Fairy tale success for the book illustrator aged 12

Rosie King may only be 12 but already she is the proud illustrator of a charming fairy tale written specifically to teach people about her condition.

The youngster has used her imagination and added her delightful drawings of pixies, fairies and goblins to illustrate her mother's new book, The Daily Journal of Arabella Crumblestone.

Mother-of-three Sharon King, 40, wrote the story for siblings of disabled children to teach them about autism, as the only books that exist about the condition tend to be factual.

In the tale, a fairy, Arabella, lands on Earth and has to find her way home. She comes across two children, one of them with autism, and they help her get back.

Characters in the book are based on the children of Mrs King and her husband, 45-year-old civil engineer Richard.

Rosie, who has a mild form of Asperger's, is depicted as

Faith, one of the children in the book. The youngster hit the headlines in 2008 when she diagnosed her own condition as she read a book.

Autistic George, the "humming boy" in the book, is real-life bundle of energy Lenny, eight, who has classic autism.

Mrs King said: "He wears us all out with his boundless enthusiasm for life and for mess."

Sister Daisy is cheeky water fairy Dot. In real life she is 10 and has Kabuki syndrome – a rare condition that produces developmental abnormalities, such as physical disfigurement like shortness of bones, as well as learning and behavioural difficulties.

Mrs King, of Wakefield, said: "I loved the process of writing Arabella and really poured my heart into the story. Some of the characters are based on my own wonderful family."

"In reality, Daisy is not able to speak, but in the book I have given her the words that I feel reflect her fun-loving 'big splash' personality."

"I feel honoured to call these children my own. They have taught me so much about what life really means.

"They have shown me that material things really do mean nothing – by destroying those very material things time and time again. I'm happy to share the wonder of my family life through the fairy tale."

As Mrs King was testing her story out on daughter Rosie, the youngster was drawing along with her to show how she thought the characters looked.

She so impressed her mother with her artistic skills that Mrs King decided she had to include them.

She said: "I'm so happy that we collaborated on this book together."

The novel was published three weeks ago and already the book, which costs 5, has sold 400 copies. A pound of the cost is donated to the National Autistic Society.

"I think that's great," said Mrs King.

"I'm delighted with the sales as it's made for such a niche market, though it is a good children's story in its own right.

"I chose to write about things that I loved as a child and got my inspiration from CS Lewis novels like The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and Alice in Wonderland."

When Rosie was 10 she astounded her parents by

being able to diagnose her own illness.

She was learning about disabilities from a children's book when she recognised her own symptoms as Asperger's syndrome and told her mother that was exactly how she was feeling.

The schoolgirl was reading a book about autism called Little Rainman, to understand the condition her brother Lenny had been diagnosed with when he was two.

Mr and Mrs King did not know Rosie had difficulty with identifying facial expressions or making friends until she read about them herself – and then told her mother that is what she felt too.

The book, written by Karen Simmons, is told from the perspective of an autistic child, named Jonathan.

Rosie was officially diagnosed with mild Asperger's

syndrome after a year-long process.

The condition is an autistic disorder which can cause communication problems and was the subject of Mark

Haddon's best-selling 2003 novel for adults, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time.

For more details about Mrs King's book and details of how to buy a copy visit the website www.sharonkingbooks.co.uk

THE HIDDEN DISABILITY

AUTISM is often described as a hidden disability and can be difficult to spot.

It is estimated that one in every 100 people in the

UK has autism and it is possible for more than

one person in a family to have the condition as it can be genetic.

People with autism may not speak, may not understand what other people say, may not like bright lights and colours or loud noise.

There are different types of the condition.

Anyone affected by autism can contact the National Autistic Society's helpline on 0845 070 4004 or visit www.autism.org.uk