Saturday, February 27, 2010

Download N Go- Expedition Australia

I was given the opportunity to review Download N Go-Expedition Australia from The Old Schoolhouse. It is a unit study/lapbook e-book that sells for $7.95 and is very much "download and go." The study is suggested to go over 5 days but is very flexible. There are suggested books in the front of the study that you can find at your library. After finding the books, I spent about an hour going through the unit study myself and determining what pages to print and what we were going to do online. Depending on your personality you might not have to spend prep time other than printing a few pages but because I have a special needs student, prep is more important.

Andrew loves books so we started the unit study by reading a couple of the picture books I found at the library to get him interested in Australia. We then did a few items a day from the printed pages while reading the hyper-links suggested in the study. The links were accurate and informative which is something that can't be said of all e-books I have read. There is a combo of 'small size' and full page size written material so you can do a notebook, lapbook or a combination of those.

The unit study of course includes geography. There was a review of the continents and the specific regions of Australia. There were 'counting' pages for the younger learners and also time and temperature pages for the older students where they could compare the their own region to that of "Down Under." There was a very fun section that taught about the language of Australia including words like 'barbie' and 'lollies' and course there were pages on Australian animals including the koala.

We very much enjoyed this unit study and will probably purchase another 'download and go' study from TOS.

Friday, February 26, 2010

"When I Grow Up I Want To Be..." Unit Study Review

I was given the opportunity to review an e-book entitled "When I grow up I want to be..A Firefighter." It is a unit study published by The Old Schoolhouse and is part of an entire series of e-books called...yes you guessed it..."When I grow up I want to be....". The e-books sell independently for $8.95. The set which includes 10 books is $89.50.

Since this is my first review with them, I wanted to tell you a bit of our homeschool philosophy. We are very eclectic and tend toward Charlotte Mason. We often do unit studies so this was right up our alley. The book includes social studies obviously but also plenty of science and some math as well, relating it to fire fighters. Andrew has a hearing impairment as well as adhd, sensory issues and 'other.' We never use anything as planned!

Although I do e-books, I have never had Andrew read them online so I thought this could be an interesting test to see how it might work with him. I didn't really want to print it all out for him as that would add to the cost. There was a section about a firehouse dog as well as a robot....two high interest areas for Andrew so we started there. We didn't do the Q&A but took turns reading the paragraphs and then he narrated what we had read. It actually went fabulous! He is a better e-reader than I am. Hmmm..I wonder why? The ebook format is wonderful for him.

As an added bonus they included finger signing for words such as Firefighter. We signed for the first year of Andrew's life so I thought it would be fun to provide some links to the ASL signs for the words presented in this study. You can find them below.





There are also some worksheets (cross word, fill in the blank) in this unit study that the student can use by themselves. Indeed, if you wished, most of the study could be done in that manner if you have an independent reader as there are questions following most of the sections. There is plenty of copywork included as well...both printing and cursive. You could use the words they present as vocabulary for spelling.

I found this unit study very informative, adaptable and easy to use. It is a very good value especially if you have an 'on line' reader.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

The List

A year ago I blogged a "101 things in 1001 days" list. To my surprise, I accomplished a few this past year without even trying. I am going to try and 're-order' the list over the next weeks. Part of the reason for this is that we have to come up with a 'life plan' for RDI so that we are doing things outside of the autism world...for ourselves. It's a foreign concept for me.

Here are some of the 'done' things:

  • Work on the 101 in 1001 days list.
  • Increase Andrew's independence. We are doing this with RDI! It is a long term goal but I see progress already. This will end up in the ongoing category.
  • Meet a Cyberfriend in person. Last summer we met up with Jamberry and crew. It was very fun! I also met Becky in Ohio this summer. That visit didn't end in any pictures but it did end up with us formally doing RDI!

  • Go to Dentist- yearly. My dentist is a no Hg guy. Let me know if you want his number.
  • Get a mammograhm. I decided to get a thermascan instead! Look into it! It was very easy and does not involve radiation.
  • Go to Tawas. We did do that one time last summer.
  • Reconnect with an old friend. Not going to say who it is..but it's done.
  • Find a new breakfast. I have a passion for eggs. I need to at least rotate my foods so we are doing oatmeal or bagels with PB&J
  • Take Andrew to a Tigers game

  • Get downstairs 'visitable' within 10 minutes. You'll have to trust me on this one.
  • Buy Flowers. Well- i bought tulips yesterday. Andrew thought they were secretly monsters. No I am not kidding. I put them in the laundry room. At least they will get some sun there.
  • Clean out email inbox and consider switching providers. We moved from comcast / AT&T to Uverse. Very pleased with it. I didn't need to switch emails but cleaned most of my emails out. Now I just have to keep up with it!
  • Learn how to make my ow gluten free bread that is eatable. I use a mix and my breadmaker but I am pleased with it. Still we don't eat much bread. I also found a suitable substitute in rice tortillas.

Sunday, February 21, 2010


In church this week the pastor spoke about perseverance taken from James chapter 1.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. (1:2...NIV)
She explained how perseverance isn't about gritting our teeth to get through something. It is opening our arms to accept what God has already given us. We choose to listen to His truths about our situation instead of lies. As I continued to read chapter one, it says

That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double minded man, unstable in all he does. (1:7...NIV)
I don't know about you, but I 'feel' pretty double minded on any given day about things going on in my life. I have faith...but if I have doubt then that makes me 'feel' double minded. Yet at the same time the Word says, "Lord help me overcome my unbelief." (Mark 9:24...NIV). What's a confused thinking girl to do?? When you take this verse in light of the message at our church today, however, you have to just remember that it isn't the 'trial' that is the issue and a measure of doubt does not make you 'double minded' if your thoughts are being pointed back to Jesus...even if you have to do that on a minute-by-minute basis. It is about simply turning to God to accept. It does take an act on our part but the burden is easy, the yoke is lite.

I turned to the amplified version of the Bible today to read James 1 again.

Every good gift and every perfect (d]">[d]free, large, full) gift is from above; it comes down from the Father of all [that gives] light, in [the shining of] Whom there can be no variation [rising or setting] or shadow cast by His turning [as in an eclipse]. 1:17...amplified

This expanded version talks about shadows and an eclipse. The sun moves and casts various shadows throughout the day. But God never moves. So when we see shadows, can't seem to understand God, if things are seeming fuzzy, or if there is an all out eclipse, we are the ones that are moving. Life comes, and the enemy puts thoughts into our head but we can choose to be in alignment with God so there is no shadow. Sometimes that process DOES take some doing but that is the 'work' part. The work is not the autism/hearing impairment/illness/marriage/circumstance. The work is the changing of our thought patterns and turning ourselves to God's love.

I think this is very much like RDI. Although not a Christian program, the premise is NOT to teach your child skills and GIVE them to them. Rather they turn to you, their guide, on their own accord, and accept what is already theirs. Primarily we give them our love and our relationship with them and from that they learn. But just like God is a gentleman and will not grab your face and turn it to His, we can't make our child (physically or mentally) turn to us. It doesn't work in the long run. But by being a trusted guide we teach our child how to 'learn' and live from us. When they choose to turn to us the effort is reduced...the burden is lite

(The pastor that spoke was Pastor Tracy at Life Christian Church. I have been blessed by every message I have attended there and encourage folks to go if they are in the area.)

Saturday, February 20, 2010

RDI comparison

I wrote this several years ago on another blog that is now private...but wanted to re-post here so I could link it to a few folks. My views have somewhat changed but this is a good 'comparison' story.


People ask...'what's the difference between RDI, Floortime (PLAY) and ABA. Is RDI something you do to follow up ABA? can start RDI at any age but it can also be used after you have done ABA successfully or unsuccessfully. Isn't it just like Floortime? no... it isn't about playing with your child or teaching them to play. Tonight I saw a real life example of what RDI is and what it can do.
(This post is not to 'bash' ABA or floortime! Only to show you a glimpse of what RDI is all about.)

Going off to trick or treat we 'practiced.' Looking back that was very 'ABAish.' We talked about 'trick or treat' and 'thank you' and only take one candy at each place. Oh he's great at following the rules. But what happens when the 'rules' are broken by someone else at the first house. If we had practiced with a Floortime model we might have used some of our 'characters' to play 'trick or treat' but we would never have been able to come up with all the possibilities that might be out there on 'how' you trick or treat.

Enter D...our 'older' neighbor. She is so sweet. And gives Andrew 'one of each.' So at the next house Andrew thought...gee...I get one of each because the rule changed. I told him no, that was just D's house. I told him to take ONE 'unless' they do something different. This actually becomes quite complicated when one is hearing impaired, they have a fireman helmet on and the wind is a-blowin'. At one house he even said in a very loud voice, "Give me one!" He meant...Give me ONE...but of course it came out as GIVE me one. Also some houses GIVE you candy, and some want you to TAKE candy, and some just leave a bucket on their door!

Well- our neighborhood stinks for kids and trick or treating. So we decided to go to another neighborhood...lots of kid...even darker outside. After a few houses Andrew would take a candy or be given a candy, THEN LOOK TO ME for what to do next. Should he just say 'thank you?' Should he take another? Wait for them to give him one? And...more importantly, WHICH candy should he take? (He wanted to know which one he might be able to eat.) This referencing. Looking to someone else for information. People--BABIES-- do this all the time. Those with autism, well, not so much. sometimes you don't really know how to define something until you see it in action. This was just a mint day for us.

Will post picture tomorrow:)

Saturday, February 13, 2010


THIS article was recently posted via Facebook. In it the author tells how damaging it can be to turn a child's face to yours physically. I have 'issues' with people touching my face but beyond that, it is offensive when you get right down to it. And the demand.."look at me" just plain silly. Andrew actually 'references' me quite well but does so only for his own advantage. What I mean by this is that he looks to see if he is 'getting to me' and then escalates the interaction to achieve his own means. This came out loud and clear when we did our assessment for RDI.

Since beginning RDI I have noticed so much more 'looking to me' for information. In this clip below, Andrew and I are at Chuck E Cheese. (Where a kid can be a kid and a mom can get a headache.) We were passing out Valentines at a Homeschool Valentines party. For those that don't understand the core deficits of autism, you may not understand the significance, but through four short months of working on PARENT objectives such as slowing down, decreasing verbal, speaking in declaratives, Andrew is learning to look to me. This is NOT done by saying, "look at me." He DISCOVERS on his own that looking to me can be beneficial. This is pretty basic. You can see my 'visual cliff' post here which discusses what I am talking about. Andrew learned to hear like a champ with his cochlear implant through AVT. So thankful that we did that and now we shift gears. I did not caption this video because there is no need to hear any discussion. The emphasis is on the visual interaction- and can anyone REALLY hear at ChuckECheese? (Ok..I'll caption the end. My BF Sydney says "have a great day!")

As I mentioned, Andrew does look to me when we are in an intense interaction but not when we are just 'together.' When we were outside last week he was convinced that there were squirrels under the snow. In this picture he was pointing back at the mound of snow on the air conditioner and asking if it was 'ok' to touch it because there might be a squirrel underneath. It is the first instance I can remember that he referenced me for a safety issue.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

On My Mind Monday

Last night was the second Monday of the month. I have three choices on that day; go to a biomed lecture, meet with the homeschooling ladies or stay home. All three are valid on any given day but last night relationships won. I have been thinking about that all day and especially when a friend asked me today why i didn't go to the biomed conference given my allergy situation. (You know who you are...hope you don't mind me writing about it.) At first I felt guilty but the funny thing is, it is the first time in a long time that I chose to build relationships versus learn something new. It felt good and it was the right thing. There will always be more to learn, another option, a health choice to be made. The relationships in our lives may not always be there. There were two new homeschoolers there last night and it was my pleasure to encourage them as I have been encouraged over the years. I don't think you always choose 'relationship building' but last night did more for my health than any amount of knowledge I could have gained at the lecture. Just On My Mind Monday...

Friday, February 5, 2010


Thought I'd better play catch-up here. We have been well immersed in RDI over the past few months. I have been spending my time framing activities, doing these with Andrew and pulling my hair out. I really should give a good overview of what we are doing but for now I just wanted to share with you a few great 'Andrew-isms' and other super sentences that have come out of his mouth. I used to keep track of all of his new words. This is just as much fun.

  • Sometimes I just bloom with good puns.
  • This little piggy went to market. But he did not get the ham because he did not want to grieve for his friend.
  • There was a curious man named Roy who invented Teflon. Did you know that mom? When things go wrong, don't give up. Maybe you'll find something interesting like Roy did!
  • Holy Cow! That's the most beautiful moon I've ever seen. (This one is significant for those of you that know RDI!)
  • I hope the guy that left them (puppies) on the side of the road would fall on his coccyx.

Part of my reason for posting this is to give encouragement. I was in the waiting room at the Cochlear Implant center when a family walked out of AVT with a 3 year old who had just been implanted and were looking at the road from the other end. We are all on different journeys. Andrew has other 'stuff' in addition to the hearing loss. At his annual evaluation (the reason we were there), he scored above 100% on everything (and then some) as compared to his hearing peers. But it hasn't always been thus. After implantation we worked..and we worked..and nothing. But we kept on working and it paid off...eventually. Even still, I am not oblivious to the fact that some kiddos just don't work as well as others with implants. But don't be discouraged right from the get-go because many are late bloomers. KNOW going into it, that even with early implantation, it is work. Also know that there are so many options to choose from....implant type, which ear, bilateral, sign, avt, etc... And that is a great thing. Don't be afraid to move to a different option either! We have shifted gears many times over the past 9 years. Do what you know in your heart is right. We do a ton of praying on direction and when we do, it pays off. Remember too- that just because 'everyone else does xyz' doesn't mean that is the right thing for your child. It might be..but it might not. Sometimes the Road Not Taken by anyone else makes all the difference.

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