Why I hate the C-word

As I was reviewing my son's IEP goals today, my heart stopped when I saw the C-word.

No, not THAT C-word.

The special needs C-word.


MAN OH MAN OH MAN do I hate it when parents, educators and therapists use choice to describe behavior. 

Yes, I hear the argument that by using the word choice, adults are putting control into the child's hand. 

I just don't believe it.

Instead, I think the C-word is used to shame children into compliance. It also takes adults off the hook for failing to effectively understand a child's attempts to communicate and teach them to use assistive methods.

It also completely dismisses the reality that these are kids with impaired nervous systems, and the health of the nervous system determines behavioral response. This isn't just an autism thing, anyone can be overstimulated to the point of losing control of their behavior. 

Think of the last time you lost it on your kids. Since...

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My favorite Teachers Pay Teachers autism downloads

education Aug 02, 2020

Parents who never thought they'd be homeschooling are discovering Teachers Pay Teachers, a spectacular website that features downloadable curriculum for nearly every subject, grade level and classroom placement.

We homeschool through a charter school and Tosh receives the same curriculum as his mainstream peers. Sometimes, the material and school work provided is appropriate for his needs. Sometimes it's not.

TPT has so much to offer the homeschooling or distance learning autism parent. The site has what seems like an unlimited selection of hands on activities and worksheets that are either already adapted to special needs students, or can be easily adapted by replacing handwriting with typed, printed, cut and pasted answers. Because it's developed by teachers for teachers, the curriculum usually meets state education standards and is noted accordingly.

Here are four of our favorites:

Fast Food Menu Math

Tosh learns best when he can relate what he's learning to something...

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Here's some hope for parents of nonverbal kids

I still can’t believe this is my baby’s worksheet. And I really can’t believe he did it independently.
The experts didn’t think he had it in him. And let’s be honest, there were days when I wondered that myself. There were even more days I didn’t think I had it in me to do my very best for him. Parenting nonverbal autism is one thing, but education, too?
I can't believe we're actually doing this!
There will be many more achievements and even more doubt, but it will be worth every second, every penny and every tear, because look at my baby! He's going to be alright.
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The right approach to learning

This summer, I've been listening to business podcasts while I take my morning walks. This morning, I heard a great business concept that can be applied to autism parenting.

The concept was "learn and do" versus "do and learn."

The first idea, learn and do, is the traditional way people approach success. It requires training from someone who shows you exactly what to do. Then, once you've learned the strategy or task, you do it. 

This business concept worked well back when the world moved at a slower pace. This was before our current era of relatively quick technology adoption, global economies, social media and market of one service. 

Today's world requires a more nimble approach. One size does not fit all and even if it does, it doesn't last for long.

That's why the concept of do and learn is more effective. Yes, you begin with some idea of what you're doing. You might even receive some training before you begin.

But that's not the end of your...

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Toy Story with autism: where to find sensory-friendly movies

Today we achieved a major milestone: Tosh watched a new movie all the way through, and only used his iPad once.

This has been a long time coming. We first took Tosh to the movies three years ago. At that time, he was five and if you have a moderate to severely autistic 5-year-old, you already know how that turned out. It didn't go well.

He kept running up and down our row and wanted to sit in the row in front of us. At one point, he crawled under the seats so he could get there.

Yeah. Gross.

This all happened during the previews. Mid-way through the animated short, we left. He just couldn't handle it.

But we didn't give up. I'm very passionate about the belief that everyone deserves to go out and experience the world. Whether it's going to the movies, out to eat at a restaurant or on vacation, kids and adults with autism are capable of far more than we realize.

They just need lots and lots and lots of practice.

It's a real conundrum: the only way to learn social skills is...

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Autism: How we homeschool

education May 28, 2019

When I first considered homeschooling Tosh, I was overwhelmed. I had visions in my head of Pinterest-worthy homeschool rooms, and there was no way I could live up to that.

Thankfully, I don't have to. Tosh is making great academic progress working mostly on our kitchen table, sometimes on the playroom floor and occasionally in bed. The book and supplies we're currently using are stacked (somewhat) neatly on a bookshelf and the rest is stored in a filing cabinet in my office.

This post is Part 2 of a series on how we homeschool with autism. You can reach Part 1 here.

These questions came from comments and messages on Instagram. If you have additional questions I didn't include, please post them below in the comments!

Q: Homeschool looks so overwhelming! I wouldn't even know where I would begin.

A: Neither did I! There is no way I could have come up with the curriculum and teaching methods myself. Some parents do, and my hat is tipped to them.

We homeschool through a charter school, which...

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Autism: Why we homeschool

education May 21, 2019

Recently on Instagram, I invited my followers to ask me anything about autism homeschooling. I received a hearty response with many questions from curious parents. One autism mom asked if I could archive the questions and responses for reference. I thought that was an excellent idea, so I'm putting them into my blog.

This first post will be about the whys, and next week I'll start sharing all of the hows.

Some autism parents are satisfied or even pleased with their local school district's special education programs. That's excellent! An appropriate education from your local public school is such a blessing.

But it's more than just a blessing for those lucky enough to get it.

It's a legal requirement.

In 1990, Congress passed The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, or IDEA. This law mandates that special needs students receive an appropriate free public education in the least restrictive environment necessary to meet their needs.

The law was written to provide...

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3 ways your ABA provider should support academics

education therapies Mar 20, 2019

Tosh is making tremendous academic progress this year, and a lot of the credit goes to cooperation among his therapy and education providers.
Autism support services aren’t as effective when they’re served ala carte. Each service should dove tail the others and work together to achieve shared goals.
In particular, if your child receives outside ABA or other behavioral therapy, like RDI or sensory integration, these providers should work with your child’s teacher to address behavioral problems at school. At a minimum, someone from your ABA provider should attend IEP meetings to provide input regarding goals and how to address behavioral issues.

We are fortunate that the Center for Autism and Related Disorders (CARD), our ABA provider, is all in when it comes to supporting Tosh’s educational and speech goals. Since he spends 20 hours a week there, that’s a must. Otherwise, there wouldn’t be enough time in the day for ABA, school,...

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