23 08, 2013

One Act of Hate Inspires Oodles of Love

Like so many others, I am deeply disgusted and disturbed that a human being is capable of thinking, let alone, writing and sharing thoughts that are so inhumane and evil. In case you have not heard about it, a local grandmother received an anonymous (cowardly) letter expressing anger and hate about her grandchild with autism. Yep, a CHILD with autism was described as being so abhorrent that he "should be euthanized!"  My mind is riddled with all kinds of questions as to HOW and WHY anyone could be so backward, so filled with cruelty and nastiness, not to mention arrogance and self righteousness! I am horrified, indignant and ashamed that this kind of thinking still exists.  But, at the same time, I see the beauty that emerges from the pile of garbage. The news is filled with stories of letters of support, gifts and phone calls that are coming to

12 08, 2013

Teachers: The Holy Grail continued…

Use visuals consistently. Yes, I know you KNOW this already!  But wait. Do you consistently do it? Does the practice of visual schedules, checklists, to do lists, graphic organizers and detailed written instructions of steps REALLY stretch past October?  :oops:   Do you find yourself constantly thinking about how you can make what you say, visual? Then you are on the right track!!  Using these tools is an absolute, non- negotiable must for our students on the autism spectrum. If you find they 'don’t work' or ‘you have tried that’ then I promise you; you need to find a different way to use them or you need to incorporate the student in making them and implementing them. To give up using visuals is akin to rationalizing that a person who has no use of his legs has no real need for a wheel chair!  Visuals can vary from written words to

7 08, 2013

TEACHERS: The Holy Grail for Students with Autism

No need for expertise in autism theory, just a few simple and yet critical principles will help you and your student with autism to blossom! Cheesy, I know...but true! Incorporate the student’s interests within the classroom environment and within the curriculum. I KNOW you have heard this before, but I mean that you need to GENUINELY think about how you could make this kid feel like what he cares about, you do too! Sticking a couple of pictures up of his favourite chef or ocean creature is NOT using his interests. If you are serious about incorporating interests and passions then give the student a variety of ways to express that knowledge: in writing, video, presentations, building models etc. Be sure to have him or her share this passion with classmates and build in the skills of answering questions, asking questions and communicating clearly in words or non- verbal means. 

2 08, 2013

Staying on Course: Sticking to Plans and Being Consistent

I always starts out with the greatest intentions. I will not nag or threaten. I will keep my paperwork up to date and organized. I will maintain the data for each child each week. I will not lose my cool. I will follow through with consequences. I will maintain the token award chart. My plan goes smoothly for two weeks...if I am really diligent. But then, like water on pavement on a hot day...POOF! I am back in default mode and I can feel the best intentions literally slipping away from me.  This scenario plays out in both my role as a mom and a special educator. I am inconsistent to say the least. It drives me crazy! I know that consistency is a key ingredient to reduced anxiety, increased self esteem and motivated learning for all children, and especially those with autism. So, do I give up? Not a