I was at a turning point in my life. It was my last day working as an Occupational Therapist in Infant-Toddler services. I’d been in the job for the previous 17 years. I was heading back to adult care work, but my heart was very attached to all the families I had met over the years. I had shared so many experiences around what it felt like to be a parent of a child with special needs or disabilities.
That day I had lunch with my friend, Vera, who had been working as a special education teacher with me. I told her I’d love to write children’s books to give hope to these families we’d been working with together. She was totally into the idea. From there we started getting together monthly and that’s how we started writing children’s books together. We gradually became Finding My way Books.
Because we had shared so much work experience, we easily agreed on the message we wanted to share in the books we wrote. They needed to share true stories with real kids so both the child and parent could see themselves in the story. They needed to have photographs, not illustrations, so they were easy to understand. They needed to show successful inclusion and promote skills needed for self-determination.
We wanted the adult, reading the book with a child, to come away from the story with the belief that their child could ‘do that activity’ shared in the book. And to realize that during ordinary, everyday activities that all children can participate and learn.
Soon we added an incredible photographer to our team. Mary also designs our books. She has a wonderful background in teaching theatre, that she brings to our stories. So Vera and I write the manuscript and Mary captures the pictures to tell the story. Then she adds background colors to the book to highlight the child and their strengths.
We’re on our tenth book and we’re in our sixth year of working together. It continues to be amazing how we go from an initial meeting with a family, sharing their story, to a beautiful book. We never know until the very end how the story will evolve. Vera and I meet and communicate a lot with the families to get the story. But then when Mary takes the photos something new always seems to come to light and that always makes the story better.
We work hard, like all authors do, but we have such joy in bringing to light true stories of children with special needs or disabilities. We are working to honor these children and families by sharing their stories. It’s a wonderful, creative, task.
Please check out our website to learn more about Finding My Way Books: