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Autism and Play Dates: Visiting a Friend’s House

Posted by Terry Doherty on July 22, 2014 in Educational Resources, etiquette and manners, Parenting Issues, Parenting Tips |

autiism and play datesIn today’s edition of our All about Asperger’s Syndrome series Jodi builds on her last post about Aspie kids and making friends. Today she talks about your child visiting a friend’s house.

Want to come over and play?

How many times did you ask a friend this simple question when you were a child? Do you remember how many times you went to a friend’s house to play, watch a movie, or just hang out? I bet you’ve lost count quickly.

For kids on the Autism Spectrum, though, this may be a rare or never occurring experience. It can be heartbreaking as a parent to leave the school playground, casual playdates being arranged, with no offers extended to your son or daughter.

In my last blog post, Everyone Needs a Friend, I talked about hosting a play date in your own home for your child on the spectrum. Today we’re tackling an even bigger leap into social interaction:

The Play Date at a Friend’s House

autism and play datesI am often asked if autism and play dates can “mix.” Are they even possible? As you think about your child, you may think it is too hard. You may even be scared to try.

All fears seem more frightening until you meet them head on, so let’s tackle this together!

Autism and Play Dates – a Plan

1. Role play, role play, role play

I wrote that three times, because it is so vitally important for kids with social skill challenges. It is also incredibly helpful for kids with anxiety. [ASD and anxiety come together like BFFs to a game of Double Dutch.]

If kids can picture in their minds what may happen at their friend’s house, it can decrease the anxiety of the unknown or unfamiliar. Role playing also helps children learn what appropriate behavior may be expected of them. Here are some scenarios you can act out.

  • toy sharing,
  • video game watching, and
  • snack time.

Practice problem solving, too. Talk through details and “what ifs” to demystify the play date.

  • What will happen if your child is offered gold fish crackers instead of wheat thins.
  • What if the friend’s room is painted green and your daughter hates green?
  • What would some polite responses be?

2. Encourage peer mentorship at school.

With the help of your school educators, help foster friendships by encouraging relationships with children who are both more mature and naturally compassionate. This can be a bridge between autism and playdates.

If you are comfortable, inform this friend that your child is marvelous beyond compare and also has ASD. Help them understand that is why your child sometimes doesn’t act or react in ways typical for other students in the class.

Children are surprisingly accepting, understanding, and compassionate if you allow them to be.

3. Speak with the other parent.

Yes, that’s right. Bring the host family into your trusted circle. It is important for them to understand why your child has difficulty in certain social situations.

If you don’t receive a compassionate response, this may not be a home you’d want your child spending any time in. Now, that being said, many families do not share their child’s diagnosis with the world at large. This is your choice and you need to do what works best for your family.

4. Keep the play date short.

You’re looking for success so keep the play date short. Don’t go for a marathon. Keep it to a sprint, where there is a better chance of crossing the finish line, without a wipe out.

5. Reward, reward, reward

Promise your son or daughter a meaningful reward when you pick them up at the agreed upon, clearly stated playdate’s end time.

It is time to celebrate another milestone achievement.

Most important: whatever you do, DO NOT BE LATE for pickup!

6. Be ready to laugh, cry, and hug your spouse

It will be a bumpy road, full of pot-hole like temper tantrums, but encouraging and fostering friendships will provide intrinsic rewards for your child that will last their lifetime.

Think of these playdates for the long term. It is harder to see the immediate impace sometimes, but it is there. The extra time spent fostering peer relationships now, will benefit their social interaction abilities into adulthood.

Helpful links on friendship:

Last but not least, here is a great site to share with parents who are unfamiliar with Autism Spectrum Disorder: Purposeful Parenting – Special Needs Style, on the Little PIckle Press website.

Favorite quote of the month:

I think of Autism as a different kind of operating system.
– Audrey Lintner, Special Projects Coordinator, Little Pickle Press

About the Author

Jodi Carmichael authorJodi Carmichael is the award-winning author of Spaghetti is NOT a Finger Food and Other Life Lessons. She loves the chance to help parents, teachers, and children understand kids like Connor, who represents many kids with asperger’s in the classroom.

She is also a speaker, an advocate for Asperger Manitoba, and a full time daydreamer. Jodi loves discussing the writing process with students and establishing Young Author Clubs in Canadian schools.

When Jodi is not busy with these activities, she is completing the first draft of her middle grade mystery; Ford and Ellie’s Mostly Solved Mysteries: Family of Spies.

Follow Jodi on her blog at www.jodicarmichael.com.

 

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Quincy the Horse: Making Friends, and Solving Problems

Posted by Josh Luckenbach on July 1, 2014 in Award-winning Products, Interviews with Comments closed |

Camile Matthews is the author of Quincy Moves to the Desert and Quincy Moves to the Desert, all about (you guessed), Quincy the horse.

Her books reflect the day to day challenges that children go through, but more than anything the books are about relationships. There are now four books in her picture book series featuring Quincy the horse.

 

Quincy Moves to the Desert (Quincy the Horse Books)Check out Camille’s books in the Mom’s Choice Awards shop.

Mom’s Choice Awards: Gold

Children’s Picture Book
Values and Life Lessons

Audience:  Birth to 9

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Technology and Your Family: Keep Your Home Safe from Bad Websites

Posted by bryantharrison on June 24, 2014 in Internet Safety & Social Networking, Parenting Issues, Parenting Tips with Comments closed |

Technology is an integral part of our daily lives at home and school. Navigating technology and its  never-ending changes and threats isn’t easy as a parent.

We are excited to welcome IT Expert Bryant Harrison to Mom’s Choice Matters. Bryant will be writing our Technology and Your Family column to give you the information you need to make an informed decision.

Got a question? Leave it in the comments and Bryant will be sure to cover it in the coming months.

A Simple, Easy, Inexpensive Way to Keep Your Entire Home Safe From Bad Websites

The internet is an amazing tool that you can use to learn almost anything… for free!  However, this freedom comes at a cost.

The Internet can be a Gift or a Curse

Having a computer in your home is like giving your kids a magic portal to the middle of New York City and telling them “Have fun!” They will learn lots of things while wandering around the city.  They WILL have fun and play lots of games. Hopefully, visit the HUGE NYC Public Library, as well.  However, it is certain that either by accident or intention, they will walk down some dark alleys.

You have probably already envisioned or encountered these “dark alleys.” They are malware-deploying websites, pornography websites, hate websites, chat rooms, etc.  Many are designed to “catch” young viewers by targeting common misspellings of common, kid-friendly websites.

For example, one porn site used to get customers by targeting a misspelling of disney.com.  [I think they are now shutdown.] Others target naive users by deploying malware through coloring book websites, quilting websites, wallpaper and icon websites, and others.

The only sure way to block 100% of these dark alleys is to unplug your PC. New malware sites literally come up every minute.  Don’t fret this bad news too much. The super-good news is that you CAN block about 98% of these bad sites very easily!

 The Family Safety Solution

OpenDNS is a free tool that has been around for a long time. Many school systems and other larger organizations have been using OpenDNS for years.

How it Works:

Whenever you open your browser to any website (let’s say Google.com), your computer has to ask another computer out on the Internet about who this “Google.com” website is and what’s is its address.  This computer is called a “DNS Server” and Google.com’s address is 74.125.225.84

googles DNS address

Click to see larger image.

It would be like me telling you I wanted to drive to Walmart, and you finding the closest Walmart and giving me the address.

This is important.  With most – if not all, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) – when you ask for a site or click on a site or even when a website you visit tries to load an advertisement, their DNS servers simply send you there and/or load the ads.

There is ZERO filter.  You can go and visit anywhere… good, bad, or ugly. These ads are designed to entice you to click … and your child’s curious mind might be easily tempted.

This is where OpenDNS and Umbrella come in to save the day!!!  If you are using OpenDNS or Umbrella, whenever websites are translated into their actually numerical address, they are checked against a HUGE database of bad-boy websites.

OpenDNS is free; Umbrella, which is new, is a paid product. It costs between $28 to $50 a year per user. To translate: for $150 you can give your 3-person household Maximum protection … even if you had 10 total devices.

Whatever categories of junk you choose to block, will be blocked!  The categories are plentiful; everything from “Malware” and “Pornography” to “German Nazi Youth” and “Games/General Time Wasters.”  You just put a check next to what you don’t want.

Aside from paid v. free, there are two key differences between Umbrella and OpenDNS.

  • Umbrella can be put on mobile devices like laptops and iPads.
  • Because of its design, Umbrella can “detect” brand-new (zero-day) websites with malicious intent.

Because of this, it boasts the ability to block 99.9% of all malware-deploying websites.

 

Where to Get It

When it comes to technology and your family, there are many how-to docs on the web showing how to install OpenDNS.

  • To JUST block malware, all you need to do is follow the instructions in this link: http://use.opendns.com/. You can set it up on a router to protect a whole network… or you can set it up on a per-computer basis.
  • To If you want to protect against other categories of junk, you can setup an account here: http://www.opendns.com/

If you want the added protection of Umbrella, it is best to find a reseller to provision your account. The initial setup has MANY options and can be very complicated.

Because of its capabilities, each of the companies I own are resellers of this product.  Many other IT companies do this as well.  It is a superb product that is quick and easy to deploy… once your account is setup, you can easily do it yourself!

http://www.opendns.com/enterprise-security/

Remember: The Internet can be a Powerful Gift

I believe the internet is a gift.  Anyone willing to read and search for answers can find them. Anyone can learn to do ANYTHING!!

Although it is hard for us to remember a life without technology, the Internet, and even mobile devices, the Internet continues to grow exponentially and remains a largely untamed wilderness. Our kids are digital natives in this wilderness of information.

It is worth your time to get a tool to keep your devices safe as well as to protect your family.

If you have any questions about technology and your family -specifically protecting your kiddos from bad websites – leave a question in the comments.

Meet Bryant

Bryant Harrison Tech ExpertBryant Harrison is the founding partner of QuickFix in Charlottesville, VA.  He and his partner also own three other IT companies along the US East Coast:  BrightFlow, MePush and Avati.

Bryant is quick to laugh and enjoys discussing new ideas and solutions to problems with anyone in need.  His dedication to customer satisfaction and achieving “the warm-fuzzies” with clients, as he likes to put it, are the keys to his success. Bryant believes that,

People want someone to help their home or business to be efficient and to grow.  They want someone who feels like a collaborator and family member… not an equation.

We have been so successful because in all of our businesses, we hire like-minded people who care for others. It must be about taking care of customers in the same way that you would take care of your family.

Links for Bryant

QuickFixGeek on FacebookGuick Fix Geek on TwitterQuickFix Geek on Google+

Websites
www.quickfixgeek.com – Charlottesville, VA

www.mepush.com – Lewisburg, PA

www.brightflow.net – Charlotte, NC

www.getavati.com – Charlotte, NC (Headquarters)

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Note: The views and opinions are solely those of the author, who is providing the article for informational purposes. Products discussed are presented as professional recommendations by an IT expert. They do not represent endorsement by or approval of the Mom’s Choice Awards.

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Inspired by Birds – Song for Papa Crow

Posted by Josh Luckenbach on June 20, 2014 in Award-winning Products, Interviews with Comments closed |

The inspiration to write a children’s book can come from anywhere. For Marit Menzin, it was her daughter’s school project about birds. Marit’s award-winning book Song for Papa Crow is more than just another animal fable. It is a story grounded by facts about birds and their habits. In this interview with Terry Doherty, Marit shares her story, a few bird facts, and tells us how the book inspired a song.

Song for Papa Crow - MOM'S CHOICE AWARD GOLD HONORCheck out Marit’s wonderful book in the Mom’s Choice Awards shop.

Mom’s Choice Awards: Gold

Children’s Picture Book
Distinctive Illustration

Audience:  Birth to 9

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Summer Safety Tips 8 Easy Ways to Have a Great Summer

Posted by Heather B on June 11, 2014 in Family Fun, Healthy Living, Parenting Tips with Comments closed |

Summertime.

summer safety tips introThe season many of us look forward to the most!

The weather is warm, the kids are out of school, and the schedule is a little more relaxed.

Let’s not forget more time to be outside, too!

Even with a less rigid schedule, there are plenty of summer activities that kids are involved with.

These summer safety tips should make for a smooth, carefree summer break whether your kids are at the pool, at camp, or just playing in the backyard.

8 Summer Safety Tips for a Great Summer

Summer Safety Tips #1. Sunscreen.

Reminders about the importance of sunscreen are great, but remembering to use it is what counts.

use sunscreenIf you are headed out for an activity in the sun, place the bottle of lotion in a place where it won’t be missed.

If a sunburn blisters on a child or teen, it more than doubles their risk for skin cancer as an adult.

Lather those precious little bodies up with the good stuff! At least a “broad spectrum” of 30 or higher.

Summer Safety Tips #2. Drive carefully.

kids playing outdoorsWith kids riding around on all sorts of toys, motorcyclists, walking folks, mommies pushing strollers, and animals out to play, looking both ways sometimes isn’t enough.

Being diligent in careful observation on our roads and sidewalks is crucial to keeping our pedestrians safe.

Summer Safety Tips #3. Double check playground equipment & supervise playground play.

playground swingsThousands of emergency room visits are made every summer due to playground injuries.

Don’t forget! The equipment has been sitting in the sun all day, so it can be very hot to the touch. Be mindful of this when you’re heading to the playground.

Summer Safety Tips #4. Discuss Pool Safety Rules.

supervise kids in a poolTeaching kids to obey the rules of the pool (or lake or pond) is essential. Hundreds of kids every summer die due to accidental drowning.

Never leave kids alone by or in the pool. Ever. Be sure to secure a home pool with fencing and alarms.

Also, if you live near canals and ditches, make sure they are blocked to prevent random or easy entrance.

Summer Safety Tips #5. Protect those precious heads!

bike safety with helmetsHelmets for bikes and ATV’s [All Terrain Vehicles] should always be worn. Make sure they fit properly will ensure those little noggins are safe.

While your securing that helmet, don’t forget to put some sunscreen on the top of their ears!

Summer Safety Tips #6. Stay hydrated.

stay hydrated with reusable water bottlesHeat stroke can happen fast, especially in children where their central nervous systems aren’t yet fully developed.

Keep water and sports drinks on hand primarily during the hottest part of the day.

Keep it fun too- fill reusable cups with lids and straws. When it looks fun and tastes great, they won’t hesitate to sip all day long!

Summer Safety Tips #7. Never leave a child or animal in a parked car.

Summer is hot … and closed spaces are even hotter. Even if you think it is “just for a second” the risks outweigh the benefit.

keep kids out of hot carsOn a 90° day a parked car can reach upwards of 119° after only 20 minutes. After an hour, the temperature inside that car soars to more than 130°.

Play it safe and avoid any chance your child or pet will be left in a parked car.

Summer Safety Tips #8. Summer BBQs and picnics can be a hot spot for food poisoning.

When you’re packing for your picnic or potluck keep these four things in mind.

food safety for picnics* Keep food that contains egg chilled at all times.
* Cook meat to the proper temperature.
* Wash Veggies and fruits well before eating.

IMPORTANT: Never use the same knife to cut raw meat and fruits or vegetables.

Zip-top style bags filled with ice can help you with food that needs to stay chilled. Put them in a larger bowl or container underneath the serving dish.

Safety First!

summer safety tipsEnjoying the outdoors is what we do in the summer.

Kids look forward to endless amounts of pool time.

Moms look forward to easier schedules.

Playing it safe with our Summer Safety Tips makes summer great and keep the fun going strong.

Best of all, following our tips helps to make sure that your “great memories” don’t include any sour notes like trips to the ER!

About the Author

Our thanks to Heather B at Kidsemail.org for sending in this post.

Kidsemail.org is a safe email service for kids safeguarding them from language, predators, images,and video, while keeping them connected to loved ones and learning about technology in a safer environment.

Get more safety tips on the KidsEmail blog http://blog.kidsemail.org/

 

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Image Credits (All Flicker.com Creative Commons)

Lemonade Stand – Lemonade Stand by Patrick

Suntan lotions – Rich’s cabinet o’ suntan lotions by Sgt Fun

Kids in the Driveway – Playing Something Fun by JB Halper

Ducks in the Water – Ducks on a Swimming Pool by Graham Alton

Swings – Golden Gate Park by Jerry Brague

Kids on Bikes – Bikers and Helmets by Reway2007

Water bottles – Waterbottles by Bill Jankowski

Thermometer – It Ain’t ‘Alf Hot Mum by Johnsyweb

Picnic food – Picnic Spread by Tom Magliery

 

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Dreaming up Children’s books with Marcie May

Posted by Josh Luckenbach on June 10, 2014 in Award-winning Products, Interviews with Comments closed |

At BookExpo 2013, Terry Doherty had the chance to catch up with Marcie May, author of the the award-winning Penny and Tubs: The City on the Sea. The inspiration for the book came to her in a dream. This is the first book in the series, and Marcie was kind enough to give us a sneak peek into what’s next for this lovable duo.

The Adventures of Penny & Tubs: The City on the Sea (Mom's Award Choice Recipient)Check out Marcie May’s book in the Mom’s Choice Awards shop.

Mom’s Choice Awards: Silver

Juvenile Books (Level 1)
Fiction – General

Audience:  Ages 5-8

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Making Friends 101 Everyone Needs a Friend

Posted by Terry Doherty on June 4, 2014 in Education & School, etiquette and manners, Medical Issues, Parenting Issues, Parenting Tips with Comments closed |


asperger in classroomIn today’s edition of our All about Asperger’s Syndrome series Jodi talks about Aspie kids and making friends. First, she dispels the myth that children on the spectrum don’t “want” friends.

Then she offers some tips on how we as adults can help a child who struggles with social skills make and keep lasting friendships.

Today’s article about making friends has a bonus section with Website Links Jodi highly recommends.

Social skills — such as reading social cues, using humor and banter; understanding compromise; and the give and take that occurs in friendships — are all important components of making friends and allowing friendships to blossom and grow.

For families who are unfamiliar with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), the thought of teaching their child these “soft” social skills doesn’t even cross their minds. For families with an Aspie in their fold, helping a child recognize and build these social skills are a top priority.

These are the skills that have direct bearing on their child’s ability in making friends. These parents often worry more about relationships with their child’s peer group than on teaching their child basic social skills.

Making Friends: Dispelling the Myth

Just because someone may struggle with developing friendships, doesn’t mean they don’t want friends or that they aren’t lonely.

There is a dangerous fallacy floating about that needs to be eradicated. There is a belief that individuals on the spectrum don’t feel emotions, that they don’t want friends, and prefer to be alone. This isn’t true.

Human nature is such that we all seek to find a connection with someone.

Making Friends: Tips for Home & School

pooh and piglet making friends photo: pooh and piglet image12.gif

source: Photobucket.com

As parents, we encourage friendship. It is so heartwarming and fun to watch our child grow, making friends along the way.

We want our children to develop healthy social skills so they grow into a happy, well balanced, and self-confident adolescents and adults.

So how can we help children make friends?

Start a campaign to promote an Inclusive Attitude at school.

Encourage the teachers and administration to use phrases like

  • “Everyone belongs at our school” and
  • “Being different is outstanding here.”

This supports all students’ uniqueness and puts students in action against shunning and bullying.

Suggest Friendship Fridays or Friend Clubs at school.

winnie-the-pooh photo: WinniethePooh WinniethePooh.jpg

source: Photobucket.com

These events create a positive opportunity for kids who are working on social skills and friendship development. They get to ask a friend to eat with them in the library or some other special spot in the school.

They are usually organized by a resource teacher or another staff member. Depending on time and size, they can include games and other fun events that encourage the kids to interact and get to know each other in smaller-sized groups.

Attend weekly social skills training sessions.

Whether it is at home, at school, or through a third party such as an ASD society or group, consider role-playing with your child that centers on making friends.

  • Give your child words to use to help them make contact with other children.
  • Help him engage others in discussion and play.
  • Help her navigate through known problem situations.

making friends - pooh

source: Photobucket.com

Use these opportunities to talk about “the niceties of social interaction” that are also part of making friends. These are the things we say and do as members of a polite society. We hold doors open for others, we say “please” and “thank you,” et al.

Explain that we always say “Hello, how are you,” even if we do not care about someone’s feelings in that moment. It is part of being a polite person.

Because this can be a hard concept for any child, you may want to use an example of something that has lots of “moving parts.”

For example, an automobile. A car has a motor that needs oil and gas to make its components work smoothly. These “niceties” make our social world work smoothly.

Video tape your child in social situations.

For children who are literal and visual, video can be a helpful tool. It is something you can watch together and discuss what went well and what needs to be reviewed.

Note: If you are taping other children, be sure to get their parents permission ahead of time.

Organize playdates where you will present.

Because you know your child’s triggers best, it is helpful for you to be there to help guide social interaction as needed. Playdates work best when there are highly structured activities that include all the participants.

The better the social skills through familiar situations and practiced responses, the easier it will be for your child to navigate the tricky world of friendships later.

Last but not least, reward and praise your child every step of the way! This will help with self-esteem and encourage them to continue reaching out to others and developing new friendships.

Things are always so much more grand and wonderful when your friends are there to share them.  ~ Winnie-the-Pooh

Making Friends: Bonus Links

Social Skills for Children and Teens with Aspergers; How Schools and Families can Help – YourLittleProfessor.com

Autism Spectrum Disorder Friends – RaisingChildren.net.au

Circle of Friends: Promoting Inclusion & Interaction – autism.org.uk

Helping Your Child Make Friends – autism-help.org

NEXT in our series: Helping your child and host families when the playdate isn’t at your house.

About the Author

Jodi Carmichael authorJodi Carmichael is the award winning author of Spaghetti is NOT a Finger Food and Other Life Lessons. She loves the chance to help parents, teachers, and children understand kids like Connor, who represents many kids with asperger’s in the classroom.

She is also a speaker, an advocate for Asperger Manitoba, and a full time daydreamer. Jodi loves discussing the writing process with students and establishing Young Author Clubs in Canadian schools.

When Jodi is not busy with these activities, she is completing the first draft of her middle grade mystery; Ford and Ellie’s Mostly Solved Mysteries: Family of Spies.

Follow Jodi on her blog at www.jodicarmichael.com.

Image Credits:

Asperger’s Syndrome ribbon: Chesapeake Academy Logo, found here.

Winnie the Pooh and friends images via Photobucket.com

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Stuck – A Book about Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Posted by Josh Luckenbach on June 1, 2014 in Award-winning Products, Interviews with Comments closed |

In her award-winning children’s book Stuck, Rhonda C. Martin tackles the topic of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. This is Cinnamon’s story about being “stuck” when washing her hands after art or playing with her dolls or doing math homework.

It’s not a story line you often see, and in this interview Rhonda talks about the importance of getting the word out, helping people understand the difference between OCD and ADHD / ADD, and engaging readers to be compassionate people.

StuckCheck out Rhonda’s book in the Mom’s Choice Awards shop.

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A Story to Teach Self-Confidence, Kindness, and Tolerance

Posted by Josh Luckenbach on May 20, 2014 in Award-winning Products, Interviews with Comments closed |

Karen Kilpatrick started creating stories when her children were young. “I wanted to create an early foundation for self-confidence, kindness, appreciation, tolerance, awareness and respect through fun and engaging stories!” Voila! The award-winning Pumpkinheads series is here.

In her interview with Terry Doherty, Karen talks about Carmen Cares (the first book in the series) and what lies ahead for her Pumpkinheads team.

 

Carmin Cares (Pumpkinheads)Check out Karen’s book in the Mom’s Choice Awards shop.

Mom’s Choice Awards: Gold

Children’s Picture Book
Green Earth

Audience:  Birth to 9

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Helping Kids with Asperger’s in the Classroom

Posted by Terry Doherty on May 14, 2014 in Education & School, Medical Issues, Parenting Tips with Comments closed |


asperger in classroomIn today’s edition of our All about Asperger’s Syndrome series Jodi focuses on how a student on the spectrum may be having difficulty in the classroom setting and some tips to help them better navigate their day.

 

Throughout this article about helping kids with Asperger’s in the classroom, I will use Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and Asperger’s Syndrome interchangeably.  Essentially, all diagnoses of what would once be referred to as Asperger Syndrome now fall within the ASD.

Helping Kids Understand their peers on the spectrum

When I visit classrooms to talk about my book Spaghetti is Not a Finger Food, I want the children to understand how Connor views ordinary classroom interaction.

Understanding of why other people do what they do, say what they say, and react the way they react, helps children grow empathetically and to accept people different from themselves.

asperger's in the classroomI like to use lots of examples so they get a very real sense of how he sees the world. Role playing is very helpful, and during these visits I often pretend I am Mrs. Winters, who is Connor’s teacher in Spaghetti. I make up a scene where Connor returns to class late from recess.

Using tone of voice, hand gestures, and facial expression I say the following sentence, twice:

Happy you could finally make it Connor. Where have you been?

The first time I say it, I smile. My voice is full of concern and my arms are open wide, welcoming him into the classroom.

When I repeat the sentence the second time, I frown, tap my watch to indicate he is late, then place my hands on my hips. My voice is in a full, serious-teacher-i-mean-business tone.

If you were not on the spectrum it would be easy to hear, see, and sense that I was truly happy to see Connor with the first version. When I repeat the comment in the second version, it would be simple to comprehend my displeasure that Connor was late to class.

For a child who has Asperger’s Syndrome, hearing the difference in tone of voice, reading the facial cues, and understanding my arm gestures may be hard – if not impossible – to figure to distinguish.

Throw in the sarcastic twist found within the second version, where “happy” actually means “angry” and the child with ASD is lost.

basic social communicationCan you imagine how confusing the world would be, if understanding such a simple exchange  is that difficult?

Now imagine how frustrating it would feel if you unintentionally kept getting into trouble because simple interpersonal communication was foreign to you or at the very least, challenging to learn. In some ways, for those with ASD it is as if you’re learning a second language: the language of social communication.

Helping Students with Asperger’s in the Classroom

In the classroom it’s important to remember that kids with ASD aren’t trying to be difficult. That said, they may require some adaptations to achieve their full potential.

Here are some ideas on ways you can help your student who is on the spectrum. Meet with your child’s teachers and support staff to help smooth some of the social interaction and communication road bumps.

  • Ask the teachers what words / phrases they use for specific concepts (e.g., poor choice v. bad choice). Using the same vocabulary in both places decreases confusion.
  • Ask to be alerted to upcoming events or changes in the schedule in advance so that you can prepare your student for change, maybe even practice what the event will look like.
  • Ask if there are tools that you can send to school. For example, Aspies are sensitive to noise. Would your student be allowed to wear earplugs when s/he needs to focus on something?

You can also download my Tip Sheet for Helping Students with Asperger’s in the Classroom.

Communication between school and home is crucial. This isn’t something you do *just* at the beginning of the year. Your child is growing and changing, and so the tools for helping a child with Asperger’s in the classroom setting will change, too.

Next edition: Jodie talks about Asperger’s in the classroom. In the meantime, if you have any questions, be sure to add it to our comments.

About the Author

Jodi Carmichael authorJodi Carmichael is the award winning author of Spaghetti is NOT a Finger Food and Other Life Lessons. She loves the chance to help parents, teachers, and children understand kids like Connor, who represents many kids with asperger’s in the classroom.

She is also a speaker, an advocate for Asperger Manitoba, and a full time daydreamer. Jodi loves discussing the writing process with students and establishing Young Author Clubs in Canadian schools.

When Jodi is not busy with these activities, she is completing the first draft of her middle grade mystery; Ford and Ellie’s Mostly Solved Mysteries: Family of Spies.

Follow Jodi on her blog at www.jodicarmichael.com.

Image Credits:

Asperger’s Syndrome ribbon: Chesapeake Academy Logo, found here.

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