Thanksgiving and Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder

Thanksgiving is just round the corner; which means that it’s now time for friends and relatives to visit your home. It’s the time of the year when families cook special foods like that on Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, and Christmas. It’s that time of the year when holiday foods like collard greens, tamales, empanadas, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, and potato latkes are spread on the table.

But for children with autism spectrum disorder, the coming few weeks could be quite overwhelming. They’ll experience new tastes, new smells, and new sounds and sights almost everywhere. The routines are changed. Special religious symbols and trees suddenly appear in the house. The usual foods disappear from the dining table. And that often poses a challenge to the family of the autistic child.

Special needs teachers know that these are difficult times for autistic children. They experience so many new things. Setting up the classroom, so that it mirrors the holidays, can make the transition easier in both school and home. Autistic children can enjoy the fun seasonal activities of how to wrap Christmas goodies and gift them to other children. A talking raven and curved pumpkins would transform into colorful leaf arrangements and turkeys. A Christmas tree and some Christmas music, along with a Santa are put up in front of classrooms by early November. More holiday symbols and activities are gradually added to help the autistic children adjust to the season.

In many special needs schools, new foods are introduced. This helps them to prepare for the thanksgiving and Christmas parties. The thanksgiving platter may include traditional items like turkey, mashed potatoes with gravy, and pumpkin pies.

Elsewhere, winter holiday parties are a great time to introduce Santa to autistic children. Besides, it’s a great time to experience a large gathering of family, friends and strangers. The “What’s the Expression” and “Make Sentences” apps, developed to impart communication skills to children with autism spectrum disorder, are of a great use in these times. These two apps help autistic kids to express themselves even to total strangers.

With all the decoration around, the look on the children’s faces is priceless when grandparents, parents, and siblings walk into the classroom. An annual event like this is a wonderful opportunity to see first-hand how “What’s the Expression” and “Make Sentences” apps have helped children with autism pick up key communication skills. And for the children, waiting for Santa to speak to them, is the most eagerly-awaited moment.

Source by Kevin Carter

Autism Apps: Enabling Tech in Their Lives

Sophia Nelson, a 37-year old special educator, is often considered as an evangelist by her students and their parents. She has been a staunch advocate of reaching technology to the hands of children with autism spectrum disorder and other cognitive disabilities. She has changed the lives of these children with the “What’s the Expression” and “All Sorts!” apps. Unfortunately most schools often don’t see the value in providing technology to help autistic kids and special needs children. As a result, people like Sophia have to spend a hard time convincing schools about the benefits of using the “What’s the Expression” and “All Sorts!” apps.

Learning the use of these basic apps can have a big impact on autistic children and special needs kids. Digital media allows students to showcase their skills in a way which is usually not apparent in traditional assessments.

Sophia says that she just wanted to teach children with autism all that she herself learnt as a kid in junior school, with the help of the “What’s the Expression” and “All Sorts!” apps. We live in a world where almost everything has gone digital in the last few years. Special needs kids and autistic children, Sophia says, should be able to participate in that.

The “What’s the Expression” and “All Sorts!” apps are designed for junior and middle school students. They include a large number of separate lessons. These lessons use research-based techniques to break down the concepts and the teaching skills in several explicit steps. They offer short animated videos for introducing important educational concepts in stages. The special needs children are then asked to demonstrate what they have learnt. They are rewarded with virtual badges if they can successfully demonstrate their knowledge.

The curriculum of “What’s the Expression” and “All Sorts!” apps helps autistic kids to imbibe skills that they can later use in their workplace. The curriculum is divided into multiple modules that impart key communicative and sorting skills.

Sophia says that she has received favorable response from children, educators, experts, and counselors regarding the introduction of technology-based teaching methods. She wants to work with companies and other organizations in the future and develop certification programs. This, she claims, can be modified to suit specific workplace skills. She is aware that not many companies have opened up to hiring people with autism spectrum disorder, because these people lack technical skills. But a determined Sophia wants to change all that.

Source by Kevin Carter

Autism Apps Helping in Education for Special Needs Children

Training people with cognitive and intellectual disabilities to work with autism apps likes “Just Match” and “Math on the Farm” and other digital technologies, is considered by many experts as the best way to prepare them for proper jobs that recognize their capabilities. It can give them employment opportunities outside the usual food service jobs, basic landscaping and janitorial work.

Autism experts, educators, counselors, and therapists are unanimous in their opinion that there should be a change in how the neuro-typical population perceives people with autism spectrum disorder and other intellectual disabilities. These conditions also include Asperger’s syndrome and Down syndrome.

Educators using autism apps likes “Just Match” and “Math on the Farm” say that there’s a gap in perception where the school boards and rehabilitation service coordinators see extending technology to train people who are visually and hearing challenged as useful. But they are apprehensive about using the same for people with autism spectrum disorder. They don’t want to spend money on autism apps.

Experts involved in researches on how special needs people use and interact with autism apps, say that they are often detail-oriented and usually more competent than their non-autistic peers in picking up the nuances of interactive technology. As a result, people with high-functioning autism or Asperger’s syndrome are considered as good candidates for various jobs in the information technology (IT) sector, including web development and data entry.

It’s encouraging that many big organizations and multinational companies have started to look at the strengths of people with autism spectrum disorder, rather than highlight their weaknesses. These companies have started to tailor the hiring practices for recruiting people with autism who possess the required technical skills that the companies are hunting for. Experts say that many special needs job aspirants may never have passed the interview process in a typical hiring environment because of their quirky social behaviors.

Apps like “Just Match” and “Math on the Farm”, if introduced at the proper age, have proved to deliver results. Many schools in the US school districts have included autism apps in their curriculum. Parents too have responded positively to the introduction of these apps. With portable digital devices like iPads and tabs becoming common gadgets, these apps have become more popular.

Experts are happy that companies are opening up to recruit a large segment of talent which was so far overlooked. But compared to the growing number of people with autism, it’s still a far cry from what’s actually needed.

Source by Kevin Carter

The Importance of Learning About Shapes For Preschoolers

Even babies can recognize the difference between a circle and square, using their sight and sense of touch to distinguish between them. However, learning the names of the different shapes is not an inborn ability, but it is a necessary step in your preschooler’s education. Children need to learn the names of shapes so that they can identify them verbally and in writing and compare the various shapes and how they are used. These are basic skills that they will use for the rest of their lives.

Learning shapes helps your child identify objects as well as letters. Letters are made up of circles, triangles and lines – think of the circles in b, d, g, p, q, or the parts of a triangle found in k, v and w. Drawing the curved lines of a circle or oval shape helps your child to write letters such as f, u, m, n, j, and the lines in squares helps your child to write i, l, k, p, q and so on. Often, recognizing the shapes in the letters helps a child to recognize the letter too, important for developing reading skills.

Drawing shapes is also the first step in learning how to draw. Almost anything can be broken down into shapes, such as a house, a cat, a book, a ball – they can all be drawn with simple shapes. This makes it easier for your child to progress from stick drawings to more detailed artworks – and if they have talent, they will use shapes to draw and paint in the future as well.

Shapes are extremely important in basic and more advanced math. Most adults will immediately think of geometry, but shape patterns and spatial perception help your child to develop sequencing and logic skills that they will use later in their school career in subjects like calculus.

We use shapes every day as adults, although we may not realize it. Think about rearranging the lounge furniture, cleaning out the kitchen cupboards or the refrigerator – all done according to the shape of the items in them, and how they will relate to each other. Road signs and markings make extensive use of different shapes, helping us to recognize them before we can actually read them.

Learning about shapes includes learning about 2 dimensional and 3 dimensional shapes. A sphere, or ball, is a 3D circle, and has specific properties, such as the ability to roll, that some other shapes do not have. This is true of all shapes, and your child will be able to make this progression if his or her basic grounding is good.

For kindergarten, children are expected to know the basic shapes, recognize them and identify how they form part of other items. They may also be expected to be able to draw the shapes – not perfectly, but certainly recognizably. There are many ways to encourage and help your child to learn about shapes.

Because shapes are all around us, it is easy to play ‘Find the Shape’ at home, in the car, in the store and elsewhere. Select one shape at a time to concentrate on, rather than trying to find all the different shapes.

A good set of worksheets for preschool will help your child recognize different shapes, see how they form part of other objects, and help them learn how to draw them. Drawing shapes is the precursor to learning how to write, and a good set of worksheets should take you step-by-step through this process until your child is drawing shapes on their own, free hand. Look out for worksheets that combine learning shapes with the use of different colors, as this is particularly effective in reinforcing the shape names.

Source by Elizabeth C Allan

Preschool Graduation Ceremonies – Themes and Ideas

The Montessori system of education requires that students are treated as individuals from the inception of their education up to the end of their formal education. There is recognition that each will have their own needs and wants and barriers to achieving all they want to achieve. This article will specifically look at the Montessori system for pre-k education with a specific theme of how the preschool graduation ceremony can be used to celebrate the individuality of the student.

Initially you will need to ask the child what they want for their preschool graduation ceremony. Obviously they will want to have their friends with them and they may even invite specific members of the family to celebrate with the group. At the school itself, there will be other preschoolers who are graduating as well so it might be that the child will want to join them or go to their parties after the graduation ceremony. Asking a child what they want for the graduation ceremony is a great way of keeping them involved and making them feel that they own the graduation ceremony. Since the Montessori system accepts that individuality should be respected, it then falls on the community to ensure that the graduation ceremony is as individual to that as is possible in the give circumstances.

The family will have a role to play in terms of their culture and beliefs during the preschool graduation party. The aim of parents is to provide the best possible opportunities and start in life based on the belief systems that they hold. It is sometimes even instinctive that the graduate’s parents will try to include their own view of life onto the event. This is normal family life and it should not surprise the organizers that the parents may for instance want a religious theme party. Some families who come from ethnic minority backgrounds will want to have a theme that hacks back to their own traditions in the original homeland.

Above all, graduation parties are about enjoyment and celebration. The themes and ideas that are being used for the graduation must reflect this at every stage. It is no good creating a system of parties with military precision yet the people who are at the party are not enjoying themselves. The first duty is to let the people enjoy themselves. It is also important to remember that we are talking about toddlers and pre-school children which means that there is some limited scope for including adult themes. The preschool graduation party is about the children and the themes should be about children.

There are plenty of ideas to use as themes for pre-school graduation ceremonies under the Montessori education system. I looked at the themes of pirates, although this might offend the sensitivities of some parents. I also looked at the theme of snakes and ladders. Then for the religious minded parents, you can have a biblical story. For those that like the exotic, you might have a tropical safari type of theme. All these are just ideas that can be developed depending on the tastes and preferences of both the parents and the children at the time.

Source by Karly Potter

Social Effects Of Downsizing Human Resources

A set of thorny process issues concerns the impact of downsizing on the local community. Downsizing, especially focused layoffs by large corporations (that lead, say, to the closure of an entire facility), can have devastating impacts on a local community. As extreme examples, there are cases of rural community’s simply disappearing after a local lumber mill or mine is closed.

These considerations obviously have to be weighed in management’s decisions about where and how to cut. And this is more than a matter of ethical behavior. A firm that devastates one community may “get away with it” in terms of that community’s ability to strike back. But the firm can substantially harm its reputation, particularly insofar as the firm has explicitly emphasized positive community relations as a matter of corporate policy. If downsizing is necessary, what can be done? Roughly put, a firm that is downsizing in a way that will materially harm a local community should give due consideration to doing what it can to help that community, just as it considers what it should do to help its downsized ex-employees. Facilities may be redeployed. Workers at a facility may wish to “buyout” the facility and run it themselves. It may be possible to help attract a replacement employer. Re-training can be subsidized. Such costly attempts to attenuate the impact of a downsizing decision are more than just conscience money for a firm, and more than just a way for top management of the corporation to be able to sleep better at night, although they are certainly that. Corporations carry reputations as employers and as corporate citizens, and while it is hard to put “community goodwill” on your balance sheet, it is an asset that pays returns and that requires investment to maintain.

Layoffs are among the most important and anxiety-producing things that a manager must confront. They have profound implications not only for the employees involved, the manager, and the organizational unit implicated, but also for the broader community within which the enterprise is located. The jury is still out on the long-term economic and social consequences of downsizing, used by firms to lower costs, increase productivity, and enhance flexibility in the competitive world economy. Unfortunately, there is a shortage of solid research evidence to guide managers in making decisions about whether and how to downsize. This shortage doesn’t reflect lack of effort and interest, we hasten to add, but instead the inherent difficulties in finding good controlled data.

Downsizing seems to work best as part of a well-thought-out plan for restructuring, re-engineering, repositioning, and generally rethinking what the organization does and why. To engage in downsizing is either an admission of previous mismanagement or an acknowledgment that something-in the environment, the organization’s strategy, its technology-has changed. Management should be clear in its own mind, and probably also with employees, on which it is. And it should be clear about what permanent, structural changes are going to be made to avoid previous problems or meet new circumstances.

One structural change that often accompanies downsizing is outsourcing. The firm decides that there are certain tasks, which in the past have been done primarily by its regular employees, that would be done better, faster, or more cheaply by outsiders. Those who used to do the work are downsized. This coupling of downsizing and outsourcing is sometimes done in a completely ineffective fashion: Work previously done by insiders is outsourced to more expensive independent contractors, who happen to be the very same workers who were just laid off, now hired back as consultants, potentially raising eyebrows not only inside the organization but outside as well (including tax and regulatory authorities). But outsourcing can have real economic benefits, and it can play a constructive, if somewhat dangerous, role in a downsizing campaign.

Source by Artur Victoria