Friday, October 29, 2010

The End of the Rainbow

To finish off Reading Rainbow week
here’s a link to the Reading Rainbow
book list:
(Reading Rainbow week 
at this blog that is-your celebrations
may vary).
Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain [BRINGING THE RAIN TO KAPITI PL]
I've mentioned Bringing the Rain
to Kapiti Plain, featured on both RR
and Between the Lions. Good 
illustrations, rhyming text, and logical
progression-all helpful for the young
reader with autism.
Reading Rainbow books are picture books,
usually most appropriate to early elementary
school children. But let your child’s needs 
and interests rather than 
age guide you.  At ten, my boy is
officially too old for picture books, but those
are the books he chooses. So I supplement
his choices with chapter books and let him
enjoy his picks too.
My friendly local librarian suggested the
Reading Rainbow book list. The Green
Hills library keeps a copy with the titles
they own highlighted.
Follow your rainbow 
-Spectrum Mom

Monday, October 25, 2010

A Reading Rainbow

The Adventures of Taxi Dog (Picture Puffins)
Where's LeVar Burton when I need him?
I mentioned that my boy doesn't pick up
word meaning from context. In fact,
inference in general is a challenge.
If you want my son to learn something,
write out everything, make the context
explicit, not implicit.
But who does that? Well, Reading Rainbow
did the tv equivalent for featured books. 
Each show started with an introduction
for a book to put the book into the context.
LeVar drove a taxi for Taxi Dog. Then 
a reading of the book, then stories related to
the theme of the book, and finally more 
suggestions for books related to the same
theme reviewed by kids. 
This is exactly the kind of book exploration
many readers need.
One of the biggest challenges for my son
is knowing what part of the book other
people find important (he thinks the 
number of pages is most important-really-
he checks on that first). Reading Rainbow
pulls out the themes of a book and says-
"Hey! Focus on this." And he does. For 
the length of the show at least.
And PBS not only stopped making episodes,
they don't even show the old ones!
My husband feels there's a real need for
a PBS Old School Channel.
Reading Rainbow Favorites
Fortunately, the library has DVDs with 2
episodes per, and as you see above, Amazon
offers a set too.
In case you're just looking for a book
recommendation, Taxi Dog is a fine rhyming
picture book for younger readers. Both the 
rhymes and the animal narrator should 
endear the book to many kids with or without
My son also loves rainbows, another reason 
I'm a
-Spectrum Mom

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Back to School Treasures

Treasures, A Reading/Language Arts Program, Grade 5 Student Edition

Miss me?
Did I mention my boy had Fall Break 
all week?
We spent some of the extra time reading 
from the textbook his peers read from 
and he doesn't. He asked a lot about word
definitions. Like many kids with autism, 
he doesn't learn these from osmosis. He 
needs to see the definition, or at least
hear "croon means sing."
The textbook has many illustrations and 
helpful hints, though the page layout is
cluttered and confusing.
I found myself often using the high-tech 
teaching tool I learned at a workshop
years ago-use a blank piece of paper 
to cover what you're not working on.
One of the tips is using context to teach 
yourself new words, and I tried to
show him how to do that by first pointing 
out the nearby synonyms and then checking
the glossary.
I feel reluctant to mark up the (borrowed) 
book, so I may make photocopies in future.
Starting Monday, his teachers will again 
decide what we read after school.
Have your children learned to define words 
from their contexts?
Let's define ourselves .  .  .
-Spectrum Mom

Monday, October 18, 2010

Pirates at Home

Eoin Colfer's Legend of Captain Crow's Teeth

This week is my oldest son's Fall Break, so
this may be my post for the week. On the up 
side, we've had time to finish Captain 
Crow's Teeth. And time for him to write 
about the book. He sat with the book in his 
lap and consulted it constantly to squeeze 
out the eight sentences I asked him to write. 
Here's what he wrote:
Will and his brothers spend summer days swimming, 
building rafts, and putting crabs in their shoes. 
Marty told the story of Captain Crow’s Teeth.

Will quizzed Dad about Captain Crow’s Teeth.
Will and his dad went fishing.
The Sprats did a jig.
The boys lined up for a Paul Jones.
What was a Paul Jones?
They played a game called “Captain Crow’s Choice.”
We figured out that a Paul Jones is a kind 
of dance. But you can see that he did not
remember a lot about the book. Part of this
was because we read the book over an 
extended period of time. His dad said
the kid interactions did not make much
sense to him either.
From my point of view I thought the book

engaging and written at about a third grade
level. The sibling relationships, parental 
and social interactions all seem real.
And the book explores themes of anticipation,
imagination, and fear, all useful topics at 
about the right level for my ten year old with 
But the pictures are very confusing
since they often reflect Will's imagination
rather than what is happening in the story.
Given what's happening here and how much
we all have to do (besides screen time)
I'm thinking of going from a MWF schedule
for posts to a MF schedule, is there anyone out
there who would mind?
-Spectrum Mom

Friday, October 15, 2010

The Finer Points of Storytime

Dog's Noisy Day
The boys and I continue evening 
storytime with varying results. I
take my own advice and keep
trying. Last night went very well,
though at one point I thought the
barnyard of animal noises would
crescendo out of control.
This is the kind of book my oldest
and I would read when he was little
and learning how to point. While 
most children are confident pointers
by two,  many children with autism 
have to learn this skill.
Animal books are great for teaching
this to your toddler-
"Who goes woof? Point to the dog 
going woof."
You may recognize Dog from my
"Storytime is always special" post.
I only just got around to reading
it to my boys, but my librarian friend
who gives the storytime for 
children with special needs has used 
three of the Dog series for those days. 
Dog's Colorful Day: A Messy Story About Colors and Counting (Picture Puffins)
If you're in the area, her next storytime 
for children w special needs is at the 
Green Hills Library on Saturday, Oct
23 at 10:30. 
If you're not in the area but are interested
in a storytime for children with special
needs, talk to your local librarian-or 
send them a link to this post.
While I think all children should be 
and usually are welcome at all 
storytimes, I also know that
sometimes it feels nice to be in a 
group where you know no one will 
stare or judge. I wish I had been
brilliant enough to suggest such a
storytime when my boy was little,
mainly because he might have made
a friend there.
-Spectrum Mom

"O Pointy birds, o pointy, pointy. . ."
-Steve Martin

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Wild Animals in the Living Room

The Lonely Moose

Long time readers may recall that I 
sometimes sit down with my ten year 
old (w autism) and my four year old 
to read picture books together.
I assign a character to my ten year old. 
We hadn't done this for a few weeks, so 
on Monday we did.
Except my four year old(F) has gotten 
more jealous and my ten year old (T)
more disengaged so the start of the
story went like this:
M "Come read with me."
T "I'm too tired."
F  "He doesn't have to read. You can
read with me. (To T) You can stay
in your room T!"
After much cajoling I had both boys
on the couch and told T he would be
the moose.
F "I want to be the moose. (whisper)
You can tell me what to say.
M You can do the moose call (haroo)
every time I say moose.
This went fine until F forgot to do the
moose call, T got upset, F decided to
do the moose call at full volume 
constantly, T got upset, repeat ad
nauseam until M reads the last line
to self and dismisses boys.
Deep in the Jungle
Last night we read Deep in the Jungle
with T as the lion and F as the lion's roar.
All went well.
Keep trying.
-Spectrum Mom

Monday, October 11, 2010

Mi Mi Mi - Me Me Me - Song Lyrics & the Blog

The Complete Book of Hymns
My boy likes to read song lyrics.
In church he sometimes flips 
through the hymnal (not this
one-but ours has a boring 
cover) looking at the lyrics.
Anyone with a hymnal does
that I guess, and perhaps he 
does so for the same reasons, 
restlessness, curiosity, etc.
But of course, he also pulls 
down those cd cases to read
the lyrics and looks at some
songbooks - the campfire or
sing along type for preference.
So I suspect there is a little 
more to it.
Again, the poetry piece prob
comes into play with the
rhyme giving the lyrics a 
pleasing predictability.
Can anyone think of other 
reasons? Any of your kids share
this lyrical love?
Now to me, and blogging-
if you follow me you may know
that I usually post MWF. Perhaps
you would like to know when I've
written something. You can definitely
follow me and if you're on blogger 
you'll see posts in your dashboard. 
But if you're not, you may not
know so I've been twittering at
AutismReads and today I've
added a button so if you twitter
you can tweet the title of any 
post you like. Also, please follow
me on twitter if you want to know
about my latest posts.
If you neither twitter or blog,
you can expect me to post at
least once a week. 
see you here or there,
or anywhere, or on a
screen, or on the street,
or anywhere we chance
to meet
-Spectrum Mom

Friday, October 8, 2010

Mo Willems - Bird Brained Genius and the SFB 2010

Don't Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late!Okay, I've mentioned Willems 
before, but you weren't reading my blog back then 
(or if you were, you're totally cool with this 
because you love me so much). 
The guy's gifts really work well for early 
readers with or without autism.  Simple 
drawings with direct speech, direct 
engagement of the listener, he even
wrote an emotion primer-
The Pigeon Has Feelings, Too!
Best of all, if you're in the Nashville area,
you and the kids can see him tomorrow
(Saturday) at the Southern Festival
of Books!

Scieszka too!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

9:00-10:00 am, War Memorial Auditorium : SPHDZ Book #1! (Spaceheadz) : 
Jon Scieszka
9:30-11:00 am, Room 29 : Loves Lost and Found: New Novels For Teens : Tricia Mills, Jessica Verday, Loretta Ellsworth
9:30-10:00 am, Youth Stage : Conductor Jack of The Zinghoppers : Conductor Jack
10:00-11:00 am, War Memorial Auditorium : 
Knuffle Bunny Free: An Unexpected Diversion : Mo Willems
10:30-11:00 am, Youth Stage : Conductor Jack of the Zinghoppers : Conductor Jack
11:00-12:00 noon, Room 29 : Wit & Wisdom — The 21st Century Nerd : Tom Angleberger, Michael Buckley
11:00-11:30 am, Youth Stage : Bud, Not Buddy presented by Nashville Children's Theater
11:30-1:30 pm, Library Auditorium : Film Screening "Library of the Early Mind" : 
Mo Willems, Jon Scieszka, Edward J. Delaney
Happy Weekend!
-Spectrum Mom

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

A Librarian's Thoughts

I Am Utterly Unique: Celebrating the Strengths of Children with Asperger Syndrome and High-Functioning Autism

As fascinating as I find my son, I want this 
blog to help a wide variety of people who 
may have different reading likes and needs. 
So I not only ask you readers for comments,
I email friends and acquaintances and beg
for them. Many thanks to the kind people
who respond.
Today's suggestions come from a 
librarian who has personal and professional
experience. Her suggestions follow:

They carry an alphabet book called 
I am Utterly Unique:  Celebrating the 
Strengths of Austim with Aspergers Syndrome
and High Function Autism by Elaine M. Larson. 
[also available from Amazon, see above.] 
In addition to the obvious books published 
specifically for children with autism, any 
book that focuses on the child's interest is 
excellent.  I see kids and young people with 
autism go straight to the juvenile nonfiction 
to find books about their favorite topic.  
I like the books with helpful self-care topics 
as well.  Books on how the body works, 
taking care of your teeth and hygeine books.  
Books on manners can be helpful.  Simple 
cook books are nice for kids.  It's part of 
the self help and there are tons of them 
out there these days that are attractive, 
simple to use and well illustrated." 

Please let me know if you'd like
to be credited, friend-Spectrum Mom

Monday, October 4, 2010

We go, Dr Sam (word games)

Elvis Lives!: and Other Anagrams (Sunburst Book)

My boy can make up palindromes, but while he can unscramble word
scrambles, I haven't heard him make up many anagrams. I haven't made 
up many either. 
In fact, I think the one at the top is my first.
In the car this morning I asked him for an anagram and he promptly replied 
"toot otto" words he has also played around with when we try to come up 
with palindromes.
I think these books interest and engage my son because the rules are so 
clear. Once he got the concept, any time he saw an anagram, he knew the
point. I remember when we first told puns and knock knock jokes he always
had to check in - "so "orange" instead of "aren't you"?" 
and he still does that sometimes. With an anagram or palindrome, he knows
what is happening every time and can think it over.
My boy is a symbol decoder and concept-challenged. 
I would be curious as to whether kids who have challenges
with symbol decoding would enjoy having the letters change around.
Terrific (New York Times Best Illustrated Books (Awards))
Jon Agee again does a nice job with composing, grouping and illustrating 
this word fun. All of his kids' books are worth a look because they combine 
strong visuals with straightforward narratives and humor.
-Spectrum Mom

Friday, October 1, 2010

Word Play

Palindromania! (Sunburst Books)
From my boy's earliest recorded
utterances, he's played around 
with words.
All kids do, but I think verbal
kids with autism may do more
than most. At three when my son
interjected comments, he did so
almost exclusively in opposites.
("We're out of bananas." "We're
in bananas.")
Since at age 10 he still struggles
to understand what he hears, I 
think playing around with words
helps him a lot. He has control and
knows what is happening. Sometimes
the word games may help him with
comprehension. Sometimes the 
opposite happens. But he gets a
chance to study how words work
in a different and engaging way.
We started thinking about 
palindromes about a year ago,
inventing a little story about
Dad and a civic. Agee's book
takes the activity to a new level
with fun and inventive cartoons
with groups of palindromically (?)
named like objects and stories.
-s mom
puff up
(or from my boy, "hat tah")
 this week spotlights
wonderful banned books for kids.