Star Wars Reads Month @RCSDRUES

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October is #StarWarsReadsMonth To help kick off a month of amazing books, each staff member will share what their favorite thing is to read.

I wasn’t a big fan of reading when I was in elementary school. First of all, I was not good at it. I became frustrated when I tried to read large books my teachers recommended. Second, a lot of what they would suggest didn’t really connect with me. My parents knew how important it is to read. They also knew that the only way for me to get better at reading was to practice reading. So they started buying me comic books. Spiderman, The X-Men, and Captain America had me hooked. I would read 10-20 comics a week. I was able to make a connection with those characters and that is what a teacher did for me later in High School. We were going to read Beowulf in senior english. It was long, written funny, and seemed confusing at first glance. One day during class, she stopped and told me she was going to help me understand. She wanted to help me see that there were things in this story that she knew I would love. It wouldn’t be easy but she would help me every step of the way. That book had monsters, fighting, battles, honor, revenge. So many amazing things. Once I figured out that story, I started wanting more to read. Each day I would buy, check out, and beg for more and more books. If that teacher didn’t take the time to help me make that connection, I don’t know who or where I would be today. 

So in honor of #STARWARSREADS Month I want to share my favorite book. It is so hard to pick just one because every book means something different to me. If I had to pick one it would be “The Princess Bride,” by William Goldman. That book and movie are incredible. It has fencing, monsters, men in masks, and true love! So many wonderful things in one story. I highly recommend parents reading it and sharing with their kids if they would like!

Tune in all month for more reading related posts from our amazing staff.

The Secret Word is Play!

I am no scientist. I have no white lab coat. I am not going to quote a bunch of data. I am just a dad and an educator trying to learn how to help kids.  Kids can learn while they play. Today at school while my son was playing, we had a major break through.

My son, The Dude, has autism.  He would fall on the more severe end of the autism spectrum, but is still quite high functioning. He can answer some questions in context. However, he is still working on initiating appropriate conversation on his own. One of his favorite actors is Pee Wee Herman. We have DVDs of PeeWee’s Playhouse. We have watched his Christmas special on Netflix more times than we watched “It’s a Wonderful Life.” He thinks Pee Wee is just hilarious.  McKade found a toy pop up tent used by classmates to read and or calm down in. He took some paper, tape, crayons, glue, and a little help from his teachers and transformed that tent!

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World, I would like you to meet Mr. Tent. A walking talking Pee Wee’s Playhouse piece of furniture come to life!  Now, this may not seem like a big deal to you, but this is HUGE! Thanks to this opportunity to “Play” or “ACT” The Dude becomes Mr. Tent. Mr. Tent has his own voice and personality.  You can ask Mr. Tent questions, and he will answer you. He will even start his own conversation with you.  He can tell you how he is feeling that day. He will tell you he likes climbing on the monkey bars. He even will remind you to wear a helmet when riding a bike.  Mr. Tent was even able to answer questions about a story “HE” read in class recently.

Just by taking a few minutes to encourage him to play, his teachers helped him stumble on an interest based outlet to communicate in ways he never has before!  So thank you awesome teachers. Thank you Pee Wee’s Playhouse! The Secret Word is PLAY! Any time you hear the secret word scream real loud!

Mr. Tent Drinks Water

Click the link above to watch Mr. Tent come to life!

May the force be with you,

@JediPadmaster

#ManvsAutism #ParentLikeAJedi

 

Who would be on your Zombie IEP support team?

My name is Toby, and I like the Walking Dead. First, let me state. I do not let my kids watch it. I will not have it on if they are awake. It is not for kids. Second, I do not like scary movies. I have three kids, two with autism and work in Education in Mississippi. My real life, at times, is scarier than anything on television or at the movies. But, I love this show!

It’s the people that draw me in. At the heart of the it isn’t about Zombies aka Walkers. It is about a family.  It is about a dad that is trying to take care of his kids in a scary, dangerous, and unpredictable world. His family is made up of people that were brought into his life when their world changed drastically. I can draw so many weird parallels that help make this show so relatable.

I am a dad. I have three kids, two with autism. I am terrified of the things that could happen to them on any given day. I wake up each morning trying to teach them how to survive in a crazy, dangerous, and unpredictable world.  Just like Rick on the show. Most of our “family” consists of people who may not share our blood but they are closer to us than the people who do. We look out for each other, offer support, and keep each other safe. Just like the family on the show.

What really draws me into the show is that the people there are looking for hope. Hope in a world that is bleak and desolate. They wake up each day hoping that it can be better. Who does not need more hope? I know I do. My wife and I discuss the things that happen a lot on the show.

We were speaking the other night and we got to talking about which walking dead character would you most like to have at an IEP meeting with you? We had a long conversation.  I had some thoughts and decided to share them on twitter. I asked my friends in my PLN the same question. What character from the show would you want as an advocate and why?  Tonight’s #manvsautism  chat will ask that same question. Who from the Walking Dead would you want in your corner? Answer from a parent’s perspective. Answer from a teacher’s perspective. Then lets start to think about why we would want them? What characteristics do they bring to the table? How can we introduce those same characteristics into our own IEP meetings? (Without Rick, Daryl, and a bunch of Walkers showing up!)

Tonight we talk IEP, WALKERS, and who you would want in your corner. Stop by #manvsautism  chat on twitter at 8:30 central! See you then!

typorama

 

 

 

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MTFBWY

 

 

Isn’t That Impossible?

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Isn’t That Impossible?

Leah’s best friend from Ohio had flown down to Biloxi to visit. She invited our whole family to come and stay with her and her new husband at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. We were so excited. Ok, I was a little excited. I was mostly nervous because we haven’t stayed away from home since Marley was born. The kiddos were still very young and very set in their ways. We drove three hours to BIloxi and had a great day at the beach visiting with friends. We made our way to the hotel and then it happened. Addison got upset. I am talking epic meltdown upset the minute we pulled into the hotel parking garage. Why? Because it was night time and what we were doing was not part of her typical night time routine. The hotel room was amazing, probably one of the nicest I had ever seen. We got the kids in the room. We gave them their medicine. Addison could not calm down.  We tried everything we could to prolong our stay but nothing was working. Addison wanted to be in her room back in her house.. So we did the only thing we thought would help… we drove the three hours back home so she could sleep in her bed.  It was awful. We cut the trip short. We felt totally defeated. It was the first time we had tried an overnight family trip and it went horribly wrong. Was it always going to be like this? Would we never be able to take an overnight trip with the kids?

 

I cannot tell you how many experts told us how bad things were going to be for us and our kids.  We were told if McKade was not speaking by now he probably never would.  I remember taking Addison to see a doctor for an evaluation. They told us she was mentally retarded and would require help with even the most basic skills. Because Addison and McKade were both on the autism spectrum those same experts told us statistically that Marley Kate would have autism. When the kids were diagnosed, we were told that eighty two percent of couples with one child who has a disability divorce. We would have had to get divorced, then remarried and divorced again just to keep up with the odds. Screw the odds.

McKade can speak. He will answer questions in context. He will even start some spontaneous conversations. Addison has more than surpassed the label that they tried to stick to her. She has started reading basic sentences in class. This year for the first time, she told us her first and last name when we asked! Marley Kate does not have autism. She is nine going on thirty seven. She has aspirations of helping people with autism, designing homes, and traveling to the site where the Titanic sank. McKade is great at math, building legos, and can cook his own scrambled eggs. Addison loves to paint and recently started writing! All of the kids accomplishments have taken a little longer than the norm to happen but they still happened. Potty training the first two kids took almost seven years. A long hard seven years but we got there. Marley decided at about 18 months that she would be potty trained. We told her to pace herself. Based on our experience she had about six more years to knock that goal out.

Han Solo said “Never Tell Me the Odds.” Because to him it did not matter what should happen. He was going to do it anyway. We adopted that same idea in this house. It does not matter what should happen. We are going to get our kids where we want them to be no matter what other people tell us should happen.

Legislators will impose rules, regulations, and standards that will make our jobs harder. We will be low on supplies, short on time, and patience. We will be physically and mentally drained by the expectations that are placed on us by educators.  We will still teach. We will still bring kids from where they are to where they need to be. No matter what the odds say. Do not listen to what others tell you about kids and the odds of your success.  You have to focus on what our students can become. Remember why you started doing what you do and face the odds head on! The first step in overcoming insurmountable odds is believing you can. It may take a little time to complete the impossible, but it can be done.
Our first trip with the kids ended horribly. We drove home three hours and ended our trip before it really even started. Addison panicked because we were in some strange hotel and not her room. Now, Addison would rather stay in a hotel than at her house. She has traveled all over Mississippi, Tennessee, Alabama, and Florida. We even spent Christmas at Disney World. The kids will take a trip at the drop of a hat. Screw the odds. We were not supposed to be able to stay married, but we did.  Addison was not supposed to be able to read, but she did. McKade was not supposed to be able to speak, but he did.  Why, because we believed we could.

 

“Is that even possible?”

“I never answer that question until after I’ve done it.”

Han Solo

Sometimes, you have to let the Wookiee win. A lesson in choosing your battles. #parentlikeaGeek

“I suggest a new strategy R2, let the Wookiee win.”

C-3PO  Star Wars

Sometimes you have to let the Wookiee win. Some battles aren’t worth fighting. Whether you are a teacher in a classroom or a parent at home sometimes you have to let go.  My kitchen has a window into the living room. If my oldest daughter walked passed a certain point in the kitchen, she could not turn around and walk back out.  She would climb through the window into the living room. For some reason, I can’t explain it drove me batty. I would beg. She would still go through the window. I would praise. She would still go through the window. I would yell. She would still climb through the window.

I eventually had to ask myself… what harm is it doing that she climbed through the window? Was she hurting herself? Was she hurting someone else? Was she destroying the house? NO…. the only person that was really bothered by the behavior was me.

Teachers  have to do the same with their kids in their classes. Does it really matter if they are standing while you teach? Does it bother other students or does it just bother me? Set some limits. Stop and reflect on what you really want that student (Wookiee) to do or not while they are in your room. Write down the most important things. Don’t let them hurt themselves. Don’t let them hurt someone else. But learn to let some things go. 

Back to the window in the kitchen and my own little Wookiee. After I stopped loosing my you know what when she climbed through the window, she stopped climbing through the window. Kids will respond to get you to react; whether they have autism or they are typical. So focus on what’s important, let some things go. Sometimes, it’s ok to let the Wookiee win.

@jedipadmaster

Addy and I in front of the Infamous Kitchen window.

Addy and I in front of the Infamous Kitchen window.