When Heather McCarthy’s daughter started school, she was a bit more worried than most moms. While Maya looks like every other little girl, she has a rare metabolic condition that puts her in danger if she eats or drinks the wrong thing. So McCarthy created Maya a picture book for school to help everyone in school understand her needs.
When she told fellow seventh-grade language arts teacher Kate Ryan about it in the teachers’ lounge at Oak Lawn Hometown Middle School, she found an enthusiastic audience. “Do you know how many people need a book like that?” she remembers Ryan telling her.
From there, the women created a business, Someone Special Uniquely Personalized Books, that has blossomed into something really special for families.
They feel the books not only take away a little bit of a parent’s anxiety over sending their child with special needs to school, but that they also help the child feel more comfortable among classmates.
“Kids are just naturally so curious and this is an easy way to ease into those conversations and talk about what makes people unique,” Ryan says.
Visit someonespecialbooks.com to see the 12 books available to personalize, ranging from autism to Down syndrome to allergies. Personalization has been made to be super easy and the last page is left blank so that parents can make the book even more specific to their child.
They also offer a non-personalized book, Maya Makes a Friend, about a little girl who goes to a park with her mom and encounters a child with special needs. The book includes talking points to help teach kids how to treat children with special needs.
“When you are a special needs parent, it’s a whole different kind of normal. Nothing is quite like everyone else. To have something that just kind of levels the playing field and your child feels just like everyone else, it’s a great feeling,” McCarthy says.