Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The Sticker Book

Recently, after being amazed by seeing Janey be tested as part of a research study, and after some surprising, great talking she's done, several thoughts are in my mind constantly.  One is how bored she might be.  Because her talking is limited, I think we often limit what we talk to her about.  Quite frankly, it can be hard to think of conversational topics when your conversation partner rarely talks back or brings up anything new.  So I've also been thinking about ways to expand her knowledge, to give her new ideas and facts and interests.

Puffy stickers
Janey is absolutely an auditory learner.  That seems to be rarer in autism than being a visual learner.  So much of what I read as advice for teaching kids like Janey assumes they are visual learners---picture schedules, communication devices that use pictures, choice boards with pictures---all that.  Janey prefers words.  She's made this quite plain, as plain as she is able.  I am the one that needs to figure out how to help her learn in an auditory way.

So---my inspiration for making a sticker book seems strange.  What are stickers if not little pictures? But when I had the idea of the book, I had a feeling I'd hit on something.  The trick is---the stickers are for ME.  I'm the one that loves them, I'm the one that learns well visually.  I'm the one that needs new ideas for talking.

And I love stickers.  There, I've admitted it---I'm a middle aged woman who adores stickers.  I always have.  So the idea of making a huge sticker book for Janey appealed to me very much.

Some Kawaii stickers!
I got started by ordering a sketch pad and a couple lots of stickers from Amazon.  I ordered a big pack of puffy stickers---sheet after sheet of different kinds, and a pack of stickers of the kind you put on cars, all assorted.  Then on Etsy I discovered something called Kawaii stickers.  I thought at first Kawaii was a brand, but it's actually Japanese for a concept much like "cute".  There are a HUGE amount of kinds of Kawaii stickers---I've since found a few online stores that sell them very cheaply, and I don't think I could ever run out of different types.

An animal themed page
I had a lot of fun sticking all the stickers I had so far in the book.  And then I gave it a try...I showed the book to Janey, picked a page at random and then a sticker at random, and showed it to her, and talked about it.  Talked about it in the way we've come to figure out she likes best---in a silly and highly enthusiastic way.  Several of her breakthrough sentences lately have been ones asking us to play various verbal games with her---pretending to sneeze, making high squeaky "monkey" noises, things like that.  The sticker I first hit on was a ghost.  I said something like "There's a ghost!  It goes WHOOOO HOOOO in such a creepy way!  See that silly ghost?"

A little bit edgy and weird for my near teen
Janey loved it.  We played with ghost noises for quite a while.  Then I switched pages and asked her to touch the sticker she wanted to talk about.  We were in a page of Shopkins stickers, and she found a picture of corn with eyes.  I talked that up a lot "That's so silly!  Corn never has eyes!  We eat corn!  It comes in cobs.  You like corn.  Let's find some more corn pictures!"  We found some more on that page, and some on other pages, and that led to other topics---one of the corn pictures featured a rainbow, and I started talking about colors, one had corn next to some other food, holding hands, and I talked about how they were friends...things like that.  Before I knew it, half an hour had gone by---a full and fun half hour.

Camping, cooking and Frozen
Since then, I've pulled out the sticker book every day, and Janey seems to be looking forward to it.  She finds her favorite stickers quickly, but is also open to new stickers.  I feel like I've increased how interesting and varied our talking time together is by a huge amount.  And...I have an excuse to look for stickers to add!

In the broader picture, the whole sticker book idea brings up a couple lessons I've learned along the way.  One is that Janey knows if we are enjoying what we are doing and are engaged in it.  I'm going to stick to a way of teaching that I like much more than one I don't, and with Janey's extreme ability to read tones of voice, she picks up on the fact I'm having fun, and she joins in.  Another lesson goes along with that well-used phrase "You've met one kid  with autism, you've met one kid with autism" All the visual schedules and picture-based AAC programs in the world don't change the fact that Janey learns by hearing.  And that I don't, and that I need to figure out how to bridge that gap, how to respect what she is learning every day a little more how to tell us.  If that allows me to indulge in a long-buried sticker passion---well, all the better.



1 comment:

pianorox said...

I love the new picture. She is beautiful, as always.