One of the things that I did from very early on, was to try and find ways that Shane could tell his own story. Keep in mind, Shane was never able to communicate verbally, nor was he able to make use of his hands. What I began to do was to create books for him.
The first book was a very simple “All About Me” book that was a quick overview of who he was, how he communicated, how he used the wheelchair to get around and what his life at home looked like. It worked beautifully, as the other kids in Nursery School and then Kindergarten were able to look through it with him at the pictures that shared the many activities his life was made up with. They were able to learn about his family, his pets, his jobs around the farm feeding the calves, helping in the garden and an assortment of other activities that filled our hours at home. It gave the other children a glimpse of his life as a normal kid, who just had to do most things in a different way. I also used the Mayer Johnson Communication symbols throughout, so Shane was also learning what would be his future communication style.
With the first book working so well for him, I began to make it a practice to create books that told his story whenever we did something different. “Shane’s Big Adventure 1” and “Shane’s Big Adventure 2” are two of those books. They are made up of rhymes and pictures that helped to tell the other children about his travels to visit family in British Columbia. First when he was five years old, then once again when he was nine.
All these years later, as part of my quest to get the things that I’ve found beneficial out into the world, I’ve finally made time to put those little binder books into a published format. My hope is that they will be a starting point for children to begin to learn a little more about other children who live life differently, and begin some discussion about not only differences, but commonalities. I have found that they are a great conversation starter, and once conversations begin, real communication and learning can unfold.
I also hope that maybe another parent who is looking for a way to help smooth the educational road for their own child might find it a beneficial idea that they too could try. Or, maybe they can use Shane as an example of another little boy who had to live life differently, but none the less, lived life fully!
“Shane’s Big Adventure” books are now available on Amazon in both Kindle and paperback. Please feel free to share the information about them with anyone that you think my be interested or might benefit.
Myself, I’m just so grateful that we live in a world where I get to continue to share Shane’s story, his message and his teachings in hopes that by doing so this world of our will continue to move forward into the inclusive, diverse place that I believe is possible!