Thursday, 21 November 2013

What Families Supporting an Individual with a Disability Really Need from You!

Raising a child with a disability brings additional challenges that other parents may not face, and it is a role that continues into adulthood. Recent research about family quality of life among families with a member with a developmental disability has shown that many families are not getting the amount of practical support that they need from friends and families. It also found that lots of families do not want to ask for help, even when they need it. This makes it more important for everyone in the community (especially those who have family and friends with a child with a disability) to step up and provide supports to these families. Many people tend to feel intimidated or unqualified to help, but I’m sure that there is at least one way that you could make a difference. Below is a list of ideas for how you can help a family with a child with a disability. I would be happy to hear any other comments as well!
  • Send a card or encouraging message
  • Respite! Offer to watch the person with a disability- in their own home, in your home, or take them out. Sleepovers are also nice so parents have a chance to reconnect or get away.
  • Advocate for services for individuals with disabilities
  • Call, text, e-mail, etc. someone
  • Have a family over for dinner- including the kids
  • Help spread awareness about issues
  • Offer to watch kids while parent goes to night class or work meetings
  • Pick up their child from school
  • If you aren’t as comfortable working with a person with special needs, you can provide some special attention to typically developing siblings- take them on a date to a movie or a restaurant, have a sleepover, play games, etc.
  • Offer a shoulder to cry on, or just be someone to listen
  • Give someone a ride to appointments, or lend them your car
  • Bring them a meal
  • Don’t judge, don’t try and fix things, just listen and be there
  • Go grocery shopping for them
  • Offer to help with housework- cooking, cleaning, errands
  • Support the family with donations of clothing, diapers, toys, etc.
  • Send the parents on a date night
  • Financial support- you could give them money, hold a fundraiser, or give them support that would allow them to seek educational or career goals. Medication, special equipment, and therapies can be very expensive, and some of these costs come out of pocket for families, especially those who do not have insurance coverage.
  • Don’t stare in public. Please.

This post is a little bit different from my usual crafts and recipes. As you may know, I am currently a master's student in child clinical psychology. In one of my courses I had to write a paper and then present a way in which it could be applied practically. I decided to write this blog post based on the assignment because I feel like it is a good way to reach people, and I am hoping this post will go (at least a little bit) viral! Thanks for reading :)

Gardiner, E., & Iarocci, G. (2012). Unhappy (and happy) in their own way: A developmental psychopathology perspective on quality of life for families living with developmental disability with and without autism. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 33(6), 2177-2192. doi: 10.1016/j.ridd.2012.06.014

Monday, 11 November 2013

Jolie's Quiet Book

My niece just turned 1 this past August, so this summer I took on the project of making her a quiet book. I have seen so many cute patterns online, and my sister-in-law mentioned that she wanted one for her kids, so that's what I did! I had lots of fun picking out templates and making it, and I'm really happy with how it turned out. It took me so long to make though! I used my sewing machine for most of the pieces, but I had to change the thread every time I needed a new colour, which took a while. I also had to cut out the pattern pieces, two pieces of felt, and one piece of interfacing for each removable piece, which was also time-consuming. Jolie loves it though, so it's all worth it!

If you don't know what a quiet book is, it is an activity book made out of felt for young children. They are often used to keep kids occupied during church or in the car. There are pages just to look at, play with, and many of them have educational components such as colours, matching, numbers, and practice fine motor skills (buttons, snaps, zippers).

I decided to make 10 page spreads, so I printed the templates and did all the cutting at once, then all the sewing at once. When I finished and began to put everything together, the pile of pages was quite big, so I decided to split it into two books. The books have binder rings that hold the pages together which open, so the pages can be removed or placed all into one book. All of my pages were made of felt, which also contributed to the bulk of the book.

Below I have a picture of each page, links to the templates, and a few comments. I hope you enjoy my work! For more inspiration, see my quiet book Pinterest board. Most of my templates are from Imagine Our Life, which I highly recommend!

For the cover, I used a light corduroy material from Hobby Lobby, with white broadcloth on the inside. There are handles, and a velcro strap to keep it closed. As mentioned above, there are binder rings that hold the pieces together and also allow you to remove the pages (see the next picture too). I loosely followed this tutorial, but basically I sewed a big rectangle for the cover, two handles, a velcro strap, and two small straps inside to hold the binder rings (see next picture). 
Name Page
This is the only page in the book that I did not use a template for. I cut out the letters for Jolie's name, and attached snaps to the pieces and to the page. I hand embroidered "my name is" with embroidery floss, and sewed three sides for a pocket to hold the letters. I think using velcro rather than snaps would have made it easier to attach.
Ice Cream Sundae Page
I got this template from this link. For this page, you just play with the different ice cream scoops and toppings. One of my favourites because it is so cute!
Bathroom Page
I chose to make this page because Jolie has a book with a mirror at the end that she loves. I got lucky and found some shiny bristol board at Michael's that I used for the mirror. The brush, toothbrush, and toothpaste can go in the mug. The template I used (here) is for one page, but I spread it onto two.
Cookie Page
This page (tutorial here) involves matching the shapes and colours of the cookies. You also practice buttoning the pieces to the page. Super cute!
Mail Page
This page (from this link) is super cute! The envelopes all velcro open and have a letter inside. I sewed ribbon with writing on it on the outside of the envelopes and the inside letter pages. The letters go in the mailbox, and the red handle can go up.
Cupcake Page
This page has wrapper pockets that I hand-embroidered the numbers onto. Each of the cupcakes has the same number of sprinkles (beads) sewn on, so it can be a matching activity. I used the cupcake template here to cut out the shapes, but modeled it after this page.
Farm Page
This page has animal finger puppets that go in the barn, which has doors that open. The template for this page (link) had apples that snap onto the tree, but I thought those pieces were too small, so I made an owl that is under the tree leaves instead. I also sewed taggie-style ribbons under the sun.
Sock Page
In this page (template here) the socks each have a snap on the back and they match onto the right hand page. You can put them in the dryer as well (hilarious!). For the dryer door, I got a clear folder from the dollar store that I cut for the dryer door.
Dress Up Page 
For this page, there is a plain figure on the right hand page, with velcro as her underwear and bra. I sewed yarn on for her hair, and hand-embroidered her face. The suitcase has a zipper on it to store the clothes, which all have velcro on them to stick to the doll. I didn't follow a specific template, but you can find another example here.
Flower Page
This page (template here) just has flowers that you can practice buttoning on and off of the stems.