Medikids was co-founded by medical doctor Kate Hersov from New Zealand, who was frustrated by the lack of accessible and engaging information about medical conditions to younger patients. She wanted to address the gap. In 2013 she won the NatWest Everywoman award, for business women aged 26-35.
The comic that dropped through my door last week “What’s Up with Ben?” is an edition of the comic series which deals in its entirety to autism. All of the magazines deal with different conditions like asthma, leukaemia and scoliosis. Already published are ‘What’s up with mum?’ explaining breast cancer, ‘what’s up with dad?’ explaining melanoma, and ‘what’s up with grandpa’ explaining alzheimer’s disease.
Very simply the conditions are explained by a gang of friendly superheroes each representing a part of the human body, brain, muscles, skin, stomach and respiratory system.
I decided to read through it with my son and my nephew, both of whom are on the spectrum but included both their sisters who are not. Ages ranged between five and nine, with varying degrees of understanding.
The plot revolves around our modern day superheroes trying to help out Ben, who has autism and his sister Brooke to better understand his diagnosis. The kids all loved the visuals and sense of adventure, Gastro, being the character who caused the most laughs.
The most useful part of the comic for the children was the visual explanation of what was going on in the brain of a child with autism. The superheroes explained about quite complex emotions, and my son started to discuss that he found it difficult to understand why other people felt different things to him. Medikids explain it in such a way that it was quite easy for me to say that no one is the same, everyone is different just that people with autism see the world in their own way, and that sometimes it was difficult for them to tell how other people were feeling.
It also helped rationalise why children with autism sometimes seem to be in their own world. Personally, I found the “what causes autism” pages to be un-necessary, and could cause some arguments in less liberal households.
Overall all children enjoyed the read although the boys did tend to drift off after a while and do their own things. I think the girls befitted from reading through and understanding very simply what was going on with their brothers. I would recommend this for reading with siblings and for younger children who have very little awareness of autism and its symptoms.
You can download your copy here.