Lindsey Rowe Parker is the author of the new children's picture book Wiggles, Stomps, and Squeezes Calm My Jitters Down. She is also a consultant who works with small businesses and nonprofits.
Q: In an interview on NPR, you said your daughter's experiences inspired you to write Wiggles, Stomps, and Squeezes Calm My Jitters Down. Can you say more about that?
A: My daughter was diagnosed as autistic the day after her second birthday. Like many families new to a diagnosis, we dove in to find out how we could “fix” it.
Through a few years of seeking out, listening to, and learning from the autistic adult community, we have really shifted from trying to “fix” it, to the realization that all our brains are wired differently, and our job is to help find ways to support her in the ways that she needs!
This experience also opened up my eyes to sensory differences that I had as a kid! I was diagnosed with ADHD at almost 40, and it finally made so much of my struggles as a neurodivergent person make sense! I’ve realized how much neurodiversity has and will always affect my life and family, with positives and negatives, strengths and weaknesses.
And since beginning to understand what that means, I have really embraced our differences, learned strategies that work for us, and give myself and others a bit more grace.
Q: What do you think Rebecca Burgess's illustrations add to the book?
A: As an autistic illustrator, Rebecca brings a unique understanding to the story, and one that I sought out. There are so many autistic and neurodivergent creators, and this story needed to be brought to life by someone that understands these nuances of a lived experience with sensory differences!
The way the characters were brought to life exceeded everything I imagined. When you work with a professional with a talent for storytelling through art like Rebecca, you get out of the way and let them do what they do best!
Q: How would you describe the relationship between the mom and the child in the book?
A: The relationship between the child and the mom is one of love, acceptance and understanding. The child is not asked to change, she is supported, she is allowed to be herself, she is loved unconditionally for who she is.
A few people have asked me if this is me, and I will be honest that I am not always as patient as this wonderful momma. But this is the ideal, this is what I strive for - because I think kids deserve this type of connection, we all do. We long to be loved, accepted and understood just as we are.
Q: What do you hope kids and their families take away from the book?
A: I think most kids can relate to needing a wiggle, stomp or a squeeze! I want kids to feel seen when they read this book and think, “Hey, I’m not alone in this, they are just like me!”
When a parent or caregiver picks up this book, I hope they have fun with it, but deeper than that, I hope the next time they see someone experiencing the world differently than they do, they have a little bit of empathy, ask questions, don’t snap to judgment, and try to be supportive.
Q: What are you working on now?
A: I have a few more manuscripts in the hopper, a couple about diverse family structures, blended families, an adoption story I’m co-writing with one of my sisters, mostly pulling from personal real experiences in my life that also have an underlying universal theme of acceptance and belonging.
Q: Anything else we should know?
A: Wiggles, Stomps and Squeezes Calm My Jitters Down is available online at major retailers, and is available to order through your local bookstore or library! It is available in English, Spanish, and soon Braille. There are English and Spanish Read Alouds on the website, as well as ASL! Visit us at https://www.wigglesstompsandsqueezes.com/ and social media!
--Interview with Deborah Kalb