A Nottingham College student who has autism launched his own children’s book about a group of brave cats, during World Autism Awareness Week (1 – 7 April).
Autism Awareness Week aims to draw attention to the 700,000 people living with autism in the UK – both to educate those unaware of the condition, and to help make the world friendlier to those who are affected by it.
Twenty-two-year-old Art and Design student Ben Robson read a chapter from his book, Kitty Realms, at a public launch on Sunday 7 April at Espresso Gallery in Mapperley.
Signed copies of the book were available at the launch, plus an exhibition of Ben’s artwork. He also unveiled a preview of some of his upcoming stories.
We asked Ben how he was feeling ahead of the launch.
I find patience very difficult, and so waiting for other people to finish their parts of the project was the hardest bit of it for me. I'm very excited about the launch and I’m happy it is finally here.- Ben Robson
Ben’s mum Janine sadly passed away in 2017, after being diagnosed with motor neurone disease earlier that year.
Since then Ben has been working with the support of his dad Ken Robson and step-dad Karsten Klups to write and illustrate the book, which is inspired by his mum’s pet cats.
Ben also drew inspiration from a book his dad wrote about his rescued German Shepherd dogs. Ben illustrated that book before writing Kitty Realms.
Ben’s dad Ken says that the new book is testament to Ben’s determination to get over any barriers to success. For example, as a child he was fearful of animals, which he overcame by getting to know his dad’s rescue dog and his mum’s cats.
Ken explained that Ben signed nearly 50 books at the launch, and sold out completely of his supply of printed books, after a 15 minute reading of Kitty Realms to a packed audience.
It was a great day and Ben is very happy. I am so very proud of what he has achieved. His mum would be bursting with joy, their connection was very special indeed. It has been amazing to work with Ben on this book.Ken Robson - Ben's dad
Ben lives with stepdad Karsten and their two pet cats in Mapperley.
Ben has always been creative but it used to take him a lot of effort to venture out of his comfort zone. Since starting the Art and Design course at Nottingham College he’s come on leaps and bounds.
Sitting with others who share his passion for creativity has really helped with his confidence and to try new things.
Also the gentle and welcoming approach from his tutors has been great. Ben has a universal curiosity, and now he drags me out to art galleries!Karsten Klups - Ben's stepdad.
Prior to his Art and Design course, Ben completed Supported Learning courses at the College. Tim Maroney, Supported Learning Lecturer at Nottingham College, said: “I have known Ben since he first attended the College. He is highly motivated, very imaginative and has become increasingly skilful using design software.”
Tim encouraged Ben to pursue his art through the Level 1 Art and Design course, which has helped to develop his creative skills and his employability. Tim said: “It has been a great pleasure to see Ben flourish, leading to the publication of his first book.”
Fliss Ward, Support Tutor at Nottingham College, works with students on the autism spectrum, providing personalised support where needed to help them fulfil their potential.
Ben has a wonderful imagination. It is fascinating to see how his characters are drawn and the stories are developed. He is so committed to his art, and he spends all his time in breaks working on the next project.Fliss Ward - Support Tutor