The inspiring mother whose stories help her autistic son

Tracey Handley
16 June, 2017 : 15:38
0     1

Y fam ysbrydoledig a'i straeon a helpodd ei mab awtistig

Mae Sarah Phelps yn fam brysur sy’n byw yng Ngwm Rhondda gyda’i gwr Neil, tri mab a tri o lysblant. Nid yn unig mae ganddi deulu mawr a chariadus ond mae hefyd yn gweithio fel Swyddog Cymorth Cymunedol yr Heddlu, felly mae ei diwrnodau’n brysur o hyd.

Pan achosodd salwch iddi aros adref a gwella, cymerodd ar y cyfle i ymlacio? Anghywir! Defnyddiodd Sarah ei hamser i wneud rhywbeth y byddai’n gwneud bywyd ei mab chwe blwydd oed Thomas, a gafodd ddiagnosis o awtistiaeth, ychydig yn haws.

Awtistiaeth Thomas a'i gariad o ddarllen

Mae clefyd Thomas yn golygu bod gweithgareddau pob dydd megis torri gwallt neu ymweld â’r deintydd yn gorfod cael eu hesbonio’n ofalus achos gallent wneud Thomas yn bryderus. Fel dywedodd Sarah wrthyf “Mae’n rhaid imi ei baratoi e a gwneud tripiau allan yn hwyl a gwahanol. Sylweddolodd Sarah gariad Thomas at ddarllen a oedd wedi gwella yn aruthrol yn y blynyddoedd diwethaf. Cynyddodd Thomas ei allu i ddarllen trwy ddefnyddio ei iPad hoff, gwylio ac ailadrodd caneuon yr wyddor a thrwy gemau. Un o’i hoff weithgareddau yw ymweld â gwerthiant cist car ble mae ef a’i fam yn prynu llyfr yn syth ac yn ei ddarllen yn uchel wrth ei fam gerdded o un stondin i’r llall, sy’n creu boddhad i’r ymwelwyr eraill (”dyw e ddim yn swil” ychwanegai mam”), bydd am ffeindio llyfr newydd i’w ddarllen yn syth. Gydag amser i bendroni, meddyliodd Sarah sut y gallai brwdfrydedd Thomas i ddarllen cynorthwyo gyda’i ddatblygiad.

Ysgrifennu "The Adventures of Thomas & Blanket"

Pan sylweddolodd Sarah fod Thomas yn dysgu yn ei ffordd ei hun ac yn deall ‘sut mae pethau’n gweithio’ o’r straeon roedd yn ei ddarllen ac yn ei ailadrodd, harneisiodd ei frwdfrydedd ar gyfer llyfrau a chreodd straeon gyda Thomas fel y prif gymeriad, gan ei hysgrifennu fel bod modd iddynt ei ddarllen pryd bynnag y byddent eisiau neu angen gwneud. Defnyddiodd y straeon i esbonio tasgau pob dydd fel ymweld â’r siop trin gwallt. “Mae un o’r straeon yn sôn am sut mae anifeiliaid yn casglu gwallt Thomas o’r bin ac yn mynd a’r gwallt y wlad hudolus, eu cadw mewn bocs hud, cyn ei ddefnyddio i helpu eu gwallt nhw i dyfu.”

Y canlyniad yw llyfr Sarah, The Adventures of Thomas & Blanket. “Nid yw’n llyfr proffesiynol, ac nid oeddwn wedi disgwyl unrhyw beth arall ond ei ddefnyddio i ddarllen i Thomas,” dywedodd Sarah yn wylaidd ond dwi’n anghytuno. Ysgrifennwyd y llyfr gan berson proffesiynol gyda dealltwriaeth awdurdodol o’r maes - sef rhiant yn ysgrifennu am ei mab ac yn deall i’r dim sut i’w helpu. Mae am fod ychydig yn greadigol a thrio pethau gyda’n plant i’w helpu i ddysgu a llwyddo.

Mae'r antur yn parhau

Felly ar ôl hyn ydy Sarah fynd i ymlacio a rhoi ei thraed i fyny? Nac ydy! Etholwyd Sarah yn bennaeth grŵp newydd Cyfeillion Ysgol Hen Felin, sef grŵp rhieni ac athrawon yr ysgol a mynychai dau o’i phlant. Edrychwn ymlaen at glywed rhagor o anturiaethau Sarah, ei theulu hyfryd a pha ‘anturiaethau’ bydd Thomas a’r grŵp rhieni yn ei wneud.

Mae ‘The Adventures of Thomas & Blanket’ ar gael i’w brynu yn Amazon Books.

The inspiring mother whose stories help her autistic son

Sarah Phelps is a busy parent who lives in the Rhondda Valley with husband Neil, three sons and three stepchildren. Not only does she have a large and loving family, but she also works as a Police Community Support Officer, so her days are always hectic.

When illness forced her to stay home and convalesce, she took the time to ‘chill out’ right? Wrong! Sarah used the time to do something she hoped would make life a little easier for her six-year old son Thomas, who has been diagnosed as having autism.

Thomas's autism and love of reading

Thomas’s condition means that everyday activities like going for a haircut or visiting the dentist need to be carefully explained because they can make Thomas anxious. As Sarah tells me, “I need to prepare him and make trips out fun and different.” Sarah recognised Thomas’s love of reading, which has come on in leaps and bounds in recent years. Thomas increased his reading ability using his beloved iPad, watching and repeating alphabet songs and games. One of his favourite activities is visiting car boot sales where he and mam buy a book as soon as they get there and then, after Thomas has read it aloud with much gusto while walking from stall to stall, to the amusement and enjoyment of fellow browsers (“he’s not shy,” adds mam), he will want to find a new book to read straight away. With time to reflect, Sarah wondered how she could use Thomas’s enthusiasm for reading to nurture his development.

Writing "The Adventures of Thomas & Blanket"

When Sarah realised Thomas was learning in his own way and understanding ‘how things work’ from the stories he was reading and repeating, she harnessed his enthusiasm for books and created stories with Thomas as the main character, capturing them in writing so that he could revisit them whenever he wanted or needed to. She used the tales to talk through and explain everyday tasks such as visiting the hair salon. “One of the stories is about how creatures collect Thomas’s hair from the bin, take it to a magical land and keep it in a magic box before using it to help their own hair grow.”

The result is Sarah’s own book, The Adventures of Thomas & Blanket. “It’s not a professional book, I never intended to do anything with it other than read it to Thomas,” Sarah told me modestly, but I beg to differ. It’s a book written by a professional with the most authoritative knowledge of the subject – a parent writing about her son and completely understanding how best to help him. It’s about being a bit creative and trying things out with our children to help them learn and achieve.

The adventures continue

So after this is Sarah going to relax and take some time out to put her feet up? You guessed it – no! Sarah has just been elected Chair of the brand new Friends of Ysgol Hen Felin parents and teachers group at the school two of her sons attend. We look forward to hearing about future activities of Sarah, her lovely family and what ‘adventures’ Thomas and the parents group get up to.

The Adventures of Thomas & Blanket’ is available to purchase on Amazon Books.

You can also read this blog entry in Welsh. 

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Our blog is a place for a range of opinions and debate on parents and their role in their schools and their children’s education. Whilst we think this debate is really important, we don’t always agree with the views being expressed.

 


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Tracey Handley
Programmes Manager, Parentkind Cymru

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