Thursday, March 27, 2014

18 Tips To Make Transitions Easier

originally posted on

In part one we looked at some of the reasons why transitions can be difficult for some kids, now let's figure out how to help.

1.  Break it down

Do a task analysis to break the transition into smaller steps, so you can figure out where the problem is. Let's take moving from computer time to another activity as a quick example:

2.  Show that change can be okay

Use two activities that he loves equally and practice switching between them. Teach him to recognise what a transition is, when it's coming and how it will feel. Make it a rewarding, stress-free time so he can focus on learning the cues and experiencing the change as a pleasant thing.

3.  Ease into it

Sometimes making a transition less obvious, by blurring the lines between activities or making the steps between them smaller, can help close a gap that feels too intimidating to cross. Let him bring toys from the floor to the kitchen table while you make breakfast, then put them away when his cereal is ready. Switch from fleecy trackpants to long cargo shorts and socks before making the move to short summer pants.

4.  Be prepared

But you already knew this one. The best way to cope with transitions is to know that they're coming. Get into the habit of thinking about the plan for the day, the week, the month ahead and identify times of transition in advance.

to read more, click here.....

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Resources for Preschoolers’ Social and Emotional Learning

In preschool, children develop the building blocks of early literacy and math—and so much more. Learning to make friends, adjust to new situations, and cooperate with others are some of the most important lessons young children learn. Just like with academic learning, the preschool years provide many opportunities to develop important social and emotional skills that will be key to children’s future success. Get Ready to Read! is here with resources to help the young learners in your life start school as confident, happy, healthy kids.

Social and Emotional
What social and emotional skills should a child be developing at age 3 or 4? In this article, you’ll review milestones for preschool social and emotional development, learn ways to promote growth in these areas, and find out what might be cause for concern.

You already know that strong preschools use well-designed, evidence-based curricula for teaching literacy and math. But did you know that there are similar high-quality programs available for preschool social and emotional learning? A new report from the Collaborative for Social, Academic, and Emotional Learning identifies proven programs and offers tips for educators.

Positive self-esteem is crucial for success in school and life, and preschool is the perfect time to begin building it. Check out this article to learn useful strategies for helping your young child develop self-esteem.

If you would like more information about preschool, Early Intervention, or Early Childhood, please contact Family Matters at 866-436-7842.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Childhood Apraxia of Speech – Reading Help

By Karina Richland, M.A.Special Education 
Reading is a fundamental skill needed for academic success. In today’s world, strong literacy skills are essential. Children who struggle in reading tend to experience extreme difficulties in all content areas, as every subject in school requires reading proficiency. When children are then faced with further struggles such as speech production and receptive and expressive language difficulties, the effects can be even more detrimental.
To read proficiently, a child requires highly integrated skills in word decoding and comprehension and draws upon basic language knowledge such as semantics, syntax, and phonology. Children with speech and language impairments, such as Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS), have deficits in phonological processing. For these children, phonemic awareness, motor program execution, syntax and morphology will interfere with the ability to acquire the skills necessary to become proficient readers.
So, how does a child with CAS learn how to read?
- With a multisensory, structured, systematic, cumulative and repetitive reading program plus intensive therapy in phonemic awareness and phonological processing!
What is multisensory teaching?
Multisensory teaching is an important aspect of instruction for the child with CAS and is used by most clinically trained therapists. Multisensory teaching utilizes all the senses to relay information to the child. The teacher accesses the auditory, visual, and kinesthetic pathways in order to enhance memory and learning. Links are consistently made between the visual (language we see), auditory (language we hear), and kinesthetic-tactile (language we feel) pathways in learning to read. For example, when learning the letter combination “ong” the child might first look at it and then have to trace the letters in the air while speaking out loud. This combination of listening, looking, and moving around creates a lasting impression for the child as things will connect to each other and become memorable.
What is a structured, systematic, cumulative and repetitive reading program?
The other significant component in helping a child with CAS learn to read is utilizing an Orton-Gillingham approach. In Orton-Gillingham, the phonemes are introduced in a systematic, sequential and cumulative process. The Orton-Gillingham teacher begins with the most basic elements of the English language. Using repetition and the sequential building blocks of our language, phonemes are taught one at a time. This includes the consonants and sounds of the consonants. By presenting one rule at a time and practicing it until the child can apply it with automaticity and fluency, the child will have no reading gaps in their word-decoding skills. As the child progresses to short vowels, he or she begins reading and writing sounds in isolation. From there the child progresses to digraphs, blends and diphthongs.
Children are taught how to listen to words or syllables and break them into individual phonemes. They also take individual sounds and blend them into a word, change the sounds in the words, delete sounds, and compare sounds. For example, “…in the word bread, what is the first sound you hear? What is the vowel sound you hear? What is the last sound you hear? Students are also taught to recognize and manipulate these sounds. “…what sound does the ‘ea’ make in the word bread? Say bread. Say bread again but instead of the ‘br’ say ‘h.’- HEAD!
Every lesson the child learns is in a structured and orderly fashion. The child is taught a skill and doesn’t progress to the next skill until the current lesson is mastered. As children learn new material, they continue to review old material until it is stored into the child’s long-term memory. While learning these skills, the child focuses on phonemic awareness. There are 181 phonemes or rules in Orton-Gillingham for students to learn. More advanced readers (middle school) will study the rules of English language, syllable patterns, and how to use roots, prefixes, and suffixes to study words. By teaching how to combine the individual letters or sounds and put them together to form words and how to break longer words into smaller pieces, both synthetic and analytic phonics are taught throughout the entire Orton-Gillingham program.
What is phonological processing?
The key to the entire reading process is phonological awareness. This is where a child identifies the different sounds that make words and associates these sounds with written words. A child cannot learn to read without this skill. In order to learn to read, children must be aware of phonemes. A phoneme is the smallest functional unit of sound. For example, the word ‘bench’ contains 4 different phonemes. They are ‘b’ ‘e’ ‘n’ and ‘ch.’
Some examples of phonological awareness tasks include:
1.     Identifying rhymes - “Tell me all of the words you know that rhyme with the word BAT.”
2.     Segmenting words into smaller units, such as syllables and sounds, by counting them. “How many sounds do you hear in the word CAKE?”
3.     Blending separated sounds into words – “What word would we have if we blended these sounds together: /h/ /a/ /t/?”
4.     Manipulating sounds in words by adding, deleting or substituting – “In the word LAND, change the /L/ to /B/.” “What word is left if you take the /H/ away from the word HAT?”
Through phonological awareness, children learn to associate sounds and create links to word recognition and decoding skills necessary for reading. Research clearly shows that phoneme awareness performance is a strong predictor of long- term reading and spelling success for children with speech and language disabilities. In fact, according to the International Reading Association, phonemic awareness abilities in kindergarten (or in that age range) appear to be the best single predictor of successful reading acquisition!
What kind of reading intervention is necessary?
For the child diagnosed with Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS) that is already behind his peers in phonemic awareness and reading, the instruction will need to be delivered with great intensity. Keep in mind that this child is behind his classmates and must make more progress if he is to ever catch up. The rest of the class does not stand still to wait, they continue forward. Taking a few lessons once or twice a week will never give the student with CAS the opportunity to catch up. He must make a giant leap; if not, he will always remain behind.
A child with a speech and language disorder may require as much as 150 to 300 hours of intensive instruction if he is ever going to close the reading gap between himself and his peers. The longer identification and effective reading instruction are delayed, the longer the child will need to catch up. In general, it takes 100 hours of intensive instruction to progress one year in reading level. The sooner this remediation is completed, the sooner the child can progress forward with his peers.
Children with Childhood Apraxia of Speech need more structure, repetition and differentiation in their reading instruction. They need to learn basic language sounds and the letters that make them, starting from the very beginning and moving forward in a gradual step by step process. This needs to be delivered in a systematic, sequential and cumulative approach. For all of this to “stick” the children will need to do this by using their eyes, ears, voices, and hands.

Karina Richland, M.A. is the Founder of PRIDE Learning Centers, located in Los Angeles and Orange County. Ms. Richland is a certified reading and learning disability specialist. Ms. Richland speaks frequently to parents, teachers, and professionals on learning differences, and writes for several journals and publications. You can reach her by email at or visit the PRIDE Learning Center website at:

Thursday, March 13, 2014

There’s No Place Like Home

originally posted at

Image courtesy Sarah-ji

Lately I’ve been feeling... displaced.

Through a series of seemingly never-ending events, I’ve been away from home more often than I’ve been in it over the past few months. And I’m tired. Tired of all the moving around, seeing unfamiliar things, not knowing where anything is kept and not sleeping in my own bed. Never getting a chance to put down roots, to get established, to feel comfortable and just be before the next change comes. It’s exhausting. And yet it’s also oddly familiar, and I’ve only just now figured out why.

It’s what I do every day.

This is what it feels like to be out of sync with most of the people around you, to have a body that works differently to the one around which the world was designed. To constantly be required to move out of your comfort zone and stay there for long periods of time. To not have regular access to the safe havens that allow you to rest and recharge.

To always be away from home.

What do I mean by home? Home is where you can let down your guard, and relax amongst the familiar and predictable. A place to feel safe and understood, surrounded by the things you choose to enjoy. Somewhere that is protected from the outside and safe from unwanted intrusions. Home is where you can be yourself.

Some people find home in the place where they live. For others, home might be inside a video game or online community. It might be a corner of the library surrounded by favourite books or in the arms of someone who loves you unconditionally. Or maybe it’s being immersed in a special interest or watching the same episode of a TV show over and over. Some people have many places that feel like home, others might never find any.

To read more, click here.....

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

99 Questions About Autism

Every now and then I take a look through the traffic report for this website, marveling at all the ways people end up here. The most interesting part is the Google search terms, which is often both fascinating and hilarious. And sometimes creepy. Seriously, you don’t wanna know.

A lot of these searches are questions, and I often wonder if the people asking them found what they were looking for. So I thought I’d pick some of them to answer in this post, and also because it’s interesting (and sometimes funny) to see the kinds of things that people want to know.

So today I bring you... answers to 99 questions about autism (and some other stuff)*

I’m not including all the many, many, maaaaaaany questions I get asked about Minecraft. That will have to be another post altogether.

What does it mean to be a literal thinker?

Words have two layers of meaning - what they actually mean (literal) and what we want them to mean (figurative). Literal thinkers tend to focus on the true meaning of words and have a hard time seeing this second, figurative layer of meaning.

Am I a literal thinker?

Do you have trouble understanding metaphors, sarcasm or euphemisms? Do you often misunderstand what others are trying to say? Do you find figurative speech stressful or confusing? Do you wish people would say what they mean? Then you might be a literal thinker.

To read more, click here.....

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Social Skills and Academic Achievement

originally posted at
by Kathlyn M. Steedly, Ph.D., Amanda Schwartz, Ph.D., Michael Levin, M.A., & Stephen D. Luke, Ed.D.

Maria, a young girl with learning disabilities (LD), has struggled with peer interactions all her life. She avoids social situations, preferring to work and play on her own. This has begun to seriously affect her classwork, especially how she participates in group projects and pair work, and it’s limiting her opportunities to learn from others and share her own knowledge and skills. Concerned, the members of Maria’s IEP team meet to discuss ways to better support her. After careful consideration, they decide that she would benefit from a focused approach to improving her social skills.

Maria’s IEP team understands that social skills form the backbone of personal and professional success. Social skills help us navigate such everyday interactions as a) exchanging greetings and holding conversations, b) starting friendships and maintaining them, and c) asking for help and instructing others. Maria’s IEP team knows that her difficulties, left unattended, will continue to pose challenges for her both inside and outside the classroom. To help her reach her full potential, they decide that now is the time to act.

Maria is not the only one struggling. Research has consistently demonstrated that many children with LD may also have related social skill deficits. Kavale and Forness (1995), for instance, found that 75% of students with LD also show some difficulties in social skills that interfere with their ability to learn. The good news is that, for many of these children, social skills can be taught. Evidence-based methods for building social skills have been developed by teachers, psychologists, and researchers. One challenge, though, is getting this knowledge into the hands of people who can use it to help children like Maria. That is our goal with this issue of Evidence for Education.

This publication will first clarify what we mean when we talk about social skills and explore their impact on behavior and academics. Then we’ll take a look at what the research has to say about social skills interventions and programs for children with disabilities. This Evidence for Education will wrap up with examples of interventions that can be applied in both classroom and home settings.

To read more, click here......

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The Parent's Guide to the Medical World of Autism" Review

Receiving a diagnosis of autism for your child can be daunting.  There is a lot of information out there about autism, but it isn't always clear which treatments are safe and effective and which ones are ineffective, or worse, dangerous. Add to that the stress that comes with not knowing how to help your child with sleep, behavior, or anxiety issues, and it can be downright overwhelming.

Teachers and doctors will sometimes recommend medicating a child with autism, but that can be a very frightening prospect for most parents.   Edward Aull, who is a Behavioral Pediatrician, wrote this book, The Parent's Guide to the Medical World of Autism to help mitigate some of those concerns and fears.

He provides useful information on all kinds of topics from different evaluations used to diagnose someone with autism, the differences between Autism, Asperger's Syndrome, and ADHD.  He also covers sleep issues and gives treatment examples.

There is an entire chapter on medications that includes many common medicines used for kids with autism and their possible side effects.He includes dosage information and gives really useful information about anxiety and autism.  I especially appreciated the guidelines he gives on whether or not to medicate your child and how to best use medication.  He says things like, "Do not increase the dose or add another medication every time there is a meltdown or a problem.  Medication is only one tool in the toolbox for behavior problems."

Another chapter is devoted solely to atypical antipsychotic medications, which also includes information on side effects and dosages. Later, he spends time discussing ADHD with regards to autism and includes information about ADHD medicines.

Though written by a medical doctor, the language in this book is very easy to read.  It feels like sitting down and chatting with a trusted friend.  Aull avoids using jargon and is careful to explain any terms that might be unfamiliar.  He also includes real-life examples of his patients to illustrate his point in an interesting and clear manner.  If you have ever considered using medicine for your child with autism, this book is an important resource!

You can find this book on Future Horizons' website here.  If you use the code PH, you can get 15% off all orders AND free shipping no matter how large or small!

Family Matters Parent Training and Information Center has a copy of this book in our lending library.  If you live in Illinois and would to borrow this book, please call us at 866-436-7842.  Or you can request the book yourself on our website:  You can borrow resources for a month and we send you a self-addressed, stamped envelope for easy return!

Monday, March 3, 2014

7 Important Ways That Autism Can Impact Medical Care

originally posted on

Image courtesy jasleen_kaur

If you’re in the position to provide someone with autism with medical care - as a teacher, childcare worker, parent, medical or health professional - it’s important to understand how autism can affect the way people experience illness, pain and healthcare treatments.

Seeking help

There are a lot of reasons why autistic people, particularly children, might not seek help when feeling unwell.

Some can have trouble knowing when or how to get help, who to tell and what words to use to describe the problem. They might want to avoid the extra attention or intense emotional reaction of caregivers in response to being ill, or a frightening and possibly painful visit to the doctor’s office. Everyone feels more vulnerable when unwell or in pain, and this can make some people withdraw or find it difficult to know where to place their trust.

Visiting the doctor, dentist or hospital can be overwhelming, stressful and traumatic experiences. Most have bright lights, strong smells and the kind of acoustics that cause overload and chaos for hypersensitive nervous systems. Waiting can be difficult for some, especially if the room is crowded or there are noisy distractions like the TV or babies crying, and it can be easy to miss your name being called when your focus is elsewhere. All of these can contribute to making medical help an experience to actively avoid rather than seek out.

Reporting & treating pain

Getting an accurate assessment of the pain experienced by people with autism can be difficult for a number of reasons, and it’s less likely that the correct treatment or relief will be offered if the pain is overlooked or misinterpreted.

To read more, click here....