Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Golden Rule of Social Neuroscience

..."The Golden Rule of Social Neuroscience which is: It takes a more organized, integrated brain to help organize a less organized, less integrated brain."

I am reminded why I chose a developmental relationship, remediation approach as an autism intervention.

My mind can't help but leap to the way Dr Gutstein uses the terms, "guide" and "apprentice"; to the Barbara Rogoff's term, "guided participation" and her book title, "Apprenticeship in Thinking"; and to the way Dr Becky Bailey told us during a presentation that in parenting, our job is to lend our brains to our children.

Here's another quote from Dr. Brady's blog post which explains another reason behind the "why bother" of a developmental approach to remediating autism.

Finally, a skilled mentor encourages stretching. After all, the 10,000 hours that K. Anders Erickson determined it takes to become an expert in any field doesn’t show up from simply doing the same easy things over and over. No. Expertise comes about from growing new neurons and connections that result from addressing and resolving conflicts, and receiving skilled instruction and unfailing support that shows us how to improve those areas where we perform poorly.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

"Antimony is the new lead (Pb)"


AMAB 2010 Second International Conference on Autism Spectrum Disorders

The conference schedule and registration links are up, now.

I spoke to Dr. DeMio on the telephone this morning. He told me that there will be an update on the topic of antimony at this conference. (See the Kirkman Labs web site for info about the most recent scare.)

Antimony is a element that is used in mattresses, pajamas, and bedding as a flame retardant, a neurotoxin, that shows up in the hair and blood tests from children on the autism spectrum.

Dr. DeMio told me, "Antimony is the new lead (Pb)."


Blogging About Developmental, Relationship Interventions

FYI: I have a long list of blogs that I follow - they're listed in the right-hand side bar of my blog. I like that list -- I look at it almost every day. The blogs that have been updated most recently always move to the top of the list -- that feature is so handy!

For folks who do not enjoy my side bar the way I do (*grin*), here's the list of bloggers (in no particular order) who chat about topics that are somehow related to RDI® or CP (Communicating Partners), some more than others, and most somewhat unofficially - they're blogging about their personal situation and not giving advice (the consultants' blogs are more "official", I'd guess).

I enjoy reading the perspective of parents who are RDIing and CPing too - sometimes they help me wrap my mind around a concept or objective in a new way.

Here's the list I gathered: (Connections Center) (consultant) (CIT) (consultant) (CIT) (Jennifer Dyer's posts) (consultant) (consultants)

# # #

And a wonderful Communicating Partners parent blog:

If you know of others, please tell me,

so that I may add them to my list.

Friday, February 26, 2010

FBA and BIP for a Killer Whale

The tragic death of trainer Dawn Brancheau at Sea World has set in motion an interesting conversation.

Did Whale Trainer Break Protocol? - ABC News

Seemingly endless news reports focus on "What happened?" and "Why?", asking Sea World, "What will you do to make sure this doesn't happen again?"

If you speak the language of acronyms that millions of parents of children who qualify for special education services speak, maybe you're wondering with me, why we have spent so much news coverage on an FBA and BIP for a killer whale that killed his trainer (probably IMHO) in play or part of what whales do.

Sea World's response this morning is interesting: Not the whale's fault! Experts at Sea World blame the death on the fact that the trainer broke Sea World working-with-killer-whale protocol. (A protocol?! Is that like an IEP?)

Why is the country so rivited on this issue while ignoring the many cases where a child, a human being, in a special education setting, has no protocol, no FBA, no BIP. Children, in many cases, are being blamed for their actions, their "behaviors", being kicked out of general ed, being kicked out of school, being charged with criminal acts. Parents all over the United States are fighting for appropriate protocols, assessments and plans for their children in special education, with school staff fighting back in resistance, resistance to establishing and following a plan, a protocol, resistant to accepting responsibility when something goes wrong because they failed to follow the plan. And these stories (here's one. here's another.) are making their way around internet groups related to special ed and disabilities, but are not making an impact on national news. Why is that?

I ache for Dawn Brancheau's family, her friends, her coworkers. My sympathies and prayers are with them.

FBA=Functional Behavioral Assessment
BIP=Behavioral Intervention Plan
IEP=Individual Education Plan

Disney on Ice "Let's Celebrate!"

*click on the photos to enlarge them*
We won Disney on Ice tickets from a local radio station.
We also won a meet-and-greet w/ Mickey and Minnie.
(Still cost a lot. Parking $10. Cotton Candy $12.)
We had an early dinner before the show.

Arrived at the venue at 5:30 pm for the meet & greet.
We waited almost half an hour for the special guests to arrive.
Meet & Greet

Now, more waiting. Show starts at 7:30 pm.
We had almost an hour and a half to wait after meeting Mickey & Minnie.

Lumier opened the show
w/ a "Be Our Guest" number

Birthday Party
(or UNbirthday Party) Celebration
The glow in the dark skating brooms were neat!

Cruella showed up
So did Captain Hook

Valentines Day
with all the princesses
Bippity Boppity Boo!

Newest Disney Princess! :)


Hawaiian Celebration

Japanese Celebration

Chinese Celebration

Mardi Gras

Christmas Celebration
w/ the characters from Toy Story


Thursday, February 25, 2010

Now THAT'S what I call TALENT!

At Disney on Ice tonight, my skating princess saw the popcorn guy selling popcorn from the top of his head, and told me, "Now THAT'S what I call TALENT!" !!! LOL

Just 10%!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

A recent study by University of Connecticut psychologist Deborah Fein shows that at least 10% of autistic children undergoing ABA can overcome the disorder by age 9, while others show more modest improvement.

Read more:,8599,1967796-3,00.html#ixzz0gYahSMwx

Theory of Mind. Joint Attention. Intersubjectivity.

Aut-2B-Home in Carolina blogger Tammy Glaser blogged an insightful post about intersubjectivity yesterday.

She has me remembering the first time I saw the term "theory of mind" where someone defined it for me. I attended a workshop about Floortime by beloved PLAY Project expert Dr Richard Solomon, and one of the slides was about theory of mind.

I remember coming away from the presentation with the idea that "theory of mind" mysteriously comes upon most children and not on children with autism. Dr Solomon didn't give me the progression of development that explained how theory of mind (joint attention) (intersubjectivity) develops. (Maybe he did and I simply don't remember it -- I can tell you I didn't come away with any understanding of it, other than people on the autism spectrum don't acquire it.)

It wasn't until Dr Gustein lectured on the developmental levels of intersubjectivity that I realized that theory of mind doesn't simply happen or not happen -- it grows via a distinct and thoroughly documented set of stages via experience with another person, usually Mom and Dad, and yes, parents have an opportunity to go back in development and "do over" the steps and levels of intersubjectivity with a child on the autism spectrum (or Down Syndrome or other developmental delay) and see the child grow (naturally) in theory of mind.

(FYI: I attempted to provide my understanding of how intersubjectivity develops in the post I wrote about why I finally decided to homeschool.)

If you're wondering whether the "theory-of-mind" fairy is going to come upon your child w/ asd, you don't have to wonder. You are the key to the re-do.

Thanks Tammy, for the descriptive example of intersubjectivity at the post office on your blog.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Beehive Reader from All About Spelling, a TOS Crew Review

I was introduced to Marie Rippel and All About Spelling during my first voyage with TOS Homeschool Crew. All About Spelling made my top 10 list for the year, one of my very favorites, and when I learned that we'd be getting one of the new readers to review, my expectations were high.

Disclosure: I was given a copy of the new Beehive Reader to use and review with my homeschooler.

I think Marie Rippel hung the moon! ;) All About Spelling gets an A+ from me -- and the Beehive Reader is the same high quality. She thought of everything in this book!

She "gets" the challenges we face when we have children who struggle with academics, and this reader is a problem solver for folks like me.

The Behive Reader is a little hardback book, 160 pages long, just the right size for little hands. It's a nice weight. The 10 stories inside are phonics based. Rippel found that most easy readers throw in sight words that are difficult to decode, creating challenges and negative experiences for struggling readers. She's written the Beehive Reader without those suprise sight words.

It can be used as a stand-alone or with the first level of All About Spelling.

The illustrations are adorable, and they offer opportunities to simply talk about the pictures together, parent and child.

The pages are nonglare. The font was customized and letters like p's and q's are easily distinguished from one another.

The text is written in short phrases that are meant to be read a phrase at a time, where the natural phrase break is at the end of a line.

To help the reader with visual tracking, the text is lightly underlined.

My daughter balks if she sees too many words on a page. I haven't quite figured out what her definition of "too many words" is, but she knows it -- and she has been known to shut down because a page of text appeared too difficult, simply because there was so much text! Rippel does a nice job balancing text w/ the illustrations for our situation.

Peek inside the book here.

The Beehive Reader is priced at $19.95, available here.

To read the reviews of the Beehive Reader by my Crewmates, check out TOS Crew Blog.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Snow Day Snow Play

Siblings in the snow

Folding washcloths, skills & relationships, a "personal attitude of competence"

Here's a true story from my journal that I wrote three or so years ago. My daughter would have been six or seven at the time, and we'd begun Relationship Development Intervention®. I thought it might be a helpful illustration for folks who are looking into a developmental approach like RDI®.


Last weekend, I was folding a huge basket of clean towels, washcloths, and dishtowels. My daughter joined me (no request or prompt from me, she joined me by her choice) and began to fold washcloths. This, in itself, is GIGANTIC. You see, when she was 2 or 3 years old, I asked our ABA consultant for a discreet skill/trial program to teach her how to fold washcloths. I wanted her to be able to JOIN THE FAMILY in this "together" task.

All we taught her was that folding washcloths by gross motor imitation is WORK, just like naming colors, letters, numbers, shapes, occupations, actions is work (and at the same time, she experienced n.o.t.h.i.n.g. about joining us) and she resisted in protest every time we tried to do this activity as a family. We made the mistake of teaching her a skill for the sake of the skill, and not for the "togetherness" I so desperately wanted. (See, I had RDI® in my head a long time ago! All the skills we dumped into her added up to n.o.t.h.i.n.g. in the joining and reciprocity department.) She resisted so loudly, so strongly, that the experience became absolutely aversive for her, and I stopped trying to include her in it long ago.

So, for her to JOIN me, and begin to fold alongside me, all of her own accord, was just huge!

She grabbed the corner of what she thought was a washcloth and yanked it from the basket, and she found rather quickly that she had pulled on a TOWEL. She said, "Look, mom, it's a BIIIIIIG washcloth!" And I told her, "No, it's a bath TOWEL." Was interesting to be able to talk to her, to teach her new labels in a setting like this, in context, with her interest.

I told her to give it to me, that I would fold it. My kids get really discouraged when they try to fold towels, because towels are so big, they don't turn out quite right. And I wanted to save her the struggle, and the discouragement.

She told me, no. And she folded the TOWEL, all by herself. And was so SO SO pleased with herself, shouting, "I DID IT! MOM I DID IT!" when she was finished.

Dr. Sheely of RDI® keeps reminding us parents that all children should have a "personal attitude of competence", and I think I'm seeing evidence of that.

What would YOUR t-shirt say?


Got Amazing Kids?!

I've been thinkin' 'bout what my t-shirt would say.

It would have something to do with food.
"got chocolate?"

What would yours say? I wanna know!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Math Mammoth, a TOS Crew Review

As I have been introduced to companies that produce materials marketed to homeschoolers, there are some that I return to again and again. Maria Miller and Math Mammoth is one of those companies.
Math Mammoth worked with us as individuals, and allowed us to choose what we'd like to review. The new "Make It Real" Learning series looks exciting, but we're not ready to use something like that, yet, and I did not request it. I'll buy it when the time is right for *any* of my children, not just the homeschooler.

Neither Miller nor I were certain that my homeschooler is ready for the Math Mammoth Grade 1B Complete Worktext in e-book form from the light blue series, that includes place value (tens and ones); adding and subtracting within 1-100; coins; the clock; and measuring, and Miller was willing to let me try it. An 18-page sample from the unit I was given is here. The full worktext is 113 pages.

The more I read about development of concepts of math, the more I realize that my daughter is not ready for worksheets. We're concentrating more on hands-on math and less on worksheets, giving her experience in concepts and not worrying about symbols for now.

Miller provides several pages (throughout the worktext) of live links to free internet resources to supplement the pages in the worktext. Just click through to the resource -- easy!

Miller gives me information about "tens", how to help the child experience and understand "tens" that I had not considered before (see page 9 of the sample).

The beauty in the worktext is the fact that it's not just a bunch of worksheets. The games and links to supporting resources are fun and helpful. The worksheets are great, even for me, who is avoiding worksheets at the moment, because Miller gives me ideas to draw from as we work using manipulatives at home. I can keep on track using the worktext. I can print a page or pages if I choose to, and not have to worry about storing yet another workbook on my bookshelves.

The Math Mammoth Grade 1B Complete Worktext is priced at $15.50 for the download.

Additional items: You'll need an abacus and a printer, toner, and paper. Additionally, you will need some manipulatives (dominos, craft pom poms, anything small for arranging into patterns for counting and grouping in exercises and games), an "old-timey" clock w/ a face and hands, a ruler that measures in inches and one that measures in centimeters, too.

Math Mammoth offers free resources, a blog, and a newsletter.

Check out the reviews of this product and other Math Mammoth products by my Crewmates HERE.

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