Tech Tuesday

Shaneh Raymer shares:

I had the opportunity to use one of the ipads that was given to our department by the Crusade for Children. Since we don’t yet have money to purchase apps, I have been searching for free apps that would be useful. So far the one I have used the most is YouTubekids. It has so many books and songs that I have used with my preschool caseload. It helps me choose books that coordinate with our Big Day preschool curriculum without having to buy them!   Some of the books are animated and it helps to engage the students. Using the Ipad rather than my desktop allows me to have the “book” close to the students so they can identify pictures and answer questions about them.

Also I have been using Sound Touch Lite ( animals).  It has drawings of animals and when you touch the animal a picture of a real animal appears along with the the animal sound. This app is great for preschoolers or anyone who is working on basic language skills. It would be a great cause/ effect activity for students working on basic skills. The students love the colorful drawings and real photographs. I have used it not only for building vocabulary but also working turn taking skills as they pass the Ipad back and forth.

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Student Led Conferences

Today, we take a break from our independent book studies to hear about Rachel’s experience so far with the “digital backpack”

We are doing student led conferences this year as part of our digital backpacks.  My principal asked if I would pick a grade and complete student led conferences with a few of the kids on my caseload from that grade.  At first, I thought this would be “just another thing” to do, however, after a quick google search, I found these forms on teachers pay teachers.  Looking at the form (and now having completed it with a couple of my kids), it is not difficult at all.  It really helps them realize their “speech goals” and “own them”.  For the couple of kids that I have been working with, I even showed them their last few percentages and asked them where they wanted to be by our next conference day in February.  They loved knowing exactly where they were performing and what they needed to do to get to meet their goal. Here is the ink for the form I used.

A few years ago, before we had graphs on the computer, I had my students graph their own data in their folders, and this also helped hold them accountable.  I may keep this student led conference form and every month have them update their percentage to see how far they have

–Rachel Lacap, Wheeler Elem.

Chapters 37-43

Why doesn’t Christopher tell lies? He can’t tell lies. He does not know how. Because a lie is something that does not happen, there are just too many possibilities from which to choose. He could not pick only one thing that did not happen in order to tell a good lie. All of the possibilities make him too shaky and scared. So he has vowed that everything he has written is true.
His father is very worried about Christopher’s ability to navigate the world. He understands that Christopher can get into trouble because most people will not take the time to understand him. Father asks Christopher to stay out of trouble, including investigating what happened to the dog.

Christopher’s mother died two years before. She was in the hospital due to a heart problem. Christopher is naturally very upset and wants to see her. He asks many questions and wants to bring her food and make her a card. His father states that he will take these things to his mother and seems reluctant to let Christopher see his mom in the hospital.

Perspective is the word that I keep coming back to in these chapters. First we get Christopher’s perspective on telling lies. He states that his mom said he could not tell lies because he was a good person, but he explains that this is not the case at all. His perspective is much different, and without his explanation it would be impossible to deduce the real reason he does not lie. How many times do we see this with our kids? The child that is screaming and hitting themselves, and we only have our perspective of their behaviors to try to reason out what is upsetting. We use all of our logic to attempt to adapt the situation to make the child comfortable, when the truth is the problem may only be logical to the child from their own perspective. We only get his father’s perspective through Christopher’s eyes. But, as parents and educators we understand the father’s perspective of trying to help Christopher navigate the world with the limited parameters that he has set for himself.   We continue to work with our kids and try to understand their perspective, but also understand that we are often limited to our own reason and perspective.

 

-Michelle Hughes

Chapters 47 & 53

Chapter 47 begins by describing Christopher’s way of determining whether it will be a “good day” or a “black day.” He counts the red and yellow cars that he sees on his way to school and the combination that he sees determines what kind of day it will be. When Christopher described his “black day” as a day when he doesn’t speak to anyone, doesn’t eat lunch or take risks it reminded me of one of my students as well as provided some insight. How many times do we take one look at one of our kids and know that it is going to be an “off day?” I wonder if the color of the cars, or the number of birds or whatever- is what determined what kind of day it would be long before they walk in to school. Christopher discusses how he enjoys having things in a nice order because it makes him feel safe. Christopher talks about how he would like to be an astronaut and how Terry told him that he would never be able to have a job like that. Christopher talks about his plans to go to University and study physics and mathematics. The end of the chapter explains how the book was written. It seems that he was given a writing assignment and he decided to write about finding Wellington and going to the police station.

Chapter 53 starts by stating that Christopher’s mother had died of a heart attack. Christopher made a get well card in his art class for his mother while she was in the hospital. He made the outside full of red cars which is Christopher’s indicator of a “super super good day.”  It was interesting that Christopher made a get well card for his mother with a picture of something that was only valid to him, as I’m assuming that red cars meant nothing to his mother. I had a student do something very similar when her teacher had a baby and she made a card for her. The student’s current “passion” was Michael Jackson- so the front of the card had a picture of Michael Jackson on it- which obviously has nothing to do with having a baby. In both situations, my student and Christopher had the very best of intentions because what they drew was something that made them happy. However, they were lacking the skill of empathy and the ability to determine what would make the recipient of the card happy. The chapter ends with Mrs. Shears cooking Christopher and his father dinner and Christopher beating her in Scrabble.

  • Sarah Crady

Tech Tuesday

Kristina Perry shares:

I feel very fortunate to be writing this blog post because I was able to receive an iPad to use in therapy this year. In the past I have used a personal iPad in therapy and have found it very helpful for engagement and portability. As someone who serves middle school age students at 2 locations, the logistics of carrying around therapy materials is difficult. When I see my students in the MSD classroom, it is very helpful to bring less into the classroom. I want to share a few of my favorite apps to use in therapy.

  1. Articulation Station: First and foremost, I can’t say enough good things about Articulation Station. Hands down, this is the best money I have spent on an app. It allows me to choose articulation targets for my students in flash card form, sentences, or 2 levels of reading. You can select 1 target phoneme, or multiple. It even has phonological processes that can be targeted. The pictures are up to date and my students love it. Yes, even my 8th graders. I love that I don’t have to shuffle through articulation decks or carry them with me.

2. 6th Grade Reading: This is an app from Peekaboo Studios that I love for my older students. I usually read the stories to them and then they answer the questions. Some of these passages are very long, but we work on looking back through the passage for the answers. I also use this for some of my students working on articulation at a higher level. There are other grade level passages available as other apps.

3. Inference Clues: I love this app to work with students on making inferences. This is a great way to start working on what clues you use to make an inference.

4. Food Frenzy: This is an app from Super Duper that works on following directions. You can select from many different direction types (basic, sequential, quantitative, spatial, conditional, and temporal). You can also customize the settings for specific students to make the directions easier or harder and to add or remove time constraints.

5. Toca (city, school, farm, store): These are apps I found for my own daughter that I found my students love as well. These are great for open ended language activities (describing, following directions, storytelling, etc). They have scenes in different settings that are interactive based on how the student moves around items and characters.

The Toca Store App allows 2 players to play “store.” One player sets up the items and decides on prices and the other student makes purchases. They have to count out the correct amount of coins needed to purchase their items. This is great for turn taking and conversation.

I love discovering new ways to use the iPad in therapy! Thanks so much to the WHAS Crusade for their generous contribution!

Thanks!

 

Understanding Autism for Dummies by Stephen M. Shore, MA, Linda G. Rastelli, MA

As I was provided this book to review, I quickly thought to myself about other “For Dummies” books that I’ve come across. Admittedly, I was skeptical, but this reference book ended up being not so scary, most likely because of our field and background knowledge.  Understanding Autism for Dummies was written with the purpose to “provide parents, teachers, therapists, and others who care for individuals with autism with a guidebook that offers objective, balanced information, thereby enabling [readers] to make intelligent decisions.” This book proves to be just that, an easy-to-navigate reference. It is organized into five basic sections, or “Parts,” as the book refers to them.  Each “part” is then broken down into chapters that are further broken down into bolded, specified topics for easy reading. Therefore, this piece is simply a summary of an easy-to-use reference book.

All five “parts” and their related chapters within the book Understanding Autism for Dummies focused on families and caregivers, taking time to define, explain, and provide strategies for a variety of topics.  Part one of this reference book focuses on educating the reader.  It takes the time to define autism and the variations within the autism spectrum. It is dated, as the DSM-V no longer divides Autism into various diagnoses, such as Asperger’s, as the book relays. Part one also dives into various theories that were available at the time of publishing (2006) and guides caregivers/parents in the process to receive/rule out the diagnosis of autism.

Part two emphasizes the importance of learning as much as possible, or as the authors state, “injecting yourself with knowledge.”  In this section, the authors discuss possible medications that might be used for people with autism, mostly to treat coexisting conditions, such as ADHD or anxiety. The authors repeatedly recommend using medications wisely and to consult with medical/healthcare professionals when starting/stopping medications. Furthermore, an entire chapter is dedicated to improving immunity and biochemistry, reminding the readers that autism can not only be a disorder of the brain, but may be present with other disorders, such as immune system weaknesses or gastrointestinal differences.

Within part three, the book begins to inform the readers of various intervention models and therapy options, explaining them in detail and giving examples before introducing readers to sensory differences and the need to help children learn using tangible methods. The authors clearly advise caretakers/parents to use literal, concrete, concise terms when interacting. They also encourage the incorporation of a daily routine and offer strategies to assist caregivers/parents further understand a child’s behaviors.  Furthermore, practical ideas are shared, such as limiting TV and video games, talking frequently to those they care for, and encouraging areas of talent. The idea of consistency was repeated frequently for the reader.

In the depths of part three, the authors address communication—our piece.  Although broad, the authors introduced bridging communication gaps with an array of strategies.  Developing sign language was quickly addressed, followed by the strategies to achieve functional communication using low tech systems (calendars, schedules, pictures), medium tech systems (voice output machines), and high tech devices. This section was short relative to the length of the book, but meaningful nonetheless. If you need a refresher, these few pages may get you started down a path of improved communication for your students!

 

 

In additional to guidance in the realm of communication, further guidance is offered for caregivers/parents in understanding and navigating through the educational model, providing information in what to look for when observing quality classrooms and understanding accommodations so that appropriate accommodations are provided.  The authors of Understanding Autism for Dummies highly encourage caregivers/parents to be active in the school setting, getting to know school staff, and other parents. Advice is offered for freely talking about autism within the family, the school, and the community.  The authors also offer an entire part dedicated to teaching concrete living skills to help children with autism become functional adults. Tools are included to help individuals reach higher academic goals, to access accommodations at the higher education level, to help manage daily life, and to match possible employment positions to individual skills.

Understanding Autism for Dummies closes with potential responses caregivers/parents/professionals could use when responding to challenging comments or questions that may be overheard or asked by family and community members.  The authors give some reasoning behind typical questions asked of caregivers/parents, offering potential responses that could be used and, in a way, counsel caregivers/parents through these difficult situations.  This last section, Part Five, might be the best section to read in order to help caregivers/parents emotionally navigate through the challenges of raising and educating these special kiddos.

In conclusion, Understanding Autism for Dummies is a reference book that could be used to gain general knowledge about a variety of autism related topics.  It is an initial, user-friendly guide to help readers understand autism, the challenges that may be present, and potential interventions and strategies that have been proven to work.  This book may be used as a guide, but use some caution, as some information within it is dated/no longer accurate.

Applications:

o Quick reference for definitions/theories of autism

o Quick reference for 7+ intervention models

o Quick reference for basic strategies/skills (for yourself or to share with parents)

o Quick reference for low & high-tech communication strategies

o Quick reference for understanding sensory differences and strategies to address them

o Examples of tools/charts related to behavioral issues

o Examples and tools/charts for matching skills/needs with appropriate employment positions

o Strategies to help families accept the diagnosis and communicate within their families and the community about their child and his/her needs

o Strategies to offer family members, caregivers, and peers to aid friendships/relationships

o Quick reference for transitioning into adulthood—higher education, independent living, etc.

o Guidance for caregivers/parents in planning for the future (i.e. designating guardianship, setting up a trust or will, etc.)

o Quick reference for hard-to-answer questions

 

–Heather Bolling

Book Study–Chapters 13, 17 & 19

There were a few important takeaways from these chapters that provide a little more insight into his character.

In Chapter 13, Christopher John Francis Boone informs the reader that his book will not be funny because he does not understand jokes. Therefore, he does not tell them. He goes on to give an example of a joke and why he is unable to understand it.

He is being arrested in Chapter 17, but finds comfort in that because that is the police officer’s job and it is predictable. He stares up at the sky while they are driving to the police station and he begins to think about the sky, the stars and the Milky Way. He comments on the fact that he is able to solve the mysteries of the universe by looking up at the sky and thinking about it in his own head, without the help of anyone else.

In Chapter 19, Christopher explains why the chapters in this book are numbered the way they are. He gives the chapters’ prime numbers, instead of cardinal numbers, because he likes prime numbers. He discusses the simple way to work out what the prime numbers are, but goes on to say there is no simple formula. For really big numbers, it may take years for a computer to work out whether or not it is prime. He compares prime numbers to life, because he says prime numbers are what is left when you have taken away all of the patterns.

–Allison Forrester