Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Otis The Robot book series & Teaching Manual - Product Review

I was recently presented with the opportunity to review a series of books by award winning children's author and Primary School Inclusion Manager Jim Carrington.  The series is aimed at teaching social skills to primary school aged children with Autistic Spectrum Condition and social communication difficulties.

The stories themselves centre around a robot called Otis who attends Roboschool.  Although Otis is a robot, the focus of the stories is very much on feelings and emotions.  Otis is by no means 'robotic' in the sense of being without emotion, empathy or imagination.  The analogy is drawn between 'feelings' in Otis's circuitry and the beautiful illustrations are well thought out with repetitive colour schemes, true life imagery and uncomplex facial expressions.  There are no human faces to read in these stories, which can be immensely helpful for some people with Autistic Spectrum Condition.  From my own personal experience, I have found my son can struggle enormously with picture books that have too many faces - he is so confused, overwhelmed or distracted trying to read and recognize everything that is going on, that he is unable to focus or take in the content.   A friend of his, also with social communication difficulties, personally describes himself as a robot and uses this analogy to explain his circuitry and wiring when he is experiencing difficulties.   So although I am aware there is some controversy around using robot imagery in representing ASC, we must remember that autistic children are all unique individuals and there are many who find this imagery comfortable, relatable and accessible.

There are four books in this series -

Otis the Robot Plays the Game

Otis the Robot Shares

Otis the Robot Keeps His Cool

Otis the Robot Meets a Supply Teacher

Each of these are, I know, issues my own children both encountered and had struggles with when they were in primary school.  I wish the school and clubs they had attended had had these wonderful resources!

Each story starts with the identical opening -

which is wonderful for continuity and placement for the children, and then continues to gently and succinctly walk us through the scenario in a concise, easy to understand way - every step supported by a consistent, full colour, illustration.

In addition to the books to read with the child, there is The Manual.   A unique and wonderful teachers resource that covers a broad and vital content for any teacher, classroom assistant, key worker or club leader (I'm thinking Scouts, Brownies, Sports, Social and Extra Curricular clubs). 

There are sections on Encouraging Inference and Deduction Skills, Social Stories, Comic Strip Conversations, Understanding Emotions, Visual Timetables and more.   All presented in a step by step, straight forward and practical way.  This really should be the Go-To resource in every primary school classroom, in my opinion.  I can personally visualize the positive impact on my own children's school experiences had such a thorough, detailed and clearly well researched resource been available.  I think they are also a very welcome & valuable addition to our Home School library of resources, and parents too could benefit greatly from utilizing them.

All the Otis books are available to buy, both individually and as a complete set, from - https://www.ldalearning.com/otis+the+robot

1 comment:

  1. These look like a very useful resource for a primary setting and may well swing some copies to our school. I'd be interested in the adult guide myself as I think anyone who regularly works with children should read continuously on how to help children blossom.