Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The Summer Book

Summer is here! Well, about half over for those of you who start school in early Aug! Now I know you will cringe at the thought of a project -- but I hope you will find this one beneficial!

Day to day with Rett Syndrome usually evolves around our daughter's comfort, therapy, trying to communicate, reading, and lots of hugs....but, there are some important things that may go missing -- learning about things like planning, anticipation, memory recall, and creativity.

Here is a project that brings all of these things together for a fun summer-long activity! (or anytime, really!)


Here is what to do:

TASK ONE (planning): Get the whole family together and each come up with 3 things they want to do/accomplish over the summer. Write down on a big sheet of paper so everyone can see.

Ways to get your daughter involved:
If she is good with her eyes/touch to make choices: give her some choices using your voice or a photo off the internet or cut out of a magazine. Or if someone has more than three things, have her help them decide which to cut.

If you have a voice output switch: when you are done with the lists, read them into the switch for her to "recap" for the group what the final results are.

Our family's results:
Mom wants to: grow something she can eat, paint a watercolor picture, take a canoe trip
Dad wants to: visit his mom and dad, take a trip to Boston, visit the cranberry bogs
Pierce (big brother, 10) wants to: learn to body surf better, start to learn the guitar, visit the zoo
Gretchen (little sister, 5) wants to: go to the beach, see Grandma and Grandpa, play miniature golf
Sarah (with Rett, 7) wants to: go in a sailboat, ride in a train, visit the aquarium

TASK TWO (anticipation): when a time is approaching where some of the things on your list are feasible, write each one on a card (add a photo representation to help!)

Let her pick what your family/ or a family member will do that day! After she picks you can all talk about how to prepare for the day. You can make a picture list of things to bring and even have her help you 'check off' the list the day you are getting ready.... ie, do we have this? "yes or no?"

TASK THREE (memory recall): Be sure to take pictures of your day!

Ways to get your daughter involved:
Invite some friends or family over for her to tell all about the family's day and share the photos... or have her tell all about it at school show and tell. Read descriptions of each photo into a voice output switch or make a power point presentation that she can advance from slide to slide herself.

TASK FOUR (creation): Put all of your photos into a book! Keep it simple with some captions or go hog wild with the whole scrapbooking gig. Since I know I never have time for that, I cheat and upload photos to an online bookmaker site like picaboo.com or mypublisher.com. When it comes in the mail, the kids can color on the pages/add stickers and you can write the captions in yourself to make it more personal!

Now you have a book you can read over and over with your daughter, and she will feel such a big part of the whole process!

Ways to get your daughter involved:
Record messages on her voice output switch to retell a story from each page of the book. She can then hit the switch as you turn the pages. She can share with friends, relatives, teachers, and neighbors all about her summer!


We take these kinds of mental skills for granted. Even if you do not accomplish this project, look for little ways during the day to have your daughter exposed to planning, aniticipation, memory recall, and the art of creation. Plan a meal a few days in advance and do the shopping together, make up a story together using magazine photos and retell to the family after dinner, etc.

Even simpler, just remember to talk to your daughter about the future and the past. It will help you add in more conversation topics and make her connection to what is going on around her even stronger.

Have a great time!