Blythedale Children’s Hospital in New York, commemorated the 31st anniversary of the “Americans with Disabilities Act” and showcased how they adapted Wiggles, Stomps, and Squeezes Calm My Jitters Down to increase access for children with disabilities.
The Hospital’s Speech Pathology & Audiology Department, “Blythedale Bookworms” (coordinated through the Child Life and Creative Arts Therapy program) and the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Task Force teamed up to identify books with diverse protagonists and get them into the hands and homes of patients as part of a literacy outreach campaign for kids with varying abilities.
More than 50 patients from Blythedale’s Day Hospital, Mt. Pleasant Blythedale School, and Inpatient program joined neurodivergent author Lindsey Rowe Parker in the reading of her new children’s book Wiggles, Stomps, and Squeezes Calm My Jitters Down. The story follows a young girl with heightened sensory experiences through her day with fun, interactive sounds, and motions. The project is a collaboration between Parker, who has ADHD, and autistic illustrator, Rebecca Burgess.
“Inspired by the Americans with Disabilities Act movement, we are also adapting some of the books at Blythedale to increase access for all kids who may have physical, cognitive, or verbal differences that make a standard book inaccessible,” said Abigail Crane, Blythedale Speech-Language Pathologist. “We physically dissect the actual book which increases the child’s ability to have communicative impact while also making stories come alive in a new way.”
Some examples include page-turners or cotton balls used to make it easier for kids with physical limitations to manually turn the page, Velcro tabs attached to pages with removable laminated core words, texture added for tactile feedback, and more. Watch the full video.
“I want kids to feel seen when they read this book and think, ‘Hey, I’m not alone in this,’” said Parker.
“Seeing everyone’s reaction to the book was awesome,” said Lindsey Rowe Parker, author of Wiggles Stomps and Squeezes Calm My Jitters Down. “I feel like when they saw the character in the book struggling with some of the sensory differences, it was relatable. When you see somebody experiencing the world differently than you, give a little bit of empathy, ask questions, don’t judge, and try to embrace it.”