Friday, June 26, 2009

Boomerang Express is over...

VBS is over (well, almost, 'cept for the kids leading in worship, Sunday). VBS is bittersweet for a mama who has one child who doesn't fit the Lifeway mold.

I chose to let my younger princess stay home with her helper today instead of making her go to VBS.

Being the mom of a child who doesn't fit their mold is difficult.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Another skating lesson

I hesitated to take the younger princess to her skating lesson today. She's had a rough week. We've been attending Vacation Bible School, and VBS is too much, too loud, too fast, too long for her. No wonder she says she hates it. She's been cranky and not herself, partly, I suspect, due to a loose tooth that is bothering her. However, I have witnessed her pull herself together on cranky, "off" days when she steps on the ice, and while I did not make her go to overwhelming VBS, I did take her to skate:

Figure skating feeds my princess's senses (not overwhelms them). Coach gives her processing time and allows her many opportunities to be an active participant. It's everything VBS is not, and on a day like today, is just what she needed.

Birthday Baby


Sunday, June 21, 2009

Psalm 103:7-13 and Fathers Day

Scripture from today's sermon

7 He revealed his character to Moses
and his deeds to the people of Israel.

8 The Lord is compassionate and merciful,
slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.

9 He will not constantly accuse us,
nor remain angry forever.

10 He does not punish us for all our sins;
he does not deal harshly with us, as we deserve.

11 For his unfailing love toward those who fear him
is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth.

12 He has removed our sins as far from us
as the east is from the west.

13 The Lord is like a father to his children,
tender and compassionate to those who fear him.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

New resource: "What Is Communion?"

Victoria L. Stankus has written a book for children about communion and she is getting the word out about it. I have *not* reviewed the book, so I can't comment on it at all. It sounds like a wonderful book!


Here's Victoria's note:

I am so excited to tell you about a book I have written and just had published on!

For those of you who are interested, the book includes a simple explanation of what Communion is (more of a Protestant version). It also explains who Jesus is, why He came to earth, why He had to sacrifice Himself for our sins, and simple steps for trusting in Jesus as Savior.

It is intended for parents or teachers to read to their children and discuss along the way. Those with special learning needs may also be able to benefit from this book because it has a combination of simple, black & white illustrations and easy words. My own daughter is starting to understand more since I started reading this book to her.

My dad did most of the illustrations for the book, and my husband was the Editor. It is a very special book to me.

If you want to see a preview of the book, please click on the link in my signature line, then click on the title of the book. It may take a moment for it to show up.

By the way, if you decide you would like to place an order, during the month of JUNE you can get a 10% discount when you enter this code on the checkout page: JUNECONTEST10

God bless,

~ Victoria L. Stankus, Author ~


We visited a local science museum yesterday, a fun, rainy day spur-of-the-moment thing to do.

Friday, June 19, 2009

RDIable activity: Martha Stewart craft kits

Spotted in the clearance section at Wal-Mart:

Getting Real About Autism

Sometimes, I like to share an article.

by Amy Lutz

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Blog entries by an autism mom


We got our little swimming pool up two nights ago, and it was filled and ready for swimming yesterday, but the water is so COLD that the kids don't want to get WET!

My sensory kid doesn't want the cold touching her at all! lol
We spent time at a nearby lakeside park earlier this week.

Monday, June 15, 2009

My notes from Dr MacDonald's presentation

Communicating Partners' Dr Jim (Dr James D MacDonald) presented to a group of local parents and professionals this week, and of course, I went.

We're an RDI(r) family and I discovered Dr Jim's and CP recently. Dr Jim teaches parents about how to be communicating partners with their children, a developmental approach that shares many similarities w/ RDI(r) and Dr Jim chats with parents on a yahoo group called "communicating" in a way that is similar to the way RDI(r)'s Dr Gutstein used to connect with parents on the internet.

I very much enjoy the way Dr Jim words concepts for parents. I'm not new to a developmental approach. I know this stuff. Sometimes he sounds so much like Dr Gutstein, and Dr Jim's choice of words teaches me even deeper insights about the stuff I know. Sometimes Dr Jim's description of a concept is just enough "same but different" that I see that old concept in a really fresh, new way. He stretches me and grows me.

Rather than type all of my notes, I thought I'd try to "cheat" and scan them. If you double click on the photo, you should be able to see the entire first page of notes I scribbled during his presentation (or you can simply read the highlights, because, yes, I'm going to type them):

Highlights: MAKE YOURSELF "POSSIBLE" FOR YOUR CHILD. Too much of what we do makes ourselves "impossible" for them. Children w/ communication delays need lots of interaction with people who are "possible" for them.

Major Problems: We adults are too much, too soon, too adult when we interact with the child, and we give the child too little time to process, respond an initiate.

Slow down to the child's pace. Wait more. Make yourself "possible". Only do as much as the child does. DO NOT FILL THE SPACE THAT HE NEEDS TO LEARN IN.

Developmental age is more important than chronological age.

Communicate, not perform.

Your child is going to learn to communicate with you. Or NOT. It's up to you.

Focus on the positive things and the negative things will go away. Don't talk to nasty behavior. We tend to end up paying attention to the behavior we don't want and ignoring the behavior that we want.

CP is a developmental series that follows a developmental map, the ARM, based on 30 years of clinical research.



Conversations are for CONNECTIONS, not for information. Conversations don't have to make sense! Experiment w/ sounds as conversation.

He talked about autism as a myth, like the tooth fairy, and he says that the majority (80% or more) of professionals BELIEVE IN AUTISM, and don't believe these kids need more processing time and interaction at a non-verbal level. ***I love that idea -- let's all say we don't believe in autism! ;) ***

The rest of my notes are mostly statements Dr Jim made. Page two of my notes begins with the statement: "So much of bad behavior is taking the wrong turn."

"The more YOU do, the less your child can do." (stop doing so much!)

STIMMING = "safe smoking" Dr Jim showed video footage of him working with a young boy who was quite a stimmer, and Dr Jim ignored the stimming and began to interact with the boy, tossing a pillow back and forth. Dr Jim said that smokers can communicate while they are smoking a cigarrette, and smoking is a stim, so don't try to stop the kids from stimming.

"Be responsive to your child as if he were communicating to you"

"Imitate spontaneous behavior. If he scratches his head, you scratch your head."

"Respond to your child's sounds and words, and THEN WAIT"


"Don't do more than the child does. If you'll follow that rule, he will do more!"

Matching - interests as well as abilities

"The more you enjoy your child, the more he will learn from you."

"Do the unexpected - don't be boring."

Dr Jim says that the statement 'If a child isn't talking by the age of five or six he'll never talk,' is NONSENSE

And, referring to non-verbal, pre-speech foundations of communication, Dr Jim said, "MOST THERAPISTS AND TEACHERS ARE TAUGHT AT THE WORD LEVEL. WE NEED TO LEARN AND GROW WHAT HAPPENS BEFORE THE WORD LEVEL!"


My son is reading, "Rules", by Cynthia Lord. My older daughter read it a year or two ago, and I read it when she did. "Rules," is fiction written from the perspective of Catherine, an NT sibling of a boy on the autism spectrum.

NT = neurotypical. NT is a term that those of us who are touched by autism use to describe individuals who are typically developing and/or are not autistic.

Because her brother David does not understand many of the unspoken communication that the rest of us take for granted, Catherine gives David rules to help him understand what to do or what not to do in specific situations. "If the bathroom door is closed, knock!"

"Rules" is a great book, especially for siblings of individuals with autism.

"Rules" got me thinking about my own rules. I have a few:

One of my own rules is that generally, I don't read other product reviews until I've written my own review for that product.

I do not drive to a therapy where the drive time is longer than the actual time in therapy. Parents of children on the autism spectrum could spend every day, all day long, in a vehicle and a waiting room, while the child w/ ASD is in some therapy. Don't get me wrong, I would not withhold a medically necessary treatment. But I'd rather interact at home with professionals who support me at home instead of spending my days driving from therapy to therapy and waiting room to waiting room.

Whenever possible, I avoid making siblings to spend a lot of time in waiting rooms while the sister on the autism spectrum is in a therapy. (Sometimes their waiting is unavoidable, but I do try.)

In helping another family new to a diagnosis of autism, never do more work than the other parent is willing to do. I am often asked to talk to a family member of a friend (or a friend of a friend) about autism. I'm happy to mentor a newbie through the GFCF diet or manage the maze of therapies and options out there, but I will not "cold call" the friend or gather a bunch of information to give to someone who hasn't directly asked me for it.

I try not to let the fuel gauge on my van drop below half a tank. (I have several reasons for this. When we lived in Los Angeles, twice I was caught on "E" and had trouble buying gas -- once, during the Northridge quake and once in the riots that followed the trial of the police officers who beat Rodney King, and in the midwest, during the four-day blackout caused by a grid failure, I was also on "E", not having enough gas to get to a gas station to drive me and my kids to a town with power. You'd think I'd have learned my lesson in Los Angeles! Additionally, in the midwest, in near-zero temps with snow, filling that half-tank is quicker and means I don't have to be outside in the elements as long!)

What are some of your rules?

Sunday, June 14, 2009

I won a Generation Rescue t-shirt! :)

Thank you to for the Generation Rescue t-shirt!

The t-shirt arrived in the mail yesterday:

"When Love Blooms" - a Zondervan review

I have lost count of the number of books I have read since my daughter's diagnosis of autism eight years ago. I don't know if I could even list the all, there are so many! And they've pretty much *all* been autism related. I simply don't spend my spare time reading for enjoyment these days. I used to, in my life before autism. But not now.

I have noticed that in waiting rooms (occupational therapy, etc) that although I bring my autism-related reading with me, I tend to be attracted to the mindless stuff of waiting rooms: celebrity gossip magazines. My mind needs to take a break from autism. But not necessarily for the trash that is celebrity gossip! Zondervan sent me something more appropriate than celebrity gossip that I can take with me when I must wait:

"When Love Blooms," by Robin Lee Hatcher, is one of the only non-autism related books of fiction that I have read in too many years! I am reminded of how much I enjoy reading for pleasure! (I had forgotten that about myself.)

Hatcher uses Christian historical fiction as a backdrop to a love story set in the Western movement. 'When Love Blooms' is set in 1883 and tells the story of Miss Emily Harris and how she found love in an unusual circumstance. Miss Harris accepts the job of governess to a family with two sweet little girls, not knowing that the mother of the girls is dying and is hoping to find a mother for her daughters and a loving wife and relationship for her second husband (and adopted father of her girls), Gavin, after she is gone. Gavin has his own issues, with himself and with Miss Harris.

Hatcher paints beautiful scenery with her words and I can imagine the rugged roads, green hills and the snow as I read the book. She took me on an escape to a beautiful land and challenging time, and when I had to put the book down, I looked forward to picking it up again. Hatcher' story reminded me to take time away from autism, for myself, and that I can take a trip without leaving home simply by picking up the right story.

"When Love Blooms," by Robin Lee Hatcher
ISBN 978-0-310-25828-2
Publication Date: March 2009
352 pages, softcover

Saturday, June 13, 2009

What is the "Detroit News" thinking?

What is the "Detroit News" thinking? I am so perplexed by the ignorance and lack of understanding of the author(s) of this editorial, Here's a guess: The writer(s) of this editorial canNOT be the parents or family members of a child on the autism spectrum, and they canNOT know any teachers of children with autism. The writer(s) of this editorial are uneducated. Ignorant. They not only do not understand autism (it is developmental, neurological and medical, not an educational disorder!), they also do not understand our educational system or the fact that teachers are not medical professionals.

Autism is so much more than a challenge to be addressed by intermediate school districts. Autism is one diagnosis. Most individuals with an autism diagnosis have several (or more) co-occurring conditions that include fine motor delays, motor planning issues, visual processing challenges, auditory processing challenges, information processing delays, sound sensitivities, feeding problems, acid reflux, abdominal pain, malabsorption, vitamin and mineral deficiencies, heavy metal poisoning, food allergies and intolerances. Some individuals on the autism spectrum have other mental health labels like Tourettes, bi-polar and schizophrenia. What typically happens when a parent takes a child w/ autism to the doctor and describes self injurious behavior, seizures, whatever, is that the doctor will not investigate, and instead, say, that's just what we see in autism. (My response: Bull hockey.)

Individuals on the autism spectrum are often the victims of discrimination by their family health insurance provider, because the provider refuses to cover "autism". These individuals have medical issues that contribute to the characteristics we use to describe autism (in the DSMIV). Treat the medical issues, and the "autism" decreases. AMAZING! Get rid of pain and illness and the student becomes a better learner. Who knew? Individuals with autism deserve to be covered by insurance plans in order to be treated by doctors who specialize in the biomedical treatment of the co-occuring "stuff" that often accompanies a diagnosis autism. These doctors understand behaviors as communication of underlying illnesses and know how to treat these individuals.

Intermediate school districts are not doctors or clinics. Doctors and parents do not want school staff diagnosing or treating the medical problems that accompany autism. We want school staff teaching our children. (Some of us choose to bypass the public school system and manage the education part with homeschooling. Homeschoolers still have to manage the co-occurring conditions with professional guidance.) Dealing with the neurological and/or medical issues that come with autism is no more the responsibility of our schools than having our schools take on the diagnosis and medical care of students with pediatric diabetes or pediatric cancer.

Children on the autism spectrum need and deserve intervention beyond the scope of what the schools provide. Autism in many ways is better understood outside the public school system. Many (most) school staff understand autism as a mental or behavioral condition, not a neurological condition or a developmental delay. Universities producing our teachers are years behind the latest research, which means schools are behind, too. Teaching a child with autism is SO MUCH MORE than the behavior management that is prevelent in our schools. Many students identified with autism are not given access to remediation programs in public school settings because autism is defined incorrectly, considered behavioral and not neurloogical, medical or developmental. In addition to school staff members sorely needing to play catch-up with the latest autism interventions, students with autism need help for co-occurring conditions that school staff members have no expertise in diagnosing or treating.

Once the job of the school has been properly defined (and that has yet to happen), there are more problems: On the education side, Congress has never fully funded federal special education law. How are schools supposed to do the job of educating students with autism when they are not being financially supported to do so?

Individuals on the autism spectrum need much more than services from an ISD, and the "much more" includes coverage by health insurance policies for neurological and developmental conditions, for starters.

Mandating insurance coverage for individuals with autism is just one of several changes that must occur to create a fair playing field, and studies show that the increase to premiums would be small. The benefits would be ENORMOUS. And it's the right thing to do.

For more info, go here:

TOS 2009 Schoolhouse Planner - A TOS Homeschool Crew Review

As a really new homeschooler last fall, I knew that there are endless resources for homeschoolers, but figuring out how to find the right one at the right time was a challenge for me. I was trying to plan, trying to organize my plans. I can remember looking for a template, a form, for practicing handwriting and copywork, and not knowing exactly what term to enter as my Google search. Knowing that something EXISTS doesn't mean I can locate it!

We'd had enough years in the public school system and interaction with teachers that I knew that templates and forms exist, that nice folks sometimes offer them for free on the internet, and that they are out there if I can find them.

Going on an internet wild goose chase for a template, form or chart is the biggest time waster, and is SO frustrating!

Last fall, I was privileged to have been chosen as an alternate on The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew, a focus group created by TOS magazine to use and review homeschool resources sent by vendors participating in the program. One of the products I reviewed as part of my application process was the 2008 Planner.

And hooooooooooboy, I was thrilled to see some of those forms that I'd been seeking, allinoneplace, plus a bunch more I hadn't yet thought about, but immediately could use. And a bunch more, still, that I knew I wouldn't use right away, but I might later. That 2008 Planner, an e-book, is a gigantic all-in-one resource, useful for rightnow, and useful for later, too. It is so easy to open and skim for just the right form, chart, or template.

As a new homeschooler, I appreciated having that '08Planner in my "back pocket". Knowing that I could pull it up on my computer and scroll through it quickly to find the right template, chart or form, calendar page was a stress reliever and time saver for me: no more having to think of exactly the right term for a Google search and no more searching for a chart and having to decide among the 25 hits.

I'm very visual and I appreciate charts and lists. I like being able to lay out plans on paper. I was so new to homeschooling, I didn't know how to think about laying out plans on paper. All of a sudden, with this one e-book, I had numerous ways to think about homeschooling organization and planning. I have not found a calendar or planner at any store that offers all of the resources that this e-book planner offers.

I hesitated to mention last year's Planner and review in today's review of the 2009 Planner. I've gone back and forth. Should I simply write a review of the new Planner and not mention the old one? And ultimately, you see that I can't ignore last year's Planner, because having last year's Planner influenced me enough to want to own the new one.

I was poised to buy the new one, and accidentally let a big Schoolhouse Store sale expire on a busy weekend. You can imagine, I was tickled to learn that I would get an opportunity to review the 2009 Planner. I have been curious to know how the brains behind the planner would improve the old one -- the old one is pretty comprehensive.

The Planner is a comprehensive and customizable one-stop e-book/file that includes a school-year (July '09 to June '10) calendar, information, forms, charts and templates. Let your fingers do the walking to the Schoolhouse Store and take a peek inside the 2009 Planner. There are snapshots of pages and descriptions of what's inside the planner at the store. It is fabulous!

I can choose to print the entire Planner or just the parts that we will use. If I need more copies of a template, I can do that. If I need a form in the middle or at the end of the year, I can print it then. I can choose to print the each page "as is" and handwrite information into them, or I can type information directly into each page prior to printing each one.

The table of contents is SIX pages long. SIX! There are forms and charts to organize and document every second of your homeschooling hours, and forms and charts to organize and document every bit of schoolwork that happens in your home. Short-term planning, long-range planning -- it's all there.

(When I was in college, one of my professors always asked, "Who is Anne Moore?" when he poked fun at announcers on infomercials who loudly told viewers "AND MORE!" about an offer. Get ready. There's an AND MORE!)

Live links to web sites and information, calendar pages; recipes (not many are GFCF friendly, although the one I contributed *is*); articles (two by favorites of mine, Amanda Bennett and Jay Wile); 12 "Must Know" lists; what is and how to lapbook; copywork templates; TOS resource pages to show me what the Schoolhouse Store offers to complement a topic; and forms, forms, forms, forms for home and school -- they're all provided in the new Planner.

Have you ever looked through the backs of several cookbooks in order to find measurement conversion charts? What about a visual that explains how to lay out a business letter? This planner will save you time looking for that kind of information. (The timeline of inventions is fascinating to me. I had no idea Silly Putty has been around so long! lol)

I never thought to keep a log of videos we watched. PBS shows like "Reading Rainbow" and "Between the Lions" are sometimes a part of our shared reading -- now I have a place to track that. There are quite a few forms that I never thought about but immediately see how they will be useful. I am amazed at the minds of the creators of the planner as I scroll through the forms -- they thought of almost everything!

The one change I would make to this planner is an addition. A couple of months ago, while reviewing a product for the TOS Crew, we used a copywork book with wider lines and spaces, more like kindergartners use, and I learned that my daughter is more successful and more willing to practice handwriting on those wider lines. While the creators of the '09 planner give us many journal and copywork styles from which to choose, an obvious (to me) omission are versions of those same pages for pre-schoolers, with bigger spaces between the solid and dashed lines. The pre-school alphabet pages, journal and copywork pages, in my opinion, are lined too small for preschoolers and for children like my daughter who have fine motor delays. (FYI: I have submitted a request for the development of a free supplement to add those options to the current planner.)

The 2009 Planner is 375 pages and is priced the same as last year's smaller version, $39. You can use the whole thing on your computer and it won't cost you another cent. But if you print it, you'll need to factor printing costs, a 3-ring binder (or more, depending upon how you organize your stuff), a hole punch, and possibly some plastic sheet protectors and a set of tabbed dividers for a 3-ring binder.

And if I were forced to sum up a review in two words, I'd choose the same two words I chose last year: comprehensive and customizable. This year, I'd add, time saver and stress reliever to that two-word list.

I predict I will appreciate having the 2009 Planner in my "back pocket" in the coming year.

For reviews of my Crewmates, please go here:

Friday, June 12, 2009


Thursday, June 11, 2009

Skating clips -- TWO weeks worth of them!

Okay, I admit it. I'm BEHIND posting clips from figure skating lessons. TWO WEEKS behind. Poor excuse for a mother, I am, for being so behind on clips from skating lessons!

I'm making up for it today -- and don't worry, all the clips are short!

My princess is amazing. She has ups and downs of allergies and illness that play with her self-regulation, and the past couple of weeks have been really challenging because she's experiencing some allergies (or maybe viral issues -- we are never really sure). She struggles during these periods with organization and attention and regulation, yet she is always ready to get on the ice and attempt whatever Coach introduces to her, even when the skills are new and require a bit of work. She perserveres on the ice. I love that! :)

I wish you could see my girl on the ice in person! She smiles the whole time that she is on the ice. This is a child who was, as a toddler, described as having no affect. She enjoys being on the ice very much.

I am amazed by the sheer work involved in learning to skate on ice. The thin blade requires balance, which uses the vestibular system. The skater uses a lot of proprioception (knowing where her body is in space). The arena is freezing, which provides some input to the tactile system as well. Foot-eye coordination is necessary. Imagry combined w/ proprioception comes into play, as the skater moves a leg and foot without being able to look at them. The motor planning practice is challenging.

Helps immensely to have the WORLD'S *BEST* and most patient skating coach! :)

This is from LAST week's (June 2nd) lesson:

Learning backwards swizzles (Backwards swizzles are not easy! Oh, the motor planning! ):


Here's a clip from the moment my princess stepped on the ice this week, two days ago. Coach was drawing on the ice with a magic marker, preparing for lessons.

The motor planning involved in learning new skills is INCREDIBLE, and my girl gets a workout:

This session was challenging for my princess. She sings, can't seem to shut off the songs, and the songs began to interfere with the lesson. The songs, a form of stimming, come with the allergies and illness. And yet, she was able to perservere.


Bowling With New Buddies

New friends are moving to town! We took advantage of a rainy Thursday to meet in real life and introduce the kids to one another for an afternoon bowling session!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Carry those books

A must read:

Sweet Potato Casserole

I have had sweet potatoes on my mind. Sweet potato casserole, to be exact. It's a dish I associate with Thanksgiving and Christmas meals, but one that sounds good to me right now.

In my past life (the one before children), I made them "from scratch", buying yams or sweet potatoes and cooking them for the recipe. Today, I "cheated" with canned sweet potatoes. And today, I made them fit our family food issues, and I omitted the eggs, reduced the sugar by half, and used coconut milk intead of cow's milk.

This recipe comes from a gal I worked with in Tennessee many years ago. The recipe is quite adaptable, and I promise that it is delicious without the eggs, with half the sugar and using coconut milk to replace the cow's milk.

The recipe "as is" is more like a rich pie filling than a side dish, and it's addicting. It's as good hot out of the oven as it is cold out of the refrigerator as leftovers.

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

(original version)

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.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Visits from friends

Jamberry and Habeeb from The School Box are in town, and the Queen Mum from Growing Fruit and I spent the day with their beautiful family. Here are some snapshots:
LtoR: Me, Jamberry, Queen Mum

Friday, June 5, 2009

Resources and Activities - (List 1) RDI-able (guided participation)

Seems like a hot topic is RDI-able activities. Families new to RDI(r) want to know WHAT to DO. Today, I'm blogging about some RDI-ables that we have used for referencing, coordinating, co-regulating and being-with. Some of the ideas involve small pieces and balloons -- so use your discretion based on the ages and developmental appropriateness (use at your own risk). I'll call it "List 1" so that I can make more lists along the way.


Planet Dexter's book, "Pattern Block City," by the editors of Planet Dexter is a 48 page picture book plus a set of 32 pattern blocks. Each picture holds a different scene with a different picture to complete with pattern blocks. If I remember correctly, I ordered it from a Scholastic flyer.

Stomp Rockets - I found a mega-size package of them at a warehouse club

Rocket Balloons - A nearby drug store chain carries them

Write Shop's Story Builders. I was slightly familiar with these little gems before I reviewed them. Here's an example.


Rock Paper Scissors card game

Chairs game

Family Fun magazine. I don't want to subscribe because I stopped all of my magazines because they were piling up. I have attachment issues with magazines. (I have managed to limit new subscriptions to just TWO, and they're homeschooling magazines.) Back to Family Fun magazine: I have a three-ring binder filled with ripped out magazine pages and instructions printed from the web site, stuffed into plastic page protectors, which I pull out from time to time to give me new ideas. The magazine and the web site are non-stop idea generators for arts & crafts, science experiments, and games. When friends and acquaintences asked me how they could help in our autism intervention, I asked for their old Family Fun magazines. The dentist sometimes saves them for me. And I look through them at the library. Many of the magazine ideas are also available on the web site. A subscription is inexpensive, too, if you don't get too attached to your magazines.

Cake, cookie and cupcake decorating. I took a Wilton class at a local craft store and taught my children what I learned. Check your library for cake decorating or cupcake decorationg "how to" books. When my husband and I are going out without the children, (rare, but it happens occasionally), I bake cookies or cupcakes and make icing and set out all the pieces needed for them to decorate them with the sitters.

Taro Gomi coloring books. Google "Doodles" and "Scribbles". Yes, they're worth the price.

We have really enjoyed the artist quality drawing pencils I bought. Splurge on them -- they were worth the spurge.

Craft paint and little wooden cutouts to paint. The craft stores have a variety of little wooden cutouts that are fun to paint. Some are a quarter each. Watch your Sunday sale papers for the paints to go on sale.

Rubber stamping. Look for rubber stamps at yard sales.

Spinner. Okay, we have not played this because my daughter took the pieces and played with them and lost a bunch. We used to play this w/ friends BC (before children), and it is a fun spin on dominoes, and if I could find all the tiles, we'd play it! :)

I call it, "The Colorful Window"!!!

On the way to the first session of a new art class, my princess was inspired to draw in the car. I asked her what she calls it, and she replied,
"I call it 'The Colorful Window'!"

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Freebies from Trigger Memory Systems


I got an e-mail containing freebies from Dena Wood at Trigger Memory Systems:

With Times Tales, learning the upper times tables is so easy even a Kindergartener can do it! Don't believe us? Now you can see for yourself just how effective Times Tales is...and it won't cost you a thing! For a limited time only, you can receive a free trial download of Times Tales PLUS a free Memory Trigger Ebook, just for signing up for Trigger Memory System's, Education Through Imagination newsletter. Our free, monthly newsletter is full of free, creative learning ideas and resources.To sign up and receive your freebies visit HERE

Chuck Swindoll: When God's Gift Comes Specially Wrapped

A friend from church just phoned to tell me that this week Chuck Swindoll is speaking about children w/ disabilities. She tells me he has a grandchild on the autism spectrum.

You can listen here:


Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Assistive Tech Devices and Experience Sharing

I know more than a few families who live with non-speaking children on the autism spectrum. A child who is unable to speak is usually offered some sort of communication device as part of assistive technology.

My experience with the devices and the technology is so VERY limited it's almost nothing.

However, parents talk to me about the devices, I begin to ask questions. Overwhelmingly, the devices appear to me to be used for teaching the child to a) mand and b) answer questions.

The daughter of a friend uses a device, and I asked her mother if there were any experience sharing sentence starters programmed into her daughter's device. She said she didn't know. She asked me for some emamples. So, I gave her some. Guess how many were in the little girl's device? ZERO. The little girl could mand (request, express needs) and answer questions if the answer was programmed in the machine, but communicate little beyond that. Sad.

Parents and teachers, you need to use the same device to communicate with the child. If there aren't enough programmed phrases for YOU to communicate to the student, then there aren't enough phrases for the student to communicate with YOU.

In case you're wondering, here's the list of experience sharing sentence starters I gave my friend.

"I wish"
"Here it is!"
"There it is!"
"There it goes!"
"I have something to tell you about__________"
"You are" or "You're"
"I don't know."
"I don't care."
"Oh my g-o-o-d-n-e-s-s."
"What would you choose?"
"Oh, drat!" (or whatever slang your family uses, like "crap!" or "boogers!")
"You make me"
"I am"
"My ________ hurts"
"I remember when"
"Do you"
"Can we"
"What was ___________like when you were a kid?"

Monday, June 1, 2009

What To Share With Others About Your Child

A Guide To What To Share With Others About Your Child,
by Communicating Partner's
Dr James D MacDonald

Welcome to Summer,

Since you and your child may be spending time with some new people or family this summer, you will have the chance to invite them to help your child interact and communicate more. The hopefully more relaxed times of summer often help children make real gains in socializing.

As your child meets more and more people, you can help him a great deal by coaching family and friends in ways that help him socialize and communicate. The more people he interacts with the more he will learn and the and less alone he will be.

Anyone who knows your child can help.

You might begin with a few suggestions, such as

“ Say one thing them wait for him” or
“ Make the sounds he makes.” or
“ Talk about what he is doing” or
“ Question less and comment more” or
“ You don’t have to talk, playing quiet will help him.”
“ He does best when you act like him.” And
“ She can do a lot more than you may expect.”

Show and discuss this with anyone spending much time with your child— family, sitters, teachers, and aides. Keep this list in your purse or wallet so you get in the habit of changing your child’s world in his favor. Be proud of your child and find new friends for him or her.

Let us know how it works.

Dr. Jim


When a child is delayed or not socially outgoing, he or she needs people to interact in different ways than is typical. When a child has autism pdd, aspergers, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy or other conditions effecting communication, they have special needs of their life partners if they are to learn and build relationships with them. Think of the guides below similar to ones you would give to people if you had a child with diabetes, heart problems, allergies, special fears, or different learning styles. For example, for a diabetic child, you would let everyone know how to and how not to feed and treat them. Similarly with “late talking children” we need to let their life partners know how to interact so the child will show his best and so they will truly see what the child can really do.

HELLO! You can really help my child develop. You do not need training; you just need to be his partner. The more real friends he has now, the more he will learn and fit in the world.

Thanks for connecting and helping my child grow.

“_____’__” Family.

*My child can do more than you think!

*My child will learn, communicate and care about you more when you do some of the following:

*Interact WITH not AT my child.

*Enter physically in his world and observe him silently for a short while.

*Become aware of his interests and ability level.

*Then, gently join into his activity without disrupting it.

*Do what the child is doing.

*Do not do a lot more than he is doing- but be active.

*Match his movements; act in ways he can try to do.

*Respond to his movements with similar, related movements.

*Talk about the here and now, about the child’s experiences.

*Be animated: be more interesting than what is distracting him.

*Do more of what you do when he stays with you

*Do less of what you do when he leaves you.

*Match his speech: talk in ways he can now talk (this will help him talk more.)

*Respond to his speech: show him you are interested.

*Wait silently for him to take his turn

*Don’t just praise him: enjoy him instead; your response is the best reward.

*Take turns with action and talk: be sure to give and take.

*If you don’t understand him, treat it as a foreign language and simply give him an English word that fits the situation.

*Limit your questions and demands: comment instead.

*Bottom line: the more you enjoy each other, the more my child will learn with you.


New-to-me Products

Individuals with fine motor issues (common in autism) often find the act of handwriting is easier with a pencil grip. I found brightly colored mechanical pencils with squishy grips at a local office supply chain:
A neighbor told me about La Tortilla Factory's gluten free wraps, made from teff and millet. A nearby Kroger sells them with the breads and wraps, across from the deli counter. Thumbs up! They taste just like a wheat wrap! :)

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