Demystifying Parkinson’s to kids
Children are being taken on a journey through ‘‘grandma’s brain’’ to help get their heads around Parkinson’s disease.
The self-published book Grandma’s Brain, written by Ponsonby author Ann Andrews, aims to break the disease down into digestible chunks and answer many questions children are likely to have.
Andrews hopes the book will provide reassurance and a better understanding of the disease and other brain disorders.
Parkinson’s is a progressive disease of the brain affecting the nervous system caused by insufficient quantities of dopamine – a chemical in the brain.
When dopamine levels drop, people’s movements become slow and awkward.
It was Andrews’ own grandchildren who prompted her to pen the book.
‘‘I was playing in the spa pool with two of my grandsons, when Jack – the eldest – took my right hand and said: ‘I’ll hold your hand granny so that it doesn’t shake’.’’
Andrews was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in her 50s and says it hadn’t occurred to her to discuss it with her two young grandchildren before that day.
She then set out to write a story featuring her two grandsons Jack, then aged 8, and Adam, then 5.
the condition affects the whole family but can look and sound particularly scary to children.
‘‘It’s easy to think Parkinson’s is just your problem. I think a lot of people don’t know how to approach their grand- children, in particular, and tell them anything about it and are terribly worried that they might tell them the wrong thing or that it may be misinterpreted.
‘‘It is better to be honest with them. They need to know as soon as possible what is wrong with their parent or grandparent.’’
Andrews’ grandsons found it difficult dealing with seeing her lose her balance and fall over before she explained to them why it happens.
‘‘It’s quite common for children to think that it’s their fault – they think that they might have done something that’s made you like this or they are responsible for you falling.’’
The book, illustrated by Ponsonby’s Sally HollisMcLeod, has the support of the Neurological Foundation of New Zealand.
It is Andrews’ second book about the condition but her first geared towards children.
She published Positively Parkinson’s in 2011, drawing on her own experiences to offer advice on how to cope with the impact of the disease on everyday life.
Her efforts saw her awarded with a Queen’s Service Medal for services to the community, including her work for people with Parkinson’s.
Andrews says she would next like to write a book aimed at helping caregivers better understand brain disorders.
The self-published book Grandma’s Brain, written by Ponsonby author Ann Andrews (left) and illustrated by Sally Hollis-McLeod, aims to provide reassurance and a better understanding of Parkinson’s disease and other brain disorders.