Billy and the Tingles…

(Helping Children to learn about safer sexual behaviour: A narrative approach to working with young children and sexually concerning behaviour.)

Laura Walker & Carol Laugharne.  £30.99 Speechmark Publishing, but available on Amazon.

I responded to a couple of Facebook posts (one from a worried Mum, the other from a SENCO) a few months ago around children displaying concerning behaviour of a sexual nature. 

As neither had received any responses, I did a little research and sometimes you realise just how small the world actually is – when you discover one of your neighbours wrote the resource you were looking at on Amazon…so a trip next door to borrow a cup of sugar and ask to have a good look through the materials!

This resource has two parts.  A story book for children, called Billy and the Tingles, and a supporting guide with the slightly longer title at the top of the page.

Billy and the Tingles

I really enjoyed reading the story, my 8-year old son was able to access the text easily (he didn’t read all of it, although I wouldn’t have any concerns with him doing so) and the illustrations helped to convey the message.

I loved the way that the Tingles were depicted as little gremlins, over which we can exert control.  As someone who deals with SEN pupils it is important to be able to turn abstract ideas into concrete items and I could see how these gremlins might be used in future conversations with some students.

The book is written in such a way that it can be easily used with primary aged pupils; I would even argue up to Year 8 and possibly beyond for those with special educational needs.  The book is just the right length to provide enough information without being scant on detail, whilst at the same time not providing overload by being too long and ‘boring’.

I’m not sure it belongs on the library shelves or in the classroom readers because this book is well supported by a comprehensive resource package…

Helping Children to learn about safer sexual behaviour: A narrative approach to working with young children and sexually concerning behaviour.

This resource book is jam-packed with everything you need to follow-up the story of Billy and the Tingles.  Like most individuals I cringe when I see prices, but when you realise you are getting a photocopiable resource and a comprehensive series of guided sessions it becomes a very reasonable price to pay.  I think I take comfort in knowing that the research and experience of the authors underpins what is written in the book rather than the vagueness of a ‘google search’ when hunting for a suitable program.

The 9x 1-hour session (suggested) program consists of…

  • All about me
  • All about bodies
  • Naming the problem
  • Uh oh…Here comes the problem!
  • Sparkling moments
  • Telling new stories
  • Problem solving
  • Helping hand
  • An audience for the child

And as each one is explained it is accompanied by everything you could possibly need.

For example: Problem solving acknowledges that the problem might rear its head again, gives examples of ‘safe plans’ for home and school, demonstrates trigger times and calm cards, discusses special events, shows door signs and then considers ‘other scenarios’.  In other chapters there are sample letters, worked examples, weblinks, games and scaling systems.  The very nature of the work being delivered means that a lesson plan would be inappropriate…but short of this there is everything provided to cover a bespoke intervention package.

I think many of the activities and resources lend themselves nicely to generating a personal 5-point scale for students on the autistic spectrum.

Is this for parents or schools?

A little of both.  Whilst the resource guide is not particularly appropriate for a parent to work though (although I would suggest that a looked-after child may benefit from a carer working through the activities) the book is certainly something to share with families.  It is important that the resultant plan is owned by everyone involved and this can only happen if families are on board.

I think this resource is one that schools need to have in their store cupboard, not just for the new SRE expectations about to rain down on us, but also as a proactive approach to dealing with the issues presented in schools.

The best thing is, Laura and Carol followed up their book with a board game too…review to follow!


Billy and the Tingles

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