This summer comedian Ashley Blaker will completely change how people talk about parenting children with special needs, when his book is published and his Radio 4 series, Edinburgh Fringe run and UK tour commence.
Ashley Blaker has six children, three of whom have a Special Education Needs (SEN) diagnosis. Between the children there is autism, Down syndrome, ADHD, speech and language disorders, heart defects, hearing loss, mobility issues, sensory needs and gastroenterological problems. As Ashley says, ‘You know you’ve got a lot going on when Great Ormond Street Hospital give you your own parking space.’ It’s certainly not what anyone would call a ‘normal’ household, but Ashley wouldn’t want it any other way.
Ashley’s story is one which parents, carers and teachers of children with SEN will particularly relate to, but his heartwarming book, show and radio series will appeal to any parent who believes love and acceptance are the most important building blocks of a happy family.
Ashley Blaker said: ‘Being a parent is tough and raising kids with special needs is even tougher. That’s why I am delighted to share our story with people and hopefully provide some much-needed light relief. Thankfully our kids provide so much comic material this has all taken much less time to write than you might imagine.’
Anna Mrowiec, Senior Commissioning Editor at HarperNonFiction, said: ‘This book is a masterpiece, able to make you howl with laughter on one page and cry on the next. Ashley’s devotion to his children shines through at every juncture – while also finding great humour in the frustrations and follies of everyday life in the Blaker household. I can’t wait to see readers fall in love with his wonderful children in the same way I have.’
On 20th July, HarperCollins will publish his debut book ‘Normal Schmormal: My occasionally helpful guide to parenting kids with special needs’. It is a part-comic memoir and part how-to guide and highlights the challenges and rewards of raising a family which doesn’t fit into society’s definition of ‘normal’.
On 2nd August, he heads to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe to debut a new comedy inspired by the book, also called ‘Normal Schmormal’. The show will be performed daily at Underbelly at 5:15pm and is produced by Mark Watson’s Impatient Productions.
On 4th August, BBC Radio 4 will begin broadcasting series two of ‘Ashley Blaker: 6.5 Children’. This is the comedian’s acclaimed show about his family, and the new series is focused entirely on the issue of parenting children with special needs. The four-part series will be broadcast on Friday mornings at 11:30am.
Finally, on 7th September, he will begin a UK theatre tour of his ‘Normal Schmormal’ show, again produced by Mark Watson’s Impatient Productions.
Further information & tickets: www.ashleyblaker.com or www.normalschmormal.com