"You know how when you’re cooking something on a stove, you sometimes move the lid slightly off the pot to let the steam out? ... For me, stimming is that relief and release - the preventing of inward things from exploding or running out by doing things outwardly to soothe the inward."
- Paula Gomez
I just found out that September 17th is the "International Day of the Stim," so I wanted to share a couple of my favorite posts from the website "The Mighty" on this topic.
The Space Center has a variety of programs/resources. Each is described in more detail and linked to the Space Center's website below. Many thanks to the Space Center's accessibility and inclusion coordinator, Stephanie McMahon, for sharing these resources with me.
Any descriptions and comments below are my own (based on information on the center's website), and are not endorsed by the Space Center. Links are provided to the resources on their website to their official resources and info.
Certified Autism Center
In June of this year, the Space Center announced that the facility had received the "Certified Autism Center" designation from the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education. The certification process includes staff training and accommodations that make the center more welcoming and accessible. More information is available on this press release.
Sensory Friendly Events
On selected dates, the center opens early or late with a "reduced sensory environment" that includes modified lighting, music, and sound on the exhibits. There will also be educational activities facilitated by trained staff. The next event happens on September 22. More information is here.
The Space Center offers day camps during spring break, summer, and fall/winter holidays. The camps are designed for children ages 11-18 and include activities on robotics, space, technology, engineering, and math. The center can provide reasonable accommodations to help your child have a successful camp experience. More info is on this webpage (check out the FAQ section for special needs information).
Sensory Guides for Many Exhibits
Each sensory guide includes a brief description of the activity or exhibit as well as a rating of the "sensory level" for the activity for:
These guides can help you decide which activities you might want to visit with your child. You can find all of the guides on this website under the section labeled, "Accessibility Resources."
A story with words and photos that describes what you'll experience on the visit to help children be prepared for what will happen. It tells about:
Photo Flashcards for Vocabulary or Making a Picture Schedule
The center offers two sets of photo cards in two different sizes. Both sets include a photo of each exhibit along with a text label of the exhibit name. You could use these as flashcards to help your child learn the names of the exhibits and/or making a picture schedule of the order in which you'll visit the exhibits. You can find both sets of flash cards on this website under the section labeled, "Accessibility Resources."
You can check out a "sensory backpack" at the Guest Services Desk at the center. The backpacks contain sunglasses, sound-reduction headphones, books, fidgets, and guides.
For more information on all of the center's accessibility options and resource, please visit their website.
A simple activity to help build background knowledge and comprehension of the commutative property. I used this as a supplement to an existing math curriculum, but you could also use it as an intro to the topic.
Get the activity free here:
Review of "Facilitating Evidence-Based Practice for Students with ASD: A Classroom Observation Tool for Building Quality Education
This book provides information and resources for school administrators (such as school principals or special education directors) on how to evaluate a quality school program for students with autism. It also includes a classroom observation form that can copied from the book or printed from the book's website (linked inside the book). This form contains quality indicators (based on evidence-based practice for autism) in the areas of classroom environment, instruction, and communication. Descriptions of each quality indicator are also provided.
Other topics addressed in the book include:
You can read the introductory sections to the book on the publisher's website.
I'm also putting a link below to the book on Amazon, and you can also click the book cover above to read about the book on Amazon.
“I Have Autism, but I Have Autistic Friends” (A Perspective on Person-First vs. Identity-First Language)
When I'm teaching my college courses or writing articles, I use person-first language because it's the professional standard. However, I also recognize that many individuals with autism prefer to use identify-first language. I think this article presents a very balanced view on this topic.
As a professional, I think it's so important to keep in mind the perspectives of people on the spectrum when we're writing, planning instruction, developing programs, etc.
Let me know what you think in the comments...is there a term you prefer to use?
If your family loves robot-fighting shows like BattleBots, your kids might enjoy some of these activities. This free download includes various writing activities (from beginner to advanced) that give students the opportunity to write about video clips of robot battles. It also includes links to other robot-themed academic activities. Get the activities here: http://www.positivelyautism.com/downloads/RobotBattleActivities.pdf
Your child might also like these activities:
Going back to school after summer vacation may be challenging for some children, so I wanted to share some tips and resources for helping make that easier. Check out the resources and tip sheets for things you can start doing now to get your child ready.
Also, if you have a free resource to help parents or teachers with the beginning of school, please share it in the comments and I'll add it to the list! Thanks for sharing your links for the link party!
Social Narratives. A simple story in words and pictures can give your child information about the transition back to school. Parents can write a story for their children, or teachers can write a story about themselves and their classrooms and post it on their classroom website before school starts. A template for writing your own story about your classroom, as well as some links to pre-made stories are below:
Resources from Other Teachers (Link Party!)
Some of the activities I did are below. For some students, I would also make a comprehension quiz for each book that would be the last day's activity. Each day of the week, we would read the book and do one of these activities.
1. Pre-Teach Vocabulary
If there are words in a story or reading passage that you think your student doesn't know, make sure to teach them before reading. This worksheet is one example of how to do that. You can also use pictures, flashcards, objects, videos, etc.
2. Make Predictions About the Book
Before reading the book the first time, have students look at the book for clues about what will happen in the story. It may require some prompting (which is fine), but you can help the student use what they've observed from the cover to write a sentence of what they think the story will be about.
3. Watch a Video Clip
Many of these Star Wars books are about one specific scene in the movies. You can search YouTube for a video clip of that scene and watch it with the student before reading.
4. Make a Story Map
After reading the book, you can have the student fill-out this story map. There are different ways to do it. You can have photos of the characters and setting cut out for the student to glue in the boxes, or the student can write them. I also often write out three events from the story on strips of paper, and have the student put them in the order that they happened in the book for the "Beginning," "Middle," and "End" boxes. The student could also write out events from the book. You can use this page differently based on the child's current skills.
More Star Wars Book Sets
What's really cool about this activity is that my students enjoy it simply as a puzzle, but it's actually a visual representation of the binomial equation in algebra. I've heard from people who went to Montessori schools and did this activity in early childhood that it helped them visualize the binomial equation when they learned it much later in school.
Regardless of its benefits for math, the binomial cube is a great puzzle and problem-solving activity for even young children (starting at about 5 years old). I love that it makes my students think, and many of them actually enjoy it. I have one student who requests to do this activity during breaks!
To teach a child to use this activity, I demonstrate putting together the first layer (I build it directly on the lid of the box (on the right in the photo above). I then remove all the blocks, and have the student do the first layer (with any prompting needed) and then the second layer. Once the student knows how to do it, the binomial cube is a great activity for independent work.
Here's a video of how to put together the puzzle. The difference between this video and how I use the cube is that I have the students build the cube on the lid of the box. This allows the student to match the colors for the first layer directly, which provides more visual support for the activity.
Book Review: Autism Intervention Everyday: Embedding Activities in Daily Routines for Young Children and Their Families
I was particularly interested in reading this book, since the authors are a BCBA/occupational therapist and a BCBA/speech-language pathologist. I have training in ABA, but almost none in OT or SLP strategies, so I looked forward to learning about all of these perspectives together.
The book's introduction states that the book is written for early intervention providers who are working with young children [ages birth - 3 years] who have autism or characteristics of autism. I agree that this is a good book for professionals, particularly BCBAs, ECI providers/program managers, and university professors...any person in charge of program development for young children with autism. It doesn't seem quite as applicable to teachers or families, although there are some helpful strategies that they could use in the book (a link to an excerpt from the book is at the end of this post).
The book is research-based, and has helpful summaries of research in the chapters. To me, this makes the book a potentially good choice for university professors in graduate training programs for special education and related service providers. It's a good balance of research/theory and practical application.
What I particularly like about the book is the focus on embedding intervention activities into daily family routines. I believe this makes it much easier for families to work with their children, as we're putting learning opportunities into activities that they're already doing anyway. The book also has a section on family stress on page 13, which I think is so important for us as service providers to remember. I sometimes teach a college course for future/current special education teachers on working collaboratively with families. What I love about that class is that we try to understand what families are experiencing (as much as we can), and I think that makes us much better teachers and service providers. This section of the book gave some helpful information on this topic that I think is beneficial to consider when designing intervention procedures for families to use in their homes.
To review some example content from the book to see if it's right for you, you can download sample pages from the publisher here: http://archive.brookespublishing.com/documents/Crawford-building-skills-to-support-flexibility.pdf
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