Sunday, May 31, 2009
On a yahoo group for Christian parents of children with autism, a mom posted about a conference she'd attended yesterday called, "That All May Worship". I've asked her if she will either let me share her notes or if she will write a guest entry for my blog about the day.
In the meantime, I did a little search on the University of Google: http://amazingmeorg.blogspot.com/2009/02/conference-presented-by-faith-inclusion.html
And look what I found!!! I found information about the conference that just happened, AND a blog for parents of kids w/ disabilities.
The keynote speakers are new to me, too; Erik 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. I'll add these to my gi-normous post of resources.
Hmmm. (Talking to self) I probably should create a separate post with nothing but resources. CHECK THE SIDE BAR OF MY BLOG FOR A LIST OF RESOURCES.
Saturday, May 30, 2009
December 7th, 2006: I was shopping today when I heard Lynne Thompson on the radio, on a Focus on the Family weekend show. (I've never heard of her before today. I was at a stoplight and wrote the quote below on a napkin I found in my car.):
"One of the greatest joys of the human experience is to know someone and to be known."
From the Head's Up home page: "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. " Request a catalog for your church. Faith based settings may be interested in seat cushions, visual timers, fidgets, just for starters.
Friday, May 29, 2009
Since my daughter regressed into autism, however, I have experienced challenges in many places. Church is one of them.
When I asked friends for resources to use in this blog entry, I didn't get many new resources. I did get a lot of "thank you's" and comments about how this is needed.
One friend wrote, "It goes beyond this, though. . . as you know. Not just communication accommodations. Attitude. . . all people being image bearers of God. Giving and receiving grace from one another as sisters and brothers in Christ. Our corporate sonship, with God as our Father. And, it's a challenge to take into account "invisible" disabilities -- Like the young woman with epilepsy who takes meds for epilepsy which exacerbate her ADHD and make it harder to catch the words in her (very smart) brain and verbalize them."
Challenges sometimes seem to be EVERYwhere. Shopping with your child, attending church with your child, advocating for your child at school (homeschooling certainly lightens the load in this area!), at the doctor's office -- some days there are challenges everywhere you go. Strangers butt in with disapproving comments. Doctors question your experience and knowledge. School staff refuse to learn about the latest strategies. Inclusion is a joke and not a reality in many buildings.
This Dan Coulter article illustrates a common experience, and not just at church. Please read, Autism and the Pew Lady.
The *one* place I think I should not have a problem is at CHURCH. And yet, I have. And at a local group of a national Bible study, too.
Log on to internet groups where parents of autistic children communicate with one another, and it's there, too. Staff who don't understand. Disapproval. Demands that a parent stay with the child when the parent needs a break. Refusals to allow the child to draw or play with a toy during story time. Misinterpreting the disability as bad behavior or poor discipline at home.
And, yet, the part of me that grew up without living with autism understands the staff perspective. They have not lived with it. They don't know.
I have been asked if I want to start and lead a ministry or class at church for kids with special needs. NO I DO NOT. I live with it 24/7. I want to be fed when I am at church and I want opportunities serve in other ministries (like the handbell choir). I know a special ed teacher at church who works in the childrens ministry as a volunteer, and she won't help with a special needs anything at church. That's her job, she says, and she needs a break from it. I understand. I need a break, too.
Our small group from church has been wonderful to us, stepping in to babysit when we need them. We are a day's drive from our family and sitters are few and far between, and having trusted church family available to help us is a blessing.
Supporting families is one act of love, but what else are churches supposed to do? My answer, is to learn about disabilities. My experience and expertise is with autism, so the next part of this blog will be heavy on autism, but NOT LIMITED TO autism.
Don't rely on FOOD as a centerpiece to fellowship. My child is one of many with food allergies, and the constant snacks, crafts made from food, and cooking projects often have me scrambling to try to find a comparable substitute or simply leave her out.
Have a Braille Bible available, and technology or an interpreter for individuals who are hearning impairments. Think about accessibility in terms of your parking lot and building for individuals in wheelchairs (and moms with twin strollers).
Consider introducing the subject of disabilities (which is usually an elephant in the corner of the church) by reading a book for children to the entire congregation. "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.)
I bought "Jessica's Little Sister" when my child was three or four (six or seven years ago) and I asked the children's minister (at the time) if we could read it to the children and also to the adults in morning worship. My request was ignored. One Sunday, I came out of morning worship to find my daughter alone in the library. She'd slipped out of class when a parent came early to pick up a peer. The (clueless) parent left the Dutch door open. My child could have gone into the parking lot or street. I was furious. I believe part of the problem was because we'd never been allowed to teach the church body about autism. A rotation of buddies was arranged for her after that incident, which is an important support, but I still believe talking about it is important.
There were experiences when *I* was my child's buddy where Sunday School teachers created some problems, making her wait until LAST to get paper, then markers, and later snack. The teacher's demeanor gave me the impression that she thought my child needed to learn the lesson of how to wait. In a class of nearly 20 children, that length of waiting for a child with autism is extremely difficult, and can lead to an explosion. When I suggested we talk to my daughter's teachers in the three-year-old Sunday School class, I was told "no". Could they start closer to my daughter when distributing materials, I wanted to know. Nope. Don't talk to them. Put too much on a volunteer and the volunteer will quit, I was told. That situation frustrated me so much!
Other negative experiences happened when other children chastized and shooshed my child, which did nothing but make my child more anxious and become even louder. The children did not understand -- and I'd never been allowed to talk to them about autism, even though I had the materials.
The obstacles can be so great that the easier option is to "tag team" to church. One parent stays home with the child while the other parent goes to church. Sometimes, a family chooses to keep a child home as a short term compensation because a worship setting is too overwhelming. But more often, they keep a child home because advocating at church is too much work.
In addition to talking about the "elephant" of disabilities at church, I have other suggestions.
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.
Here's the part of my post where I really get rolling with my "collection" of links and resources. Hold on tight, because I'm going to toss out a bunch in a hurry. *grin* I pray that these resources are helpful.
Kathleen Deyer Bolduc is the mom of a child with autism. She's written a couple of books. I have enjoyed "His Name is Joel" very much. Bolduc poured out her joy and pain in this book, and I suspect most autism moms will identify with her experiences. I met her a couple of years ago when she presented at a conference -- she is a gem.
Another mom with a wonderful book for parents living with autism, and for families and friends is Kristi Chrysler. She's a homeschooling, biomedical, Christian mom who went through autism, lupus and divorce in a short period of time. If you are trying to understand the perspective of an autism mom, I recommend Chrysler's book. She captures the challenges of autism intervention and dietary changes in the pages of her book while offering encouragement. I met her a year ago when she presented at a homeschool convention, and she is an incredible encouragement! I want to re-read her book and journal along the way.
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.
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!
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 read all the way to the end of this long "epistle", I thank you. ;)
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.
Two-and-a-half years ago, I attended a one-day conference focused on inclusion in faith based settings. Bill Gaventa's keynote was called "Signs of the Times: Parables, Symbols and Themes in Inclusive Ministries". Here are the notes that I took. They're worth sharing.
He listed Seven Images or Themes that he sees emerging now:
1) HOSPITALITY TO THE STRANGER. He says this is an ancienttradition, we are called to do this, that the stranger oftenrepresents the Spirit of God, bringing a gift.If the world is not safe for strangers, it is not safe for me.Strangers save us from boredom, which is one of the necessary evilsof life. People who are different are interesting.There's a hidden wholeness, diversity & unity, that keeps usinvolved and alive and brings us new life.
2) RE - MEMBERING the body. Helping those with disabilities become members again. Count us in! You are one of us! He talked about Biblical examples of the shepherd going afer the one lost sheep, going from "apart from" to "a part of", not "Where do they belong,"but "Who do they belong to?" Here, he talked about redemption, he used taking your cans and bottles back to the grocery store toredeem the deposit, and he said the church should be the redemption center.
3) RESTORING THE SANCTUARY, that's what we are about. Focus on spiritual accessibility. Where's the safe place? Where I'm okay,where I am-to be known and loved just as I am.
4) HOW DO WE REDEEM GIFTS? It's awesome to be surrounded by people who don't care about what you cannot do. Think in terms of the widow's mite--how do we use these gifts? Which gift do we NOT need? There aren't any gifts that we do not need!
5) REVERSING THE CALL: How are all of us - people with disabilities included -- responding to the call of discipleship. Don't make people with disabilities the RECEIVER, help them make a contribution! Let them know their gifts are being received, not turning them into the receiver of our great care-giving efforts!
6) Recovering our SENSES. He led us through a silent version of the Lord's Prayer with hand motions (not an ASL prayer). He said ALL of us need to learn to workshop with our sight, sound smells, bells, all the senses...
7) HOW DO WE REKINDLE THE SPIRIT of cargivers and professionals? We (as churches) need to celebrate what caregivers and professionals are doing as a vocation and a calling.
Thursday, May 28, 2009
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
We missed a week of lessons and my princess was excited to get to skate today. Right of the bat, Coach began a new skill today, a new turn. Here's the FIRST attempt:
Pretty darned good for a first attempt! :)
I saw lots of smiles from my princess today! As she and Coach finished the lesson on turns to move to something else, my princess approached me and exclaimed, "Mom, I'm learning!"
Transition from gliding on two feet to gliding on one foot:
FIRST, you do not have to be a homeschooler to attend a homeschool convention. At the two conventions I have attended, I met many folks who are considering homeschooling children who are in public or private schools, or folks who are homeschooling one child while the sibs go to school.
If you are homeschooling a child with special learning needs, like autism, who IS in a public or private school, you are probably doing some homeschooling on nights, weekends, and school vacations to supplement what the schools do. A homeschool convention is a WONDERFUL place to find materials and resources to use during your time at home.
I would imagine that school-building teachers would find homeschool conventions fun and helpful, although I don't think conventions offer continuing education credits that are such a reinforcement to attending workshops. The vendor sections are so amazing -- any teacher, including Sunday School staff members, can find materials and resources there!
SECOND, convention web sites are a WEALTH of information and you do not have to ATTEND a convention to benefit from all of the speaker and vendor information presented on a convention web site. When one of my children has had an interest in a subject or a challenge that sends me to the internet looking for something to fit that need, one of the first places I look is the vendor section of one of the convention web sites. (Another first place that I look is the advertiser section of homeschool magazines.)
BEGIN by researching. Start by bookmarking the convention web site. It is your friend. :) There is a list of conventions here.
Some conventions offer shopping only registrations, so if you are really not interested in any of the workshops, but would like to shop in the vendor hall, look for that option in the registration section of the convention web site.
Cincinnati is already preparing for 2010, so you can get a BIG head start. Be sure to look at both the speaker list and the vendor list. Here is Cincinnati's 2010 vendor list.
Use the University of Google to look up every single speaker and every single vendor. Yes, you must start well ahead of a really big convention. Most speakers and vendors have web sites, and a quick skim will help you know if you want to dig deeper. Sometimes, a presentation that seemed to not apply to our situation, an obvious "NO" to me, became a, "yes, definitely!" when I read presenter information from the presenter web site.
After you've looked at presenter web sites, head on over to You Tube and Google's video place and search them for names of convention presenters. Sometimes you can find an entire presentation, and it may be the same or similar to one at the convention. If you watch it at home before you go, you can skip that particular session at the convention and choose something else in that time slot. You may find your game plan changing as you watch video clips of presenters.
If you are not able to attend a convention, but want to hear one of the speakers, and can't find them on You Tube, you may be able to buy individual audio CD's from presentations. Check here for details.
Vendor halls are overwhelming, if you attend all of the workshop sessions, then your vendor hall time is really short, and by looking at vendor lists and web sites ahead of time, you can create a short list of "must sees" to find when you get there. I find that looking over exhibitor web sites has me ruling more OUT, or moving some vendors to the bottom of my "must see" list.
Be prepared to chase some rabbits as you travel the internet to find presenters and vendors. :) I often found myself so interested in a presenter or exhibitor web site that I followed links to other links -- oh, I stumbled on a lot of good information that way! Remember to bookmark anything you want to save for later. If you have a blog, you may want to create a link list of your favorite web sites. A lot of presenters and exhibitors have blogs, which you may choose to follow, or you may want to create a blog list in the sidebar of your own blog.
The last bit of advice is about your child / children. Know where your child is, developmentally. A child with autism or other developmental challenge usually has scattered skills, and often age or grade appropriate does not equal developmentally appropriate. Find a trustsed professional who can guide you, to help you understand where your child is, developmentally speaking, so that you can find appropriate materials to support him or her. You may be the parent of a developmentally delayed older child, and you benefit from sessions aimed at teaching preschoolers or early elementary schoolers in some subjects. You''re less likely to buy inappropriate materials in the exhibit hall if you know where your child is from a developmental standpoint.
If you have tips, please pass them along! I'd love to hear from you!
Monday, May 25, 2009
Sunday, May 24, 2009
Saturday, May 23, 2009
I Spy and I See Something You Don't See are not the greatest games on the interstate. Parents, you have to remember to use these perspective taking games that provide experience in attention shifting and attention sharing when you are off the interstate looking for a gas station or restaurant.
Animal Sounds: I stumbled on this one by accident. I traveled with a friend of mine to a national ASA conference a few years back. We had a day-long drive. Sue made me laugh, because every time we passed any animals in a field along the interstate, she began making their sound. She "mooed" and "baaaed" and whinneyed all the way to the conference. Our next family trip to see the grandparents (same route as to the ASA conference), I thought of Sue every time I saw animals grazing in a field, and I imitated her, making the sounds of the animals I saw. I thought my kids would moan and cringe, but they all looked around to see what I was looking at. We were in our early RDI(r) days then, and I was delighted to see that my daughter on the autism spectrum joined too. She had to understand what was in my mind, that I had seen animals and was making their sound, and then she had to follow my gaze to see where the animals were. We even saw buffalo on that trip, and when I mooed and she squealed "BUFFALO!" I fought back tears. (Now, I need to figure out what sound a DEER makes.)
Rubberneckers is a great game. It's hilarious. It's RDI-able.
Taro Gomi's coloring books. TOTALLY worth the price. Info here. Very RDI-able.
Year-round, I "cruise" through the red-tag clearance sections at craft/hobby stores, department stores, even grocery stores, for markers, crayons, colored pencils, invisible ink notebooks, gel pens, velvet art kits, word searches, crossword puzzle books, sudoku, etc. I store them in a box, and when we are packing for a trip, I pull them out. Sometimes, I pack them up in large baggies, one for each child, and hide them until we are on the road. They get a kick out of going through all the suprises. Sometimes, I let my children go through my box and choose what they would like to take.
An aside: At the homeschool convention in April, I bought some "good" colored pencils (not the cheapie back-to-school ones from the department store) for my children (gotta love Miller Pad and Paper!), and they really like them so much better than the "cheapie" ones.
One unusual item that I look for is a notebook of black lined paper, made for matching with gel pens.
A clipboard is a "must have" for drawing in the car.
Magnadoodle or Etch-a-Sketch
BrainQuest travel games
Bubbles, sidewalk chalk and a soft football are ideas you can pack for a break at a rest stop.
Alphabet game: Search for letters of the alphabet on road signs, starting w/ "A". You can play the same game w/ numbers.
The license plate game -- keeping track of all the states is fun! Sometimes we see a vehicle from Alaska or from Canada.
Yellow Car -- If you see a yellow vehicle, you call it out, loudly: "YELLOW CAR!" and that person gets a point. We play a little differently on every trip. Our game is quite flexible. An unusual yellow car gets more points, and we all talk about what might get more points and why.
On a short trip from my parents' house to a nearby lake area, my mother began playing, "I'm thinking of a number between one and nine!" I took that idea and ran with it with variations: "I'm thinking of a day of the week between Wednesday and Monday." Or, "I'm thinking of a letter between A and F." Or, "I'm thinking of a month of the year between June and September." For a younger child (even an older child who is a developmentally younger child), you can say, "I'm thinking of a day of the week between Wednesday and Friday." The kids like to take turns thinking of these questions as well as answering them. And I like to throw them a curve with questions that go backwards, like, "I'm thinking of a number between92 and 85."
Carol Barnier's "The Big WHAT NOW Book of Learning Styles" describes some math games that would fit into this category of "I'm thinking of" games: "I'm thinking of two numbers that have a sum of 8 and a product of 15?"
We have introduced our kids to "our" music, from the 80's, on long car rides. Garage sales are great places to find old music for next to nothing.
We have introduced our kids to the silly songs of Ray Stevens on long car rides. "Gitarzan" and "The Streak" still make me laugh.
Cracker Barrel gift shops are a treasure on the road. Yes, we let the children choose a ring pop or whistle pop or push pop (corn syrup and artificial colors, arg). A hard candy like one of those lasts a LONG time, keeps the kids quiet for a little while, gives some oral-motor input, too. The gift shops sell little fidgets and travel games, coloring books, audio books as well, and I try to budget for a small purchase there.
Audio books: An option for families whose children will tolerate them. One of mine, the one w/ auditory processing challenges, does not like them. She did listen to a Jim Weiss story cd with the family a few weeks ago, so maybe we will try them again. I own a few. I did try bringing the actual BOOK along w/ the audio-cd, and my daughter did not like that compensation. We will try that again, though.
My mother (bless her heart) sometimes gives the kids a "game" when we leave my Mom and Dad's to head home on our day long drive. She writes a list of the bigger cities we will pass through and she puts a dollar or cents amount beside the city names. And she gives me the cash to distribute at each city. The kids have a check-list of cities to watch for and anticipate getting money along the way. They get to add up the amounts to see how much they'll have when we arrive home. And they get to talk about all the ways they might spend that money!
Giant Lifesavers candies can be fun for a contest. See who can suck on one the longest and make it the smallest, whole ring of candy on the tongue. Crunching them is SO tempting!
Teach a child to blow a bubble w/ bubble gum.
Teach a child to tie a bow (I'm thinking of shoe-tying here). Knot tying lessons might be fun.
Teach a child to tie a man's tie. We did this on a church bus on the way to church camp one year when I was a teenager.
String games: Jacob's Ladder. Cat's Cradle. Teacup and saucer. Remember those?
Our drive can be as short as 9.5 hours or much longer, depending upon how often we stop and for how long, and depending on traffic. We've had trips that took approximately12 hours because of construction and accidents. So, YES, we bring along our share of electronics. Our van came with a VHS player, and I hook a DVD player to it and the kids watch movies. Two of my children have ipods. We have a collection of handheld video games that I purchased from clearance racks.
Google "games for long car rides" for more ideas. Here's the first hit I got when I did: http://www.momsminivan.com/bigkids.html (She has way more ideas than I do!)
If you have any fun ideas for long car rides, please pass them along!
Thursday, May 21, 2009
According to the Sibling Support web site, Thicker than Water features 39 essays by the very best sibling authors from the US, Canada, England, Japan, and Australia, including:
Asked And Answered by Melissa Garrison;
It All Changes and Stays the Same by Matt Kramer;
Katie by Matthew Carpenter;
Driving Forward by Brian Skotko (co-author of Fasten Your Seatbelt);
I am Not My Brother’s Keeper by John Kramer;
What Was I Thinking!! by Kay Swanson;
Happily Ever After? by Emily Marino;
The Mess We’re In by Tara Kosieniak;
Don't Apologize for Being a Brother by Zach Rossetti;
Aunty Danni by Yona Lunsky;
Breathe In, Relax by Dirk Stanley;
A Letter to my Brother by Nina C.;
Why I am an “Uninvolved Sibling” by Anonymous;
Out of Sight, Out of Mind? by Kathy Coudle King (author of Wannabe);
The Chasm by Antoinette Errante;
I’m Still Learning How to Take Care of Myself by Yasuko Arima;
Walkout by Veronica Chater (author of Waiting for the Apocalypse) ;
The 39 Steps of Visiting Jon by Jennifer Owensby (director of Teachings of Jon);
Willingness to Change by Nancy Werlin (Edgar-award author of Are You Alone on Purpose?);
The Call by Daniel Mont (author of A Different Kind of Boy);
Happy Ending, Complicated Beginning by Sherry Gray;
A Break for Freedom by Tarri Lucier;
Riding To The Fountain With My Sister by Rachel Simon (author of Riding the Bus with My Sister);
A Mom on Many Levels by Libby Gondry;
Kep by Kim Keprios;
Surprises by Nora Fox Handler with Margaret Fox-Hawthorne;
Sister Struggles by Kate Strohm (author of Being the Other One);
Who Sings the Shower Song? by Tom Keating ;
My Sister, My Daughter by Maryjane Westra;
Getting from Then to Now by Susan Hamovitch (director of Without Apology);
Finding Molly by Jeff Daly (director of Where’s Molly?);
A Family Affair by Jeff Moyer (singer-songwriter of We’re People First);
Life with Jay: An Interrupted Family Journey by Carol Lynstad;
The Hidden Brother by Allan B. Goldstein;
Transition by Ann P. Kaiser;
Growing Up and Growing with Harold by Carolyn Graff;
Easier? No …The Issues Just Change! by M. Doreen Croser;
Forty Years Is a Long Time to Wait by Kitty Porterfield;
Saying Goodbye to Jack by Mary McHugh (author of Special Siblings)
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Sunday, May 17, 2009
THE BIG WHAT NOW BOOK OF LEARNING STYLES by Carol Barnier
I bought this book at a convention after hearing several presentations there by author Carol Barnier. Two back-to-back Barnier presentations focused on strategies and activities Barnier uses at home. She described one idea after another, rapid fire, and I wrote furiously during those two sessions, trying to capture her ideas into my notebook. When she mentioned that more ideas are in this book, her newest, only very recently available for purchase, I knew I wanted my own copy. As soon as that second session was over, I headed straight to her vendor booth and bought the book, which she autographed for me.
I have taken it with me to my daughter's music and occupational therapy sessions so that I could study it while I was waiting.
I think it's a little bit like the story about what happens if you give a mouse a cookie. If you buy this book, you're going to need some 3x5 index cards to go with it. And when you're making your 3x5 cards, you're going to want some envelopes to go with them. After you prepare the envelopes to go with the 3x5 cards, you're going to want some paper clips, some magnets, some string and a pole.
Barnier homeschooled a child who needs to move in order to learn, in order to process information. And she used some creative, yet simple, strategies and activities as "keys" to unlock the door to learning for that child. There's nothing in the book that costs a lot of money. You don't have to be an artist or crafty. They're all quite do-able. And fun!
Her ditties sold me on the book. They're fabulous. They have me wondering if I can write some ditties, too. (If I do, I'll post them, here.)
I think you'll like the book because you'll find lots of ideas, especially when you feel stuck.
Barnier "gets" kids like mine. She has one of her own. And she shared her "tricks" with all of us in this book. Gotta love a mom like that! ;)
PS: I found a package of 1000 3x5 index cards at a warehouse club for about five bucks.
Saturday, May 16, 2009
Thursday, May 14, 2009
I've gotten some questions from parents this week asking me, "What about speech therapy?" They want to know how you grow speech in a child who is developmentally delayed.
My answer, is to trust development.
Go back and get the non-verbal, pre-speech foundations and ignore words and "talk". Focus on "developmentally appropriate" and let the other "stuff" go until the other "stuff" is developmentally appropriate.
We have seen so many functions and skills begin to emerge and grow without ever working on the directly. By focusing on developmentally appropriate instead of addressing behavior out of sequence, we work more naturally, and it doesn't feel like "work" in the way a behavioral program did.
The best developmental chart I've found on the internet is the Adult Child Relationship Map by Dr James D MacDonald of Communicating Partners.
Learning about development first, intervening from a developmentally appropriate point for your child is a key to his/her experience and growth. Learn about development (not behavior) and trust development.
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Monday, May 11, 2009
I met a mom named Nancy Blackmon on the internet, and her experience sounds similar to mine. She recently wrote about it on an internet list in a conversation to another parent, and she used the term, "academic communicator" to describe what they did with their daughter.
That's a good description. We, guided by professionals who understand behavior, but not development, who have degrees and charge big fees, completely ignored pre-verbal, non-verbal foundations of communication. We gave our daughter lots of words, but not reciprocity or interaction. We made her an "academic communicator" instead of a "social communicator". We ignored the fact that there is "non-verbal behavior" that preceeds "verbal behavior" in development. One of the risks of ignoring non-verbal foundations of development of communication is turning your child into an academic communicator.
Here's the post from Nancy Blackmon. You will be able to tell she wrote it as part of a thread to a parent who is asking about the importance that her child endure non-preferred activities at school as an IEP goal. I have Blackmon's permission to share it with you. Blackmon's advice is pure gold:
I listened to the school when my child was younger. They insisted on academic goals, things she "needed" to learn to meet the requirements of an IEP. What we managed to do with this approach instead of one that focused more on building social interaction is to create an academic communicator. My child learned that language was something to use to give people the answer, or as close as she could get to the answer they want so they would leave her alone. Communication is not something she learned to enjoy because she was pushed to do things beyond her capabilities and I think often felt unsure and like a failure. Now she mostly seeks interaction only to have needs met and occasionally, but rarely in any kind of playful, fun way. Your child has a lifetime to learn to attend to non-preferred tasks. Just my opinion but if you don't get the social stuff in place first, its a real uphill climb to go back and get it. Those are just my thoughts from almost 18 years of experience living with my child. Nancy B
I wish I'd read those words seven or eight years ago.
Saturday, May 9, 2009
My neighbor recently purchased a four-hundred-dollar sandbox for his young children. How can anyone spend four hundred dollars on a sandbox you might wonder. Simple. It's a state-of-the-art sandbox with a swing set and slide attached to it. It's high quality through and through.
With all due respect to my neighbor (who loves his children and has the best of intentions when making major purchases for them, I'm sure), children do not need a four-hundred-dollar sandbox. What they do need is the experience of going out to the backyard with their parents and building a sandbox. They need to hold boards together while we pound, and do the pounding while we take a turn holding the boards together. They need to get a sliver and have it removed and bandaged. They need to help us sand the boards so slivers are less likely. They need to rub
shoulders with us, sweat with us, smell us, see us, touch us, and hear us. They need the experience of building a sandbox much more than they need the sandbox.
So the number one summer rule for parents is this: When investing in your children, invest in experiences, not in things.
1. Instead of buying another stuffed giraffe for your children, take them to the zoo and let them experience a real giraffe up close.
2. Buying a new fishing pole is fine, but using it is better. Take your children fishing this summer.
3. Have your children seen a horse, touched a horse, ridden a horse? Purchasing the Disney movie Spirit is one thing. Getting in touch with the spirit of a live horse and feeling its breath on your face is another.
4. Take a blanket and pillow outdoors at night. Count the stars. Look for satellites.
5. Take a walk in the woods. Look for animal tracks. Notice trees and flowers.
6. Play catch, shoot baskets, volley a ball or a badminton bird. Challenge each other to see how long you can keep the ball going rather than who can score the most points.
7. Have a water balloon fight. Get wet. Get wild. Get silly. Get with your children.
8. Catch fireflies and put them in a jar. Later, let them go.
9. Go to a parade. Get there early. Stake out your territory with folding chairs and blankets. Invite a friend or relative.
10. Pick cherries, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, corn, apples, beans. Get stained, dirty, and sweaty.
11. Sit around a campfire. Talk. Listen. Roast marshmallows.
12. Plant a tree.
13. Write and send postcards—from home or from out of state.
14. Clean a closet. Collect unused and outgrown clothes. Donate them to an appropriate charity.
15. Take a trip to the library. Let your children choose several books. You choose some, too. Read to your children over the next several weeks.
16. Go on a photo journey. Allow each family member to take a set number of photos. Create a family album with the developed photos.
17. Do loving service. Bake cookies for someone in military service. Mow the grass for an elderly couple. Pick up litter from a roadside picnic area.
18. Go garage sale hopping with five dollars in your pocket. Give your children a similar amount. Come home when everyone has spent all of their money.
19. Walk in the rain. Sing in the rain. Skip through puddles. Take your shoes off. Take your adulthood off.
20. If you live in the country, go to a big city and walk around. If you live in a city, go to the country and walk around.
21. Check out a college campus.
22. Make popsicles with Kool-Aid and toothpicks.
23. Visit a post office. Mail a letter.
24. Bring out old photo albums. Take turns saying, "I remember when . .."
25. Cut and paste. Staple and glue. Color and paint. Make a mess. Then clean up.
Let your children experience a farm, a skyscraper, a fire engine, a campground, or a foreign country. Let them smell flowers, look for birds, feed ducks, or bake cookies. Help them find a four-leaf clover, shuck corn, wash the car, or open a savings account. Whatever you do, remember: When investing in your children, invest in experiences, not in things.
Chick Moorman and Thomas Haller are the authors of The 10 Commitments: Parenting with Purpose. They also publish a FREE e-mail newsletter for parents and another for educators. Subscribe to them when you visit http://www.chickmoorman.com/
Feel free to reproduce these articles and share them with others. All we ask is that you reproduce an article in its entirety and use our tagline at the bottom. That way the recipient can use our websites, http://www.chickmoorman.com/
free e-mail newsletters or search for more information about parenting and teaching. Thank you for honoring this request.
Friday, May 8, 2009
For some kids it takes two days. For others it doesn't happen for two weeks or more. But at some point, most children get over the initial excitement of school being out for the summer. Sooner or later, they utter the dreaded words, "I'm bored. There's nothing to do."
Looking for ideas guaranteed to help your children end summer boredom? Want to re-energize your children while providing low-cost, meaningful learning experiences? Consider encouraging them to make a mess!
Yes, that's right, make a mess.
Making a mess is fun. Making a mess is inexpensive. And making a mess leads to learning. Depriving children of the opportunity to make messes decreases their range of experience and limits their learning opportunities. Parents who allow children to make messes and hold them accountable for cleaning up extend opportunities that exceed those given to children who are required to be consistently neat, clean, and quiet.
Mess making also affords another important opportunity for parents—a chance to connect. Bonding occurs when you get down on the floor and get messy together. The mess is impermanent. It can be cleaned up and removed. The experience will stay with the children forever.
Here are several indoor and outdoor ideas you can use to make messes with your children this summer.
On rainy days, or for anytime indoor fun, try a mess of a different sort.
1. Clean Mud
Rip toilet paper into small strips. Grate Ivory soap. Mix together with water and you have "clean mud." Play with it on the kitchen floor or in a tub on the kitchen table. Clean mud is great for building, designing, and frolicking.
2. String Painting
Cut an 18-inch piece of string and dip it in children's paint. Then apply it to paper. Use different colors to be creative while painting pictures, making holiday cards, or designing your own wrapping paper.
3. Make Plastic
Use one cup of water to three packets of gelatin. Bring the water to a boil and mix in the gelatin. Add two or three drops of food coloring and stir for one minute. Then pour the mixture onto coffee can lids or Tupperware lids and let it stand for one hour. Remove from the lid and cut with cookie cutters or a dull knife. Dries hard in two to three days. The shapes dry unevenly. Watch how nature changes the shapes by twisting and turning them. The varying designs make creative tree ornaments.
4. Indoor Snowball Fight
Make "snowballs" out of crumpled paper and throw them at each other. The more balls you make, the more fun this activity becomes. This is a high-energy activity and is ideal for combating family boredom, depression, or lethargy.
5. Toilet Paper Adventure
Place two or three rolls of toilet paper on a dowel rod at one end of the house. Grab an end of one roll and take off running. Wrap the toilet paper around furniture and each other. Break through it, throw it, and roll it into huge balls. Laugh and be silly.
6. Paint a Mural
This activity is ideal for adolescents and teens. Brainstorm possible picture ideas for them to paint on their bedroom wall, then shop with them to buy the necessary paint. Move all the furniture in the bedroom to one side, freeing up one complete wall, and let them paint a huge picture. Be sure to include a lesson, instructions, carpet covering, old clothes, and cleanup materials.
7. Living Room Camping
Move furniture, set up "camp," and hold a family slumber party in the living room. Pitch a tent, make a fake campfire out of paper, eat hotdogs and s'mores, tell campfire stories.
8. No Manners Night
Have an evening meal where no manners are required. (Do not have spaghetti for this meal.) Discuss how the meal is the same and how it is different from other meals. Do more listening than talking.
For outdoor fun, put the following ideas on your children's summer agenda.
9. Sheet Painting
Hang an old sheet from a clothesline. Buy used or mismatched paint from Home Depot or your local paint store. (You can get colorful paint for less than five dollars per gallon.) Let the kids splatter, drip, and handprint paint designs. When the sheet is dry, they can make tents and forts out of it in the backyard or you can cut sections of it to mat and display in your home art gallery.
10. Body Painting
Put swimsuits on and head outside with some tempera paint. Let kids use their fingers or small brushes to paint their own bodies with a variety of designs, shapes, and colors. Tempera paint dries quickly and will flake off when rubbed. It is best not to paint faces. For additional fun, rinse off in a kiddy pool and watch the water change color.
11. Whipped Cream Romp
Spread a plastic tarp over a section of grass, put on swimsuits, and break out the whipped cream in a can. Use chocolate and vanilla whipped cream in a spray can to create fun shapes and designs. Whipped cream makes a slippery mess that is fun to eat as you play with it, and cleanup is easy. Use the garden hose to douse everything and everyone with water.
12. Packing-Peanut Play
Fill a small kiddy pool with biodegradable foam packing peanuts. (You can purchase large bags at an office supply store for a reasonable price.) The kids can sit in the "peanuts," get them stuck to their bodies, or chase them as they blow in a summer breeze. Cleanup is fun, too, as the peanuts will dissolve in water. The kids can chase them down with watering cans or a garden hose. Or simply wait for a rainy day and watch them dissolve like magic.
13. Pile of Sand
Instead of a sand box, create a sand pile. Order a truckload of sand and have it dumped in the middle of the backyard. One mountain of sand will make for hours of fun. Turn the garden hose on so the water comes out in a slow trickle and watch as small hands turn the sand into mud pies. The mountain will slowly shrink to a mound as the summer progresses. Every few years order another truckload.
14. Water Balloon and Shaving Cream
Fill a balloon with half water and half shaving cream. When the balloon bursts, a shower of shaving cream flies everywhere. We recommend wearing water goggles during this messy adventure, as shaving cream in the eyes burns. It's important to keep everyone safe while having fun making this mess.
Experience is indeed messy. As a parent, you get to choose the degree of mess you're willing to tolerate. It's your choice whether to use any or all of the messes listed above. Remember that while you're choosing whether to allow your children to make a mess, you're also choosing the range and depth of the learning experiences in which they will engage.
Chick Moorman and Thomas Haller are the authors of The 10 Commitments: Parenting with Purpose. They also publish a FREE email newsletter for parents and another for educators. Subscribe to them when you visit http://www.chickmoorman.com/
Feel free to reproduce these articles and share them with others. All we ask is that you reproduce an article in its entirety and use our tagline at the bottom. That way the recipient can use our websites,www.chickmoorman.com <http://www.chickmoorman.com/> andwww.thomashaller.com <http://www.thomashaller.com/> , to sign up for ourfree e-mail newsletters or search for more information about parentingand teaching. Thank you for honoring this request.
COLUMN NAME: X-tra Special AdviceBY: Mary Beth Langan and Theodore G. Coutilish
HEADLINE: Learning from this extraordinary teacher
COPY: Call him Mr. X.He is the best teacher Ted has ever known.
Not for his patience. He has very little. Ditto for compassion, confidence, ability to explain a topic in a different way, openness to new ideas, creativity, dedication to excellence, sensitivity, respectfulness, caring, creativity, unwavering support, willingness to help a student achieve, pride in a student’s accomplishments and passion for education. He would not win awards for his teaching style.
He does not speak. He does not listen well. He does not treat everyone fairly. He is not usually calm. He does not like learning. He usually does not try to engage his students. He does not even teach, at least not in the traditional sense. But a finer teacher there has never been.
Who is Mr. X?
Mr. X is Andrew Langan Coutilish, our eight-year-old son affected by Fragile X Syndrome and autism.
While many people focus on the negatives, his disabilities and what he cannot do, think about him — and others like him — in another way.
Think of his abilities.Think of his ability to instill patience. His theatrics bring out patience I never knew I had and never thought possible. It has changed how I look at everything — work, relationships, education, love.
Think of his ability to inspire new ideas. I have to do research to fix his computer follies and I could write textbooks on creative ways to fix things he breaks around the house and in the minivan.
Think of his ability to bring out humor. Sometimes the unique things he does are ridiculous. His take on life and how to navigate can be interesting to watch. Sometimes you laugh. Sometimes you cry. But you always learn something and are better for it.
Think of his ability to stir creativity. Teaching him teaches you to think in innovative ways. It challenges logical thinking, emotions and behavior. As run-of-the-mill teaching styles fail, it forces you to create out-of-the-box techniques. It forces you to adapt, be flexible and open to new ideas.
Now think of those people in your life who are like Andrew. Those with whom you have not connected, may try to ignore and do not understand. Think of what you are missing — those missed opportunities to make a better you through interactions with them.
Think of what you can become.
Embrace someone with special needs. If not for them, do it for yourself. Nurture them. Connect with them. Teach them. Learn even more from them. Take the opportunity. It’s the right thing to do. You will gain more than you ever imagined.
Grosse Pointe residents Theodore G. Coutilish and Mary Beth Langan created this column to share experiences from their journey as parents of a child with Fragile X Syndrome [fragilex.org]. Send your questions or comments to mblangan@....###
Thursday, May 7, 2009
Sunday, May 3, 2009
My younger princess was outside today, playing.
I was watching her from just inside the house.
My older princess is cleaning her room, getting rid of clutter. She had four or five purses she wanted to get rid of. She brought them to me, asked which one(s) her little sister might like to have. I said, "I don't know, let's ask her."
I called to my younger princess, and called out, "Come here! I need to ask you something!"
and she replied, "About what?" (***!!!***)
"I want you to tell me which purse you like," I replied. She flew to the house to choose.
Friday, we went to visit a 4th grade Living History Museum, where my prince, my son, participated. Children were lined up in rows, each dressed like a historical figure, each prepared to recite a speech in first person as that figure. With so many children reciting at the same time, guests watching and talking, the atmosphere was loud, chaotic, crazy. I remember a time when we would not have been able to take my younger princess to an event like that because it would have overwhelmed her on many levels.
My princess amazed me. Even though *hearing* the speeches was impossible because of the din of too many students talking at once, she stood politely and pretended to listen to them, as I did, referencing facial expressions and body language to know when each speech was over. She needed no prompting from the outside to do this dance. She's learning the steps from the inside.
Saturday, May 2, 2009
Bird experts: Is this a chickadee?
BELOW: There's a tiny bird on the ground.
I have no idea what kind of bird it is.
spotted a week ago
Mama Mallard and Papa Mallard
Spotted this morning