By Nance Ebert, Contributing Writer
Southborough – Nicole M. Sigler’s first children’s book, “Hi, I’m Rosie!” is intended to help children have a better understanding of what it is like for someone who has autism and the challenges they may face.
Sigler was inspired by her 5-year-old daughter, Isabella Rose (known as “Rosie” at home), who was diagnosed with autism at the age of 2. When Rosie started preschool, Sigler noticed that other classmates did not understand why she was wearing headphones or wasn’t making eye contact. She tried to find a children’s book to help her nieces and nephews understand Rosie better but could not find one. Frustrated, she decided to research writing one on her own for a younger demographic between the ages of 4 and 10.
“With the timing of this book I had initially planned to wait until things began to return to something close to normal, but I realized the book could be more valuable now because many children on the autism spectrum will have a particularly difficult challenge ahead of them in attempting to return to school and their scheduled activities,” Sigler explained. “This will likely result in them exhibiting some of the very behaviors I describe in the book so I thought it might help if their peers had this insight in advance of that.”
The book takes the reader through a typical day of school and all of the challenges someone with autism faces in a very easy-to-understand manner. The main character Rosie wears cat headphones like her namesake and resembles her as well.
Sigler spent a lot of time doing research for this book. She incorporated challenges that her daughter faces but also included many that others face as well. She found the illustrator from a site called Fiverr. She loved the artwork and spent countless hours sending texts back and forth and explaining what she wanted the pages to look like until it was perfect.
In the book, Sigler included examples of things an autistic child might do, such as wearing a weighted vest to remain calm or headphones because they are sensitive to loud sounds.
“I tried to include as many common traits that children with autism face,” she said. “I tried to make it so a 4-year-old would understand if they were trying to interact.”
The book came out the first week of April and Nicole sent it to all of Rosie’s teachers at the Mary Finn School in Southborough. One of the teachers depicted in this book closely resembles Rosie’s favorite teacher, Louisa Vargas. Nobody at the school knew anything about Nicole’s book project, as she was hoping to surprise the school with the published book and reading to all of the classrooms. She still hopes to do that once this pandemic is over, or possible via Zoom.
“One of the misconceptions I found was that people tend to think writing a children’s book is easy,” Sigler noted. “There were many challenges along the way. For me, personally, I found inner challenges and started doubting myself. Can I really do this? Will people like it and find it helpful? Publishing this book is my proudest moment.”