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Monday 1 November 2010

The power of books


By Janet Lee Harrold

Take three books

A few weeks ago I wrote about discovering a book, written by a mum for her young son whose father is a wheelchair user: Mein schneller Papa“:

I expected this book to be really useful in my work with children, and so it is proving to be.

What I did not expect was now useful, and motivating, it would prove to be with my adult clients too.

Last week we were practising writing with the hand not affected by a stroke. This is something that is so important for the well-being of stroke clients. To be able to write well with the hand that before a stroke was not the dominant hand must be practised, and it is very difficult.

It is more often than not right-handers who face not only the problem of having a dominant hand that does not function as it did before but can also suffer from cognitive symptoms that also make writing difficult for them.

Left-handers with a left-hand dysfunction are usually spared the extra burden of a cognitive problem, but not always.

A legible signature, a signature that the client likes, is the first aim. We then move on from there to create a good handwriting style . It is important to prevent the client feeling that the writing style is childish.

One person in the group has moved on a long way. Not only does she write legibly and fluently, write lists and notes for herself, but she can also express her own personal thoughts.

Last week it was not until the group had finished, coats were being put on and goodbyes said, that I noticed what this lady had written on her handwriting-practice paper:

"I wanted to write a book, but I do not think it will be possible now.“

Earlier in the session my client had been looking at the “Mein schneller Papa book, perhaps she had already sown a seed of inspiration in her thoughts. Something like "Perhaps I could after all write that book".

As she dressed to go home and her husband and I chatted, we discussed the possibility of writing the book together, helping my client to fulfil her dream and helping other people at the same time.

We developed the idea of a picture book with my clients words describing how it was and how it is and what happened in between. A book on the hidden symptoms of stroke by a stroke victim for stroke victims.

A book full of all the wise-words that I have heard from my client over the past fourteen years.

“But", she immediately said, “I do not remember how it was. I do not remember what it was like to learn, what it was like before I learnt and moved on step by step to a new stage in my life.“

“But I remember“, said her husband and I simultaneously. “We can help!“ we continued.

We immediately jogged her memory with a couple of examples of how the family had lent a helping hand in her learning process, and that set her off. She did indeed remember. In fact she remembered lots and the fact that she remembered pleased her much more than what she remembered!

This client's husband is a keen amateur photographer, his wife a would-be author. Me and Évi have tons of enthusiasm and some necessary computer skills. Together as a team we have all we need to put together picture book with words for fellow stroke sufferers.

An idea was born

The husband will get some advice with how to work on his photographs in the computer and my client will get just a little bit of memory-jogging about all the snippets that she has told me over the years.

In just a few minutes, just because I discovered a hand-written note expressing the loss of a dream, another dream came alive.

All good things come in threes

I always say that grandmas should get medals, now I am even more certain of this!

Late last night a Google Alert arrived in my inbox. Surprise, surprise more about books! Book number three.

Not only about a book but about the life and works of a special and talented grandmother, who is using her creativity not only to raise money for conductive sessions for her grandchild but also to bring a bit of normality into the world of disability.

The Google-message alerted me to a blog where “ fabulous local mamas“ are celebrated. It is called Boston Mama’s Rock:

Here you can read all about Janet Lee Harrold, artist, activist, and weekly bloggist in the world of disability.

Janet Harrold has made a book for her grandchild. It is called: ABC’s Flowers and Trees: a walk in the public gardens.

Although made for her grand-daughter the book will, I am sure, be welcomed by other children and their families, just as Mein schneller Papa has been.

Janet Harrold is selling paintings and this book to raise money for conductive sessions for her grandchild.

Not only a book, greeting cards too

This artist is now also planning a series of greeting cards for people with disability, and using her voice to improve and widen the understanding of disability in the world.

It is worth reading the blog celebrating how fabulous she is and also taking a look at her own blog at:

Books forever!

The power of books, despite the growing importance to many of cyberspace, is as strong as ever.


Mein Schneller Papa, es gibt vielle Möglichkeiten schnell zu sein -

by Bianca Jahnke-Oppold: ISBN 978-3-00-031 273-1

Susie Mallett -

Janet Lee Harrold –

Her book -

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