Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Back to School!

Cutie has been back in school for a week now. This year he has an amazing teacher who really seems to enjoy teaching!  He is happy in his class, but a few social issues have started to pop up.

Last year he had a best friend- in fact, he thought they would get married.  She matured a bit over the summer and was surprised that he had not.  She is no longer speaking to him and he is confused as to why. Cutie has been noticing lately when the other kids make comments about his speech or call him weird.  Usually, they are just simple observations that the child has not yet learned to keep to themselves, sometimes they are trying to hurt his feelings.

One of the other issues he is having right now is understanding bullying.  With Cutie, everything is ALL or NOTHING!  They have been discussing bullying at school and he has taken what they say too literally-

Yesterday he came home and said (paraphased so that you will understand what he said better)

"MY teacher is being a bully- that means she's a bucket dripper.... she tells us that we all have to give her our lunch money and then she takes it."

We spent an hour role playing to show him why the teacher takes the lunch money and how she keeps it safe because kids lose things-  he does not really believe me yet, but more practice and he will get it!

I thought I would write about this because if your child also has autism, maybe they are dealing with the same thing, maybe they are not there yet and maybe they never will but if they are then it is good for you to know that this is all normal for kids with autism and they do eventually get through this phase!

Whether the outcome is good or not varies, I know in Cutie's case he will be fine because he has so much help and we all collaborate together to figure out even small details of how to teach him this type of material!

You don't have to face this type of confusion alone- talk to the school psychologist and the Special Education teacher and ask if they can include goals for this very thing in your child's IEP - if they will/can not, you can also ask if they could help you get, make or borrow relevant social stories.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Fun Math Games 4 Kids!

Fun Math Games 4 Kids!

Math and science are the future so it is important that our kids become better at both subjects. Children may avoid doing may homework when they don't fully understand why the problems work out the way that they do. While a math tutor is often the best solution, many families simply can't afford one which leaves the child in a vulnerable position.

It is possible to make math fun! When kids have fun doing math they tend to try harder AND the information sticks better!

Try some free online games which use graphics to demonstrate what you might not be able to express yourself or some board games for the whole family!

We play count across regularly now and Cutie just loves it!

There are so many free online games available which is wonderful because it opens up the possibility of a better education to ALL children- not just those who can afford a tutor!

This will be added to my collection of free stuff for kids!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Back to School!

Cutie is currently getting ready for his first day of second grade!

He is very excited and he has an amazing teacher- she made "magic confetti" to help the kids sleep through the night the night before school and she has one of those contagious smiles with lots of energy- he is going to have a great year!

He was so excited that he was running down the stairs to show me his spiffy outfit an he says "it looked like there were more steps... but there weren't".  He is ok aside from a small bruise, but this reminds me that another important topic that I need to write about!

Kids with autism usually have poor proprioception which can cause clumsiness and when they get excited, their proprioception seems to diminish further.  I plan to write a full article about the challenges of poor proprioception especially when coupled with ADHD in the next few weeks.

For today I need to work on some new visual cues to help him and other kids adjust to their new routines!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Star Wars Halloween Costumes for the whole family

Cutie has been working with me!

Star Wars Halloween Costumes for the whole family

It started as me trying to create a lens to earn a little money before christmas... he wanted to help, so then he chose one of EVERY costume available for Star Wars including a few not commonly found!

Despite the fact that the lens has now turned into his own personal shopping list (and will probably cost me more money than it makes) it was wonderful to make!

The coolest thing about this lens was that we used it for speech modelling while making it. He wants his opinion on various characters and episodes to go on record, so we have been practicing lots of speech as he dictates what he would like me to type!
We have not yet finished adding all of his thoughts as it is a very long lens, but this will likely be an ongoing project for us- especially with all of the speech benefits.

As an example of how we are using this to expand his language skills....

Mom- "What do you want to tell people about General Grievous?"
Cutie- "He bad guy ultima badder than vader"
Mom "He IS A bad guy?"
Cutie " Yeah, he IS A ULTIMA bad guy."
Mom- "do you mean, He is an ultimate bad guy?"
Cutie- " Yeah! He is an ultimate bad guy! He is Worse than Vader!"

Now, he the improvements that appear immediately are usually only retained during the activity, but with enough practice using a subject that he enjoys this much... eventually we will see some of the improvements stick! Notice at the end, the previously forgotten IS by Vader? During intense speech practice, Cutie is able to self correct, this ability disappears when the practice is over.

Hopefully within a week or two the lens will be over flowing with words from Cutie!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Working on Visual Cues for the Holidays and other special events!

I have started working on some Holiday designs and articles!

Birthdays, Christmas and Hanukkah can be challenging times for kids with autism.  While the holidays are often their favorite time of the year, there are more social expectations and more visual stimulation, olfactory and auditory stimulation.

It can become overwhelming for the kids and may lead to meltdowns, or worse ... they might not have fun at Birthdays, Christmas or Hanukkah :(

A few simple things can make their lives easier which allows them to enjoy themselves more!

So far, I have designed a few cute little visual cue cards for gifts to help them clearly identify who a gift is from and who is the intended recipient!  This eliminates issues that may cause distress such as opening someone else's gift accidentally, not understanding who it came from if the person is not physically present and helps them adapt to the spirit of giving a little bit easier!

Icy Visual Cues Card for gifts invitation
Icy Visual Cues Card for gifts by Sidther
announcement designs created online at zazzle

The overall designs have been kept simple to prevent visual distraction and allow for the visual cues to remain the focus for the child.

These cards can also come in handy when giving gifts to a loved one with Alzheimer's or any other neurological disorder effecting receptive language, memory or social skills.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Please, support our Troops!

Our men and women in uniform have once again found their benefits at risk because of budget cuts.  These are tough economic times and spending needs to be cut, but to take away the generous retirement plan that had been promised to the soldiers who have already served this country for over ten years is unconscionable.

While the new plan does offer something to everyone, it robs those who have already dedicated their lives to protecting our freedoms while simultaneously devaluing the long respected term "retired military".

With all of the waste that occurs within the military, why is a board of civilians being allowed to dictate that stealing the retirement of the few soldiers who make it to 20 years is the way to save money?  Why not stop requiring soldiers to hand carry 30 copies of their orders, every time they sign in to a new unit, filling out redundant paperwork that is immediately lost amidst a sea of other redundant paperwork, having every 3rd page in the 4 inch tall paper medical records saying  "this page intentionally left blank"?  After all, this is a "paperless" system.

Seriously, they need to get a team of military wives in there to show them how to live on a budget and still have everything they need.

After the near government shutdowns and threats that military members would not be getting paid, many service members feel that a sacred trust has been broken.  As much as the service members must already sacrifice, they had trusted that our government would ensure the safety and security of their families- especially when they are deployed.

Please show your support for our troops by visiting my new article Our Government is asking too much of our soldiers for more details about the retirement package and links to lawmakers.  If you do visit- why not take a moment to leave a nice message for our men and women in uniform?

Our soldiers are NOT political pawns....