Star Wars Reads Month @RCSDRUES



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.


Put it in the drawer…#manvsautism

Everyone has that drawer in their house. You know the one. You put important things in there. Things you may need later and don’t want to lose. That drawer probably looks like this…


Special Needs Parents have a drawer too…

“How do you all do it?”

Sometimes we don’t. Sometimes we cry. We get upset. We are mad at the world. Sometimes we sit and listen to Florence and the Machine and stare off into space from our hammock. Sometimes when one of us down, the other always has a brave face and a smile. That way others think all is well.

Sometimes we put our problems we don’t want to deal with in “the drawer.’  It’s pretty crowded too. Global warming is in there.  All of our medical debt and student loan debt is in there too.  Addison’s upcoming appointment to be fitted for her wheelchair… that’s in “the drawer.”  Addison’s surgery to break and reset both her legs if her physical therapy doesn’t work…. WAY in the back of “the drawer.” Leah’s back and forth battle with lyme disease and all of the neurological issues it has caused….  throw it in the drawer.

It’s great to be able to put things in the drawer. We are able to get along and function because of that drawer. Here’s another secret. We don’t leave things in the drawer. That would be unhealthy and irresponsible. The secret of the drawer is knowing when to take things out of it.  If you try and deal with every thing thats in “the drawer” all at once, you will get overwhelmed and it will break you mentally, emotionally, and physically. You tackle the drawer the same way you eat an elephant… one bite at a time. (The elephant eating is a metaphor. I don’t condone eating elephants. I love Dumbo and support all Pachyderms)  We tackle the items in the drawer, when they need to be dealt with. Word of advice. If you know a special needs parent and you know about some items that could be in their drawer. Don’t go into the drawer  and pull out the problem they put in there. Let them deal with the problem in the drawer on their own terms.  If you make them deal with it too soon. You are messing with number one secret that explains “How We Do It!”

We hope that we never have to deal with the issues in the drawer. We hope that things will get better and that the drawer will slowly empty on its own.  Let me show you.  We hope that Addison’s Physical Therapy fixes the issues with her legs so we don’t have to have surgery. We hope that Leah’s medicine keeps working and she stays healthy.  So now that you know the secrets of how we do it, share it. Share this with a friend who may need an evening of sappy music and hammock time. Share it with a friend who may not know that they have  “the drawer” to use.  Share it with a friend who may need a little hope.


Thanks for reading

Toby Price @JediPadMaster #MTFBWY #manvsautism

Guest Post: What does an Early Childhood Educator do?#manvsautism #autism


I have never had anyone ask to share a post on my blog before. I had so many questions whirling around my brain. What would they write? Would it be good? Is it something interesting? Will there be astute pop culture references sprinkled throughout?  Turns out I had nothing to worry about.  The ladies from @LearnSafari put together a great piece about early childhood educators. I hope you enjoy and share.

Toby- #manvsautism


As an early childhood educator, my job is to teach young children and support their families as they transition through every area of development. Although it’s not glamorous or very lucrative, it is extremely rewarding! The early years of childhood are crucial and as teachers, we get to take advantage of this time to mold children and give them the basic skills that will dictate their ability to learn and relate to others for the rest of their lives. We help influence how and why children learn, we help teach them to love reading, we help them learn how to form healthy relationships, and we are the ones who will help moms and dads wade across those crazy and emotional first few years of a child’s life. We are also partners with parents when children show some development and/or learning delays; when it comes to learning issues, there are a few things that we want you, as parents, to know!



  1. We intentionally observe your child
    As a teacher, one of the most crucial tasks I perform is that of child observation. We conduct several different types of observations, including development assessments, knowledge assessments, observations while they are on the playground, observations during free play, during circle time, during small groups, etc. We are on the lookout for skills the children need to work on in order to keep moving forward. As an objective observer (so difficult because we come to love all the children as our own) we will screen for developmental delays or difficulties, and if we notice issues in which a child is struggling, we will look for tools and activities that can help that child master, or at least improve, a skill. There are times, however, when the issue at hand points to a need for further assessment and intervention. This is one of the most difficult parts of the job, where we have to bring our concerns to parents, who often times have an extremely difficult time hearing that there is “something wrong” with their child.


Please hear us when we say that there is nothing ¨wrong¨ with your child. We love the children that we teach and when we come to you with a concern, it’s because we want to do what is best for the kids. We know that children develop at different rates, they have different skills and abilities, and they have different struggles. We want to make sure they get the necessary intervention as early as possible, so that they can learn to work to overcome their struggles.


  1. We individualize learning and focus on the specific needs of your child


One of the benefits of being an early childhood educator, is that our teacher to student ratios are favorable and strict. We are not overwhelmed with an unmanageable number of children and we take steps to work with each child’s individual and specific needs.


When we notice developmental delays in a child, we do not automatically assume they have a specific issue that needs to be diagnosed. We do not assume that they have autism, or ADHD, or that they may be dyslexic. We are not trying to label children. Instead, we devise a specific plan to help children overcome any problems and further their growth and learning. We realize that sometimes children just need opportunities to learn and practice new skills and that all children develop at different rates.


  1. Seeking out Intervention


After working with your child for a significant amount of time (remember, we spend a lot of time with them on a daily basis) we may not see any growth or improvement and we may even notice other issues that he or she may be dealing with. It is at this point that we will need to seek out intervention.


Our job is not to diagnose! As an early childhood educator, I may have ample experience with children who have a variety of learning delays, but I am not a clinician. It would be irresponsible of me to give a specific diagnosis, but it would be equally irresponsible of me to not fill you in on my concerns. I would first request a conference with you and go over any assessments and observations that I have on your child. I would go over the growth they have experienced and I would talk to you about the milestones and standards that children at your child’s specific age are usually meeting. I would then offer you an opportunity to have someone from an intervention program work with your child and I would also recommend that you take these concerns to your doctor.


At this point, I have done my due diligence and I will continue to work with your child. However, I cannot force a parent to take these issues seriously and I can’t even ask for help without a parent’s consent. But please, please do not ignore a teacher who comes to you with concerns! Maybe the teacher is wrong, but the worst thing that could happen is that you see a professional who puts your mind at ease. If there are issues, then the earlier you find intervention for your child, the better for your child’s development and quality of life!

As teachers, sometimes need help! We don’t always know how to specifically reach your child, but if we work together with you and with other experts, we can provide the very best framework for your child’s development. When developmental delays are noticed early, and a child is provided with the tools and experiences that are appropriate for their individual needs, the rate of success they experience in their lives is so much greater. We need to be partners with you in your child’s development journey and as teachers, we are here to support you!



Again, even if you discover that your child has a learning delay or disability, we want you to know that there is nothing wrong with your child. For parents, discovering that their children are struggling in certain areas, can be a very emotional and trying time. It’s important to remember that children can fulfil their enormous potential when we offer them support and opportunities. Children should always be given opportunities to explore art, music, language, science, and any other area of interest that will be enriching to their personal experience. Don’t be afraid of exposing them to new things just because they might be struggling in other areas and always remember that your child’s teachers are always on your side!


About the author

A graduate from the University of Florida, Keli Garcia Allen is a certified Spanish teacher and currently works as a preschool teacher in a bilingual classroom. She is the Lead Content creator for Learn Safari. She is currently working with her team on the development of their first learning program, Spanish Safari, an online game that will help children from ages 5 to 9 learn and practice Spanish. She is a blogger, a public speaker, and a mommy to two beautiful, bilingual daughters.

Your Focus Determines Your Reality

Your Focus Determines Your Reality

Qui Gon Jinn

 I was on my tippy toes, crouched like a catcher begging my daughter to pee in a cup. You could hear her voicing her protests. “Goodbye!” “See you later!” “Time to go!” She took the little bucket that fit over the toilet and threw it across the room. Those were her unique ways of letting us know she was mad! I couldn’t really blame her. Let’s be realistic, most typical teens would not want their dads in the bathroom trying to help them pee in a cup. Yelling, kicking, and pushing be darned I was going to get that urine sample. Did I get it? Yeah, I got it. She filled the cup and pushed me away. I held on to the cup and ended up wearing most of its contents. Most, not all! I had just enough left in the cup to help the doctor run her tests. I was on the bathroom floor, covered in pee, smiling because I won!

Meanwhile at the Store….
We were checking out. We had picked up everything on the list.


Cookies  CHECK

Microwave Popcorn CHECK

Bug Spray Check

Coke a Cola  CHECK


It was a Saturday. The store was super busy, but so far the whole trip was going well. I turned to load a few bags into my cart and my son took off for the back of the store. What do I do? I looked at the apathetic cashier. No help. I looked at the seven others in line behind me. They were as helpful as the cashier. I looked at my youngest and set her loose!

“MK go get him!” She over mothers her older brother and was an eager to track him down. She took off right behind him. After a second or two, no one came back. So I left my groceries, the cashier, and the line to go track down my kids. I found my son and daughter a few aisles back. He had picked up a toy lightsaber and was trying to open a Hello Kitty Pinata. It was awesome. I quickly got everyone back to the line and paid for our groceries. The cashier was not helpful and no one in line was happy. It didn’t matter we were still winning.  

That night at the movies….


We were having a great night. We were finally getting to see Captain America:CIVIL WAR! The story was great. Spider-Man was truly amazing. The scene at the airport was epic. Everything going according to plan. The Dude was great. He was happy. I was happy. Then SPOILER ALERT War Machine got hurt. He was accidentally blasted and was plummeting to ground with Iron Man and Falcon trying to catch him. As soon as he hit the ground, McKade yelled out, “OH MY GOD THEY HURT BLACK IRON MAN!” Now, I have never heard McKade identify anyone by their color before. The best we can determine is that he called him Black Iron Man because War Machine’s suit is dark grey and black. We knew that… no one else in the theater did. Thank goodness everyone in the theater who could have been offended laughed when he said it. They also laughed when I tried to correct him.

Me (whispering)- McKade, Black Iron Man’s name is Rhodey. Call him Rhodey.

McKade (not whispering) – Black Iron Man’s name is Rhodey. We will call Black Iron Man Rhodey. The rest of the movie went off without any more uncomfortable moments. We were still winning.  

Winning what? Our Sanity. Like Qui Gon Jinn said, “Your focus determines your reality.” In all of those situations we could have freaked out. We could have yelled. We could have been mortified. In the thirteen years that we have been autism parents, we have had hundreds of situations where we did freak out and had meltdowns too. Those things did not improve our situations and were so counterproductive to what we wanted to teach our kids.

Focus on the good when things go wrong.  Yes, at the doctor I ended up with pee all over me. But, I got the sample. We found out what was wrong with Addison and got her medicine. All of those things are good. At the store, well, the store was just funny. How many times do you get to see someone take a lightsaber to Hello Kitty? In hindsight, I was proud of my daughter for being fearless enough to track him down and stay with him until I could get to both of them. Which, believe it or not, is something we have discussed, planned, and practiced.  A few years ago, we could not even sit through a movie without 2 buckets of popcorn, 25 bathroom trips, and about 2 meltdowns. He said a few embarrassing things,but he made it through the whole movie.

What you focus on will determine what you take from every situation. Focus on the good and ignore the bad. Smile when you feel like yelling (even if you are covered in pee). Breath when you feel like freaking out. Laugh as much as you can whenever you can.

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!


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,


#ManvsAutism #ParentLikeAJedi


The Almost True Adventures of Tytus the Monkey #WorldAutismDay

This is a story I wrote to be made into a picture book. My wife and I are still working on the illustrations. It is based on mostly true events. Taking our kids with autism and our monkey to the store is always eventful.  In honor of World Autism Day we wanted to share this story with others!
Thank you for reading and sharing.
TP @JediPadMaster


People said that Tytus Monkey was evil. He was always getting into trouble.


It could have been because Tytus was irritated by so many things.


He was afraid of bugs, especially cockroaches.

He couldn’t stand it when people were singing.

Plus, he had an utter distrust of all rhinoceroses.


Tytus didn’t detest everything. He loved the three children who had adopted him as their own. They taught him so many things.


The yellow-haired girl taught him to read.

The red-haired girl showed him how to paint.

The dude helped him roller-skate all through the house.


They had many things in common too.


All four of them loved eating waffles.

They loved climbing high.

They all loved painting.

They all loved swimming.

Most of all, they loved going to the store.


Tytus loved walking up to the big store to see the way the doors went Woosh!

Tytus loved how everyone had a job at the store. The red-haired girl and yellow-haired girl had to hold the cart, while the dude rode inside. It was Tytus’s job to ride underneath the buggy while the Boss Lady, the three kid’s mother, did the shopping.

Everyone was content.

Everything was great…until it wasn’t.


The lights were too buzzy. The registers were too beepy. The broken wheel on the cart was too bangy. Tytus knew what was coming next. The red-haired girl started to get upset. Her hands started flapping. Her eyes started blinking, and she began to cry.


“I would never let my daughter act like that in a store!” said a lady in a blue dress with white hair. Tytus didn’t like this lady. She smelled like cheese.


“She has autism,” said Boss Lady. “She gets overwhelmed and can’t tell us why because she can’t talk very well.”


The Lady Who Smelled Like Cheese was not a nice person and replied, “Just because she can’t talk doesn’t mean you can’t teach her some manners.”


Tytus didn’t always understand why people said what they said, but he knew that the Lady Who Smelled Like Cheese was being mean to the Red-Haired Girl. That bothered Tytus more than bugs, singing, and rhinoceroses.


Tytus thought about what the Lady Who Smelled Like Cheese said, and it gave him an idea.

“I can’t talk, but I can definitely teach that lady a lesson,” thought Tytus.


Tytus crept over to the Lady Who Smelled Like Cheese’s shopping cart and loosened the top on her dish detergent, just enough that it started to drip, drop, and plop onto the floor.


When the Lady Who Smelled Like Cheese put one foot into the soapy puddle, she slid all the way across the floor.

She fell into the cage-free eggs.

The eggs tumbled onto a store employee carrying a box of Granny Smith apples.

The store employee dropped his apples, and the box went CRACK as it exploded on the floor.

The Boss Lady stumbled on the apples and lost control of her shopping cart. The cart, with the dude inside, collided with the organic milk display.

The tall milk tower started to lean. It teetered, it tottered, and it toppled over the nearby soda display.

A gigantic milk and soda tidal wave covered everyone. The entire back of the store was a slippery, gooey, bubbly mess.


Tytus thought it was hilarious…until it wasn’t.

The store manager charged down the aisle like an angry rhinoceros. The Boss Lady was coated in eggs. The Lady Who Smelled Like Cheese looked like a volcano ripe to erupt.


Just before everyone’s tempers detonated, the red-haired girl walked over to the egg-soaked Lady Who Smelled Like Cheese. She grabbed the Lady by the hand and helped her back on her feet. Then the dude started to put all of her groceries back in her cart. Next, the yellow-haired girl grabbed some paper towels and started to clean up the mess. Slowly, all the people in the store started to clean, talk, and laugh about what had just happened.


The red-haired girl may not be able to speak, but she taught Tytus a lesson that day. If you are out in the world and can’t find a nice person, you should be one.


Tytus decided he was going to be nice and kind from now on…at least until he wasn’t.


Toby Price author

@JediPadmaster on Twitter

Kids are awesome! #manvsautism

My wife has been subbing in 5th grade for the last few weeks. The other day during recess, #TheDude ‘s class was out at recess while they were. All of their teachers do an amazing job of making sure they are around typical kids as much as possible. (Not just at recess) I went outside to say hi, and check on all of them. I saw my wife speaking to #TheDude .  I could tell he was in trouble just by reading their body language. I was right.

He had peed on an anthill during recess. My wife and I both were upset. Mostly, for him. We always fear that they will do something that draws unneeded attention to themselves. But something odd happened. No one laughed. No one pointed. They were not talking about it at all. It only happened for a few seconds before he was corrected.  The kids were totally understanding. But, they did not stop there. Some of the boys could tell Mrs. Price was still upset about what had  happened. They came to her later that day and said, “Mrs. Price, I pee on anthills all the time at home. I like watching the ants run around. I bet #TheDude did too. It’s not a big deal.”  Several of the kids echoed their own peeing on anthill stories during the rest of the day. They all said the same thing. We did it too. It’s not a big deal. I am so grateful to work with such awesome kiddos.


TP @JediPadmaster

It made me think of this awesome Kid President quote.