How do you explain a complicated condition such as Parkinson’s to toddlers and young children? It’s tricky, as I talked about earlier in the year. Especially when it’s something even adults struggle to come to terms with.
As it’s not really a potential storyline for Peppa Pig, books are a good starting point. With that in mind, Parkinson’s UK has relaunched its range of stories to help children understand a bit more about family members who have the condition. Written by Virginia Ironside with help from those affected, the books use typical scenarios and familiar, everyday settings to put it all into context.
We were sent one that explains things from a Grandad’s point of view, but you can also get ones for Mums, Dads and Grandmas. It’s colourful and visual – and amazingly simple – for such a weighty subject matter. And it does a really good job of explaining the symptoms in an understandable way. At one point the Grandad explains freezing (one of the symptoms) as similar to pressing pause on a DVD. It is also comforting and reassuring – the Grandad tells his Grandson that he’ll still be him, and he’ll still always be able to give him cuddles. There’s also a page at the back from children to draw their own picture into the book.
Eliza and I read it last night, and she asked for it again this morning. While I’m not sure she’ll pick up just yet what it really means, I think it’s really good to explain to her from an early age that it’s normal and not frightening or something we shouldn’t talk about. And having something around like this book is a really good start.
You can download a PDF of the Grandad book or order a copy online. Find out more about the books, and also take a look at the Parkinson’s UK shop for Christmas presents and cards while you’re there. You can also donate to Parkinson’s UK while you shop online using Give as you Live.