Not all experience or social stories have to be about happy things! Sometimes, telling those hard stories can help our children process through their feelings and can provide language to support them as they express themselves going forward. Since my son (not visually impaired) was very young, I’ve made experience books for him. We started with a cloth photo album of people in our family and his caregivers at school. After his dad and I divorced, we went through phases where he had a really hard time transitioning back home after a weekend with his dad, who lives 3 hours away and sees him one weekend a month. At times, I even needed to take a sick day on a Monday because he’d be up at night crying or wouldn’t sleep well. Making this book really helped him to process his feelings, to know what the routine would be like, and to give him coping strategies for the time between visits. We still go through phases where he misses his dad, even over a year later, but he now uses this book as a comfort object when he’s having a hard time. I often find it under his pillow or hear him “reading it” to himself in the dark after bedtime. Saying goodbye is always hard for him, but having the language to express how he feels during these times has been very helpful.
To make this book, I used a blank paper book that I bought in a pack of 8 or so in the Dollar Spot at Target. I always find these at the beginning of each school year and stock up. I had his dad send me some photos of their time together. I sent them to Walgreens directly from my phone. Keegan (age 4 at the time) helped me choose the pictures he wanted to feature, and I added others to contextualize the story. He helped me cut up colored paper, chose the color for the text on each page, and helped narrate the book in his own words. He also came up with the title.