I have worked and talked with many teachers that have used my books to help kids with special needs. As well, I have done many plays with kids with special needs, and the change and awareness that is created during the process is amazing! Knowing this, I wanted to share an idea that I just received from a teacher. Here is what she wrote:
I used your Midsummer Night’s Dream for Kids as reading material. I couldn’t get my high school special ed students to reread anything. Their thinking was I have already read that once and do not need to repeat. But by introducing this as a play that needed to be word perfect and beginning on page one each day, they were willing to participate. They were rehearsing for a show not simply earning a grade for the reading class. Your materials made all the difference. Most important, reading skills improved.
A clever use of my books, or plays in general, to get special needs kids more engaged in reading! Just a lesson idea from a teacher in the world. I hope this helps, as well as I’m always here to help if you need it, just reach out to me!
The Skinny: Where is the Cake? and its sequel Where is the Cake Now? are wonderful illustrated books without any words. Taking away the text can be great for some children who are nervous about reading, and prompt them to create their own narratives about the pictures. What it is: Where is the Cake? and Where is…
The Skinny: Okay, I think this is one of the simplest, yet coolest products out there! It’s very simple in the sense that your kid can wear a different message every day. But, the best part about it is it allows your child to enjoy playing with language. See some of the pictures I took just playing…
The Skinny: This is a fun Rube Goldberg type game that really works on your motor planning. It’s a cross between a marble run game and the board game Mousetrap. There are 7 obstacles to move your ball through. Each one has its own joystick or button to maneuver the ball with. The goal is to move the ball through the course.
What it is: Screwball Scramble
What it’s used for: Motor Planning and Language
Ways to use it:
I would start with just successfully doing one task, then move up from there, one at a time.
I would progress to setting up sequences to solve, to encourage their constant accomplishments
Lastly, once they have solved the entire board. I would pull out the timer. For some kids, competing against their own time or that of a friend, is a great motivator. The goal with having your child do this task faster and faster is that they are working from muscle memory, versus thinking through every step. Similar to breathing, you don’t realize that you are doing it, but you are. You don’t think about it, you just do it. Like walking. We want the fingers and the brain to work simultaneously.
For language, I would be constantly describing all the different segments with unique descriptive words: Lever boards, rails, tubes, ringing bell, etc. There are several different areas to describe that you can build multiple new words into your child’s vocabulary.
Then, if your child is ready for it, and the game motivates them, you can have them name pieces of the game with the new words you have just taught them. “Label 3 items to the get the next ball to play with” It’s a bit ABA, but it does get the repetitive practice in.
The Skinny: Word Magic is a great app that we used with my kid to help him learn his first words. At about 3 years old, we were still very concerned about his language. But, he was starting to come along. I remember the time when we had a giant matrix of words, and worked every day…
As a parent of a kid with challenges the word “stimming” is like a dagger in the heart. I’m going to take the gloves off and tell you if you are working with a “professional” (yes, I purposely put that word in quotes, because sometimes you just wonder where they actually got that degree from) and they use the word “stimming” then get a new professional. Because they clearly don’t know what is driving child to do what they are doing. I am not joking here, although the irony of the title of this article doesn’t escape me. It seems that if some therapists don’t know what’s driving a kid to do what they do, then they drop this word like it’s no issue, it’s almost as if they are stimming on the word “stimming” itself.
If your therapist even mentions the word “stimming” to you, the parent, or even the more politically correct version, “perseverate”, lose them! They clearly don’t know how to work through and manage your kid’s challenges. Using those words are just a cop out for not knowing what to do! I know it is easy for me to sit here on a keyboard and say “just drop your therapist”. But, in reality, you should really start looking for one more appropriate for your child’s needs.
I learned this recently from working with a speech therapist, when my kid kept talking about a certain subject. I was getting frustrated and clearly lost. She brought up the word to teach me on how and we should not use it. Then I watched her simply sit back, watch my kid for a short while, then go in and start talking with him. What was amazing, is she just dove into what he was talking about, and started expanding in several different ways around the subject, until he stopped talking about it. Essentially, he has this itch to learn more about this word or subject, but didn’t quite know how to ask that or explain what he was thinking. She taught us a new way to approach it and all this “stimming” went away after a few months. She hit it right on the head, and it was her wisdom that knew what to look for. I am so grateful to work with her and, more importantly, to have her constantly educate us on the “why”, so we know what to do in the future.