Tuesday, March 29, 2011
I've been a subscriber for a couple of years.
And today is the first day I've looked into this toolbox. (I wonder what I have missed in the past???)
Took me a while to figure out how to log in - the page is wider than my screen and I had to go to the far-right-hand side of the page to find the log-in box.
Anyway, this month's free e-book in "Teacher's Toolbox" is a Write Shop StoryBuilder. If you've not used StoryBuilders, and you are a subscriber to TOS magazine, head over to the Teacher's Toolbox, log in, and grab this one. It is available through March 31st. I already own it. I blogged about it here.
I think I'll pack this one on the suitcase for our time in the hotel during our move transition.
I found out through the grapevine that next month's "Teacher's Toolbox" is all about camping.
Monday, March 28, 2011
Dear Picketing Parents:
The child whom you
bully picket has a legal right to attend that school should the parents choose for her to attend there.
All public schools in the United States have a legal obligation to any child who lives within their district boundaries.
We no longer live in the dark ages when children with special needs were not entitled to a free and appropriate public education. Who are you going to
bully picket next? The kids with Down Syndrome or the kids with autism?
The same laws that protect this precious child will protect YOUR child should something (God forbid) happen to your child.
Saturday, March 26, 2011
SENIORS TEXTING CODE: ATD-At The Doctors. BFF-Best Friend Fell. BTW-Bring the Wheelchair. BYOT-Bring Your Own Teeth. FWIW-Forgot Where I Was. GGPBL-Gotta Go Pacemaker Battery Low. GHA-Got Heartburn Again. IMHO-Is My Hearing-Aid On. LMDO-Laughing My Dentures Out. OMMR-On My Massage Recliner. OMSG-Oh My! Sorry, Gas. ROFLACGU-Rolling On ...Floor Laughing And Can't Get Up. TTYL-Talk To You Louder.
Yes, it is completely off topic for my blog. I hope you got a giggle from it, too. ;)
Flight Plan Your Mission to Becoming a Man, is a great book. This book gives the reader great info that they will need in the long run. This book is also great to read with a dad/leader/trusted mentor. Lastly, this book helps the reader know what to do in life when bad, or scary things happen to them. This book covers a wide selection of things and what to do when it happens like drugs and sex. This book is great for a boy becoming a man.A peek inside Flight Plan is available here.
Flight Plan, your mission to become a man, by Lee Burns and Braxton Brady, is a 194 page, 13 chapter paperback, priced around $15.I'll start by saying I wish I'd read the book first and I wish my husband had gone through the book with my son. If you are buying this book for a young man in your family, I recommend purchasing two copies, one for parent, one for child.
Flight Plan comes from a Biblical, Christian perspective, uses multiple approaches, using scripture, anecdotes, quotes from movies and famous people, is part teacher, part Bible study, part self-help book...Flight Plan is a lot of information rolled into one paperback. It is written in a style that is easy to read without too much professional lingo, in a style that draws in the reader and keeps his (and her) attention.
Flight Plan covers friendships, sex (a lot more info about sex than I thought it would), drugs, girls, dating, mentors, peer pressure, making choices, stress - all of the topics my middle schooler had been asking me about. At the end of each chapter, authors Burns and Brady offer questions for thought and reflection.
Burns and Brady offer sons and their parents a gift by pre-viewing situations that could happen, allowing young men to think about them, rehearse in their minds, even role play, what they will do if a situation arises. It spotlights what to look for when choosing a wing-man (best friend).
I think that sometimes we parents warn our children to look out for this situation or that one, and our children become tone-deaf to our "preaching", and we get from our boy an attitude of "There she goes again!" with an eyeball roll. Flight Plan does the previewing, offers the caution, has the same concerns that I do, yet offers a "neutral" perspective because it doesn't come from Mom or Dad.
Flight Plan really opened up the lines of conversation between my son and me. He was able to use something he read in the book to come to me to ask more about it. I knew he had questions, even misconceptions. Talking to boys at school can create some interesting perceptions and misunderstandings, that's for sure! Flight Plan became a framework for the two of us, a place that created a base for him to feel safe sharing his questions with me. It continues to be a framework for our conversations as he continues to process information he read a couple of months ago and as he encounters new situations in his life. I suspect that Flight Plan will be a reference book of sorts for my son as he continues through middle and high school.
[Mom's note: I especially like Dr Tim Kimmel's list of ten ways to be a great member of their family on page 139; I think we'll post that on our refrigerator after we move (we are preparing to pack up and leave in less than a week as I type).]
I think that Flight Plan is a must have for young men and their parents. Parents, read the book first; order two copies and read/work through it with your boy.
B&B Media Group sent me a copy of Flight Plan for review purposes. I received no payment for this review and am not obligated to provide a positive review.
Friday, March 25, 2011
Thursday, March 24, 2011
As temperatures warm with the entrance of spring, I am thinking toward summer and outdoor activities, and I pulled this out in order to revisit it. It is worth sharing with you. Enjoy.
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 www.chickmoorman.com or www.thomashaller.com. Chick Moorman and Thomas Haller are two of the world’s foremost authorities on raising responsible, caring, confident children. For more information about how they can help you or your group meet your parenting needs, visit their websites today.
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
As temperatures warm with the entrance of spring, I am thinking toward summer and outdoor activities, and I pulled this out in order to revisit it. It is worth sharing with you. Enjoy.
How To Invest In Your Children This Summer
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 www.chickmoorman.com or www.thomashaller.com. Chick Moorman and Thomas Haller are two of the world’s foremost authorities on raising responsible, caring, confident children. For more information about how they can help you or your group meet your parenting needs, visit their websites today.
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Create an anonymous note that says something along the lines of, “You are an amazing person. Have a wonderful day!” Secretly put it in someone’s locker, mailbox or desk who could use a secret pick-me-up.
What is this all about? Well, allow me to explain: I got a note via e-mail from Bassie Shemtov over at Friendship Circle:
Today, The Friendship Circle is making a major announcement about the launch of a brand new social movement called Defeat The Label (www.DefeatTheLabel.com). This movement is an anti-bullying campaign that will be launched both online and starting in local high schools around Metro Detroit.
It's something all of us, homeschoolers, too, can join and participate in, in the circles where we touch people.
Monday, March 21, 2011
The Mamas bring children into the music with them; the songs are interactive, that feature children on the tracks (which increases the attractiveness for my kids), that are engaging. They introduce vocabulary (science, in particular, on this CD) and concepts and traditions (Hanukkah) and teach us about perspective taking.
My favorite song on the CD is the one about Ralph & Rosie & metamorphosis; my favorite message is, "Take A Walk In Someone Else's Shoes". (One of Bechmann's children is on the autism spectrum.) And I've heard several songs about crossing the street safely as my children were young, but do not recall one about water safety until hearing the one on the Mamamorphosis CD.
In my experience over the years as a Mom, there are bands that make kid music that are fun for everyone, and at the other end of the spectrum, bands that make kid music that are barely tolerable for mom; there are kid songs that annoy Mom (like fingernails across a chalkboard) and kid songs that that are for Mom, too. Mamamorphosis, written by moms, is fun for moms, too!!! I have to think that Lizzie and Marlowe heard enough grating kids music to want to create some good stuff for us moms to enjoy while we are with our children! ;)
They use a variety of instruments, too, and each song has a different sound (I don't like the CDs where all the music sounds the same, which is very hard on this mom's ears).
I suspect that moms everywhere will like the way that the Swingset Mamas pack a lot of learning into the fun tunes. This one is great for long trips or short rides in the car; would make a gift for a little one; or a fun gift to a pre-school or co-op.
I wish I'd had all of the Swingset Mamas CDs when my children were little.Head over to the Swingset Mamas web site and listen to some song samples here. You can watch a Swingset Mamas video at their web site, too.
Disclaimer: Swingset Mamas gave me a copy of Mamamorphosis to enjoy at home and review. I am not paid for reviews and am not obligated to provide a positive review.
Saturday, March 19, 2011
My daughter and her school band participated in a festival today. (The band earned top rating, a 1, overall, with 1's from each judge in the performance category, and a 2 in sight reading.)
Following the performance of three prepared pieces, we parents were invited to follow our kids to another room to watch the sight reading portion of the festival. We observed as our students were given two pieces of music they'd not seen before. The band director was given seven minutes to preview the music with her students.
I watched in awe as she scaffolded the process. I'm confident she practiced this with her students many times prior to today. She led them through a speedly appraisal of the sheet music. She asked them to open the first piece and quickly called out the time signature, and she asked if the time changed anywhere in the piece. She and the kids were flipping through the music, looking at the time signature. The director asked aloud, talking to both herself and the students, if there were any key changes. She pointed out dymanics, spotlighted where to play more loudly so they would have room to soften as the dynamic changed. Repeats. First ending, second ending. And then she had them count the entire piece, one, two, one, two, aloud, while fingering the notes on their instruments. Finally, she led them through the piece with their instruments for the adjudicator and a rating.
She used exactly the same process with the second number.
When the band members had finished the second number, the adjudicator stepped upon the podium in front of the band. He asked them how to play softly; do you use more air or less air to play softly? The answer is more air. The kids knew that. He took them to a section in the second piece and had them begin it loudly. And he had them play more softly. He spotlighted the dynamics in this particular section, and he was a master with them, guiding them to play this section with more emotion. He led them through a few difficult measures in such a way that the beauty of the music, complimented by the dynamics he had spotlighed for them in a new way, brought tears to my eyes. I looked around and I saw that the music affected other bystanders the same way.
Watching our band director and then the adjudicator guide the students through how to think about sight reading a piece of music, about how to think about dynamics in a piece of music, taught me more about the importance of being a good guide, a good teacher.
Being a good guide is as much or more about teaching the thinking process as it is about the doing.
Thursday, March 17, 2011
The age range according to the box is 6+ and the game is for 2-8 players. (Yeah! I love when I find a game that is not for just two or four players!)
Perhaps non-verbal children could play this game if all of the cards that require speaking a phrase were removed.
If you're looking for a game for a wide range of ages and abilities to play together, this is one to consider. It's a wonderful game for practice in relationship development. Children get experience with not only memory skills and motor planning, but turn-taking, anticipation, imitation, and co-regulation. This one rates high on my RDI-able and CP-ing scale. I suppose it rates high on our "autism" consultant's RDI-able scale, too; she is the one who introduced us to it. :)
Hallmark has it for $12.95 - a bit pricey for a card game - and if you have a child on the autism spectrum who is challenged by motor planning or speaking, perhaps you could make your own game on index cards using simple actions that you know that your child is able to perform.
RDI(r) = Relationship Development Intervention
CP = Communicating Partners
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Kid Scoop has created some freebies for parents and teachers to use to help children understand the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Go HERE for the freebies to download and/or print.
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
Who is God? And Can I Really Know Him? is designed to be a family inclusive study for children in the 6-14 age range.
Who is God? And Can I Really Know Him? is a beautiful book. List price is $39. It is a big, sturdy hardback with large print. It's a book you want to pick up and look at, linger over. The pages are not overwhelmingly crowded with information, the photos and illustrations are attractive and inviting, something that is very important for a child who can become anxious by too much text or something that looks too difficult.
The book contains 10 lessons meant to be completed in order at the child's pace, with a suggestion that the lessons can be covered in two-week segments with what I assume are typically developing children in that 6-14 year old age range.
Within each chapter is a preview box called, "What You Will Do" (which is really helpful for me in the situation with my homeschooler w/ special needs); narrative with facts and information that incorporates vocabulary "The Big Idea"; vocabulary words are listed for us in "Words You Need to Know" boxes. There are memory verses in "Hide It In Your Heart" boxes in each chapter; and a"What Should I Do?" section and a "Make A Note Of It" box, that asks the student questions about concepts he/she has learned. (Be sure to take a peek at the sample chapter so that you can visualize all of these chapter pieces.)
(Sidebar: Interestingly, the book gives readers a 2/3 page answer to the question, "Where was the Garden of Eden?", a question my son (a school-building-schooler) asks sometimes.)
I know she is not understanding a lot of the concepts. Even the story illustrations contain abstract concepts for a child who by nature of all things autism is very literal and concrete. I try to use the vocab and concepts from the story during the next few days, spotlighting them, reviewing parts of the story, trying to grow concept development.
(Sidebar: This book has given me a bigger window into why Sunday School and church have not been positive experiences for her.)
Developmentally, we tend to understand concepts before we have a label for them. We understand the "a" sound long before we learn there is a letter symbol for it. We understand the concept of 1, or 2, or 3 before we learn that there is a symbol, a numeral, to go with it. I can try to get her to memorize vocabulary, but without the conceptual understanding behind it, we are not building meaning. (Rote memorization does not equal understanding.) She needs to be able to relate a new vocabulary word or a new concept to something in her experience, something she knows. Concepts like "worldview" and other abstract ideas are a challenge for me to define in a way that make sense to a child who needs to see and feel and experience very concretely.
As I look ahead, as we move through the stories and I think about finishing this book and beginning it again, I see that we have work to do, concepts to experience, before we begin the book again and include more than the story and some vocab. At this point, Who Is God? And Can I Really Know Him? is an outline for me to use as I consider what concepts I can teach at this point in my daughter's development / understanding. Realizing that my thoughts were not exactly the same as her thoughts took a while for her. She had to learn that my thoughts, my perspective, is different from hers. (Reminds me of Isaiah 55:8.) At some point, she'll learn about the perspectives of those with other worldviews, when she's developmentally ready.We still have some work (experience, practice) to do before all of the abstract concepts will make sense as a whole for her.
Here are the ten lessons:
Lesson 2: How Can I Know What's True?
Lesson 3: What is God Like? (Part 1)
Lesson 4: What is God Like? (Part 2)
Lesson 5: Who Are The Father, The Son, and the Holy Spirit?
Lesson 6: If God Created the World, Why Isn't the World Perfect?
Lesson 7: Why Did God Create Me?
Lesson 8: Will God Meet All My Needs?
Lesson 9: Why Does Sin Keep Me From Knowing God?
Lesson 10: Is Jesus The Only Way to God?
I really like the progression of topics through the chapters.
If you are looking for some guidance on how (in what order) to teach a child with special needs about God, I think that Apologia's, "Who Is God? And How Can I Really Know Him?" is a solid resource to use as an outline. Know that you may have to read the lessons to yourself and do some prep work before you actually use the lessons with your child (and that's okay; a lot of us use some materials that way with a child who needs the extra prep). It may be a book that you complete more than once; the first time through on a "lite" mode as you fill in gaps in understanding of concepts; the second time more thoroughly. That's what I've got in my mind, anyway.
If you are teaching multiple (typically developing) children across an age range, the younger children will relate to the stories and absorb the material at their level while the older sibs are diving deeper into the material and concepts.
If you're looking for something to use with a developmentally delayed child, this may not be your first choice. While it is quite good, and a beautiful book, there are other studies that are better suited for this particular situation, in my opinion. (I would like to see Apologia develop a set of the stories as separate children's books with some guidance for mom or teacher for using with children with special needs or who are younger and not ready for this book.)
For reviews of Who Is God? And Can I Really Know Him? by my Crewmates, please go here.
Monday, March 14, 2011
I've looked into quite a few options as I try to familiarize myself with what's available just for my child w/ special needs. (Yes, I've done this with the sibs in mind, too.)
I began with what I think is the obvious. Autism Society chapter. ARC chapter. Developmental Disability Council. TACA (Talk About Curing Autism). Generation Rescue Angels. Autism Research Institute's list of DAN! doctors.
Yahoo Groups and Google Groups. Go to the groups dot yahoo dot com and groups dot google dot com pages and search for groups on the topic of your child's special need. You'll need a Yahoo ID and Google ID to join the groups. Be sure to think outside the box on your searches. You can search "autism" and "special needs" and "ADHD" alongside the name of the state, and search again with those words next to the city, and yet another search with the name of the county in the search box. If your child has a special interest, be sure to search for that along with the city name and county name. If your child loves trains, there may be a yahoo group for train collectors in the city where you are going. If your child participates in a sport, be sure to connect there, too. I found more help from homeschool groups than I did from autism groups in the area we are headed. And I found more insight from celiac groups than I did from autism groups. When you connect with a group, head over to facebook to look for that group there. There are groups with members from all over the world that may be helpful; one example is the yahoo group "taca-usa", where you may post about a particular state or city and connect with other parents near your destination location. I found names of doctors to research from that particular group. And while you're looking at yahoo and google groups, don't forget to search for special ed law and IEP groups. If your child is going to a public school, make sure you join the yahoo group, IEP_Guide, where you can ask questions about specific states and cities.
Newspaper and TV station web sites in your destination city. Use the search box to search for "special needs" or "autism" on the local media web sites. Take notes. Write down any organization name that is featured. Write down the name of parents who are interviewed. Head over to facebook to try to locate those organizations or parents. Send the parents a private message explaining who you are, why you are intruding on their facebook inbox, and ask for insight about the area you are moving to.
Churches in your destination city. Look for special needs Sunday Schools or Buddy Breaks or something similar. E-mail church staff, introduce yourself, explain your situation, ask for insight.
Jewish Community Center and Friendship Circle in your destination city. (I am spoiled by my current city's offerings; looks like the destination city hasn't gotten involved in the special needs FC thing yet. I'm trying not to be disappointed with all the things I am not finding at our new location.)
The YMCA in your destination city.
TOPSoccer. Miracle League Baseball. Special Olympics. The county park & rec department.
The Chamber of Commerce in your destination city. Chamber employees know a lot about all sorts of topics and know someone who can help you with just about any question or concern. Our Chamber contact turned out to be a bit of an insider to the community of special needs families.
Facebook. The search options are huge here. In the search box at the top of your facebook page, type in the state name and the special interest of your child or his/her diagnostic label. If your child is on a GFCF diet, search on facebook for "gluten free" in that city, county, state.
Next, try a google search with any colleges or universities in your new town or area alongside your child's disability. I was expecting to find programming for kids with autism (which is popular here, but notsomuch there, where we are going). Schools with a speech-language path program may offer free or low cost speech therapy. You may find OT, PT, speech, social skills, rec classes, arts and crafts, sports, etc, at a university. I turned up a couple of college professors who are married to one another who have a child on the autism spectrum that way. I found their e-mail addresses and phone numbers in the faculty section and contacted them to ask for insight as we prepare to move. They've been a super resource.
Look for a Katie Beckett type waiver or Childrens Medicaid Waiver in your destination state. (Our current state has such a waiver; our destination state does NOT.) Find out how to apply for a waiver if your destination state has one.
Google search Joey Travolta's film camps to see if he's bringing a camp to a university near you. (You guessed it; He comes to a university near me now, but not in our new state.)
Your real estate agent may be able to put you in contact with a support group leader or a parent of a child that is like your child. If your agent doesn't know of any connections, someone in that real estate office might. Be sure to ask.
Even though I am homeschooling, I did google state public education rules and regs as I was looking at homeschooling rules and regs. Some states offer non-core classes to homeschoolers; some states offer special ed services to homeschoolers who qualify. (The state we are departing does both; the state we are moving to does neither.) I also searched for names of schools in our destination city alongside "due process" and other special ed related terms. I turned up one web site by a family in an ugly situation with a school in the area we are going.
My least favorite, least helpful set of resources has come from the professional community. Calling and e-mailing clinics that offer speech, OT, PT, etc., are disappointing. The social worker who answered the phone at the clinic at a huge, well-known university was useless, unable to answer my basic questions about how speech groups are run and how much they cost, and the people who are supposed to know those things never returned my phone call. (Sidebar: The state we are moving to has a law that requires insurance to cover autism-related services up to age 12, and I see a huge black hole of services and interventions for the 12-18 age range, because younger kids are covered by early intervention and insurance, and older kids qualify for medicaid, but the kids in the middle are missed because clinics are going after insurance and medicaid dollars. What a shame.)
If you have moved and have discovered a resource that I haven't included here, please leave your hint/tip in the comments section. I would appreciate more direction as we prepare to head in a new direction.
Sunday, March 13, 2011
Friday, March 11, 2011
Thursday, March 10, 2011
You may be familiar with Jules Gluten FreeTM, a company that supplies gluten-free flour and baking mixes for families like mine who have at least one family member with multiple food intolerences or allergies.
FREE FOR ALL COOKING is Jules's latest cookbook made available from Da Capo Press. The paperback is 247 pages, is priced at $18.95, and covers a lot of gluten-free territory.
I like this cookbook because Shepard understands families like mine, families who want to develop menus that the whole family can enjoy together, and families with more food intolerances than simply gluten-free. She gives us a lot of substitutions in her recipes, and for a newbie who isn't skilled at making substitutions, that is a real bonus. (Shepard gives us *gasp* TWELVE substitutes for eggs, with suggestions within recipes on which egg substitute works better in individual recipes. I have never seen twelve egg substitutes listed before.)
Shepard gives readers an education about which grains are gluten grains and which grains are not. If you're new to GF baking, you'll appreciate the education.
The cookbook does not require you to purchase GF flour from Jules. You may purchase flour from her or create your own blend; she gives you her blend recipe in the cookbook.
Shepard gives us a nice variety; she covers recipes for breakfast foods; appetizers and side dishes; breads and rolls; soups; main dishes; and desserts in six chapters that include everyday foods and recipes for holidays and special occasions.
There are a few pages of color photos in the center of the cookbook. Not all recipes are pictured.
The cookbook cover photo makes me want cake with sweet icing like crazy, but that's my problem, I suppose. (I will have to make a cake, soon.)
Jules blogs at http://blog.julesglutenfree.com/.
I am happy to add Free For All Cooking to my cookbook collection; inside, there are plenty of recipes that should please my picky eaters for every meal (and more).
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
I propose a second audience: parents of children on the autism spectrum. As we switched away from behavioral approaches and moved into developmental approaches, I had to learn about, well, (this is obvious, but I'll say it anyway) development. What exactly, sets children with autism apart from typically developing children? I'll be blunt: it's not a behavior or a list of behaviors. Instead, the things that set apart children with autism from their typcially developing peers include self-control, self-awareness, self-regulation, flexibility, resilience, executive functioning.
And that's what "Your Successful Preschooler" sets out to explain. The best teaching books for me have been books about typical development. Getting a picture of what typical development looks like and the importance of the parent piece in child development keeps me on track, keeps priorities in line in my mind.
The official list is
Of strong moral character
Passionate about learning
If you're parenting pre-schoolers, you'll like this book. Densmore and Bauman write about what's important for parents to know in an easy-to-understand way, without a lot of technical terms (no medical or speech-language pathology translator required), and provide how-to examples along the way. They include the importance of outdoor play and all things sensory, something I did not understand until we began intervening with a child who had regressed into autism.
If you're parenting a child on the autism spectrum and have made the switch or are considering the switch to a developmental approach and want to get a picture of how development plays out, this is a good introduction, a good reminder of what experience and practice, exactly, we want to give our children in terms of remediation and core deficits of autism.
Interesting sidebar: I googled the names of the authors and discovered that author Ann Densmore knows autism. She presented at a conference just last year on the topic, Using Play to Foster Communication and Social Integration in Children with Autism. I'd love to hear her thoughts on applying concepts from Your Successful Preschooler to autism.
The first chapter of the book is available here.
Jossey-Bass sent me a copy of Your Successful Preschooler to review. I am not compensated for this review and am not obligated to provide a positive review.
Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayer is the kind of expert that I like to learn from. She is the mom of a child on the autism spectrum. She's an RDI(r) mom. And she knows cooking, too; she is a former cooking instructor for Williams-Sonoma who now teaches at Gratz College in Pennsylvania.
Part of her story is here. Or here.
Back to "The Kitchen Classroom": Every recipe is gluten free and casein (dairy) free. Every recipe is simple and kid-friendly. (Note: The recipes are not allergen free. If your child is more than GFCF, you will have to make some substitutions or skip some recipes entirely.)
The $22.46 paperback includes chapters about the relationship and sensory aspects of cooking. Author Kaplan-Mayer includes information about child development; about being in the kitchen with children who have developmental delays; about framing shopping for recipes and cooking; about the GFCF diet; and about kitchen safety as well.
Both the paperback and the accompanying CD-ROM include the 32 recipes.
The paperback features lots of little ideas and suggestions that parents can use, things to spotlight for the child, if developmentally appropriate, with hints about using activities as part of academics, too.
The CD-ROM features recipes in pictures for six breakfast choices; five lunch choices; seven dinner choices; nine snacks and treats; and five veggie side dishes. You may choose to look at the picture cards right from the computer, or you may choose to print them. Each recipe on the CD gives users a reminder to wash hands, an ingredient and tool list, and the recipe steps in pictures and words. The photos are full color and Kaplan-Mayer is generous with the photographs; she gives us almost 500 photos to guide us as we cook with our children.
Some of the recipes require little "cooking"; some require more. There are recipes for toast, eggs, pancakes, muffins, sandwiches, latkes (sweet potato!), salmon, rice, noodles, pizza, salad, fries, a smoothie, and more, all simple and all things kids tend to like. A sample recipe is here.
If you are a beginner in Relationship Development Intervention, I think you'll really like Kaplan-Mayer's suggestions. One of the mistakes I made a lot in the beginning is creating an activity that was too complicated. Kaplan-Mayer keeps all of these recipe activities simple. She frames the simplicity for me. I like that.
Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayer blogs here, giving readers information, recipes, and how-to on video.
Thumbs up, Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayer. I wish I'd had something like this in my RDI(r) beginning to help me keep activities simple. Several years into RDI(r), your cookbook is still a wonderful reminder and help.
Monday, March 7, 2011
I don't even know where to begin.
Here's what gets my attention, from Chapter Ten, "The Greater Good" by Allen Tate:
Not tested for safety in the way that it is administered as a full schedule? Not tested for safety in the way it is administered as six vaccines in one visit for an infant? I never dreamed that my team of pediatricians would push me to inject my babies with substances in ways (six or seven organisms at once in four or five vaccines on the same day, for example) that are not tested for safety.
"It is indisputable that the vaccination schedule has never been tested for safety in its entirety, or in the way that it is administered. In other words, while the government reviews, licenses, and compels individual vaccines, it does not test--or require vaccine makers to test--the safety and efficacy of vaccines given simultaneously or the cumulative effects of multiple vaccines." p. 83.
Additionally, I believed that if someone in my family were injured by a vaccine, that help would be readily available. I was wrong on so many levels.
Almost every sentence is a sentence worth quoting for you; that would be impractical in a blog post. Borrow this book from the library. Buy it. You need to read it. You simply do. We all need to consider this information, and now.
If you're the parent of a child on the autism spectrum, you may know some of this information already. You may have been to a conference where one (or three) of the Vaccine Epidemic authors spoke. We may have been there together. I've read a lot, been to more conferences and workshops than I can count, and I can tell you that Vaccine Epidemic contains authors and perspective that I have not considered in such depth.
Vaccine Epidemic is a book about vaccine choice and informed consent; it's not so much "anti-vaccine" as it is "make an educated decision". And you will get an education. There is so much I didn't know about vaccines and vaccine policy. You too?
And yes, I want to quote almost every sentence.
Vaccine Epidemic spells out for readers not only what the current medical, legal, and ethical issues are, but history of vaccines and vaccine policy, along with some real-life stories from vaccine injured people, and not just autism-related vaccine injuries.
Vaccine Epidemic is a 350 page hardback, with 26 chapters edited by Louise Kuo Habakus, M.A., and Mary Holland, J.D. and written by 20+ different professionals, parents, and individuals who have studied issues surrounding vaccines; some of the parents and individuals have been affected negatively by vaccines.
The book is arranged in three sections.
Part I covers The Case For Vaccination Choice and includes 10 chapters by Mary Holland, JD; Sookyung Song; Louise Kuo Habakus, MA; James Turner, JD; William Wagner, JD; Carol Stott, PhD, MSC (Epidemiology), CSci, CPsychol; Andrew Wakefield, MB, BS, FRCS, FRCPath; Robert Johnston, PhD; Vera Hassner Sharav, MLS; and Allen Tate.
Part II is called "Narratives and the Echoes of 'Omelas'" and includes chapters by Ursula K LeGuin; Gay Tate, PhD (Biochemistry), LSW; mom Amy Pingel ("My Daughter is 'One Less'"); Sonja Hintz, RN and Alexander Hintz; Captain Richard Rovert, USAF (Ret.), with afterword by Colonel Felix M. Grieder, USAF (Ret); and a chapter that reminds individuals to keep your receipt if you get a flu shot at a drug store by Lisa Marks Smith entitled, "Get Your Affairs in Order". (I'd read part of Lisa Marks Smith's story here; she has Chapter 16, "Get Your Affairs In Order".)
Part III covers The Topics in the Debate and includes 10 chapters by Michael Belkin; Ginger Taylor, MS; Boyd Haley, PhD; Kim Mack Rosenberg, JD; Twila Brase, RN; Sherri Tenpenny, DO, AOBNMM; Annemarie Colbin, PhD; Louise Kuo Habakus, MA; Mary Holland in a cliff notes type version of the whole attack on Andy Wakefield; and Andrew Wakefield, MB, BS, FRCS, FRCPath.
There are so many facts I find incredible; there is so much surrounding vaccines that I trusted blindly without researching. Had I done my research, I would have chosen to vaccinate differently, skipping some completely, delaying some.
If you're researching vaccines and vaccine safety, make sure to include Vaccine Epidemic on your list of books to read and consider.
Skyhorse Publishing sent me a copy of Vaccine Epidemic for review purposes. I am not paid for this review and am not obligated to provide a positive review. I do not benefit financially if you purchase this book.
My homeschooler is, by age, older than the targeted age range, yet she falls within the developmental range for the product, and I asked if we could give it a try. I'm glad we did; Reading Kingdom has a lot of the right components that make it very friendly for a child who can shut down with anxiety when a resource is too busy or feels too challenging.
Here's the company description, straight from the Reading Kingdom web site:
The Reading Kingdom is a fun, easy-to-use online program that teaches children 4-10 years old how to read and write to a third grade level.
- It customizes itself to each child
- Most children can do the program on their own after just a few weeks
- It's fun and children enjoy doing it
- It's created by Dr. Marion Blank, one of the world's top experts in literacy
- It works with any other curriculum a child may be using
- And, it's the only system that teaches all 6 skills needed for reading & writing success
Here's a link that takes you to a description of how the program progresses.
Setting up my homeschooler was easy. She completed a screening and the program placed her at the beginning, which surprised me; I thought she would begin at a higher level.
She began the lessons at the beginning, which is Letter Land. My little protester and resister complained about having to the lessons, but once she began, would work through them without too much complaining. (thumbs up!) The lessons are short, which I think is a huge strength to the program for us. I felt she was moving too slowly, though, wondering if we'd ever get out of Letter Land with one short lesson a day (stuff I thought she already knew), and I had her complete two lessons a day.
I've seen very little of the program so far as my girl plugs through one or two daily lessons. Seems like a slow process to me, but she needs that, and I'll be the first one to admit that I've been known to move too quickly for her.
She's always been a strong sight word reader; right now, she is getting experience identifying sight words; filling in blanks to complete the spelling of sight words; using sight words repetitively. She is reading two sentences at a time and playing games (activities) that boost practice with what she's working on.
The program uses words learned in new lessons, always keeping past lessons in the mix.
There is a lot of repetition between tasks and activities, variations on a theme, and that is a positive for a child on the autism spectrum. My girl is able to see those patterns and complete tasks and activities because she's played the same game before using different words or letters or sentences.
I like the multi-sensory approach, reading, listening, typing. She must use several "channels" of attention at the same time to complete the short lessons (10 minutes or so).
My one complaint is the fact that the child must wait until the program is ready for a response. Typing a half-second too soon = an incorrect response. That frustrates me, although my daughter seems to have adjusted to that aspect of the program.
Does it translate into better reading and comprehension for my girl? Is it helping us close foundational gaps for us? Or will it add to her sight word list without building the comprehension she needs? I don't know yet. We haven't gotten into a high enough level yet to get a feel for that. I have to trust the progression of lessons. I do know that the activities require her to pay attention and focus, and she needs that, even when reading and spelling words that she already knows. We will keep working with Reading Kingdom, because it keeps her in a place where she is competent and it moves her gently forward. I look forward to seeing where it takes her.
Reading Kingdom is priced at $19.99 a month or $199.99 for a year-long subscription, after a free 30-day trial. Scholarships are available for families who can't afford the subscription.
I was given a 13-month online subscription to Reading Kingdom for review purposes. I was not paid for this review, do not benefit if you purchase the product, and am not obligated to provide a positive review.