• autism,  high school,  home strategies,  learning strategies,  math,  sensory processing

    My Black is Your Navy

    For as long as I can remember, my dad has struggled with colour.  I remember him rushing out the door to get to work, asking my mom one last time, “is this shirt blue or grey?’ or “does this shirt match this tie?” There were a lot of questions about socks too. “Are these socks black or navy?” and the guaranteed followup question: “Are you sure they’re navy? They look black to me.” My dad is red green colourblind, but he also has a hard time sorting out cool greens and light greys; light blues and light greys, light pink and light greys, brown and greens.  When he was dating…

  • autism,  helps,  home strategies,  math,  strategies

    Reality VS Perception

      One of my professor friends posted this picture on facebook the other day with the caption:  “For my friends in academe.” Every teacher I know feels the same way about the summer “decline.” Once the fourth of July comes around it seems like the first day of school is around the corner, which means all of my grand ideas for working with J hit a reality check. I realize that I haven’t come even close to doing all of the “catch up” things I’ve planned with him. This time around, I haven’t been close to even starting half of the things on my list: summer running, J’s weight training…

  • autism,  Education,  helps,  high school,  home strategies,  learning strategies,  math,  sensory processing,  special education,  strategies

    Two Incredible Surprises that Emerged from Finals Week

    Like all things autism, the strategies for finals week were thought out long in advance. Back in December, J’s teachers sent home various forms of “study guides” the last few days before break so we could get a head start on studying for January finals, and we took FULL advantage of that. Over the break, J and I read all the short stories again. I made DOZENS of flash cards for English vocab, Foods vocab. I made picture cards for the short stories and we worked on those every single day of the break. No rest for the wicked, I guess. When J returned after the break, J’s special ed…

    Comments Off on Two Incredible Surprises that Emerged from Finals Week
  • autism,  Education,  handwriting,  helps,  high school,  home strategies,  learning strategies,  math,  modifications,  special education,  study skills

    When You’re Not a Hermione Granger Student

    The fact that one of my kids needs accommodations or modifications for homework and tests is still a hard concept for me. I was the Hermione Granger student. I sat in the front of the class. I did all the questions on every assignment. I got uber nervous–sick to my stomach sometimes–over getting tests back because I needed at least a 90% to feel good about myself. Not that I always got an “A” on everything. But if I didn’t, I felt like I had to do some major re-evaluations about my life. And then I have J. J is a kid that needs all of the accommodations and modifications.…

    Comments Off on When You’re Not a Hermione Granger Student
  • autism,  Education,  home strategies,  math,  middle school,  modifications,  strategies,  study skills

    The Virtues of Algebra

    J’s academic strength has always been math. It has been his “language”—the one he has always understood the best ever since he was a toddler.  Math is predictable, math is rote calculation, math is fact families. It’s predictable. 3X4 always equals 12. He has always been phenomenal at it. And then came Algebra in middle school math, and all of a sudden, J was no longer good at math. This type of math requires decisions. You need to look at an equation and decide what like terms need to be combined. You need to be able to look at the equation and figure out how to get x by itself.…

  • autism,  empathy,  home strategies,  math,  middle school,  motherhood,  siblings and autism

    Character development

    I feel like I’m hitting that phase in parenting where all of a sudden, I’m connecting with my kids on a different, more mature level. Some of it (unfortunately) has been because of what’s been going on in the news lately. I’m finding myself having discussions about words like “groping” and “sexual assault” during afternoon pickup times. Usually it’s not a problem having NPR in the car when I have the kids around, but even as unflashy and unsensational public radio usually is, there’s just no way getting around quotes sometimes used by recent public figures. Most of these types of conversations I’m having are with W. But J was…

  • cross-country,  handwriting,  home strategies,  math,  modifications,  study skills

    Evolutions and adjustments

    Even though we’ve settled into our school routine, there are always those unexpected “bumps” along the way. Those “bumps” aren’t always bad things. Sometimes they’re just added adjustments to the regular routine to make things smoother. Since J’s been going (and participating!) in his team’s XC meets, we’ve had to figure out how to make up for that school time and study time lost while attending meets. We live in Fargo, North Dakota, and do a lot of traveling to nearby small towns for meets (because there’s just not a lot of people who live in North Dakota outside of Fargo!). J’s had meets in Jamestown (which is about 2 hrs by bus there and…

  • home strategies,  math,  social skills,  strategies

    Transfer Skills

    Once, as a little girl, I remember standing in line with my mom at a Zellers checkout and my mom asking the cashier for change in quarters, nickels, and dimes. In school teacher fashion, that summer, she taught me and my sister how to make change—with real money. Not paper cut outs of coins or plastic coins, but real coins. Even back when I was 6 or 7 years old, I hated math, but I remember my mom telling me, “This is important. You’re going to have to know how to do this. This is a type of math I guarantee you’ll need to know.” And I believed her. Because I…

  • family,  learning strategies,  math,  middle school,  social skills

    Staying Inside the Lines

    I feel like when you’re doing the autism gig, you’re constantly keeping your kid within the lines, corralling them into the spaces society creates. There’s personal boundaries, ethical boundaries, social boundaries. As a society I think that’s how we make sense of the world. Autistic kids are always seeking these lines and laws and boundaries too. Except they have their own lines and boundaries and many times they don’t match up with everyone else’s. Of course, “staying inside the figurative lines” has always been sort of an enigma to J. Figurative lines are more nuanced. You can’t see someone’s personal bubble–and everybody’s is different. You can tell a joke but sometimes it backfires…