I’m thrilled to be able to start posting the original sets of Ability Guidebooks focused on my home city of Portland. This was the beginning of the whole project and where they saw their first amazing successes helping people who had difficulties getting out into public.
I have partnered up with Portland State University to have students make more books for our community. I’ll be sure to let you know when the student written books are up online!
But for today, I’m proud to say, we are going UP on the Portland Aerial Tram!
I Am Going Up On The Portland Aerial Tram!
This is a very simple Guidebook on how to visit the Minerveo Obelisk near the Pantheon in Rome. Most tourists would visit the Pantheon and then wander by the Piazza della Minerva to see Bernini’s elephant with the ancient Egyptian Minerveo Obelisk mounted on top. For our tourists with autism (or Italian kids on a field trip) they might need a more simple outing for the first attempt.
The trip to see the Pantheon and the trip to see the Minerveo Obelisk are the same. The obelisk, however, can be seen without entering a building and without too much difficulty. The visit can be done in a taxi to simplify it even more if the need be. If the visit to the Minerveo goes well, the next visit could be to the Macuteo Obelisk or to the Pantheon itself. Once the stress of the trip is out of the way, each additional trip becomes easier and easier.
Ability Guidebook_ I Am Going To The Minerveo Obelisk!
One of things I believe most firmly in is that our kids with special needs have got to get out into the real world and participate more. I realized with my own students that some people need different supports than others. Some of my students with autism needed to know in advance what was going to happen. If they knew in advance where they were going and what was expected of them, then they were successful. That is why I created these Ability Guidebooks.
But not every person with autism is the same and no two outings are the same. Sometimes a teacher or parent needs to try some smaller, easier outings to get the ball rolling. That is why I sometimes make Guidebooks for outings that are hardly more than driving by in the car. “I Am Going To Willamette Falls”, for instance, is not much more than an explaination on how to safely get out of your car at the viewpoint to look at the falls. Visiting Portlandia is similar.
This Guidebook to visit the Arch of Constantine is one of those low-impact outings. You could read this book and drive by the Arch for your first attempt, the second you could get out and take a picture from the road and on a third you can park and take a walk around the Arch. The goal is a successful visit. That might take a few attempts with some people. But each visit is a step in the right direction and one victory gives you a foundation to build on.
The next outing, say to the Colisseum, would build on the skills learned from the first book. First, the student understands the formula (first the book, then a visit) and each outing following that formula will become easier and easier. With each success the student has learned that they can go new places. Each new place is a victory and the stepping stone to the next destination. As their confidence grows, the needs for the books diminishes. Before you know it, going places is as simple as getting in the car.
I am very please to announce, “I Am Going to the Arch of Constantine!”
If you speak Italian (or any other language and can translate, I’d love to hear from you!)
Ability Guidebook_ I Am Going To The Arch of Constantine!
I am hoping to complete quite a few books from my trip to Italy. In the making I have books on the Arch of Constantine, The Roman Forum, The Vatican Museum and more!
It is my hope that people who speak other languages will step up and translate some of the books into their own language. This book, for instance, may be of great assistance to an English speaker with autism who is visiting the Pantheon. I know that only a handful of people might need such a support. But I am more than happy to make this for a handful of people. In my classroom I was making these for one person in particular at first. I saw how much it changed their world and so I am willing to keep creating the books in the hopes that it will open up someone’s world. I want there to be a tourist, somewhere, who needs this book.
But, honestly, what I am truly hoping to do is inspire others. I’m hoping and Italian speaker will see this and translate it. THEN we have a whole different audience. In Italian this book becomes and opportunity for every person with autism in Italy. This book might mean the difference of some kid who is neuro-diverse getting to go on a field trip with the rest of his class. In Italian, this book can be a tool for every kindergarten or first grade teacher taking their class to the Pantheon.
And then if we ad German and Dutch, French and maybe Hungarian, then we are opening up a world. And those translators might be enlightened and encouraged to create their own books for their own city’s. My friend Florian from Passau is translating some now into German. Mike has translated several into Spanish. There are now books for Oregon and Washington, D.C., Peru, Italy and Greece.
I’m trying to make the world a bigger place for people with autism. I think it is working!Ability Guidebook_ I Am Going To The Pantheon!
Hello! I am very excited to announce that I have finished another Ability Guidebook! These “guidebooks” are basic instructions on how to visit community destinations and events. I began writing these books to assist my own students with autism in attending field trips but I realized that I could be doing so much more.
In 2015 I had the amazing honor of being named an National Education Association Foundation Global Fellow. Through this program I was sent to Peru as an ambassador for American educators. I’m the first special education teacher from Oregon to be named a Global Fellow and the trip to Peru gave me a chance to do what I do best: support people with special needs. From that trip came my first international Ability Guidebook “I’m Going to the Museo de Inka!” I’m absolutely grateful to the NEA Foundation for giving me the opportunity to share this project with another country.
In 2015 I also had the joy of going on my honeymoon and from that trip will come the next round of international guidebooks. I have realized that I can make books whenever I visit a new city. I can show the teachers and Autism Specialists around the world of a new and better way to support our students. If our students aren’t out participating in the real world then we haven’t succeeded in our jobs. I want to make sure that I have done everything I can to help.
I am thrilled to say the first honeymoon book is finished! I know that a book like this would have helped my own students visit the Acropolis and I hope it will help other people as well.
I am also hoping to find people to translate books into their native languages. If you can translate this into Greek or any other language, get in touch!
Ability Guidebook_ I Am Going To The Parthenon!
People with autism often have difficulty facing new situations. That is why I teamed up with the Port of Portland to create “Let’s Fly, A Photo Guidebook Tour Through Portland International Airport.” It is a step-by-step guide on what to expect when you use the Portland Airport.
I want my students to have a bigger world. Supports like these can make that happen.