Category Archives: Tools

Read People Read!!

I just went to bed and took my little white shiny friend who helps me go to sleep.. her name is Ambien. I have always been a night owl and the schedule I work does not allow for me to stay up all night long (which I prefer) and go to work early in the morning. So, as Ambien and I are lying in bed looking at the Kindle, ideas started popping up in my mind left and right. Normally when this happens, I tell myself that I will remember the next day …. yeah right! I am now all a buzz with toothpicks holding my eyes open… forgive the typo’s please!

The title of this little blog serves 2 purposes…

  1. To get your ass on here to read this blog. I want more followers. I want more input. I need you guys. The people that are in this world day to day and know these kids…. I NEED YOU! I would really appreciate it if you pass this blog on to other parents/grandparents/caregivers/people who want to work with people like these kids!! ALL YA’LL (This is southern and plural for ya’all). Just take a few moments and put this on your Facebook page, twitter feed… or send it via email. I don’t care how ya do it… just do it!! Please?
  2. To get you to check out what I have been reading. I have been pretty good about keeping up my book list that is RIGHT HERE .  I love reading about parents and their struggles AND successes with their child with autism. I also get a lot of great ideas for me to insert in any practice that I am involved in. This helps me to understand more real world people since right now I am still in Grad School and need to read copious amounts of other stuff and don’t really get to see some of it applied. BUT, it will also help you too. It will give you hope and hope is so critical when you have a child on the spectrum.

Lastly,

I wanted to give a shout out to a few Facebook Pages that I find helpful/humorous/heartwarming/or just plain ol’ truthful.

  • Just another piece of the puzzle – This is my own little nook of Facebook… just a place to put neat things I find and to let you all know when a new blog is up. You can follow me on https://www.facebook.com/Justanotherpieceofthepuzzle
  • The Autism Life – By the Author of one of my FAVORITE books on a story of a child with autism. There will be a second book coming out soon!! This woman and her family are truly inspirational and a tad bit crazy… and I say that will all the love in my heart. Alicia fills us in on what Ewan is up to and it is really cool to see him grow up, think about his world, and show us all that autism can be hard, but that he can handle anything life throws at him. He is a super kid and you will fall in love with him like I did!!  https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Autism-Life/183254517299?fref=pb
  • Autism Shines – This site showed up after the Sandy Hook tragedy. It is a beautiful way for everyone to show their children that are on the spectrum in a shining light fashion. Please stop in for a gander… you won’t be disappointed!! https://www.facebook.com/AutismShines

I could go on and one, but this will get you started. Please feel free to contact me if you have anything you want to add. Like I said before. I NEED you guys!

Thanks for popping in,

~Kari

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Goosebump kind of day!!

Working with kids with Autism causes a lot of goosebump moments. Today was a goosebump on your goosebump kind of day!

As I mentioned in this post, one of the kids in my class is learning how to use a speech/speaking program called Proloquo2Go. He is non-verbal, so we have been working with him daily to teach him how to speak with this program. He has made some good progress touching “yes” when appropriate, “no”, “I’m done”, “I need a break”, “Ready to work”, and a few other things when we prompt him. These are all baby steps and it is wonderful to see him take those.

Today however, this beautiful child, UNPROMPTED, SAID (using his iPad) – “I want, to eat, snack, fruit rollup”!!!! 

Now, to better understand the magnitude of this feat, you need to understand Proloquo.

Each set of words that he said are like folders in a computer. “I want” is a folder, “to eat” is a selection in the “I want”  folder, “snack” is selection in the  “to eat” folder, and “fruit rollup” is a selection in the “snack” folder. This child had to know where to select each item from each folder and he FLIPPIN DID IT ON HIS OWN!!!

We went ape-shit!! We praised him.. rewarded him with tons of praise, high-fives, and the fruit rollup! You should have seen his smiles. He actually got up from the table and ran around happy, smiling, and thrilled with himself. He must have felt so proud that he was able to SPEAK! To let us know what he wanted!

Skip ahead to later in the day…

This beautiful child … once again… SAID… “I want, to eat, snack, Christmas Goodies”once again.. UNPROMPTED!!!!

I am so excited for him! I am so proud of him!! I am so proud of us!!

Goosebumps on my goosebumps!!

Now I am going to chillax and gloat…

~Kari

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Tablet helps autistic learn, communicate – The Times of India

Tablet helps autistic learn, communicate – The Times of India.

I was perusing the news about Autism. Something I do frequently. It is nice to see something on the positive side since lately the news hasn’t been great.

One of my students is non-verbal. We are teaching him to communicate with the iPad using Proloquo2Go. This is not an easy process, but it is one that will pay off in the end. We are already seeing remarkable changes in this child who has not really spoken at all.

He can tell us that he is hungry – and choose what he wants, thirsty – and choose what he wants, and other various things like “I need a break”, and simple responses such as “yes and no”.

If you have a child with Autism that is mostly non-verbal, I would recommend an iPad with some form of communication app. There are several out there. I just recommend Proloquo because I personally have used it. The other programs can/could be just as effective!

Remember patience and rewards! These kids eat that up!

~Kari

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Christmas Break Boredom?

Howdy!

Are you afraid your child with Autism will get bored over the Christmas Break? Even the average kids get bored, but dealing with a child with Autism can be a bit more challenging.

I follow the Autism group over on Facebook and a topic of discussion was ideas to help keep the kids busy and entertained during the Holiday break.

Here are a few ideas:

  • Make homemade Playdough – I loved doing this when I was a kid!! I thought of an individual in my class first thing when seeing this idea… he likes to eat Playdough… so… to avoid the scare that comes with that territory, I found a website that has 10 recipe’s for Edible Playdough! Check them out here – Family Corner
  • Shaving Cream Paint – Who would have thought? Here is a site for instructions – Painting with Shaving Cream
  • Bathtub full of waterbeads and glowsticks! Doesn’t that sound like fun? Heck I would do that!
  • Christmas Card Collage – Take all the Christmas cards that you were going to throw away and cut them up and make a Christmas Collage. Helps with the motorskills as well as makes a neat new decoration for the Holiday!
  • Make sugar cookies and let them help decorate!

There are many more ideas out there if you Google it. Just remember to actually spend time helping your child with these activities. I know that you may feel you need/deserve a break (and you do!!), but remember they need you too during this time!

Create some memories!

~Kari

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A Fly on the Wall

Howdy!

As a parent of an average kid, there were often times that I would have loved to be a fly on the wall in his classes. I can imagine that it is very similar, or an even stronger urge,  for parents of kids with special needs!

I am very fortunate to work in a classroom that is on the cutting edge for kids with Autism.

Our classroom is equipped with the following:

  • SmartBoard – An interactive whiteboard – WONDERFUL invention. This allows to project websites and it uses touch technology to allow our kids to use it like an iPad.
  • SmartTable – A tool we use to work with the kids on different concepts using a variety of options.
  • iPads – Each kid gets their own iPad to use throughout the day for many activities.
  • Full kitchen – this helps us teach them to assist themselves in the kitchen. We cook with them, clean with them, and teach them daily kitchen type activities!
  • Washer/Dryer – We can assist them and teach them how to wash and dry their clothes when needed.
  • Indoor Swing – This is wonderful for breaks, timeouts, and for them to just chill during downtime!

I would like to share what it is like for us on a day to day basis. I do understand that not all classrooms are the same and that a typical day is anything but typical. However, routine is a staple for our kids and we do what we can to keep a pretty tight schedule (interlaced with change to ensure the kids get some variety).

Once the kids arrive at school, they immediately go to the classroom where, if necessary, jackets are removed and put away, and then daily notebooks (will explain later) are removed from their backpacks. We are fortunate to be able to still have the Pledge being said over the loudspeaker every day and the kids are learning to stand, with hand over heart, and face the flag… the words will come with time.

Now it is time for lockers. We wait for the halls to be free of he hustle and bustle of the average kids so that the noise level will be lower before we head to their lockers. Each kid has their own locker, can unlock it, and safely store their backpacks until the end of the day.

Next is breakfast. Some of the kids want breakfast in the morning, so of course we want to feed them so that they are ready for a fun filled day! We begin each day with The Days of the Week. Everyday, the kids are to identify what the day of the week is, and what the date is. We have them write it down, say it, and we do the Calendar activity on starfall.com (This is a free website for all kinds of fun activities for kids with or without Autism).

Now the academics begin.

  • Reading – We have several activities that we do for reading. Individual read, Curriculum Reading, and a wonderful program designed specifically for kids with Autism called Vizzle. Not all of the kids can read, so we assist them by reading to them and teaching them to identify words on their iPads. We utilize those iPads regularly so that they can still participate in activities that they normally would get as much out of.
  • Math – Once again, there are a ton of tools, either on the internet, on the iPad, or curriculum based that we utilize to ensure that these kids are getting the level of attention that they need for each subject.
  • Writing – I think this is my favorite subject (duh!). We have workbooks that we have the kids, based on their skill level, write in. Not all of the kids can spell, so we work on relating their writing to their reading curriculum. I love the way we intertwine the subjects so that we are continually in a learning mode. It is amazing what you can teach a child.

Interspersed throughout the day of academics are quite a few breaks. Lord knows we all need breaks to get ourselves back on track, and these kids are no different. Since each kid is different and they may finish their work faster, or tire more easily, breaks are always an option. They can take a swing break, play an iPad game, chill somewhere quiet in the room, or grab an Aide (like me) and go for a quick walk.

We also do activities outside of the classroom. One student goes to art class with the mainstream kids (with an Aide). Another goes to gym. We want these kids to be able to be outside the structure of our classroom so that they can lead as normal a life as possible.

Arts and crafts are also a big part of our day. We try and get them to color, cut, paste, create, craft, and design! They seem to enjoy the downtime and not having the pressure of having to think too much!

Our classroom (at this moment) has a one to one ratio. We have a certified teacher and 3 aides. Currently we have 4 students. This works perfectly and allows these kids to get full attention when working on a task. We are like a well oiled machine and dance around each other in the classroom like we have worked together for years. In reality.. we have only been working together a few months. It is incredible and I am so fortunate to be able to experience this world.

Each afternoon, before the kids leave for the day, we write in a notebook to send home to the parents. This notebook is a communication tool to allow the parents to see how the day was for their child, to express the good and not so good points of the day, and to allow the parents to write to us with concerns, questions, or ideas.

Sounds smooth as butter? Well it isn’t. Every day can present both the faculty and the students with challenges. If you work with the Autistic or are the parent of a child with Autism, then you know this to be true. However, each challenge can be overcome. Each day can be a good day. We work together to create and implement new ways of helping these kids.

I hope this has provided some insight. Please feel free to ask questions. I can expand on things if you need.

~Kari

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