All autistic people are geniuses – myth.
Just under half of all people with an autism diagnosis also have a learning disability.
Others have an IQ in the average to above average range.
‘Savant’ abilities like extraordinary memory are rare.
April is Autism Awareness Month and author RJ Scott hosts a month-long blog hop to help spread the message and help raise awareness of autism. You can find a list of all participating authors and read their stories here. (There are also plenty of goodies to win!)
Thinking about childhood toys – which is this year’s theme – makes me a little nostalgic, as I spent a few years of my working life at a toy company. We sold educational toys, the kind that gave children of all ages and abilities the chance to explore their creativity and helped them learn. Some designs were obvious, others entertained us in the office for a good long while, and there were always samples for new products, some of which had us in stitches. What had us even more in stitches were the stories our customers told us about the use the children put the toys to. Because however creative and sideways-thinking the designers had been, the children went several steps beyond. Or left the building altogether.
Which reminded me very much of my own childhood. I don’t remember having many toys. Not because we couldn’t afford them, but because I had little use for dolls. Back then, toys were fairly stereotypical. Girls played with dolls. Boys played cowboys and Indians, or with toy cars. And that in a country where the school curriculum taught girls that they could be anything they wanted to be. Clearly, our toy makers hadn’t gotten that memo!
I have an old picture of myself playing with a hammer and some rocks. Which is apt, since I went on to become a geologist. And, once I’d learned to read, my favourite “toys” were books, along with swords and cutlasses fashioned from hazel switches and jam jar covers.
Like the children our customers told us about, we were good at making our own worlds and our own toys. Or subverting the ones we were given to our own, sometimes unfathomable, ends. For me, these are still the very best toys, the ones that let us use our imagination. That help us create and invent, and that don’t tell us what to do and how to do it.
The recent toy boom is always associated with the Victorian era, but I’m sure children have always found things to entertain themselves with. When I created the world for my fantasy novel Healing Glass, which is due out on May 13th, I drew heavily on medieval times. Minel and Falcon are both gifted, born with talents that qualify them for the Gifted Guilds, which made me wonder how they might have grown up.
When we meet Falcon, he’s a captain in the Warriors Guild. His talents manifested early, so he enrolled as a page with the Warriors when he was eight. Much of his early training would have involved weapons, but also reading, maths, dancing, ethics. Does this leave much time for play? Maybe not, but I’m convinced any group of precocious children will find ways to get into mischief.
Minel, the other character in Healing Glass, is a glassmaker. He’s one of the most gifted members of the Craft Guild and despite his young age – he’s only 24 – an invested Master. Minel grows up in a family of sailmakers. As the youngest of six he would have been used to making his own entertainment, with everyone else being busy. Artisan gifts are much harder to spot, so his parents wouldn’t have known about his hidden talents until Master Galen from the Craft Guild arrived in their town and met Minel. Minel was 10, at the right age to start an apprenticeship, so his parents sent him to the floating city with the craft master, and Minel’s life changed completely. And I’d like to think that – forever after – his favourite “toy” was a sketchpad.
Healing Glass will be out on May 13th, but if you’re the kind who doesn’t wait well and would like to get your hands on Minel and Falcon’s story three days early, then why not join Jackie’s Kitchen on Facebook, or subscribe to my newsletter, so you’re always first in line for releases, sales, and news.
As a thank you to RJ Scott, I’d like to give away some books! Tell me about your favourite childhood toy in the comments and you can win a book of your choice from my back catalogue.