Tag Archives: Disorders

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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Filed under Autism, Lessons, Other, Tools

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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Filed under Autism, Behaviors, Field Trips, Lessons

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!

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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I am so ready…

…to go back to school!!

I am pretty sure that all of you parents are ready for school to start back up too! AND… hopefully the kids are just as ready!

I wondered a lot this past couple of weeks what the boys were up to. Wonder if they had a good break. Hope that they had a great Christmas with their families. I am sure they did.

I had a pretty good break myself. There were definitely a few hiccups, but nothing that a positive attitude and God can’t fix. I needed the relaxation and to refill my “cup”.

BUT!!!… I am so ready to:

  • Hear – Good morning Ka eee
  • See – their smiling faces
  • High Five – their wonderful hands
  • Work – harder than we ever had

Tomorrow can not get here fast enough. Heck… even the teacher called me today excited to get back to work. We have a great team and I am so very blessed to work with such amazing people. And, I am so very blessed to work with such amazing boys!

I will let you know how it goes.

~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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About My Blog

Howdy folks!

My name is Kari Williams and I am an Aide in a classroom for kids with Autism.

First and foremost it is very important that you understand that the information contained in this blog will be portrayed with extreme caution. All of the kids I work with deserve the up-most respect and confidentiality. With that said, I will never identify any of the kids by name and all experiences and activities will be generalized to respect my boys.

This blog is mainly for me. I am sure I will capture a few people’s attention along the way and I hope that I will provide you with some insight and information in to my experiences in working with the Autistic.

Please feel free to comment – but remember – all people have their own opinions and are to be respected even if you don’t agree. I will monitor all comments and reserve the right to remove any comments that are disrespectful of my words, my followers words, or of the kids I work with.

Hope you find this blog informative and enjoyable!

~Kari

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