Thursday, April 18, 2013

April Newsletter

Autism Awareness Month
This month is full of wonderful activities that raise awareness about Autism, as well as raise funds for valuable research. I know that in all our lives, Autism is at the forefront of our thinking, and over the years, awareness is spreading to the rest of the community as well.  If there are any activities that you would like to share with the families in out class, please let me know, and I will forward them home.
An activity that I have done several times is the Autism Walk-a-thon at Oaks Park put on by the Autism Society of Oregon. It is a nice short walk for families and is suitable for all ages and abilities. I know some of our families have teams, so maybe we’ll see each other there!  This year it is on Sunday, April 21st. For more information, visit:

Field trip!
Next week our class will embark on an adventure to the ZOO! Thanks to the support of our families, specialists, school and the Oregon Zoo, we will be able to have one-on-one support at a discounted rate for each of our students! Hooray! Thank you for all you continue to do for your students, and stay tuned for fun zoo pictures next week!

Jessi’s Speech Corner
Play and social communication

Greetings from the Speech Corner!  With the beginning sparks of sun and spring breaking through the dreary days, I start thinking about play and being outside.  I know that I am just itching to get outside into the yard or the park, or anywhere outside of my house, and I'll bet you are too! 

Play skills and social communication are always a focus in our classroom, but carryover into other places is beneficial for generalization. In general, play situations are much less structured than when we are teaching new skills, so remember to try to focus on words or phrases that your child has already mastered, as this will help to reduce any anxiety or frustration that may occur (e.g. verbs, colors, opposites, etc., depending on the communication level of your child).  As always, I suggest that you do lots of modeling at a level appropriate to your child, and follow his lead in picking toys with which to play. 

As adults, it is sometimes challenging to remember how to play with toys as a child would.  Don't be afraid to be silly or do something that is totally random.  Model for your child that a shoe could be a telephone, or a block can be a car for a doll!  Use your imagination and get creative!  Then use short phrases/sentences to talk about what you are doing and help your child imitate your actions. 

If you ever have questions or concerns, please feel free to call or email me at

Have a great April! J

Marcia’s OT Edge
Pre-Writing Skills

Children starting school continue to use their hands to explore and learn about the environment and themselves.  Many hand skills are needed to support future writing abilities that have been discussed in previous OT articles, and include hand strength, finger dexterity, bilateral hand skills, appropriate sensory information, visual perception, and eye hand coordination.  Some general tips to support good pre-writing skills include:
            Tabletop Activities:  make sure the chair and table are the correct height, with feet flat on the floor, with forearms resting on the table.  Use a phone book or footrest to keep feet from dangling.
            Play and draw on vertical surfaces:  Use on easel, or tape paper up on the wall, use window markers on a sliding glass door, or soap crayons on the wall in the bathtub.
            Develop Hand Skills:  change how activities are done- play with legos with arms on the table so only using fingertips, place pennies in the piggybank, use spinning tops, finger puppets, use small tongs or tweezer to pick up cotton balls, pom poms, or beads.
            Provide opportunities for sensory input:  hide pennies in playdough, sand, or rice tubs, draw shapes or lines on sandpaper or carpet squares.
            Pre-Writing activities (no pencil required!):  make lines, shapes and letters by finger painting, painting with pudding or shaving cream, painting with water on the sidewalk, in the sand.  Play shape and letter matching games, play with puzzles, magnetic letters, and playdough.

Above all, have fun and remember that for a child, play is his/her work!

Important Dates to Remember:

April 22          Field Trip to the Zoo
April 29          Furlough Day-No school

May 6-10       Staff Appreciation Week
May 23           Volunteer Appreciation Day
May 24           Assessment Day-No school
May 27           Memorial Day Holiday-No school
May 30           Cultural Celebration-Assembly

June 7            Field Day
June 13          Last day of school

Thank you for all you continue to do for your students. If you have any questions or concerns please do not hesitate to contact me!

Ashlee Yokom
Primary Classroom Teacher
Structured Routine Center
Sexton Mountain Elementary
(503) 672 3560