Friday, September 30, 2011

The Amazing Lily Volume 1: My Morning

Yesterday I finished 'my' social story for Lily.  I finally got all the pictures together to use and popped them into format, and. . . I like it!  I mean, it's not perfect, and my wife had a valid minor criticism of it that I immediately got all butt-hurt about and sulked for a half hour, but honestly, I'm awfully thin-skinned for the amount of criticism I sling out at others, so it was a character-building experience.  I look at this as a first attempt. If it works even half as well as I'd like it to, I'll probably do it again, and hopefully make it better.

In a nutshell, here is the criticism:  I added too much comic book-type stuff. . . the "zzzz" of Lily sleeping, the "cute" above the picture of her in her school clothes, and the busy format make the images and message cluttered in a way that might suggest to the parent (or perhaps therapist) of an autistic child that the message and effectiveness may be lost because of the child's difficulties focusing.

Here's my horrible rationale for making it that way:  "it looks cooler".  Okay, maybe that's a hair less reasoned than I want to make it sound.  It looks the way a comic book looks, but more so. . . it looks the way that other books Lily loves look:  colorful, interesting, fun. 

Lily isn't fascinated by books that have a single pictogram per page with "I wake up" written beneath them.  She's fascinated by colors and images, slick graphics and spoken words.  She's fascinated by Dr. Seuss and Barney books, Mickey Mouse and Dora.  

It's another decision point.  Do you make a book that conveys a simple message but fails to capture the interest of the child?  Or make a book that completely grabs her attention but the message, the utility, is lost from?  My hope, my belief, is that, like other books that Lily focuses on, this book will be one that she will want to pick up and thumb through; that she will begin to memorize it (as she does with her other books), script it, repeat it, learn it.  The utility won't be lost from it, it will just be slow and insidious, creeping up on her when she's not looking and then she'll know it, against her will!!  Mwahahahah!  Honestly, my hope is that the book will grab her attention and have utility, a nice mixture of the two.

I don't really know a way to incorporate "flip-page" technology on blogger's web page, so you'll have to just look at the pictures included in the blog and imagine how awesome turning them as little comic book pages would be. 
I printed them out on regular paper (let's call that the beta tester, or prototype), and I took them home for Lily to destroy peruse.

Now all I really need to do is make one for Emma. . . because lord knows Lily having a comic book of her very own and Emma not having one will make Emma sadface. I'll just have to sit down with her and see what she wants hers to be about.  And considering I promised Emma I'd write her a story by the time she was in 2nd 3rd 4th some grade prior to the time you read this. . . she's probably overdue.


Last night I took the book home and placed it on the counter while I went about the business of getting "in place" so that my wife could go to the dentist.  Emma came upstairs and told me she thought the book was cool.  She had already read through it.  I thanked her.  She said, "you're welcome," then went to her room to change into her dance clothes.  No mention of "where's my book daddy?"  She's a neat kid, and a great big sister.  Not great big. . . great (pause) big sister.

Going back to something I said in another blog.  It's just this kind of understanding that allows parents to overlook the special needs of the "other" child.  And it's just this sort of behavior that it's necessary for me to reward.  But I digress. . .

Last night I introduced the book to Lily.  Things were going on, and she was fluttering around the room, but she did stop and notice, and as I turned the page, she pointed and said, "daycare" appropriately at a picture of her and her sister walking in the front door of the daycare.  Things looked promising.

okay. . . steady. . . steady. . .
And this morning, before we left to go to daycare, I sat down with her and we read the story.  She wanted to hold it (she always wants to hold the books), but she watched and listened as I turned the pages and read the message.  When I was done, I had her sit at the kitchen table and allowed her to hold the book and turn the pages.  I had to pry it away from her in order to get out the door.  From a fascination standpoint. . . golden.  

Also, though I feel this has been lessening of late anyway, she did not perseverate on not wanting school or daycare this morning.  Again. . . golden.

However. . . when we got to daycare she wouldn't sit longer than a second on the potty (sitting briefly before standing and saying, "I all done").  And when I left her sitting nicely at a table reading her book in order to kiss her big sister goodbye at the daycare, I found her wandering around with it (she has to sit when she 'reads') a second later.  And when I told her to sit down to read it (something she typically handles well) she screamed and refused and I had to take the book and give it to one of the caregivers, explaining that she can have it back when she sits at the table.  These are examples of departures from the previous two days' behaviors.  

I'm not saying the book was the reason, and really my primary goal behind giving it to her wasn't because she wasn't behaving well at daycare/school, but to make the transition from home-daycare-kindergarten a little less anxious.  It is ironic that she chose the day I gave her a book instructing her on proper behavior to completely depart from her proper behavior, though.  

Win some, lose some, but I'm hoping. . .


  1. New to your blog.. LOVE the book!!! Not that i'm siding with you against the wife, but whatever works, RUN WITH IT! lol

  2. YAY! Thanks, Rhonda. And let me say, as quickly as I possibly can (she reads this blog, Rhonda, oh dear god she'll KILL me), that my wife is very supportive of the book, and really likes it. . . but provided me with that one minor criticism.

    I have a tendency to very bluntly provide my honest opinion of things that she asks for my input on, with very little regard for how it's going to make her feel under the heading of "you asked for my honest opinion, you should know I'll give it." But I also tend to not always react to the criticism she provides ME (regardless of how minor) with the same cavalier attitude.

    It's a fault. Glass houses. . . throwing stones. . . etc.

    BUT. . . I'm glad that you liked the book, and welcome to the blog!

  3. Wow, that's really cool. I have not a snarky thing in the world to say about it. Nice job. REALLY nice job.

  4. Love the book! The comic style is such a great idea and your actual implementation of it just ROCKS! Now, all the social stories I've done pale by comparison...