Monthly Archives: February 2012

Emotions…

We all know that a lot of kids with Autism find it very hard to express a correct emotion/facial expression (by our world’s standards) to any given situation.

But isn’t it cool when they do??

My boys can be rough and tumble when they are upset, but when you can capture a sweet moment.. when you know that moment is genuine… it can sure make anyone melt into an ooey gooey puddle.

A genuine smile when you say hello.

A touch to your shoulder when they are feeling insecure.

A belly laugh when you tease them.

An outstretched hand when they are scared.

And… even a hug when they ask.

For these boys to unlock those emotions is a huge step. To have them join us on a level we understand is an amazing feeling. We don’t always understand these kids and how they are feeling. We want them to be able to express these emotions way more often than we get, but to know that every once in a while, they will reach out to us for comfort or affection, is to know a child that is feeling safe in our care…. and that is what makes working with these amazing kids so worthwhile.

~Kari

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Filed under Autism Coolness!, Behaviors

A good learning day!

Some days are just good learning days…

And some are even better than that!

These kids continually amaze me with how intelligent they are! I really don’t doubt that these kids have intelligence, it is just that the timing has to be just right to catch those small glimpses in to their wonderful minds!

For example… there is one boy in the class that I know can count. He has shown me this on numerous occasions and he is quite good at it.  Usually, this comes with prompting and a lot of patience 🙂 Today however, this child showed me something different.

What did this cool kid do?

We have a program that we use called Vizzle (our school got a grant for this program and it is amazing). This program allows us to do curriculum… such as math, reading, and sentences… in a game like fashion. More fun for all of us if I do say so myself. Anyyyyway…. today, I was working with this student on counting hearts. Vizzle displays a picture of a certain amount of hearts, and then underneath that picture is 3 choices to pick from for the correct answer. On a normal day, with this particular student, I will point at each heart and have him count with me to find the correct answer. Today however, he did 9 out of 10 completely ON HIS OWN!! Each correct answer without prompt was rewarded with a skittle and me going ape-shit (pardon the french) over how good he was doing! He was clapping and laughing and knew that he was so smart!

This is why I do what I do. There are moments of hardship and moments of miraculous growth. And… trust me… the moments of growth completely outweigh those moments of hardship.

I still feel so incredibly blessed that I get to work with these guys. They show me so many wonderful things.

~Kari

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Filed under Autism Coolness!, Behaviors

It must be horrible…

… to be trapped in your own head.

Not every day at school is a beautiful bouquet of flowers all wrapped in bows. Trust me, there are more good times than bad (thank heavens), but I just feel so damn helpless when these kids have bad days.

I have laid in bed many nights wondering what it would be like to have Autism. ESPECIALLY if it means that I couldn’t speak or get my thoughts or emotions out in a proper way. I couldn’t imagine being trapped inside my own head … lord knows it is scary enough…

The simple basic needs that we take for granted, such as “hmmm I need a drink” or “I am hungry” are sometimes next to impossible for these kids to assimilate to us.

Today was a rough day with one kid. He is my non-verbal guy and was having a really hard time with his iPad and letting me know what it was that he needed/wanted. He was extraordinarily frustrated. Coming at me… hollering… pinching… scratching. I felt terrible. I didn’t know how to help him. All I could do was maintain my cool and let him know that it was all okay and that I would help him figure it out.

He was so angry and frustrated.

These kids need a light at the end of the tunnel on .. sometimes.. a minute by minute basis. I am amazed at my ability to stay calm and “grounded” during these moments. I was never a very patient person when it came to my own NT child. I guess I just know deep down that these guys don’t know how to control their anger/behaviors and that I need to be an anchor in their storm.

Once I figured out what the issue was, we were able to be happy again and he was the kind and gentle boy that I have come to love.

What I would like to share with you is this… If you have a child that tantrums:

  • Remain calm.
  • Be gentle in your actions.
  • Reassure them that they (and you) are okay.
  • Remind them that together you will figure it out.
  • Keep trying.
  • Love them through it.
  • Time out works most of the time
  • Punishment does not work most of the time.

Thanks for listening. I hope this helps.

Gentle Hugs,

~Kari

 

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Filed under Behaviors, Lessons

Stimming… what the heck is Stimming?

…well, according to autism.about.com, “The term “stimming” is short for self-stimulatory behavior, sometimes also called “stereotypic” behavior. In a person with autism, stimming usually refers to specific behaviors such as flapping, rocking, spinning, or repetition of words and phrases.”

Here is a video clip of a child with autism stimming. Be prepared it is a bit screechy.

Video clip found on YouTube

Stimming and Autism go hand in hand. Most, if not all, people with Autism will engage in stimming behavior. BUT… don’t we all? Do you chew your pen lid when you think? Do you tap a pen on the table when you are working on homework or paying bills? Do you bite your fingernails when you are nervous? Do you bounce your leg when you are concentrating? We all engage in a bit of stim-like behavior from time to time.

I guess the reason people with Autism get such a bad rap for stimming is because they hand flap, screech, clap loudly, bounce… etc. Those, for some reason, are not acceptable behaviors according to society.

I see a variety of stimming in our classroom. One claps and jumps and waves his hand in front of his face, one sings to himself, and one will wave straws in front of his face. This behavior doesn’t bother me really. It is only when we are trying to work hard on a particular project that it gets in the way.

I once heard, or read, Carly Fleischmann say that she would often shriek loudly when she finally understood something. … sorry I don’t have a link.. but I am sure that it was her that said that.

So… stimming isn’t always a negative thing. They aren’t always stimming because they are stressed.

Hope this clears some of that up for you!  Oh and the link up above to the definition of stimming has some interesting info as well.

Gentle hugs and happy stimming!

~Kari

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Filed under Behaviors

SEE it, TOUCH it, SAY it, DO it!

The teacher in my classroom, Mara (a BCBA – Board Certified Behavior Analyst), is an amazing woman who shares her knowledge freely with the aides in the class. It has made our classroom dynamic run like a well oiled machine. We are all well choreographed and dance around each other like we have done it all our lives (when in reality we have all only worked together a few months).

One of the things that she has taught us is the See it, Touch it, Say it, Do it model. – I am going to shorten this to STSD for ease of writing – cuz that is how I roll.

A lot of kids with Autism have a hard time with focusing in on specifics and understanding personalization. Or, even more specific, they lack the ability to communicate things.

Repetition is crucial for these kids. They may understand something right away, or they may need coached on something a few hundred times before they understand.

This is how STSD works….

  • SEE IT – This is a skittle Kari. You eat skittles – See the skittle?
  • TOUCH IT – Touch the skittle Kari. This is a skittle, can you touch it?
  • SAY IT – This is a skittle Kari, Can you say skittle? We eat skittles, can you say we eat skittles?
  • DO IT – Say skittle Kari. We eat skittles! You get to eat the skittle!

This is a video clip of ABA  and STSD in action – This is just a Youtube video that I found. This is not anyone I know!


I used skittles in my example because we love them in our classroom! Rewards are always a good way to teach. It is the principle of ABA. STSD will work with anything. A chair, a pencil, a math problem, a word… etc.

I hope you have enjoyed this… try it… you’ll like it!

~Kari

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Filed under Lessons

Things are a brewin’….

I have recently applied for my Master of Arts in Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) with an emphasis on Autism. I have sent off to have my transcripts to be sent to Ball State University and paid the application fee. Now it is time to hurry up and wait. I am more of an instant gratification kind of person, so the wait is killing me!

Although this blog was originally set up to follow along with my kids at school, I can feel a major change coming along. I will, however, still report on things at school, but I want to focus a lot more on the things I am learning from working with these boys as well as the things I am learning from school.

This will serve two purposes:

  1. The readers of my blog will get a more rounded experience; and
  2. The knowledge that I am gaining will sink in even more when I write about it!

I will also continue to post cool things that I find about Autism so that we can all keep up with all the awesomeness that this diagnosis holds.

And… even some of the horrific things… this will only help us learn from others mistakes.

Now… with all that being said… I will be posting something I learned recently very shortly.

 

PS …. you can now follow me on FACEBOOK!!!  CLICK RIGHT HERE

 

Come on back!!

~Kari

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Filed under Other