Friday, April 13, 2007

Making a Mouse Manageable

No, I am not talking about the ones eating my son's computer cable at his house in Philly, shared with other City Year volunteers. I'm sure he would appreciate any rodent advice, but I am talking about the mice we use to navigate our computers.

Some of our younger students cannot control the mouse to move around the computer screen. Programs that require a simple click are appropriate to use with these youngsters. This usually requires an adult to physically hold the standard mouse in one spot so the child can respond. Why not encourage independence and adapt the tool instead? Introducing the "Mouse House." A regular mouse is placed inside a small notebook. Pressing on the surface of the notebook activates the mouse button. It works well with cause and effect software or to advance slides in a PowerPoint. This makes the child an active participant rather than a passive observer. How simple can this be to create your own? Check out the directions found on the Simplified Technology website by Linda Burkhart.

Thanks to Linda Einis at the Adaptive Activites Library for passing on this site.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Occupational Therapy - Skills For The Job of Living

Occupational therapy is skilled treatment that helps individuals achieve independence in all facets of their lives. Occupational therapy assists people in developing the "skills for the job of living" necessary for independent and satisfying lives.
In recognition of all the ways occupational therapy contributes to society's well-being, April has been designated as Occupational Therapy Month

Nearly one third of all occupational therapists work in schools, promoting learning by all students.

Occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants use their unique experience to help children with disabilities be prepared for and perform important learning and school related activities and to fulfill their role as a student.

School-based occupational therapy assessment and intervention focuses on certain areas:

  • Activities of daily living (caring for self-needs such as eating, dressing, and toilet habits)
  • Education (achieving in the learning environment)
  • Play (interacting with age-appropriate toys, games, equipment and activities)
  • Social participation (developing appropriate relationships and engaging in behavior that doesn't interfere with learning or social relationships)
  • Work (developing interests and skills necessary for transition to community life after graduation)

To find out more about occupational therapy and how it might help you, visit the American Occupational Therapy Association's Web site,

Monday, April 09, 2007

More Autism Resources

Autism Spectrum Quarterly— the MAGAJOURNAL™ - a magazine for parents, teachers and clinicians that translates research into practice.

Visual Strategies - a website run by speech pathologist,
Linda Hodgdon; highlights the importance of visual strategies when working with people with autism spectrum disorders (tips, products and some free on pictures)

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Get Happy in the Next Hour

Gretchen Rubin has a blog, The Happiness Project, which is the title of her upcoming book dealing with the challenges of being happy. In her most recent post, she talks about seven tips for making yourself happier IN THE NEXT HOUR. They are well worth trying. I especially like the first tip, "Boost Your Energy". She states
...when people move faster, their metabolism speeds up, and the activity and sunlight are good for your focus, your mood, and the retention of information.
This is why recess is so important. It gives kids a boost that carries them through the rest of the day, better prepared for learning.

On the Hosmer student blog, Work With Wings, one student describes how he starts his day. I would say he walks to class a bit happier!

Thank you to Joe Shlabotnik for his photo shared on Flickr.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Social Stories

April is Autism Awareness Month. Visit the Gray Center for Social Understanding and Learning to read more. It is dedicated to improving the mutual understanding between individuals with autism and the people with whom they live and work.

One useful tool for improving social understanding and communication is the Social Story.

A Social Story™ describes a situation, skill, or concept in terms of relevant social cues, perspectives, and common responses in a specifically defined style and format. The goal of a Social Story™ is to share accurate social information in a patient and reassuring manner that is easily understood by its audience.
The goal of Social Stories is not to change behavior, but to improve understanding which in turn may lead to better responses.
Although Social Stories were initially developed for children with autism, they have been successful with a variety of children.

It is my experience that Social Stories are used in response to a problem behavior. We probably don't write enough Stories reflecting what students are doing well. Carol Gray, the professional who developed Social Stories, says:
"Do keep in mind that at least 50% of all Stories developed for any person should congratulate of applaud current skills/abilities/personality traits/ or concepts that the person does well".
Why not write a social story about a child's accomplishment today! To get help on "how to", look here.