Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Retellings & Rules - Singing Frogs and Fairy Tales

The endpapers of The Frog Who Wanted to Be a Singer feature
bass clef and treble clef boogies. So I thought my son might like 
to try them out on the piano. He did, but then he turned the page
and narrated and played music for the entire book.
I should not have been surprised. He sits in his room and creates a
music score to a book sometimes, but I'd never heard him do it
from beginning to end. Wow. Weird and Wonderful*
Another girl about my boy's age asked for
My Treasury of Five Minute Tales at the store.

"She is really interested in fairy tales. She began
changing her voice for different characters in the story.
She asked me how I liked the way she 'disguised'
her voice. She also takes various pieces of fairy tales to
weave her own story. In one, she has her mother (me)
pricking her finger on a spinning wheel and dying and her
father marrying, which means she gets a stepmother.
Another begins, 'Once upon a time, there was the
R- family with a daughter named A- and her family
loved her very much.' And then she gets UPSET because
we LOVE her. What's up with that?"
My wild guess is that there's no fairy tale with a living 
mother who loves the heroine very much. If you want
a story, get rid of the mom. Just ask Walt Disney.
Kids with autism often pick up rules we don't even
Wishing you a happily ever after life,
-Spectrum Mom
Featured Books: The Frog Who Wanted to Be a Singer
by Linda Goss illustrated by Cynthia Jabar
My Treasury of Five Minute Tales (Hinkler Editors)
*Also the title of a song by Blythe Corbett from her musical Bridges.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Education Friday - Linda Hodgdon on an IPad alternative

There has certainly been an IPad explosion related to individuals with autism, Asperger’s and similar learning needs.  An IPad is not the only option to provide some important learning opportunities for our kids.
I’ve received a lot of correspondence from people who want access to academic games for the IPad.  Reading, spelling, math.  Well . . . those are available for an IPad, but if that is what you really are interested in, check out the LeapFrog LeapPad Explorer Learning Tablet.
The LeapPad Explorer Learning Tablet gives you access to more than 100 educational books, games, videos, and apps. Subjects like mathematics, reading, science, spelling, phonics, music and more are covered in a fun and interactive way.  Some activities are on the tablet when it is purchased.  Others can be purchased and/or downloaded later, just like APPS for the IPad.
Here’s what I really like
The LeapPad Tablet has a great 5″ screen. It’s large and bright.  This is a much larger screen than many of the other “child” electronics.  The screen resolution is much higher, too, which means the picture quality is considerably better than a lot of other options.
The LeapPad Tablet has a touch screen that works basically like the IPad.
The LeapPad Tablet comes with a camera, video recorder and microphone. It can take 30,000 pictures and record 120 minutes of video.   That’s a lot of capacity.
The LeapPad automatically adjusts learning so that kids can learn at their own pace.
They can practice writing with an included child-sized stylus.
Kids can read e-books, play learning games, enhance art and animation skills, listen to and play music, learn writing, watch videos, and do flash cards and lots more.
An online tool enables you to track your child’s progress
The child has no direct access to the internet so the LeapPad Tablet is SAFE.  (You need to plug the device into your computer to access the website to download more apps or work with the progress tools.)
MOST IMPORTANT.  The price of the LeapPad Tablet is under $100.  Much cheaper than the IPad.  Additional APPS are available for purchase just like the APPS for the IPad.  You are able to choose which ones are most appropriate for the individual child the device is purchased for.
What it IS and what it IS NOT
The LeapPad Explorer Learning Tablet is a very child friendly alternative to the IPad.  It offers a lot of educational activities in a format that is highly desirable from a child’s point of view.  We have already established that our students on the Autism Spectrum are drawn to visual learning.  This LeapPad Tabletmeets a lot of educational needs at a price point that is considerably lower that the IPad.
Just keep in mind that LeapPad Explorer Learning Tablet is NOT an IPad.  It will not work with some of the specific communication APPS like Proloquo2go that have been developed for the IPad.  But if you are looking for a less expensive, child friendly, child durable option that will help teach “basic skills” then theLeapPad Tablet might be a great option.
Good news . . . They are BACK again
The LeapPad Tablet was one of the HOT items during the holiday season.  (Don’t tell anyone that I stood in a pretty long line to get the one for Bella!)  The good news is that now that the holiday rush is over, they are back again.  Definitely worth checking out.
Linda Hodgdon, M.Ed., CCC-SLP
Speech-Language Pathologist
Communication Specialist
Director, Cornerstone Communication Center

Quoted with permission from Linda's Blog

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Patrick's Day - Reading Together

On days when it's me and the six year old and the eleven year old, 
I usually grab a picture book and we read together. 
My eleven year old with autism takes the lead dialogue role 
and I read the rest.
Yesterday he read the part of Patrick, a boy who thinks and acts like 
he's extra special (in the nicest possible ways) because he has a parade and a day all to himself. When he decides to change his parade, he finds out the truth. So he starts to act like an "ordinary boy" (unpleasant and unhelpful). But he soon discovers that he's 
not ordinary after all.
My older boy stayed focused and in the story, despite his
younger brother's lack of attention and his own tendency
to act events out. When we discussed the tale today he
remembered key elements like "the first Patrick's Day 
parade,"  that "Patrick wanted to be himself," and "they
had a parade of rainbows."
He retold a story well in school yesterday as well. He's  
improving at this hugely important skill and I need to
give him more opportunities to retell events and stories.
His enthusiasm for picture books continues to be far 
greater than for text only stories. I think he appreciates
the extra information.
Anyone else out there have a tweenager who likes
picture books? What does s/he like to read?
-spectrum mom
Featured Book:
Patrick's Day
Elizabeth Lee O'Donnell
Pictures by Jacqueline Rogers

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Flyers by Oliver Neubert

If your child devours fantasy books, it's always good to find a series.
My boy doesn't, but he's enjoying parts of The Flyers
The Flyers is the first book in The Wind of Life trilogy by Oliver NeubertMr. Neubert sent me a review copy and we've been reading it for a week.
This is not one I would have picked for my kid on my own
because there are no illustrations, poetry, word play or
absurdity. But it is a straight forward narrative well aimed
at middle school readers. The characters are fourteen year
old kids. They have wings, can fly, and live in a very
different culture, but they're still kids. And my boy likes
the way Neubert names mountains and weaves them into
chapter titles and the narrative.
Yesterday he asked why Val was hiding-

that level of engagement is a good sign, since I was
reading that page. 
[I make him hold the book whether I'm reading or he is, 
because his attention wanders fast.]
Last night he also got stuck on something in the book that
reminded him of something else and wanted to repeat that 
for a while.
I would recommend this book for the aforementioned
fantasy readers from about 4th - 8th grades who have
enjoy and understand fiction.
Neubert also has a series with a female protagonist,
Chantel's Quest. Interested? Visit his website
with the link above.
-Spectrum Mom

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Little Prince With and Without Music

The Little Prince (Antoine de Saint-Exupery)
meets many of my criteria as a good book choice for my son -
1) Short
2) Amply and clearly illustrated
3) Poetic
4) Extraordinarily well written.
5) A classic children's book.
But I've never been able to really interest him in it.
Until now.
Several years ago when PBS telecast the opera of The
Little Prince (Portman), we watched it. I loved it and bought
the dvd, which my son refused to watch because he
had watched it already.
But about a week ago he suddenly decided he wanted
to watch it again, so we did - in sections this time
because of school nights.
Then he found the book on his shelves and started
studying the text to compare the words with the
libretto of the opera.
How unexpected and how wonderful. 
-Spectrum Mom