Who Are We

A cartoon of Debby and Tori laughing and enjoying working on the Aukids Magazine
A Potted History

AuKids magazine was an idea resulting from a chat between two friends who originally met as parent and professional – Tori Houghton, a specialist speech and language therapist, and Debby Elley, a journalist and parent of twins with autism.

Launched in 2008 and distributed to families living with a child with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in the Manchester area, it soon became so popular among the autism community that we decided to go national with it.

Jo Perry, an animator and graphic designer at Periscope Studios Ltd, is responsible for the look and feel of the magazine.

Funding is through a small subscription fee, donations and a small amount of advertising. AuKids is run along charitable lines and many people work on it either voluntarily or for a fraction of their professional fees.
Debby Elley

Our Backgrounds

CO-EDITOR: Debby Elley worked in public relations, local radio, as a training officer and in regional newspapers before her twins were born in 2003. In 2006, they were diagnosed with autism and early the following year, Tori Houghton became their speech and language therapist. Debby's philosophy is very much 'cut the rubbish and get to the point'.

“AuKids was the result of looking at publications that I didn't like very much. When we launched there was no other magazine on the market especially for parents of kids with autism, and what there was on disability - well it was generally dry to say the least, with a very po-faced tone. Things have improved a lot since then and if our lively style has had any influence on the way people present this sort of material, then I'm very happy about that.

"There's no need to wade through pages of difficult prose just to glean a few nuggets of important practical advice. I don't want to read features that are full of complaints - I want bright spark solutions! As parents we don't want to be talked down to, and we don't want people writing for us as if we're victims of some awful misfortune. When I saw this stuff I used to think: 'What's going on here? My kids make me laugh! Am I supposed to have lost my sense of humour because I've got kids with autism?' and I figured that other people must feel the same.

"Before AuKids, I'd been lucky enough to work for a newspaper editor who let me loose with a style that was very informal, and we used this approach with our new magazine. Tori is a tremendously positive person who likes to think outside the box. We both have a real laugh writing AuKids, and I hope that our readers pick up on that and enjoy it as much as we do".

Tori Houghton co-editor of Aukids Magazine

CO-EDITOR: Tori Houghton is a speech and language therapist who has worked with children who have autism for more than 15 years. The same year that AuKids magazine was first published, she also launched her own support agency, Time Specialist Support (www.time-specialist-support.com), especially for families who have children with autism. The company is now one of the largest and most respected special needs support agencies in Manchester.

“AuKids is an unusual initiative in that it is jointly run by a parent and professional. Usually, parents stick to their own forums and professionals offer advice 'from above'. We refute that sort of 'ivory towers' approach, where we both stick to separate corners. When we tackle a topic for the magazine, we look at it from both sides - professional and parent. So I hope the result is some truly practical advice that wasn't written in Cloud Cuckoo Land!

"We both see autism as a difference rather than a disability. Debby's sons are at opposite ends of the spectrum so she has plenty of experience coping with the challenges of autism, but there's also so much to celebrate. Traditionally, too much emphasis has been put on the 'impairments' of autism and not enough about the upside. Autistic kids are usually only challenging when their environment distresses them. If you can get beneath that anxiety and what causes it, they are funny, brilliant, beautiful kids.

"We wanted to create something easy to read that would instantly have a lot of impact on parents' lives. The idea is that you read it today, and by tomorrow you're implementing some great advice - we always suggest solutions that are easily within a parent's reach".

Jo Perry

GRAPHIC DESIGNER: Jo Perry, a graphic designer and animator, is a master of translating our ideas into illustrations. She and husband Paul run Periscope Studios Ltd (www.periscopestudios.co.uk) in Ashton-under-Lyne and their impressive portfolio includes television adverts and website education material for the BBC. If we want something mad, wild, whacky, off the wall - Jo has it all at her fingertips.

When we come up with an idea, we often think of a visual interpretation of it at the same time. Jo translates that into something really special. Jo's work is behind our famous Autism Sundae Dessert feature and our popular Jargon Buster (now a poster), designed as a graffiti wall.

Jo works on AuKids at a greatly discounted rate to help our social enterprise. She says:
"I LOVE working on AuKids magazine. Debby and Tori always come up with great ideas for ways to visualise the articles, and it’s a pleasure putting it together. Knowing that the parents and carers who read AuKids enjoy the visual side of it as well as the features themselves is a real bonus too."

Fimm Tuff

RESEARCH & DISTRIBUTION: Tim Tuff contacted AuKids magazine the year after we launched. He is an adult with autism and said that he wished his mum had been able to buy AuKids when he was younger, and he wanted to help us. At first it was a case of working voluntarily, with magazines piled to the rafters at his mum's house. You can imagine how pleased she was!

After that, when Tori's agency set up in an office, AuKids shared a desk or two and Tim took over the task of packing and distributing the magazine. He also researches new outlets for us and on top of that has joined the Aukids team for regular talks at conferences, where he shares his personal experiences.

His confidence with AuKids has flourished, so much so that he's moved into his own place, complete with some beloved vintage furniture and his trusted Thomas the Tank Engine duvet cover!

David Laslett

PHOTOGRAPHER: David Laslett. Sometimes it takes more than just anyone with a camera to capture a special needs child at their best. Kids on the spectrum are notoriously difficult to photograph, but Dave's real speciality is the ability to relax little people in front of the camera and getting them to be - just themselves! He has become a popular photographer for special schools in the Manchester area as a result. AuKids is very lucky to have Dave as a sponsor - he provides our photography for free. See the rest of his work at www.manchesterphoto.com

Paul Clare

PRINTER: Paul Clare, R&P Printers (wwwrandpprinters.co.uk) AuKids needed to find a printer that didn't skimp on quality but was great value for money. Without good value printing, the magazine - a social enterprise - wouldn't be able to survive. R&P Printers in Dukinfield stepped up to the job and now prints both AuKids magazine and the lively leaflets and posters to promote it.

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