An Adventure with Autism and Social Communication Difficulties – The Man-Eating Sofa Story and Guidebook

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An Adventure with Autism and Social Communication Difficulties is an exciting storybook and guidebook pair, designed to help readers understand the impact of social communication challenges on everyday life for children and young people.

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SKU: 9781032076256 - 66 Categories: , Ages: 6 - 12 Author: Plum Hutton Illustrator: Freddie Hodge Publisher: Speechmark Page count: 220 ISBN: 9781032076256 Publish date: 12th May, 2022

Product overview

The Man-Eating Sofa: People often say that ‘school is the best time of your life’, but for Lara, school is loud and confusing. She much prefers watching James Bond films or building furniture in her dad’s workshop. When the teachers in Lara’s new school realise that she is autistic, they are able to help with strategies to make school more tolerable for her.

An exciting and engaging story for children aged 8-12. This book explores some of the challenges faced by students who find social communication, sensory processing and regulation difficult.

Supporting Autism and Social Communication Difficulties in Mainstream Schools: Created to help parents, teachers and practitioners support young people who find social communication challenging, this guidebook explores the educational, social and psychological impact of autism and social communication and interaction difficulties, as well as offering strategies to help educators recognise and support these issues in the school environment.


Plum Hutton is a chartered educational psychologist and former learning support teacher. She holds a doctorate in educational psychology. She has more than 15 years of experience working as a local authority educational psychologist and latterly has transferred to independent practice. Through her work she has pursued and delivered training on many areas of professional interest, including supporting children with persistent anxiety, attachment difficulties, literacy difficulties and sensory processing differences.

Plum is a keen storyteller. She has gathered inspiration for her writing from her work, the challenges of parenthood and also through a nomadic existence as an Army wife, which has taken her to many locations across the UK and as far afield as East Africa.


The Man-Eating Sofa is a delightful story, empathetically written for school pupils, teaching staff and adults to gain a better understanding of autism, which is one of the aims of the National Autism Strategy (June 2021).  Whilst light-heartened and filled with humour, it does not detract from the seriousness of autism as a neurodevelopmental condition.

The supporting guide is very helpful for all professionals, particularly teaching staff and parent/carers in their role in how best to support autistic children and young people. It is based on research evidence, providing clear and pragmatic strategies. The story and the guide perfectly complement each other.”

Karin Twiss, Senior Educational Psychologist and Strategic Lead for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Conditions

“As with her superb ‘dyslexia’ package, Dr Hutton again excels in bringing clarity to understanding an important psychological concept. In this book, it is understanding Autism, a condition that needs this clarity as so many children and families across our society are impacted by it.

She makes the learning process dynamic, and understood within a real context, using a delightful story that children (8-12 years) and families will enjoy. The first parts of the story reflect the ‘too frequent’ and unnecessary challenges that many autistic children and their families will likely have experienced before gaining the necessary support and understanding. The story is positive and upbeat, and the experience of reading it, particularly with the activities and ideas, promotes the compassion, understanding, thought and optimism that are such key ingredients for supporting and embracing neurodiversity.”

Caro Strover, Educational Psychologist

“The book has a really engaging and strong storyline with brilliantly fleshed-out characters and gets across the confusion and frustration and the sheer ‘thinking differently’ of autism so well, as well as the wider struggles for the family. I especially enjoyed Lara’s excitement at building her sofa – and then the testing out of the sofa by the teachers, which I had to read three times as I was laughing so much.

I can’t tell you how helpful your book and guide have been in making the behaviour of autistic friends and colleagues so much more explicable to me and for providing such clear direction for improving the ways in which I can communicate with them too.” 

Elizabeth Ord, Parent