Florida's First Choice for Autism Support

Posts tagged ‘Creativity’

Guest Blog: The Backstory Of My Magnum Opus: Breakthrough

As I made it clear in my past blogs, my readers, I love to write! Okay, I say I have a love/hate relationship with it. What can you do? That’s enough weird talk about my “relationship”, I’m not here to write a blog with a misleading title, I’m here to tell you the story  about how I decided to write “Breakthrough”.

Now before I do, I’ll make this quick and clear. I can already hear you guys saying, “There’s already a book with that same title!” and “Wasn’t there a movie adaption of the latter?” To that before you start wigging out(I watched too much The Iron Giant, I’d watch it if you’re able, and if you have, watch it again.), I found out sometime after I finished my first collection of Markings by C.R. Gibson journals. I saw the movie in a bargain bin at Walmart.

Okay, now that I cleared that up, let me dive right into the backstory before you get bored from my rambling, I moved back to Albany, Georgia and I’m still not exactly thrilled about it. I had finished my first ten journals, all fictional. I tried to finish my other oodles of journals, but then I got the worst thing imaginable(well, for a writer anyway), a writer’s block!

I was like “Jesus, take the wheel! I can’t bare this pain!” After I got my act together, I went on my phone and checked websites that claimed to have cures for a writer’s block. The first one I checked out had 7 suggestions. Lucky number seven, maybe this’ll help me! I thought. Was it a right? Uh…no. No, my readers I wasn’t.

They listed to go for a walk, I looked outside and then heard my grandma say to grandpa(back when he was still around), “Goin’ to check the mail, Leon!” I decided to slip on my shoes and put on my Poké Ball Plus.  “Wait up!” I would call. Then, I walked with her outside. When we got back, she gave me a small box. “It’s from yer mama, Erica!” She announced, “Phew, it’s pretty heavy too!”

I took it from her and it wasn’t that heavy, I shook my head and tore that sucker open. Inside were ten black leather Markings by C.R. Gibson journals, I hoped that the first suggestion on that list worked, and big shock(not really) it didn’t work! I looked at the other suggestions and they were: “Try finishing your unfinished work, Meditate, sleep, write random sentences.” I did all of these on a regular basis and nada!

I was on the verge of giving up then suddenly on the third website I checked out, there was oodles of posts of writers making their own suggestions. The third one caught my attention almost instantly. It read: “Write a story about a character who is going through the same thing you are going through.” I pondered and wrote a page of this idea so I wouldn’t forget.

Then I went to Tampa, Florida to visit my friends and my CARD family. On my almost last day, I walked with Christine Rover to her car to get my bag of empty journals, and said out of the norm, “I bet there’s a dimension out there, with a male me and a male you.” We cracked some jokes and that’s how the main protagonist Eric Queen came to be, then eventually the story. I hope you enjoyed this blog! Sorry it’s so long!

Ciao for now!

Erica

Guest Blog: What Writing is to Me

Hello, it’s your girl Erica again, did you miss me? I’m sure you did! I wanted to write a blog about what writing is to me. The next blog may be about Merry Acres middle school, and it may not be! It will happen though I promise! Look at me rambling and I’m not even at the meat of the blog yet!

Okay all big words and joking aside, I am here to talk about what writing is to me. Writing to me is a lot of thing: It’s fun, it’s relaxing, and it’s my escape when I’m overwhelmed. I’d be crazy if I said it was all fun and games, heck I’d be crazier if I said that it was all pros and no cons!

Well, my readers let me tell you something…IT IS NOT ALL PROS! You see, writing to me is also: torture, stressful and my prison! Let me explain, writing is fun, sure, but it can be torture when you set yourself a deadline or when you are given a deadline, and let me tell you, those things don’t come with pretty red bows!

Writing is relaxing sure, but when you are trying to catch some z’s and you’re as forgettable and creative as me, it’s stressful hearing those words and sentences repeat in your head like a song on repeat until you write them down whether on your phone or on scrap paper!

Writing is an escape sure, but it can also be a prison! You won’t be free until you finish your sentence! Ha, ha, ha! Seriously though, writing is no laughing matter, I love it, sure, but sometimes I don’t. It’s fine though, because no matter what writing is my favorite thing to do. I loved since first grade and I still love it today!

In conclusion, writing despite its cons, is my calling. I know it is, with as many journals as I have and as many pens that lost their ink, I know I’m doing something worth while and someday I’ll be published. When that day comes, I’ll be on book tours and enjoy it very much. Ciao for now!

 

Erica

A Note to High School Teachers about Autism

It’s no big secret that high school can be a challenge for anyone, not just those on the spectrum, but for many of them, the struggle is greater than any other. They’re still growing up, many have yet to learn any true applicable life skills, and classes can be a challenge if the teacher is incapable of keeping the pace of their lessons at an acceptable level for all of their students. Many go through that phase where everything their parents say is wrong and they’re always right (don’t worry we all do it). These are just some of the many issues which can make high school so difficult. I know for me personally, high school had its ups sure, but on the whole I barely made it through at times, often only passing due to the intervention of my mom or dad chatting with my teachers and getting me back on the right track. Here, I want to discuss some issues facing students with autism in high school, and perhaps some solutions that can help resolve the main issues.

Nowadays, students with ASD participating in general education classrooms is trending. Many are beginning to feel that just because a kid has autism, doesn’t mean they can’t or shouldn’t receive the same knowledge as everyone else. For those who may not be “in-the-know” about what autism is, some of the most common characteristics are difficulty in social situations, an inability to spot sarcasm or tone of voice, repetitious actions, and a general aversion to change. According to Veronica Fleury of UNC’s Center on Secondary Education for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders, “Many educators find that they’re not prepared to adapt their instruction methods to meet both state standards and the diverse needs of students with autism.” In a similar study, it was noted that students on the spectrum had a disproportionately high participation in the STEM fields compared to the general populace, regardless of gender or income. If that’s really the case, then it’s apparent that high schools need to prepare these students with the necessary skills for achieving their goals, as STEM fields are some of the most difficult to succeed in.

Another thing to keep in mind, especially if you are a teacher, is that a lot of individuals on the spectrum have unique (or at least different) learning styles. When planning for instruction, keep in mind that for the most part, students with ASD are visual learners, literal learners, and require consistency, according to this resource. For example, out-of-nowhere pop quizzes and numerous hands-on activities aren’t going to be very effective for most, as they’ll quickly lose interest and won’t absorb a single word coming out of your mouth. Be forthcoming and explicit with your expectations, don’t leave anything up for interpretation or else the student may not understand what they’re supposed to do in a given situation.

Additionally, try to keep the student engaged with other members of the classroom. If given the chance, many with autism will clam up and not want to socialize at all. This simply isn’t going to cut it in the real world, so try to prepare them by having them participate in group work. If you follow these tips, dealing with your student should be much easier.

> G. Sosso

Transitioning into the Working World

Out of all the issues we try to address here at CARD, there is perhaps none more important than how can we help kids on the spectrum, who just finished, or are finishing, high school successfully transition into the adult (working) world? It can seem like a monumental task at times, even downright impossible, but it’s not! I was in the exact same position when I graduated from Lakewood Ranch High School back in 2013, and my life sort of stalled until I found CARD, and of course the Learning Academy. They helped me a lot, and hopefully I can do the same thing for anyone reading this.

According to the Autism Society via the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of “June 2014, only 19.3 percent of people with disabilities in the U.S. were participating in the labor force – working or seeking work. Of those, 12.9 percent were unemployed; meaning only 16.8 percent of the population with disabilities was employed (By contrast, 69.3 percent of people without disabilities were in the labor force, and 65 percent of the population without disabilities was employed).” The difference between the 2 is enormous, and clearly speaks to some sort of correlation; such a gap cannot be mere coincidence. Now, to be fair, part of the blame does lie on those with the disabilities. Less than 20% of people on the spectrum were looking for work, and that is a huge part of the problem.

Many employers hear the negative stereotypes associated with workers with mental disabilities, and don’t want to take the risk of hiring them. Things like laziness, the inability to follow orders, taking longer to accomplish tasks, lack of social skills, etc. are just some of the reasons companies aren’t hiring from this demographic. And it cannot be denied that, for many young, and even full-grown adults, these things are an issue that plagues them. But, just like any other problem, it can be fixed if both the boss and employee are willing to work together and be understanding. Perhaps if more companies realized this, they could see some of the positive attributes people on the spectrum can bring; i.e. resourcefulness, creativity, unique perspectives and the ability to point out the little details others might miss.

So now we know a few of the issues, but how can we go about fixing them; i.e. making the transition? I think this article sums it up quite well, “For young adults who go directly into the employment world, it will also be critical for them to focus on their strengths and what brings them the greatest joy. They will want to explore different areas of the job market. Different work environments may help different individuals to excel. There are many opportunities for supported employment, where the employer offers supports to a worker with different challenges. Other individuals will require less support and may do better independently.” Basically, you need to find your passion, and there are many organizations that can help you out with that, including CARD!

Source: http://www.autism-society.org/what-is/facts-and-statistics/.

 

G. Sosso

Funding an iPad and Apps for Your Child

iPads and apps are becoming more common as tools for communication and academic participation. The costs are still fairly prohibitive for many families, however. There are several ways to look for information on funding sources and other ideas for obtaining an iPad or iPad apps for your child.
These are just a few. Be aware that things often change quickly in the online world. Organizations, grants, and other opportunities can come and go quickly, so these directories, such as the ones from Autism Speaks, Bridging Apps and iTaalk may provide links to organizations that are no longer active. For example, the Babies with iPads program is still listed in several directories, but gave away its last iPad in December 2014, saying it was just too difficult to continue to raise funds as a non-profit.
Directories of grants and other funding ideas:
• Autism Speaks Family Grant Opportunities (collected info from various organizations). This is a very comprehensive list. https://www.autismspeaks.org/family-services/resource-library/family-grant-opportunities
• Bridging Apps – Funding Sources for iPads and Mobile Devices: http://bridgingapps.org/funding-sources-directory/
• iTaalk Autism Foundation Resource page includes a list of grant organizations. They say it’s updated quarterly, so it should be fairly current: http://www.itaalk.org/#!resources/cqqo
• WonderBaby – 5 Ways to Get a Free iPad for Your Special Needs Child: http://www.wonderbaby.org/articles/ipad-funding-special-needs
Here are just three of the many granting organizations mentioned in the directories:
• Autism Cares: www.autismcares.org/site/c.mqLOIYOBKlF/b.4844551/k.9606/Technology_Grant.htm
• ACT Today: www.act-today.org/act-today-grant-program.php
• HollyRod Foundation’s Gift of Voice program: http://www.hollyrod.org/gift_of_voice

Other ideas for raising money:
Website Fundraisers – These websites will let you set up a campaign so that family and friends can donate funds.
• PayPal for Personal Fundraising https://www.paypal.com/webapps/mpp/fundraising
• Fundrazr https://fundrazr.com/
• Give Forward http://www.giveforward.com/
• The Puzzling Piece http://www.thepuzzlingpiece.com/
• GoFundMe http://www.gofundme.com/

Holiday and birthday gifts. Ask friends and families to give Apple/iTune gift cards instead of other gifts. Local businesses, community, or charity groups sometimes help with community fundraising by having special events.
Some credit cards give points that can be redeemed for an iPad or cash to purchase an iPad.

Finally, the Apps for Autism Facebook page will frequently list FREE apps offered by the developers, as well as the latest information on apps. https://www.facebook.com/AppsForAutism?ref_type=bookmark
Sources of information for this article:

Autism Speaks www.autismspeaks.org

Apps for Autism, Revised & Expanded Edition, by Jois Jean Brady, 2015.

Future Horizons http://fhautism.com/apps-for-autism-revised-and-expanded.html.

To the Moon and Autism

to the moon

I’ve been noticing something about myself recently; my interest in video games is declining rapidly. They simply don’t pique my interest in the same way they used to. However, something I do love is a good story, and story-driven games seem to be the one exception to this trend. So I decided to try out the 2011 title To the Moon, which I had heard good things about. I was expecting a solid, engaging story. What I got was so much more. It nearly brought me to tears, not only from the plot itself (which was terrific), but from two of the characters: River and Isabelle, both of whom are on the autism spectrum. So without further ado, here’s my “review” of To the Moon.

Brief Plot Synopsis
I won’t spend too much time on this one, since it’s not the focus of this blog, but it is important to understand the basic gist of what’s going on in this world the writers have created. Basically, the story takes place somewhere in the unspecified future, where a controversial technology has been created that allows those who operate the machine to enter someone’s mind and alter their memories. The fictional Sigmund Corporation uses this method to grant the last wishes of people on their deathbed, who want to experience something they never got to do in their life. Our story opens up with 2 Sigmund employees, Dr. Neil Watts and Dr. Eva Rosalene, who have been contracted to fulfill the last request of an elderly man named Johnny Wyles, who wants to go to the moon, though he is unsure as to why. Along the way, we see Johnny’s life unfold through the eyes of Neil and Eva. Most importantly, we see Johnny’s now-deceased wife, River, before, after and even during her diagnosis with ASD. I won’t spoil any of the specifics of the story, both out of courtesy and for the sake of time, but I truly can’t recommend it enough. You do not have to be a gamer to enjoy To the Moon (in fact, with the exception of an arbitrary puzzle mini game every now and then, there’s no actual game play here besides walking around).

Portrayal of Autism
We see two vastly different depictions of ASD in To the Moon, which I’m glad to see, considering how it is a spectrum and no two people on it act the same, something which is addressed in the story. As I mentioned before, there are two characters in the game with high-functioning autism (heavily implied to be Asperger’s, seeing as how this came out before ASD became the all-encompassing term), River and Isabelle. River never got diagnosed until she was already a middle-aged adult, and by that point it was too late for any real therapy. She spent her entire life being an outcast with little to no social skills, as well as habits that no one else could understand. The only people she connected with were Johnny and Isabelle, who could appreciate her. Speaking of Isabelle, she represents the other side of the coin. Her ASD was caught early on in life, and she was able to receive the help River never got, and as a result, emulate the behavior of the ‘neurotypicals’ as she calls them. You might think that Isabelle was the lucky one here, and in some ways you’d be correct, but Isabelle herself actually envies River. Since she went through so much therapy, she never really got to be her true self; she sees her entire persona as a mere facade. This really spoke to me on a deep level, because it brings up a major ethical question: is it truly better to change who you really are for the sake of fitting in with society’s expectations? For someone on the spectrum, whose way of life is preferable: River’s or Isabelle’s? To all the parents out there: do you think that treatments are worth it, if it means fundamentally changing who your child is? I don’t think that there’s a right or wrong answer either way; it’s situational and up to personal preference. But it’s a question that I certainly believe is worth asking.

Overall, To the Moon was a satisfying experience, and I’m glad I picked it up. It explores its narrative in a way that the medium is reluctant to emulate. If you want an interesting take on ASD, alongside an emotional, at times heart-wrenching story about loss, regret and the power of love, then I suggest you try it out too.

Written by Gage S.

Sensory Friendly Family Concert Series

CARD and The Florida Orchestra collaborated to provide a sensory friendly experience within the orchestra’s Classical Kids Family Series. On Saturday, February 21st, the first of the sensory friendly shows, families enjoyed a production of ‘Goldilocks & The Three Bears”. While there, children were able to touch and play with the various instruments in the ‘instrument petting zoo’. Pictures and social experience stories were on hand as well to help facilitate learning about the orchestra. It was a great day for families and a fun way for children to discover an appreciation for music.

Missed this event? The next one, Whimsical Winds, will be May 23rd. For more information about the series and the next show visit the Florida Orchestra’s website

orchestra 1 orchestra 3 orchestra 4 orchestra 5 orchestra 6

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