Due to having a kindergartner in the house, a topic covered every day is “Show and Tell.” However, in my daughter’s class, it is now called “Show and Share,” which I guess is more polite. When we went on our recent family vacation, she asked at least every four hours, “When will I have Show and Share?” Then, she would continue explaining all the things from our trip she wanted to present to her class.
Since Eddie is minimally verbal, due to Autism, he doesn’t ever share anything with anybody. In a post I wrote awhile back, he shared his dental worries with us, but that was the first time he ever “shared” anything. Since our recent trip to Disneyland was quite an adventure for him, I wanted him to be able to tell others about it.
I couldn’t go to school with him, and he didn’t have the verbal skills to strike up a conversation, so I had to find another way for him to have a chance to “Show and Share”. My daughters were making scrapbooks with lots of photos, and I figured I could do something similar for Eddie. Pictures don’t mean much to him due to being blind, but real objects and braille certainly do.
I dug up some heavy duty pages, a hot glue gun, braille paper, the good old brailler, and a handful of items from our trip. I wrote down all of Eddie’s favorite things, and then determined how to make a page for each one. I knew that he would laugh about certain memories, and if anyone sat down and read the book with him, he would probably enjoy it. On this first page shown, I glued his disability pass, because it’s hard to sum up 20+ rides in one object. However, we talked about this pass the whole trip, so it did have meaning for him.
In the education world, this is basically referred to as an “experience” book. It’s a way to make reading meaningful for kids like Eddie. Instead of providing fairy tales, or other stories with little meaning, it’s a book all about Eddie. It explains things that happened to him, and provides objects instead of pictures to support the story. It’s hands-on and a way to engage him in reading.
This ornament from the Redwood forest doesn’t exactly feel like the bark of a tree, but it is made of Redwood. While digging through remnants and souvenirs, it was the best I had, and in reminiscing about the memory, I’m sure he’ll remember riding on his dad’s shoulders. That I simply mentioned in the text.
Books like this, books about Eddie and his own experiences, are so important for pre-reading. If he is ever going to understand braille, and why it’s important, we have to make it meaningful for him. I haven’t been very good at providing Eddie with lots of experience books, but some are better than none. Every time I make one, I wonder if it will be the book that will nudge him just enough to gain an interest in reading.
Eddie has already sat down and read this book with multiple people at school. He’s read it with me a few times, and every time he grins and even occasionally laughs hysterically. We feel the sand shown on this last page, we repeat the countdown from his favorite ride in Disneyland, and we talk about the road trip and re-sing his favorite songs. The family photo album is for us, but now Eddie has his own scrapbook, too…full of his happiest vacation memories.