#Autism #School Calendar & #ReportCards

My Kids Alternate Special Needs Report Cards

A bit late because I was sick for a week with step throat (stay tuned for the blog post about that!), but here’s my son’s Autism class’ calendar for February:

Son’s School Calendar Feb 2015

His class is an Autism-specific class offered through our school board. They follow a Monday through Friday schedule rather than a Day 1 through Day 5 schedule like the rest of the school does.

Report cards were also sent home last Thursday so I decided to film how my kids’ report cards are different from other report cards that go home. My daughter’s report card is the same structure as mainstream school because she’s in mainstream schooling, but has a couple of accommodations for her IEP (Individualized Education Plan). My son’s report card however is very different from mainstream school, seeing as he’s in an Autism-specific class.

Activities-Based #AdventCalendar (#Autism)

Last year, I switched to an activities-based Advent Calendar. In 2012, I realized how silly the chocolate-filled, store-bought Advent calendar was for three reasons:

  1. the chocolate is cheap and tastes awful
  2. my kids are at their dad’s every other weekend so that means I just throw out the chocolate from those days (why can’t Lindor make an advent calendar?!!)
  3. (and more importantly) my son doesn’t eat chocolate so he didn’t participate

This meant that every morning, my daughter would eat a yucky piece of chocolate while my son ignored the whole lead up to Christmas.

When the opportunity to make an Advent Calendar came up last year through a local mom’s group, I jumped at the chance. We all know that I’m not a crafty person so, when the mom leading the workshop put the canvas and all the materials down in front of me and told me to “just start”, I looked at her with a blank expression and asked her “how?”. Thankfully, because I’ve known her for years, I wasn’t offended when she looked at me as if I had three heads. 😉

After getting over my initial fear, and her showing me how to do some things, I jumped in. Three hours later, our new Advent Calendar was created and ready for use!

Advent Calendar

My daughter was hesitant last year, because she thought she would miss the chocolate but, a few days into the Advent Calendar, she was hooked. This year, she kept telling me how excited she was about the Advent Calendar this year. She even squealed with glee on the weekend about it starting today…and then she didn’t even notice it when she got up this morning. She asked me about it so I looked above her head, then she jumped up and squealed again. Tonight’s activity is to make a snowflake craft. I’ll post pictures on social media throughout the month of the activities we’ll be doing.

Also, people have asked for it so, here’s an “Autism-approved” list of activities that my family can manage for the Advent Calendar:

2014 Activities-Based Advent Calendar

Like me on Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram to follow our Advent Calendar activities this month!

ADDITION MADE ON DECEMBER 2, 2014:

And then I vlogged about our Advent Calendar…

Meal Planning & #SpecialNeeds…?! (#Autism)

I had an “aha!” moment yesterday at mom’s group. The speaker was talking about meal planning and, honestly, whenever this is the topic, I never want to attend. When I was married, I was very regimented abut meal planning. Every Saturday morning, I sat down with the flyers and my recipe books, see what was on sale for the week, make a meal plan for the week then take the kids to the market and library. I would buy staples during the week (pasta, rice, meat, etc), and buy fruits and veggies (and a couple of cookies as a treat for the kids while we were out) for the meal plan.

The rest of the weekend, my slow cooker and oven were going, cooking all the meals for the week so I didn’t have to do anything other than remember to thaw that night’s meal, warm it up and serve throughout the week.

After my marriage ended and my kids’ sensory issues became more prominent, I stopped menu planning. They are very restrictive with their foods, based on blandness (is that a word?!) or spice or shapes. I basically have been eating whatever I felt like of the two dinners I make them each night, or just do up a Mr Noodles for myself. I didn’t see the “point” of meal planning anymore.

My “aha!” moment today was that yes, I can still menu plan…I just need to tweak it a bit, same as what I do for pretty much everything else in our lives. So, I created a Menu Planning Template that I wanted to share…which includes space to write what the kids are eating and what the adults are eating. Nothing fancy:

Meal planning template

Please feel free to print off as many as you wish…and offer feedback below in the Comments section.

I’m also hoping (fingers crossed!) to vlog about my journey with getting back into menu planning so be sure to Subscribe to my Youtbe Channel to check in (or remind me to do it!).

Seriously though, I hope this template is helpful for you…and me! 😉

#BlissDomCA Nuggets of Life Wisdom

Blissdom

Yes, it was a bloggers’ conference. Yes, it was a social media conference. Yes, it was an “online influencers” conference…and it was also so much more! I went to Blissdom Canada ’14 this year…my first time! I’m still working my way through the TONS of information I received during 3-day conference but I felt so many of the quotes I tweeted throughout the conference were also great messages for us as parents of kiddos with special needs, that I thought I would share:

“Value your own voice first” ~ @unmarketing

“Speak of anything in the affirmative…and it will be. Don’t let fear stop you.” @KarenCumming

“Your voice is your biggest product.”  @UnAlison

“Don’t ever fear making mistakes. Guard against not learning from them.” @PercyVites

“Keep going until someone says no, and there’s nowhere else to go, but there’s always another way.” @PercyVites

“No need to freak out. Assess problem at hand. Figure out the solution. Move ahead.” @PercyVites

“How do I stay sane? I laugh at the insanity.” @CaroleStaveley

 

Please share your favourite inspirational quotes/thoughts below in the Comments section.

I’ll share photos and other experiences from Blissdom in a future post.

#Printable: #Autism-Approved #School #Lunch List

printer

With Back to School comes packing up school lunches. Spending some time on Pinterest resulted in me being VERY frustrated. All photos are beautiful and filled with extremely creative visuals of fantastic lunch (and bento) boxes…that my kids won’t eat, and neither will most other kids on the Autism Spectrum. So, I put the question out there on my Facebook Page and asked for suggestions of what my Likers’ kiddos will actually eat…and here is the resulting list of Autism-approved school lunches. It’s practical and sensory-approved…nothing fancy (other than the suggestion to use cookie cutters for sandwiches…but only if your child will still eat it!).

Autism Approved School Lunches

I welcome all suggestions as I would love for this to be a comprehensive list that our kiddos on the Spectrum will eat, that you can use with your weekly meal planning…and hopefully can remain one page so we can post them on the inside of a cupboard (so it’s out of sight) or on a cork board in the kitchen.

 

Be sure to check out other lists on my Printables page too: https://imamomtoo.wordpress.com/printables/. If you would like me to create a list, just let me know…and join my Facebook Page so you can find out when it’s available. 🙂

#Workshop – #Financial & #Family #Support for #Autism, #HamONT

Back to School 3

Excited to announce the first of a new workshop series being held in Hamilton, ON called “Financial & Family Support for Families Affected by Autism”. It’s being held on Tuesday, August 19, 2014 at St. John United Church, Hamilton ON, doors opening at 6:30pm.

The first workshop is called “Getting Ready For Back To School, and Finances“. More information: 2014 August – Financial & Family Support – online rsvp.

Speakers will discuss:

  • Back to School: preparing financially and emotionally – by yours truly… 😉
  • RDSP – Melissa Greaves, Primerica
  • Budgeting – Christine Lasebnik, Primerica

Please join the Facebook group created specifically for this workshop series: Autism – Family & Financial Workshops.

#Review: #Ontario #Science Centre – #ScienceOfRock

After our drive into Toronto, which was relatively painless I might add, the kids got really excited when we finally pulled into the parking lot at the Ontario Science Centre. My daughter is CRAZY about science so she was really looking forward to this excursion all week, telling everyone we were going.

Entering into the exhibit park of the Ontario Science Centre was a HUGE ruler that represented a ton of time, with fossils and rocks that were discovered to be about each time frame. My daughter literally mauled the dinosaur fossil along this ruler.

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We weaved through various areas until we found the Science of Rock exhibit.

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We checked out the different displays that went through recent decades of music, which included the popular and new instruments and bands for each era.

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Then we found the interactive areas and had LOTS of fun!

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The kids even let me “play” too…my daughter insisted on taking the photo (sorry it’s a bit fuzzy but my daughter is still learning how to take photos):

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Considering how much “video mixing” my son does on Youtube, it’s not surprising he gravitated towards the music mixing board.

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We also found an exhibit that was all about the human body. My daughter was so excited to see all the skeletons.

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There is an exhibit all about electricity too. My son gravitated towards the train (what is it about kids with Autism and trains?!).

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My daughter was chosen from the audience for the electricity demonstration…mainly because she has the PERFECT hair for the demonstration.

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They also found a static ball, which they were fascinated with…until they went to hold hands afterwards and my son got quite the shock (he was fine…just surprised).

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We had lunch there. I was impressed that there were different “stations”, which reduced the line ups. The food prices were comparable to movie theatre prices so it cost about $20 to feed the three of us. My daughter felt the macaroni was a bit dry, but my son and I enjoyed the pizza. It even took my daughter a while to eat the MONSTER-sized cookie! It was the size of her head!

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She even wanted a picture of our hands, with the entrance stamps:

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My daughter asked me to quote her about going to the Ontario Science Centre:

It was awesome! I really liked the skeleton. It was really cool and fun. I even got to rock climb. I loved playing the drums and singing, and I really liked the cookies and garlic bread.”

When I asked my (limited verbal) son if he had fun that day, he proudly said “yes!”. I asked if he wanted to go back and he said “yes!”.

We had such a great day that the kids can’t wait to go back again. Four hours went by in a flash, and I was able to keep my son on task or within easy reach, without being worried about him taking off. There was so much cuteness throughout the day, starting in the parking lot just to get inside. 😉

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Meghan and her children were given free admission in exchange for this review. All opinions are her own.

 

My Son’s #SpecialOlympics Day was Special for #Mom Too!

About a month before the end of school, a Special Olympics day was held in town. I didn’t know what to expect but I was really excited…probably more than I should have been, but it was the first time my son and I got to attend with his class because he had been in IBI therapy for previous years.

I was amazed at the sheer number of children and schools that were in attendance. My son is fortunate to be in an Autism-specific class so my man and I met them at the school that was hosting the event. It was hard to find parking! None of the spots in the school’s parking lot were available so we had to park a few blocks away. We found my son’s class, under a little pop-up sunshade. Apparently all other students were gathered in the school’s auditorium for Opening Ceremonies. With the hundreds of children, personally, I think my son’s class was smart NOT going in there!

Soon, we heard bagpipes as all the students were starting to file out of the school to the field.

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Each of the children had “passports” to get stickers at each activity. Needless to say, the kids loved choosing stickers for each one!

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One of the activities was a race for each class. The volunteers overseeing the race lined all my son’s class and explained that they will count to three then everyone run. They counted down, and all the kids ran…past the finish line and all the staff and parents started chuckling…no one had told our kiddos to stop at the finish line, so they just kept on running! LOL! The volunteers ran after them and told them all to stop. It was so cute!

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There was also beanbag toss, “javelin” (with a pool noodle) and ball throw:

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I was amazed at the shear numbers of children, and everyone’s different abilities, both visible and invisible to the eye. It was wonderful to see all the helpers (both school staff and volunteers for the day) supporting all these children to have fun for the day.

A quick shout out to my son’s amazing teacher…I LOVE this picture of her with one of my son’s friends. I think it perfectly shows how much she loves her job, and her kindness towards our kiddos. I wish I could clone her for EVERY single one of our kiddos on the Autism Spectrum!

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