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Boy, 6, becomes Britain's youngest published author

Laura Hampson
·4-min read
Joanna Grace with her son Heath, aged six, at their home in Carnkie, Cornwall (SWNS)
Joanna Grace with her son Heath, aged six, at their home in Carnkie, Cornwall (SWNS)

A six-year-old has become Britain's youngest published author after writing a book on how to handle an autistic mum.

Heath Grace, who lives in Carnkie, Cornwall with his mother and three-month-old brother Elias, wrote and illustrated My Mummy is Autistic when he was just five.

The published book contains a foreword from wildlife presenter Chris Packham, who has Asperger’s.

In the book, Heath explains what it is like living with a parent with autism and it includes hand-drawn illustrations to help explain autism to other children.

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Alongside the drawings, Heath writes: "If I say lots of words they get stuck in a queue in mummy's brain and I have a long wait until she hears me."

My Mummy is Autistic is being published by Routledge and will be released this week.

Heath’s mum, Joanna Grace, says: "I am always very proud of Heath, and of course I'm proud of this, but more astonished as I never imagined it would get published.”

Heath Grace has become Britain's youngest published author (SWNS)
Heath Grace has become Britain's youngest published author (SWNS)

From a young age, Heath learned how to live with his mum's condition and had to adapt his own behaviour.

Joanna says the idea for the book stemmed from an encounter at the supermarket when she accidentally ran over his foot with a trolley - as she couldn't process the words "stop" coming from her son.

Joanna explains: "My autism means I process language more slowly than the next person might. I hear and understand it all, it just buffers a little as it goes in.

“On this particular day he was talking super fast because whatever it was he was telling me about was very exciting to him. Somewhere mid sentence he spotted something on a shelf that was on his list and said 'stop'.

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"I was still several words back in the sentence so I did not stop, and he leapt from the trolley. Landing in front right where I was heading. I ran over his foot. He was hurt, but more offended.

"I explained to him that I have a different brain, it is something we had talked about before, and that it meant words lined up in my head and I hadn't heard his word as it hadn't got to the front of the line yet."

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Joanna says the next morning she checked whether he had understood.

She adds: "I double checked and, slightly exasperated with me, he got pen and paper to draw me a picture to prove he understood.

"The picture was a version of the one in the book of the words all coming at me, and it was so clear, so much my experience that I knew he understood.”

Joanna suggested Heath do another drawing and that they could make the book, but she never thought it would be published.

“The publishers were especially pleased that the book looks at autism from the point of view of the child regarding the adult, as autism is often portrayed as a child's ‘problem’, something to be grown out of,” Joanna adds.

"We just hope Heath's book will help other people."

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Heath's biggest fans are his parents, but he's also got celebrity backing from Chris Packham, from the BBC's The Really Wild Show.

Joanna adds: "Chris' documentary Aspergers and Me played a pivotal role in me understanding myself.

"People talk of autism as a spectrum and I would say Chris and I occupy a very similar space on that spectrum.”

The foreword from Chris reads: "There is a remarkable tenderness here, between mother and child, an acceptance which is both beautiful and charming and heart-warming.

"The drawings offer a clarity, the voice of the child a purity, uncomplicated and direct. But of course what seals its success is the equally honest and pragmatic replies from the adult.”

My Mummy is Autistic explains what it is like living with a parent with autism (SWNS)
My Mummy is Autistic explains what it is like living with a parent with autism (SWNS)

Due to the pandemic, Heath wasn't able to have a proper book launch party.

Instead the teachers at his school, Stithians Community Primary School, organised a cake to be brought in for the book's 'birthday'.

Heath says: "We had a cake at school so I'm very happy. It is for the book's birthday.

"I'll not write another one, it wasn't very fun writing a book. I want to be a magician when I grow up."

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