Book aims to tackle perceptions

Tim and Alex.
Tim and Alex.

A local author has penned a children’s book to help educate young people about disabilities and the issues faced by people living with physical and mental conditions.

‘The Six-Legged Spider’ by Tim Bailie from Larne, has recently hit the shelves in a number of stores.

The book, which took around five years to produce, was inspired by Tim’s son Alex (14).

The book tells the tale of a young spider who is unable to spin normal webs. She sets off on an adventure to find a job. But what should she be? A juggler? A waitress? A goalkeeper? A drummer? Or perhaps her greatest talent was there all along but she just didn’t realise it. It is a heart-warming and funny story about embracing the differences in others.

Commenting on his motivation, Tim said: “Our son Alex is on the autism spectrum. When he was younger we tried to find suitable stories which weren’t clinical and struggled.

“He was aware of the differences between himself and his peers and I realised how useful it would be to have a book which is not only fun to read but could also be used to encourage children dealing with disability, as well as encouraging empathy and stimulating conversation among peers, classmates, siblings and other family members.

“We have 11-year-old twin boys and it’s tough at that age to make allowances for disability. I wanted to write an uplifting tale with a positive message about disability in a way children can understand.

“It isn’t a book solely aimed at children coping with disability but can also be enjoyed on the same level as other picture books.”

Tim has been passionate about writing for many years, with some of his work featuring on radio.

He explained: “Following my graduation from the University of Ulster with a Media Studies degree in 1996, I wrote comedy sketches on a freelance basis for the BBC Radio 2 six-part Comedy Hour program ‘Half Sketch’ and BBC Radio Ulster’s ‘Radio Fun.’

“My desire has always been to write books for children, but work got in the way for around 20 years! However, I was made redundant five years ago - the week after which my wife, who had been working part-time was offered a full-time promotion.

“As Alex is very routine-orientated and required either my wife or myself looking after him, we made the decision that I’d stay at home and care for him and our twins. Rather than letting my mind stagnate in a pool of daytime television, I used my spare time writing.”

Copies of the book, priced at £6.99, are on sale in The Book Nook, Apsleys and The Key Charity Shop as well as Waterstones and Camerons in Ballymena.