ABOUT ME: Communication & Choice Making Guide
Communication and choice making skills are something most of us take for granted. If you think about how you interact with friends, family and work colleagues, much of it revolves around talking. Throughout the day we share snippets of our life including information about our friends, family, weekend activities and our likes and dislikes.
For a child or person who is non-verbal this dialogue needs to happen in an alternative way. My son, BJ, has Cerebral Palsy and is non-verbal and I have struggled to ﬁnd ways to ensure people interact with him and allow him the opportunity to share his life with them.
Something that has worked well for BJ across all settings including preschool, school and vacation care is an “about me” book. This is a home-made book which gives a general overview of BJ. It provides a quick reference to information about his likes and dislikes, people who are important in his life and a brief explanation of how he communicates. It stays with his wheelchair giving easy access for anyone with him. Along with the information it contains photos to ensure it is engaging to those sharing it.
I was slow to make a new “about me” book this year and what happened as a result emphasized how invaluable this book can be. I discovered BJ was receiving a “treat” of a chocolate milkshake occasionally. This was being ordered by his carers at his new day program. It is of course lovely that he was getting a treat except BJ doesn’t like chocolate milkshakes; he is passionate about strawberry ones. I can’t imagine how frustrating it would be not getting your favorite ﬂavor when going out for a treat. It is my fault for not making the book earlier in the year and this situation highlighted the need for me to provide this kind of information.
The “about me” book doesn’t take long to make and once it is saved on the computer it is quick and easy to update over the years simply by changing the details and photos as needed. We print out BJ’s book at home in A5 size which makes it portable and easy to use. We have our own laminator which we use to laminate the pages making the book more durable.
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