Tuesday, October 09, 2012

It's Me Again!

Yes I know, you thought I'd dropped off the edge of the earth. Well I'm back in more ways than one. I'm about to return to full time employement in the real world, I'm back to mostly Autism advocacy, and I'm back to the blog - after being locked out for a year due to a strange mix-up with my e-mail account. I promise my next post will be filled with pictures and will bring you up to date on all of Frog's adventures (and his latest book and poems). But what brought me back today was another public figure going to the R-word and the heartfelt, intelligent and thought provoking response of a Dad. In this case Ozzie's dad, Dan, from Down with Oz. You can read Dan's Letter Here I have advocated through education programs on this issue with children and adults. I have helped Adults with developmental disabilities learn to self-advocate on this issue by telling their stories to receptive audiences. Harder is to stop a conversation and call someone on this behavior in real time - risking friendships, starting arguments, wondering if you are really being heard through all the defensivness. How have you dealt with this situation? Thanks Dan for the letter, for sticking up for your kid and mine, and for making us stop and think about this again, and again, and again until it is finally done.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Almost a Snow Day

We've had some wild weather out here in the Pacific Northwest last week. Like we Washingtonians always say - if you don't like the weather, wait ten minutes and check again. We woke one morning to an expected snowfall. It was "expected" to end at 10am and change over to rain. It looked like the perfect day to stay home for some family bonding time. But the school district rolled the dice and elected to keep schools open with a two hour delay. 10 am came and the snow continued to fall. We headed out the door to make the long trip down the winding ice and snow covered hillside. Even in low gear it was more like Frog and Toad's wild ride! The snow continued all day long and school attendance was somewhere between 50 and 15%. I did notice a lot of kids on the local sledding hill up near our house after I got my kids off to school - not so much a matter of "can't" but rather "choose not to " get to school :0)

We did get our Family Snow Day bonding time after school - when Frog decided, after 7 years of avoiding it, this was his year to give "Playing in the snow" a try.







Following his venture into the snowy outdoors, it was time for an introduction to another snow day tradition - Hot Cocoa. Since it was around 4pm, we decided to make it a tea party -





Frog decided he likes tea parties and came back for seconds on the hot cocoa. We enjoyed watching the snow come down for the rest of the evening and did get a day off from school the next day. This week we've had damage to the school building that prevented frog from attending on Monday, a wind storm (60 mph) that knocked the power out on Wednesday, and lots and lots of rain predicted for the rest of the week - we are so ready for spring to get here!

On another front - I have a new autism link I think all parents of autistic children need to check out:

RETHINKING AUTISM is information about being autistic from the Real experts - autistic adults who actually know what it means to "be" autistic. Check it out and be sure to read the comments posted by these individuals.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

HAPPY VALENTINES DAY!




Happy Valentines day from the pond! While Frog spends a good deal of time learning in a self contained one to one environment, we don't want him to miss out on those special moments of elementary school like the annual valentine exchange. Since he pushes into various classes - we have valentine class lists for three rooms - his third grade general ed class, the fourth grade class he visits regularly, and the special ed class he works with. While he has worked very hard on starting to write and type, 60 cards seemed a bit much to ask. We opted for putting stickers on zip lock bags that I then filled with homemade spiced hot chocolate mix. Diva was generous and printed up a tag with Frog's name and directions for enjoying the mix.

The plan is for Frog to enjoy the celebration tomorrow with his peers and have a little something to share with everyone. It was a little bit of work, but we all had fun (Frog liked sneaking off with the cinnamon candies!)

Here is our recipe for those who would like to try it out and those who received the gift and want more information - Enjoy:


VALENTINES SPICED HOT CHOCOLATE -

Ingredients

* 1 3/4 cups nonfat dry milk powder
* 1 cup confectioners' sugar
* 1/2 cup non-dairy creamer
* 1/2 cup baking cocoa
* 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
* 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
* 1 cup miniature marshmallows
* 1 cup miniature chocolate chips
* 1/4 cup red hots or hot tamale cinnamon candies
* ADDITIONAL INGREDIENTS:
* 3/4 cup hot milk

Directions

1. In a bowl, combine milk powder, sugar, creamer, cocoa and cinnamon. Add the marshmallows; mix well. Store in an airtight container in a cool dry place for up to 3 months. Yield: 18-19 batches (about 3-1/2 cups total). To prepare hot chocolate: Dissolve about 3 tablespoons hot chocolate mix in hot milk.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

IEP Cookie of the Month - February 2011

HAZELNUT-MOCHA MACAROONS

Macaroons are near and dear to our hearts here at the pond, because they can be made Gluten Free without much extra effort or change in taste or texture.

I've made several different Macaroon recipes - but the recipe from the Food Network Kitchen is by far our favorite:

I do have a couple of modifications -

1. For convenience sake - don't worry about finding hazelnuts with the skins removed. The cookies may come out a bit more rustic, but they are equally delicious.



2. Combined 1 and 1/2 of the two cups of powdered sugar with the nuts and the cocoa in the food processor reserving only 1/2 cup of sugar for the egg whites.

3. Use extra large eggs for the egg whites.



4. Fold nut mixture into beaten egg whites.

5. If you don't have a pastry bag, a small disher works just as well.



6. If you need more cookies, spread melted chocolate ganache on the bottom of each cookie and allow it to set without sandwiching two cookies together.


If you are not familiar with macaroons (especially the kind without coconut) these are light and rich, crispy and chewy, they melt in your mouth and are very soul satisfying :0) ENJOY!

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Our new Picture

I thought it was a good idea to update our blog layout and get a fresh start. The new picture was taken on a field trip to the Olympic Game Farm. Frog enjoyed the bus ride through the farm immensely. He also enjoyed the bread (meant to be fed to the bison)although he suffered for it later.






The Game Farm was originally established to house and train animals who would appear in Disney films. The owner/operators of the farm convinced Disney that it would be a good idea to open the farm to the public. We've been visiting the game farm since I was a child.







We even have a family connection. My grandmother served as a surragate mother to two tiny bear cubs who's mother had been shot by a poacher. I remember visiting Grandma and the bears she was caring for. I wasn't allowed to get too close, but I got to watch them eat from a bottle and play on the floor at grandma's house. If I remember correctly, they went from Grandma's to the Game Farm and latter appeared in a Disney movie or two. That is the closest our family ever got to Hollywood!




Frog enjoyed the fish most of all - not surprising for a boy who would like to live in the sea :0)

IEP Cookie of the Month - January

As a part of my law practice, I do educational advocacy for families of special needs children. As an advocate I join the school IEP team at the parents' request and work to facilitate parent involvement in developing an IEP (Individualized Educational Program) that works for their child.

A tool of my advocacy trade is freshly baked homemade cookies. I find the cookies provide a little well deserved and needed energy boost after a long day; give the team a common activity to bond over (lots of requests for the recipes, talking about favorite cookies and what the kids like etc.); and give people something to chew on (literally) while they listen to someone else talk - especially when there is disagreement. I haven't gone so far yet as to offer someone a cookie when I need them to stop talking and listen - but the option is always there :0).

Taking a cue from one of my favorite SLP's over at IF ONLY I HAD SUPERPOWERS I am going to start posting one of the cookies recipes I use each month. Why?

1. It is nice to share.

2. I will know where to find them when I want them.

3. When I get requests for the recipes, I can just e-mail the link!

Most of my recipes come from other sources - you will see the credit with the recipe. I do, however, tend to modify the recipes to my own taste. I will post the recipe with my modifications where appropriate.

Without further adieu -

IEP Cookie for January 2011

Orange Shortbread Cookies with Chocolate Chips

Bon Appétit | February 2003

by chef Cliff Trubowitz

Bump & Grind Cafe, Denver, CO

Modified by Frog's Mom




Ingredients:

* 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
* 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
* 1/2 cup sugar
* 2 teaspoons (packed) grated orange peel
* 1/4 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
* 1 large egg yolk
* 3TBS heavy whipping cream
* 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
* Turbinado sugar for sprinkling
* 1/2 cup whipping cream
* 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips (Ghirardelli double chocolate chips)




Preparation:



Place Orange Juice in a sauce pan over medium heat and reduce to by 3/4.

Whisk first 3 ingredients in medium bowl. Beat butter, sugar, orange peel, and 1 tsp. reduced orange juice in large bowl until fluffy. Beat in yolk, then cream. Add flour mixture; beat until dough comes together in moist clumps. Stir in mini chocolate chips. Wrap dough in plastic wrap are refrigerate for one hour.

Position rack in center of oven; preheat to 350°F. Butter and flour large baking sheet.

On a floured work surface, roll dough to 1/2 inch thickness. Cut with round cookie or biscut cutter (a wine glass will work in a pinch).



Place cut cookies on prepared cookie sheets and repeat with remaning dough. Sprinkle unbaked cookies with turbinado sugar.



Bake cookies until golden, about 18 minutes. Transfer to rack; cool.

In a sauce pan over medium low heat, warm 1/2 cup heavy cream. When cream is warm, add bittersweet chocolate chips and reduce heat to low. Stir until chocolate is completely melted. Dip half of each cooled cookie into the warm chocolate. Place on rack or greased waxed or parchment paper and let chocolate set.



(Can be made 3 days ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.)

Read More http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Orange-Shortbread-Cookies-with-Chocolate-Chips-107723#ixzz1D8013i3Z

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Annual Beach Trip 2010

I'm Back . . . well on the way at least. Since there were NO posts for 2010 I'll give you the highlight: The Annual Beach Trip to the WA coast. Frog looked forward to this trip all summer.








He was really hoping he could bring a friend like Diva does. The girls were really good about letting him join them in their space for awhile, but it wasn't the same. It was hard to explain that because he is younger, the kids he knows would not be comfortable being away from their parents for a whole weekend. He also doesn't have "friends" the way Diva does. We did find some kids on the beach who enjoyed getting wet and sandy almost as much as Frog does. He enjoyed keeping an eye one them.



Having a Friend has become a big concern for Frog - he worries about it constantly. When we have boys he knows over for play dates, he is excited - overly so - and can't bring himself to stay where they are, leaving them alone to "play" with his mom. We are working on small group activities - hoping to do more when the weather is nice.

At school he was asked to write to the prompt "When I opened the door I was surprised to see . . ." He wrote about seeing his friend T (T is Diva's friend's brother). The story went on to describe how they rode their bikes around the neighborhood then went to T's house to play. T and his mom were really honored. They invited Frog to come into their house. He wanted to, but just couldn't bring himself to do it - balking at the door and rocking for awhile before returning to the car to go home. We will continue to work on it.

When we asked him what he wanted for Christmas he said no to toys, books, clothes, candy, and yes to Friend (he said he wanted a 4th grader).






Santa is still working on that one.

Frog also spent last fall writing a book about himself. He said he wants to help other kids understand more about autism and about him. We are looking forward to receiving the published copy in the next month or so - watch for future post :0)

Friday, October 16, 2009

Frog goes to the Ocean

Frog finally got his long awaited trip to the Pacific Ocean after a summer long home study of oceans and oceanography. He was thrilled to be going and enjoyed the hours long car ride to the beach.

We stayed at Seabrook WA, in a charming rental house that was oh so beach chic! If you are looking for a family friendly (autism friendly) rental on the WA coast, I highly recommend it:

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We were three generations in one house. Diva brought one of her best friends for a girls' weekend. We had a great time and the girls loved having the loft all to themselves. We walked to the park, watched a local kids' soccer game, and biked through the neighborhood. Frog took his new birthday bike. The hot tub was a hit with all of the kids too. And we topped it off with a Harry Potter Movie Marathon.

Then we walked across the road to the beach - the woods, the water, the sand . . .Frog could have lived there!

video

All in all, a very successful family weekend escape - we hope to return one day soon :0)

Monday, August 24, 2009

Autistic Teen Finds Inner Voice

Here is a link to some video from the 20/20 segment on Carly Fleischmann from earlier this month. If you've not heard Carly's story check out her blog Carly's Voice.

Carly is an inspirational young lady. Diagnosed with Autism at age two, Carly is non-verbal (doesn't speak). At age 11 she began to type and is telling the world, in her own words, what it is like to live with autism - Her insight helps parents, siblings, friends and teachers have a better understanding of what life is like for kids like her. She is a hero in my book! Thanks for speaking out Carly :0)

If you know or work with Frog - please take the time to watch this video. Thanks!

Autistic Teen Finds Inner Voice – New video taken from 20/20 after the broadcast

Posted using ShareThis

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Frog at School

Ok, Ok, I know I said I'd post more about Frog's return to school - and I know its been months! But now that we're half way through summer vacation, I finally have a little time to breath. We found out that Frog's Para Educator from last year has been re-hired by the school district to work with Frog. We are beyond thrilled as she was one of the biggest reasons for his successful transition back to school.

We are trying very hard this summer to keep up all the good work Frog and Para J. did last year. He is brushing his teeth and taking on more of the chore of getting himself dressed. He is working on using a spoon - though it is still not his favorite way to eat. He is trying to learn a couple of new signs and trying to remember a couple of old ones. We are reading chapters about the Oceans and using RPM for Frog to answer questions - we hope to get in a trip to the Pacific Ocean at the end of the book (although Frog continues to insist we should visit the Arctic Ocean). Frog is enjoying music time with his Dad and having play dates every now and then. But he does seem to miss school - Summer vacation is boring when mom has to work! So here is a look back to Frog at School, courtesy of Para J. who took all of the wonderful pictures for me :0)


video

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Free Summer School Curriculum

We've decided to opt out of Extended School Year services with our local district because Frog's para and teacher will not be part of the program. This left me contemplating going back to home school for the summer to keep Frog moving forward. With Rapid Prompting, we have found that he can access age appropriate curriculum when it is modified to work with the system.

Another home school mom just sent me a link to Unique Leaning System's Free Summer Curriculum offer. The materials are standards based and differentiated into three tiers to suit different types of learners. It looks promising and like something that could be used during the school year too. The price is right - I'll let you know what we think of the materials when we use them.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Frog's Words




As we have been making the transition from Home School back to public school, Frog's Para Educator was coming to our house to observe. I wanted to find some exercises that showed how I use the Rapid Prompting Method with Frog and expand it into other activities. I also had a new book for us to read, Max's Words



About a boy who collects words,



then uses them to write a story.



We read the book and Frog answered questions about the story using the Rapid Prompting Method. Then I got out all of the books Frog and I have been reading and let him use his yes sign and pointing to choose words from each book. When we had a stack of words, we wrote a story and he picked between 2 to 4 word choices from his stack to continue the story as we went. When we finished the story, Frog picked between stamps and pictures to illustrate the story.

Here are Frog's Words,







For more Magic Marker Monday posts visit 5 Minutes for Special Needs.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Back to School for Frog and Mom

Frog is getting back to school and is transitioning better than any of us could have hoped. I hope to have some pictures up soon!

In the mean time, a friend of mine at Merrill Lynch sent me an invitation to participate in an online seminar on Special Needs Planning. I told her I'd spread the word - It looks like a good line-up of presenters and should cover a lot of the topics and information we always plan to look into, but never find the time for:


SPECIAL NEEDS PLANNING An Interactive Online Seminar presented by EPLiveOnline and Merrill Lynch




www.epliveonline.org/ep_20090225.html

Thursday, February 05, 2009

The Bunny Who Adopted Us

Over Christmas break, Diva discovered a small, black wild bunny eating leaves off of a hydrangea bush outside our back door. The Bunny was very skittish - it ran every time we looked out the window. We put some food out for it, but found it very hard to get a picture without the Bunny running off. Yet, the Bunny kept coming back. It soon discovered our fully fenced front yard and decided, as long as I didn't open the front door, it was a safe and friendly place to forage. Last week the weather began to change. We've had several cold but sunny days and Frog could not wait to get back outside. To our surprise, Bunny - now named Licorice by Diva - is happy to share the yard with Frog. As long as the rest of us keep our distance, the Bunny bounces around the yard like a puppy and approaches Frog with curiosity. Here's a little video clip - It is a little hard to see, because Licorice won't let me tape from outside.





I think Frog's pet found him :0)

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Frog's Art









Not bad for the Frog who runs from art projects!

For more Special Exposure Wednesday posts visit 5 Minutes for Special Needs