Sunday, October 01, 2006

Travel Journal for Special Needs kids

Okay, so you're looking over at that article and thinking that sure, you'd love to do some journal thing with your child, but what if they run screaming for the hills at any mention of writing? Trouble reading? Don't have the fine motor skills? Language? Or they're physically disabled? It doesn't mean that you can't do it, you just have to adapt it. Above all, just make it accessible and fun!

Dyslexic/Reading Disabled-provide more room for drawings, if that is what they like, or gluing in pictures (from magazines, postcards, etc depending on age and ability)
-lots of pictures! (a disposeable camera is good)
-make use of a handheld tape recorder (the information about where you're going can be on tape for them to listen to, and they can tape their thoughts)
-a portable DVD player with movies about your destination can be fun
-use a camcorder to make a video journal!
-books/stories on CD (or an ipod) are are must
-include lots of info about your destination and fun facts, then have a tape the 'reads' it to them so they can do it independently

Dysgraphic (writing disability) or difficulty with fine motor skills
-scribe for them, leaving lots of room for pictures/postcards/drawing
-some kids with fine motor difficulties hate drawing or coloring so keep the pictures simple. I always provide the opportunity but don't force it. Provide whatever writing materials your child enjoys and leave it if they balk.
-disposable camera for lots of pictures-handheld tape recorder to record their perspective
-use an Alphasmart for writing
-lots of stuff to glue in the book (die cuts, stickers, etc)-if reading is fine, they can have lots of info to read about the destination
-how about letter stickers or shapes, just for fun?

Language (non verbal or very low verbal)
-if your child uses a device like a Vantage or Vanguard, an "activity" can be programmed into the device to go with the travel journal so your child can share their experiences with friends. Make sure to put a corresponding pic on the journal page that goes with each cell that is programmed as a visual cue.
-if your child uses Boardmaker or Clicker 4 pics, these can easily be added into your journal. Have an "I went" page, where it is you went, and what you did there. If the appropriate pics are on the page, the child can 'read' the book to their friends. Keep it simple.(ie-I went to the lake. I went swimming. It was cold!")

Physically Disabled -the book can be made with your child make choices of what goes in it (through eye gaze or other communication device), with you pasting in Boardmaker pics and pictures. To share the book, record what it says on tape, then hook the tape recorder up to a switch. Your child can operate the switch to 'read' the book to their friend. Need help turning pages? Tape some popsicle sticks to the ends of the pages at staggering places so they are easier to grab.Have fun!

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