Tag Archives: spectrum disorder

Beautiful Beginnings

The classroom is still a work in progress and the kids will arrive on the 11th of March. To say I am excited is an understatement. Once again I am fortunate to have state of the art equipment and curriculum to be able to give these kids the best chance at learning all they can.

Yesterday I watched a documentary on Netflix called Loving Lampposts. Although I don’t agree with some of the things presented, there are definitely some things in there worth watching. One quote really struck me. “You haven’t got a big enough imagination of what your child could become.” ~Johnny.  This is what keeps me going. I know I can make a difference. I feel it in my bones. I just want to be able to help these kids unlock their dreams.

To give you a glimpse into the classroom, I took a few pictures.

This is looking toward the front of the classroom. We have a Smart Board and a regular white board.

Also notice the cool rocking chairs! Love those!!

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This is a view of the front from farther back, showing my awesome set of

windows and the student desks as well as the work/lunch table.

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This is a view of the kitchen and storage area.

We have a stove and a refrigerator. This way we can learn to cook and clean.

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The entrance to the room as well as our kitchen sink.

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This is the creation station. Manipulatives, markers, construction paper, etc.

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The Calming Room. A place to take a break.

Not pictured is the wonderful swing that we will have for another calming break option.

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I look forward to the many decorations that my kids will help me put on the walls. The room needs their touch to make it complete.

In just over a week, my classroom will be filled with the sounds of learning, ABA style! I can’t wait!

Thanks for popping in!

~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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Operant Conditioning – Reinforcement and Punishment

I have spent the better part of the last two days sick. It is hard enough to study when you are feeling your best!

Anyway, part of my readings for this week included Operant Conditioning and the wonderful world of Positive/Negative Reinforcement and Positive/Negative Punishment. This really should be review for me as I have had all this information before, but for some reason I really never could wrap my brain around this. It confuses me how there could be negative reinforcement and positive punishment!!

Lucky for me, I have to be supervised by a BCBA (what I want to be when I grow up), so for this weeks meeting (done on the phone while she was headed for Chicago), she sorted it out for me in a way that I can understand. AND… because I love dearly how she explains things to me, I thought I would share so that maybe it will help this concept click with someone else!

The best way to figure out what is happening is to use the phrase…

“In the presence of ___Reinforcement (R) or Punishment (P)__, the behavior ___increased (+) or decreased (-).

So, let me give you some examples that make sense in the real world.

Positive Reinforcement

We want “J” to use his voice (speak out loud), so we will reinforce his talking behavior with a skittle.

In the presence of a skittle (R),”J’s” talking behavior increases (+).

Negative Reinforcement

“N” will sometimes avoid a math problem. We want him to pay attention. We will use his favorite chip as a reinforcement to decrease his avoidance behavior.

In the presence of “N’s” favorite chip (R), “N’s” avoidance behavior decreases (-)

Positive Punishment

“D” does not like speech. To him, it is a punishment. He escapes to the Tan Room for a break.

In the presence of speech (P), “D’s” escape behavior increases (+).

Negative Punishment

“E” will sometimes stomp at lunchtime. We want him to stop stomping. We remove his plate of food. He stops stomping.

In the presence of plate removal (P), “E’s” stomping behavior decreases (-)

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I sure hope this helps you as much as it did me!!

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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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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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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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