Monday, February 20, 2017

2016: A Year in the Rear View Mirror that can eat my dust

I have not blogged much at all in the past year. 2016 turned into The Year of Testing. The same day we had Lady Bug screened and found out she was autistic (level 3) some stuff came out about Builder Boy and Early Bird that had been happening at AWANAS and no one ever said anything about it to me until everything came to a horrible climax and Early Bird's anxiety was expressing as aggression and he was no longer welcome at a friend's house for a time. Oh yeah, it was A Year. In August (September?) Builder Boy was identified as being autistic level 1 (what used to be known as Asperger's and then HFA/High Functioning Autism) with a Pragmatic Language Disorder, a very smart Visual Spacial Reasoning brain (remember all my posts about kinetic learning?) but not enough to qualify as gifted. Which of course had me questioning almost every single parenting and teaching choice I had made in the past 5 years. In January Early Bird was also identified as autistic level 1 and qualified as 2E/twice exceptional/gifted plus "disability." And he was diagnosed in early 2016 as having anxiety. And he fits all the signs of SPD/Sensory Processing Disorder as sensory defensive (everything feels like more than what "normal" people perceive it as.)

When Builder Boy was identified as being ASD, by that time I knew there was no way that Early Bird wasn't, since he was having more severe problems at the time. So over the course of one day I went from having one special needs toddler and two older kids that I thought I had a handle on, to an ALL Special Needs House.

So what does that mean for my blog? I started this with the intention on sharing how we homeschool; that has not changed. I don't intend for this to become an All About Autism blog, because what we're doing isn't necessarily autism specific, and can be used by regular neurotypical families just fine. Of course now I feel the need to re-read everything I've ever written to see if it needs a qualifier added to it. But Blogger is being sucky and isn't letting me edit any old posts anymore so I can't even fix broken pictures. Which sucks. I have a bunch of things I want to write about, things we've been using (because we are actually getting stuff done for one in our journey!) and things we've done a bit differently that I think people would like to hear. Time to myself has been precious and not likely to be spent on the computer in full view of children. But reading some of my old posts helped me realize that I miss this. So I'm going to try to get back on the writing wagon. And despite the occasional autism specific post, I'm intending to keep it homeschool focused. Thanks for sticking around.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

5 Things to Tell Your Kids About Autistic Children

After my last post for Autism *Understanding* I was asked to make one specifically for kids so that they could help young children understand and help better interactions with autistic children. Here's what I came up with:

1) Autistic kids are like you: they have favorite things and like to have fun! But autistic kids are also different from you because what is fun for you may not be fun to them, and vice versa.

2) Autistic kids may seem strange or weird because they may act differently than other kids. They may repeat the same words or actions over and over, or become scared by something that doesn't seem scary to you. But try to remember that *you* are weird and strange to them, too!

3) Autistic kids say exactly what they mean and expect others to do the same. Sometimes this causes confusion! But that's okay; just try again. Sometimes they don't say anything at all. That's okay, too.

4) Sometimes autistic kids are too rough when playing. They aren't trying to be mean; it doesn't feel the same to them as it does to you. Sometimes autistic kids want to never be touched. Please respect that.

5) The easiest way to play with an autistic kid is to follow their lead and copy what they are doing as a way to start.

Remember that autistic kids want friends and to be friendly; they just often don't know how to or are not very good at it. And they don't understand teasing. They won't do it on purpose and they won't understand if it's done to them.

Feel free to share to promote Autism Understanding!

Can any of my fellow ASD parents chime in? Anything to add, anything I missed, or a better way to say something?

Autism Exists!

Autism exists!!!

Oh, wait, you already knew that? But that's all you need to know to have awareness, right? No? Hmm, well, how about instead of posting silly sentences that doesn't promote autism *understanding* you share this:

1) 2014 CDC statistics have 1 in 68 kids as being autistic. Since the definition of autism is expanding and changing all the time, and since girls on the spectrum are often missed, it's probably more than that. That means, unless you're a hermit, you're probably meeting more autistic people than you realize.

2) Autism is a spectrum; that means that there are variations and differences in various degrees of intensity. There will be people who you don't think "look" autistic, but are. If you've met one person with autism, you've met one person. Don't expect all other autistic people to act the way the one person with autism that you know does.

3) Asperger's and "High Functioning Autism" are now known as ASD (autism spectrum disorder) level 1. Unless the person identifies *themselves* as an Aspie, try to use current terms.

4) Most people on the spectrum do not enjoy being touched by people they aren't very close to. (I mean, do YOU want to be touched by strangers?) So while all autistic people are different, it's a good rule of thumb that unless someone is in IMMEDIATE DANGER, keep your hands to yourself.

5) Don't bring up vaccines. Seriously; DO NOT. I don't care which way you think, don't bring them up unless you WANT to come across as a clueless jerk.

If you never have anyone on the autism spectrum in your close social circle, then this is the main stuff you should know. If you do have someone in your family or close social circle who is on the spectrum, the best source of information it the person themselves (or their parent if they're a child.)
If you'd like some more information of what NOT to say, here's a link to my blog post about that.

Please share for actual Autism Understanding that helps the community.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Curricula Goals 2016-2017

Vocabulary: Wordly Wise Book 3 and 4
Handwriting: Zaner Bloser workbooks
Grammar: Finish First Language Lessons 3 and do all of FLL 4
Spelling: Finish All About Spelling level 3 and begin AAS level 4
Math: Beast Academy
     Early Bird: Work through level 3 and hopefully complete by the end of the school year
     Builder Boy: Work through both levels 3 and 4
Science: (Biology year) 3 weeks Intro to Biology, 18 weeks Animal Kingdom, 1 week DNA and inherited traits, 8 weeks Human Body, 6 weeks Plants
History: Story of the World Ancients
     Early Bird: Read chapter and answer questions from activity guide, do narration, coloring page from activity guide
     Builder Boy: Listen to chapter, outline history encyclopedia pages or paragraph
     Both: map work from activity guide, time line, SOTW chapter tests, occasional activities, additional reading

Writing will be folded into science and history until comfort level has been reached, at which point we will continue with 4 Square Writing and How To Tell a Story.

I am going to try giving the boys their very first assigned reading assignments and accompanying project starting next week. We'll see how that goes.

I would like to eventually add in Beginning Editing, Word Roots study, and Logic again.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

First Day and Week of School, Take 5

Another First Day of School happened this week. Our 5th one so far. I took pictures and then tried not to cry over the obvious differences in the boys' faces over the years of First Days. Despite Lady Bug waking me up at 2am and not falling asleep until 6am almost every night, I really feel like I rocked our first week of the new school year. And that's funny, because the me of 5 years ago would never have considered what we did this week for school as "rocking it." We didn't do a single project or craft! How is that good enough?! But we actually got all of our subjects done at a sustainable level. And that's key for me.

Don't get me wrong, I still love the idea of the crafts and awesome projects laid out in the Activity Guide for Story of the World. I want to do ALL THE THINGS and have fun! But I also want to homeschool consistently for more than a few months at a time. I managed to homeschool last year in a few big chunks with a multi-month break for the fourth move in four years. However, despite the very full school files, it doesn't feel like it was quite enough. And that's with unschooling the science and history that year.

The last two weeks of July we did morning subjects and a fun engineering project in the afternoon. It was a really good way to ease us back into out schedule. The first week of August we did morning subjects plus an afternoon subject. I am hoping that over the months we will find time to add in the less basic subjects like editing, word root study, and formal logic. Right now we're doing vocabulary, handwriting, grammar, spelling, math, science, history, and writing. And it feels really good to be getting things done.

And no, I didn't make a mistake on Early Bird's sign. He's been doing the same work as his brother in most subjects now for a few years and his lowest grade level subject is math which he is working on at a 3rd grade level. So he has officially "skipped" a grade even though he did all the work.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Friday, April 22, 2016

Logic Resources before the Logic Stage: Part 1

While we have been doing things differently than a strictly classical education approach in the last few years, I still like to "check in" with The Well Trained Mind to get an idea of what our goals should be close to. I started Builder Boy's 4th grade year with the goal of having him ready for the classical approach for 5th grade as laid out by TWTM. Not sure if we'll actually get there or not, but I do like the idea of introducing formal logic in 5th grade. But I didn't want to just dump it on him with no warm up, so this 4th grade year we have been having some fun with various playful logic resources to introduce him to the concepts.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

How Does a Homeschooler Raise a Butterfly?

I love the homeschooler changing a lightbulb joke. You know the one:

"How does a homeschooler change a lightbulb? 
First, mom checks three books on electricity out of the library, then the kids make models of light bulbs, read a biography of Thomas Edison and do a skit based on his life. 
Next, everyone studies the history of lighting methods, wrapping up with dipping their own candles. Next, everyone takes a trip to the store where they compare types of light bulbs as well as prices and figure out how much change they'll get if they buy two bulbs for $1.99 and pay with a five dollar bill.
On the way home, a discussion develops over the history of money and also Abraham Lincoln, as his picture is on the five dollar bill.
Finally, after building a homemade ladder out of branches dragged from the woods, the light bulb is installed.
And there is light."

Friday, March 25, 2016

Overdue Update

In October my good friend babysat all three kids for me for several hours. When I went to pick them up from her house she asked me to stay for a minute and talk. She had been doing some random reading the night before about signs of autism in toddlers and she thought she saw some of the things mentioned in Lady Bug. She shared a link to the Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers, Revised (also known as the M-CHAT) and suggested I try the checklist and see what it said.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Wordly Wise A, B, and C Review

We recently completed the Wordly Wise series A, B, and C and have moved on to Wordly Wise 3000 workbooks. We first started these workbooks sometime in Builder Boy's 2nd grade year, after they took the DORA for the first time and the results showed that they were ready for a vocabulary program and would benefit from one. I asked around my online homeschooling groups and purchased the first book from Rainbow Resource online. I purchased the answer key (sold separately) as well, but it really wasn't necessary. It was pretty obvious to me what the answers were most of the time.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Costume Making Season

So I'm in full blown costume making mode. And I have the spray painted fingers to prove it! We've usually gone simple for costumes but this year we're going a bit more elaborate with a Doctor Who family theme. Oh, and I also threw together a quick bat costume for Early Bird because he's currently obsessed with bats. I'll have pictures and guidelines to follow once I find my hot glue gun, but if you just can't wait to see what's going on I've been updating on the blog's facebook page.

Here's the link to all the easy costumes I've made over the years.

Here's the link to the facebook page.
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