Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Prepare Your Child with NLD or Other Learning Disabilities for Summer

By Marcia Brown Rubinstien, MA, CEP
Originally posted at Smart Kids With Learning Disabilities

Children with nonverbal learning disabilities (NLD) have widely different learning and behavioral profiles, yet they often share a common trait: anxiety over transitions. Indeed, many children with learning disabilities experience anxiety in the face of change. To minimize concerns for children with NLD and other learning challenges you must prepare them for the changes that summer brings long before the weather turns balmy.

Begin building a framework now by assuring your child that his summer activities will have benefits that far outweigh his fears of transitioning.
Assess Your Child
The mission of developing productive summers for kids challenged by change begins with a careful and comprehensive assessment. Know not only what your child embraces, but also what he fears. You can help him succeed at summer camp, summer school, travel, or special interest programs by balancing his interests with conditions that make him comfortable.
Begin with a preliminary investigation of summer options; ask yourself:
  • What are my child’s assets and deficits?
  • What conditions create comfort and, alternatively, what conditions generate anxiety?
  • Does my child exhibit any behavioral, cognitive or emotional patterns that might affect summer activity selection?
  • What makes my child happy?
  • What makes my child anxious and depressed?
To continue reading, click here......

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Should You Try Homeschooling?

Written by Bec Oakley at snagglebox.com

Let’s face it, school can be really tough for many autistic kids and as their parents it can feel like an exhausting never-ending struggle to get them what they need.

If this sounds familiar then at some point you’ve probably wondered whether homeschool might be a better option... and then you hid under the bed because the thought of being wholly responsible for your kids’ education is scary as hell.

So how do you decide whether to take the plunge?

We’re a year into our second shot at homeschooling and it’s made a huge difference in our lives. But the decision to get here was really, really tough and everyone has a different set of factors to take into consideration when deciding whether homeschool is right for them. So my goal here is not to convince you to do it, but rather to give you some things to think about that might help you make the decision either way.
Forget about your skills as a teacher
One of the first things that parents worry about when deciding whether to take their kids out of school is “how will I teach them everything they need to know?” Well relax because this is actually the least important place to start. I could write a whole blog post on this alone, so here's the short version... you don't have to. I'll come back to this at the end.

To read more, click here.....

If you live in Illinois and would like more information about home schooling, curriculum, or Illinois' regulations,  please call us at 866-436-7842.

Monday, April 22, 2013

What I Wish I'd Known About Raising a Child with Autism Review and Giveaway!

I recently read What I wish I'd Known about Raising a Child with Autism: A mom and a Psychologist Offer Heartfelt Guidance for the First Five Years by Bobbie Sheahan and Kathy DeOrnellas, Ph.D. As the title implies, this book is ideal for those just starting off on the autism journey. Filled with all kinds of basic information about autism and its symptoms, it's the perfect book for the parent who suspects her child may have autism.

This book has tons of great information, but what I think its absolute best attribute is the tone. Sheahan writes as if she is chatting with an old friend. She is not afraid to share her mistakes or foibles with us, which makes this book incredibly validating to parents. Sprinkled throughout are stories and quotes from Sheahan's own family, as well as other families with autism.

Also, the general attitude is one of acceptance and understanding. She encourages parents to really get to know their child, to understand his/her difficulties and try to work with them, instead of spending loads of time wishing their kid were normal. She discusses how as parents we need to advocate for our kids and their needs, regardless of how that makes other people (including family and friends) feel.

For example, Sheahan has discovered that her daughter cannot handle multiple outings within the same weekend, let alone the same day. She regularly schedules in downtime for Grace so she can recover from a birthday party or trip to the zoo. She doesn't allow herself to feel guilty for possibly letting down her friends or family members, since this is what Grace needs. I could so relate to this!

This is a definite must-read for parents starting out on the autism journey, but I think those with older kids can also benefit. I know I did!
To Enter the Giveaway:
Leave a comment here or on our Facebook page.  It's as easy as that!  And if you share this on your FB page, you will get another entry!
The giveaway ends May 1st at midnight.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

What You Should Know about Evaluations

originally posted on wrightslaw.com


by Robert K. Crabtree, Esq.
Know Your Rights

Your school system, under IDEA and its state counterparts, is required to fully evaluate any child who may need special education services "in all areas related to the suspected disability, including, if appropriate, health, vision, hearing, social and emotional status, general intelligence, academic performance, communicative status, and motor abilities." (34 CFR Sec. 300.304)

Before the school does so, and before providing or changing special education services, it must notify you in writing. For the first evaluation and placement, schools must also obtain parental consent.

Parental Consent

IDEA's requirements for parental consent vary depending on whether the LEA is seeking an initial evaluation or a reevaluation and on whether the parents affirmatively respond to a request for consent or simply do not respond or cannot be located.

20 USC Sec 1414 (c)(3) provides that an LEA must "obtain informed parental consent . . . prior to conducting any re-evaluation of a child with a disability, except that such informed parent consent need not be obtained if the local educational agency can demonstrate that it had taken reasonable measures to obtain such consent and the child's parent has failed to respond."

Thus, while an LEA may proceed to re-evaluate without parental consent, that is true only if it has first taken reasonable, documentable measures to obtain consent. Per 34 C.F.R. sec. 300.322(d) this means the LEA must be able to show documents such as records of attempts to call the parents, correspondence to and from the parents, and/or records of visits to the parents' home or place(s) of employment. If parents do respond, but affirmatively refuse to consent to the LEA's re-evaluation, the LEA would have to seek an order to override the parents' refusal to consent. 34 C.F.R. sec. 300.300(a).

For an initial evaluation, it appears that even with documentable reasonable efforts to obtain consent, if the parents do not respond, the LEA cannot go ahead with the evaluation without further steps. In that case, if the reason consent could not be obtained is that the parents cannot be identified or located, presumably the LEA could seek the appointment of an educational surrogate (see 20 U.S.C. sec. 1415(b)(2)), or seek an order from the due process agency (presumably, this would be a "matter relating to the identification, evaluation, or educational placement of the child" and thus within the agency's jurisdiction.) If parents respond but refuse to consent to the initial evaluation, the LEA can seek an order from the due process agency to permit the evaluation. 34 C.F.R. sec. 300.300(a).

Your Never-ending Role

As a parent, you must make sure that all areas of possible need are assessed as quickly as possible. While some parents would rather not allow their school system to evaluate their child, a refusal to cooperate at this stage of the process can backfire if you need to ask for more or for different services later. ......
To continue reading, click here.....

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

How to Include Autistic Kids in Field Days

by Bec Oakley, author of Snagglebox.com

Field day, sports day, athletics carnival... no matter what it's called where you live, these annual school sporting events can be hard for kids with autism or sensory processing disorders.

Often held in the spring or autumn, these day-long events require kids to compete in different sports or activities (athletics, egg and spoon or sack races) set up at stations around a playing field.

While a lot of kids enjoy the break from being in the classroom, others find it noisy, chaotic and confusing. So let's take a look at why, and some things you can do to make the day more fun for them...
so everyone can join in!


It’s noisy
There are kids cheering for their team, announcements over the PA, starting pistols or horns... and most of these noises aren't predictable and start or end suddenly.

It’s chaotic
There's people everywhere - some are participating, some are waiting, others are cheering or wandering about - and loads of sensory distractions like pom poms, grass and whistles.

There’s less supervision
The teacher-student ratio might just be doable in a classroom, but head outside and it becomes much more difficult to keep everyone under control.

Classes are mixed together
These events can often be run across age groups with classes joined together, or with an unfamiliar teacher assigned to supervise. This can be disorienting for kids who are just getting comfortable with their classmates.

To read more, click here....

Monday, April 15, 2013

Autism Books Giveaway!

The Child with Autism at Home & in the Community by Kathy Labosh is a handy reference for parents of kids with autism. Labosh gives tips on everything from how to avoid getting poop on yourself when your child has decided to play with the contents of his diaper (go up to him from behind and hook your hands under his armpits and carry him to the bathtub. I know, brilliant, right?) to ideas on how to help your child handle a movie theater.
Labosh, herself a mother of two sons with autism, has compiled a list of over 600 tips for making life with autism easier. I cannot tell you how many times, while reading this book, I wished fervently it had been published years ago. So many of these tips would have made an enormous difference in my life as a parent of a young kid with autism. Just the bathroom section alone could have saved me much in the way of misery with regards to potty training, baths and hair washing!

Still, there are more than enough tips for older kids that will assist me in our daily lives!

The Child with Autism Learns About Faith, also by Labosh, is a unique book filled
with scripture lessons. I have never seen a book like this for kids with special needs. Labosh gives us lessons for Cain and Abel, Noah, Abraham, and many other great Bible stories.

There are 15 lessons in all, and each provides a very detailed list of materials needed. The lesson plans are very easy to follow and outline a variety of activities. They include scripture reading, group activity time, and videos/songs.
Reading through the plans, it is obvious Labosh has a solid understanding of how kids with autism learn. Each lesson flows from one activity to the next quickly enough to keep kids interested and focused. Also, they all include fun visual aids (like stuffed animals for Noah's Ark) and activities.
Though the book seems to be geared specifically for Church leaders and/or Sunday School teachers, the lessons can also easily be used at home. I can't wait to use these lessons for our family scripture study!
We are giving a copy of each of these books to one lucky winner!
Here are the ways to be entered into the giveaway. For each of the steps below you will be entered. This means, you can get your name entered into the giveaway multiple times!!
~~To enter the giveaway, leave a comment here on this post. Make sure to leave an email address where you can be reached in your comment!
~~For another entry, like us on Facebook (make sure to leave a comment here, telling us that you have done so)
~~You will be entered in yet again, if you share this on Facebook (please leave the link in the comments section of this post)
~~If you post about this giveaway on your blog, you can get an additional 2 entries.

This giveaway ends Sunday April 21st at midnight.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Realistic And (Almost) Totally Free Ways To Get Respite

Written by Bec Oakley of Snagglebox

When it comes to talking about respite for special needs parents, the most common piece of advice seems to be 'It's important to take time out for yourself away from the kids’.

But there’s something about this that I really want to know...

Is there a parent out there who isn’t already doing that if they have the option?

This bit of advice is based on the stereotype that special needs parents are stoic martyrs who need to be encouraged to take a break. We don’t need to be reminded that respite is important, every parent knows that it’s the key to preventing burnout.

The truth is that this kind of relief is out of reach for many special needs families, and if they do manage to get some it’s nowhere near enough.
This bit of advice is based on the stereotype that special needs parents are stoic martyrs who need to be encouraged to take a break. We don’t need to be reminded that respite is important, every parent knows that it’s the key to preventing burnout.

The truth is that this kind of relief is out of reach for many special needs families, and if they do manage to get some it’s nowhere near enough.

What do you do when taking time for yourself isn’t an option?
When you don’t have family or friends who can look after your kids?
When you can’t afford a babysitter, even if you could find one to cope with your kids’ needs?
When you’re a single parent who can’t tag team with a partner?
When the waiting list for respite services in your area is months or even years long?

The reality is that the parents who are the most in need of respite are the least likely to get it. This is a dangerous situation which is rarely talked about, most likely because it’s a problem for which there are no easy solutions.

But this is exactly what many special needs parents need to know - how to survive when taking time for yourself is impossible. So let’s look beyond the easy answer and talk about respite options that are available to everybody.

Finding realistic ways to get relief

Knowing that you desperately need a break but are unlikely to get one makes you feel hopeless and powerless, which just sends you hurtling even quicker towards this thing called burnout. So we need to change the way that we think about respite, to talk about more realistic options that help us to stay afloat every day instead of saving our sanity occasionally.

To read more, click here....

Monday, April 8, 2013

Signs you might have a kid with eating issues

***You celebrate when your kid decides he likes a food, even a seriously unhealthy one, like corn dogs or chicken nuggets. At least it's protein, you think, I'll worry about his arteries later. Right now, you're more focused on getting calories into the kid than on how healthy those calories are. And you just pray those multi-vitamins are doing their job.
***You hope that there are enough nutrients in ketchup to make up for the fact that he won't touch a vegetable with a 10-foot pole.
***You have taken bribery and negotiation to a whole new level of artistry and expertise.
***When you have to go to a party, you always, always feed your kid ahead of time and don't even bother trying to get him to eat at the gathering. And yes, you cringe and bite your tongue when Aunt Bertha makes snide comments about how spoiled your kid must be, and that in her day, kids weren't given a choice, they ate what was put in front of them, because if the kid is really hungry, he'll eat, all the while reminding yourself that Aunt Bertha never had a kid with autism or SPD, and she has no idea what she's talking about.
***You look forward to summer with great anticipation, because fresh corn-on-the cob is actually in season, and it is the only vegetable your kid will eat willingly. For whatever reason, canned corn and even frozen corn-on-the-cob are not appropriate substitutes during the off-season.
***Reading nutritional labels has become a way of life for you, not so much because you are dieting, but because you're desperate to find versions of the foods your kid will eat that have more nutrients and fiber and less sugar, preservatives and colors.
***The thought of feeding your child another meal is sometimes so daunting, you can barely face the ordeal.
***Though your child loves toast and cheese, he adamantly refuses to even take one nibble of a grilled cheese sandwich.
***Food that most kids adore, like mac and cheese, pudding, and spaghetti are not allowed on the table near your child.
***Illogic reigns in your house. Your child does strange things with his food, like eats all the cheese and pepperoni off the pizza, but will only eat the parts of the crust that do not have any sauce on them. When you buy cheesy bread sticks, however, he will dip them in sauce.
***You are so desperate to get your kid to try new food, you actually encourage him to dip it in chocolate sauce. In fact, condiments are practically the main course at many a meal. You regularly thank the culinary gods for blessings like Parmesan cheese, Green Goddess dressing, dijon mustard, and barbeque sauce.

***You envy those parents whose children will eat mundane foods (like soup and pasta) with a vehemence that is surprising. You also have trouble not rolling your eyes at those parents who whine because their "picky" children won't eat onions or green peppers.
***Parenting magazines make you laugh when they give suggestions for helping picky eaters. The issues these authors address are so minor league, you can't help but sigh in exasperation. If all it took to get your kid to try a new food was cutting it in fun shapes, you'd have had this figured out years ago!

***Although you promised yourself before having kids that you would not become a short-order cook, you now regularly prepare at least 2-4 different foods at each mealtime, all the while grumbling and cursing under your breath.

Anything you want to add?

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Awesomely Big List of Ways To Help Parents of Autistic Kids

By Bec Oakley of Snagglebox.com

Families with autistic kids need help, and a lot of it. But it can be really hard sometimes for other family members and friends to know exactly what kinds of support are needed.

The good news is that there are tons and tons of ways you can help. Yes, tons!

So if you've ever said "I really want to help but I don't know how"... then this is the post for you. Behold, an awesomely big list.

1. Talk about it
Autism is a big deal. It takes up most of the thoughts and minutes in the day of parents as they try to learn about and help their kids, especially in the beginning. So don’t ignore the elephant in the room, no matter how uncomfortable or strange it might feel to you. Your friends might not be ready to discuss it, or sick to death of hearing the word, but they’ll let you know and will be grateful that you cared enough to ask.
2. Learn what you can
Although autism is much more widely understood than it used to be, your friends still have to explain it to people all the time. They’re constantly answering questions - What is autism? How do you get it? Is it the same thing as Aspergers? Can it be cured? - and it can get tiring after a while, not to mention boring as hell. Having a support network of people who already know this stuff will ease their load, and it’s a great way to show them that you’re interested and want to help.
3. Allow space for acceptance
Finding out that your child is autistic can be a huge shock. Suddenly everything that your friends knew about parenting has changed - they’re confused about where to go from here, unsure what the future will be like and scrambling to learn a whole new set of instructions that weren’t in the baby manuals. They might be worried, scared or wondering if they can cope. So don’t expect them to be on top of all that right away, give them time to accept this new path that they’re on.
4. Work through your own feelings
How do you feel about the fact that someone you know has autistic kids... are you shocked? Saddened? Worried? Interested? Confused? There’s no right or wrong way to react to this kind of news, but obviously some of these feelings are going to stand in the way of your ability to be supportive. Don’t make it your friends’ responsibility to help you get okay with this, that’s your job - and the sooner you can do that, the more support you can give.
5. Learn the lingo
Autism comes with its own vocabulary, and learning what the words mean will help you take a big step into your friends’ new world. Having people around them who understand (without them having to explain) will make them feel supported too. Don’t be afraid to use the word autism, but be aware that some people have a preference about the words they use to describe themselves or their kids - Aspergers, autistic, child with autism. Ask your friends which words they choose.
To finish readin the rest of the list, click here....

Don't forget about our giveaway of a copy of Colring Outside Autism's Lines!  Click here for more information....

Monday, April 1, 2013

Coloring Outside Autism's Lines Review and Giveaway!!

Over the years, I have read many, many books on autism, Asperger’s Sydrome and Sensory Processing Disorder. Many of these books have given me insight into what challenges my kids are facing, while others have given me invaluable advice on how to help them better navigate the world. Other books have provided many sensory activities and therapy ideas.
Until reading Coloring Outside Autism’s Lines:50+ Activities, Adventures, and Celebrations for Families with Children with Autism by Susan Walton, however, I had never read a book whose sole purpose was encouraging parents to have fun with their special needs kids. This book details dozens of different ways you can have fun–even with a child with autism. Walton asserts that though adaptations often need to be made, having a child with autism is no reason to rule out many adventures, activities and family celebrations.
Walton’s extremely practical tips about preparing for outings and adapting parties to meet your kids’ needs are invaluable. It is obvious that she has spent a lot of time researching this topic. Though the advice is pragmatic, the book’s tone itself is completely accessible and very validating.

As a mom of a son with autism, Walton admits that life can be exceedingly difficult. She says, “The impact of [autism] is that each day is hard. We’re spread too thin. There are days when autism feels like a lifetime punishment for an unknown crime. We look at friends who are arranging playdates, signing up for summer camps, or planning birthday parties with ease and can’t help but wonder: Why isn’t it that way for me?”

In a world full of therapy and treatments, special diets and school services, it is so good to be reminded that we can have fun with our kids, no matter what special needs they may have. Though parenting a child with autism can be overwhelming, Walton reminds us that the biggest mistake we can make as parents is to neglect family fun.

The best aspect of this book, in my opinion was that it didn’t make me feel guilty about something I wasn’t doing correctly and it didn’t conjure up worries for my son’s future. Instead, it uplifted me and reminded me of how much I love spending time with my family doing fun activities. Reading Coloring Outside Autism’s Lines inspired me to be more adventurous and to turn even common daily activities into fun activities with the kids.

And you know what? Even though my list of responsibilities has not been miraculously shortened, I feel lighter somehow. And my kids are really enjoying my newfound attitude of adventure. They even seem more cooperative about getting chores and homework done. And we’re all really looking forward to warmer weather so we can enjoy a “Puddle Stomping Day.”
Here are the ways to be entered into the giveaway. For each of the steps below you will be entered. This means, you can get your name entered into the giveaway multiple times!!
~~To enter the giveaway, leave a comment here on this post. Make sure to leave an email address where you can be reached in your comment!
~~For another entry, like us on Facebook (make sure to leave a comment here, telling us that you have done so)
~~You will be entered in yet again, if you share this on Facebook (please leave the link in the comments section of this post)
~~If you post about this giveaway on your blog, you can get an additional 2 entries.

The giveaway ends Wednesday, April 10th, at midnight. Good luck!

Sorry! Due to mailing restrictions, this giveaway is only for residents of the US.