Stories, books and literature are a big part of Ethan’s life - a looked after VI child's story - Living Paintings

Living Paintings

“Stories, books and literature are a big part of Ethan’s life” – a looked after VI child’s story

14th June 2021

A child's little hand feeling a picture of a dinosaur.

Ethan loves every book he has received!

Ethan has been a member of our library for 8 months. He is an 8-year-old child in foster care, with ever changing complex health and disabilities. Ethan has a great relationship with his biological parents and extended family, and he lives a full life where those around him seek to make each day count, because it is unknown what Ethan’s life expectancy is.

Here’s Ethan’s foster mummy shares their story.

A child's little hand feeling a dinosaur.

“Ethan has a number of disabilities and health needs, visually he has Hypermetropia (long sightedness) and Astigmatism (eye is shaped more like a rugby ball than a football, meaning light is focused at more than one place in the eye), and although not significant visual impairments, combined with his processing delay and the difficulties his body and brain have in communicating with one and other, we are required to carefully control visual stimulation.

Ethan can find social situations difficult. Visually cluttered environments where there are many external sensory stimuli at play cause him anxiety, over stimulation or he can become very distressed. All those around Ethan work to ensure that he feels very safe in these environments. When he feels safe, he is then able to communicate and visually explore his surroundings. For example, when we are going to a busy event, we always aim to arrive early to enable Ethan to process the environment and settle. When there are no surprises, he is able to enjoy himself and reap the benefits from where he is.”

A child feeling Peppa Pig

Stories, books and literature are a big part of Ethan’s life

“Stories, books and literature are a big part of Ethan’s life. He enjoys using his Eye Gaze device to join in with familiar stories such as Dear Zoo and Shark in the Park. Ethan also enjoys listening to audio books by authors such as David Walliams and Enid Blyton. Similarly, he enjoys tactile sensory stories and visiting the library to read books. He also enjoys being read to from longer stories and novels.

Accessing stories where we are asking Ethan to use his vision requires using a specific set up. This must be high contrast, have a tactile element, be well-defined and uncluttered. He is then able to explore and understand the story whilst not becoming distressed. This is where the Living Paintings Library really comes into its own!”

A child's hand feeling Somebody Swallowed Stanley

He has discovered a passion for all things dinosaur

“Ethan has been using the Living Paintings Library since September 2020. He loves every book he has received. Lately he has discovered a passion for all things dinosaur, and I was able to search the online library to choose and select dinosaur stories for him to borrow.

In the last few weeks, we have been using the Living Paintings story called ‘Somebody Swallowed Stanley’ during his directed education time. The current school topic is green living and climate change. Having a story which he can fully immerse himself in whilst also covering the relevant education topic has enabled Ethan to add context and has created a meaningful learning experience about the world in which he lives.  Similarly, one of his current IEP targets is to explore concepts such a big and small. Through exploring the story of ‘Titch’, we have been able to create another meaningful learning experience.

One of our favourite things about the Living Paintings Library is that each book comes with a plethora of audio resources to enable the stories to come to life. If Ethan does not want to use his vision, he is still able to access the story using the tactile and audio resources. Being able to borrow library books for prolonged periods also allows us to repeat the stories enabling the development of anticipation and familiarity.”


To protect the child’s identity the pseudonym name of ‘Ethan’ has been used.

Borrow Ethan’s best-loved books

A mobile phone sitting on a wooden table top and wrapped in earphones displays the Living Paintings website.


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