Friday, April 17, 2015

Outside Sensory time!

Hooray! Warm spring weather is upon us! We were so excited for the warm, sunny day that we decided to have our first outside sensory time of 2015! We played outside with chalk, big bubbles, our tricycle, and our water table! The kids had such a great time!

I hope that you all have a happy and restful sunny weekend! Even if you can't make it to the park, soothing, sensory experiences can be created in your own backyard! Have fun and make some memories! :)

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Autism: Love, Support, Advocate. Literacy night success!

What an incredible opportunity we had at literacy night! With Sexton Mountain's One School One Theme focusing on Autism through My Brother Charlie and Rules, Amanda and felt that this would be the perfect year to go all out for literacy night with an Autism Awareness simulation. With the help of my student teacher, Lauren, and my instructional assistant, Beth, we shared with dozens of families a few things that are different for people with Autism.

We addressed the 4 areas of Autism that we discuss for educational eligibility: Routines and structure, Responses to sensory stimuli, Differences in communication and Social skills challenges.

Participants started here. They picked up their schedules and learned about the importance of Routines.

The presentation had a very clear and organized format, to help familiarize families with what it can be like for students in our program. Each participant had a schedule they needed to follow, and there were visuals to guide them through each step of the presentation.

Next, participants explored a sensory table with rice and beans and also a swing. This helped them understand Sensory a bit more.
Individuals with Autism tend to have unusual responses to sensory stimuli, so it was important to us to talk to participants about what needs our kids may have, and how we help them. Amanda led this area, and talked to everyone about how they felt when they used the table and the swing, and how this may be helpful for people who experience things differently.

To learn about Communication, we had participants play a charades game.
 Next, I helped participants play a charades game. I explained that people with Autism have difficulty communicating, and sometimes have no words at all. Their challenge was to draw a piece of paper, and communicate what was on it to their family using NO words at all. Each piece had a different, and very complicated phrase. They all included a feeling, and a reason. Some were straight forward and easier to communicate, "I feel sad because I hurt my knee". Others were quite difficult to communicate, "I feel worried because I have a test later". Each and every person expressed to me how challenging this activity was for them! Most of the time, I stopped them after a few tries to remind them that this was the point of the activity--this worry and frustration they felt was sometimes what people with Autism feel! So many families walked away with a new appreciation for different communication abilities!

Beth guided participants through some social skills training.
After experiencing some emotions about communication struggles, participants moved to the social skills area. Here, Beth talked with everyone about how we help kids to understand their emotions, and what to do when they feel a certain way. Each person got to try it out, and think about strategies that they use to cope with their emotions, and how that might feel different for someone with Autism.

The final stop of the presentation. Autism: Love, Support, Advocate <3
After exploring all four areas, families were able to read some facts about Autism (as supplied by Autism Speaks), and take a handout for their reference. The handout reviewed the areas covered by the simulation, and also provided strategies on how to be great friends for individuals with Autism. We are so thankful to Mrs. C-B, Mrs. Kimball, the literacy team and the whole Sexton Mountain community for opening their hearts and minds with us at literacy night. I am so proud to be part of this community and so excited to see how we continue to grow together!