Tag Archives: Development

The Power of Choice.

I could have stayed under the warm blankets and thought more about this blog, or I could have turned my thoughts elsewhere, or I could get out of the bed and come and dump my thoughts. You guessed it. I chose to get up. Choices are a part of our every day routine. We may not always feel like we have a choice, but when it comes right down to it we do… in every situation.

People with developmental disabilities … namely autism, should no, they deserve choices. Some would think that these kids don’t know what they want half the time. But who are we not to try and give them a choice? “Would you like water or juice?” “Would you like to swing or ride the bike or just sit out in the fresh air?” Even a simple yes or no to a question gives us insight in to what the child might want or need.

One thing that I have learned is that these kids are far from stupid and have wants and needs just like the rest of us. Oh I know… it isn’t easy to figure out what those wants and needs are, but with some time and effort on the part of the therapist/teacher/parent/caregiver/ and the kid themselves, it can be done.

The puzzle (to me) is the best part. Trying to find what works for these kids and piecing it together is a challenge that I am up for. Giving these kids choices only helps to unlock their world. Letting them in on what is going on with them and having them help guide us will only make it a bit easier on everyone.

Start simple. Find two items that you know are preferred. You know that the child likes them both equally. Put them in front of him/her and ask. Let them choose. Or even show them Yes/No icons and ask if they want this item. Teaching them that they have power in choice also teaches them that they have power in communication. It goes hand in hand.

When working with these kids, I have learned that the choices offered are sometimes not what the child wants. However, they still have a choice. Watch to see what they do. They may surprise you. They may throw a holy terror temper tantrum. But we all know that sometimes the choices we are faced with are not always rainbows and butterflies… and we have to learn from that as well. So do these kids.

Yeah, this is what kept me from falling asleep. I am glad I made the choice to get up and write. I always feel a little bit better and a little more excited about what I am doing when I get to share it with others. If you have any questions, or if some of my sleepy time writing confused you, please feel free to comment below. I am always happy to help.

~Kari

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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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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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Very Special Special Olympics 2012

Tuesday, May 1st was our Special Olympics track and field events. All I can say is WOW… and that doesn’t even do it justice. There were over 250 children that participated and over 1500 fans, volunteers, and staff. And, believe it or not, I only got emotional ONCE! The rest of the time I was too busy with the kids to really let the enormity of this event sink in. But believe me… it was powerful.

My boys had a blast! They all did really really good in their events and seemed to have a good time despite the crowd and the noises. Kids with Autism probably have the most difficult time at the Special Olympics because of the sensory issues, but these boys held up like the champions they are!

Robin (my partner) came and took loads of pictures, but as you know, for anonymity sake, I can’t/won’t post pics of the boys… but I do have a few of the event in general to share!

The torch being carried in…

One of our local schools’ welding program made this amazing cauldron

for the event and a local painting place powder coated it for us!

The beginning of the parade of Athletes.

One of the biggest crowds to date!

There was one of these signs posted in most of the schools.

Kids that vow to stop using the word “Retarded” all got to sign it!

Some of the athletes!

One of our boys took 1st!!

I, personally, was having a blast!

Thanks for popping in to have a look see!

~Kari

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Filed under Autism, Autism Coolness!

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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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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NO!

DON’T! STOP!…

When someone says these words to us, it usually puts us on guard.

One thing that I have learned from being an aide in a classroom for kids with Autism (from an amazing BCBA) is that it is best to try to avoid those negative words to the best of our ability. If a child is in danger, then of course those would be the first words chosen.

I have seen, first hand, how changing our vocabulary from what we don’t want a child doing… TO what we want them to do, has a better outcome most every time.

For example:

Instead of saying “Stop running through the classroom”, say “I would like for you to come sit down.” using gentle redirection with the words.

Instead of saying “Don’t touch that”, say “Please put your hands down”, or “here so and so, take this”.

Instead of saying “No you can’t have that”, say “First we do this, then you can have that”, or “you can have that at _________(insert time)”.

These are things we can use with kids with Autism or NT kids. We all prefer a good redirection over an ass chewing any day!

~Kari

 

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