1st Edition

The Man-Eating Sofa: An Adventure with Autism and Social Communication Difficulties

By Plum Hutton Copyright 2022
    140 Pages 13 B/W Illustrations
    by Speechmark

    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 at Lara’s new school realise that she is autistic, they are able to help with strategies to make school more tolerable for her. All except Mr Prender-ghastly. The headmaster has been looking for a way to gently direct Mr Prendergast towards a change of career, but it is Lara, and her special man-eating sofa, who finally help rid the school of the fearsome teacher.

    This entertaining story, suitable for readers aged 8-12, explores some of the challenges faced by autistic pupils and those with social communication and interaction difficulties in mainstream schools. It highlights the stress and anxiety that young people with sensory processing and social interaction difficulties may feel in the noisy and unpredictable school environment, and identifies some strategies that can be used to support them.

    Also available as a set with a supporting guide, this book operates as a fun and engaging standalone story, both for children who are autistic themselves and those who are not. It is a must-have book for every classroom.

    The Man-Eating Sofa: An Adventure with Autism and Social Communication Difficulties


    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."

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


    "Plum Hutton 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 ... 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