Thursday, April 2, 2015

World Autism Awareness Day with Cynthia Lord

As many of you know, April is Autism Awareness month, and today is World Autism Awareness Day. There are lots of great organizations and groups all over the world holding events today to raise awareness for Autism. I'm so proud to say that Sexton Mountain is one of those stellar groups!

Today, Cynthia Lord came to Sexton to discuss some of her amazing books. She talked about her inspirations and processes, and read parts of her books. We were so excited for this opportunity to meet such a talented and inclusive writer, but as the day got closer and closer, Miss Amanda and I started to get a little nervous about the set up of the presentations. There were 2 big presentations (K-2 and 3-5) in a darkened library, with lots of people in a very different format, at a very different time. We brainstormed with Mrs. Kimball, and thought it might be a better experience for our kids if we came in smaller groups during our normal library time. We still had great presentations in a new space, but with a little bit calmer of an environment for our sensory needs. Mrs. Kimball said she would talk to "Ms. Cyndi" and see what she thought. Ms. Cyndi was delighted to change the style of her presentation for our kids. As a mother of a child impacted by Autism, and as the author of such amazing books, she was so thrilled to meet us, and more than happy to make any accommodations we needed.

Ms. Cyndi read us her book, Hot Rod Hamster and shared real pictures of her family's pets that inspired the characters. She talked in a quiet voice, with excited inflection for the parts she wanted us to see were exciting. She metered her cadence to match the rhymes perfectly, knowing that would help get our attention. She pointed out the details of the colors, wheels and emotions in a way that was very engaging. She asked questions that were perfect for us, and replied to every comment we made. She took pictures with us, and sat and talked to us while we colored pictures of the hot rod hamster. She talked with each student as they checked out their library books, and gave enthusiastic high fives!

Huge THANK YOU to the Sexton Mountain PTC, the Sexton Mountain Literacy Committee, Mrs. C-B, Mrs. Kimball and Ms. Cyndi. What a special day!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Catching up!

Hi everyone!

It's been SO LONG since I have written an entry! With spring break, IEPs, and SO much excitement, I got a little bit behind--my apologies for leaving you in the dark!

In February, we explored the Portland Aquarium. The kids had a blast getting a hands on experience with the water animals they learned so much about! Given that the lighting was a little dark, the animals felt a little weird, and we all got a little wet, I was so proud of how well everyone handled the diverse sensory experiences! Even when some kids got a little overwhelmed, their friends were there to cheer them on! A big thank you to Miss Amanda for creating a Donors Choose project to make this trip possible for us!

Oregon unit and the Oregon Zoo

In March, we learned about our state. We learned the states that border us, and some basic geography like where the Columbia and Willamette rivers are, which mountains are on what sides of us, and how beautiful our state is. We also learned about what laws are, and that laws for Oregonians are made in Salem, our capital. We talked quite a bit about Portland, and all the fun things to do there. Miss Jessi and I took advantage of a sunny Saturday and went for a long run through Portland, and made videos of each other talking about some cool Portland facts and places. The kids LOVED watching us talk about Bridgetown, the Benson Bubblers, and our great mass transit system. It makes me so happy to see them so engaged and connected to their home.

We took this knowledge of our state and applied it during our Zoo trip. We spent quite a bit of time in the "great northwest" section of the zoo, to learn about animals around us.  A HUGE thanks to the Oregon Zoo and the Williams family for their donations to make this trip possible!