Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Theater Camp Success

What a difference a year makes - and what a difference the right people make. My girl completed a week of musical theater camp including a performance - a miracle after a dismal experience a year ago.

No one-on-one support required. No accommodations. No one treated her like she has autism. And when allowed to be a fully active participant with the right kind of teaching and encouragement, she flourished at musical theater camp this year! I am one proud mom!

My dear friend Amy said, "I'm telling ya. Sometimes "programs" are not where it is at. Just takes a little loving from people."

And loving she got. The camp directors planned a schedule that balanced movement and vocal exercises and acting exercises and snacks and lunch against the times to sit down and study a script. It worked - and it worked well.

On the day of the performance, my girl began exhibiting behavior that she was anxious. I heard her mutter something about what happened last year (story is below). She had just one brief outburst and it was during the dress rehearsal- and I went in and got her out. (I stayed for camp in the lobby in case I was needed - and that was the first time I was needed.) I took her off site for something to eat, assured her that she didn't have to perform if she didn't want to. She wound up going on stage, facing her fear and anxiety head on - she had the support of her peers on stage and the support of her directors, and she knew they had her back. She even missed one line and kept on performing. I had a front row seat to little miracles that day. When you understand the disaster a year ago of a camp for kids with autism, you'll appreciate the little miracles, too. My kid overcame an episodic memory of a horrible previous experience at a different musical theater camp.

A year ago, I enrolled my child in a theater camp specifically for children and teens on the autism spectrum. The camp is affiliated with a big famous elite university. The bio of director of the program says that the director an expert in emotional regulation challenges in autism.

The camp for kids with autism a year ago supplied a one-on-one student peer. My child had different peers during the camp (I am not sure why they couldn't assign her the same peer for the whole camp!) and one of them was behaviorally threatening when my child asked for a break. "If you don't behave, you'll get kicked out of the play." Rather than take a walk on the campus with my child to give her a break with the one-on-one peer, they tried to threaten her to behave. When I addressed this statement with the director, she said she would correct the student peer.

I don't believe the director knows much about emotional regulation in autism - the director provoked my child into a meltdown and then told my girl to "sit down there and get control" of herself. When she could not get control, the director removed my girl from camp two days before the performance. The director told me to take my screaming child to the emergency room right away - but my child calmed when I arrived because I know how to help her regulate. Interesting, disappointing, and sad that the "expert" in emotional regulation PhD did not know how to help her. And the expert promised to call me the next day - a call the expert never made to me.

May all of us find the places where people are loving on our children.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Patterns of Evidence -Exodus- Review & Giveaway
My homeschooler, a teenager on the autism spectrum, has long had a fascination with all things Egypt. This special interest is one I have encouraged and fed along the years. Recently, she has become fascinated with the story of Moses in the Bible. As I allow her to chase her interests, I am fascinated to see how much other learning happens as it relates to Egypt.

When we received an opportunity to review the DVD "Patterns of Evidence -Exodus-" I hesitated. Yes, my child w/ an ASD is very visual, but she has auditory processing challenges. Information written for younger children is better understood by her. Would she watch a documentary? Would she absorb any information from it?

The answer at my house is a yes.

"Patterns of Evidence - Exodus-" is almost two hours long and we watched it in one sitting. If you have a child with special needs or with auditory processing challenges, please know that it contains a lot of spoken information and dialogue. In the first 10 minutes of the DVD, I thought we were going to have to break it into several short viewing sessions, but my girl wanted to push through and watch all of it.

She fascinates me - at times, she gives me evidence that she is absorbing much more than I think she is - and at other times, there is clearly less understanding happening - and it was no different with this DVD. I appreciate how the evidence is presented with an explanation of why that particular piece of evidence is important. I am never left wondering why a piece of info was included in the film - he systematically builds a case for the Exodus as a real event in history and he builds a case for where he believes it fits in time. Filmmaker Timothy Mahoney gives us big glimpses into how his mind works in the way he presents information, important for me as I continue to work with my child with autism on perspective taking.

I really enjoyed Patterns of Evidence - Exodus. Quite a bit of footage was shot in Egypt. The visuals are educational, informative, interesting. The filmmaker uses a several-layer visual timeline that keeps me grounded in the information being discussed - and when facts outside the Bible indicate that the events might fit withing history if shifted on the timeline - it makes sense to me. Mahoney puts together a detailed puzzle of history that draws me in. I appreciated the non-Biblical history presented alongside information from the Old Testament. The details from other non-Bible writers who documented events during the time surrounding the events of the Israelite exodus from Egypt makes the Bible stories deep and rich, it adds layers of context and meaning that I did not have before. I like that the producer of the DVD chose experts whose opinions differ - the presentation is not one sided and causes me to think and ponder.

I hope more Patterns of Evidence DVDs are produced. We will watch them. Having our first experience be about my child's special interest of Egypt creates a warm introduction and I suspect that daughter will be open to watching another and another.

We enjoyed the Patterns of Evidence - Exodus, DVD!

I have a DVD to give away! Leave a comment to enter and I will choose a winner, Thursday, August 6th, 2015.

Twitter:  @PattofEvidence

Official Website:

Official Website to Purchase:

Blog featuring interviews with director Tim Mahoney and an article by Anne Graham Lotz:

"Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post. 

Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller / FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”
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