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Posts Tagged ‘routines’

It seems that lately I have been finding a lot of great book resources.  This one is a real gem.  I wish it had been around years ago when Pookie was first diagnosed.

autistics logistics

 Autistic Logistics, by Kate Wilde

Autistic Logistics is a new book set to be released in January, 2015. If there were ever a book that should be made available when a parent gets the autism diagnosis, this is it. The author is a Director of the Son-Rise Program. The ideas she presents in this book are based upon the Son-Rise methods.

As the parent of an autistic child, I can attest to the difficulty parents can have in teaching the basics of self-care to these precious children. Developmental skills, such as toilet training, can be a very difficult thing to help your child accomplish. Self-regulating their emotions to curb meltdowns and tantrums is another tough lesson to help the children learn. This book gives solid advice and examples of how to tackle the most basic of issues that parents of autistic children face.

Here is a summary of the book that was provided on Amazon,

Have you ever wished that your child with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) came with a manual? This book provides just that, offering clear, precise, step-by-step advice on everything you want to know, including:

– How to toilet train your child without pushing or pressuring
– How to get your child to sleep in their own bed and through the night
– What to do when your child tantrums, hits or bites
– How to introduce new foods, without a fight

Based on decades of experience, Kate Wilde tackles these day-to-day issues and more, using tried-and-tested techniques to help you transform the challenges of home life and create harmony. The unique approach featured in the book, which encourages you to support your child’s need for control rather than fight against it, can have transformative results. Not only will you learn to see through your child’s eyes and help your child in a way that honors his/her specialness, but you will also begin to free yourself from the pressure and discomfort that can so often accompany everyday challenges.

Catering to all age ranges and points on the spectrum, this book will be of immeasurable value to parents and caregivers of children with autism, other family members, as well as teachers and teaching assistants.

As I read through the book, I thought of just how timely it was for it to come to my notice at this time. Our own child is reaching that age when toilet training is being addressed. Using this one area as an example, let me say that this book has the most useful and detailed information that I have ever read. Ms. Wilde starts off by taking a look at poplar attitudes towards toilet training that are actually making the process harder. She then breaks down the reasons why some accepted methods do not work very well. One case in point being to place the child on the toilet every 30 or 60 minutes. The problem with that is you often have a child soil or wet their diaper in between trips to the toilet. This can become a frustration to both parent and child.

What she suggests is something that just makes sense. Keeping a diary of the times your child eats, drinks, and soils/wets their diapers. Start noting the time intervals and once you see a pattern, you can get the child to sit on the toilet prior to when they would normally go in their diapers. She goes further into the exact process, but it is a very good method to try out. It makes far more sense to me. Most people have a set routine, a body time clock. For some, they always have to go to the toilet 30 minutes after a meal. Going on that theory, if your child has a routine, you can get them to the toilet before that set time arrives. This greatly increases their chances for success in the toileting.

There are many other areas of development which are addressed in the book. Each are ones that we face often as parents of autistic children. While the child’s therapists can offer advice, the parents really need solid guidance at home as well. This is where the book comes in. The clear presentation of ideas is done in such a way that it is easy to implement in the home.

I strongly recommend this book to anyone who is a parent or caregiver of a person with autism. It is a book that I wish had been around when our son was first diagnosed.

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The past few weeks have been a blast. I have been doing a more relaxed homeschooling with the kids and they are thriving on it. I haven’t written too much about it due to not knowing if I would continue with this method. To my surprise and enjoyment, both kids are having fun and learning much.

We are still following the curriculum that we chose earlier, but are more informal is how we use it. For example, the math curriculum that we initially chose turns out to not be a very good fit. While I am sure that many love the Singapore math, I find that after a year of using it, Little Miss’ lessons still are not covering topics that we feel she should have done. We do a lot of hands-on math and she loves it. Having had a break from the workbooks, she goes to them eagerly now when we do a lesson from them. In between, I am teaching her other math topics that I feel the curriculum passed over too quickly. A couple of examples being skip counting and multiplication tables. Halfway through her 2nd year in Singapore and they still haven’t tackled those topics yet. Definitely will be choosing a different curriculum for math soon.

We focus more on Little Miss’ lesson plans and bring Pookie into it. He has his own workbox activities, but the topics of his lessons run along the lines of Little Miss’ daily work. It has been a much more effective way to go. He sits and listens to the daily reading assignments as well as sitting in as Little Miss and I discuss what was read. We include him in any projects that we do and he seems to enjoy that. I know that he is absorbing the information presented at least in part.

After Little Miss’ lessons are done, we all play with Pookie and work together to help him with his workboxes. One task that he likes to do is the pattern block pictures. He sits and does his puzzle while Little Miss sits beside him playing with her own pattern block puzzles. Art projects, science experiments and other activities are also done with Pookie taking part in what Little Miss is doing.

While Little Miss is doing the curriculum at her level, Pookie is getting the exposure to it at a level that matches his abilities. I am so excited. It is a much more peaceful way to learn for all involved. I can’t wait to see just how this works in the long term.

Some of the long term projects that the kids are doing include Flat Travelers.  I mentioned these in a previous post.  The kids made their travelers using the free paper dolls available at the Making Friends website.  Along with little journals, these travelers have been mailed out to other states and even countries.  Each new destination becomes a geography lesson for Little Miss.  She is keeping a binder of her traveler’s adventures and for Pookie, I am putting together a scrapbook as well.  He loves to look through the pictures and items that they receive with their travelers. In some cases, the items received can be added to a sensory bin for him.  One good example was a sweet friend of our went on vacation to a beach and brought back shells, sand, dried sea weed, and other items that she found at the beach.  Pookie loves to pick up the shells and star fish to look at them and feel their textures.  What a great learning experience for him!  For Little Miss, she enjoys the items but also loves reading the journal entries about the travelers’ adventures.

It is so rewarding to see the excitement that the kids have towards learning.  Little Miss is now learning to use our old Netbook to type up emails to friends and family.  This gives her keyboarding practice as well.  Soon, we will be adding some educational software to the Netbook so that the kids can play the games.

The workboxes are still a major part of our homeschooling.  We use them for keeping lessons organized as well as to store materials for each day’s projects.  I love the convenience of being able to load the workboxes in the evening and have them ready for the next day.  It makes for a much more efficient and productive experience as well.

Little Miss has been enjoying the more laid back approach.  She gets far more accomplished this way.  Pookie is still much more structured in how we approach his schooling.  Being autistic, he needs the routine far more than a typical child.  In fact, we have noticed lately that he is requiring even more structure than a year ago.  It works out well.  In between lessons that he can take part in, I have him doing other Montessori style activities to build on his fine motor development.

With the upcoming holiday season upon us, we will be incorporating the history of the holidays into our lessons.  Already, I am planning out the holiday themed art projects that the kids will be doing.  Handmade gifts and ornaments are among the activities.  As we work on the various projects, we talk about the lessons of the day.  An example of this is the first Thanksgiving story.  We are learning about how it was celebrated.  What foods did they eat?  If possible, we will be trying out some of those foods as a part of our own celebration.

There are many ways to homeschool.  We have only begun to learn the possibilities of how we can make learning an exciting adventure for our whole family.

 

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This week, we began our new school term.  Little Miss is enjoying her new materials and seems quite pleased with what she is learning.  It sure was a treat for her to start out in science learning about tide pools!  We kicked off the week by stopping at the OKC Zoo on the way home from church on Sunday.  We arrived 4 hours before closing, so we went straight to their new Stingray Bay exhibit.  There, we were able to touch the stingrays as they small in their pool.   Afterwards, we went to the zoo’s tide pool exhibit to touch as experience the sea stars and other sea life that was in the replica tide pool.

It has been a shift in routine to get the kids back into the homeschool mindset.  Little Miss is having to relearn time management skills.  I set the timer for 30 minutes for each assignment, then she as to complete her work before the timer goes off.  If it is not done, then it is set aside to be finished during her free time at the end of the school day.

The hardest one to help accept the routine change has been Pookie.  Taking several weeks off for a summer break was a mistake.  He became so adjusted to being able to play all day that he was resistant to doing his schoolwork.  After a rough first day, I remembered a motivator idea I had used with him a couple of years ago.  I no longer had that token board, but came up with this idea instead.

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In the above picture, you can see a half egg carton with plastic eggs in it.  I placed a gumdrop into each egg.  Pookie happens to love to eat anything like gumdrops or gummy bears.  He watched as I put them into the eggs.  In order to get a gumdrop, he had to complete an activity.  He did really well.  He would finish an assignment, hand it to me, then I would allow him to choose and egg.  I opened it for him and he enjoyed to reward.  The school day went SO much easier after we started this.  I will not always have a sweet in the eggs.  Maybe have a few cheese fish crackers or other snack.  Eventually, we will ease him into getting a small container of snacks after completing a series of assignments.

 

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A common question among homeschoolers, especially those new to it, regards the idea of breaks from the schooling.  Some families follow a schedule similar to that of a public school.  Others follow a  schedule that is year-round with small breaks taken every month or so.  Whatever the schedule, the only thing the families have to be concerned about is that their homeschooling meets their state’s minimum requirement for days of schooling.  In our state, that means we homeschool 180 days per school year.

The idea of taking a break is appealing.  Kids enjoy the time away from studies and the parents enjoy a break from all the work involved in educating their children.  There is a hazard in the path however.  Will your children truly benefit from a break or not?

Now, before people start thinking that I don’t believe in taking a break, let me assure you that I do give the kids ample breaks throughout the year.  We homeschool year round.  The longest break that we take at one time however, is about 4 weeks in the hottest part of summer.  Most breaks however are only a week or two.

This decision came after really observing our children’s learning styles.  I noticed that if a break is too long, we end up having to review before we can move on.  This is especially true of Pookie.  Children with classic autism require much repetition to learn and absorb the new information.  To take a month long break would cause him to lose ground.

During the summer break, we spend a lot of time doing activities outdoors.  We go swimming at the lake or visit museums.  We find ways to stay active while staying cool.  We take part in the summer reading program each year at the library.  That is a favorite of the kids.  They both love having stories read to them and Little Miss is finding joy in reading them herself.  File folder games are a fun educational activity that helps to keep skills honed.  There is so much that can be done that while educational, are a break from the typical studies.

For our family, the short breaks throughout the year seems to work best.  It matches the kids’ learning styles.  We all get to take a breather from studies, yet don’t have to review afterwords.  One of the best parts of short breaks has been that the kids do not lose the habit of homeschooling.  When we resume after a break, they fall right back into routine without a problem.

The routine is probably the most difficult part of taking a break for Pookie.  He craves routine and thrives on it.  A break from homeschooling is a disruption to his day.  So, the file folder games are important to him.  If he is used to doing some form of TEACCH task each day, the file folder games fills in that gap for him.  It is a little thing that makes his day go easier for him.

Planning next school term is nearly accomplished for us.  We will be starting  at the beginning of September when summer’s heat is beginning to cool. I am planning a cycle of 4 weeks of schooling with 1 week break throughout the school term.  As mentioned, the week we take a break will consist of educational games and activities to keep their minds sharp.  Maybe go to a museum, local festivals, zoo, or some other activity while we are at it.

The goal for me is to provide the children with educational opportunities as often as possible.  By having shorter breaks, we can utilize those times for field trips or other activities that enrich their education experiences.  The children are not on break long enough to get bored.

So far this year, as we have taken short breaks periodically, Little Miss has enjoyed the school term far more.  She is becoming more focused when she is doing her schoolwork.  Pookie is more settled and calm in the routine.  Overall, it has been a great decision for us as a family.

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One of the thigns we learn in reading scripture and in the walk of our faith is that the Lord provides an example of how we should handle all aspects of our lives.  It was a lifting of weight from my shoulders to realize that He even gave us the example in how to work with our son’s Classic Autism.  Strange thought, huh? Okay, just read on and you will see what I mean.

I have written before that the Lord always meets us where we are.  He doesn’t expect us to live a certain way to be “worthy” of petitioning Him in prayer, for example.  If the Lord can do that with me, why not try that with my son?  I began by getting down on my son’s level and playing along side of him, imitating his behaviors.  Over time, he began to sit closer to me and later began to make the first attempts to interact.

Once we had made that “first contact” of interaction, I was able to eaase him into more focused interactions.  He wouldn’t bounce a ball, but I held it for him.   I would say, “Bounce”, and he would slap the ball to bounce it.  At this point he would laugh.  I would ask him to go get his ball and he would retrieve it.  Eventually, he learned to bounce the ball to us adn would try to catch it when we bounced it back to him.  This was his first interactive game that he would play with us.  It seemed like such a simple thing but it opened up a door for more things.

I quickly learned that the key to working with Pookie was to start at his current ability level.  It takes some planning and effort on my part, but the fruits of that labor are priceless.  Once he begins to consistently do an activity at his current level, I gently increase the challenge of that activity to ease him into progression.  Pookie is a very smart kid and picks up new routines in his tasks quickly.  He may not always appreciate the changes, but he will accept them after a short time.  The gentle approach has worked well with Pookie.  He is slowly and steadily making improvements.  He is learning.

One of the best ways that we have helped Pookie is to treat him as much like a typical child as possible.  We include him in doing chores, for example.  Whatever task we are doing, we encourage him to pitch in and help in the parts that he is capable of doing.  The results have been great.  He is happier and is becoming more confident.  With that, he is trying more to imitate our behavior.  Through that imitation, he is wanting to do school work as Little Miss is doing hers.  If she is writing, he wants to sit at his desk and do something too.  When I ask him if he wants a story, he runs to their bookcase , grabs a book and climbs up onto the couch.  He sits through story times very well now.  No more squirming to get down!  We even are beginning to use sequence cards about the story.  I am making my own by copying 3-4 illustrations from a couple of his books.  The pictures are being laminated onto 3″x3″ sized cards.  I am starting with only 2 cards, then gradually adding in one more card at a time until we are using the entire set.  I do use all illustrations from the book, but a brief sample to cover the high points of the story.

I am so proud of the progress that Pookie is making.  He is vocalizing more and we have hope that he may one day start using words.  He is thriving in the gentle approach that we are using.  I thank the Lord for guiding us in this.

 

 

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On Tuesday, we had a breakthrough with Pookie.  I have been working with him from the very beginning.  While we were awaiting the appointment to have him evaluated by the OU Child Study Center, I was researching therapy approaches.  After reading about the various methods, I began using FloorTime with him.  Sitting with him as he played and playing alongside of him.  In the early days, he ignored me completely.  He would sit there spinning his car’s wheels, seemingly oblivious to my presence.  Over the months that followed, he slowly began including me in his play.  I would imitate his behavior.  He would stop his play, look at what I was doing, and then go back to his play.  Sometimes, he would take my car and spin the wheels before giving it back to me.  Tiny steps, but progress all the same.

This interacting has gradually increased over the past 2.5 years.  Now, he will play ball with others.   Basically, he tosses it to you and you toss it towards him.  He doesn’t attempt to catch it, but loves the game anyways.  Most play is still done side by side though.  He will watch as you do something or will sit near you and do his own thing.

In recent months, I have been noticing that he is watching me a lot closer now.  He is especially observant when I am preparing a meal.  At first, I thought it was merely due to him wanting something to eat.  I have come to realize that is not always the case.  I began including him with meal preps.  Sometimes, he will hold a butter knife with my help as I guide him in making his own peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  Another time, he may pour an ingredient into a bowl for me or play with a bit of bread dough that I had pinched off the loaf I was kneading.

On Tuesday, I was stirring a pan of ravioli on the stove.  He cuddled up next to me and gestured towards the spoon.  It has a very long handle, so I let go of the spoon and asked him if he would like to stir the ravioli.  He held tightly to me with one hand and took the spoon in the other.  As I held the pan’s handle, he stirred the ravioli.  Later, he was watching as I cleared the table.  He picked up his plate and put it in the dishpan without being asked.  That afternoon, I was reading a book.  Pookie brought a book over and sat next to me and looked at the pages in his book.  He now follows me around quite often each day, constantly watching what I am doing.  Sometimes, he will attempt to imitate me.  Other times he simply watches silently.  This has been the step forward that I have been looking for.

With Pookie playing the “monkey see – monkey do” routine, trying to imitate what I am doing, the teaching can truly begin.  Now, I can show him how to complete a TEACCH task and he will be more willing to follow the visual instruction.  This simple step forward has opened up so many doors for us.  Already, he is trying to use the Tap To Talk app on his tablet to communicate.  We started with the simplest picture of a drink cup.  When tapped, it says “I want a drink, please.”  Whenever he wants to get a drink, I have him first tap the picture.  Thankfully, there is also a picture for his favorite snack – popcorn!  We are using that one also.

Teaching Pookie how to complete new TEACCH tasks will be easier now that he is actively trying to imitate what I am doing.  It is such a blessing that we have reached this milestone.  It hasn’t been easy and it has taken a lot of time to get here.  It gives me so much hope however.  I now have one more thing to utilize in helping our son.  I thank the Lord for opening that door for us.

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It has been one of “those” days that has had more ups and downs than the wildest roller coaster rides.  Thursday night, my beloved husband was able to take his 10 hour break at home.  This was a huge treat.  For those not familiar to the life of a trucking family, my husband is driving 11 hours (on duty a total of 14 hours counting time at customers) each day.  According to DOT rules, he has to take a 10 hours break before he can start his next 14 hours of work.  Usually, the break happens at a truck stop or other location where he can shut down the semi for the duration of the break.  On Thursday night, he was close enough to home that he was able to be here for that break period – a rare treat!    We were so happy to see him before the weekend, when he is usually home.  He had to leave back out on the truck before dawn this morning.

First thing when Pookie was up, he began wandering around the house and became upset.  You guessed it.  He found that Daddy wasn’t home.  He doesn’t understand the passage of time and so is unable to comprehend that Daddy will be back Saturday morning.  All he knew was that Daddy tucked him into bed that night and was missing the next morning.  His mood was a sour one all day.  He was cranky and simply “off” all day long.  Nothing pulled him out of the mood.

At one point today, Little Miss offered Pookie a drink from her soda.  She had a carry out cup with straw that she had left over from our lunch in town.  Pookie, who only uses a sippy cup, put his mouth on her straw and then backed away from it.  She offered it again after taking a sip of her drink.  He kept simply putting his mouth on it and backing away again.  I could almost imagine him thinking, “Okay, I touched it with my mouth, now what do I do with it?”  Eventually, he took a small sip of her drink through the straw and looked shocked that the soda was in his mouth.  It was priceless!  That surprised “how did THAT happen” look was so funny to see.  She offered the drink again, excited that he had actually took a drink from her soda, but he steered clear of it.  I guess he is needing time to process what just happened before trying again.

Homeschooling Pookie today was not an option today.  His mood was so off that trying to get him to do any preschool would have been more struggle than effective.  We have some days like this.  I have learned that the day after Daddy goes back on the truck is never a good day to preschool him.  I was able to read to him, but he was not cooperative when it came to practicing his colors and shapes.  He was content to hear the stories, but wouldn’t point to any of the pictures when asked.  Usually, we will have one day like this.  After that, he will cooperate with the lessons much better the rest of the week.

Tonight, I finally got him to cooperate enough to at least do some of the dressing for bed with my help.  Some nights, after a rough day, he wants me to do it all for him as I would for a young toddler.  He helped tonight though.  Over the past month, he has been trying a little more than he has up until now.  Tonight he actually tried to pull his shirt over his head on his own.  He got very frustrated when he didn’t do it, but he gave it a go.  At times like this, I see firsthand what the  specialists meant when they told us that the tasks that take a typical child 3 steps to do will take him about 30 steps to complete.  As long as I see him trying and making those tentative baby steps forward, it is good though.

Little Miss is such a great cheerleader for him.  She is always proud as can be when she can get him to try something new.  We are proud of her also.  She has such a tender heart for her baby brother.

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