Books Beyond Words
Books Beyond Words
Introduction and outline
• Who we are
• An outline of the session
– People with learning disability
– “Books beyond words”: rationale, ethos and
– Experience of using Loving Each Other Safely
Who are ‘people with learning
Idiots / imbeciles
‘Taboos’ in learning disability
• The disability itself
• Research project carried out by people with
learning disabilities (with support)
• Drama groups
• Interviews with parents, carers, professionals
• Young people with learning disabilities have a
right to sex education
• There needs to be more accessible information
and support for young people with learning
disabilities and for their parents. This needs to
include information about sexuality, abuse, and
practical information such as where to get
• There should be more places for young people
with learning disabilities to meet other young
people and spend time together
• Sex education should be improved through giving teachers
access to more resources and more training, and building
stronger links between schools and sexual health
professionals. It should have a higher priority on the
National Curriculum for people with learning disabilities
• There needs to be better training for teachers, sexual health
professionals and learning disability nurses about delivering
sex education or sexual health information for/ with people
with learning disabilities
• Negative attitudes of professionals, parents and other
people towards people with learning disabilities around the
issue of sex and relationships need to be challenged by
awareness raising and education.
Books beyond words
• A series of picture story books
• Therapeutic not educational
• Allow people to think and talk about their own
experiences, hopes and fears
• Facilitate talking about difficult things
• Developed through an iterative process, involving
people with learning disability in the editorial
• A social enterprise, not for profit
Initial ideas for this book
an STI clinic
In the end
Broad and narrow
A little or a lot
Meaning depends on experience
A teenage boy
tells his brother
He talks about
his hopes and
Using Books Beyond Words as a means
of communicating effectively and
empowering people who have learning
What happens if we don’t or can’t manage
to do what others want us to do?
• Write down your thoughts on a post it.
• Carl Rogers argued that in these circumstances, carers, peers, parents.
teachers or others may with hold their love, regard or attention from us.
• As a result of this, we learn to abandon our true feelings, wishes, &
desires, for those of our parents or others whose approval or support we
• This paves the way for us to become alienated from our true selves and
• Often denied information and peer learning, people with a learning
disability are denied the chance to develop in a way that’s personally
How can the Books Beyond Words Series
Something additional to education....something which takes us back to
notions of equality and of empowerment..essentially something which is
Raising peoples narratives
• The person may be able to re-frame themselves in the light of the
expression of their own stories: presenting a new, more skilled and
empowered version of who they now are.
• Importantly the story, and our understanding will be authored and led by
Not feeling alone; feeling part of a group.
• An important element in our working definition of empowerment is its
• The interpersonal nature of our existence. It is necessary to recognise that
empowerment does not occur to the individual alone, but has to do with
experiencing a sense of connectedness with other people.
• Our book groups are an excellent vehicle for this and during 1:1 sessions,
the shared development of a narrative can flatten the power differentials
that often exist between us all.
Lets have a look at the books
Dorothy will show us how........
What’s happening here?
How is he feeling?
Feedback.......How did it feel?
What others say about the books
• “Enables people with special needs to explore their emotions. When
Somebody Dies makes a timely and valuable contribution to the field of
bereavement work.” British Journal of Special Education
• “These books are powerful interpretive tools for anyone who works with
people with developmental disabilities.” Developmental Medicine and
• “The Books Beyond Words series works because people with a learning
disability and professionals work together as equals in producing them.”
• “These books are an excellent way of promoting discussion about difficult
topics.” Communication (National Autistic Society)
• “The pictures use expressions, body language and colours to spell out
clear, unambiguous messages.” Times Educational Supplement Extra for
• "The acid test for these publications has to be whether or not one would
find them useful in clinical practice... my own answer would be an
unequivocal 'Yes'."- Journal of Intellectual Disability Research