Two remarkable siblings will increase autism awareness throughout Canada by launching a colourful new book this month, titled Animal Appetites.
Andrea Bull, a registered audiologist and author of the book, worked with her younger brother Robert Bull, who was diagnosed with autism at the age of four. Together, they have created an educational ABC book depicting animals enjoying their favourite snacks. They hope their close collaboration will demonstrate the creative talents and unique capabilities of those with autism, and help to change the stigma faced by people living with autism.
An estimated one in 68 children live with autism or some form of autism spectrum disorder.
Despite thousands of Canadians diagnosed each year, there are widespread misconceptions about autism and the abilities of those who experience it.
“Animal Appetites provides an example of what someone with autism can achieve with the right support systems,” explains Andrea, “Rob and I hope to help others understand that autistic children and adults are capable of incredible things – they may just require a different kind of support to achieve them.”
Illustrator diagnosed with autism as a young child
Robert independently produced all of the illustrations for the book. He took to drawing at an early age, creating art to bring his imagination to life. Animal Appetites features these playful, alliterated A-Z images of animals eating in exotic locations. Readers will see narwhals eating nachos at night, peacocks eating pickles on pyramids, and raccoons eating raisins on roller coasters.
A set of printable activity sheets accompanies the book, enabling children to colour their own images and practice their writing and pronunciation skills.
A lifelong family collaboration
Since Robert was diagnosed as a young child, he and Andrea have shared an extremely close bond. Andrea supported him through the challenges of growing up with autism, and the two siblings continue to work together to find creative ways for Robert to reach his potential. They hope that the project will be the first of many collaborations to increase autism awareness in Canada and beyond.
When not writing, Andrea Bull works as a registered audiologist in Vancouver, BC. Robert Bull lives and works in Penticton, B.C. with his parents. He works a few hours a week as a janitor for the Penticton & District Society for Community Living, and also helps in a bike shop.