* Day #253 – Our Games

Here’s a post which highlights the importance of early OT for kids with sensory problems, whether on the spectrum or not. Another well-written post by Tucker’s mom.

366 Days of Autism

Most parents have the opportunity to play many great games with their children in their toddler/early elementary years.

Spectrum parents are not different – except our games are.  Instead of playing hide and go seek or tag, we often play games directed by our OT (Occupational Therapist).  Here are a few examples of games we played in Tucker’s early years….

What’s in the bag?  One of the early ‘games’ that we played to help Tucker develop his sense of touch was “What’s in the bag.” We would put a variety of objects in a paper bag – starting with larger obvious items (a fork, a nerf ball, a banana) then ask Tucker to reach in and tell us what he could find.  As he would master those larger objects, we would replace with smaller, more complicated objects.  He really struggled with this game in the early years – with enough…

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* Joining Ten Things of Thankful

Strictly based on research, I should already be making daily lists of thankfulness.  Grateful people live longer and happier.  My book of faith tells me to give thanks in all things.  Lizzi at Considerings: Life in Silver Linings is the blogger who created Ten Things of Thankful, which just celebrated its 100th week.  Perfect time for me to join!

ten-things-of-thankful-100

So here’s my launch:

#1.  I’m thankful for a stomach bug which has grounded me and given me time to reconnect with the blogging world.  I’ve had worse bugs, which could be #2, but…

#2.  I’m thankful for my plans to re-retire in the fall.  I have filled up every available space in my life with teaching, which has left my dearest teacher widower even more confused about his longevity as a widower.  Will he ever retire from his teaching widower status?

#3.  I’m thankful that I bought my husband a huggable bathrobe.  He was already cuddly, but now he’s a teddy bear.  I love that bathrobe so much that I bought an identical man-robe for myself.

#4. I’m grateful for all the moms and dads of special needs kids who are sharing their stories online.  We need a community of support, which leads me to…

#5.  I’m grateful for the blogging community which provides voices and listening ears to millions of people around the world.  Lizzi is one of those natural people-gatherers whose story gives others hope and whose voice gives others room to be themselves.

#6.  I’m grateful for faithful readers who encourage me that I’m not writing into thin air.  And that my blogging widower still reads my posts.

#9.  I’m thankful for the bird community in our back yard which parades the beauty of their Creator.  Did you know they sing before doing anything else in their day?

#10.  I’m thankful for the kiddos I love and teach, along with their parents.  I know I was created to teach, which will make my re-retirement an interesting season.

* Day #252 – Why We Do Art

Here’s an important perspective on tests and life as we approach the End-of-Grade test cycle.

366 Days of Autism

Rough day…great night.

Last week Tucker had a math test.  He has existing self-esteem (I can’t do it) issues (reread Day #241 – Flowering Self Esteem).  I struggle with this because I truly believe in the power of positive thinking.  It drives me CRAZY that he talks about failing before he even takes the test.

So…I went double time on him last Thursday/Friday.  I bribed him to repeat, “I will do good on my math test.”  By the time Friday morning came he was saying it on his own.  I sent him 24 positive and encouraging emails in 90 minutes.

He sent me a message after the test, “The test went okay.  I think I did okay.  ps – mom thanks for the encouragement.”

My heart melted…maybe, just maybe, this positive thinking could now be a learned skill.

Today when I picked him up he sat in the back…

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* Laughter is the best medicine 

Gotta love this post. It reminds us that our kids are not limited by early dire predictions, especially those pronounced over autistic kids. There’s a lot more than laughter in this post. Notice how this insightful mom uses her son’s interests both to engage him and help him accomplish meaningful tasks. She is a warrior for her boy!

Square Peg in a Round Hole

I’ve always said one thing is for sure about my little boy: he has the greatest sense of humor! Why? Because Jason and I are goofy people, and if you’re not having fun… what’s the point?

About a month ago at Willy’s IEP meeting, his entire team applauded Jason and I for raising a child with a great sense of humor. They noticed from the beginning that Willy loves to be silly, and share his silliness with others. They also noted that he loves to laugh, and that his laughter is contagious because it comes from the heart. I remember my reaction when they first said that in his meeting. It was something along the lines of, “well… yeah. Where a family that loves each other, and we’re a family that laughes together.”

But lately Willy has taken his sense of humor to a whole other level. For the past…

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* Day #250 – Cry, Cry, Cry

This post is for all parents and teachers who hold it together when it’s hard, but are brave enough to acknowledge that it hurts.

366 Days of Autism

Yep, we’re Cash fans in our house.  Odd (but awesome), Johnny Cash has long been one of Tucker’s favorites.  Estelle’s favorite movie?  Walk the Line.  No, probably not the most appropriate movie for a 10-year-old…but it’s real life.  A movie about losing yourself, finding love, and then finding peace in life.

It’s a peace that sometimes escapes me.

Tucker is with his dad this weekend.  I struggle on these weekends, but not for the reasons one would think.  Sure, I miss him – but we still talk and/or text every day.

These weekends, when he is gone, I let it out.

All of it.

I lose my peace.

I spend a lot of the weekend in tears.

Crying about just wanting ‘one thing to go right for him.’
Crying about where we’ve been.
Crying about the uncertainties.
Crying about the unfairness.
Crying about math tests.
Crying about lost opportunities.
Crying…

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* A very serious matter

This is a tragic story of an autistic boy who has been placed in a residential treatment facility and suffered injuries, along with the loss of his beloved bear. It’s a video worth watching. Check out their Facebook page. Let’s help!

Square Peg in a Round Hole

I came across this video yesterday of a desperate mother who has been bullied by her son’s school system. It’s appalling and disrespectful, and it makes me sick to my stomach. As a parent, you know your child better than anyone else in this world, so don’t EVER let anyone bring you down or force you to do anything that you don’t want to do, simply because they think they know what’s best for your child. Only you can be the judge of that.

So please watch this video and help support this mom in need. She needs our help.

Thank you.

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* AlphaBooks Blogging: G is for Gamache

GamacheFor today’s AlphaBooks Blogging, I have chosen an entire series of mysteries by Louise Penny.  She’s the brilliant creator of Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, a most unusually gentle and brilliant detective living in Quebec.  He stumbles upon Three Pines, a unique community virtually hidden from the world and populated by a funny, devious, and diverse collection of individuals who come to life under Louise Penny’s marvelous writing.  These mysteries often start and end in Three Pines, a place with a remarkably high homicide rate.  But it never feels contrived.  I would gladly spend a weekend at Three Pines. greeting everyone as old friends but looking over my shoulder.

And then there’s death.  Always a murder.  Gamache and his assistant, Jean-Gay Beauvoir, along with other remarkable individuals, unravel clues and trace the roots of fear, greed, jealousy, and anger that ultimately lead to a violent end.  Penny’s books are not only distinguished by her creation of characters who live and breathe, but for her insights into the roots of murder.  Her clever plots make these books impossible to put down (no matter how late it is!).

I highly recommend that you visit Louise Penny’s website because she shares herself as openly as she shares the souls who fill her books.  You can listen to her pronounce the French names and phrases, but even better, read about her own life from which she has drawn these books.  No, she hasn’t murdered anyone!  This is what Louise Penny says about the Gamache series: “My books are about terror.  The brooding terror curled deep down inside us.  But more than that, more than murder, more than all the rancid emotions and actions, my books are about goodness.  And Kindness.  About choices.  About friendship and belonging.  And love.  Enduring love.  If you only take one thing away from any of my books, I’d like it to be this:  Goodness exists.” 

Before I had read any of her works, I had the privilege of attending a book signing event for Louise Penny.  She was gracious, humble, funny, and clever.  Just like her books.  I remember the audience asking her questions about favorite characters.  It sounded for all the world like people gossiping about mutual friends.  I was afraid the books would be a drippy, overly descriptive mash of odd characters with little action, so I didn’t start reading the Gamache series until recently.  Boy, was I mistaken in that first impression!  Start with “Still Life” (image above from Amazon) and you won’t stop!

* Chatting with Khalil: movies and the middle finger

fingersIf you have been following my blog, you’ll know that Khalil is a kid who struggles with math.  He’s terrified of the End of Grade (EOG) tests.  When I asked him what most scared him about those tests, he said, “I’m afraid my mind will go blank.”  I said, “Oh, that happens to everyone.  Just go on to the next problem and come back to that one.”  Khalil was horrified.  “I can’t skip anything!”  I reassured him that he could easily come back to a skipped problem if he marked the test booklet by turning down a corner of the page.  He spent a while considering that option as we did some math prep for the EOG.

The next item on our agenda was an EOG-style reading passage about Hollywood.  Apparently, Hollywood used to be farmland in the late 1800’s.  When he read “1880’s,” Khalil rose from his seat, one arm outstretched with a pointing finger.  “That’s when disco was invented!”  he cried exuberantly, looking a lot like a very short John Travolta.  “Um, disco was the 1980’s,” I amended.  He said, “I stink at math.”

As we read that early movies were made in places where the weather was rainy and cold much of the year, the passage read that “people would not want to film there.”   Khalil remarked, “I would!”  Ever ready to help him face reality, I said, “It would be hard.”  Khalil simply replied, “It would be a horror movie!”   Good point.

Finally we came to the section that described how the first movies were made without sound. “That was no good!” he exclaimed.  The article explained that subtitles would flash on the screen and he added, “I’d be fine with just sound!”  Khalil was amazed that actors used hand movements to show emotions.  He started wiggling his fingers in front of his face.  “That doesn’t sound right!  It’s like sticking up your fingers.  Like this.”  Khalil lifted his thumb, then his index finger, and then shook his middle finger while keeping other fingers nearby.  “They might stick up THAT finger!”   He also showed me the same issue with his other hand, concluding, “That’s just not right!”  Obviously, it would be quite tempting for those early actors to slip the audience a middle finger.  Khalil paused, considering their dilemma.  “That stinks.”  Then his ramblings triggered a recent memory and he added, “I dropped my phone in the toilet and that just stinks, too!”  What a life.

* North Carolina

If you haven’t ever visited Group by Group’s blog, you’ve missed out on some amazing work with special needs kids. The projects this team creates (freely shared!) are wonderful. I am so delighted they wrote a book on North Carolina!  Wouldn’t it be a joy to work with these folks?

Group by Group

IMG_3793Well it is almost time for the annual pilgrimage when many Floridians head for the cooler mountains of North Carolina 🙂 so this week we decided to learn more about that fabulous state. We would also like to give a shout out to our North Carolina friend at teachezwell.me (a great blog you should check out) who gave us some ideas for this unit! Our sensory group explored boxes related to some very interesting facts about the state. The fine motor group made art projects related to state symbols and the language group used the official state drink to make a tasty treat!

SENSORY GROUP

IMG_3639This box contained tinsel and beads in the colors of the state flag—–red, white, and blue!

There were also some gold beads representing the state mineral and the state song recorded on a voice output device.

The state reptile (turtle) and tree (pine) could also…

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