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Blog 2017-08-31T15:30:40+00:00
3101, 2018

This post might sting a bit…

January 31st, 2018|

“Mother knew that she had to “stretch” and lovingly push me just outside of my comfort zone so I could develop to my fullest.” These are wise words spoken by Temple Grandin, autism advocate, animal science professor and best-selling author. Like Temple, with every fibre of my being I believe that having autism, or any special need for that matter, does not mean less expectations. In fact, it might mean more. What is the reality for many children who live with autism? Too many parents, unintentionally, ‘sell out’ kids with autism. I know. That was harsh. But, to be fair, unless we name what is not working, we cannot do better. We love our kids. We want the best for them. That is precisely why it is imperative that we pull the band aid off - even if it hurts -  and identify what we might be doing that is

1701, 2018

Moving Beyond “I can’t do it”

January 17th, 2018|

I can’t. I won’t try. We’ve all heard these words at some point. Feeling helpless and incapable is a very real problem that arises for our kids with autism (and those without it as well). Why does having autism seem to lead to learned helplessness? Part of the answer is uncomfortable for those of us who parent, educate or work with these children. Quite frankly, we tend to feed those helpless feelings. We allow anxiety, tears, and emotional drama to convince us to take over and get the job done when the child struggles to do a task. If we are not intentionally and consistently counteracting the child’s dependence with our words and actions, then we are promoting the dependence and powerlessness. Children with autism, even those with severe autism, are capable of SO MUCH MORE than we often give them credit for. Time and again I hear parents and

1412, 2017

7 Keys to Help Students with Autism Cope with the Holiday Season at School

December 14th, 2017|

The weeks before Christmas are a tidal wave transition for folks with autism – and for many of us, quite frankly. Almost nothing remains the same: reduced daylight hours, TV shows are pre-empted for holiday specials, and daily classroom routines are interrupted by assemblies, play practice, and sing alongs. Blinking lights and shiny decorations change the look of classrooms and home and trees pop up in indoor spaces! All of this to offer a break in the darkness of winter – and life. And yet, it can be far too much for so many people. For those with autism, the spike in social expectations – Christmas parties, well meaning visitors popping in to say hello can be anxiety provoking. Particularly, when those visitors hug without warning and laugh a little too loud. An atmosphere of frenetic activity at school, the mall, in traffic, and at home threatens to send almost

1311, 2017

I Am Glad I Didn’t Rescue You – My Heartfelt Letter To My Son

November 13th, 2017|

Dear Son, Many times throughout your childhood, you cried, screamed and made it clear that you were not happy with me. My whole body ached with the pain and my mind churned with the uncertainty of what I was doing at the time. Was I doing what was best for you? Would you be forever scarred by my pushing, encouragement, persistence and determination to help you grow, cope and be challenged? I didn’t have those answers, but my gut told me to persist in pushing and encouraging you a little bit at a time. It warned me that if I rescued you from struggle that you would not grow to be the person you could be. Your autism would swallow you whole and leave you isolated, helpless and trapped. Throughout your childhood, dad and I deliberately put you into situations that were uncomfortable for you: Applied Behavior Analysis therapy, speech

1110, 2017

5 Ways To Make My Individual Education Plan Useful – A Note From Your Child

October 11th, 2017|

A note to my teachers and parents: I know you are all working hard to develop my individual education plan. I know that you want me to have a great year at school. If you don’t mind, I have 5 thoughts I would like to share with you.   Please use the document you create.  Okay, so this may seem kind of obvious but let’s face it, sometimes you put all kinds of time and energy into making my plan and then no one looks at it until reporting time rolls around. I really depend on that document to keep all of us focused on helping me to make progress. My plan should help me to become the best me I can be, even if I have autism.   Make the stuff I work on and the goals meaningful. I get it – you have curriculum that somebody wants you

2209, 2017

Teaching People With Autism About Feelings And Emotions

September 22nd, 2017|

How can you help people with autism NAME and UNDERSTAND their emotions and those of others? One personal frustration I have is that too often we use still images of a smiley face or sad face to teach vocabulary for emotions.  I would argue that a smile does not always mean that someone is happy. It may be that they are holding back anger, conniving a mischievous plan or pretending to be friendly. The best way to teach emotions is to use ‘real time’ teaching moments. When you are experiencing an emotion, name it and explain how you know what you feel. I know, its sounds weird and maybe corny, but, the truth is that our emotional knowledge is like a well-kept secret from those whose brains are wired differently. Talk about what you feel. I don’t mean that you should be complaining or become self absorbed with all bodily

2707, 2017

Do people with autism have feelings?

July 27th, 2017|

  Yes yes yes! People with autism most definitely share the same feelings as people who don’t have autism. Autism does not make people emotionless nor does it cause a lack of empathy. In fact, emotions can be even more intense in autism - including empathy. For some people with autism, the challenge lies in naming, understanding and expressing emotions. A ‘feeling’ may be felt but being able to name what it is can be tough. That’s true for every human being. Sometimes we feel a mix of emotions and we cannot quite describe what we feel. Individuals who live with autism may only be able to express basic emotions such as happy, mad, sad. But, we know that emotions are far more diverse than that. We may feel infuriated, elated, desperate or gloomy. This has nothing to do with a level of intelligence – in fact, very intelligent individuals

2505, 2017

Making a safe descent into the school year’s end

May 25th, 2017|

You are finally here - home stretch. Summer looms in the near future. Dreams of relaxation, family, and adventure propel you forward. But, there is still work to do...and your energy....is... waning...exhaustion sets in as the last leg of the marathon lies ahead. Nerves frayed. Patience weakening.  Field trips and year end activities wreak havoc on schedules.  Year-end assessments, report cards, unit completion - so much to do to bring the school year to a close in spite of dwindling inner resources. And then - there are the kids we teach; lethargy has set in for some and for others, a constant state of antsiness shapes their school day.  Other 'shiny objects' grab their attention - prom, parties, sports, sunshine, sleep, the great outdoors. Anything but, academics and education. Like us, our students are becoming unglued. Students with autism are no different.  Well, actually, that's not completely true. They experience

Autism Resources To Help You

Whether you are an educator, parent, grandparent or just someone who has been touched by autism, these resources can help you navigate the world of autism with competence and confidence.

Grandparents have a unique and special role to children on the autism spectrum. This book helps grandparents better connect with their grandchild.

Learn what should be included in the Individual Education Plan and how to make the IEPs useful and meaningful for a student with autism.

Down to earth help in planning an authentic and meaningful classroom program based on sound science and experience for a student with autism.

Down to earth help in planning an authentic and meaningful classroom program based on sound science and experience for a student with autism.

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