All children, including children with disabilities, need to learn skills to be as independent as possible as adults. This can be accomplished by building upon a child's strengths, facilitating inclusion, and promoting the development of skills needed for self-determination. When these three concepts merge a powerful inspiring environment for personal growth is created. As I grew in my role as an Occupational Therapist and worked with hundreds of families, I realized the great importance of this message.
Parents just wanted me to "fix" their child.
Prior to forming My Way Books, I worked as an Occupational Therapist in Early Intervention (serving children birth to age three) for 17 years. During those years, best practices took a dramatic 180-degree turn. In the mid-1990s, I evaluated children and told parents about their child’s developmental delays. My job was to find problems and deficits. Parents just wanted me to ‘fix’ their children. It was difficult and often discouraging for both myself and the parents.
My evaluations were focused on finding out what each child could do.
When best practices changed, everything about my job changed. Now my evaluations were focused on finding what each child could do, rather than what they couldn’t do. My role evolved into one of coaching/educating parents how to build on their child’s strengths to help them learn.
Celebrate children with disabilities by sharing their true stories.
Along with a co-worker who was an Early Childhood Special Education teacher, Finding My Way Books was formed as a means to celebrate children and adults with disabilities by sharing their true stories promoting inclusion and the development of skills needed to become adults who live self-determined lives. These skills include engagement, self-awareness, making choices, problem solving, self-regulation and self-advocacy.
Finding My Way Books supports students, teachers, and families by promoting inclusive practices in education and encouraging the development of skills needed for self-determination. Visit their site to learn more: https://www.findingmywaybooks.net
Jo Meserve Mach, author and publisher, spent 36 years as an Occupational Therapist. She is very passionate about sharing the stories of children with special needs. Jo embraces the joy that individuals with disabilities bring to our communities through their unique gifts. Jo is available for author school or library visits through skype.
About the cover of 'I Want to Be Like Poppin' Joe.' Joe is an adult with Down syndrome and autism who lives a self-determined life. He is an excellent role model for all children. A true story promoting inclusion and self-determination. By Jo Meserve Mach and Vera Lynne Stroup-Tentier. Photographs by Mary Birdsell.