Friday, March 30, 2012

Brookes Publishing Giveaways for Autism Awareness Month

Autism Awareness Month Professional Library Giveaway from Brookes Publishing

Professionals and parents can win libraries of seven books that help them support children with autism!

BALTIMORE, MD – March 21, 2012 – To support professionals and parents committed to helping children with autism thrive, Brookes Publishing Co. is holding giveaways of professional libraries during Autism Awareness Month in April. Brookes, a leading publisher of resources that support positive outcomes for people with autism, will give away libraries of seven books by experts such as Paula Kluth, Travis Thompson, and Robert and Lynn Koegel. Each week in April, Brookes will select two winners to choose one of two autism libraries: a collection of Paula Kluth titles or a diverse selection of new and bestselling books from multiple authors. Registration for the giveaways begins March 21st on the Brookes Autism Resource Center website.

The Paula Kluth library, valued at $282.65, includes:

“You’re Going to Love this Kid!” Professional Development Package DVD
“You’re Going to Love this Kid!” Teaching Students with Autism in the Inclusive Classroom, Second Edition
From Tutor Scripts to Talking Sticks: 100 Ways to Differentiate Instruction in K–12 Inclusive Classrooms
“Just Give Him the Whale!”: 20 Ways to Use Fascinations, Areas of Expertise, and Strengths to Support Students with Autism
Pedro’s Whale
A Land We Can Share
A is for “All Aboard!”

The multi-author autism library, valued at $239.65, includes:

The PRT Pocket Guide: Pivotal Response Treatment for Autism Spectrum Disorders, by Robert L. Koegel, Ph.D., & Lynn Kern Koegel, Ph.D.
Pivotal Response Treatments for Autism: Communication, Social, and Academic Development, by Robert L. Koegel, Ph.D., & Lynn Kern Koegel, Ph.D.
Individualized Autism Intervention for Young Children: Blending Discrete Trial and Naturalistic Strategies, by Travis Thompson, Ph.D.
Unstuck and On Target!: An Executive Function Curriculum to Improve Flexibility for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders, Research Edition, by Lynn Cannon, M.Ed., Lauren Kenworthy, Ph.D., Katie C. Alexander, M.S., OTR, Monica Adler Werner, M.A., & Laura Anthony, Ph.D.
“You’re Going to Love this Kid!” Teaching Students with Autism in the Inclusive Classroom, Second Edition, by Paula Kluth, Ph.D.
Bringing ABA into Your Inclusive Classroom: A Guide to Improving Outcomes for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders, by Debra Leach, Ed.D., BCBA
Executive Function in the Classroom: Practical Strategies for Improving Performance and Enhancing Skills for All Students, by Christopher Kaufman, Ph.D.

In addition to the autism library giveaway, Brookes is offering several other promotions throughout Autism Awareness Month, including 40% discounts on select titles and Q & As with top autism experts on Facebook and Twitter.

About Brookes Publishing

For more than 30 years, Brookes Publishing has been a leading provider of professional resources and assessments in disabilities, autism, inclusion, and education. Some of their most well-known autism authors include Paula Kluth, Robert L. Koegel & Lynn Kern Koegel, Travis Thompson, Barry M. Prizant, and Amy M. Wetherby. Brookes Publishing is headquartered in Baltimore, Maryland. For more information, please visit


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The First To...

facebook status to share

The Human Calculator:
The first to apologize is the bravest. The first to forgive is the strongest. And the first to forget is the happiest.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Action Alert; a TOS Crew Review

Our family was given the opportunity to review Action Alert software, an internet safety tool that allows you to monitor use, block sites, and create a "kid-safe PC".


If you've been following the blog for long, you'll know that our new laptop has had problems - a hard drive crash, and I missed a chunk of the review period because the laptop had been returned to the manufacturer for repair.

I had problems downloading and installing the software when I finally was able to try; the safety software identified it as a threat and put it in a "sandbox" on my laptop.

A note to our contact at Action Alert gave me the insight I needed to actually install it and get Action Alert up and running on the PC.

The first thing I saw, I liked. I was able to watch a play-by-play of screen shots of the time I'd spent on the laptop. That means that when my children use the laptop, I can go back and watch where they've been, shot-by-shot. (My kid w/ autism gets herself in trouble sometimes, downloading games that have really handicapped an old laptop; she is not allowed on our 'good' laptop for that very reason.)

As soon as I installed the software, I lost my home page. Action Alert become the home page and the search box. I don't remember having the option to say "no" to that.

And as soon as I installed the Action Alert product, my new laptop began freezing and having to be rebooted. Often. I am not a happy camper. This is the laptop that I use for my work; this is the laptop that my public schoolers use for school; it is the one we agreed to limit, to be careful with, no games, etc, that have the potential to slow it down, mess it up.

My freshman uninstalled the program while doing homework - she was furious to deal with the freezing screen again and again - and uninstalling the program did not fix the problem with the freezing.

Yesterday, in the midst of all the freezing, a message popped up that told me that my copy of Windows isn't real. What? The laptop came straight from the manufacturer. We've not installed a fake copy of Windows on it.

Our next stop - the computer repair place - minimum $70 fee for them to look at it - when our machine was fine before the installation of Action Alert.

There are features of Action Alert that I like, that are very attractive to this mom as her children become more and more internet-savy. But a product that causes problems and a review item that is going to cost me $70 or more is an infuriating disappointment. I suspect that there are more gremlins to work out, and when they get them worked out, I think this will be a good product.

Go here to see what my crewmates' have to say about Action Alert.

Action Alert sent me a download of the Maximum Protection Version ($29.99) to use and review for you, at no charge to me. I was not paid for this review and am not obligated to provide a positive review.

Friday, March 23, 2012



She worked a puzzle.

To say that in the past, puzzles were a "non-preferred" activity would be putting it mildly.
Front row to a miracle.

She's on a "one hour chart" of electronics. As soon as her feet hit the floor each morning, she makes a new "one hour chart" to keep track of computer and Wii time. It's been bumpy cutting Wii and internet time to just one hour a day.

The short-term goal is for her to find things to do with her time. I have a number of options for her.

I'm unpacking more boxes and am unearthing more treasures. I'm thrilled. I have a plan. NOW is the time to begin more workboxes aimed at independent work, as Sue Patrick intended.

Another Amazing Sibling

An "Amazing Sibling" is in the news. The story is a "must share". Go here to read "Why A Rising Women's Basketball Star Left Hoops Heaven for the Home Team".

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Beauty and the Beast

An amazing sibling is part of the cast of "Beauty and the Beast" at her high school this month. :)

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Cousin Time (1)

My internet time is limited as we limit our daughter's internet time. Some days, she does really well with her "one hour chart" and some days, she's miserable.

Having company helps. Last weekend, some of her cousins came for a visit. Cousins offer some amazing play and interaction time. My kid on the autism spectrum needs that practice and experience. I hope all of the cousins will join us more often now that we live closer to them. We live near a city with a zoo, several museums, and a science center, which makes visiting us attractive.

We had a fun day at the zoo with the cousins during their visit. The girls are looking at a tiger. Well, two are looking at the tiger and the other two are reading the sign with details about tigers:

Monday, March 12, 2012

Sweet Neighbors

My girl saw the neighbors outside, swinging, yesterday afternoon, and asked me if she could join them. We asked if it would be okay if she headed over for a few minutes. They graciously and enthusiastically said, "Yes!"

And with three children, they had enough to play Chinese jump rope, something I'd never heard of. They taught my girl how to play. She stood on the end and held the rope as a first step. Nice scaffold to allow her to learn the game. "In. Out. In. On." That's a lot to remember. And a lot of motor planning. And she did it - while I stayed on the sidelines and kept my mouth shut. She didn't need me (how cool is that?!)

LinkThe kids spent time swinging, time brushing their dog (we don't have a dog and my kids would love to have one), and time jumping in a jump rope that we moms twirled for the girls.

We need lots more experiences like these. She's ready. The practice will move her forward.

Saturday, March 10, 2012


My homeschooler and I headed to "Art Spark" at a local park & rec program on a Saturday morning. There were all sorts of art things to try.

Look what my girl did:
and what I did:
I painted a postcard sized drawing of a candlestick with coffee. The coffee artist offers 3-hour classes where participants leave with a larger finished project. I talked with her about having a shorter class for moms and kids w/ special needs. She seemed open to it.

As we look for opportunities to grow friendships with other tweens and teens with special needs, we need some "parallel play" experiences to begin with, where the young people can get to know one another without the focus being on them or being on rules they memorized.

I think a coffee painting would be a neat opportunity. I hope to grab enough interest to have the artist host a class just for us.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Baseball Season x 2

Son made two teams this year, his middle school team and a local travel team. We have baseball x2 this year.

First middle school at bat, a scrimmage game:Sis found a playmate (younger sib of another player) to pass the time during the scrimmage. Howcoolisthat?!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Miracle Worker

In early March, my homeschooler and I attended a local presentation of The Miracle Worker. We went with a group of homeschoolers at a show for school children during the school day. Several public and private schools were represented, too.This was the first play my "'Rella" has seen that is "grown up", not produced specifically with children in mind. With lots of dialogue, a serious plot that requires a lot of attention, and a longer running time, I wasn't sure how my girl would do. The tickets were just $8 each (compared to $50 plus for the nighttime shows) and I figured we would just get up and leave if the play were too much for her.

We sat on the end of a row so that she could get up and move around if she needed to. I packed a bag with mints for oral motor and proprioceptive input.

We had to arrive really early and we were made to sit and wait for a lot longer than I would have liked. She handled it really well! I am proud of her!

I was so concerned about my girl.

I didn't have a concern in the world about me.


I was caught off guard by my own response to the play.

When the play opened with Matthew 18:12 projected upon the middle door, the wall I have built around my emotions developed some leaks, and the tears began to flow. I was surprised. My wall is pretty water-tight. The leaks always surprise me.
"If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them wanders away, what will he do? Won't he leave the ninety-nine others on the hills and go out to search for the one that is lost?"
Watching the actress portray Kate Keller was emotional for me, too. Kate Keller was an early Mother Warrior, fighting for her child who had been developing typically and then became deaf and blind after an illness. (sound familiar?)

There are so many parallels to Helen Keller's story and to our story.
"... to do nothing but obey is -- no gift, obedience without understanding is a -- blindness, too."
Annie Sullivan
Took me a while to understand that. We pushed for behavioral obedience without understanding for way too long.

When Helen's older brother, James, spoke to Annie about giving up on the idea of trying to teach Helen and simply accepting Helen as she is, teacher Anne Sullivan's response was also Mother Warrior in nature:
Annie: "May be you all do, It's my idea of the original sin."
James: "What is?"
Annie: "Giving up."
James: "You won't open her, why can't you let her be? Have some pity on her for being what she is"
Annie: "If I'd ever once thought like that, I'd be dead"
Giving up on 'our' kids is not an option.

I blinked back tears quite a few times during the play. I felt validated at the end. I grew a little in that theater that day. And my girl watched the play in its entirety and even made some comments about Helen and autism and herself when she was little in the car on the way to a restaurant after the play. WOW.

And aside:
As we exited the parking garage after the play,
here is what greeted us:
an interesting day indeed

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Reading Eggs, a TOS Crew Review


Reading Eggs is an online reading program for children. The internet is abuzz about Reading Eggs at the moment. Several internet chat groups are talking about it and are sharing discount codes for subscriptions (and yes, I'm referring to folks outside TOS Crew). Lots of families have fallen in love it Reading Eggs.

Reading Eggs is set up as a web site of games that are fun and engaging to children that build reading skills as children play. The subscription is reasonably priced at $75/year or $49/six months and users can sign up for a free 2-week trial with no credit card required. Monthly subscriptions are available for $9.95 a month. A sample of lessons is available here.


My homeschooler still struggles with reading. We brought our autism consultant to our town to work with us at home for three days in February; she tells us our girl's reading has improved. She still has a way to go, though, to be at grade level.
My girl was able to log in to Reading Eggs once on the "limping" laptop, and after that, we could not get it to load again. (The hard drive on our new laptop crashed and the laptop was returned to the manufacturer for repair during this review period.) Soon after that, our autism consultant recommended we cut off most of our homeschooler's electronic time for now to go through a period of electronic detox because electronics have begun getting in the way of everyday activities and functioning.

In a recent private online discussion about electronics addictions, I typed this: Kids like 'ours' (on the autism spectrum) tend to have developmental delays in the areas they need in order to have balance. Impulse control. Self-regulation. Self-control. Prioritizing necessary but non-preferred activities (has to do w/ executive functioning). Flexibility. Creative problem solving. Effects of consequences. If you have a child who is rigid, has little to no impulse control, no creative problem solving to rationalize they can work now, play later, etc, you can expect to see a bigger "addiction" to the electronics grow. The goal is to grow the areas where the kids are developmentally delayed while simultaneously limiting screen time.

We have more to balance than screen time and the attention it consumes (sometimes past the point of obsession).

We didn't get much of a chance with Reading Eggs due to our technical difficulties. My daughter complained that the Reading Eggs site is too babyish for her. We have a fine line between what she needs, developmentally, which tends to be younger in nature, and what she feels is too babyish for a 12 year old. That balance seems to get more complicated to attain as she grows up while her skills are still delayed.

Sometimes she uses the word "boring", and that typically means something is too difficult. We were not able to utilize the assessment the way I wanted with the laptop problems and the restrictions we imposed during the beginning of her computer detox period (she is still very restricted on electronics - and my house is not a lot of fun to her right now because of it).

When we get through our detox (and I have no idea how long that will take - it will take as long as it takes), yes, I will consider Reading Eggs, and I'll go month-to-month at first. Moms of kids w/ special needs in some of my internet chat groups are raving about it.

To read my Crewmates' reviews of Reading Eggs, please go here.

We were given a short trial of Reading Eggs to use to review for you. Reading Eggs is one of three review items that arrived during the period where the hard drive crashed on our new laptop and we were left waiting for the repair. When the laptop was returned, we were keeping the homeschooler off of the computer during a period of electronic detox. I regret the timing of the hard drive crash and detox time. This is an informational review. We were not able to use the product during the review time period.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Just to see the animals?

My "'Rella" is fascinated with the Garden of Eden. (We began "Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day" again this spring as she is comprehending more than she was when we got it a couple of years ago).

Combine that thought with our trip to the zoo last week (we did not see all of the animals and are planning to return the first mild weather day we have).

Last night, she asked again if we could find the Garden of Eden, could ask the angels guarding it to let us in. I told her, no, the angels will not disobey God.

And she said, "They wouldn't let us in just to see the animals?????"

Sunday, March 4, 2012

A funny thing happened...

Maybe you've noticed that lately I have not blogged regularly.

Our connection to the internet has been severely limited. Please allow me to explain.

We have two rather old laptops that the kids use; my homeschooler likes to download games when we are not looking (I don't think she fully understands what "download" means when we tell her not to download games) and, even though she is in the kitchen on the laptop, she sometimes sneaks something on when we are not looking. Between the age of the laptop and the games she's managed to get on there, the laptop is slow and I refer to it as "limping along". It is slow slow slow and even her beloved games freeze and stall on her to the point where she can't play them. My son managed to mess up the other ancient laptop.

So what did we do? We purchased a new one, for *me*, and, for limited use by the kids, for schoolwork *only*.

Guess what happened? The new laptop quit working. I took it to a local repair shop. Diagnosis: hard drive crash. Yes, in the brand new laptop. The repair shop returned it to the company on our behalf. And we waited.

And while we waited, guess what happened?

I was given three new reviews to do that involve an efficiently working computer. Except we didn't have one for a good chunk of the review time. And when we did receive the repaired laptop, we refused to allow the homeschooler to use it, at all, because we don't want her to have an opportunity to mess up the one the school-building schoolers use for schoolwork and the one I use for blogging.

An additional wrinkle is that we have begun limiting our homeschooler's electronic time to ONE hour a day, to include laptop and Wii. She has become so addicted (think "crack"!) to her electronics that her transitioning out of them and functioning outside electronics has become impaired, and our autism consultant put her on a one-hour chart. (We flew our autism consultant to us for three days in February.) Even an educational game triggers the addiction in her brain for more electronic time, and the solution is to take it away or severely limit it while working away from electronics to grow her experience in other areas. And that's what we've been doing. The detox has been bumpy. :(

I have three reviews coming up that will be purely informational. I don't like to do informational reviews. I apologize in advance for informational reviews. It wasn't my intent to have to write informational reviews. But sometimes, stuff happens.

Reading Eggs, K5 Learning, and Action Alert will be informational. I have received one review since those that will be a use-and-review, I am happy to report.

Thank you for understanding,

K-5 Learning, a TOS Crew Review

K5 Learning is an online enrichment program aimed at children working in the kindergarten-through-fifth-grade level in reading, spelling and mathematics. The subscription is priced at $25 a month for the first child or $199 a year with additional students priced at $15/month or $129/year.


K5 is personalized because the child begins with an assessment to put the child at the right starting point.

If you have a child with special needs, be sure to check out the page about K5 and special needs learners, here. That page states, "Some children, including children with Asperger’s syndrome and high functioning autism, learn better without the distractions of personal contact." While the statement is true, we were advised by our autism consultant that the laptop and other electronics were getting in the way of relationships to the point of an addiction and during this review period began a period of electronic detox with her help.

K5 Learning is another review item that arrived during the period where the hard drive crashed on our new laptop and we were left waiting for the repair. When the laptop was returned, we were keeping the homeschooler off of the computer during a period of detox. I regret the timing of the hard drive crash and detox time. This is an informational review. We were not able to use the product during the review time period.

It looks like a lot of fun. Be sure to check out the introductory video and the free 2-week trial offer, here.

Geometry, something I don't associate much w/ K-through-5 learning, is included in your subscription:

We need to work more on addition and subtraction facts at my house. They never seem to stick like multiplication did. K5 has activities for those important math facts, too.


I am tickled to see that your free trial is available to you without your being required to supply credit card information. Please give K-5 Learning a try. It might be right for your situation. When we get through our detox and are using online learning options again sometime down the road, I plan to do just that, now that our hard drive is repaired and working the way it is supposed to.

To read my Crewmates' reviews of K-5 Learning, please go here.

We were given a brief trial of K5 Learning for review purposes. Due to equipment issues and autism intervention, we were not able to use this product during the review time. This is an informational review.
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