‘There are lots of experiences I had as the parent of an autistic son that I wanted to communicate to other parents who may feel really alone’
Autism-Europe interviews author and journalist Keith Stuart about his book ‘A Boy Made of Blocks’ ahead of his appearance at Microsoft’s #BookTalk event in Brussels in April 2017. Here below you can read a transcription of this video-interview.
Autism-Europe: Tell us a bit more about the book
Keith Stuart: ‘A Boy Made of Blocks’ is the story of a father, Alex, who’s estranged from his family. He has had to leave his home and his wife Jody and his autistic son Sam and he has to build a relationship with his son from outside the family home. So they get together online and play Minecraft together and it’s through Minecraft that they build a relationship and an understanding and he learns that his son is a creative and interesting young boy.
AE: Shortly introduce yourself
KS: My name is Keith Stuart. I’m the Games Editor for The Guardian newspaper and I’m the author of ‘A Boy Made of Blocks’.
AE: Why did you decide to write ‘A Boy Made of Blocks’?
KS: I was actually asked to write this book after I’d written some journalism about my son Zack who’s on the autism spectrum. I wrote about how Minecraft had been a really helpful influence in his life. The big publishing company ‘Little, Brown’ asked me to write a book about that story but a fiction book. So that’s how ‘A Boy made of Blocks’ came about.
AE: What can parents learn from this book?
KS: When I started writing ‘A Boy Made of Blocks’ there are lots of experiences I had as the parent of an autistic son that I wanted to communicate to other parents who may have children on the autism spectrum and who may feel really alone. So I wanted to present lots of things that can happen to families where there’s an autistic child to tell people essentially, not to give them advice, but just to tell them that they’re not alone.
So this is very much a story about what it’s like to have autism in your family and the fact that sometimes people don’t understand it and that’s really really difficult. All I wanted to do really was tell people that these are things that there’s people going through all over the world and you’re not alone and don’t despair.
AE: Have you had any feedback from the autism community?
KS: I have had some really lovely positive feedback from autism charities but also from people on the autism spectrum or people who have relatives on the autism spectrum.
I actually got a letter from the parents of an old University friend of mine a couple of months ago and they wrote to me to tell me that they have one of their grandchildren is on the autism spectrum and they found it quite difficult to know how to deal with her and what to do. But apparently they read my book and they just felt it gave them a really good insight into autism and some of the things you need to take into consideration, and they wrote me this lovely letter to say thank you for helping them understand their granddaughter better, which was amazing!