Category Archives: Field Trips

Back to School and Back to Life

What an amazing summer!!

I know that I said that I would be blogging over the summer, but obviously, that didn’t happen. Because this is my blog for autism, I won’t go in to detail about what my summer entailed, but I will say that I am blessed and so fortunate for great friends that believe and trust in me!

We are now two weeks into the 2012-2013 school year…

…and WOW!! Just WOW!

Two weeks ago, I was all geared up for things to be crazy in the classroom. “These boys take time to adjust”, I said to myself. “Just remember that it will take time for them to get back in the swing of things”, I considered. I walked in to that classroom with my guard up and prepared for battle… both emotionally and physically. And then… they showed up. Smiles, high fives, same routines, EVERYTHING like they never even left for the summer. How cool is that? Super cool… super super cool!

We were all amazed at the way they were able to ease back in to everything we do. I am so excited at the opportunity to see these boys grow more and more in their school work and social skills. We have even gone on two field trips already. I didn’t think we would be able to do that for at least a month, but the very first Thursday, we were off and running.

These kids are so smart. I don’t understand why society thinks otherwise. They just don’t know these kids like we do I guess.

The boys…

“J” – is talking more than ever. He will, when prompted verbally (and it helps if you have a Skittle or M&M in hand), will say just about anything you want him to. And, most of the time, will get a huge grin on his face after he speaks. I mean can you even imagine not being able to talk and then all of a sudden you do and are getting HUGE rewards from it? He is on cloud nine. His aggressive behaviors are still there, but not near as bad as they have been in the past. He seems happy… and that is perfect.

“D” – Still our fun-loving, question-asking, silly man. He had a good summer and, although his personal space is still an issue, it is nothing compared to the beginning of last year. He is comfortable with us and that is awesome!

“E” – He had a good summer vacationing with family. I could tell that he was relaxed from his summer vacation. He and I go to art together every morning with typical kids and he does very well with guided assistance drawing whatever we ask of him. I am lucky to get to spend that one on one time with him.

“N” – This kid is so fun! He seems to be back in the swing of things and his anxiety outside of the classroom (on field trips) has diminished tremendously. He is holding his head up high and having a good time. I can see him making huge progress this year and I am so excited to get to help him!

We even have a new kid on the block!

Although “K” is not in our class, she gets to go on field trips with us! “K” is high-functioning autism and is super talkative. It is good for her to be around the boys and for the boys to be around her. For me, she is another child that I get the pleasure of being around and learning from.

Work school and Masters school!

On the very same day that I started back to work after summer vacation, I started 3 classes for my masters. *insert what the hell was I thinking* here. I took 2 classes over the summer and got A’s in both… so far a 4.0! The classes that I am taking this semester are

  • SPCE 610 870  – Behavioral Consultation – This teacher firmly believes in reading and I mean TONS of reading. Lordamercy, I am going to be blind by the time I finish this class. However, I am enjoying the reading so far and look forward to the knowledge I will gain.
  • SPCE 611 875 –  Advanced Applied Behavior Analysis – This class is THE pinnacle course to becoming what I want to be when I grow up. The text book for this class is the “bible” for ABA. I pretty much have to memorize it. *sigh*  I am super stoked about becoming a BCBA and this is going to get me there!
  • SPCE 683 873 – Practicum in Autism – This is my favorite class of the 3. I get to earn my hours at work and I meet with a BCBA (who happens to be my boss) once a week to discuss this amazing field. It is tons of fun getting my experience working with Mara and the kids! Yesterday, I got to go with Mara to observe a child at his home. This is great experience for me to be able to see therapy (other than school) in action, as well as experience in talking to families about their child.

I look forward to another amazing year of blogging. I sure hope you are enjoying this as much as I am!

~Peace,
Kari

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Updates and the Special Olympics!

Howdy folks. Been a while since I have been able to post. My Masters program has been pretty busy… just finished my first class on Friday! I am so stoked. Once you have the first one under your belt you feel so much better! I also lost a very dear friend to cancer and that has kind of kicked my butt.

So… with all that being said, I have quite a few updates. Grab some coffee and enjoy!

I have decided to use initials when I am talking about the boys so that way I can refer to them individually, but not name them specifically. Just easier that way… for me. LOL

So, my non-verbal guy, “J”, has been quite amazing over the last few weeks. To make a long story very short… HE SPOKE!!!
“J” has always made noises… happy noises, funny noises, jumbled words, angry noises, and a few interspersed words that were never in context. But for some reason, one day a couple of weeks ago, he had led one of the people in the classroom over to the freezer where there were Otter Pops (Popsicles) hidden inside. His iPad wasn’t around, so she said OTTER POP… and “J” repeated her!!! Now, along with the iPad, our guy can verbally let us know what he wants. This is with prompting and a lot of reward. You should see this kid. He is super happy and not as pinchy. I guess I would be in a better mood too if I was finally able to communicate!!

“N”, our quiet and happy go lucky guy has been doing fantastic! He is one that is in to routine and if that routine is broken, he will tantrum, but lately, we have been working on switching things up (within reason), and he has dealt with it superbly! He also doesn’t like to go places that are unfamiliar… but with a lot of work, he is taking our outings with stride and has come a long way. He seems to be happy when we are out and I think it is because he feels secure. His academics are soaring. Hell… even today he shocked the crap out of me. Normally when he washes his hands, he doesn’t get all the soap off, so we help him hold his hands under the water and count to 10. He counts so good! Well, today, he didn’t get rinsed, so I took him to the sink and helped hold his hands under the water and told him to count to 10… the little booger says “10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1”! I didn’t even know he could count backwards!

“E” is our little artist. He can read and write and does pretty well academically. He can watch a video and then draw the graphics from that video. This is usually the end credits because he likes letters and numbers. They are all done in bubble letters. His memory of the details is fantastic! He is a great kid with a lot of potential. Love working with this kid!

“D”, our talker, and by talker I mean ALL DAY… lol… he loves to know “why”. He has made huge strides in his communication of how he his feeling. He is big on personal space and we have come a long way of being able to get closer to him to be able to work with him. He is getting really good at using his words to get us to back up if we are too close or if he needs a break.

Since September 2011 when I started there, these boys have come so far and they seem to enjoy being at school and working with us. They have all made such great strides! I am so blessed to be able to see such a change. It is pretty fantastic.

Tomorrow (May 1st) is our Special Olympics. I am so excited… it feels like Christmas! I am a big ol’ emotional baby when it comes to stuff like this. I will have my camera and will be taking loads of pictures of all the Olympians. I am hoping to post some pics (generalized un-labeled pictures) for you all to see.

We got the boys all ready and prepped today for what is going to happen. They seem pretty excited. We will see how it goes. I just can’t wait to see them feel good about their accomplishments.

I am kind of sad and happy all at the same time that the school year is coming to an end. I don’t know quite what to do with myself while I am off work… I am sure there will be plenty of honey-do’s!! I will still be blogging… just more generalized educational stuff.

Did I mention I have a 4 day weekend coming up… woot!!

Thanks for popping in!

Kari

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A Beautiful Hike!

This morning started out fantastic! We got to go play mini-golf!!! The boys were great!

Even my really nervous kid had what seemed to be a great time. He figured out that not only could he hit the golf ball with his club, but he could use his feet too! It was hysterical! My favorite was when he couldn’t get the ball in the hole with his club or with his feet, he reached down… picked it up… and dropped it in the cup. I laughed and gave him a high five and got a gorgeous smile!! It was like he absolutely knew what he was doing.

I think it was the fasted game of mini-golf in history and all the boys were pretty excited at the whole adventure.

What came next was my favorite part of the day. Please pardon the resolution on these pictures (as an amateur photographer I am quite embarrassed…lol), but they were taken with my cell phone as I didn’t want to lug my camera with us today.

We went for a long and absolutely stunning hike. The photo’s don’t do it justice AT ALL, but we were way up above the city. For the trained eye, you can see a teeny tiny Mt. Garfield on the top left of the screen and at the top middle/left is the Grand Mesa. You can also see the smoke in the background as it is burning season.

I was in a small slice of heaven and the weather was absolutely perfect. We even tied our jackets around our waists!

Tomorrow we get to go to the movie and I hope we have as much fun as we did today. I am sure that we will… nothing like a bucket of popcorn, 4 amazing boys, and a great movie on the big screen!!

One more pic to leave you with…

Have a fantastic night!!

~Kari

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Playdoh… and The Lorax!

This week and next  is TCAP (Traditional Colorado Assessment Program) testing for our general education kids at my school. Our boys have done their testing already, so we get to have tons of fun for the next two weeks. Before I get in to all of that, I have a bit of autism coolness to share!

Last week, we were going to work with Playdoh with the boys and discovered that our Playdoh had somehow turned into some sort of snot concoction and really needed thrown out and replaced … we didn’t even want to guess how that happened. So, this weekend, I went out and purchased a 4 pack for our classroom. I came in this morning and set it on the table and thought nothing of it. The boys came in and my non-verbal guy started hovering over the Playdoh. I went and got him and told him it was time to work. After we finished with the section (Calendar), I was sitting next to him and another kid waiting for our next project, when all of a sudden, I hear… from his iPad… “Clay Please”… I was stunned and said “Oh… you want to play with clay?”…. He then touched “yes” on his iPad!!!! Needless to say, we jumped right up and broke open our new batch of Playdoh!!

A little background… we had previously programmed “clay” into his iPad for another activity… I am not sure I could find clay on that iPad… but he sure as heck knew where it was!!!! Remember, this is the kid that gets pinchy and grabby when he is upset, but lately, he has toned way down and I think it is because he realizes he has a voice now. He will still get grabby, but it is fewer and farther apart and not near as hard (most of the time). It is nice to see his gorgeous smile and hear him laugh!

Now… on to the fun stuff for the week.

Yesterday (Sunday), I went to one of our local theaters to see “Act of Valor”. While I was there, I stopped and talked to the General Manager. I introduced myself, told him what I did for a living, and asked very nicely to see if there was a showing of  Disney’s The Lorax that would be best to bring the boys to. He was super nice and agreed to open the theater at a special early time for us (4 boys and 4 adults)!! I think it will be so much fun to sit in the big theater with these kids, munch on some popcorn, and see a great movie! I have found that our community is getting really supportive of these kids. Knowledge is power and the word on autism is getting out. We are doing a good service to our boys and the community.

Other fun things on the list for this week and next are Miniature Golf, Pet Smart, Home Depot, Hiking, playing with remote control cars, visiting a doctors office… and a lot more fun things! I am so excited! Going to be a really fun couple of weeks.

Thanks for stopping in!

~Kari

 

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Field Trips!

Howdy!

Our class goes on Field Trips!!

We try for this once a week. We get to go to all kinds of places and the kids get to experience life outside the four walls of the classroom. Taking these kids out in to the real world serves a couple of purposes.

  1. It teaches the kids that public places aren’t always scary and that they can have a great time doing something different from the strict schedules of school/home/life.
  2. It teaches the WORLD that there is a thing called Autism and that the kids that have Autism can enjoy a “normal” life too!

Number two is probably the most difficult. The kids are easily managed, but the public is a whole different issue. I often wonder why people are so afraid of difference. I do understand that they DON’T understand and that is what makes them afraid.

I see why some parents are more apt to keep their kids protected in the safety of their home instead of dealing with stares and comments from complete strangers. It is aggravating for sure. However, if we keep these kids locked up in little safe zones, then they can never fully blossom.

We all want our children to succeed. We want their lives to be better than ours. With kids with Autism, we want the same… why wouldn’t we? I am not dumb to the fact that these kids may never be doctors or lawyers, but they CAN be productive members of society.

  • Order food from a restaurant – (using speaking tools if they are non-verbal).
  • Shop at a grocery store.
  • Enjoy a movie.
  • Paint pottery
  • Work at jobs that are suited for them based on skill sets that are being taught in and out of the classroom.

If one person that saw us out and about today realized this, then we have met a part of the goal. It only takes a few people at a time to make the change.

We can and will make a difference.

~Kari

 

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