Interview Hazel Reeves Shares Journey Raising a Child with Autism

Posted in Autism/Aspergers, Interviews, Special Needs Children by - January 18, 2013
Interview Hazel Reeves Shares Journey Raising a Child with Autism

I am so thrilled to be able to post this wonderful interview with mom-author, Hazel Reeves. Many of our readers are parents and teachers of children with autism or Asperger’s syndrome and Hazel Reeves has excellent advice about raising a child with autism or Asperger’s syndrome.

Hazel Reeves is from the UK but her series of children’s books, Roar Brave and Strong Series,  is certainly for children from any country. The marketing material announces that Roar the Little Dinosaur books and resources help celebrate the fantastic characteristics and qualities found in children with autism or Asperger’s syndrome. Like Roar who uses her special talents, the children reading Hazel Reeves books will be made aware that they too may have unique abilities and special interests.

Special Needs Book Review (SNBR) congratulates Hazel Reeves for her first series of books for children with autism or Asperger’s syndrome.  Her books will also help siblings and classmates understand children on the autism spectrum. We look forward to her second series with a launch date of April  2013.

Read our review of her first series here.

We also congratulate Hazel Reeves because Roar the Little Dinosaur has been shortlisted for the Education Resources Awards. The ERA includes a large range of awards for products, services etc across education. Ms. Reeves wrote to Special Needs Book Review, “Your review was included in the publishers submission. So a great big thank you for helping Roar on her journey into schools and homes.”

Read our NEWS post, Roar the Little Dinosaur by Hazel Reeves Shortlisted for the Education Resources Awards.

Lorna: Welcome to our Author Interview Series! Tell us about yourself and about raising a child with autism. How old is your daughter and how is she doing?

<< Hazel Reeves >> Hello Lorna. Thank you for your positive review of Roar the Little Dinosaur. I’m glad that you enjoyed the books. Having worked with children and families as a Community Family worker and then as a Social Worker I felt quite confident and experienced in meeting the needs of children. However, nothing quite prepared me for the challenge of 24/7 autism in my family. My youngest daughter has High-functioning autism/Asperger’s syndrome. She received an early diagnosis at 3 years old. This explained many of her behaviours but still left us bewildered and looking for every day strategies for aiding her social communication.  She is now 10 years old and has taught us a lot about her unique way of thinking. She has always been bright, creative and interested in people and is now a loyal and attentive friend to her close group of peers. We are all still learning!

Lorna: Does parenting a child with autism get harder as the child gets older? What advice do you have for other parents raising a child with high functioning autism or Asperger’s syndrome?

<< Hazel Reeves >> I always think of parenting a child with autism as extra parenting. Strategies are learnt and applied, some work really well. However, when developmental changes occur the parent and child have to seek out and learn a new way to deal with every day challenges. As each child with autism is unique, the path ahead is often a little different according to personality, where the child is on the spectrum that day and a variety of other factors! The learning is hard work but the rewards are huge. Realising that you’ve just visited a very busy Christmas market with your child and that they made their own decision on how to spend their money is exhilarating! You thought you’d never do something like that.

For me, sharing with other parents is crucial. You can laugh, cry and learn together. It’s a continual process. The best advice that I received after my daughter’s diagnosis was from a kind and caring Paediatrician. She smiled and said: “She will learn. You will teach her.” She started me on the journey of looking upwards and outwards. My advice to parents would be – Do what you can every day to take the pressure off your child and be very kind to yourself!

Roar the Little Dinosaur by Hazel ReevesLorna: Congratulations on your adorable series of books, Roar the Little Dinosaur! Where did the idea to write these books come from? What goal do you have in mind for your books?

<< Hazel Reeves >>  I love writing. I wanted to encourage other families to look for the positive characteristics of Asperger’s syndrome. It took me a long time to discover them!  When my daughter was 2-3 years old she would come into our bedroom several times a night. She would appear by my bedside unannounced and declare; “Roar, roar, roar. I’m a little dinosaur!”  She would add various rhymes such as; “Saw, saw, saw. I’m a little dinosaur!”  One night, I woke up and heard “Roar, roar, roar ….” She wasn’t in the bedroom, she was fast asleep (I had to check to be sure!) Her words were implanted into my subconscious and thus Roar the Little Dinosaur came into creation. My absolute goal for my books is that young children with autism would identify with the happy little dinosaur who doesn’t get things wrong but just does things differently! One boy read the books and told his mum; “I like Roar. She’s relatable.” That made me very happy!

Roar Let's Explore by Hazel ReevesLorna: What a beautiful comment to receive about your book!  I was happy to read that you’re still gathering reviews and feedback on Roar the Little Dinosaur series and that the National Autistic Society, UK is being very helpful in promoting your books. That they are looking at using Roar the Little Dinosaur as a resource with parents on their training programmes.  Please elaborate.

<< Hazel Reeves >>  The National Autistic Society, UK  runs wonderful training programmes for parents called Help! and Early Bird. This is where we learnt how to communicate more effectively with our daughter and also met other parents with similar stories to us.  I laughed so much when I heard another parent telling about their child’s love for being rolled up in a towel. Our daughter liked to be rolled up “like a sausage roll” after her bath every night! I was so relieved not to be alone with all of the daily challenges we were facing. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry!  I know that the co-ordinators at the NAS are promoting Roar. I hope parents and children smile and think that’s like us! Roar can be used as a platform in many situations, e.g. at home shared one to one, with peers to enable understanding of autism, across the school curriculum to use Roar as role model for joining in with various activities, especially outdoors.

Roar's Creating, Let's Get Making! by Hazel ReevesLorna: Also I read that an organisation called Ambitious about Autism is reviewing Roar the Little Dinosaur with a view to using your books to enable peer awareness in primary schools. What other comments have you received that has made the task of writing three books worthwhile?

<< Hazel Reeves >>  We’ve received positive reviews from lead professionals such as Tony Attwood, and autism organisations across the world from South Africa, Canada, Australia, USA and the UK. It is wonderful to be validated by the professionals but the best comments come from children. One girl said: ”Roar is like a friend!” Another told her teacher: “I like hiding under the table!”   It’s all worthwhile when I hear of children relating to Roar and seeing my books as a mirror for their own unique thinking. I hope that it makes them feel good about being themselves.

Lorna: Tell us about your next series of books. What topics will they cover? Will they be in the same format as the first three books?

<< Hazel Reeves >>  The next 3 Roar books will be available from the end of April 2013. They are all about Roar joining in with Sport, Music and Days out. The titles are:Roar logo - Three More Books to Help Autistic Kids and their Friends - Roar Brave and Strong Series

  • Roar’s in Shorts, Let’s Play Sports!
  • Roar’s Strumming, Let’s Get Humming!
  • Roar’s About, Let’s Go Out!

The format is the same as the first 3 books. Roar gets ready, joins in, takes a break and enjoys her usual bedtime routine, ending with a family member celebrating Roar as she sleeps! Watch out for Sister, Grandma and Grandad!

Lorna: Thank you very much for letting us know about your books and agreeing to this interview. Please give us your links to follow you and where we can buy your books.

<< Hazel Reeves >>  Thanks for interviewing me. You can follow Roar’s development at our website,  Facebook , blog,

Read Also: 

Buy: Books to Help Kids with Autism or Asperger’s - Roar Brave and Strong Series by Hazel Reeves

This post was written by Lorna
Lorna d’Entremont: Co-owner of SentioLife Solutions, Ltd. the company behind KidCompanions Chewelry (2007) and SentioCHEWS (2013), mother of three, grandma of 5 and wife. She is a retired teacher and special needs advocate. Throughout she has taught all levels from grade 2 to grade 9. Lorna loved teaching and enjoyed seeing the students progress in the school system. During her 30 year career she took a few years off to raise her three children.