Posted in Autism, Homeschooling, Special Needs Family Life, Special Needs Parenting, Therapies

Daily Life Therapy: An Autism Teaching Method

I recently came across a “new to me” idea for teaching kids with disabilities while searching educational methods that might help my daughter, Bethany, who is an autistic brain tumor survivor, learn better.

It’s called Daily Life Therapy, which is apparently an innovative, holistic approach to teaching autistic children and young adults!

It was first established in 1964 when Dr. Kiyo Kitahara began using her method to teach her kindergarten classes in Tokyo, Japan.

Her ideas quickly spread throughout Japan and then eventually made it all the wayacross the ocean to Boston in 1987.

The three key components or “pillars” of the Daily Life Therapy method are:

  • Building physical stamina: The theory is that vigorous exercise can help regulate biological rhythms thus benefiting physical health, mood, awareness of one’s surroundings, and one’s ability to concentrate.
  • Promoting emotional stability: Teachers form a tight emotional bond with their students which promotes trust and emotional soundness.
  • Providing intellectual stimulation: Students are provided with a broad based, age appropriate curriculum.

It seems to me that while good and effective on their own, most other methods of teaching children with autism focus solely on teaching academics and life skills.

Most do not even consider the importance and benefits of incorporating movement and exercise into a student’s educational program, despite the fact that Dr. Temple Grandin repeatedly stresses the importance of autistic kids getting enough physical exercise.

When Bethany was having so much trouble all those years with debilitating seizures, it was difficult, but not altogether impossible to ensure her emotional well being and keep her brain somewhat stimulated.

However, it was impossible for her to get  up off of the couch to do much of anything even remotely physical.

But, I can with all honestly and much enthusiasm attest to the fact that as soon as Bethany’s seizures were under better control and we were able to get her involved in all the fun fitness activities at Flash Club and the YMCA, not only did her physical stamina improve, but so did her emotional health and her ability to learn!

So to say that I am excited about a teaching approach that addresses the students emotional and physical well being, as well as academics and life skills is a huge understatement!

My only disappointment is that according to their website,  presently this approach is only being utilized in day programs or residential programs at just two campuses in the entire world: one being in Boston and the other being in Japan.

It would be awesome if they eventually make resources available for creating home programs using this method.

I plan to do a little more research into this exciting new autism educational method to see how I might incorporate some of its key ideas into Bethany’s homeschool program!

I’m going to start my research by rummaging around on their website: Boston Higashi School and visiting their Higashi Kids Wiki Space where they offer academic resources and games!

You might also be interested in:

4 Common Autism Teaching Methods
Autism Thinking Styles and Educational Thinking Styles
TEACCH Principals in Special Needs Homeschool Programs

*A version of this post was first published in March 2016.

Thanks so much for stopping by!

If you have a minute, please check out our Etsy Shop where you can purchase handcrafted junk journals, instantly download prints of vintage ephemera and copies of Bethany’s paintings!

We’d love for you to join our big, happy, family!! Please Subscribe to our blog and You Tube channels below and please consider sharing this post on your other social media accounts!! Thanks!!

Adventures of an Autistic Brain Tumor Survivor on Youtube

Crafty Old Lady on Youtube

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Posted in Autism, Homeschooling, Special Needs Parenting

TEACCH Principals in Special Needs Homeschool Programs

When I was homeschooling Bethany, I loved incorporating TEACCH principals in her educational program, because they work!

I began adding fun TEACCH activities into her homeschooling program because it’s a highly visual and hands-on educational approach and Bethany learns best when she can see and touch the lesson.

TEACCH activities are perfect for Bethany because she doesn’t have to use her mind’s eye or imagination to learn!

Everything for the lesson is right there in front of her to see and manipulate!

And now, even though she is no longer required to do school, she still enjoys her TEACCH games!

Especially, The Body Builders File Folder Game!

 

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Developed at the University of North Carolina, TEACCH is an evidence based method of “structured TEACCHing” and is supported by empiracle research.

It’s based on an understanding of how the majority of individuals with autism learn, process information, and make sense of their world.

On the TEACCH Website,  it says that this approach can be used in a variety of educational settings, including: regular education classrooms; music, art, PE, and foreign language classes; speech and occupational therapy sessions;  private schools; residential settings; social groups; summer camps; group therapy, competitive and supportive employment settings; and of course, home programs.

The fundamentals of the TEACCH Approach are as follows:

  • An individualized person and family centered education plan is developed for each student.
  • The learning environment is highly structured.
  • Visuals are used to schedule daily activities and make the students’ days predictable and understandable.
  • Visual supports are used to make individual learning activities understandable.

If you are interested in using TEACCH in your homeschool program, check out the following links for creative ideas and enjoyable learning activities. 




*A version of this post was originally published in March 2016.

Thanks so much for stopping by!

If you have a minute, please check out our Etsy Shop where you can purchase handcrafted junk journals, instantly download prints of vintage ephemera and copies of Bethany’s paintings!

We’d love for you to join our big, happy, family!! Please Subscribe to our blog and You Tube channels below and please consider sharing this post on your other social media accounts!! Thanks!!

Adventures of an Autistic Brain Tumor Survivor on Youtube

Crafty Old Lady on Youtube

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Posted in Autism, Disability Awareness, Homeschooling, Product Reviews, Special Needs Parenting

Activities for Visual Learners and Kinesthetic Learners.

Many individuals with autism and other special needs are visual and kinesthetic learners.

In other words, they learn best by seeing, touching, and doing!

Temple Grandin PhD who is perhaps the most famous person in the world with autism says that she, herself thinks in pictures.

*(This post contains affiliate links.)

She describes her mind as actually working like Google Images! (My Mind Works Like Google Images)(Autism: The Way I See It).

She believes that if students with autism are to be successful learners, their teachers must discover what their dominant learning styles are, then teach them accordingly.

I have had the awesome privilege if hearing Dr. Grandin lecture in person and I respect her opinions and suggestions immensely!

I believe she speaks with authority, therefore, when she speaks, I pay close attention!

 

My daughter Bethany, has been diagnosed with autism as well as a few other disabilities.

Through trial and error, I have discovered that her dominant learning styles are visual and hands-on (kinesthetic).

Her language processing speed is quite slow so it’s almost impossible for her to learn by listening only.

Consequently, I’m always on the lookout for fun toys, games, and activities that are designed with visual and kinesthetic learning styles in mind.

I’ve compiled a list of visual and hands-on educational products below.

Some of them I have personally used in Bethany’s homeschooling program.

They have passed the “Bethany likes them” test and have also been effective in teaching her new skills.

The others are either very similar to items that we have or items that I think would be a good fit for her.

Flash Cards

  • Flash Cards, especially photo flash cards are one of the handiest and most effective tools for teaching a variety of concepts. You can find Flash Cards that will enforce matching skills, teach about feelings, emotions and categories. You can even find vocabulary flash cards. The teaching possibilities with flash cards are endless!

Puzzles

  • Manipulating puzzles is one of Bethany’s favorite ways to learn new concepts! Working with puzzles incorporates both visual and kinesthetic learning styles!
  • She loves learning how to spell words with her set of three letter word puzzles. She also enjoys using two piece puzzles to work on concepts like go togethers or opposites. These self correcting number puzzles were instrumental in teaching Bethany one to one correspondence.
  • For a bit more of a challenge and to develop language and critical thinking skills I suggest this three piece sequencing puzzle.

Math

  • Math manipulatives are fun for younger kids or even older individuals who still need practice with basic early learning math skills such as identifying colors, shapes, sequencing, patterns,  sorting, and more!  They are great for getting  your precious one’s gross and fine motor skills involved in the learning process!
  • You are sure to find a Domino game for teaching just about any early learning math concept such as counting, addition, fractions, and even time
  • Rolling and throwing Dice is a fun for kids and as an added bonus it gets their muscles involved in the learning process! Any kind of dice game is Bethany’s favorite at the moment. She loves the excitement and anticipation of wondering whether she’ll get a good roll or a bad one!
  • You can use Dice to teach basic math operations, the metric system, place value, and money skills.
  • Tenzies is a fast and frenzied calculation dice game that would be perfect for fun family game night as well as actually sharpening your eye hand coordination!

Language Arts

  • Dice games aren’t just for teaching math skills either! Dabble is a fast paced word game that is sure to wake up the language areas of the brain which are located in the temporal & frontal lobes.
  • Crosswords is like doing a crossword puzzle with dice!
  • And speaking of Word games, Bethany loves getting her whole upper body involved in language processing development while playing Zingo games. You can choose from either Zingo Sight Words and Zingo Word Builder
  • Word Whiz is an electronic word building flash card game!

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You may also find Six Tips for Modifying Lessons for visual learners helpful!
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Whether you are finding in yourself in need of adding a little excitement and pizzazz to your homeschooling program or you just want to reinforce skills your child is currently learning at school, you’re sure to find just the right item by clicking on any of my affiliate links!



Please enjoy this video of Ethan a young man with autism. All his teachers said he was not capable of learning. Watch the miracle of learning unfold as his parents begin homeschooling him and teaching him visually!

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Thanks so much for stopping by!

*This post may contain affiliate links. Thanks in advance if you should decide to purchase an item through one of our links at no extra cost to you. 100% of all commissions earned from sales go directly toward providing a better quality of life for our daughter, Bethany, an autistic and  brave brain tumor survivor !

If you have a minute, please check out our Amazon Store where I have put together a list of my favorite books and resources and Bethany’s favorite games and products and our Etsy Shop where you can instantly download vintage book illustrations and prints of Bethany’s paintings!

We’d love for you to join our big, happy, family!! Please Subscribe to our blog and You Tube channels below and please consider sharing this post on your other social media accounts!! Thanks!!

Adventures of an Autistic Brain Tumor Survivor on Youtube

Crafty Old Lady on Youtube

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Posted in Autism, Bethany Moments, Childhood Brain Cancer Survivors, Disability Awareness, Homeschooling, Product Reviews, Special Needs Parenting, Therapies, Unschooling in Action

Wikki Stix for Occupational Therapy Fun!

Bethany has enjoyed playing and learning with Wikki Stix ever since her first occupational therapist suggested we get her a set 18 years ago!

(*This post contains affiliate links.)

For those of you that may not know what Wikki Stix  are, they creative, colorful, non-toxic pieces of yarn covered in a waxy, non-sticky coating.  

For us, Wikki Stix have stood the test of time as being one of Bethany’s favorite activities and as being a sturdy, durable and indestructible purchase well worth our modest investment!

Wikki Stix are perfect for working on Occupational therapy goals!

Bethany’s goals at this time are to:

  • Strengthen her left arm, hand, and fingers.
  • Encourage her to reach her arm and hand across mid-line. This is the imaginary line that starts at the top of your head and travels down the middle of your body, dividing it in half. Reaching your arm, hands, (and even feet) across this imaginary line means that both sides of your brain are working well together.  A person needs to be able to spontaneously cross the mid-line in order to use both hands (and feet) together effectively.

If you think Wikki Stix might be a good fit for your child, then I urge you to check out these durable, creative, no-mess, non-toxic, sets for tons of fun, creative learning activities sensory integration and tactile experiences!

  • Bethany is working with the Basic Shapes set in the video below. This tactile learning activity helps develop fine motor skills, plus it encourages good eye-hand coordination! Children will learn about shapes as they connect-the-dots using Wikki Stix. This set features ten, durable, laminated shape cards, 72 Wikki Stix, 2 work boards, and a large full color fold out instruction sheet.
  • The Alphabet Set contains 26 individual alphabet cards plus 36 Wikki Stix. Each letter card has directional arrows that will help guide your child in creating the proper handwriting “strokes” making for a perfectly fun pre-writing activity!
  • The Numbers and Counting Set will get your child working on developing  fine motor skills as well as learning about counting. Kids will have so much fun with this set that they won’t even realize they are learning!
  • The Wikki Stix Multi Sensory Resource Set  provides a perfect tactile and sensory experience for children. This set is great for  visually impaired individuals just like Bethany, who is blind on the right sides of both of her eyes. It also provides lots of creative kinesthetic learning, which makes it just the right choice when working with autistic individuals!  This set contains: 6 activity cards, 144 colored wikki stix, a resource manual, and a grid board, all included in a zip-up bonus bag. Not made for children under the age of 3 years old.
  • The Wikki Stix Traveler Play Set is perfect for taking along on your family vacation!  Your child will work on their therapy goals as well as their fine motor skills. They’ll also explore their feelings, make critters and creatures, make a Wikkidoodle, create funny faces, make 3-D creations, play travel games, spin and create in the Do-Wikki Game, decorate cans and bags, and design cards. This travel kit includes: 96 Wikki Stix Creatables Wooden shapes Feathers Pompoms 4 blank faces 2 greeting cards Do-Wikki Game Wikkidoodle sheets Travel Fun Book of ideas plus project sheet Colorful fish and a butterfly to decorate , and it all comes  in a convenient, sturdy carrying case!

For more information about crossing the mid-line and other occupational therapy concerns, ideas, and activities please visit OT Mom Learning Activities
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*This post may contain affiliate links. Thanks in advance if you should decide to purchase an item through one of our links at no extra cost to you. 100% of all commissions earned from sales go directly toward providing a better quality of life for our daughter, Bethany, a brave brain tumor survivor and special girl!

If you have a minute, please check out our Amazon Store where I have put together a list of my favorite books and resources and Bethany’s favorite games and products and our Etsy Shop where you can instantly download vintage book illustrations and prints of Bethany’s paintings!

We’d love for you to join our big, happy, family!! Please Subscribe to our blog and You Tube channels below and please consider sharing this post on your other social media accounts!! Thanks!!

Adventures of an Autistic Brain Tumor Survivor on Youtube

Crafty Old Lady on Youtube

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Continue reading “Wikki Stix for Occupational Therapy Fun!”

Posted in Autism, Disability Awareness, Homeschooling, Product Reviews, Special Needs Parenting

Occupational Therapy Products!

My daughter, Bethany was diagnosed with a life threatening brain tumor when she was just two years old!

After she had the surgery to remove it some complications caused her to have a stroke.

The stroke caused right sided hemiplegia, which basically means she lost the use her right arm, hand, leg and foot!

In addition to all that, when Bethany was five, she was also diagnosed with autism and sensory processing disorder.

Intensive physical therapy was effective in helping her regain the ability to stand and walk again.

However, even though Bethany “graduated” from official occupational therapy, physical therapy, and sensory integration therapy years ago, if we aren’t constantly stimulating her right arm and hand, she seems to forget that she can actually use them!

She also experiences an ongoing struggle with regulating her delicate tactile, vestibular, and proprioceptive sensory systems.

As a result, I’m constantly on the lookout for the latest, state of the art, therapy products to include in our home therapy program.

I’m always on the prowl for something new that just might entice Bethany to use her right arm and hand more often and items to help regulate the three sensory systems she has trouble with.

You can really see Bethany’s hemiplegia in action in the video below!

(*This post contains affiliate links.)

Over the years, I’ve come across many products that I feel have helped Bethany recover from her stroke and accommodate for her sensory issues.

I thought I’d share them with you all here on the chance that you or your loved one with similar challenges might benefit from them as well!

  • If you’re looking for items to help your child remain calm and able to focus, you might want to take a look at these noise cancelling head phones. They’re perfect for kids who become overwhelmed or are easily distracted in noisy environments.
  • One of the items that I asked The Dream Factory to provide for my daughter Bethany’s “chill out” sensory room is this awesome Peapod! She loves tightness against her body and this is perfect for providing that type of sensory input!
  • For helping Bethany with sensory regulation, we also asked for a special needs swing. It’s great for calming agitated kids and promotes proper sensory integration.
  • A bubble tube light was next on our list of items wanted for Beth’s sensory room. Bubble lights provide a calming visual stimulation that helps kids chill out and relax!
  • Looking for some fun and informal sensory toy ideas? Then check out this package of kinetic sand! You can even get tools like this sand molding tool set to enhance the sensory experience! Manipulating this sand between the fingers is a perfect activity for both sensory seekers and sensory avoiders! Playing with sand is also great for working fine motor skills and for encouraging body awareness, and tactile exploration!
  • Theraputty is a great tool for strengthing fine motor muscles! I used to hide little toys inside for Bethany to find!
  • This weighted puppy is sure to become a bedtime favorite for your little one! This furry friend will provide your child with all the sensory input, heavy work, and tactile stimulation he or she needs!
  • Perhaps your little wiggle worm might benefit from using a chair ball! Kids can sit and bounce on it but it won’t roll away! It’s perfect for kids that just cannot sit still in a a classroom situation!
  • Another unique seating option for the child who just can’t stop moving might be the Stabili-T-stool. Kids will work on balance, trunk control, core stability, motor planning and coordination while rocking on this unique stool!
  • Are chewing needs distracting your kids from learning at school? chewable pencil toppers might be just the ticket! These pencil toppers will provide oral stimulation in a somewhat discrete manner!
  • Using a slant board for writing assignments will help prevent wrist fatigue and encourage better posture while working on handwriting!
  • Is your child reluctant to wear certain clothes? Maybe compression clothing would help! If you watch our Youtube channel, then you know that Bethany wears wet suits for sensory regulation!
  • I appreciate all the special products to help kids with handwriting!
  • These cool Interactive reading bools were designed with special needs in mind! They come in seven ability levels and give kids practice in reading and motor planning. They also help develop speech and language skills.

While this list is by no means exhaustive, I do think it’s enough to get you all started on researching products that might be helpful for your family!

Do you have anything that has been helpful that you’d like to share with us? Tell us in the comments!
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*This post may contain affiliate links. Thanks in advance if you should decide to purchase an item through one of our links at no extra cost to you. 100% of all commissions earned from sales go directly toward providing a better quality of life for our daughter, Bethany, a brave brain tumor survivor and special girl!

If you have a minute, please check out our Amazon Store where I have put together a list of my favorite books and resources and Bethany’s favorite games and products and our Etsy Shop where you can instantly download vintage book illustrations and prints of Bethany’s paintings!

We’d love for you to join our big, happy, family!! Please Subscribe to our blog and You Tube channels below and please consider sharing this post on your other social media accounts!! Thanks!!

Adventures of an Autistic Brain Tumor Survivor on Youtube

Crafty Old Lady on Youtube

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Posted in Bethany Moments, Homeschooling, Special Education, Special Needs Family Life, Special Needs Parenting, Unschooling in Action

Ithaca Sciencenter, Buttermilk Falls, Cornell Arboretum

I had been secretly hatching a plan to do something fun as a family while Malcolm was home  helping me after my second hip surgery.

Recovering from my first hip replacement had been pretty much quick and painless so I was counting on my recovery being easy and uneventful this time as well.

I’m very happy to say that by the second week post surgery, I was feeling pretty great so I brought up the subject of driving an hour and 45 minutes to take Bethany to the Ithaca Sciencenter!

I also wanted to show her Buttermilk Falls in real life!

She loves looking at her sisters’ waterfalls photos on Facebook and so I thought she might really get a kick out of seeing one in person!!

After that I was hoping to drive through Cornell University’s Arboretum, then visit Rebekah and William on the way home!

It was quite the elaborate plan, but I felt confident that I could handle it and Malcolm agreed.

We told Bethany of our plan and she was all for it!

So Malcolm packed up my walker in the back of  the car and off we went on our grand and glorious adventure!

Since it was the second week of September, I knew the Sciencenter would not be as crowded as it usually is during the summer months.

But, I was a little concerned that there might be a bunch of babies, toddlers and preschoolers there that Bethany would want to hug and bug!

That kind of thing is always a crap shoot.

Some parents and kids don’t mind Bethany’s hugs, but others do!

When we finally arrived there was just a handful of little kids there and Bethany never once asked to hug or bug them!

So, we were able to fully enjoy our experience at the Sciencenter and so were they!

The first exhibit we explored were the aquariums filled with local creatures and there were some exotic ones too!

We got to see some cute, tiny, little poisonous dart frogs, African fish and some menacing looking green snakes!

Then Bethany discovered the penny whirlpool!

You know that thing that you drop pennies into and they spin around and around and around until they disappear into the hole at the bottom!

Bethany spent a lot of time there!

Later, she told me it was her favorite exhibit!

She really enjoyed the light tables and the floating scarves in the preschooler section, too.

And she also had a blast playing all the unusual musical instruments that were scattered throughout the museum!

When she was ready to go we headed over to Buttermilk Falls which was quite impressive after a night of heavy rainfall!!

We did drive through the Arboretum on our way to Rebekah’s and I thought it was a gorgeous drive.

However, Bethany was not all that impressed with a bunch of trees!

She just wanted to get to her sister’s house!

One funny thing happened as we were driving through the Cornell University Campus, though.

As we drove past Phillips Hall, Bethany saw the sign and got very excited to see her last name up there and exclaimed, “Hey, that’s me!!”

So far we had experienced a glitch free day.

Once we got to Rebekah’s house, however, we encountered a problem when Bethany discovered she had a tiny wet spot on her pants.

But, Rebekah was able to save the day by drying it with her hair dryer!

Then all was right with Bethany’s world!

She played with Sophia the hamster and some games with Rebekah.

She even ate a big bowl of Rebekah’s chicken pot pie for dinner, which was quite surprising because Bethany never tries anything new on the spot like that!

As an extra bonus, two trains went by Rebekah’s house!

Bethany just loves those trains!

But all good things must come to an end and all too soon it was time to go home.

We thought we were headed for a quiet drive home, but Bethany asked to go to two stores!

She asked to go to “below” which we quickly figured out was Five Below.

Then we went to Party City where she had a blast trying on hats and feather boas and picking out her 20th birthday party supplies!

After that we did get our quiet ride home and when all was said and done, at the end of the day, we proclaimed it to be a very fun and successful adventure!


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*This post may contain affiliate links. Thanks in advance if you should decide to purchase an item through one of our links at no extra cost to you. 100% of all commissions earned from sales go directly toward providing a better quality of life for our daughter, Bethany, a brave brain tumor survivor and special girl!

If you have a minute, please check out our Amazon Store where I have put together a list of my favorite books and resources and Bethany’s favorite games and products and our Etsy Shop where you can instantly download vintage book illustrations and prints of Bethany’s paintings!

We’d love for you to join our big, happy, family!! Please Subscribe to our blog and You Tube channels below and please consider sharing this post on your other social media accounts!! Thanks!!

Adventures of an Autistic Brain Tumor Survivor on Youtube

Crafty Old Lady on Youtube

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Posted in Disability Awareness, Homeschooling, Special Needs Family Life, Special Needs Parenting

Technology for Special Needs

Way back in 1996 we had finally saved up enough money to buy our very first personal home computer!

We were so excited and amazed by what a computer could do!

The use of floppy discs, diskettes, cd-roms, chat rooms, email, paint and drawing programs, educational games like the JumpStart series, and surfing the Internet quickly became a part of our regular, everyday routine!

Now,  more than 20 years later, computers are now so much a part of lives and important to everyday living that I wonder just how we ever survived without them.

I am especially grateful for how much computers, iPads, and phones have improved my special needs daughter, Bethany’s quality of life!

The following is a list of basic computer and internet skills that I feel are important for Bethany to learn.

Some she has mastered and some she is still working on

• Turning on the computer

• Using the keyboard

• Navigating the desktop

• Learning to spell favorite websites’ names

• Learning to spell the names of the people they want to communicate with

• Using email, Facebook, Skype, and/or other favorite social media choices

• Using Google

• Using YouTube

In my opinion, the possibilities for computers to assist people with special needs is nothing short of miraculous!

People with disabilities can use computers to communicate, find information, earn degrees, and entertain themselves, though they may need special equipment to do so.

Advancements in technology have exploded in recent years making all kinds of technological devices, hardware, and software available to assist the disabled!

The following is a list of special needs technology available for people with special needs.

• Voice activated typing programs

• Speech recognition software

• Special computer access methods for people who cannot use a keyboard

• Dynavox

• Communication apps for iPad

One of my favorite resources for Special Needs Technology: http://www.mayer-johnson.com/

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*This post may contain affiliate links. Thanks in advance if you should decide to purchase an item through one of our links at no extra cost to you. 100% of all commissions earned from sales go directly toward providing a better quality of life for our daughter, Bethany, a brave brain tumor survivor and special girl!

If you have a minute, please check out our Amazon Store where I have put together a list of my favorite books and resources and Bethany’s favorite games and products and our Etsy Shop where you can instantly download vintage book illustrations and prints of Bethany’s paintings!

We’d love for you to join our big, happy, family!! Please Subscribe to our blog and You Tube channels below and please consider sharing this post on your other social media accounts!! Thanks!!

Adventures of an Autistic Brain Tumor Survivor on Youtube

Crafty Old Lady on Youtube

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Posted in Autism, Childhood Brain Cancer Survivors, Homeschooling, Special Education

How and Why We Homeschooled Bethany

Way back in 1984, with much fear and trepidation, my husband and I made the controversial decision to homeschool our children. I quickly discovered that I loved teaching my own children and so as the years passed we kept homeschooling them. But then, in November of 2000, my two year old daughter Bethany was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Our whole world was turned upside down in an instant. She had the lifesaving brain surgery she needed, but shortly after the surgery she had a stroke and became permanently disabled.

After spending two months in the hospital dealing with life-threatening complications, Bethany was finally well enough to go home, but she has never been the same little girl as as she was before the surgery. She has great difficulty communicating her wants and needs. She deals with right side hemiplegia, because she was paralyzed on that side of her body after her stroke. She also has refractory epilepsy, moderate autism, significant developmental delays, occasional aggressive outbursts, and partial blindness.

brain tumor surgery scar

Upon Bethany’s discharge from the hospital, we immediately enrolled her in our state’s early intervention program and discovered that she was eligible for speech therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy and special preschool education. Bethany and I had developed an almost symbiotic relationship while we were in the hospital, plus she and her siblings were so happy to finally be together again that I didn’t have the heart to send her away for her therapies, so it was arranged for her to receive them at home.

When Bethany reached kindergarten age, even though she had severe learning disabilities and developmental delays, I did not hesitate to continue her education at home along with her brothers and sisters.

When she was about seven, I began to have doubts that I could teach her everything she needed to know. She was struggling to read: I’d managed to teach her letter sounds but couldn’t seem to help her to learn how to blend the sounds together. As heart wrenching as it was for me, I convinced myself that a qualified special education teacher might do a better job of teaching Bethany than I could, so I enrolled her in our local school’s special education program. She seemed to enjoy school at first, but after a few weeks, she began giving me trouble getting ready for school and was always angry and aggressive when I picked her up at the end of the day.

I thought she just needed to adjust to the new routine and structure of her day, but after about six months, Bethany’s health deteriorated. She began having so many seizures that it became pointless to send her to school, so I withdrew her. We let her recuperate over the summer and tried again the next fall, but the same thing happened so I withdrew her again.

I continued to teach Bethany at home when she wasn’t having seizures or recuperating from having seizures. It took about two years, and then I again became worried. I began thinking that Bethany might be bored or depressed being home all the time. This time we would to try a small, homey, private school for children with disabilities. And yet still, no luck. Six months into the school year, she had lost an alarming amount of weight and began having so many seizures that it became impossible to send her to school any longer.

I don’t know why it took me so long and so many tries before I realized that my sweet, precious Bethany just cannot handle the stress of attending school. She needs a lot of down time throughout the day and between activities in order to thrive. Homeschooling allows for that.

How I homeschool my daughter

I did learn some valuable lessons from Bethany’s teachers, though. One taught me that Bethany is a very visual learner. I have kept that in mind ever since and still work very hard to make all her lessons highly visual. I translate the concepts I want Bethany to learn into visual lessons by using realistic drawings, photos, videos, real objects, and games. When I was teaching Bethany the parts of a flower, we went outside and picked a flower. We dissected it and I verbally labeled each part for her. We examined each part under the microscope. I made flower-part flash cards and she completed cut and paste flower-part diagrams.

Errorless Learning is another educational method that I utilize frequently in Bethany’s homeschool program so that she won’t become confused and remember wrong answers. What that means is that I present lessons to her in such a way that she can’t make a mistake. For example, when I was teaching Bethany the color words, I created a work sheet by writing the color names in black on the left side of the paper and in color on the right side (as a fail proof hint). That way, Bethany could successfully draw a line to match up the words correctly. I also used the same idea to create a matching card game.

To teach and reinforce appropriate behaviors, I use video self modeling. Since we have a YouTube channel, I take my camera with me everywhere I go. I often catch Bethany behaving well in situations where she might not always behave so cooperatively, like at the doctor or dentist, and am able to record it. I then use that footage as a lesson to encourage her to repeat the appropriate behavior again the next time she is in that same situation. I never tape her behaving inappropriately because I don’t want those kinds of behaviors to be what imprints on her memory.

We also take advantage of the many wonderful iPad apps and commercially produced games and educational products available that make teaching and learning visually easy to do.

Now at almost 20, even though Bethany is no longer legally required to attend any school she still enjoys “doing school” on occasion. She loves attending her social club where she has made lots of friends. She loves shopping and going to the movies with mom and dad, riding carousels and roller coasters, going to the beach, visiting her siblings, going swimming at the YMCA, bowling, and picking out books and DVDs at the library.  It is clear to me that she is happy and healthy, and I am grateful that homeschooling gave us the chance to do what was best for her.

autism academics

brain tumor survivor holding basketball

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*This post may contain affiliate links. Thanks in advance if you should decide to purchase an item through one of our links at no extra cost to you. 100% of all commissions earned from sales go directly toward providing a better quality of life for our daughter, Bethany, a brave brain tumor survivor and special girl!

If you have a minute, please check out our Amazon Store where I have put together a list of my favorite books and resources and Bethany’s favorite games and products and our Etsy Shop where you can instantly download vintage book illustrations and prints of Bethany’s paintings!

We’d love for you to join our big, happy, family!! Please Subscribe to our blog and You Tube channels below and please consider sharing this post on your other social media accounts!! Thanks!!

My Autistic Brain Tumor Survivor on Youtube

Crafty Old Lady on Youtube

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Posted in Homeschooling, Special Needs Parenting, Therapies, Unschooling in Action

Dollar Tree Homeschooling For My Special Needs Teen

The start of the 2018/19 school year is coming up fast!

It’s sad to see summer go, but if you are a homeschooler now is the time to go through your school supplies inventory!

What do you already have that you can still use and what items will you need to purchase!

Believe it or not, Dollar Tree is one of my favorite places to shop for school supplies!

Of course, every time I go into that store, I never fail to leave without a few other handy gadgets and nifty thingamajigs that I never even knew I needed before!!

One can actually end up spending quite a bit of money at the Dollar Store, if you’re not paying attention, but it can be so very economical when shopping for school supplies and even curriculum!

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Since we are a one income special needs homeschooling family, I’m always on the look out for inexpensive items we can use in our homeschool special education program and our occupational therapy and speech therapy sessions.

Below are some of the excellent Dollar Tree homeschooling and therapy items I’ve found at Dollar Tree over the past ten years or so!!

  • Number and letter stickers
  • Foam alphabet and number puzzles
  • Sequencing cards
  • Go Together cards
  • Foam math Dice
  • Mini Color Dot Dominoes
  • Foam counting cubes
  • Alphabet beads
  • Mini chalk board and chalk
  • Worksheets
  • Workbooks
  • Kid’s educational books
  • Play Dough
  • Clay
  • Mini Connect Four game
  • Tiny Etch-a-Sketch
  • Mini MagnaDoodle
  • Miniature Rubik’s Cube
  • Wipe off white boards
  • Colored craft sticks
  • Pipe cleaners
  • Tissue paper squares
  • PomPoms
  • An assortment of school supplies
  • Drawing supplies
  • Bubbles
  • Glass gems
  • Ceramic painting craft kits
  • Plastic stained glass craft kits
  • Foam craft kits
  • Felt craft kits
  • Foam holiday crafts
  • Paint and color-by-number kits

Do you use Dollar Tree items in your homeschool? If so, tell me about your Dollar Tree Homeschooling finds in the comments!


If you are interested in the following items but can’t find them at your local Dollar Tree, you can find them through my Amazon Affiliate links below:

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*This post may contain affiliate links. Thanks in advance if you should decide to purchase an item through one of our links at not extra cost to you. 100% of all commissions earned from sales go directly toward providing a better quality of life for our daughter, Bethany, a brave brain tumor survivor and special girl!

If you have a minute, please check out our Amazon Store where I have put together a list of my favorite books and resources and Bethany’s favorite games and products and our Etsy Shop where you can instantly download vintage book illustrations and prints of Bethany’s paintings!

We’d love for you to join our big, happy, family!! Please Subscribe to our blog and You Tube channels below and please consider sharing this post on your other social media accounts!! Thanks!!

My Autistic Brain Tumor Survivor on Youtube

Crafty Old Lady on Youtube

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Posted in Homeschooling, Special Needs Parenting

Creating Homeschool IEP Goals and Objectives

If you are a special needs homeschooling family, you may be planning next year’s goals and objectives for your child fight about now!

If you have made the exciting decision to begin homeschooling your special needs child, congratulations!

Even though submitting IEPs to school districts is not required in most states, I still think it’s a great idea to create a few goals and objectives for your special learner.

I firmly believe that creating  IEP goals and objectives that specifically address your child’s unique needs is extremely beneficial.

Not only is doing so very helpful in keeping track of your child’s progress, it’s also a great way to show school officials that you understand your child’s special educational and developmental needs and that you are capable of providing your child with a quality education.
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When I create a homeschool IEP for my special needs daughter, Bethany, usually do the following:

  • I Research what developmental milestones and/or academic levels she should be achieving and performing at for her age and grade level. (You can access academic learning standards at your state’s Department of Education. You can also find a developmental milestones checklist at CDC Developmental Milestones.)
  • I Determine her current functional skills. I do this by observing her during her normal daily routine and/or I perform my own informal evaluations then compare my findings with the developmental milestones checklist.
  • I Determine Bethany’s present level of academic performance by giving her fun and informal academic tests or I might administer a professional achievement or placement tests to get an idea of what educational level she is performing at.
  • Lastly, I Write goals and objectives, based on my findings, that match the academic and functional areas that need to be addressed and remediated. (If you need ideas, a great place to find appropriate goals and objectives is at this awesome IEP goal bank.)

Determining the difference between goals and objectives can sometimes be tricky.

In a nutshell:

Educational goal are statements of skills a student is expected to have achieved upon completion of his or her educational program, such as:

  • Student will be able to count to ten by June 2016.

Educational objectives break down the goals into smaller steps and describe the strategies and activities used to reach decided upon goals, such as:

  • Using manipulatives such as foam cubes, Student will count to three using one to one correspondence by November 2015.
  • Student will count to five using one to one correspondence while drawing five circles by April 2016.
  • Using flash cards picturing the number ten and ten corresponding objects, Student will count to ten using one to one correspondence by June 2016.

writing an IEP

For more detailed information about setting up IEPs, writing goals and objectives for your homeschool program, or in working with your school district if you have chosen to send your special needs child to public or private school, I recommend you check out the following resources:

You can purchase achievement tests at:
Christian Libery
Seton Testing Services

An awesome devolopmental and academic skills checklist coming from a Christian perspective that I love and use is Luke’s Life List

*This post contains affiliate links. Thanks if you decide to purchase an item through one of my links at no extra cost to you!*

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You might also be interested in:
NYS Homeschooling Regs for Special Needs Students
Homeschooling Your Special Needs in NYS
7 Special Needs Homeschooling FAQs

You might also might want to consider purchasing a membership with Homeschool Legal Defense Association before beginning your homeschooling journey!
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*This post may contain affiliate links. Thanks in advance if you should decide to purchase an item through one of our links at not extra cost to you. 100% of all commissions earned from sales go directly toward providing a better quality of life for our daughter, Bethany, a brave brain tumor survivor and special girl!

If you have a minute, please check out our Amazon Store where I have put together a list of my favorite books and resources and Bethany’s favorite games and products and our Etsy Shop where you can instantly download vintage book illustrations and prints of Bethany’s paintings!

We’d love for you to join our big, happy, family!! Please Subscribe to our blog and You Tube channels below and please consider sharing this post on your other social media accounts!! Thanks!!

My Autistic Brain Tumor Survivor on Youtube

Crafty Old Lady on Youtube

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.