My name is Avril Webster. I am married to Robert and we live in Limerick, Ireland. We have 3 children; Stephen, Michael and Rachel. Stephen has a rare severe developmental brain disorder (we have no other specific diagnosis).
Check out www.offwego.ie for the YouTube video taken at the book launch of the first 6 books in the Off We Go! series in O’Mahony’s Limerick, in October 2007, I describe the story behind the books.
Like many children, Stephen finds it hard to cope with change in routine. We want to include Stephen in as many family everyday activities like going shopping or going swimming. Sometimes, it is hard to go out and do normal family things as Stephen gets scared and upset.
Stephen’s teacher and speech and language therapist suggested that we should use books to support Stephen to cope with new experiences. (We knew Stephen likes pictures and his scheduling board).
I went looking for simple clear books that would show Stephen what would happen and I could not find anything to suit his needs. So I started making my own books at the kitchen table. With the help of Stephen’s teacher, speech and language therapists and other mothers, I have created the Off We Go! series.
I found that by preparing Stephen in advance and bringing the book with us, he was less scared and able to manage better. It soon became apparent that these books would help lots of children.
Initially I just used photographs for the pictures, but then through one of Stephen’s classmates Christia, I met my artist, David Ryley. He has drawn the pictures for this book and also created my logo which features Stephen and Christia.
While reading and actively using this book with all my children, I have found that we have not only enjoyed the intimacy and power of reading together, but it has also improved communication skills, language development and the children’s confidence and self-esteem.
The words used in these books are based on the actual words we use in our home. The speech and language therapist advised using language that Stephen would hear regularly. Please change the words to the ones you would use in your home.
I hope you enjoy the books and that you find them as useful as we do in our family.
Please let me know if you have any comments or thoughts,