Showing posts from 2020

How to prepare kids with autism for winter break

The year 2020 is almost coming to an end. We continue to live in the pandemic since March. The holiday season is here Many students have started their winter break. Some will be starting next week  We all know how our kids thrive on routine and consistency so it is important to prepare them for the break. Use Social Stories. Social stories are a great tool to help kids with autism understand the world around them. They can be used to prepare kids for upcoming changes or events in a concrete way by using visuals.  There are many holiday social stories already available online which you can use to prepare your child for the upcoming holidays. Use Calendars Kids with autism tend to experience lots of anxiety. So we can use a calendar to prepare them for an upcoming holiday. This way they will know when the break starts and when the school will begin in the new year.  Use visual schedules. Visual schedules are a great tool to use with our kids with autism as they help them to understand wh

Tips for parents for helping your kids on the spectrum.

Parents spend the maximum time with their kids on the spectrum. Parents need to know some strategies they can use to help their kids with autism to work on their goals and help with skill generalization. Use simple language Many kids with autism are non-verbal and struggle with receptive language. We must use simple language with our kids as they struggle with auditory processing. It is also very important we give our kids some processing time or wait time before we jump in to help them.    .Always try to pair your language with visual supports as it will help them remember and process what was said to them. Always follow-through This is very important. When we give our children any instruction and they refuse to obey we must teach them to comply with the instruction. This is a very important life skill. We might have to use some prompts to help them. Use Reinforcement with your child to teach them any skill. Reinforcement is something that will increase future behaviours. In life, we

Functional Literacy Guest post by Sasha Long.

 Functional Literacy by: Sasha Long, MA BCBA There is a misconception that academic and functional skills are mutually exclusive. We for some reason got stuck in this thinking that tells us that instruction and activities are either academic or functional but cannot be both. When our students get older and we begin to transition to more functional tasks – that doesn’t mean that we are leaving academics behind. It’s our responsibility as late elementary and high school teachers to ensure that our academic instruction has a functional component since that looming 22nd birthday isn’t far off. So let’s talk about our academics and functional skills can live together in perfect harmony. We can still challenge our students and teach them important academic skills while preparing them to be independent adults. Selecting literacy goals for some students is easy or obvious. Some students are following some type of skill sequencing and we can quickly identify where to go next. For other students

Using visual supports with your kids on the spectrum .

Children with autism are visual learners. Meaning most of them have difficulty in understanding language. Visuals are something we all use in our daily lives to navigate the world around us. Our kids have strength in learning visually. It helps them to understand language, do familiar routines, and complete daily living tasks.  Use of visual schedules There are different visual supports you can use with your child with autism. Visual schedules are one type of visual that can be used. A visual schedule helps the child to understand the order of activities they will be doing during the day so nothing comes as a surprise.  Most of our kids also struggle with transitions in which case a visual schedule is very helpful. There are different types of visual schedules available online. The other thing you can do is you can take photos of your child doing different activities and put it on a schedule.  We need to teach the child how to use the visual schedules the same way we teach them other s

How parents can help their children at home.

  How parents can help their children with autism at home Hi everyone! My name is Heather Cacioppo and I have been a special education teacher for seven years. I’ve worked with many different families over the years. I want to share with you some ways that parents can help their children learn at home. We are currently navigating a time where parents are stepping in as teachers at home and supporting their children academically more than ever. Us teachers see you: learning common core math, continuing to support your child’s social-emotional growth, and realizing what your child can and cannot do by themselves.  Now, more than ever, teachers and parents are working collaboratively to develop an educational day to meet the needs of each individual child. This is what special education needed.  What can parents do at home? Daily living skills  Are you picking out your child’s clothes every morning? Include your child in the process of picking out their clothes. Let them decide what they

Update on virtual learning for kids with special needs.

 Its been almost 4 weeks of virtual school as the pandemic continues. I must say my son is slowly settling down in the virtual learning routine as we know our kids thrive on a structure.  The program is well organized. It is a well-known fact the first month of school is basically important for our kids to learn the routines and the structure. It is a full-day school for kids 5 days a week. There is some amount of synchronous learning which occurs throughout the day wherein the learners and the teachers are present at the same place throughout the day.  There is a lot of individual work time given to students as per their ability. There are lots of tools and programs used to support student learning. Google platform in the form of google classroom and google meet are used to facilitate the program. The typical day begins around 9 am with the national anthem followed by a morning meeting. The morning meeting typically consists of children filling in information like the day of the week,

Tips for Back to school virtual learning.

  We are living in unprecedented times amid the pandemic. The schools have reopened in most of the places either in person or through virtual learning.  It is a well-known fact kids with autism thrive on a routine and structure. They have been missing this since March when schools first shut down due to the pandemic. We chose virtual learning for my son as we didn't feel comfortable sending him to school due to the pandemic. The first whole week of virtual school just got over . I must confess it was very stressful in the beginning but as the days went by the kids got used to the routine which they crave so much. Overall my son has made so much progress during the week. The virtual school does involve a huge investment of time on the parent's part as our kids learn better in hands-on learning in school. This way of learning is novel for everyone as it is actually a whole day of school the kids have to participate in five days a week. There are a few things I would like to share

Boom cards for distance learning.

  It is back to school time. We are still amid the pandemic. This year back to school looks very different than the normal. For some kids it is back to school in person, for some, it is online learning at home.  We all know our kids with autism thrive on a routine. We must take some time now to prepare our kids for back to school. In the past few months, we all have been exposed to new technologies teachers have been using to help our kids during distance learning.  Our kids naturally gravitate toward technology. This is something we can use to our advantage to reinforce their learning and prevent regression. I want to share some of the digital resources I have been using with my son during this time. Boom cards are is one of those resources. They are digital self-checking interactive task cards.  They require no printing or laminating thereby saving you tons of money. They can be accessed on a tablet, computer,iPad, or even a phone. The first thing you need to do is to go to boomlearn

Presuming competence in non verbal kids with autism.

I wanted to do do a blog post on this topic for a long time. This topic is very close to my heart as I have first hand seen people making an assumption about my son's abilities as he is non-verbal. I want to tell everyone that even though most of our kids on the spectrum are nonverbal they can learn. and understand. I have also seen first-hand well-meaning professionals speak about the kids in their presence. This is the worst thing someone can do as our kids are not in a position to defend themselves even though they understand everything. We need to believe in our own children first so other people can follow suit. When Aarian was first diagnosed with autism we were so worried as to how we will be able to teach him letter sounds and reading. I was surprised one day when by accident I discovered my son was able to read. That was an eye-opening experience for me. I decided that day I was going to help my son to reach his maximum potential. Our kids cannot speak but they can thi

Preparing kids for back to school during Covid-19

  We are still amid the pandemic. The summer has almost gone by. It is almost time for back to school. It is no surprise this time the back to school is different than any other year. Here in Ontario, Canada there is an option for kids to go back to school in person or study virtually through distance learning if parents are not comfortable sending kids back to school.  It is a well-known fact child with autism thrives on a routine. It is a fact that many kids with autism have low immunity when compared with other kids. My son is no exception. It has been very stressful for us to make a decision with him going back to school in person.  He loves going to school which is extremely important for his overall development and socialization. But considering his overall health we have decided for him to do distance learning at least for the time being. His safety is our priority at this time. It is important for you as a parent to decide what is in the best interest of your child's health

Leisure skills for kids with autism.

Leisure skills are very important for all kids to occupy themselves when they have some free time. They are extremely important for our kids on the spectrum as most of our kids need constant adult engagement at all times . We have now been amid the pandemic for over four months and parent exhaustion is a real thing we all are experiencing now. The children have been home for a few months and to keep them occupied every minute of the day is tiring and stressful. We are living in a world full of technology. Our children with autism naturally gravitate towards it. Some of them get very addicted to screen time.  It is our responsibility as parents to teach them to develop some leisure skills which are screen-free. Most of the children on the spectrum tend to fixate on certain things. We can use these interests to our advantage and teach them important skills. I have personally experienced the stress over the years as my son needed constant attention when he was growing up. If we left h

Independent work tasks for kids with special needs.

I want to continue this post by sharing some examples of different kinds of independent work tasks you can create for your child or students .I want to stress this is something which is super affordable and there are countless ideas you can come up with things you already have on hand. There are commercially made task boxes available in the market but they are pretty expensive. I want to reiterate again that work tasks need to have activities which your child has already mastered so they are successful in completing them independently.Make sure the work tasks allows the child to practice different skills including fine motor skills which is a big deficit for our kids.Try to take in to account your child's interests to create different activities for your kids. I'm going to share some activities here today which cater to both young and old kids.These are activities I have used with my own son..The only limit is your imagination.These activities help kids to practice differen

How to help kids with autism to work independently.

I am going to start this post with an important question we all parents of kids on the spectrum ask ourselves how can I help my child to work independently.  Independence is a very important life skill and a common goal for all kids on the spectrum be it in terms of self-help skills or working independently for a few minutes without adult intervention at home or in the classroom. We are amid the pandemic and at this time no one knows how the new school year will be. Is it going to be a mix of in-class and distance learning?  So if this is something you want to help your child with now is the best time to start working on this skill with our kids so they can feel successful when they go back to school. This is a work in progress and something you will need to practice daily with consistency for our students to be successful and motivated to do so.  Start small as always when you are working with your child on a new skill for them to feel successful. If that means you can start with th

Helping kids with autism wear a mask during the pandemic.

We are still amid the COVID-19 pandemic. We are living in the new normal wherein we have to take some precautions to keep ourselves and our family members safe during this time. One of the most important precautions we are taking is to wear a mask in public places to keep ourselves safe. Most of our kids on the spectrum my son included have low immunity and are easily susceptible to getting an infection. So for families like us, these safety precautions are very critical to keep our kids safe. We all know lots of kids on the spectrum have lots of sensory sensitivities. My own son has lots of them so wearing a mask is definitely challenging for him. Some of the kids on the spectrum might be able to tolerate the mask but it is difficult for lots of them. The summer break has just begun in Canada. Currently, we don't know what the situation will be when the school reopens in the fall but I feel as parents we should at least make an effort to help our kids get familiar with the mask

Preparing children with autism for summer break.

Tomorrow is officially the last day of school in Canada. Summer breaks here last for two months July /August. School reopens in fall after labor day in September. We are still amid the pandemic so this year the summer break is going to be a bit different than usual. Summer break is usually the time kids look forward to day camps or overnight camps. This year unfortunately due to the COVID-19  pandemic all of the overnight camps have been canceled in Ontario. Most of the day camps as well are canceled but the province is looking to offer some camps with a limited number of children starting maybe in mid-July. Some institutions are going to be offering virtual camps for kids with autism which are free of charge. These camps will allow our kids to develop various skills through fun activities which will work on social interaction and turn-taking skills. Different activities like Zumba, animal shows, karate, music, and art classes will be offered. The restaurants in Ontario are still c