This All About Me Special Needs Book is one of my favourite tools for my daughter. I’ve had one for Ainsley for several years now and it is always well received by teachers, coaches and others who work with her regularly.
These All About Me Special Needs Booklets work well when your child is young and unable to tell people what he or she needs. We used them often for Ainsley, especially at camp. The idea is that you can use them as a tool for helpers, teachers or support staff when dealing with a child who has medical needs or disability of any sort.
I’ve been promising my readers for a long time now that I’d show them how to make an All About Me Special Needs book, so this is the post that will help you build a simple tool to support your child with special needs, disability or medical needs. Consider it a manual for your child. Some of our special kids with unique challenges need one.
How to Write an All About Me Special Needs Book for your Child.
(I look at parenting my child like this: my daughter has a brain based disability (FASD and SPD – fetal alcohol spectrum disorder and sensory processing disorder) and she functions best when I am available to translate her to the world and vice versa. The All About Me special needs book can help others understand her needs. That then sets her up for success proactively.)
1. Find a simple pamphlet template.
Build your own if you can’t find one that is easy to use.
2. Choose a compelling picture, or two, of your child.
The picture is extremely important. I have had directors of boards, MPPs, and government officials call me back when I complain about something, because of the picture I shared. In one version of my daughter’s All About Me book I show her with Olympic gold medalist Jamie Sale. I can’t tell you how often I get comments and call backs from that picture alone. It’s crucial to make your child visible, personable.
3. Decide what is important for them to know.
Block it out in topics. A small summary of Special Needs, and then give a brief description of what the challenge or disability is. If you have an issue with labels then describe the needs differently.
My daughter’s book reads like this: There are a few things you should know about me. I have sensory processing disorder and FASD with ADHD. I love sports and I am a junior black belt. I swim well and I love to help.
4. Tools section:
Does your child need anything physical for help? Mine needs weighted equipment, extra time for processing some subjects like reading. She does best with a quiet corner where she can choose to remove herself from the room as needed. Maybe your child needs a service dog. Put that in this section.
5. The Medical section is private.
You can include it or not, but I blocked my daughter’s medication needs from this page. I included her medical page this summer when she went to sleep away camp. It was crucial then that everyone knew exact amounts and when she needed them.
6. The Personal details.
The more pictures the better and the more detail that makes your child three dimensional, the better. I believe people spend far too much time pointing out the negatives and issues facing our kids. I hghlight the strengths of my child repeatedly. She is an incredible athlete and she is very charming and she loves to help.
7. The solutions and strategies.
I highlight my daughter’s needs, abilities and disabilities in her All About Me Booklet. But if I want her to succeed at school or summer camp, or martial arts then I need to give everyone help with the strategies for managing her behaviours and challenges. Specifics are crucial when safety and health are at issue. For instance, earlier versions when she was in preschool struggling with communications stated: when you see me walk into a room with clenched fists and I knock the chairs over then a meltdown is coming. Please find me a quiet safe space. Or sometimes I get stuck. I need a lot of help transitioning. Things that help are regular reminders when a subject or event is about to change.
A Final Thought About an All About Me Booklet
These All About Me special needs books aren’t hard to make and they give people tools to help. I personally think a lot of kids would do better with a manual. All About Me is another tool in the kit.
In ours, I often share a final word like this: I am a productive bright helper when I am given the chance. I want to be part of the classroom and I want to be understood. Please help me to stay safe and to learn this year.