During one of the many lockdowns, I started to think more seriously about undertaking a PhD, which would focus on the representation of neurodiversity in children’s picture books.
To contextualise my chosen research path, it would make sense to talk about my background, as a primary school teacher. Much of my teaching career was in Newham, where the education system is, for the most part, inclusive. This meant that I worked with a lot of neurodiverse children in my role as class teacher and later, SEN lead. I also worked as a behaviour support teacher in Basildon and a SENCo in Harlow, again working with neurodiverse and neurotypical children.
I still teach, but from my bookshop in my hometown of Brentwood. From the very beginning, it was important that our book selection was diverse, representing a range of backgrounds. Neurodiversity features on that list. Parents and educators frequently ask for recommendations, to support a neurodiverse child. This work will support the advice that I give, coming from a place of research, rather than purely my personal preferences.
So far, I have started to pull together texts for analysis and begun preliminary reading around the subjects of representation and research. It’s been a (very) long time since I last studied, so this will be a challenge. I am sure as time passes, my writing style will improve, as will my understanding of this new path.
All being well, now that the application process has taken place, I will begin in earnest in January 2022. If you’d like to join me on my journey, you are more than welcome to do so virtually, through this blog.