to do my MA project based on a sensory book, having seen first-hand since Dorothy was born how difficult it is to access help and resources for children with additional needs in today’s climate.

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“The aim was to produce something that was fit for purpose, enjoyed by children, whilst also being accessible to families from low-income backgrounds as there is little to no funding available.

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“When the UK went into lockdown, a lot of plans for my book had to be adapted, and it ended up being really beneficial because everything was made by hand from my bedroom with cheap, easily accessible resources.

The publication date of ‘Where’s Fred?’ has been temporarily postponed due to Covid-19.

Dr Sarah Mcconnell, Course leader for MA Illustration at Nottingham Trent University, said: “Amy has taken a great deal of inspiration from her niece and their experiences together to produce this book.

“Every aspect of this work takes into account the audience it’s intended for and this is a fantastic example of one of our students using illustration to help facilitate learning and development.”