Jacksonville boy with autism writes children’s book about coping with COVID-19 changes

FAMILY FOCUS: Helping children cope during the pandemic

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A Jacksonville boy with autism is now a published author.

Trey Sheppard, 13, cowrote a children’s book with his mother, Natalie Sheppard, during the pandemic.

The book, called “The Day My World Changed,” is helping children across the country cope with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Content Continues Below

“It’s my favorite book,” Sheppard said.

Trey Sheppard, 13, cowrote the children’s book with his mother, Natalie Sheppard, during the pandemic. The book, called “The Day My World Changed,” is helping children across the country cope with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Trey Sheppard, 13, cowrote the children’s book with his mother, Natalie Sheppard, during the pandemic. The book, called “The Day My World Changed,” is helping children across the country cope with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sheppard was diagnosed with autism at the age of 3. His mother said the book is gratifying because they often heard about the things he would never be able to do.

“One thing we love saying is we crash nevers every day because the day he was diagnosed we were told about all of these nevers: He may never talk, he may never communicate the way we want him to communicate, he may never play organized sports, he may never be able to read,” Mrs. Sheppard said.

Mrs. Sheppard said when school abruptly transitioned to online learning last school year, it was tough on her son.

“We started seeing signs of anxiety and just not understanding what’s going on and not being able to express himself when his communication has grown leaps and bounds,” Mrs. Sheppard said.

She said they began journaling together as an outlet. Mrs. Sheppard said her son would ask questions and express his feelings about missing school and friends. The mother said she began to wonder and worry how other children were coping with the pandemic.

“If our Trey was having a hard time, certainly every child across the nation, and not just the nation, but across the world were having the same type of concerns,” Mrs. Sheppard said.

The journal entries evolved into the children’s book. They did everything on their own from hiring an illustrator to publishing the book.

Since the book launched in July, more than 250 copies have been sold. The book is now in homes and classrooms across the country including states like New York, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan, and Illinois.

“We are trying to do our little part in the world to help the world be a better place to help everyone just feel better about the day their world changed,” Mrs. Sheppard said.

Trey and Natalie Sheppard co-wrote, "The Day My World Changed: Helping Children Understand COVID-19."
Trey and Natalie Sheppard co-wrote, "The Day My World Changed: Helping Children Understand COVID-19."