Father and Son's Jetpulse Superhero Comics Empower Kids With Autism
Jetpulse Comics is a father-and-son project that was created to uplift, encourage and raise awareness about children and other individuals all over the world who are on the autism spectrum.
Led Bradshaw’s son Jake was three and a half years-old when he was diagnosed with autism.
Bradshaw didn’t know much about autism, he says, so he started researching intently. “I didn’t want to feel helpless. I wanted to feel like, ‘Okay, now I understand this. What can I do?”
The answer to helping Jake turned out to be their shared love of superheros. Jake made scores of drawings featuring himself as a superhero and started telling his dad intricate stories about the characters and a whole universe he created. What makes JetPulse comics unique is that the recurring characters Jake Jetpulse, Julia and Marrz the Troll were created by Jake himself.
“Jacob really loves superheroes! Just give him five minutes and Jake will tell you everything there is to know about them. His closet is full of costumes, enchanted hammers, magical capes and utility belts,” Bradshaw says.
To help Jake, the two started drawing together as a form of art therapy. Soon, Bradshaw realized he could turn Jake’s drawings into a way of helping him with schoolwork. “I took some of the drawings he made and turned them into flashcards, and I would take his daily lessons and reading assignments and start turning them into a visual way to help him learn,” he explains. “Using sight words, I was able to help Jacob learn to identify words before moving on to larger sentences.”
What started out as flashcards evolved into the pair’s first comic book — an “easy reader” for kindergarten and preschool-aged kids, centering on the adventures of “Jake Jetpulse,” the superhero his son created. Bradshaw and Jake first shared the comic book with Jake’s classmates, who “completely loved it,” he says.
“He’s an incredible kid,” Bradshaw said. “I had the talent to draw it, but he had the story. We work together as a team to build his incredible superhero universe. He tells me everything that he wants, comes up with the characters and the story lines, and I draw it and put it into the stories.”
Empowering Children on the Autism Spectrum
Perhaps best of all, Bradshaw says that Jetpulse Comics “has given my son a tremendous amount of self-confidence and his grades have improved considerably. For Jake and me, Jetpulse Comics is more than capes and bad guys. It's about empowering our children on the spectrum and teaching them to unleash their inner heroes.”
JetPulse Educational Books
Bradshaw has now published three Jake Jetpulse educational books, (available on Amazon) including two reading comprehension comics and an activity book. “I'm currently working on the next comic-activity book as we speak, where Jake and his crew will meet historical figures,” Bradshaw told me. This will be a time travel adventure series to help teach history.
Bradshaw also started a JetPulse website that showcases his books, provides resources for parents hoping to learn more about autism spectrum disorder and offers printable, superhero-centric educational worksheets for kids. There's downloadable educational content on the website and some fun sensory activities and educational material for children in grades K to 2nd grade.
Expanding the JetPulse Universe
“We've branched out and started working with other organizations to provide in-depth product reviews and family events like "Sensory Friendly Films".
“I'd like to work with more educators and teachers to add arts and crafts, math and reading exercises,” Bradshaw says. He’s gotten lots of encouragement from parents who write to him to say how much the comics and other resources are helping their kids on the spectrum.