Monday, May 30, 2011

Special Needs Awareness Preschool Pack

My first preschool pack is ready!
I asked for Microsoft Publisher for Mother's Day and I LOVE it!
I was inspired to create my first preschool pack by my niece Olivia. She is 6 years old and has low functioning autism and distal arthrogryposis multiplex congentia. (AMC). 
Click here to download ...

I have printed out all of our materials and today we checked out the books and videos we will be watching with our lessons in the upcoming weeks. I will post more on our preschool pack in action as we go through our lessons together.

I am providing these materials free of charge. I have also started a donation link on Autism Speaks where you can make a donation in honor of Shining Our Lights Preschool and my precious niece Olivia. The starting donation is $5. But please do not feel like you have to give. Our home has been so blessed with the wonderful free resources we use in our preschool at home and I am happy to finally be able to share back with my other blogging mommies :) 

Click Here to Donate


Be sure to visit these other awesome blogs for more wonderful Preschool Packs and Printables!

Here is a look at Autism from Olivia's Mom...

Saturday, April 02, 2011

This is our autism.

Today is World Autism Awareness Day.  The month of April is Autism Awareness Month.  And while I've been convinced for quite some time that Olivia is autistic, this is the first year we're recognizing Autism Awareness Day since her diagnosis last summer.

Our house emitted a blue glow last night.  Olivia, Jacob, and I wore blue yesterday.  Brian was decked out in blue, too, in his fire department uniform.  :)  I shared a link or two about Autism Awareness Day on Facebook.  I had a chance to talk to a tech vendor who is involved in a project at work as we looked at my new iPad.  As we explored some of the apps I had loaded, I was able to share with him some of the apps we have as communication tools for Olivia.

The grand gesture of setting aside a day or a month to bring the conversation of autism to the table is wonderful.  We bathe our lives in blue for a day, hoping that the general population will stop for a moment and think about, read about, ask about our journey with autism.  But, this day will come and go.  This month will come and go. And when it's over, will anything be different?  Will I have affected change in any way?  Will there be more compassion and acceptance (not just tolerance)?  Will the world feel the same urgency to solve this mystery as my heart does?  Will the world see my daughter as I do, amazing and worthy and a child of God?I pray, yes.  Oh, how I pray.

There are so many others on this journey who have said it so perfectly.  I know my words will fail me.  But, I believe it is important to try and share a little of what autism looks like in our family...

Olivia is watching Yo Gabba Gabba, over and over again this morning, waving her arms, clapping her hands, purposefully positioned up against the entertainment center so she can kick the cabinet doors.  This is her comfort zone.  This is our autism.

She pulls on my chin, wanting me to say something.  I search her eyes, grasping at anything that might clue me in to what she hopes I'll say.  What were we just talking about?  Does she want me to sing?  She just uttered a sound.  What is she trying to say?  She tries desperately to communicate, but only sometimes.  And when she tries, I don't want to miss the opportunity to engage with her.  So, I try to read her mind.  Quickly, before she gives up and retreats back into her world without me.  This is our autism.

She watches a favorite show.  She sings and claps and becomes completely overwhelmed by the joy of it all that she suddenly shifts into a different emotion.  It's too much for her.  She gets up on her knees, pulls her head back, and slams it onto the floor.  Over and over until we get to her to stop her.  The knot on her head has formed into bone over the years, but the head-banging can be so rare sometimes that it seems unfair to have her wear her helmet all day.  So, we try to anticipate the meltdown.  We don't watch Go, Diego, Go, because she loves the start of the theme song, but will suddenly flip out halfway through.  Every time.  The helmet is never too far away, and I swear sometimes she seems to find comfort in its confinement.  This is our autism.

Olivia is functionally nonverbal.  She very rarely communicates her needs through words or sounds or signs.  Instead, she grabs our hand or arm and pushes it in the direction of something she wants.  Or she bangs her head.  Or pinches.  Or pulls hair.  And our minds race to solve the mystery of what she needs or wants.  Sometimes we solve the mystery.  And sometimes, we end up frustrated and bleeding and begging God to tell us why are in a place where our daughter cannot communicate with us.  But, oh how she loves to sing.  She can keep the beat to any song, and she tries to sing the words.  It may just be a syllable, or maybe even a different sound altogether, but you can weave the sounds together and realize that she is singing along.  Music is her life.  She won't sign to communicate her needs, but she's beginning to sign some of her songs.  I pray she is one day able to use those signs when the music is off.  This is our autism.

I'm pretty sure we own every single infant and toddler toy in existence.  She couldn't care less about most of them.  Instead, she is happy with a bag filled with flashcards.  She pulls one off the bottom of the stack, looks at it, and files it back in the bag on top of the stack.  Over and over.  Once in a while, she might try to name the object or letter.  The play kitchen in her playroom is never touched.  The pretend-play toys that fill her baskets are just taking up space, only appealing to her if they play music or have buttons that can be pushed over and over.  This is our autism.

Almost every single day, she wets her pants.  She will be six years old in May and she isn't toilet-trained.  There is no hope in sight of her gaining this skill.  She qualified for Medicaid as "permanently disabled" (that label is a hard one to swallow) and the CAP-C program, so we receive diapers every month on our doorstep.  Ah, that is so nice!  I think, how spoiled we are to have diapers delivered to our door!  And then I think, our five year old daughter is still peeing and pooping in a diaper, and I don't know if that will ever change.  Diapers on our doorstep is fair.  Yet, our girl can hold her pee and then flood that diaper.  We've tried so many different kinds and have yet to find one that can hold it all.  So, every day, she wears at least two outfits.  Because one will most certainly be soaked sometime during the day.  This is our autism.

I know what she means when she utters, "Oh, sah."  I know because one day she had her fingers under the movable island in the kitchen as I was moving it and the skin on her finger was sliced.  I felt so badly and just kept apologizing, "I'm sorry, I'm sorry."  Now, when she is hurt or seems upset about something, she will pull on my chin and say, "oh, sah."  Is this like a mom kissing a boo-boo to make it better?  Or does she just think those words communicate pain?  I don't know.  This is our autism.

Who will know what "oh, sah" means when we're gone?  What will her life be like as an adult?  What will we do when puberty arrives and she starts her period?  What happens when she is stronger than me and I can't stop her from hitting her head?  Will there be funding to provide the education she needs and deserves?  How can I help combat the ignorance and cold-hearted feelings that some people have of disabled children?  Is my faith in God's plan strong enough to withstand the dark valleys?  Am I doing all I can to let Olivia's life bring glory to Him?  Will this world ever move past Autism Awareness and instead come together to truly advocate for and help our children?  To help our girl?  So many questions.  So many fears.  So much love.

This is our autism.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Teach Me To Read Thursdays 4 (with linky)

"The more that you read, the more things you will know.
The more that you learn, the more places you'll go." ~ Dr. Seuss
Welcome to week 4 of Teach Me To Read Thursdays!

Two people are better off than one, 
for they can help each other succeed.
Ecclesiastes 4:9

Here you can share your posts on how you are teaching reading skills in your home or classroom.Topics can include a wide variety of topics such as:
phonics & letter sounds
sight words
word families

Here’s what we have been up to this week…

This week was a review week for
Set 3 of You Can Read sight words it, is, like & my
Word Families -at & -an

Our Reading Board

To review our -at & -an word families we used printables from 
Ready2Read which is Annie's new program at The Moffatt Girls.


Annie has a cute apple sort for the -at & -an families, but in the interest of 
saving ink, we used our file folder game that I had made previously to review.

What has everyone else been up to this week?
Please grab my button for your blog or post if you want to link up :)

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Teach Me To Read Board

I created a reading board to display the reading concepts and skills we are working on each week.

I may re-make this pocket to be larger for our sight readers.
This week we are reading our Summer sight reader from Hubbard's Cupboard.

Sight Words song from The Moffatt Girls Ready2Read program.

Word Family Flower from The Moffatt Girls

Word Family Ladder from Confessions of a Homeschooler

Sight Word Writing Practice from You Can Read at 1+1+1=1

sight word flashcards also from You Can Read

Be sure to come back tomorrow to link up your reading posts!

Monday, May 23, 2011

You've Got Mail ~ Fun With Reading

All kids LOVE getting mail, so I decided to start sending the boys "mail" as part of our Teach Me To Read lessons.

Each morning I will write the boys notes that we will read together. I put them in our toy mailbox.

After we read his note together, Captain Rex highlighted the words he knew.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Ready2Read....An Awesome New Free Program from The Moffatt Girls!

I just love finding new resources to use and today Annie at The Moffatt Girls released her new reading program Ready2Read. It combines sight words and word families over 8 units.

If you are looking for some great printables and ideas for teaching your child to read you have to check it out! :)


Thursday, May 19, 2011

Mommy's Little Sanity Cards ;)

Without fail, my 4 year old comes downstairs every morning asking if he can do more "preschool time."
Hmmmmm. While my blog may look like I have it all together and I am Miss Organized, that is far from the truth...especially at 7 in the morning ;)

With the long summer days that are just right around the corner, I decided to make up
some activity cards. I haven't decided yet how I will display these. Maybe they will get magnets on back for the fridge or be used with velcro on a poster board.

My hope is that these cards can alleviate some of the boredom during those times when Mommy doesn't quite have her act together with prepared activities. And this gives the boys a sense of independence that they get to choose instead of Mommy choosing.

I made these in a Word document by cutting and pasting pictures from the web of the different activities/toys. Very easy and quick to make! I will definitely add to the choices later, but for now these were all of the ones my tired brain could come up with. :)

I saw something similar to this on another mommy blog a while back and I can't remember where. So please leave me a comment if it was you!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Teach Me To Read Thursdays 3 (with Linky)

"The more that you read, the more things you will know.
The more that you learn, the more places you'll go." ~ Dr. Seuss
Welcome to week 3 of Teach Me To Read Thursdays!

Two people are better off than one,
for they can help each other succeed.
~ Ecclesiastes 4:9

Here you can share your posts on how you are teaching reading skills in your home or classroom.Topics can include a wide variety of topics such as:
phonics & letter sounds
sight words
word families

Here’s what we have been up to this week…

This is not reading related, but Captain Rex has been loving his new I Can Cut! workbook I found at Sam's Club. It has been perfect for me to pull out when I hear "what can I cut?" for the 20th time before breakfast ;)

We had a treasure hunt with our sight word sensory box.

This week we have been working on Set 3 of the You Can Read program,
so we added the words it, is, like & my to our box.

I buried the words in the alphabet pasta and Captain Rex used his plastic tweezers to "hunt" for the words on his list.
(I have 5 of each of the 12 sight words we have learned so far in the box).

He used his Do-A-Dot Markers to mark off the words as he found them.

Little Thomas wanted to play too ;)

We worked on the -an word family this week.

In this picture we are using our word family building blocks, our -an reader from the Moffatt Girls and our an word family ladder from Confessions of a Homeschooler.

Rex had to draw a picture of his cookie ;)

Our blocks finally came yesterday so of course today I had to join
Education Cubes and print off the
You Can Read Sight words for them so we could play a game!

Education Cubes

Stack n Smile Photo Blocks Stacking Toy

I wrote out 2 of each of the 12 sight words we have learned
on index cards for our game.
Each block holds 6 cards so we used 2 blocks for our game.

The boys took turns throwing the blocks and then running to see what word it landed on. Little Thomas doesn't know the words yet but he was able to match them up.

They moved their matchbox cars to the word they rolled and Captain Rex
read each of the words as he drove over them.

I am linking our game up to...

Word Play 125 Square
Visit 1+1+1=1 to see more word play ideas!

Here was our last -an activity. I found this on Word Way.
This website has tons of great word family printables!

I am linking this to
Education Cubes Show & Tell

So what has everyone else been up to this week? 


Please grab my button for your posts or blog if you want to link up, so that other people can easily find the other resources that are shared. :)


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