Monday, December 12, 2011

We're in the news!

More than just a toy

Lego Social Club helps children learn social skills, patience and

conflict resolution

11-year-old Nate Winnett of Casey, left, and 9-year-old Isaiah Rubin of Effingham work together to find some specific Lego pieces at the Effingham Lego Social Club Friday in Effingham.

Eight-year-old Danny Hooper of Effingham, left, and 5-year-old Alexziah Hagler of St. Elmo work on a Lego set together Friday at the Effingham Lego Social Club, where children can work on social skills in a safe, non-judgmental environment.

EFFINGHAM — With Lego pieces strewn across tables and piled in buckets, children grabbing for reds or blues and digging through piles for coveted wheels, it looks as though it’s absolute chaos in a small church classroom.

But really, children with autism, Sensory Processing Disorder or ADHD are learning how to interact with one another, practice patience and master conflict resolution, all while creating their own Lego masterpieces.

Some children are there just to make friends and learn social skills, not realizing they’re practicing tolerance, only that they’re having fun playing with an endless amount of Lego pieces.

But they’re actually participating in the Effingham Lego Social Club, which began in September by Effingham resident Patty Hooper, whose 8-year-old son, Danny, has high-functioning autism with his biggest weakness being social skills. Patty and her husband, Bil, were traveling to and from Charleston for Danny to participate in a social skills group through The Autism Program of Illinois.......

Saturday, December 3, 2011

'Twas the Night Before an SPD Christmas

This poem was written last December, but I love it so much, I just had to re-post. As Hartley said last year, we hope it becomes an SPD Christmas classic! Thanks again to my husband Bil who took my idea and ran with it and Hartley who helped fill in what was missing. Enjoy.

'Twas the Night Before an SPD Christmas
By Patty, her husband and Hartley

'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The snack packs, arranged on the counter with care,
In hopes, on our journey we’d be well prepared.
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of Chex Mix danced in their heads;

Ma in her hoodie, and I in my sweats,
were to put away pillows and therapy nets.
When in the back room there arose such a clatter,
I ran at full sprint to see what was the matter.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a puzzled old man buried up to his ears,
(In scooter boards, swings, and small colored spheres.)
Poor devil had brushed ‘gainst our therapy stash,
When it came down around him it made such a crash!

He recovered with grace, so lively and quick,
That I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
"What is all this stuff that you people collect?
Are you Circus performers?”--the old man interjects—
"I came here with toys, for the boys and your girl
But looking around I think ‘what in the world?’

This room that would normally have children’s stuff
Is packed to the gills with equipment enough
To start your own CIA torturing session!
Tell me I’m wrong and you’re not!” (oh good heavens!)

My wife and I snickered and held out our hands,
And reassured Nick we’d had no evil plans.
“Our kids have a condition; they have a hard time—
They yell when it smells and they climb up the blinds.

At first we didn’t know just what to think,
But eventually found an OT who could speak
To their curious quirks and aversion to crowds
And toothpaste and barbers and things that are loud.”

St. Nick answered back, "So, then they misbehave?"
We answered with, "Actually, no, they're really quite brave.
Kids with SPD deal with all kinds of things,
Like big hugs, itchy tags, and loud alarm rings,
Or can't get enough and spend hours on swings.
You see, our children are sensitive to all that life brings.
Yet do very well with a consistent routine.
But it isn't bad behavior you see when they yell,
But rather a problem that is hard to tell.

Our kids work hard, at therapy and play
Spending hours and hours and hours each day
Trying to find ways to control their bodies,
And working hard not to look naughty.
But what they need is understanding, and some help along the way,
Because our kids amaze us, each and every day."

The old man looked surprised, at what we had shared,
Small children with parents who did what we dared.
To seek out help, and look far and wide,
Turning over each rock, letting nothing hide.
Until we found what they needed, what would make them feel whole,
For families like ours St. Nick couldn't leave coal.

So, Nick with the bundle of toys on his back,
Frowned and thought, then sullenly sat,
(And mumbled to himself which took us aback):
“I’m quite at a loss, I don’t know what to give
To children who struggle while trying to live
In a world that is already noisy and bumpy
And twisty and scary and thorny and jumpy—"

Then he rifled again through his sack and reposed
While he tugged at his beard, and scratched at his nose
(And he huffed and he chuffed and he shifted his clothes)
Then with a wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
He drew the sack wide till the seams popped some threads,
Dug in his hand and pulled out a small box
(With very small writing) --but before he could talk
He ungloved his hand to wipe soot from his eye
(Or was it a tear? Or perhaps a sty?)

So he bid us farewell, and went back to his work,
He filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
While giving a nod, up the chimney he rose.

I said to Ma, as she turned towards the tree,
"Who knows what St. Nick left us, we'll have to see.
Yet we gave him something great, I say with fairness,
We sent him on his way with a new found Awareness."
Which is a gift to our kids, in a different kind of way,
Because when all understand SPD, that will be a new day!"

Now we looked o’er the copious gifts left behind,
The tiny collages of paper and twine,
The moon-sparkled ribbons, the plastic that shined,
We spied the small box for the children to find.
“The best gifts can be pretty small--” Ma started then said,
“But our best gifts of all are still snuggled in bed.”

This Holiday season, you SPD Fathers and Mothers,
You cousins and nephews and sisters and brothers,
When you wake in the morning and throw off the covers
(And tear into presents while everyone hovers)
Do you think ‘Will I get what I wanted this year?’
Or realize ‘all that you need is right here!’
You might think it’s corny, but surely remember
Your children are better than any gift in December.

And in case you were wondering what Santa had stashed,
It may not surprise you, it might make you laugh,
“What did the children receive?” you may ask?
Well, when the snowy chips are down…
…Even Santa gives cash.

Merry Christmas to all and to all

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Behavior Solutions for the Inclusive Classroom

Behavior Solutions for the Inclusive Classroom by Beth Aune, OTR/L and Beth Burt & Peter Gennaro is fantastic. I cannot say enough great things about this book!

On the cover it says, "See a Behavior....Look it up!" and that is exactly how you use this book. It's almost like an encyclopedia of behaviors one might see in a classroom along with tips on how to deal with them. This book covers everything from "Taking off Shoes" to "Poor Handwriting." The authors explain why the behaviors may be happening and then they offer solutions to the problems.

Let's take a look at one chapter together. "Not Attending/Off Task or Not Following Directions" is my favorite section, perhaps because this is a challenge my own son faces on a daily basis. I like this chapter, because the authors explain that this is not necessarily something a child is doing on purpose. They explain that there are many factors in focusing and being able to pay attention: ADD, sensory overload, auditory processing, etc. I don't think many teachers are aware of this and I find it extremely helpful that the authors point this out to teachers. The authors then offer several possible solutions, such as "provide a quiet space where they can regroup," "Use squeezeballs," etc.

As a former high school teacher, I can tell you that I would have given a lot more than the cost of the books to have this wonderful resource. It's definitely not just for special ed teachers; every single educational professional who works with kids could benefit from these books. This is why I am recommending that parents give these books as Christmas gifts to their kids' teachers.

Rather than bombarding teachers with more apple ornaments, why not give them a tool that will be useful for years to come? Again, as a teacher, I would have preferred this sort of gift over the teacher mugs and even the chocolates.

And, great news for you!

Future Horizons Publishing is offering a special deal to my readers. If you use my code, you will get free shipping--no matter how much you spend--and 15% off your order. You can use this code anytime you shop on Future Horizons and it applies to all supplies, books and even conferences. The code is PH.

So feel free to look around their shop. They have some of the best books on SPD, autism and other special needs out there. Heck, maybe even buy yourself an early Christmas gift. You deserve it!