Autism: C'hele's Story

July 24, 2007

The Wild Dance ~

Filed under: Poetry — C'hele @ 10:56

The lion beckons me to listen to the hyena

But the tiger lingers in the distance

The dusting of orange terracotta

Covers the rain on my skin

The waves of heat know no mercy

And the scent of soil is heady and earthy

It reminds me of an ancient memory

But the drum call in the distance summons

Many mysteries that my body responds to

So I dance for liberation, I dance for peace,

I dance to the skies…I dance for Love.

C’hele

An Ancient Calling

Filed under: Poetry — C'hele @ 10:40

Oh, how the great expanse attempts to tempt me

I am weak,

But Spirit is stronger

The reflection in the lake

Mirrors my need to be true

And reminds me of what is sacred

Rebirth me as the vultures only know how

Let me taste again, the salt of the earth

And feel the authenticity of the stability of rock

Let the silence become my voice

And the wind be my truest companion

Allow my soul to flow with the elements

And allow all the Love…to again, fly free.

Namaste.

C’hele

July 20, 2007

Autism: Functional Academics and Curriculum and the Autistic Child ~

Filed under: Aspberger Syndrome, Autism — C'hele @ 07:08
Functional Academics and Curriculum: Teaching Low to High Functioning Autistic Children in School and at Home:

In this post, I want to impart some information regarding education and the autistic student. All the information below, I have personally taught to my daughter and students in various schools under the guidance of a qualified Special Education Teacher. This information is intended to be helpful only, so parents out there will have an idea of what might be going on within their child’s class room. There are so many wonderful ways to teach a child with a neurological or cognitive disability (one day soon I will get into this further). Most classrooms do not have this kind of functional academics or curriculum that I have outlined below, unless a child is specifically in a special educational resource room or is in a special education school. It is my belief that more support should be leant to regular classroom teachers so they can assist the teacher and the many neurologically disabled kids who end up falling through the cracks and end up unable to cope with themselves and life. If you have a desire or talent working with autistic people I can’t stress enough the demand, and the need for, Special Education Program Coordinators in schools.

The percentage of autistic individuals being born is on an all-time high. I personally feel that depending on the child’s level on the autism spectrum disorder line, there is always a chance for the opportunity for a child to blossom under positive teaching strategies no matter their age. However, early intervention has proven to be more successful towards a child’s well-being and learning some independence before they become too set in their ways. I have personally seen parents provide assistance too late in their autistic child’s life and not much unfortunately, could be done by educators. I have to add that these kids were quite low functioning students. There is already a high need for more co-ordinators from the preschool to high school level and I’m sure the jobs in this field will be in plenty for those willing to explore this option. This career in autism as a Special Education Program Coordinator does require a university degree but I think its worth looking into if your interest is there!

Functional Academics is primarily utilized to teach autistic children who are moderately to low-functioning or at the mental retardation stage. In my experience it has also been beneficial in teaching a certain concept or skill to a high functioning (or Asperger’s child) who may be struggling in that one area. For example, a high functioning autistic student may be a genius in mathematics but may struggle with reading and require an aid to scribe for him or her.

Functional Academics are exactly that: academics made functional.

Each autistic child will also have a different curriculum set out by the teacher who is shadowed by a Special Education Program Co-Coordinator. It depends on the school or where you live if a district or municipality has access to a Special Ed. Program Coordinator. They help the teacher create a program that fits each child’s individual needs. This curriculum would be reflected on the child’s/student’s Individual Education Plan (IEP) or report card. A Special Educational Assistant, Educational Assistant, or Teacher Assistant (and if one teaches in a specialized autism field, Paraprofessional) assist the teacher in implementing and documenting the functional academics and curriculum.

Each autistic child has their own individual strengths and weaknesses like a typical kid so they may have a curriculum created that will include many but not all of the following:

a. Fine and gross motor coordination skills:

(That may or may not include):

– Shoe tying, stringing beads, using crayons/pencil crayons in art, cutting with scissors, sweeping floors, folding laundry, dog-walking, swimming, skating, bowling, participating in the recycling program at school, and other community work experience (I.e.: sweeping benches and refilling bird feeders at a local bird sanctuary).

b. Life-skills:

(Self-explanatory)

– Sweeping, doing laundry, learning how to wash/dry dishes, how to load/unload a dishwasher, how to cook (this does include teaching how to utilize a knife and a stove depending on the students level of ability to cope), general housekeeping, and the like. Food recognition and comprehension (identifying various foods and food groups), recognizing emotions; recognition and comprehension, and sign identification (I.e.: stop, go, walk, warning, poison, exit, washroom (men/women), railway, etc). Food, emotions, and sign recognition and comprehension are taught by utilizing picture cards. Crosswalk safety may be taught, telephone skills, how to type and utilize a computer, how to take responsibility for their behaviour and their personal items. How to manage and deal with natural consequences, how to utilize a calendar, daily planner or day-timer. Teaching the child/student how to “walk away” from a situation when necessary is also a vital life skill.

c. Language/Communication development: (how to convey thoughts and feelings in a concise way by using words and not by violence, giving verbal solutions to problems, be consistent regarding utilizing age appropriate vocabulary, teaching children how to think before they verbally say something, etc.)

– Class or group meetings allow children/students opportunities to talk about their feelings regarding various topics. Friendship circles or pairing students with a “typical” student or “buddy” also helps autistic students/children make age-appropriate friendships with peers. Participating in regular integration periodically each day in a typical classroom (age appropriate of course), utilizing stories to convey learning opportunities such as exploring feelings, scenarios, writing in a journal every day to allow the student to express thoughts and feelings etc.

d. Recreation: (fun that “sneaks” in many learning opportunities for the student/child such as; turn taking, sharing, exercise/gross and fine motor skills, social/communication opportunities, how to wait, take turns and more).

– Again things like swimming, skating, community walking, bowling, playing an instrument like a guitar (believe it or not, some kids can do this).

e. Leisure: (allows students to have the required and very necessary breaks needed between activities in their day, leisure time also gives each student the opportunity to practise self-management skills and make choices of what they want to do during their leisure time).

– Video games (Nintendo, Game Boy, Game Cube), Movie watching, listening to music on a stereo or I-Pod, drawing/art. A child/student preferred activity basically.

f. Social Skills: (practicing eye-contact, greetings, manners, turn-taking, how to hold a conversation, conflict resolution/management, how to control sensory impulse difficulties and overload, how to utilize an appropriate tone of voice, anger and frustration management, how to focus on themselves and not others when necessary, etc.).

– Work experience examples are: volunteering at a fast-food restaurant, a recycling depot, cleaning the local Boy and Girls Clubhouse, helping in a grocery store, participating in the school recycling program, assisting in the school cafeteria, being an office monitor, assisting in the library, role-playing various scenarios in class and playing board games with staff and other students in the classroom.

g. Functional Academics: (academic’s that also teach the necessary life-skills required for independent living).

– Reading and comprehension, writing, spelling and mathematics. Social studies, science, money identification and values, telling time, learning how to use a calculator to add up purchases, allow opportunities for silent reading (or taking turns reading with a partner), etc.

Over the next few posts, I will chatter on about the importance of using visual symbols and schedules and Discreet Trial Format Training. Discreet Trial Training (or DTT), is an incredibly useful method or tool to learn and utilize. It helps teach autistic kids things like food recognition and comprehension, money and values, telling time and sign recognition and comprehension. This is taught primarily to lower functioning kids however, if you have a higher functioning child unaware or is unable to learn the above concepts listed above, this method will help immensely!

Peace to all,

C’hele

 

July 16, 2007

Standing In Your Space

Filed under: Poetry — C'hele @ 14:58

A luscious and full perennial that requires dividing in half

Loves and flourishes in its space,

It knows of no other home.

Yet the Universe requires that it be spread out

So that it can continue to teach mankind

Lessons regarding the hardships and blessings of existence.

Authenticity is after all, all about

How one lives in their space-

Bloom with grace and beauty

No matter where you may be.

C’hele

Resources For Those Living With Or Working With Children Of Autism Spectrum Disorders

Filed under: Autism — C'hele @ 14:01

Alas! I finally find the time to write. Yeah!! I have been pondering to myself lately how my blog has digressed from the trials, tribulations and joys of being an old maid to the world of autism spectrum disorders. To all my readers, I promise I shall try to remain faithful to both themes. However lately, the topic of autism demands my attention. For parents, foster parents, respite workers, teachers, aides and paraprofessionals I have made up a small resource list of information relating to autism spectrum disorders. Much of this I have known for a long while but had yet to find the time to impart this information. Soon I will provide a list of more resources, learning aides and materials that I learned about and acquired from my ABA course. All I can say, as a Paraprofessional who works in the field and a single parent with a child who has an autism spectrum disorder, I wish I had much of this information right away when I needed it the most. Many of you may not be able to afford the resources I have listed here within, but you could always inquire or order them at your local library! With all my heart, I am happy to provide this information for those who seek:

1. http://www.autismoutreach.ca – Look under e-learning modules in particular, but you need to register in first (the good news is, registering is free). This website is intended to educate both teachers and parents on the nature of autism in the whole spectrum. It covers high functioning autism (and Asperger’s) to low functioning non-verbal autistic individuals. I believe they do out of country mail orders for resources and educational materials (email them to find out for sure). A wonderful web-site for information.

2. http://www.polyxo.com/ – This web site has resources on social stories and visual supports. It also helps explain to parents what educators “do” when they teach autistic children. For example, what discrete trial training is, how we do data collection, and what a Functional Behavioural Analysis is. This will be incredibly helpful for parents learning the terminology in the autism teaching realm.

3. http://www.do2learn.com – For the primary/elementary school level. Covers the nature of cognitive, social and communication disorders. Autism definitely included here. This web-site offers advice, diagnosis of these various disorders, family advocacy, songs/games, how to use picture symbols and visual schedules, and more.

4. http://www.socialthinking.com – This website is intended to assist and support persons with social learning challenges (autism very much included in this realm). The web-site quotes: “Michelle and her team specialize in developing further understanding and educational strategies for helping persons with social thinking/social communicative challenges.” Many Teacher Assistants, Educational Assistants or Special Ed. Assistants and teachers are utilizing and incorporating Michelle Garcia Winner’s expertise and literature within the class rooms. A wonderful web-site!

5. http://www.tonyattwood.com.au – What can I say? This professional is my guru regarding the perplexing nature of Asperger’s Syndrome (high functioning autism). He is absolutely amazing regarding his knowledge on “Aspbie individuals.” I have read so much of his work that I cant praise him high enough. His books are incredibly easy to read and are digestible. One DVD that helped me so much to learn about the nature of Asperger’s Syndrome (and confirmed for me without a doubt that my daughter was indeed an Aspbie child) is: “Dr. Tony Attwood‘s, Asperger’s Syndrome, Volume 2. In this DVD, Dr. Attwood presents to the viewer as a down to earth individual who is also funnier than hell with his stories! He blew me away with his knowledge in this DVD. I borrowed the DVD from a friend of mine, loved it and eventually went out later and paid the $100.00 price-tag (cdn) for this DVD. I would have not hesitated to pay $200 for the information that lay within it. In the DVD, Dr. Attwood covers the characteristics of AS, Anger Management, Teaching Teachers about Asperger’s Syndrome and Teenager Issues.

6. http://www.templegrandin.com – Again, I highly recommend reading this woman’s work. I love reading about Temple’s incredible accomplishments as an author, lecturer and inventor who has autism and beat the odds against typical society and attained a Ph.d. A wonderful woman and human being!

7. http://www.thegraycenter.org/socialstories.cfm – Carol Gray is a professional who developed the SOCIAL STORY as a major tool for teachers and parents. Social stories teach children with autism spectrum disorders how to cope with many skills and concepts and socially acceptable behaviours. If your ASD child is oppositional to your instructions or directives, utilizing social stories is an indirect way to teach him or her, a necessary concept or skill. I used them with my daughter since she was three. The autism centre I work for, utilizes social stories for many of their high-school students. This tool helps them to understand and cope with what is, and is not, socially acceptable behaviours in school, home and in the community. Social Stories may cover concepts such as: How to give someone a hug, how to properly greet someone, how to ask a girl out on a date and so on. I love Carol Gray!

Books:

1. Asperger’s Syndrome, A Guide for Parents and Professionals by Tony Attwood

2. The Complete Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome, By Tony Atwood

3. Exploring Feelings, Cognitive Behaviour Therapy to Manage Anxiety, by Tony Atwood.

3. The Dragon’s of Autism, Autism as a Source of Wisdom, by Olga Holland

4. The World of the Autistic Child, Understanding and Treating Autism Spectrum Disorders by Bryna Siegel

5. Attainments, Life Skills Development Series. Learn About Life: Sexuality and Social Skills. www.AttainmentCompany.com

6. Think Social, by Michelle Garcia Winner7. Thinking About YOU, Thinking About ME, by Michelle Garcia Winner

8. Our Journey Through High Functioning Autism and Asperger Syndrome, A Roadmap. Edited by Linda Andron. A book covering stories by families living with autism spectrum disorders. At the end of the book is an amazing short-story/autobiography of a child named Max who lives life as an autistic individual. A great book.

9. Anything written by Carol Gray.

C’hele

xo

July 10, 2007

“Windswept”

Filed under: Poetry — C'hele @ 13:06

I stood in front of a window today.

And as I stood there,

I was besotted with what nature expressed in front of me.

I decided to listen to what the Great Mystery had to convey.

It was such an amazing experience-

To allow myself to be serenaded to

By such beautiful, sacred music

That nothing but the wind only knows how to provide.

C’hele

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