Friday, February 21, 2014

Eating Books

 Since I'm learning how important catchy titles are for my posts, I thought I'd try this one out for size.  It's a battle we fight daily in our house.  Owen wants to eat books.

Pica stinks.  It's really taken over parts of our lives, and none of the many doctors Owen sees have any brilliant solutions. We're just stuck fighting the battle.  And too often, the Pica wins.  

Owen devours books.  Literally.  If someone leaves a book down, he rips it and begins eating.  He can get half a page in his mouth in seconds.  It's swallowed just as quickly.

We've tried several types of discipline, to no avail.  Owen just seems to be unable to control this urge.  It's the weirdest thing I've ever seen. 

Board books used to be safe.  They were too thick for him to rip.  But now he's almost eight and super strong.  Board books are no longer Owen proof. 

We're praying for this situation, and for now the answer seems to be to keep books away from Owen. And Owen away from books. Which I hate. But I hate it even more when we forget.  And a favorite book gets destroyed in seconds. 

Even our daily kid's devotion book isn't safe...I think it made it a week past Christmas when we got it.

No matter how hard we try to watch Owen, he continually proves that he is quick.  And smart.  If I hold him on my lap while reading a story, he cuddles for a second, and then quick as a wink flashes an arm out to grab a page.  Books don't stand a chance against our little he man. 

Do you know how hard it is to create a literacy environment when you can't leave a basket of books down for the kids to explore?  When you can't even read a story to the family without having to ensure that one member is either in the other room, being held by someone not reading, or strapped down in a booster seat or his wheelchair?  Talk about taking the spontaneity out of reading.  

I think of all the problems that Angelman Syndrome has introduced to our family, this is the one I struggle with the most.  I have a reading endorsement.  I have a masters in elementary reading and literacy.  And I can't leave a basket of books down for my kids to look at.  I can't stop what I'm doing and randomly read a book without ensuring that Owen is ready. 

We have an entire upstairs hallway full of great books.  A wonderful selection of books with a matching tape or CD. Books that I'd love for the kids to have unlimited access to.  But for now, they mostly stay upstairs.  Since Owen doesn't have access to the upstairs unless he is right with me, the kids can read books up there.  

But it's not the same.  We don't really go upstairs much during the day, except for chores and quiet time.  We live downstairs.  And books and downstairs can't go together now.

I've dabbled in creating talking books using PowerPoint.  Scanning in pages of books, adding audio of me reading them, and even adding the BoardMaker symbols for some words.  But it's not the same.  Interacting with a computer is not the same as interacting with a book.  Even if it's a book on the computer.   And they are definitely time consuming to create.

No...for now, it is definitely a struggle.  A war between Owen and books.  A challenge for me to teach Jeff and Ellie to read while having to be so careful about reading material.  And I don't have the answer.  Yet.

I have faith that the Lord will provide a solution someday.  Maybe the Pica will be treatable in the future.  Maybe Owen will outgrow his love for the taste of books.  Maybe I'll be able to add enough books to the iPad to go with the books I read so Owen will be able to keep his hands busy with that.

I'm not sure what the solution will be.  I just know that the Lord will provide help.  Even if its just helping me deal with my internal struggles. Helping me to get over the hate I feel for Pica.  Helping me to not be so attached to books. 

Until then, we'll just keep fighting.  Just keep the books away from Owen.  And provide literacy in other ways.


  1. I've been reading your blog for the past month or 2 - I really enjoy your honest simple style of writing. What a dilemma you have here! What about something like this:

    Not sure if that would help. You could at least store them up high - not sure how high Owen can reach. Maybe even take a few of your favorite kid's books and deconstruct and place each page in page protectors and seal with packing tape.

    Our local library offers a free subscription to tumblebooks. Not the same, I agree, but better than nothing.

    I hope you find a solution. You are right - God will make a way!

  2. Thank you so much for stopping by! I really like the look of the hanging system you shared.

    The deconstruction idea is wonderful! I'm going to give it a try this next week with a book I have several copies of and see how the page protectors hold up. If it works, I'll see about getting them laminated. Thanks again!!!

  3. Honestly, I cannot remember how I bounced over and found your blog. I have enjoyed reading your posts (and I spent quite some time here bopping around!)

    I noticed you mentioned in one post that you had an iPad. Is is possible to get Kindles for the little ones to have books on? My younger daughters got them for Christmas and they have been able to download some books from the library and I can find many classics at Amazon free or very small cost. There is also the ability set 'accounts' on each so I can control which books they can see on their device (some books I have are not really appropriate for them at this age)
    You and your family will be in my prayers. And I will definitely be back to visit!

    1. You know, I had never thought of that! We got our oldest daughter a Kindle last year for her birthday, and I help her download books onto it sometimes. But, I've never looked for books for my little guys. I spent some time on Amazon and then the Gutenberg site this morning, and was VERY impressed with the selection of free items (or very low cost).

      I think we'll try out something my daughter's Kindle first, and if it works we'll look into getting another one. They are much less expensive than the iPad, and I don't have to worry about them getting distracted by all the fun apps while reading.

      I didn't know about the different accounts for each device--that is good to keep in mind.

      Thanks again!

    2. fyi - not sure which Kindle you have - we have the Kindle Fire specifically so I could get some of the educational stuff for them to use.
      The Kindle FreeTime allows you to make an 'account' for each child on the cloud. On the individual Kindle, you can just pick which little is using the Kindle and have set times for reading or app-playing all controlled with a parental password. Once I found that - hoo-boy did I have fun getting stuff for each child to play/read. And once you put the Kindle on the individual freetime account, only the person who knows the password can get out and change it. Once you use up your time, you are locked out until the next day, unless mom uses an override. Kind of cool!
      good luck with this...

    3. Thanks for this information! Our daughter just has a plain ol Kindle, so we'll have to be sure and look at the various types before we make the decision to purchase another. It sounds like the Fire may be the way to go...


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