Thursday 20 July 2017

Book Review - Suzie Goes to the Hairdressers

When I found out about some new children's books which have an autistic child as the protagonist, I had to get my hand on one. I have never read a book like this before which promotes awareness of autism through the story of a little girl going to the hairdressers. I was thrilled when the author, Charlotte Olson, sent me a copy to review.

The book is about a little girl called Suzie who has autism. She is worried about going to the hairdressers to get her hair cut.

The first thing you notice about the book is the lovely bright illustrations which will be sure to capture your child's interest. The pictures are colourful and clear and help to tell the story really well. The facial expressions of the characters give you a good understanding of how the characters are feeling. Suzie starts off looking very worried about going to the hairdressers but, by the end of the book, she is smiling and happy. Children with autism often find it difficult to understand facial expressions so if you are reading this book with your autistic child you can point out the facial expressions and talk to them about how the characters are feeling throughout the book. 

The book begins with Suzie in the car on the way to the hairdressers and explains that she is worried about someone cutting her hair. When Suzie and her mum arrive at the hairdressers, the hairdresser asks if she can cut her hair and gives her a cloak to wear to protect her clothes. It explains the cloak is needed to keep her clothes clean.

Then the book goes on to cleverly talk about some sensory issues for children with autism. Suzie is worried that having a haircut will hurt but, once the hairdresser gets started, she realises it doesn't hurt at all. The book mentions the smells that you may find in the hairdressers and the fact that hairdressers use a comb and water on your hair. It also goes through some of the sounds and that can be heard and some of the things you may see in the hairdressers.

Towards the end of the book, Sammy, another child with autism, is introduced. The book explains how Sammy's hair is cut differently to Suzie's. This is really useful as it means you can read this book to children with both long and short hair as a way of getting them used to the idea of a trip to the haridressers. 

The book finishes with both Suzie and Sammy being really happy with their new haircuts and their experiences at the hairdressers. 

One of the things I enjoyed most about this book is how the story rhymes. Rhyming books are great at holding children's attention and keeping them interested in the story. It also made the book more interesting for me to read to my children.

I would recommend this book to anyone who is introducing the concept of going to the hairdressers with their children. My own children, who are neurotypical, thoroughly enjoyed this book which goes to show it is a versatile book that all children can enjoy. However, it is a particularly good book for children who do have autism and I am sure it will help to prepare them for getting their haircut.

As a Speech and Language Therapist with a couple of years of autism research under my belt, I am always particularly interested to read books from an autistic person's point of view. I know first hand, the lack of awareness of this condition among so many people and support the publishing of such books that will promote knowledge and awareness of autism.

To read my interview with Charlotte Olsun, author of 'Suzie goes to the hairdressers', click here.

If you would like to see the full collection of Charlotte Olson's Suzie and Sammy books, you can find and purchase them at .


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