Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Games that combine relationship experience with learning

These are items I discovered on my own and purchased.

My kidlet and I played this one for the first time today: K-9 Capers -- it's a variation (in RDI we call that "same but different") on the old "Concentration" or "Memory" card matching game, where you turn all the cards face down, but instead of matching like cards when you turn them over, you are looking for sequential numbers. You can't put a card in your pile unless you find them in order, starting w/ one. There is a die included that goes up to three, and whatever number you roll on the die is the number of cards you get to turn over on your turn. Pretty cool! You can sneak in some spotlighting for thinking ahead (there's the FOUR, I'm going to need that one after I find my THREE) or some referencing if you remember the location of the card your partner needs. And a much higher objective would be to try to distract/fool your partner to choose the WRONG card as part of your strategy. Oh, yeah, *wink*, there's some counting to practice in the game, too. There are many stores that sell this game; I believe I ordered mine from here: http://www.reallygreattoys.com/default.aspx

K-9 Capers Product Description:
The Pick-Up-Pooches Memory Game
Nine pooches are dressed to the nines in this card game where the dogs steal the show. Roll the die and use your memory to find performing pooches hiding in the game board. The only catch is that you must collect them in numerical order! Round up all nine canines to win.
Ages: 6 & upPlayers: 2 to 4Playing time: About 12 minutesContents: 36 cards, 1 die and Rules of Play

We also played "What's Gnu" again today. If you're planning ahead for holiday gifts, I thought I'd share some of the games we've been playing and how we're using them. I have a different version of What's Gnu than the one pictured here: http://www.brainydays.com.au/product_info.php?products_id=31 My version has a card of three rows, and each row has one letter filled in and two letters blank, and my version is by Discovery Toys.

The uncertainty (in RDI, we're all about "productive uncertainty") of which letters you're going to draw is gentle, and you have to rely on a bit of creative thinking as you combine the letters on the card with the ones you drew, and there's a bit of forethought combined with creative thinking involved as you place consonants and vowels in strategic places that will allow for more word combinations. It's a great place for the guide to model some self talk as you spotlight how you decide where to place lone consonants and vowels in order to maximize the chances that you'll fill in that blank later.

Oh, yeah, *wink* there's spelling and vocabulary practice as a background, too, and even some referencing, like the time I spelled "O A K" and my daughter said "that's not a word!" and we talked about oak trees, and then my daughter asked me if "F I R" is a word, and we talked about a fir tree. (We had a tree theme today, I guess *grin*).


Monday, September 29, 2008

Baking bread for special diets

My daughter and I made our second loaf of gluten free, casein free, soy free bread *together* today.
(Gluten is the protein found in wheat, barley, rye; Casein is the protein found in milk.) We have been GFCF for 7.5 years, and my daughter was a fantastic responder to the diet. The past several years, we allowed some deliberate dietary infraction while using enzymes that digest the gluten and casein, and yet, she's developed some severe eczema and rashes, and recent allergy testing revealed some moderate and severe reactions to both milk and wheat plus several other foods. So, we've gone back to strict GFCF + soy free, and are trying to find a really good bread. GFCF breads are different from wheat breads, and we have to rotate our use of eggs. Egg free GFCFSF products are sometimes more like hockey pucks than something edible. This one is from a mix by Pamela's.

We are using an intervention called Relationship Development Intervention, to remediate the core deficits of autism, and cooking and baking together is a wonderful backdrop to RDI(r) and to homeschooling. http://www.rdiconnect.com/ We are also able to to sneak in reading when we read the recipes, math with measuring ingredients, and when we decorate cakes, we work on spelling. Soon, we'll be writing about our activities and blogging about them! If you are looking for a place to ask questions about RDI(r), join us on a yahoo group called "Autism Remediation For Our Children". It's a friendly group and there are many experienced parents willing to share their stories with families looking for information and hope.

Introducing a few products!

Here are reviews of products that I was given in order to use and review them:

Parent Success Cards Parent Success Cards are a boxed set of 50 double-sided high quality cards that contain 100 affirmations and reflections for parents, produced by Horizons Developmental Remediation Center, a center that provides RDI (r) or Relationship Development Intervention consultation to many parents of children on the autism spectrum. The cost of $24.95 is similar to the cost of a book about autism, parenting, or one you might find in the self-help section of the bookstore. The cards are the size of an oversized playing card, and can be displayed (one at a time) in a refrigerator magnet picture frame. When my cards arrived, I immediately sat down with the cards and read every one, and found that several spoke to me in a big way. (I suspect that several were written with me in mind! *grin*) The reflections are beautifully written and the cards just as beautifully presented and are designed to prompt thinking and growth. The thoughts on them provide a nice balance between the "big picture" and "what can I do right now?". Since my set of cards arrived, I have held several of the reflections in my mind, reflecting on where my attitude and actions need adjustment, a prompting ideas for new journal entries (when I have time to write). The same quotes would be attractive printed in a parent journal or a week-at-a-glance calendar form. I plan to post one card a week on the refrigerator door for encouragement and reflection or an occasional kick in the pants. If you're looking for encouragement, reflections, affirmations, and an opportunity for growth in your journey on the remediation pathway, I recommend the Parent Success Cards! The only negatives involve the actual printing on a few of the cards. A card or two has copy printed too close to the edges of the card and a smaller font might have been used. I have to work a little harder to read the one striped card (there is something visually distracting about those stripes!). And some of the font/color combinations make a three or four of the cards more difficult to read than the others, and I suggest that a simple and bold font be used on any dark blue or burgandy background when the 2nd edition is printed.

The Schoolhouse Planner ($39, 247 page e-book, from The Old Schoolhouse) An easy two-word summary would be "customizable" and "comprehensive". The Schoolhouse Planner is more than a school planner; it is a comprehensive tool for planning a year of anything and everything related to your household and home school. Users can download and type into the document and print only the pages needed. There are calendars (year at a glance, monthly) ready to print, and with each monthly section, TSP includes information and resources for academics, teaching helps and ideas and recipes. TSP includes any form you might need for planning or recording data for home or school, including annual plans and yearly goals, progress reports, nature reports, financial planning, Bible study, important date planning, book and audio/video logs, grade reports, gardening planning, gift planning, and chore charts and housekeeping schedules, grocery lists, pet schedules, you name it and it’s there—the list goes on and on. (When I said the book is comprehensive, I meant it!) There are chore pages that use symbols instead of words for pre-readers or children who use visual schedules.If you need a framework on paper as a way to organize your days and plan your school year, this product has all the tools. The digital copy allows purchasers to print only what they will use. The $39 price tag seems expensive to me in light of printing costs, particularly for those who will choose to print most of the 247 page book (toner and printer paper are not cheap!), however, I believe this one is so comprehensive, this will be the only planner you’ll buy. Allergy alert: For those of us with a child on a special diet, know that many of the the recipes included contain milk, eggs and wheat.

The Old Schoolhouse Digital Magazine ($16.95/one year subscription)I have to admit to being resistant to technology when it comes to reading material on a computer screen or new devices (like the Kindle). I subscribed to the print version of this magazine for the first time this year, and dove into my first issue with enthusiasm when it arrived a couple of weeks ago. This particular issue has a special emphasis on home schooling a child with special needs and the content has been very helpful for me as I begin to implement a Charlotte Mason philosophy more at home. If you’re home schooling (and/or supplementing public school specialized education services) a child with special learning needs, this issue is packed with information and ideas from families who walk in our shoes. The digital version looks exactly like the print version I received via US Mail, and is surprisingly (to me, the techie skeptic) easy to navigate. There is a guide to getting started opposite the cover page, and the navigation tools are user friendly. Open the table of contents and you are able to jump to an article with one click of the mouse, which is much faster than flipping through a print magazine. Product information is important to me as I learn about new materials that would work well with my child’s learning style, and I’m happy to report that the links to the advertisers are quick, too, requiring just one click of the mouse to learn more about any product in the magazine. The cost of the digital version is cheaper than the print version, and the idea of storing the electronic version on a flash drive as opposed to storing a year’s worth of print copies is appealing to me as I work to get organized at home. I sense that I may enjoy and soon prefer the digital version of the magazine.

free issue containing information about homeschooling a child w/ special learning needs here:

Here are two examples of products that I stumbled across that are marketed to homeschoolers that would be excellent for those of us teaching individuals on the autism spectrum (I don't own them, yet, and since we pay for most therapies and interventions out of pocket, I have to pick and choose what I buy, and these are serious considerations for me right now):

Clean N' Flip Laundry For Kids: A Fun Step-by-Step Laundry System!rel=”nofollow” -

My Days... My Pictures -

INTRODUCTION: New to homeschooling (but not new to autism)

I joined the world of full-time homeschoolers, reluctantly, after Christmas of 2007, when I accepted the fact that the public schools are not equipped to educated my child with autism, and that maybe, just maybe, *I* am.

Full-time homeschooler? Is there such a thing as a part-time homeschooler, you may be wondering? Well, yes, there is! Many parents of children on the autism spectrum supplement heavily at home on nights and weekends what the public schools do during the weekdays. I was one of them for over six years. Or maybe we were homeschoolers who supplemented what we did at home with public school.

As I have entered the world of full-time homeschoolers, for one of my children, anyway, (the sibs are still in public school for now, although the idea of bringing them home grows more attractive all the time), I have learned of many resources that would have helped me teach my daughter at home when I was one of the part-time homeschoolers. I have been amazed by the variety of tools, curricula, information, resources available to homeschoolers. I can't believe I never thought to look there before!

My hope is that I would introduce parents like me to resources they might not have known about because they've never thought to look into the world of homeschooling, or who would not consider homeschooling because they did not feel they had the supports to do so. Whether you're a full-time homeschooler, or a part-timer, of a child on the autism spectrum or with other special learning needs, this blog is for you.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

GFCF Recipe Files

These are recipes that I use or have tried, recipes that are family friendly, many of them with "regular" items, so they don't require much specialty shopping. Some of them are naturally gfcf and some have been modified by me.

My recipe for salmon patties is HERE.
Check HERE for recipes I've blogged about.

# # #


"Smores" -- Not all Vacation Bible School theme snacks are easy to duplicate in GFCFSF fachion, but this one was. It's a giant marshmallow dipped about halfway in chocolate icing. The half with icing becomes the bottom half, and the icing is rolled in cookie crumbs. Do that, and you've got a "smore". For the cookie crumbs, I used OrgraN Outback Animals Cookies. I used Wilton's Class Buttercream Chocolate Icing Recipe for the icing. One of our snacks at this year's Boomerang Express were these "smores", originally a giant marshmallow dipped in some sort of milk based chocolate sauce and rolled in graham cracker crumbs.

I always use the Wilton Class Buttercream Icing recipe for my icing:

Wilton Class Buttercream Icing-thick consistency

1 cup solid white vegetable shortening (I use palm oil)
1 tsp flavoring (vanilla, almond or butter)
2 tablespoons water
1 lb (approx 4 cups) pur cane confectioners sugar
1 tablespoon Wilton Meringue Powder
A pinch of salt

Cream shortening, flavoring and water. Add dry ingredients and mix on medium speed until all ingredients have been thoroughly mixed together. Blend an addditional minute or so, until creamy.

Thin with water, a tablespoon at a time, until you reach the consistency you desire.

CHOCOLATE BUTTERCREAM Add 3/4 cup cocoa or three 1 oz unsweetened chocolate squares, melted, and an additional 1 to 2 tablespoons of water to the recipe. Mix until well blended.


SALMON FILETS: I love borrowing cookbooks from the library. One of Nigella Lawson's cookbooks contains a recipe for salmon cooked on the stovetop. I don't have the exact recipe. Here's what I recall, though. She mixes sugar and dry mustard as a "rub" for a salmon filet and she cooks it in olive oil in a saute pan on the stovetop. My favorite version is to use Boar's Head honey mustard instead of the dry powdered mustard, rubbing it onto the fillet, as I saute the salmon in olive oil. I sprinkle sugar on the fish as it browns.


ROASTED CHICKEN: I borrow from my fav Paula Deen for roasted chicken. I had always cooked a whole chicken at 350 degrees Fahrenheit until it was done, but Paula Deen cooks her roasted chicken at a higher temperature for part of the cooking time, and then she lowers the temperature for the remainder. I stuff my bird with whatever round fruit I have on hand. An apple sliced. A lemon. An orange. If I have a lemon, I slice it open, squeeze the juice of the lemon over the chicken and stuff the cavity w/ the lemon pieces. Sprinkle the skin with chunky sea salt, and you're good to go. (Paula Deen lifts the skin of her bird and stuffs butter and spices just underneath the skin. That's good, too.) Anyway, now I start my roasted chicken at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for about 45 minutes and reduce the heat to 350 until done (use a cooking thermometer), usually another 30 min to an hour, depending on the size of the bird.

From the cookbook
Southern Living 2006 Annual Recipes
page 131
Honey Chicken Salad
Prep time: 20 min
"The mayonnaise-honey mixture is reminiscent of poppy seed dressing. For a less sweet dressing, reduce the amount of honey."
4 cups chopped cooked chicken
3 celery ribs, diced (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 cup sweetened dried cranberries
1/2 cup pecans, toasted
1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
1/3 cup honey
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1. Combine first 4 ingredients
2. Whisk together mayonnaise and next 3 ingredients. Add to chicken mixture, stirring gently until combined. Garnish if desired. Makes 4-6 servings.
from Tessa Mosher, Bradenton, Florida
Crunchy Asian Chicken Salad

I got this one from a cooking class when I lived in California. I want to try it w/ a mock (fake) soy sauce (see tacanow.org for fake soy sauce recipes).


1/2 cup oil
2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon f inely chopped fresh gingerroot or 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons oriental sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard

In a jar w/ a tight fitting lid, combine all dressing ingredients, shake well. In a large non-metal bowl, combine dressing and chicken to coat. Cover, refrigerate one hour.


3 cups coursely shredded cooked chicken
1 cup shredded carrots
4 oz (1 cup) pea pods, cut in half diagonally, blanched
1/2 cup thinly sliced radishes
1/4 cup green onions
2 cups shredded Chinese cabbage
peanuts or cashews (optional)
4 egg roll salad bowls or fried wonton skins (for gluten free, omit these)

Add carrots, pea pods, green onions, and radishes to chicken-dressing mixture, toss gently. Line salad bowls with cabbage leaves. Place 1/2 cup shredded chicken mixture. Sprinkle with peanuts or cashews.

To toast sesame seed, spread in skillet, stir over med high heat for 1 - 2 minutes until golden brown.

To blanch pea pods, plunge pea pods into boiling water for 10-15 seconds, then into ice water.


This one is so old, I can't remember where I got it. Probably Bon Appetit magazine in the early '90's. Here is the recipe, exactly as it is written (I would not use the marinade to baste twice during grilling.) We have used different spices -- rosemary is good, too.

1/2 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon dried whole oregano
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 bay leaf, crushed
4 chicken breast halves, skinned and boned

Combine first 7 ingredients in a zip-top heavy duty plastic bag. Add chicken, and marinate for 20 minutes; remove chicken from marinade, reserving marinade. Grill chicken, covered, over medium coals 8-10 minutes on each side, basting twice w/ marinade. Yield: 4 servings

PS from Penny: Baste w/ that marinade at your own risk, particulary toward the end of the grilling time.


This recipe comes from a gal I worked with in Tennessee many years ago. The recipe is quite forgiving, and I have cut the sugar in half, omitted the eggs completely, and I promise that it is delicious with coconut milk to replace the cow's milk.

I'll type the original for you -- just know that modifying it to become gluten and casein free is quite easy and very delish. The topping is optional. (PS: I omit the pecans. My mother makes the topping w/ oats instead of pecans.)

3-4 cups of cooked, mashed sweet potatoes
1 stick butter or margarine
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs beaten slightly
2 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup milk

Mix the above ingredients with a hand mixer until smooth.

Top with this mixture:

1/2 cup flour
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 stick butter or margarine
1 cup pecan halves (optional)

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Pot Roast

I make roast in the crock pot using diluted (organic!) coffee for broth. I salt the chuck roast w/ sea salt and put maybe 2 cups coffee, 2 cups of water, and then I add more water to cover if needed. A tablespoon or two of tomato paste is optional (it's good either way). I cook it on high for a couple of hours and on low for the rest of the day, and I try to start it early, between 7 and 8 am so we can eat it around 6 pm.

You may add pototoes and carrots to the recipe if you like.

Some people add an envelope of Lipton onion soup mix. (I do not like onions.)

If I have a gluten free bouillion cube or broth base, I add that, too. Trader Joes recently had a new broth base.

I sometimes make pot roast in the oven, too, starting it at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for an hour (longer if the roast is big) and then lowering the temp to 225 degrees F until it is fork tender.

NO, it does NOT taste like coffee. The first time I used coffee as a broth base for a pot roast with my mother visiting, she turned up her nose at it as I was putting it together and turning on the crock pot. At the end of the day when we were eating it, she could not believe I began with coffee.

in the crock pot
If you have browned meat in the freezer, this one is really quick.

1 pound of browned ground meat (beef or turkey)
1 jar of squash baby food
1 jar of carrots baby food
4 small cans of tomato paste
1 large can of corn-free tomato sauce
distilled water to thin to desired consistency
1 tablespoon McCormick's Italian Seasoning
a couple of tablespoons of olive oil
a couple of dashes of balsamic vinegar
a teaspoon of garlic from the jar in the refrigerator
sugar to taste maybe a quarter cup, maybe a little less
dash or two of Frank's Louisiana hot sauce OR
a pinch or two of red pepper flakes

dump everything in, stir it up, and heat. you have to watch it if
it's on high, or the edges will blacken/burn.


Dickie Chong's Teriyaki Chicken Recipe
(tacanow has a recipe for mock soy sauce that is soy free)

1 cup wheat free soy sauce or tamari sauce
1/2 cup water (distilled)
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp sherry (optional)
2 cloves crushed garlic
1/4 tsp ginger
dash of hot sauce or pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)

Mix ingredients in a saucepan; bring to a boil then simmer 1/2
hour. Cool and use.

Marinate chicken in sauce for several hours. Cover and bake at 350
degrees F for 1 hour

or put the chicken in a crock pot and pour sauce on top. Cook on
high for a couple of hours and on low the remainder of the day (6
hours or so)


This came from a Sunday magazine that accompanies the sunday paper, and I altered it a tad to make it totally GFCF:

Main ingredient: RIBS

Put the ribs in the dish you're going to bake them in.

First, salt and pepper the ribs. You may sprinkle them with GFCF spices (McCormicks) of your choosing. The original recipe calls for paprika and garlic salt. I like ground red pepper or sprinkling them with Frank's Louisiana hot sauce, but you have to be careful or you can overdo the hot sauce.

Then squirt a THICK (THICK!) layer of Frenches yellow mustard over the ribs. Take the back of a spoon and spread the mustard evenly over the ribs.

Pack brown sugar into the mustard.

Bake for an hour to an hour and a half at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Then turn heat down to around 225 for another 2 to 4 hours, until the ribs fall apart, or are "fork tender".


I spotted this one in the Detroit Free Press food section. Once I added the maple dijon sauce ingredients INTO the burger, and yes, it was tasty! We serve these bunless with the sauce on the side for dipping. The sauce makes an excellent salad dressing, too. I have never grilled these -- I've always cooked them in a little bit of oil on the stovetop in a saute pan.
Apple turkey burgers with maple-dijon sauce

May 31, 2006

Serves: 4 / Preparation time: 15 minutes / Total time: 30 minutes

Oil for the grill grate

1/4 cup mayonnaise

2 tablespoons real maple syrup

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 1/4 pounds ground turkey breast

1/2 cup chunky applesauce

1/4 cup real bacon bits

1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

4 hamburger buns, toasted

4 lettuce leaves

4 tomato slices

Preheat the grill for direct heat. Oil the grill grate just before

To make the sauce, in a small bowl combine the mayonnaise, maple syrup and Dijon mustard; set the sauce aside.

To make the burgers, in a medium bowl mix together the turkey, applesauce, bacon bits, poultry seasoning, salt and pepper.

Form the mixture into 4 even patties slightly larger than the buns.

Place the burgers on the hot, oiled grill and cook for 5 to 6 minutes per side or they are cooked through.

Serve hot on toasted buns topped with the maple-Dijon sauce, lettuce and tomato.

From "Sandra Lee Semi-Homemade Grilling", by Sandra Lee (Meredith, $19.95). Tested by Susan Selasky for the Free Press Test Kitchen. 516 calories (45% from fat), 26 grams fat (5 grams sat. fat), 38x grams carbohydrates, 32 grams protein, 906 mg sodium, 117 mg cholesterol, 108 mg calcium, 2 grams fiber.

Home Style Country Sausage
Collector's Issue, "Light and Tasty" magazine, page 7

1 medium tart apple, peeled and shredded
½ cup cooked brown rice
2 tablespoons grated onion (we omit this)
2 garlic cloves, minced (i go light on the garlic)
1½ teaspoons rubbed sage
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
½ teaspoon dried thyme
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
1 pound lean ground turkey

In a bowl, combine the first 10 ingredients; mix well. Crumble turkey over mixture and mix well. Shape into eight ½ inch thick patties. In a large nonstick skillet coated w/ nonstick cooking
spray, cook patties for 4-6 minutes on each side or until juices run clear.


One patty equals 111 calories, 5 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 45 mg cholesterol, 348 mg sodium, 6 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 10 g protein.

Meat Loaf

½ cup ketchup
2 tablespoons brown sugar
½ teaspoon McCormick's powdered mustard

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons seasoned salt
1½ teaspoons onion powder (I omit this)
¼ teaspoon McCormick's garlic powder
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 egg
1½ cups Rice Crunch Ems or Corn Crunch Ems Cereal, CRUSHED
1½ pounds ground beef

In a bowl, combine ketchup, brown sugar and ground mustard. Set aside 4 tablespoons to top meat loaf.

To remaining mixture, add balsamic vinegar, salt onion powder, garlic powder and cereal. Let stand at least 5 minutes. Add ground beef and mix well. Bake in 350 degrees Fahrenheit oven for an hour. Spread reserved ketchup mixture over top of meat loaf. Bake 15 minutes longer.

I adapted this from "Tangy Meat Loaf," page 78, "a 'best of the
best' recipes from the Wheat Chex cereal permanent file of all-time
favorites". The name of the cook book is "Best Recipes from the
backs of Boxes, Bottles, Cans, and Jars," by Ceil Dyer.

Faith Based Inclusion Resources - JUST the resources (no story)

Newer entries are at the top of this list of resources
In the search box, type, "special needs" or "autism" or "Amy Fenton Lee"

Making VBS Work For Everyone, Penny Rogers blog entry:


The volunteer disability ministry blog for Bethlehem Baptist Church:


Kathleen Bolduc has a new book: http://www.kathleenbolduc.com/books.html


From a Lenten devotional
blog entry: http://chefpenny.blogspot.com/2010/02/when-church-doesnt-work.html

Lessons from the Valley, Sonya Shafer article
Article: An Untreated Epidemic (Catholic Weekly)

Blog Entry: All Those Who Suffer in Body, Mind, or Spirit

Web site: Finding God in Autism

Letter from a Boise mom to her pastor(used with permission):

Pastor T,

I want to brag about our church, and I thought, perhaps, you wouldn't mind.

We moved to Boise in the fall of 2007. In January, a neighbor invited us to Vineyard, and it was the first church we'd visited here that felt like home. We'd been at our previous church for over 20 years, so that
was significant as we were still grieving the loss. It was also significant because we have a son with autism. We are an "extra grace required" family.

There are so many challenges for an ASD kid. Like being color-blind, they lack emotional/social intelligence. They can't "read" us. Most kids on the spectrum have sensory issues -- to sound, light, touch, motion. Many have visual and auditory processing issues. Some are cognitively delayed. Some cannot communicate at all. Some have other health problems -- allergies, seizures, headaches. Ordinary life is overwhelming for these little people. Many of their aberrant behaviors are simply coping mechanisms. They perceive chaos, so they seek predictability in their world.

Joshua's autism is relatively mild, yet I can feel him bracing himself as we walk from the parking lot to the buildings. He distracts himself with a chant or a song. Counting cars. Fixing his shoe. We get to the door. First, a complete stranger greets us. Does he have to say something back? Then we walk in, and the scene completely changes. He lets off one little screech from the pressure. People glance, and he regulates himself. ("no screaming. break it.") We walk the gauntlet of Heritage hall. There's an enormous number of people, all talking at once. The sound bounces all around, people dart this way and that, or stop in little clumps. It's an obstacle course just to go anywhere. But we do. And we arrive arrive in the children's wing. Another
threshold. Light, sound, everything shifts. Then we wait in line to check in. No one knows how long we will wait. Again, the room is full of people talking, standing, walking, kids wiggling. Then we get our name-stickers, and go to class. For many kids on the spectrum, this would already be too much. But he loves to come to church. He's my hero.

Our son has always been welcomed in children's ministries. He's allowed to hang out in classes below his chronological age. Sometimes he participates, sometimes he does his own thing. If he takes off his shoes (sensory issues) they tolerate it. Some of the teachers even smile and tell me he's a joy! He loves being there. He loves being around other kids, even if he doesn't know what to do with them. He will memorize everyone's names, or attempt to. He gets to sing. He gets to color. He feels like he belongs. Sometimes there are issues, but we have never felt unwelcome. We are loved. But there's more...

Last week, a classmate had a birthday. The mom wanted to bring cupcakes. Actually -- frosted muffins, I believe. She called the church to ask if anyone had food allergies. Joshua is gluten (wheat) free. So she actually took it upon herself to make a batch of gluten free muffins, with home-made frosting, so that EVERYONE could participate in this party. Which meant my little boy. I'm choking up as I type. We were floored. I don't even know who it was. We heard this second-hand from the Sunday school teacher.

I know many families around the country with special needs kids who cannot even go to church, let alone get involved in activities or ministry. Either the programs are inflexible, they experience judgment from others when their kids act out (including pastors and staff) or there simply is no place where their kids can go without causing too many distractions or trouble. Some parents tag-team, taking the rest of the family in shifts. Some simply give up. There's no room at the inn. We have an online group where we encourage each other, pray for each other, examine scriptures together, share each other's burdens. But it's not the same as being connected in person.

I wanted to thank you for pastoring a church that "loves people."

In Him,



Christ for People with Developmental Disabilities

Hope Award: Minnesota's Christ for People leaves no one behind Alisa Harris http://www.worldmag.com/articles/15875

Making A Difference Magazine Summer 2009

VBS (Boomerang Express) success story: http://chefpenny.blogspot.com/2009/07/all-aboard-boomerang-express.html





Book for children, "What is Communion?" by ~ Victoria L. Stankus, Author ~http://stores.lulu.com/mygodissobig

Church Reaches Out to Families of Special Needs Children

Insight for Living special needs ministry Also, look for Chuck Swindoll's series and blog.

Corinne Paulson generously gave me permission to share their family's decision, which gives families another option. She wrote, "God has changed my mind about the typical children and youth programs set up based on the public school system grade segregations. My 7-year-old son with high functioning autism is doing better in service with us, because it's a calmer atmosphere and he's learning to sit quietly, and participate in the various parts of the service. He is going to need this skill as an adult more than being "tolerated" and allowed to goof off in kid's church. Again, he is high functioning, so this is different from a child who can't be quiet in service. My oldest has aspergers, undiagnosed, and he, along with his siblings,is doing well in service, taking notes, participating, etc. We pulled the kidsfrom classes this past January. It was tough cuz most people didn't understand and think we are just mean and controlling. We did it cuz God told us to, andI'm glad we did."

Foundation for Inclusive Religious Education (FIRE)

Congregation Or Ami, Calabasas, CA: http://www.orami.org/community/specialneeds/

From Carolyn in Ohio, this article: http://www.toledodiocese-spl.org/Equal_Access_Ministry.html

Thanks to Queen Mum Amy for this one: Helping Autism Families Survive Church

Thanks to Carolyn Gammicchia for these resources:

I've spoken with Carol Race, someone who has been an active autism advocate formany years in MN, and I would ask that you include her story and what transpiredto bring about the "Project - Adam's Pew". She also offers many resources alsohere:http://project-adams-pew.org/resources.aspx

There also is a very good news story of what transpired for the Race family. Carol has actually move from the negative this has caused her family and hercommunity to try to affect change in this area. Something that is verycommendable and shows her ability for forgiveness of individuals who were notaccepting of her son.http://abcnews.go.com/TheLaw/Story?id=4885322

The Autism Society of Conn. has a program they've developed and utilize acrossfaiths so you may want to contact Sara Reed (888-453-4975) there to see ifthey'd be willing to share that or act as a resource for folks to contact. Theyalso promote "Guard a Kid" which is a nice way for folks to ensure their child'ssafety in many ways, not specifically designed for children on with ASD, but they have some great stuff:http://www.guard-a-kid.com/

(Thank you, Carolyn!)


Faith Inclusion Network: When autism isn't a barrier to faith and ‘Getting started’ is aim of disabilities advocates

This Dan Coulter article Autism and the Pew Lady.

"Jessica's Little Sister," by Debi Tyree Haney was written specifically for introducing autism to a childrens ministry at a church in Tennessee. Debi tells me she has a few copies left, at $10 + shipping. (I want her to convert it to an e-book and a PowerPoint presentation for use at church.)

There are several "secular" resources that are helpful that I want to mention. I recommend anything by Paula Kluth, but in particular, her books, "You're Going to Love This Kid!," and "Just Give Him The Whale!". Send a group from your church to hear Kluth speak in person.

Another expert in the area of inclusion is Richard Villa. He, like Kluth, is quite creative, and his successes in school settings can be applied in faith based settings. Send a group from your church to hear Villa speak in person.

Carol Barnier is a resource for distractible children, and she has several web sites and books. Some children need to move in order to learn, and Barnier has some great ideas for appropriate movement in learning settings. Her new book, "The Big WHAT NOW Book of Learning Styles," is one of my new favorites. Barnier's presentations to homeschool conventions are available here for purchase(search for her by surname), and, although these presentations are about homeschooling, I think they'll be helpful in worship settings, too, so, I highly recommend her presentations about teaching the distractible child and the one called, "Don't Miss the Gift In This Child".

Ross Greene, PhD's book, Lost at School, is excellent (homeschoolers, don't let the title fool you). (See my post about "Lost at School".)

Children in Sunday School classes need a bulletin just as much as adults in the sanctuary do! Visual schedules are helpful for many individuals with "invisible" disabilities like autism. Consider Boardmaker software for the church. (Some libraries own a copy to loan to patrons.) Linda Hodgdon has some free icons for visual systems on her web site.

Disability is Natural is not specifically a faith based resource, but I want to include it here. I heard Kathie Snow speak several years ago at a church, and, while she never laid a hand on me, I feel like she figuratively grabbed me by the shoulders and shook me hard. She told our group that "WE ALL BELONG". We are all human beings and we don't have to do anything else to belong. Exclusion ANYwhere is wrong, because we ALL belong. Snow is a catalyst for changing the way I think about disabilities, and she has some thought provoking articles on her web site.

Barb Newman and http://www.clcnetwork.org/: Newman is the author of two books (I own the one about autism). I've seen Barb present in person, twice, and she is fantastic! Barb has just the right words to explain autism to an audience that knows little-to-nothing about autism. Her presentations are full of hints and tips and real life examples. And she knows more than autism. Barb is the author of "Autism and Your Church", and "Helping Kids Include Kids with Disabilities". CLC Network's web site is packed with resources. Please take the time to check it out. CLC Network has produced a training DVD, a social stories template for a worship setting (you add the names and the photographs), and they will come to your church to train staff.

You'll also find Barb Newman at the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship: http://www.calvin.edu/worship/stories/disability.php . This article was first published by the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, http://www.calvin.edu/worship/.

"Heads Up! is a company designed to provide expert information and products for special needs children. Our items have been selected to accommodate various learning styles and strengths, regardless of curriculum used. These special needs products have been found to be especially helpful for children who are distractible or hyperactive." (That quote is from the Heads Up! web site.) Heads Up is one of my favorite resources. Request a catalog for your church. Faith based settings may be interested in seat cushions, visual timers, fidgets, just for starters.

Heads Up! owner Melinda Boring is a popular speaker at homeschool conventions. One of her topics is about modifying and adapting curriculum, and some of her tips may be helpful at church. Search for her surname, "Boring" at Rhino Technologies to purchase audio CD's of Boring's presentations. Search for "disabilities" at Rhino Technologies, you'll find yet another set of options, although I am unfamiliar with them.

Through the Roof Ministries: http://www.throughtheroofministries.org/

Kathleen Deyer Bolduc is an author and speaker who is the mom of a child with autism.

Another mom, author and speaker is Kristi Chrysler.

I've seen Bill Gaventa present in person. He is a fantastic speaker and has a gigantic heart for faith based supports. My previous post contains notes I took from his presentation. You can find him here: http://rwjms2.umdnj.edu/boggscenter/projects/Faith_Based_Supports.htm

Journey Covenant Church in Redondo Beach, California has a ministry for children with autism. I'm proud to know some wonderful people at this church, from our years in California. Contact info is available at their web site:http://www.journeycovenant.org/app/ or http://www.friendsofangels.org/

A May 30, 2009, "That All May Worship" conference featured keynote speakers Erik W Carter, author of “Including People with Disabilities into Faith Communities: A Guide for Service Providers, Families and Congregations from Madison, Wisconsin, and Jackie Mills Fernald, Director of McLean Bible Church’s Access Ministry, the largest faith based ministry for people with disabilities in the country.

Thanks to Alexandria for this one: Local Churches Use Technology to Help the Hard of Hearing

Faith Communities and Their Inclusion of People with Disabilities: http://thechp.syr.edu/faithcom.htm

The ministry of Jack and Rebecca Sytsema, Children of Destiny: http://childrenofdestiny.org/ offers bulletin inserts for autism awareness and daily prayers sent to your e-mail inbox so that you can pray for your family or for a friend.

Interfaith Disability Connection Blog: http://www.interfaithdisability.org/blog/ Be sure to check the blogroll along the side for links to more related blogs.

A Jewish perspective from Rabbi Aaron Bergman: Treatment of disabled puts souls at stake: http://www.reecesrainbow.com/tzadikim.htm

Friendship Circle and Lifetown are absolutely incredible!

Thanks to JamBerry for this link: McLean Bible Church: http://www.mcleanbible.org/pages/page.asp?page_id=15709

The Gray Center has some resources, including a few blog entries: http://graycenter.wordpress.com/2008/01/28/autism-and-worship/

Friendship Ministries: http://www.friendship.org/

Training DVDs and trainers are available here: http://thejoyministry.org/

Godly Play is being used in some churches. A friend in Florida sent me this link.

Country music artist Tammy Vice has resources on her web site: http://www.tammyvice.com/ Go to the lower right hand corner and click on information for special needs ministry leaders and look for the pdf files with info for teachers. Vice recommended this book to me: Let All The Children Come To Me by MaLesa Breeding, Dana Hood, and Jerry Whitworth, which is a workbook for teachers that addresses attitudes and then gives some practical steps to teaching children with special needs. (Spend some time listening to Tammy sing, too!)

The Evangelical Covenant Church has recently added information related to disabilities and special needs: http://www.covchurch.org/resource-center/books/special-needs

Joni and Friends: http://www.joniandfriends.org/

First Presbyterian Church, Birmingham, Michigan: http://www.fpcbirmingham.org/ Look for Celebration Station on the web site. This church presents conferences on inclusion in faith based settings, usually in the winter. You might e-mail them for information if you're interested.

"The Special Needs Ministry Handbook: A Church's Guide to Reaching Children with Disabilities and Their Families" by Amy Rapada

The ARC often has local supports. Check your local chapter. This chapter offers information about local faith based support communities on the back of it's newsletter.

I used the "University of Google" to search for "special needs ministries". Lots of hits there. Here are a few:

If you have more resouces, please send them to me and I will add them. I'll make this a post that will grow as I come across more resources.

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Disclosure Policy

This policy is valid from 29 September 2008

"Homeschooling, Autism & Stuff", formerly called "New To Homeschooling (but not new to autism)" is a personal blog written and edited by me. This blog rarely accepts any form of cash advertising, sponsorship, or paid topic insertions, and all ads will be clearly marked as such.

I will and do accept and keep free products from companies as an independent reviewer (I can't review an item without having the item); from companies through The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew of reviewers; or Wiley Publishing; The B & B Media Group; Zondervan; Brookes Publishing; Skyhorse Publishing; or other publisher or from an occasional independent company or individual; and through MamaBuzz. All product reviews are clearly marked and labeled.

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The owner of "Homeschooling, Autism & Stuff", formerly called "New To Homeschooling (but not new to autism)" is sometimes compensated with a product in exchange for my opinion on products, services, websites and various other topics. I do not receive monetary compensation for such reviews. Even though I am given products as compensation in order to use and review, I always give my honest opinions, findings, beliefs, or experiences on those topics or products. The views and opinions expressed on this blog are purely mine. Any product claim, statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer, provider or party in question.

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I hold relationships with the following organizations as a product reviewer: Wiley Publishing and Jossey-Bass; Brookes Publishing; The B&B Media Group; Zondervan; Skyhorse Publishing; MamaBuzz; and The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew. I sometimes review items for independent individuals or companies. I occasionally accept for review products that are marketed to families with children on the autism spectrum for the organization Bridges4Kids.

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