A sassy, crafty mama bird from Los Angeles
raising a very sweet little girl with Autism
and a new baby boy in the Midwest... and other stuff, too.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

My favorite book is the one I wrote

Here's a bit of a follow up to the post about my first experience with a little bully.

When I first put Little Bird in this inclusion program, it was suggested to me by a mom whose son had started in a mainstream class the year before that I write a book about the bird to introduce her to the class; something they could read to learn about some of her differences yet still see many similarities. The goal is also for some of the kids to take the book home to read with their parents. Everyone loves this concept and it was a big hit in her classroom last year, so I made one for this year as well. It goes a little something like this....

Hi. My name is {Little Bird}. I am 5 years old and I’m so happy to go to school with you. I know we will be friends and have a lot of fun together. I might seem a little different than some of the other kids, but I think you’ll find we are also a lot alike! Let me tell you all about me.
Last year I was in Robin and Adrienne’s class at {school}. We had a great year. Do you recognize any of my friends in this picture?
I also went to camp at {blah blah}. I went on the zip line! Have you ever tried it?

We are all special 
ALL people are different from one another. We look different and we have different skills, challenges, fears, and personalities. Even though everyone is different, everyone likes to be included, accepted, and liked. We all like different things, too.

I love to read books, so the library is one of my favorite places!
Do you ever go to the library?

I also like to go to the park. I like to climb on the jungle gym, but the swings are my favorite. Do you like swinging, too?

In the summer I love to swim in the lake and the pool (pic of her swimming) and in the winter, I love sledding (pic of her in the snow).
My favorite food is pizza. What's yours? 
All my family live in California (family photos). I go on an airplane to visit them. Have you ever been on an airplane?

I’m a smart girl, but some things are really hard for me. I have very low muscle tone, and that makes it harder for me to run, climb, talk, and write. I try really hard and I’m getting better all the time. I might need your help sometimes. Do you think you can help me?

Sometimes you might not understand what I’m saying. Maybe as you get to know me better, it will be easier for both of us! I can usually understand you, but it’s hard for me to answer all the time. Don’t give up on me. We can help each other!
I may not be able to participate in a conversation with you, but I really do want to be your friend! It really helps me when you speak slowly and use simple words and sentences. It also helps if you point to things so that I can understand what you’re asking.

You might need to help me play. I’m learning to play with friends and to take turns.
I really do like playing with you, but I may not always understand the games you want to play- especially games where we pretend to be other people in other places.
If I choose not to play a game with you, it may be because I just don’t understand the game.

I hope you can be patient with me and help me this year in Kindergarten. If we work together, we can be great friends!
Thanks for reading all about me. I can’t wait to play and be great friends with you!

You'd better believe I suggested that little boy take the book home and read it with his parents right away!! 

Yes, I use more pics and even some more "look, I'm just like you" scenarios, but I think you get the point. I highly recommend using a book like this if you plan on mainstreaming your child with special needs. It's true that a lot of kids can see past differences, but they can still see these differences and they have questions. Once their questions are answered, a lot of kids will be cool with it all. Some won't. And that's okay, too. Eff 'em.


Heather said...

This is wonderful Dani! I've been struggling with doing something like this for Brian- for the most part it seems like everyone accepts him so I'm always stuck at do I point out that he's different (who am I joking- they know he is) or just let it go....but I really like this- I might steal the whole concept.

Do you use the word "autism" at all in the book? Sometimes I think it helps to give a word to it to help understand but then other times I think it's best to not even bring it up :/

Penny said...

LOVE your book!

Lynn said...

I'm with Heather...I'm totally going to steal this whole cloth when Audrey gets mainstreamed. I always struggle with this stuff...sometimes I worry that it just makes her stand out more. I think the age that they are mainstreamed makes a big difference. Passing out a book like this in kindergarten or 1st grade: awesome. In 4th grade: she will come home black and blue.

tulpen said...

Love it!

I did this when my son started school. His class mates were all Deaf like him, but he still had his g tube and ate NOTHING at all.

I had diagrams of his tube, and explained why he didn't eat.

He LOVED showing it off. All the kids inspected his tube and helped the teacher give him his feeds.

Anonymous said...

Great book, Dani! What a wonderful idea!

To your friend Lynn, don't lose heart: when I taught fourth grade I had kids with special needs each year for three years (1 with CP in a wheelchair, 1 with Asperger's and tourettes, and 1 with just Asperger's). The kids were open to learning about each child, and nobody was made fun of (amazingly!).
Jenn G

Anonymous said...

LOVE IT! Krista

Darla said...

That is great, Dani. I found Gio's book to be really helpful. Good for you!

melissa said...

what a wonderful book!! and a great idea, too!!

sugar magnolia said...

OMG I LOVE it! What a fabulous idea! Do you mind if I borrow the concept? Or even show some of my friends (some with kids with autism, some with kids with other needs) your actual words? WOW!

Arlene said...

I love it Dani!!! Do you mind if I steal some of your ideas? I wrote a letter for Alain's class and brought some books to the teacher, but this is so much more personalized.

Arlene said...

I love it Dani!!! Do you mind if I steal some of your ideas? I wrote a letter for Alain's class and brought some books to the teacher, but this is so much more personalized.

nlglickfeld said...

Wow what an amazing book. I know this will help make the school year successful for our little bird.

sherri said...

That is a great idea. Perfectly written as well. I wish everyone had a book like this with our "stories" we could hand each other.

Sueberry said...

This is great a great idea. We made a book up for my son's teachers, but I never thought about doing one up for the students.

We initially wrote the book for his Kindergarten teacher and then we revised it this year for the 2nd grade teacher. The teacher's and assistants really appreciated having the book to "get to know" our son at the start of the year. The start of a new school, year getting to know everybody and the routines can be rough. This way they had a little "heads up" on what works and what doesn't to make things run smoother.

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