Free storytime help for parents of children with communication needs from Northamptonshire couple's smash hit charity

"We just want parents everywhere to know there is this free resource they can use and help their children enjoy stories"

Sunday, 18th April 2021, 9:00 am
"Stories with Symbols" is a Northamptonshire based charity that hopes to offer free learning resources for parents of children with communications needs.

Three Northamptonshire friends' mission to make storytime accessible for an autistic boy has grown into a trailblazing charity.

Alex and Sam Rowe first set out to help their young son Elliot understand the world by making their own videos of his favourite books.

Now, the couple from Ashton and their co-founder Katie Kennedy are leading the way with "Stories With Symbols" - a charity to help children with speech, language and communication needs explore reading.

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The bank of free videos on YouTube and online at their website is a resource for parents that use some of the nation's favourite children's books to discover new words and ideas.

Children with communication needs can enjoy their favourite stories being read aloud in the videos, which then use symbols and clips to talk more about what they have seen in a clear way.

Alex said: "We just want parents everywhere to know there is this free resource they can use and help their children enjoy stories."

To see more of the videos or to learn more about 'Stories With Symbols', visit their website or look at their YouTube page.Alex said the charity partly grew from his own experiences trying to find learning resources for his autistic son Elliot - only to find most of what was available was behind payments and subscriptions.

But the true beginnings of the project was the in the creative leap he and his wife took to help Elliot enjoy storytime.

"As Elliot got older it was obvious when he played with toys and read books that he would do it by himself," said Alex.

"He indicated he didn't want to share books with us at storytime - but he really liked videos.

"So we made our own videos. We read the stories aloud and recorded ourselves and when we showed them to him he really took to that."

At the same time, Alex and Sam knew that Elliot was learning to communicate using simple symbols that are common for children with communication needs - so they began editing them in to pop up on screen.

The videos were a smash hit with young Elliot - but what Alex and Sam had struck on turned out to be a very exciting idea in the world of speech and language therapy.

Now, after publishing their first video on YouTube in January and with the help of speech and language therapist Kate Kennedy, they have launched their charity and are ready to grow.

Alex said: "We've had some great feedback from therapists who have asked if they could use our videos.

"We're really ambitious. We hope soon we can have more actors in to read the stories, and that might lead to more noteworthy people putting their own spin on it.

"We hope more and more parents use our resources and see if it helps their children enjoy stories."

To see more of the videos or to learn more about 'Stories With Symbols', visit their website or look at their YouTube page.