ACTIVITIES AND CRAFTS THAT GET KIDS MOVING AND LEARNING


1) Colorful Musical Chairs: This is an adaption of musical chairs. tape a large piece of paper on each chair. Ask each child to stand by a chair. Children will walk in a circle around the chairs until the music stops. While the music is off, children draw on the paper. When the music continues, children continue to walk in a circle. When the music stops, the scenario described before is repeated. Each time the music stops, a child will most likely be standing by a different chair. Hence, they continually add artwork to a different picture. The end result is a team picture. Your little Picasso have learned the concept of teamwork through their completed creation.

This activity is one of my favorites. No chairs are taken out of the game as is the case in traditional musical chairs. Thus, it provides a positive activity and opportunity for small children, and children struggling with the rules of social reciprocation. Once the artwork is complete, you may connect all of the art squares together on the wall. The children will take pride in their wall of fame.

2) Textures: Investigate the concept of textures by exploring items that can be used for applying paint other than a paintbrush.  to create a work of art. This activity increases observation and reasoning skills by thinking outside of the box. Perhaps the children could paint with various types of pasta, a slotted spoon, tin foil balls, feathers, etc..

The substitutions for a paintbrush are limitless. Encourage the children to contribute ideas for substitute paintbrushes. This affords them a sense of pride and empowerment  from feeling heard. Different painting tools will create different textures on the children’s artwork. After the paint dries, you may decide to discuss the various textures and imprints by sharing the children’s paintings during circle time.

3)Science – Magnetism:  This was a favorite project in my classroom. Magnets attract kids. (No Pun Intended:-0) Place magnetic items in a bowl of water. Wave a magnetic wand over the bowl and watch what happens!! The items will spin around in the bowl of water. What happens if non magnetic items are used? Well, let’s find out. Replace magnetic items in the bowl of water with non magnetic ones. Encourage children to wave the magnetizing wand over the bowl of water. The children will be learning a simple lesson in magnetism here.

Explain why certain items reacted to the magnetic wand and others did not. I place two bowls of water side by side for visual comparison. One bowl has items that are not attracted to the magnet, the other bowl of water has items that are attracted. In doing so, the children can visualize the concept, watch you model it, and actively participate.

A variation of this experiment is to place the bowl of items that are magnetically attracted to the wand on the table. Wave the magnetic wand under the table. What happens you ask? The items in the bowl will react to the wand that you or the children are waving under the table. Make sure thee wand is placed directly under the bowl or this experiment will not work.

Warning, this is a tough project to tear the kids away from. You will get wet. Younger children can’t help but put their hands in the bowls of water occasionally, and splash. :-0)

4) Dried Flower Place-mats: Take the kids on a nature walk. Supply children with a small bag to put their stash in. Encourage the children to collect flowers to create their place-mat with. Children will often choose dried leaves, pine needles, grass, or what ever else they may come across on their nature walk. In my experience, this is the case more so than not. Do not restrict children from adding other items of their choosing. Adults may believe that a place-mat encased with mere flowers is more attractive than clumps of grass. A five year old child may think those clumps of grass are beautiful. It this their creation not yours. Please be flexible and encourage the children to think outside the box.

Upon your return indoors, provide each child with a large square of laminate. Provide the children with safe scissors and encourage them to cut the laminate sheet into to squares. Allow the child to cut as independently as possible. NEVER correct the child if they did not cut the squares perfectly. There is nothing more beautiful than a huge smile on a young child’s face as they conquer a new skill. You make think their placement is unbelievably misshapen. The kid may perceive their creation as the most beautiful creation in the world. That is the important goal here – positive self efficacy.

Peel the first sheet of laminate and place it on the table. The children can put their “dried flowers” on the sticky sheet. Peel the second piece of laminate and place on the top of the first piece. Whoolah!!!!!! The children have created a place-mat grand enough to be placed on the dinner table. :-0)

Some tips for encouraging independent involvement in this project. If the child has not acquired proper motor skill control to cut through laminate, cut the majority for them. Leave an inch or so uncut and let the child finish the job. If children are struggling with peeling the laminate, peel almost to the end for them. Let the child peel the last couple of inches of laminate if this is reasonably possible.

5) Mud Pie Fun; Take mud pies to a new level. Mix plant dirt mix with water and allow the children to pour the pasty solution into disposable cups. Allow the cups to dry in the sun. When the mud bricks are dry, the children can use them to build anything their imagination conjures. Perhaps they can build a hot wheels garage, a bridge, who knows? encourage their imaginations to soar!!!

Add water in small portions to the plant mix. The solution must be pasty and not liquefied in order to dry and solidify  properly.Perhaps the children could take turns doing  do the measuring and mixing as you coach.

I hope you enjoy these ideas. Have a terrific weekend. :-0)

Mari N. M.Ed.

 

Mari Nosal : Please stop by my site at Amazon Books and check out my published books on autism aspergers special needs and more   http://tinyurl.com/kdspqy9

 

KIDS ACTIVITIES & CRAFTS FOR FUN & GIGGLES


Hello There :-0)

I have included some fun ideas to increase fine motor skill development, sensory awareness, literacy skills, and more. On the surface, these activities may look like mere fun. AHHHHHHH but one cannot always tell a book by its cover, can we?  Include a high fun factor in the learning and children will maintain the engagement in the project. The more engaged the child is, the more that child will recall and practice what they have learned.

  • 1) Rutti Tutti Water Colors: This is an excellent way to explore colors,sense of smell, and occasionally taste, as an occasional child attempts to “taste” the paint. (do not worry, the paint is totally non toxic sugar-free jello) :-0)

Drop two boxes of sugar-free Jello in a bowl. This project works best when you use four or five flavors in separate bowls. i.e. orange jello for orange cherry jello for the color red, lime jello for the color green, etc. Drop tablespoons of water into the bowl of jello and stir. This must be done slowly as the intent is to create a pasty consistency. If too much water is added the jello will be watery, thus losing its textured appearance when the children paint with it.

Attempt to include the children by allowing them turns stirring the jello and adding water. This encourages independence and a sense of team work in the kids. This project may be adapted by adding Q. TIPS, sponges, even potato stamps that the children create, as alternate ways to paint. This is an excellent way to explore and think outside the box.

You may want to encourage the children to provide you with their impression of what each flavor of jello smells like, and broach a discussion. i.e. You can talk about the orange jello and display an orange for visual reinforcement, etc.

2)  Make Marbles and chopsticks: This game enhances eye hand coordination and fine motor skills. Have the children place colored marbles on a plate. Provide them with straws to use as chopsticks. The chopsticks are the only instrument that can be used to move marbles from one plate to another. This can be made into a team game. You can encourage the children to compete and see who can pick up the most marbles. Use judgment as applying the competitive edge depends on the childs social and emotional development. You can also provide a basic math activity by counting the marbles on the plate.

3) Chalk fun: The children have the opportunity to stand in a line and draw a line with chalk. The next child adds to the first childs line, (or drawing) with the intent of creating a group art project. No scribbles allowed in this one. The intent is to think ahead towards an ultimate creation. This is a fun way to reinforce taking turns, reciprocity, and plain old team work. :-0)

4) Spud Knockers : This is a great game for children who have social emotional challenges, or are merely not developmentally ready for team games. They merely compete against themselves. In this game, they will reinforce coordination, gross motor skills and more.

Two potatoes are placed in a panty hose leg. The pantyhose is lightly tied around the childs leg. Another potato is placed on the ground. The child hits the potato on the ground by swinging their leg that has the other potato in the pantyhose. The ultimate goal is to move the potato that is on the ground across the room with the other potato.

5: Snake Dance: This is played like follow the leader except in a Conga Line style. Children in line imitate the movements of the leader of the line while music plays in the background. This game encourages awareness and listening skill, as the children must stay in line and focus on what the lead child is doing.

I call out the child at the end of the line to go and lead every thirty seconds or so. As the child at the end goes to the front of the line the leader goes to the back. The intent here, is that ALL children get a chance to be the leader. You will have to prompt them to change places.

This game has a high fun factor. The children are welcome to move about anyway they wish when they are the leader. (As long as they stay in the snake line)

Warning be prepared for a high silly and giggle factor:-0)

Most of all, HAVE FUN!! :-0)

Mari N. M.Ed.

Mari Nosal : Please stop by my site at Amazon Books and check out my published books on autism aspergers special needs and more   http://tinyurl.com/kdspqy9

 

A Very Special Ode to Special Needs Parents


I was observing a couple recently at the mall struggling with a child with Downs Syndrome
who was in an over stimulated, I want to go home now,
meltdown mode. As is characteristic of me, my experience
jettisoned into a silent, analytical, observation. I made mental
notes pertaining to the responsibility afforded to a special
needs parent. It is a 24-7 job. Parents must be on call to jump
to attention for a whimpering baby with a wet diaper or
hunger pangs. Mothers must be on constant alert for toddlers
unrolling a roll of toilet paper that he is busily spreading from
room to room, with the roll unraveling behind him, as he
gleefully runs.
We are a tough breed who gets attacked with a
projectile shot of vomit that lands on our bodies with
the force of a speeding bullet. We wipe runny noses
with an almost unlimited amount of tissue that seems
to be pulled from thin air. We spend years with sleep
deprivation from waking at all hours of the night to nurse
sick children back to health. We spend the better part
of our child’s teen years pacing the floor when our new
drivers are past curfew, conjuring up all the terrible
things that might have happened to them within the
confines of our mind.
Through challenges, trials, tribulations, childhood
illness, moms and dads shrug it off and unquestionably
support their children day after day. We never notice the
first year of life when you smell like spit up, or that poopy
diaper that leaked on your lap. We have all made an urgent trip to the store smelling like the latter because our
worries about looking presentable are blinded by the needs
of our child; when we have run out of baby food or diapers.
There you have it, all parents are special, but special needs
parents are different. They are humbled, challenged, tough,
protective and cheerleaders for their children beyond the call of
duty. They deal with doctors,
teachers, therapists and
more who tell them their child
will never meet a certain
milestone; milestones that
traditional parents take for
granted.
A word of caution, never
say their child won’t, can’t,
never will, or any other
phrase which reeks of pessimistic projections for their child.
Like a cat, special needs parents have hidden claws behind
their fingernails that will protrude when they are in attack
mode resultant from any threat, or negativity aimed towards
their child or the child’s parent.
Special needs parents will expect nothing but the best of
care for their children. They are not afraid to vocalize and
take action until their child gets just that. While other parents
seek out babysitters for a weekly date night, many special
needs parents silently stay home to care for their child’s
demanding needs. It is much more diffi cult to get sitters for
special needs children, and medical and therapy issues
can leave parents fi nancially strapped. While other parents
complain that their child did not make captain of the soccer
team, these parents merely want their child to make the team
and socialize with peers, or simply walk and talk.
While parents worry
about their child being
popular, special needs
parents worry about their
child having friends at all.
We shuffle e our children
to numerous therapy
appointments, social
groups, pediatricians,
tutors and specialists, while
managing jobs, homes and the stares from people in public.
Through it all we realize that we can climb mountains, make it
to the summit and down again as we develop determination and
strength to fight for our young like nothing else.

Mari Nosal M.Ed., CECE

Mari Nosal : Please stop by my site at Amazon Books and check out my published books on autism aspergers special needs and more   http://tinyurl.com/kdspqy9

 

Exciting Math, Science, Movement, And Literacy Activities For Parents, Multi Age, And Inclusive Classrooms


Hello – I have included some fun educational activities. My approach is to present learning in a fun format. Children will be more engaged if they enjoy what they are learning. Preach to a child and they will turn a deaf ear to you – I guarantee that.

Below are some activities that have hidden learning agendas. I equate with the child that loves a particular brand of cereal until he realizes that it is GOOD FOR HIM. :0)

1) Math:  Children are encouraged to preplan a bead arrangement by drawing a sketch by counting and designing color arrangement. color arrangement. This can be adapted to just choosing colors depending on the childs level of development. For young children, or children with motor skill challenges, use larger beads. They can preplan a design for a key chain, necklace, bead drawing, or pencil holder (provide empty soup can to glue beads on for pencil holder) Imagination is the only limit, and accommodation is the key. Large beads for younger children and children with fine motor skill issues, smaller beads for older children.

Always allow the children to choose their bead colors and designs. Children gain independence and a sense of pride from a creation that they “did all by themselves”. Remember, coach projects, do not do the project for the child. If a child is experiencing difficulty, guide them, but do not hover. Safe challenges that are successfully achieved give children the positive self efficacy to move up to another skill.

2) Movement and literacy: Vocabulary kickball is a great way to reinforce word comprehension in the kids while having fun. The children can stand in a line while you say a definition. If the chosen child can identify the word associated with the definition, roll the ball to them. If not, it is considered a strike for the team. Modifications can be made for various developmental and cognitive levels. Instead of giving the child a definition, give them a word to define.

For some children, you may hold up an object and ask them to tell you what letter it starts with. For children who struggle with behavioral issues and are just learning the skills for reciprocal behavior you may choose not to count strikes and merely move along in the game. The important point is to always adapt the game so all children feel safe enough to participate.

3) Shape recognition: Provide children with a sponge. Encourage them to take a walk or look around the classroom. Reinforce the point that all objects are actually shapes. i.e. The desk is a square, the art table is a rectangle, The bottom of their thermos is a circle, etc.

Children grasp the concept easier when you have pointed out objects that are present in their live’s everyday. Young children do not have the capability to think in an abstract format,they are concrete thinkers and learn better through visual prompt.

Upon completing the lesson on shapes, children can dip their sponges in paint and proceed to create a work of art fit for Picasso. :-0) Circle sponges can be used for the son, stars may become part of a painting of a camping trip, ideas are unlimited with the creative minds within the classroom. Encouraging the children to share their sponge shapes with the other children increases their sense of pride and reinforces reciprocal social skills. Kids love to see their shape used on a friends artwork. Again, please encourage children to create their own sponge shape. I always reiterate the importance of remembering that projects are the child’s, not ours. There are always adaptations that can be made to make each and every child feel included by their teacher, parents, and peers.

4)Science: The Blue Sky experiment is a blast! This experiment will explain the ultimate children’s question. “Why is the sky blue”? A two liter soda bottle is filled 1/2 way with water. Shine a flashlight on the bottle. Add milk to the bottle. Shine the flashlight on the bottle again The color is now blue!!! Add a little more milk and the color should turn red or orange when you shine the flashlight on the bottle again.

Have fun – I hope you enjoy these ideas. More tomorrow.

Mari N. M.Ed.

Mari Nosal : Please stop by my site at Amazon Books and check out my published books on autism aspergers special needs and more   http://tinyurl.com/kdspqy9

 

IMPORTANCE OF A POSITIVE CLASSROOM CLIMATE


“Imagine spending several hours everyday in a place where you felt like a nobody.”   What a powerful statement.  The primary responsibility of an educator should be to assure that no child ever feels like they are not worthy contributors in their classroom.  Each child must feel a sense of belonging within the classroom. Learning is not merely the absorption of material by a student. It isa combination of many factors. Class room layout, a child centered class room, positive behavior management techniques, mutual trust, a safe learning environment, lack of bias, cultural sensitivity, and the ability to draw out each child’s special talent to make them feel like worthy contributors.

A class room must have a positive climate. The children must feel a sense of security. The atmosphere must be conducive to taking safe challenges with out fear of ridicule.  A positive environment is the building block in developing a child with the positive self efficacy to take safe challenges. If a child fears shame and ridicule from peers and teachers, they will avoid taking risks to protect themselves from embarrassment. Within my classroom, the environment is structured to encourage positive self concepts. A piece of mirrored paper is placed at a child’s eye level on the wall. Above the mirror is a simple piece of paper that says, “Look in here to see the coolest person in the world”. The children love to stare in that mirror. The intent behind the statement I wrote for the mirror is to remind all the children that look in it that they are valued members of my room. The mirror was decorated by all the children to give them a feeling of ownership. A poster with six classroom rules is displayed on the wall. Below my poster sits rules developed and handwritten by the children. Again, the intent was to have student involvement in rule setting and give the children a feeling of ownership. The learning environment is the most important lens in a classroom.

The learning environment will dictate how well or poorly a child will learn. A major factor in the learning environment is the teacher’s role. Teachers must take their position as a role model seriously.   Through observing role models, children hone skills that well assist their successful assimilation into society. A class room that lacks a teacher that exhibits quiet control will see behavioral issues exacerbate. The outcome will be deleterious.  Structuring a classroom so positive teacher student relationships develop will have a trickle down effect. Positive behavior will appear in venues such as the playground, parental interaction, and socialization with other children. My teaching style is direct. Supply the children with a warm and trusting class room environment. Explain the why, how, and where. Don’t simply order children and respond with “because I said so”. A teacher should be a guide, and fade into the background. The ultimate role should be a coach, not a dictator. I would like to use the development of baby birds as an analogy. The baby bird doesn’t know it is capable of flying until the mother bird pushes it out of the nest. The baby bird is nurtured, taught life skills, and than pushed out of the nest. The bird’s wings flutter. It eventually succeeds in spreading its wings in flight. The mother bird watches from the nest. She doesn’t physically intervene. The mother bird is present, and available if needed.

Mother bird wishes her baby to experience the taste of independence. The baby bird is enabled if the mother bird hovers over her offspring. Figuratively speaking, children learn through the same methods. My classroom is proactive not reactive. Every strategy I employ, from token reward systems, to earning special privileges are developed in the hope of developing internalized self control, and enhancement of individual and group development. Being reactive merely exacerbates behavior problems. Proactive strategies assist the child in evolving into autonomous and mature individuals. I am a facilitator. I have gradually eased responsibility to the children. Reactive and authoritarian behavior breeds a hostile environment. Autonomy is non existent if the teacher attempts to portray a dictator. Power trips have no place in a classroom. In positive structured environment children develop internalized behavior mechanisms. In the fall, a class begins as a teacher lead environment. A good educator should ease into a child centered environment within a couple of months. The path should gravitate from teacher lead, to a classroom of students who are self starters. Children should be involved in decision making processes. These should include but not be limited to, student input in classroom policies, themes for academic units, and roles students will play in development of school projects. Involving children in the choice making process is essential in creating an autonomous class room environment. Prevention is a key component in creating a positive classroom environment that is void of behavior issues.  Build positive attributes, not negative self efficacy.

Developing class room rules as a team, using inclusive social activities, and developing problem solving activities have proven to be an asset to avoiding behavior issues in my class. My classroom is predictable and structured. I follow a rhythm of the day. The children know what to expect. I am open to feed back. Although structured, my curriculum has wavered by taking a class vote occasionally. Respect for individual learning styles, and personalities are nonnegotiable in my class. I demand respect. I model respect, and expect each child in the room to emulate my respectful behavior. Consequences for behavioral infractions are swiftly enforced. As an educator in a multiage classroom, a middle ground was developed. All age groups must benefit. Behavior management must be carried out in a form that the Kindergarten children can comprehend.  Older children must not find my management system demeaning. Management of transition times has been learned through trial and error. Cleaning between activities is rarely an issue.

Through child and error a method was developed. I told the children I was closing my eyes and giving them one minute to clean the room. When I opened my eyes the room was spotless. The children were hiding. I heard sounds of quiet laughter emanating from various areas of the room. All the children were in view. I pretended I could not see them. I pretended to look for them in the toilet, complete with flushing. I looked for them in the sink. I turned the water on and mentioned out loud that I did not see children falling out of the drain. This caused a bundle of distant giggling. I continued my trek through silly areas that would be impossibility for the children to hide in. Hiding spots I searched were cubbies, cups, crayon boxes and more. I finally found my young charges by sneaking up with a loud “boo”. This one time game turned into a ritual. When I tell the children we must clean up in order to move on I am always asked if we can play “the hiding game at the end”. This enforces the idea that many behavior management techniques do not come from a book. They come from taking our students individual personalities into account.

Children learn from educators and educators learn from the students. Observing the children can result in squelching behaviors before they become issues. Accommodations and restructuring the class room environment can squelch further outbursts. If a child resorts to attention getting behavior, giving the child a sense of power can make all the difference. I give the children special chores. They hold clip boards, carry my phone, carry my first aid kit, even help me do a head count. These small chores have given the children a feeling of ownership. That has made a world of difference. Brainstorming during group time enhances decision skills. Each child is given a question to answer. Each child offers a resolution. An example would be why we don’t run in class. I pair older kids with younger ones during this exercise. This creates equality. If the younger child struggles with the question, the older child can assist with the answer.

The main goal is teaching the art of self monitoring behavior. Self monitoring allows the children to evaluate, record, reflect on their own behavior. Discipline is used in my program. I wish to reinforce that discipline is different than punishment. Punishment controls a child. It does not teach how to modify behavior. Discipline is individualized for each personality. Discipline teaches how to identify behaviors, and how to modify them in the future.  An example of punishment is time out. Time out temporarily stops a child in their tracks. This punishment is merely temporary. Taking time to point out how a behavior affected another human being teaches empathy. Consequences for future infractions are discussed during discipline. I always make consequences clear and concise so a child knows what is expected in the future. Discipline should always fit the crime. If a child damages a project others have worked on, I expect them to repair that project. If a child has abused my personal body space rule, the repercussion would me more severe. Tokens and beloved privileges are taken away.  Children are not mini adults.

We need to be the role models who act in a proactive manner. Children are controlled by their emotions. They don’t think of consequences until later. Educators must provide a safe environment where children can hone their skills. My job is to have a part in development of future self sufficient adults, the future leaders of our country.   I must model proper self control for the children to emulate. Children rely on me to show them the way. My mistakes are permanent. White out will not erase my errors.

A thought to ponder:-0)

Mari N. M.Ed.

 

Mari Nosal : Please stop by my site at Amazon Books and check out my published books on autism aspergers special needs and more   http://tinyurl.com/kdspqy9

 

 

A PERSONAL LETTER FOR THE WOMAN WHO CALLED THE AUTISTIC POPULATION VIOLENT


 

Elizabeth,

I read your post on Facebook that displayed your vile, contemptuous, biased, hatred towards children on the autism spectrum. I was repulsed by your profanity, judgmental and attacking comments towards parents and special needs children.

My first impulse was to write an angry retort that was directed towards you and your atrocious comments. Upon contemplating this mode of response I realized that snapping back at you would make me the same angry, prejudice, judgmental person that you are. In doing so I would have merely confirmed your contemptuous allegations towards parents and children of the autism community.

I decided to take a different route in expressing my disgust regarding your comments. I am not only speaking for myself but writing this letter as a rebuttal expressing the hurt and anger that the autism community as a whole is feeling towards your comments at the moment.

You have hurt the whole autism community with your allegations. We struggle everyday of the year 24 – 7 to boost our children’s self esteem and assist them in achieving the most independent happy life style that they may possibly have. Your hateful comments, such as saying they should be locked up, they are all violent, that ADHD people do not take their meds, that their mothers should have had abortions, rips down the very self esteem in special needs kids and their parents that they have been trying to build.

Since your comments, I have had special needs parents defend the fact that they never took drugs, that it is not their fault that their children have learning disabilities, and some have had tears in their eyes. You see, we try incredibly hard if not harder to be the best parents we can possibly be to our children. We want the very best for our kids just like parents of neurotypicals.We have the increased responsibilities of carting them to social groups, therapy appointments, occupational therapy and more.

We spend every hour of every day proving to ourselves that we are good parents because of the uncertainty and guilt that bringing up special needs children places on us. Because of your comments regarding children on the spectrum being violent, it has come to my awareness that several children with autism have asked there parents if they are bad because they have autism

You see Elisabeth; your angry words have hurt innocent children in a different way than a violent killer. You have killed with your words however. You have killed the self esteem of children in the autism community and their parents with your words. You have broken their hearts, saddened them and caused insecurity to surface. We do not need guns to kill because words kill people as well. It kills their hopes, dreams, and basically their drive to achieve and hope.

In reading your angry commentary and vulgarity aimed towards the autism community I perceived something else. An angry woman with a filthy mouth who is looking for someone to blame all the wrong doing in society on. You mentioned in your letter that society should stop making excuses for people on the autism spectrum and accept them for who they are. Perhaps you need to stop making excuses for your own anger, accept why you are lashing out at innocent children with autism, and find out why you feel the need to do so.

Now, a brief education for you. There are over 150 types of autism, hence the reason it is referred to as a spectrum. They range from very low functioning to high functioning. As in my sons case he received a bachelors degree with much effort and has a 123 verbal I.Q. In simple terms children on the spectrum come in as many flavors as Baskin Robbins ice-cream.

Some are quiet, some on the spectrum, outgoing, some shy, some are serious, some are incredibly funny. Your sister’s comment that all children on the autism spectrum are violent is not valid. It is obvious by her statement that she was classifying all kids on the spectrum into one group. If she believes so and works with children and adults on the autism spectrum may I suggest it would be a good idea for her to seek different employment options?

Generally children or adults fro that matter possess what is called comorbid when violent. Comorbid means some autistic possess other challenges along with autism. Autism is NOT MENTAL ILLNESS. When an individual is violent another diagnosis within the mental illness grouping is generally present i.e. psychosis, etc. You asked the autism community and society at large to get their facts straight. I suggest at this point that you follow your own advice and learn the facts regarding the autism spectrum before spouting allegations, contemptuous comments, and invalid facts that hurt more people than your realize.

My son has Asperger’s and growing up it was people who directed their anger towards him by bullying him, calling him names, taking advantage of his naïve nature that hurt him much more than he ever hurt anyone. He struggled to get a bachelors degree, he received an award at the end of high school for never missing a day of high school through all four years, his teacher’s spoke of his friendly nature and how my son would go out of his way to smile at everyone and acknowledge them when he entered class. Yes aspies do interact with others in a positive manner, and I AM PROUD TO CALL HIM MY SON!!!!!!!

In closing, I would suggest that you write a letter of apology to the autism community for your contemptuous and hateful comments. The autism community will not take your comments lightly. We are a tight knit community who despite your accusatory comments does not take drugs, are awesome parents who will protect their young with their invisible cat claws that reside behind their finger, and make sure our children are respected, recognized for their talents, and the contributions they have and will make on this earth. We want the best for our kids just like anyone else.

P.S. I NOTICED YOU WROTE YOUR HATE LETTER ON A COMPUTER. You may want to thank the aspie community because it is very likely that some of them were involved in the invention of the very computer you are writing on!!!!

Mari N. M.Ed., CECE

A Day In The Afterschool Program – Helping A Child To Make Good Choices


A young charge with emotional issues presented with a distinct pout and no eye contact. I imagine she was feeling remorse due to her antics the day before. She had a troubled home life. My young charge was clinging to her caretakers leg with all her might. This was characteristic of possible verbal altercations between the girl and the caretaker before she was dropped off to my program.. This mode of behavior would present itself when the child had visited her parent as well. Relations between the child ,her biological  mom, and mom’s boyfriend had ups and downs to say the least.

Upon assessing the situation, I made a mental note to not assume the worst for the day ahead. Assuming leads to the self – fulfillment prophecy. A child will become who the role models in their life believe they will become. In actuality, a child who is expected to behave badly will behave as such. In actuality, they are behaving in an accommodating manner. The child does as they are told. We send them the message that they will misbehave, thus they do so.  I decided not to force the little girl away from her caretaker. I had seen this mood before. This quite sullen behavior would turn into defiance and aggression if not handled correctly.

Several children were taken aside by me. I quietly informed them that there peer was having a sad day. The other children were cajoled into inviting the lone child to see their coveted items that were brought from home. The child had a small glimmer in her eye. Nonetheless, she wavered and held onto her caretaker’s leg. I thanked the other children for befriending their young peer. I was aware that the guardian had to move on to her place of employment. I used diversion, but no tricks. My firm belief is if a child feels tricked by a teacher trust between the two will be lost. There is nothing worse than having a child turn around to “look at something” in the room and find the person they hold in their heart missing when they turn around. Closure is important during separation.

Emotionally troubled children tend to act out from a sense of no control in their lives. Not surprising, this child loves to help adults. I told the child that I had no one to help me set the table for snack, get cups, and serve children. The child was encouraged to help me. Initially, my request was ignored. I sat back and silently assessed the situation. Balloons are a favorite in the class room. The child was encouraged to release her death grip on the other woman’s leg when I promised her a balloon hat in return for assisting me with snack. She happily said good-bye to the woman and set off with me hand in hand.

The child relished her role of authority while handing out snack to all that entered. While usually feeling inferior to peers, this made her feel superior. While serving with one hand, she held onto my hand with her free one. I allowed her to keep the grip on me until she felt safe enough to venture out into the room with her peers. After completing various activities, we cleaned the room. I attempt to have the children lined up and seated by the door five minutes before the grade school teacher comes to retrieve them. We normally play a game such as I Spy while waiting. I have found this assists in transitioning from my room to a new environment. Uprooting the children without warning is calamity in the making. They need transition times to adjust.

The grade school teacher appeared at the door way to pick up her young charges. This teacher had been complaining about the uncontrollable behavior in her class regarding the child mentioned above. As the children lined up the teacher asked them how their evening had gone. When the teacher locked eyes with the child mentioned above, she neglected to ask how this child’s evening had gone. The teacher immediately said “we are going to have a good day today right”?  She told the child that she knew the child would make the right choices.

The teacher thought she was being positive with the child. I had the distinct impression that this connection could have been handled differently. Other children were asked how their evening went. This child was immediately asked to make good choices. By asking this child a different question the teacher had singled her out from her peers. I would have asked the child the same question as her peers, than possibly told the child I was confident that she could make good choices for the day. The first statement shows that the teacher has an interest in her as a person. It doesn’t just zero in on her behavior. As the children slinked down the hall I saw the child stepping out of the line and getting loud. Another off day ahead for sure. It could have been diverted.

Remember – Always look at a situation within the classroom in a reflective manner. Look at the whole child. My rule of thumb is that no negative behavior rears its head without a reason. There is always an answer to the problem if we step back, and  observe reflectively. With that answer, we can devise a solution.

Mari N. M.ED.

Mari Nosal : Please stop by my site at Amazon Books and check out my published books on autism aspergers special needs and more   http://tinyurl.com/kdspqy9