The Nut Family book series started because of a need. “I’m Squirrely, the first book, was written because my son felt alone,” says Brenda Lochinger, author of the Nut Family series and mom of two boys with ADHD. ADHD has been a huge part of her older son’s life, and has lead to bulling, anxiety and a lesser self-worth. “I needed him and other children to know that they can be squirrely, silly, and sometimes a bit naughty,” Brenda says, “but they are still loved.” Her goal is for her books to celebrate differences and be relatable to her small readers in some way.
Brenda’s son was diagnosed at age 7 but they were seeing signs as early as pre-K. “It was crazy how kids loved being around him because of how happy and charismatic he was, and then, like a switch, the school day was more than he could handle,” Brenda explains. “The kids started being cruel and thought because the work wasn’t completed he was less of a person.” Her son is intelligent, but they watched this stressful position with school burn his light out. He became full of worry and was overwhelmed at every turn. The teacher and principle misguidedly kept pointing out his struggles in front of students which just increased the problem.
Brenda was a young mom at the time, and wasn’t sure what how to handle the situation. She jumped right in and worked with the teacher. She volunteered at school when she could and advocated with what little information about ADHD was available in the early 2000’s. “Eventually, he was punished for his inability to stand still and lack of work,” Brenda continued, “even though he had a plan in place that specifically showed his dysgraphia and ADHD. I pulled him out of school that day and homeschooled for two years. He was never quite the same after going to that elementary school and I needed him to know he was loved and we would figure things out.”
It wasn’t an easy road — the system is broken and that made it doubly hard. Brenda’s son is 20 now, and attending a Tech school for collision repair. As with most children with ADHD and autism, he hyper-focuses. “Cars are his obsession,” explains Brenda. “We are hoping that interest carries him through adulthood and helps him see that his past doesn’t decide his future.”
I’m Squirrely was Brenda’s first book. The books that follow in the series are about his siblings. I’m Twirrely, the second, focuses on Squirrely’s little sister, who doesn’t have ADHD but has her own quirks, loves, sass, and inability to stop wiggling and dancing. Brenda is currently finishing book three — I’m Whirrely. Whirrely is the youngest in the Nut Family and, as with his older brother, he has been diagnosed with ADHD. He is the artistic, funny, silly one that is so wrapped up in his creativity that he sometimes doesn’t quite pick up on the social cues. He kind of lives in his own little world of dress up and adventure. I’m Whirrely is set for publication in Summer 2017. The age range for the books is about 4 to 8.
Brenda has been gracious enough to give me a hardback copy of I’m Squirrely to give to one lucky reader. You have from now until Thursday, March 30, 2017 to enter to win (use the Rafflecopter below).