Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Review: The Autism Sisterhood

I was given a copy of this book to review for my main blog (http://www.coolestmommy.com/) but I told the author, Michele Brooke, that I would cross post to this blog since it is so relevant.

Book Name: The Autism Sisterhood: A (brief) Manual
Author: Michele C. Brooke
Price: $9.95.
Available at Amazon.com

This book is just what the subtitle suggests it is. It's a small book that fits into my big purse easily. Each chapter is short (1-2 pages) and gives another piece of instruction or information that gets to the heart of things that women in 'the sisterhood' go through.

As a mother of a child on the Autism Spectrum, I have tried some of her ideas and jotted notes of other ideas. I appreciated her theory on who makes up the Autism Sisterhood. She includes not just mothers of Autistic children, but fathers, teachers, therapists, doctors and friends who can be a sounding board or give insight or just celebrate the little things with you. I agree, the sooner you find people in your corner, the better off you are.

The chapters are as diverse as our children are. Topics range from reading skills to preparing for holidays, social stories and singing. There are practical tips that can be used with both verbal and non-verbal children.

The book is meant to be read in short bursts. I read it through the first time from cover to cover during a one hour therapy session. I was able to finish in about 45 mintues. It's a fast read and contains wonderful information and insight. Michelle Brooke mentions that this book is meant to be a quick read that you can keep in your purse because then you will have it to pass along to another person who could use it.

For those who have read books by other mothers of autistic children, Michele Brooke doesn't go into the emotional roller coaster of getting diagnosis, etc. This book isn't about the emotions or feelings of you or your child. The focus is strictly on finding ways to enter into your child's world and help them find more of our world, too. It is all practical advice and tips to help us find new ways to communicate.

I hope you'll pass the word about this book to others who could use the information contained within.

Disclosure: This is a Mama Buzz review. The product was provided by Michele C. Brooke for this review.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

You might have a visual learner when...

For vocabulary words, the kids are to know the meaning of the words and how to correctly use the word in a sentence. As we went over the vocabulary words for this week, Nathan had all the meanings correct. Until we hit "ponder". He tried to break it down that the word 'pond' was in it so maybe it was something to do with water or ponds. When we told him it's thinking hard about something, he said that it WAS like a pond.

Huh?? Pond?? Water?? For Ponder???
Sean & I don't see it. We asked Nathan to clarify.

Nathan's answer:
Well, if I remember that my brain is like a big pond and the ideas are the ducks. When I ponder, I wait for the ducks (ideas) to come into the pond (brain) and that's pondering.

Oh yeah, I think he's a visual learner.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

What's in a name?

We have a new art teacher at school this year. When we were at back to school night, we made Nathan introduce himself and meet her so he wasn't surprised that she is there. (Our former art teacher was part time and was able to go back into the classroom full time. We had to show him where her room is now so he knows she didn't disappear.)

When he met the teacher, she said her name was Mrs. Reed. He studied her name by the door and finally looks at her and says, "You know, if you took out the extra E in your name, it would be Mrs. Red. That would be a really artistic name."

We smiled, told him great reasoning and mentioned that he is a special little boy with a unique perspective. Then, we giggled. How sweet was that? I'm not sure if she saw the humor that we did, but I think he's a smart little cookie.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

A story about life at a 2E home...

One day at the Twice Exceptional Home, a packet of information arrived from a local school called Elementary. Inside the exciting packet was the room number and name of the teacher for a little boy named Nathan. This Nathan waited with baited breath for his mother to share the big news. His mother said, "You're in Room 6A with Mrs. R." The older brother, Andrew, shouts, "You're so lucky--I only got Mrs. R for 3 weeks. You get her for a whole year!!!"

The little boy named Nathan held a brave face. Then a lip quiver started to show. Then his face crumpled and tears were streaming down his face. With a wavering voice, Nathan says, "But I wanted Mrs. S."

Thinking fast, his super mother asks, "Why did you want Mrs. S so much?"

Nathan tells mom, "Because of Reading Buddies."

"What--did you say reading buddies?"


Realization dawns on the mother who says, "Which classroom was with Mrs. S last year?"

"Mrs. B!" (Mrs. B was our teacher last year.)

Ah-ha. "Good news, Nathan. There is now one more room in last year's grade so there will be changes. You might still have Mrs. B for Reading Buddies. Besides, she moved around the corner and there's only one room between her room and your room this year. Isn't that great?!?"

"I might get Mrs. B for Reading Buddies? Cool."

Thus ends the saga of teacher assignments.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

On Demand Learning for Today's "iGeneration"

I had the opportunity to review the Online School Solutions website. I honestly did not think I would like what I found. I've never been convinced that online learning is as good as traditional learning--even though I have friends whom I deeply respect who homeschool and use online learning to supplement homeschooling.  I know we can learn a lot online, but to give schooling over to online learning is a bit beyond my scope.

I started looking at the online school solutions sites for my oldest. I wondered if these classes would help supplement his learning. What I started to realize is that if Nathan begins to have too much trouble in Middle School or High School, this website would be a wonderful resource for me to have at my fingertips. Many of the courses are geared at High IQ (gifted or AP) learners. Well, what's a 2E but a gifted learner with a learning disability? I started looking at different schools available and what classes they offered. While it looks like the private online schools would cost about $1800 per year to do full time online education, individual classes are only about $250-300 per class. I was impressed at the broad scope of classes available to students.

If you need any sort of supplement to learning for your child--whether he is in public, private or home school--I'd suggest looking at this site. The information was pretty clear cut and I had the opportunity to watch a video demo of some of the techniques used. They don't leave the kids flying solo. There is support online for the kids, they can interact with other kids and adults and some of the online schools also have live people locally whom you can call if you need additional help.

Here is some information I was provided by Online School Solutions:

Today's students, known as the "iGeneration", are the first to crave and benefit from education "on demand" - or the option to choose where, when and how they want to learn.

To put it in context, the "iGeneration" has never known life without the Internet, being mobile, using avatars, IMing or choosing and watching content whether they are at home, in the car, at a football game or shopping at the mall. To reach them in their high-tech, high-touch world, many parents and educators are looking at how to rewire schools to match how the iGeneration learns.

Taking classes online is one way to give middle and high school students (and their school districts) new options to learn using preferred tools in a familiar environment, and even experience enhanced, one-on-one relationships with educators. Whether they're in need of more assistance, looking for wider range of classes or simply prefer to learn in a medium that they have grown up with, online learning can be a great way to fit your child's needs.

Students are increasingly able to take online classes in partnership with their local school districts. Schools facing budget cuts and a reduction in teachers are turning to online classes to supplement their curriculum, from offering classes for which they have no teachers, Advanced Placement® classes for students who excel, and credit recovery options for students who struggle. In fact, today there are 1 million children learning online, either part time, full time or between school terms. Additionally, more than 20 percent of schools and educational institutions around the country offer online classes today, and that number should grow by another 30 percent within a couple of years, according to industry research. (Simba Information).

KC Distance Learning (KCDL) offers online learning options to fit all types of students and learning situations.
From the home-schooled family, the student brushing up on skills to compete at the next level or the child facing challenges in traditional schools such as bullying, KCDL provides academic solutions to fit your child's needs. We welcome you to look through the website at www.onlineschoolsolutions.com, and then click on your state to find the online school serving your area.

A recent survey found that compared to traditional learning environments, online learning is proving to be an effective way in teaching today's "iGeneration" who live in a world of customized and instant feedback. See the results of the Student Survey here.

If you ever have a need or are interested in learning more about online schools, take a look and see what you think.

Disclosure: I received a gift card to compensate my time in researching and writing this review. The gift card does not affect my review and all personal thoughts and comments are my own.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Thank you for your support!

Thank you to everyone who helped make the 2010 Autism Puzzle Walk a big success. Team NATHAN raised more than we thought we could--and that's thanks to all of you.

Without your love, support, encouragement and donations, we couldn't have done it. Overall, the Puzzle Walk raised more than $45,000 this year.

Thank you again for supporting Team Nathan.

Here are some photos from the walk. There were over 800 people who showed up to walk with us and support the Autism Society. Thank you to everyone who came. Thank you to our 'walk angels' who helped families needing an extra pair of hands along the way. It was a wonderful day and lots of fun.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Deep Thoughts

Today, Nathan was at a birthday party. Daddy took him since it was at a skate rink and helped him work on skating. As they are going around the rink, Nathan was concentrating hard.

About halfway around the rink, Sean asked him what he thought (wondering what he thought about skating). Nathan answered, "I have a silly question."

Dad says, "Ok, shoot."

Nathan says, "Did Jesus have Jesus in His heart?"

Ummm....wow, what a deep question. Anyone have a good answer for the 8 year old??

Sean responded with, "Do you have you in your heart? (Nathan nodded yes.) Well, I think everyone has themself in their own heart, so Jesus had Jesus in his heart. It's just important for us to ask Jesus to come into our hearts to join us there."

Nice job, Dad! And seriously, you wonder why we parents of 2E kids look frazzled all the time. We ask our kids about skating and instead of being focused on balance, feet or listening to the music, they are in the midst of a deep theological debate. Phew! Glad Dad was there to take that one.

Hope that gave you a smile for today!

Friday, April 9, 2010

A morning in the life of a 2E...

Ever have one of 'those' mornings? I'm sure you can relate. I think we all have days where it seems like it would have been a better idea to turn off the alarm, pull the covers over our head and ignore the rest of the world. While yesterday started out to be a great morning (and eventually ended as a great morning), there was one of 'those' moments sprinkled in. With it being Autism Awareness month, I wanted to give a little insight into what this mama goes through from time to time.

Andrew usually gets himself up around 6:15 so he can have computer time without anyone bugging him. I get up at 6:40 and push him to finish online, get dressed, get any missing homework items together and we shoot him out the door at 7am. Nathan usually wakes up between 7-7:10 and Rebekah gets up between 7:20-7:30. I help get both of them ready to go and Nathan has to be out the door between 8:20-8:30.

Yesterday, as I'm shooing Andrew down the stairs at 6:55, I hear crying. LOUD crying...more like broken hearted sobbing. At first I thought Rebekah woke up early. If she hears Andrew leaving and doesn't get to kiss him goodbye, her day starts by screaming down the house and waking everyone up. Peeked in her room, still sleeping. Went to the boys' room to find Nathan huddled in his bed sobbing. What's wrong? He tells me he doesn't want to talk about it and resumes his crying. I tell him he has to be quiet until I get back so he won't wake Daddy and Rebekah. He calms down enough so it's quiet sniffles and tears while I tear back downstairs to get Andrew to the carpool on time.

I go back upstairs to find out what is wrong with Nathan. Finally, he tells me he started crying at first because he thought the clock said 7:55 (when it read 6:55). He was upset because he always sleeps to the 50's and never has time to do what he wants to do in the morning before he leaves for school. OK--now you know it's only 7am instead of 8am. Let's get up and have a good day. More sobbing and tears---I can't because NOW I'm upset that I read the clock wrong.

That's how my morning began. Luckily, I had purchased doughnuts the day before and that was enough distraction to calm him down and start his day on a cheerful note.

First of all, I tell you this because it's a funny story. I laughed after the fact and hope you'll giggle with me. I'm crying because I overslept and then I'm crying because I didn't oversleep and just misread a clock. Really--only a 2E would give you that kind of logic. The other reason I share this is because those issues we had were only a blip on the radar of our lives. Most of you would have really rotten days if your child or children started it like this. I rejoice because he turned it around and got happy before school.

With April being Autism Awareness month, I want to try to highlight some of the issues we deal with in our home. Our crying jag yesterday is absolutely nothing compared to the entire year that he was four years old. I'll put it into another post, but that year we would be awakened each morning to him sobbing and telling me that nobody loved him. Four years old and he thought nobody loved him.

I share this to give you hope. Maybe your bad mornings aren't so bad after all. If I can learn to laugh at these quirky experiences, I hope you can learn to laugh even if you overslept, forgot to buy milk for cereal, have to rearrange appointments, etc.
When life happens, I hope you'll learn to laugh...and remember, at least you don't cry because you misread the clock.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

I posted this on my other blog earlier this week. I felt it really bears repeating on this blog!

The Autism Awareness Puzzle Ribbon is the most recognized symbol of the autism community in the world. Autism prevalence is now one in every 110 children in America - that’s 13 million families and growing who live with autism today. Show your support for people with autism by wearing the Autism Awareness Puzzle Ribbon this month – as a pin on your shirt, a magnet on your car, a badge on your blog, or even your Facebook profile picture - and educate folks on the potential of people with autism! For suggestions and resources, visit www.autism-society.org/ribbon.

Make a difference. There are several important bills moving through Congress that will have important effects on the autism community – safer educational settings (Keeping All Students Safe Act), better autism services (Autism Treatment Acceleration Act), greater financial independence (Achieving a Better Life Experience Act), better protection against toxic chemicals (Toxic Substances Control Act Reform, introduction anticipated soon), and more. For more information about this legislation and to take action to support it, visit http://www.vote4autism.org/.

Connect with your neighborhood. The Autism Society and inflatable playground franchise Pump It Up are bouncing again with “Bounce for Autism” – over 100 community-based fundraising events that combine family fun with raising awareness and support for autism in locations nationwide that welcome children on the autism spectrum. Many Autism Society local chapters also put on events in the community through the month of April. But if you can’t find an event that suits you just right, create your own! 1Power4Autism is an online tool that makes it easy to mobilize friends and family and help make a difference.
* Bounce for Autism: http://www.bounceforautism.org/
* Autism Society chapters: www.autism-society.org/chapters
* 1Power4Autism: http://www.1power4autism.org/

Watch a movie. Did you know that something that seems as simple as going to the movies is not an option for many families affected by autism? The Autism Society is working with AMC entertainment to bring special-needs families “Sensory Friendly Films” every month. Our special showing of How to Train Your Dragon is coming to a theatre near you on April 10. Or, you could see a movie about autism itself - the Autism Society is partnering with the Independent Television Service (ITVS) to support 70 community screenings of the new movie The Horse Boy, based on the memoir of the same name. In the film, Rupert Isaacson shares the inspiring story of how he and his wife learned to think of their son’s autism as an adventure rather than a curse, a beginning rather than an end. Find participating locations for both events at:
* Sensory Friendly Films:
* The Horse Boy: http://www.pbs.org/independentlens/horse-boy/

On a personal note, please help support Team NATHAN for the Autism Puzzle Walk. The Autism Society has been a source of constant support and guidance for us this past year. We want to give back in a big way. Funds raised at the Puzzle Walk impact the programs and support offered. Please consider giving a gift of any size. Even $1 will help. Go to Nathan's Page to donate or click on the box at the top right of the blog main page.

Please remember that Autism is a huge spectrum. Set aside your preconceived notions. I recently heard this quote and it has really stuck with me.

If you've met one person with autism...
you've met ONE person with autism.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

A chuckle for your day...

A couple months ago, Nathan came to the car wearing his earplugs after school. (This is a rare occurrence because the plugs stay in his desk each night.) I found out after the fact that there had been a LOUD assembly so he wisely choose to wear his earplugs so he wouldn't be overwhelmed by the noise.

We carpool with 3 other kiddos and they were asking what he had in his ears and why. He explained they are earplugs. When asked why he needed them, he didn't say anything at first. I encouraged him to tell his friends about his 'super-powered hearing' (fancy term for Central Auditory Processing Disorder). He told me no and proceeded to tell the carpool, "I wear these because I'm artistic."

Yup, artistic...not autistic, artistic. He is the most creative little boy I know. :-)

Friday, January 1, 2010

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