Posts Tagged ‘visual schedule’

At Therapy Works, where Pookie goes for his OT and Speech therapies, they have a really simple style of visual schedule.  It is one of those ideas that have you asking, “Why didn’t I think of that?”  Well, here is the schedule strip.  I made one for him to use here at home.  Much easier than the yardstick idea that I had.

You only need 4 things to make the schedule strip: wooden ruler, self-adhesive loop tape (the fuzzy part of the hook and loop tape), a pair of scissors, and a length of ribbon.


I cut a piece of the loop tape that was about 11.5″ long.  I adhered it to the back of the wooden ruler so that the hole near the end of the ruler was still showing.  Next, I threaded a ribbon through the hole and tied it to form a hanging loop.


That is it!  Your child now has a very portable schedule strip to use.  I am using this now for Pookie.  I place his morning schedule on the strip.  He has a little container into which he places the PECS cards as we do each activity.  The PECS style cards that I have for his homeschooling are about 1″ square.  You can easily make them on the SEN Teacher page I linked to in my last post.   Just use your own graphics or ones found online through a Google Images search.  You can also find them already designed on Pinterest.  The website which I used to find the ones shown here are from Homeschool Creations.

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For the past week, it has been like Christmas at our home.  At least, you would think so from the excitement that Little Miss has shown.  We ended up placing the orders with Heart of Dakota and Keepers of the Faith as planned.  Both gave fast service, though HOD did arrive first.  I realised as I looked over the curriculum that as of this year, we will only need to purchase the consumable materials for Pookie as he becomes ready for each level of advancement.  Little Miss will get new materials each year, as she is older.  We will be able to store the course materials for each year until Pookie is ready to advance to each level.  This will make it really easy in the future.  I plan to buy the consumables for reading & grammar that Pookie will need ahead of time.  Math will be bought just before he is ready for it.  At this point, his math is still taught completely hands-on so I have no idea what he will be doing 2 years from now.

With each delivery, Little Miss became excited.  It doesn’t help that Momma has discovered the joys of buying everything online.  LOL   Whenever the delivery van arrives, she is very animated.  Pookie looks on with his usual nonplussed expression, but was curious about his readers.  He loves books, so was looking at the covers with great interest.

One of the purchases that I had made was books 3 & 4 in the McGuffey’s Reading (Phonics) and Writing (Grammar) workbook series for 1st grade.  It turned out to be the perfect starting point for Little Miss’ studies.  She will be using the McGuffey Curriculum in reading and writing each year from now through 8th grade.  I wanted her to have a strong foundation in the program so am starting 2nd semester books to finish out 1st grade.

I am very impressed with this McGuffey curriculum.  As one would expect, it is based upon the McGuffey readers.  Little Miss loves it and she is doing very well with it.  The lessons start of gradually, yet build upon each other at a steady pace.  She reads lessons from the McGuffey Primer & Pictorial Primer as a part of the reading & writing lessons.  Some of the words right now are more review than anything, but it is solidifying the foundations.  She reads level 1 & 2 books on her own each day also.

As I looked through the materials, I see where I will have to take it much slower with Pookie when he is ready to use them.  It is very adaptable though.  I may end up writing a portion of the lesson out on paper for him if the full lesson is too much for him to do at a time.

After calling Keepers of the Faith to let them know the curriculum arrived & thanks for the great service, I spoke to them about Pookie.  They gave me some sound ideas on how to take his hands-on lessons to the next level.  I will share those when we begin implementing them.  In the process, I found out about their penmanship curriculum.  I ended up ordering that for Pookie also.  It amazes me that I am actually buying Kindergarten materials for him.  It has to be taken slowly, but I truly believe that he will be ready for it.  He is showing that he is able to catch on to some things rather quickly.  The biggest obstacle being his level of ability to express what he knows.  By and by, he is getting there though.

Now comes the work for me to get everything organized and purchase all the extras.  (Can we say Amazon shopping time? LOL)  Little Miss will be doing a lot more notebooking for her school work next term.  I decided to buy her a separate binder for each subject.  At the end of the school year, I will transfer all the notebooking pages into 1 larger binder.  This will provide a record of her work if it should ever be needed.  There is also a year’s supply of paper, pencils, and other basic school supplies that I will be buying ahead of time.  The goal is that by late August, all school related supplies will have been purchased for both children.  I already have most of the supplies.  It feels so good to be ahead of the game with this.

I am going to make new workbox tags for each child.  The tags will be better paired with the subjects that they will be doing.  I am also getting the lesson planner book printed and bound this week.  I realize that HOD curriculum has it’s lesson planner already, but I am wanting to combine the HOD lesson plans with the Reading and Writing curriculum from Keepers of the Faith.

Another thing that I am doing differently this next term is having both kids’ lessons planned out on the same page.  On one page is a grid for lessons worked independently for both children.  On the back is a grid for all the subjects worked on together.  Of all the adaptations that I am making for next term, this one will be the most helpful to me.

Next term, the workboxes will be much easier to implement.  Little Miss will have either a workbook or a notebooking page to do for each subject.  That will be easy to organize in her work files.  The completed notebook page will be added to the binders after she completes the page.

Pookie’s workboxes will be equally as easy to use.  He will have a little more writing to do.  I plan to continue doing a lot of hands-on lessons with him as well.  The way his lessons are set up, he will have enough workbox activities to allow him to become more accustomed to the workbox system.

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It has been a while since I posted about Little Miss’ homeschooling.  I wanted to share the way she uses workboxes with Heart of Dakota curriculum.  The inspiration behind it came from Natalie’s blog, Distractible Me.  I found my workbox tags at her blog.  (Thanks Natalie!)

Little Miss has her own visual schedule.  I have a small pocket chart that has a storage pocket along the bottom.  I place her workbox tags in the clear pockets and as she completes each assignment, she places the tag into the storage pocket.  I love this!

We have a timer set for about 35 minutes, based on the idea that public school has class periods of about 40 minutes.  This gives her ample time to complete the given assignment.  If she dawdles and time runs out, she sets aside the assignment to be completed later.  If she finished early, she is allowed to use the remaining time to play outdoors, watch a video or play a game on her tablet, or some other activity of her choice.  When the timer beeps, she restarts it and begins her next assignment.

I have an activity center set up that I change out twice during the school day.  One time the activities are science related, the next they may be geography, art, or file folder games.   She has 2 “center” tags in her visual schedule.  When she reaches one of these, she chooses one of the 2-3 activities at the center.  If she finishes early, she can choose another one to complete also.

She works through her schedule very well.  After completing the last assignment on her schedule, she finishes any work that was not completed in the allotted time.  This will encourage her to work more efficiently so that work is done on time.

She is enjoying this routine.  If she completes and assignment early, she is helping Pookie with his activities.  This has been a minor issue we have had.  She sees the activities he is doing and they always look more fun than her own work.  It is hard on a young child to understand sometimes that a younger sibling (especially one that has special needs issues) has to learn in a different way.  In Pookie’s case, he learns best through hands-on and visually.  His lessons are always through an interactive approach.  To a young child, that may look far more inviting than doing a worksheet or writing practice.  So, I allow her to help Pookie with his activities once her own is completed.  This is eliminating any jealousy that may come up.

At the end of the day, we are playing a board game together or doing something else that is our Momma/Daughter time.  I am finding that by doing this, along with allowing her to help with Pookie’s lessons, really is benefitting us all.  She is actively participating in her brother’s education as well as having the attention from Momma.  One issue that I always try to keep in mind is that I never make her feel like she is being left out.  When you have a special needs child who requires much more attention and aid, it is easy to overlook the amount of time spent with the other siblings.  I never want her to feel like my attention is always focused on her brother.  So, I make a point of including her as much as possible as well as having our private time each day.


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Can I vent a bit here?  Over the past 3 years, since our son’s diagnosis, I have found a troubling issue.  To date, I have found not a single support group or organization who has support for families with children who have Classic Autism.  Shocking, right?  You would think that there would be something out there for us, but I have yet to find one.  It seems that the support, even in groups with the words “Autism support” in the title, are mainly a support resource for families with an Asperger’s or PDD-NOS diagnosis.  So, what is the big deal?  Let me first explain that while they are all on the spectrum, there are 3 big differences between Classic Autism (aka Autism Disorder, Infantile Autism, and Kanner’s Syndrome) and the more understood, Asperger’s Syndrome.

According to the Autism United, there are 3 primary differences between Classic Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome.

1. Cognitively, those with Classic Autism have delays that they often never overcome. Those with Asperger’s are often very intelligent and test at or above average in cognitive abilities.

2. Those with an Asperger’s diagnosis may have some speech delays in part from lack of use but are on track with their peers in speech ability.  Those with a Classic Autism diagnosis have speech developmental delays and a large percentage (I read over 80% on another website) never develop an ability to communicate through speech.

3.  While those diagnosed with Asperger’s will typically be uncomfortable in social situations and often behave in a socially awkward manner, they often are wanting that social contact.  Those with Classic Autism are typically completely unaware of any need for social interactions.

What these differences mean to me as a parent going to a parents’ support group is that when parents of Aspies or those with PDD-NOS are talking about how therapies, supplements, dietary changes, and in some cases medications have helped their kids, I am at a loss.  There is very little common ground.  While our children have the spectrum in common, the daily issues that comes along with it is different.

Some parents complain about their child being socially awkward and at times violent when things don’t go as the child thinks that they should.  Our son often appears to not even notice there are others in the room.  If a toy is taken from him, he simply ignores that and walks away.

Some parents talk about how difficult it is to get their child to learn social stories and how to appropriately talk to others.  Our son never speaks other than the rare chatter/vocalization that you might expect from a 6 – 8 month old who hasn’t learned letter sounds or words yet.

Parents talk about the wonders of ABA therapy and what marvels it has brought to their child’s life.  I am happy for them that it worked for their child.  It was a total flop with our son.  I have learned to work around that, but the hardcore ABA supporters are shocked that I would not force ABA onto our son whether he complies or not.  We did try it for a few months, but got nowhere.  I found a gentler approach worked best for him and got more progress with it.

Many parents that I have spoken with are firm believers in the wonders of the DAN doctors’ protocol of supplements and other treatments.  While I and my husband do agree that a healthy diet is best for everyone, we do not believe the DAN approach to be the cure-all that many parents say it is.

These are only a tiny bit of the differences that we have found that demonstrate the difference between the issues we face in our home compared to the issues that parents of Aspies and PDD-NOS children face.  Aspies and PDD-NOS have a much higher functioning level than our son.  That in and of itself makes a huge difference in the way our lives are lived each day.

Sadly, I have never found a group that has even one member/family that has a child with Classic Autism.  The popular nationally known Autism organizations cater to the moderately to high functioning diagnosis.  It makes sense in a way. Over 75% of the diagnosed cases are Asperger’s or PDD-NOS.  Those with classic Autism only make up about 20% of all diagnosis.  It is understandable that the information and trainings are geared towards the majority of cases.  In the years since our son’s diagnosis, I have always received email updates of conferences and workshops to train professionals and families about how to work with those diagnosed with autism spectrum.  I have yet to see even 1 workshop or session at a conference that addresses something that we can do with our son.

The therapists that we had through early intervention were a mess to deal with. Even though they were provided a copy of the detailed report for our son’s diagnosis and what he would need, they ignored it completely.  Instead, they had their own agenda of what they wanted to do and acted as though he were a higher functioning child instead of working on building up from where he was currently.

I think one of the most ugly and hurtful parts of this whole thing is that there are those with higher functioning kids who have come right out and said that if we wanted our son cured, we would do the therapies, drugs, and treatments they have used. One came right out and said (quoting Ms McCarthy, I believe) that parents who don’t do the DAN protocols with their children are not wanting their kids to get cured.  That is a positively evil thing to say!

Classic Autism is a neurological disorder.  It is NOT curable through supplements, therapies, drugs, or diet.  No matter what we do, our son will always have autism.  That is the fact.  If the protocols and such helped their kids, that is great.  Don’t you judge us however if we do not see the benefit in doing things YOUR way.

I am with my son 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year.  I know what works with him and what does not.  I know his dietary issues and we have changed our family’s diet so that we all are eating as he does.  We are working on teaching him and our daughter to do ASL signing in conjunction with speaking to him.  He has a method of communicating with us that is unique to our family.  His method is one that makes his feelings and wants obvious to others around him.  We have learned that he can communicate through pointing to pictures or objects.  My next project is taking a lot of pictures of his favorite things, activities, and foods to make a communication board for him to use.

In homeschooling Pookie, we have found that he needs many breaks in between his activities.  About the only time he will sit still is when he is painting or sitting with me as I read to him.  He does listen though, even when walking in circles around the room.

Our days with Pookie are not complicated, but they are definitely different from a typical child his age or a child who is higher functioning.  In some ways, he is like a young toddler instead of his nearly 5 years of age.  There are basic skills, such as feeding himself, that he is unable to do.  Not because we spoil him, but because he seriously is unable to do it at this time.  We know he will one day, and encourage him to try, but for now he is not able to do so.  At his age, we still have to aid him in dressing.  He can do a little, such as put his arms into the sleeves when you hold his shirt.  But he doesn’t even attempt to try on his own. The list goes on and on.

I have decided to post more on this blog about what daily life is like. I will of course have homeschooling and family information. With such a lack of information and support for families with low functioning Classic Autistic children, I want the blog to be a place where they can find someone who is going through it too.  Maybe even find encouragement from time to time.

I have felt so alone in this journey at time.  Yes, I have my husband and my faith in the Lord, as well as the prayers and encouragement of our church family.  I have never met anyone though who has a child like ours.  Someone who is walking along this path also.  A person who understands the daily challenges that we face in a world where our children’s needs are often overlooked by professionals who are better trained to work with the moderate to higher functioning children.

I don’t want others in our situation to feel alone.  Maybe, along the way, we will learn that we are not alone either.

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This week, I am finishing up getting everything prepared for the new school term.  I was so thrilled to hear Little Miss express to me a couple of times now that she is ready to get back to homeschooling.  She is not too pleased that she has to wait another week, but this week off is needed.  I was able to cheer her up when I asked if she would like to help me get the workbox areas ready.

Last Friday, I had printed out and laminated all of the visual schedule cards and tags.  These ones were free a download from Homeschool Creations.  I also took some graphics that I found through a Google Images search and placed them on a blank page in my word processing program.  The added graphics were for things specific to my kids.  Board games and her Keepers at Home program emblem.  For Pookie, I have images of his favorite snacks and a activities such as his sensory bin.

Little Miss was excited to see all the cards and workbox tags.  She is going to help me to get them sorted and made ready.  We went to the library and brought home an armload of books on the subjects of autumn and autumn crafts to go along with the thematic unit she and Pookie will be doing.  As a special treat, I also got a few books on her personal favorite topic – fairies!   She loves anything to do with the little fairy themes.  These will provide yet another motivator.  A couple of them are craft books that show how to make fairy themed items, including a tiny fairy garden.

I know that once we get started, this week is going to fly by.  I am excited.  It is so rewarding to see our daughter get such excitement over homeschool.  We are truly blessed in that.

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