A mother address Neurodivergence through a book, emphasizing the importance of nonverbal communication

Every child wants to be heard. Every child has something to say. Nonverbal doesn't mean non-hearing, rather it means communicating in other ways other than speech. We all need to listen to the cues that our neurodivergent children give us and respond.

A mother address Neurodivergence through a book, emphasizing the importance of nonverbal communication
Webi and Sele

As a mom to a vibrant 13-year-old boy with nonverbal autism, our daily life is filled with unique challenges and extraordinary moments. My son, Eromosele, or Sele as we affectionately call him, navigates through life with a set of conditions that would overwhelm many: nonverbal autism, anxiety disorder, ADHD, sensory processing disorder, and visual impairment. Despite wearing high-prescription glasses, he struggles to see clearly and often pushes down on his eyes to create a pinhole effect that helps him see better.

Sele faces numerous challenges, from toilet training and eating by himself to dealing with food allergies and learning difficulties. Though he cannot read or write, he finds joy in listening to stories and gazing at beautifully illustrated books, drawn in by their vibrant colors.

Longer than I can remember, I’ve searched for a children’s book that would shed light on the mind of our neurodivergent kids in a fun and engaging way transcending race, age, color, status, and religion. Sadly, the few books I've come across are often picture books for very young children, lacking the depth needed to truly represent our children's experiences. It's crucial to recognize that speech makes up only 7% of communication, with the remaining 93% being nonverbal—visual cues, body language, gestures, facial expressions, eye contact, and tone of voice.

Rather than waiting for the world to change, I decided to be the change I wanted to see. Inspired by my son, Eromosele, who lends his name to the protagonist of the story, I’ve written Sele Speaks Without Words, a captivating adventure that takes readers into the mind and world of a nonverbal autistic boy. When Sele gets lost in an unfamiliar world during a trip to the park, he must navigate this strange environment, facing his fears and anxiety, and finding ways to communicate and survive. Can you imagine the fear and anxiety he must feel being in a different environment? How would he communicate? What dangers will he encounter? Will he be able to find his way home?

The book has 60+ colored illustrations with 5,000+ words to bridge the reading world of Middle-grade chapter books and bring our kids' imagination to life. It addresses phobias, spectrum disorders amongst other SEN and neurodiverse topics in a relatable way, making the book a delight to read. It teaches kids and explains key terminologies present and used in our neurodiverse world today. Readers would learn various ways of communication, strategies to manage challenges, and building friendships, as it incorporates sign language and positive affirmations. It also takes into consideration our dyslexic readers and would be printed on colored paper to avoid glare.

This story isn't just an adventure; it's a blend of reality and magic, bringing to life the daily experiences of our special needs children through fascinating characters and imaginative storytelling.

Sele, our protagonist, represents the often-overlooked intersection of being black, neurodivergent, and having Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND). It champions representation for
Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC), Black And Minority Ethnic (BME) and the neurodivergent community. Sele Speaks Without Words is a testament to my son’s resilience and a beacon of hope for other parents and children facing similar challenges.

As a parent, I am my son’s fiercest advocate. Every triumph, every setback, every tear shed is a testament to my love for Sele, a sentiment I know many parents of special needs children share.

Over the years I’ve fought for resources, representation, and services to ensure my son can thrive, believe me when I say it hasn’t been easy.

From June 1st to June 30th, 2024, Sele Speaks Without Words will be available exclusively on Kickstarter here. By supporting this project, and pre-ordering a copy of the book, you’ll help bring this much-needed book to life and enable donations of copies to schools, charities, and libraries. 

Sele Speaks Without Words is my love letter to my son, a hope that he will one day look back and be proud of his mom. It’s a voice for our neurodivergent children, reminding the world that their journey is defined not by limitations but by resilience and courage.

Join me on this journey of hope and empowerment. Together, we can shine a light on the silent yet powerful voices of neurodivergent children, rewriting the narrative and celebrating their incredible spirit.