Tag Archives: Non-Verbal

Knowledge IS Power!

Long Time No See…

Well, for blogging, I have gotten a big fat “F” this semester. I have tons of excuses… no really I do! School, work, taking on the role of caregiver for my brother-in-law’s kids…. there are more I am sure. I thought now was as good a time as any to get you all updated… and I hope to be better in the near future.

The Boys…

Holy crap batman! I love what I do. These boys are making HUGE strides daily! I am so very proud of all the hard work these kids are doing on a daily basis. Compared to when I started, these kids can sit for longer periods of time and do tasks that were almost impossible. They take fewer breaks and are more excited to learn. I truly believe it is because they know that we believe in them and know that they can accomplish anything we give them. I can see that in their eyes and expressions.

“J” – This kid is really getting the idea of the iPad and has increased his vocabulary a ton! There are times when he grabs the iPad and tells us something and we miss it, so he will repeat it until we hear him… just like a typical teenager! The other day, he brought me his iPad and requested Waffles (breakfast item he has frequently, but he wanted it in the middle of the day). The funny thing was, is that he had already dragged me to the freezer to point at the waffles and I had told him that those were for breakfast. The even funnier thing was that when he brought me the iPad to tell me he wanted waffles, he pushed the button over and over quickly which made it sound like a Rapper… waf-waffl-waf-waffle-waffles. After that, I couldn’t resist popping one in the toaster for him. I am a sucker for a funny kid.

“E” – Has had many successes this year. He is so bright and so talented. It is really cool watching him figure out this world. He would be happiest if we just left him alone, but we can also see that he really likes to learn… on his own terms. We really don’t let him get away with that and I think he likes the structure… but would never admit it. This kid loves to dance. We play YouTube videos as primers for academics and there are some really cool ones that he just LOVES to get up and dance to. We let him… IF… he is in the “dance circle”. It is nice to see him cut loose.

“D” – Oh man… this kid has improved socially SO much. He is my football field sized personal space kid and he is really allowing more people – especially the ones he knows – in his space for longer periods of time. He is starting to trust more. His behavior issues have plummeted for the most part. That is a wonderful thing for us because it allows for more learning to take place. He is also our personal “time-manager”. He knows when things are supposed to happen and makes sure that we ALL know.

“N” – Dang this kid is so smart. He is learning to use the iPad more for communicating his needs and wants. It is so fun to see how FAST he is catching on to using it. It is like we have unlocked a part of him that has been just waiting patiently for the teachers to catch up. He is also super helpful in the classroom and is able to follow directions for cleaning up, pushing in chairs, putting away things, getting things… etc. He really has come a long way too. I am super proud of him and his accomplishments.

All of these guys have come a long way. I am so lucky to be a part of their lives.

Knowledge IS Power…

I didn’t want to bust out right away with my thoughts on the shooting and how the shooter may or may not have a spectrum disorder. I needed to settle my anger and think things through. So, here goes… Whether or not that shooter had an ASD is really not the point. The point is, he massacred kids. Whatever your beliefs on gun control isn’t the point. The point is, he massacred kids P.E.R.I.O.D.

What I am really getting at is that the world needs educated about ASD’s. The world would understand that someone with JUST an ASD isn’t likely to premeditate a massacre. I read somewhere (I would give the proper source if I could remember it… and will if I find it again) that people with an ASD are not PRO-actively violent, but they are REactive. They will not sit around and premeditate a murder, but they may lash out in fear… and by lash out I mean tantrum and if you happen to get in the way of the tantrum, you may get hurt.

I work with a child that is still working on communication. When he is frustrated because he is unable to communicate his needs, he will “tantrum” and that involves pinching… a small violence… but reactive to his frustration… not PRE-meditated.

I don’t live in the shoes of parents with a child on the spectrum, so I can’t possibly know what it feels like to have your child stared at, mocked, or thought of as a monster. I do know from my outings with the boys that there are a lot of looks and snickers, but there are a lot of kind people too. I don’t know how many times you have had to say the words “he/she has autism” or the pain that you must feel, but I do know that the more we educate people, the better off these kids will be. People will finally understand that the person that walked in to that school that day MAY have had an ASD, but he surely had other issues as well. The ASD alone was not the culprit.

I hope that I got my point across and that I did it in a way that is respectful.

Last but not least…

Something is brewing… something really cool. I will share all of the details when I can. Just keep me in your thoughts and prayers. God knows what it is so just put in a good word for me.

Thanks for reading!

~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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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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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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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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