Thirteen-year-old Teina Stone is an avid reader, but his autism can make it tough at school. Happily, he found HELL’s Reading Challenge was a great incentive to keep him motivated. When Satan’s Little Helper heard how the Challenge had helped Teina already, he thought there might be a little more he could do.
Teina was diagnosed with autism and ADHD when he was eleven, and can find himself overwhelmed in a classroom environment. “What people often see with Teina is a naughty kid, but he’s not,” says his dad Nigel. “Situations overwhelm him, or the pressure gets to him, and he acts out, so he gets sent home from school a lot. “Even though he wasn’t attending school and doing schoolwork, he was able to read and that’s what got him through. The HELL Reading Challenge was a big help with that.” The HELL Reading Challenge is a programme run through schools and libraries, where children read seven books and record their achievement on a round ‘Pizza Wheel’ card; once it is full and verified by a teacher or librarian, the card can be exchanged for a free 333 kids’ pizza. Nigel estimates he would have filled out over 20 HELL Reading Challenge Pizza Wheels in the past couple of years. “For two years, basically, HELL Pizza got him through having no education at school.” Nigel says once Teina had filled up a wheel, he wouldn’t immediately ask for a pizza. “He would save them up,” explains Nigel. “He would get three or four and then give one to his sister, because she helps him out heaps. He would use them to thank people.” It was for his thoughtfulness as much as his reading achievements that Nigel nominated Teina to Satan’s Little Helper. Teina has recently started at a new school, where his teachers understand his needs better, and he’s coming home excited about what he’s learning in his classes. To help him concentrate, Satan’s Little Helper gave Teina a pair of noise-cancelling headphones, which he can use to block out the classroom noise and listen to music while he’s working. Nigel says that now, whenever Teina is overwhelmed, he can stay engaged with his schoolwork. “If there’s too much happening around him and he’s not coping, he puts the headphones on can escape that environment.” And what does Teina think about his new headphones? “He absolutely loves them to bits! He’s so careful with them. They’re really important to him.”