Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Autistic Artist Draws Rome from Memory via a Helicopter Ride

A savant artist with autism flies over Rome in a helicopter only one time and then reproduces the landscape and architecture with near precision with details of perspective and scale. This video is absolutely amazing! It really gives us a glimpse of the awesome ability of a visual photographic memory.

Scrapbooking as an Educational Tool for Autism

Blog: Scraps of Mind

I stumbled across this little snippet over at one of the newsbytes internet sites and it got me thinking about how valuable a social tool scrapbooking can be.

Scrap Girls consumers are using digital scrapbooking products for much more than scrapbooking family memories.

Los Angeles, CA (FV Newswire) - Scrap Girls consumers are using digital scrapbooking products for much more than scrapbooking family memories. Melanie, a layout designer at, takes her digital scrapbooking personally. So personally in fact, that she has started using this art form to design social stories for her son. Melanie’s son struggles with language delays. As part of his therapy, his speech therapist recommended that Melanie should write stories for him in which she would describe how he should behave. Melanie knew right away how she would do this: digital scrapbooking.

Melanie uses digital scrapbooking products from to display digital photos of her son in a colorful comic-book style that will keep his attention. Her son is the star and he loves the books. Through them, he can watch himself make good choices.

Rose Ann Bright, a Scrap Girls customer noted, “I think this is a wonderful idea. I teach a variety of children, some of whom have autism, learning disabilities, or intellectual disabilities. Social stories are a big part of teaching children the correct way to interact with peers and adults.” Rose Ann also suggests the digitally scrapbooked stories could be presented as PowerPoint presentations.

Julie, a friend of Melanie’s, recently underwent brain surgery. To prepare her autistic son for the event, she prepared social stories to help him understand what would happen. He learned why his grandparents would be taking care of him for a while and why his father wouldn’t be around as much. He learned why his mother’s hair would be cut and why she wouldn’t be able to read to him or take him to school for a period of time.

How fantastic to be using scrapbooking as an educational tool!

I never really thought about it before but scrapbooking lends itself to this purpose so perfectly. After all, isn’t scrapbooking all about communication? Whether we are telling a story in pictures or a combination of pictures and words, or whether we are communicating a mood or emotion through the colours and design of our layouts. We’re communicating something.

And what a perfect tool to communicate to those with learning difficulties or who are too young to grasp complex ideas.

Have any of you used your scrapbooking in this way? Let us know in the comments. I’m sure many of us would like to know more about this side to scrapbooking that we may never have explored before.

Share your ideas and we will be sure to pass them on to the contributing blog Scraps of Mind

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Time to Sing and Sing and Sing!

Time to Sing is a classic selection of songs that are sung at a slower speed. Have you noticed many of the songs you hear for kids are way too fast. Time to Sing has adapted all the well known songs and have brought them down a notch for the little ones with speech delays. My son thoroughly enjoyed this cd - over and over again! Warning - may lead to excessive repetitions of wheels on the bus. Well who minds breaking into song and dance at dinnertime everyday! Visit

Product Description
Young Children LOVE to sing, but they need to sing at their own speed. Time to Sing is a delightful collection of classic children's songs newly arranged for children of all ages and abilities. Time to Sing helps to build language skills and the wide variety of musical styles and settings makes it a joy to hear again and again. The Time to Sing series is sure to be a family favorite, give your child hours of entertainment... with Time to Sing! All proceeds benefits fully accessible indoor play environments for all children and their families.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Free Printable Fun for Kids with Autism

Free Printable Learning Activities for Autistic Children
by Jamie Sue Austin
Blog: Free Printable Fun

Finding printable learning activities online for children is easy. There are a wealth of sites that offer great resources for teaching children at home.

Sites for parents offers a HUGE listing of websites that offer quality educational printables.

For parents of autistic children the resources are smaller, but still available. While I believe there are wonderful, affordable materials out there for parents to purchase, it's nice to try things for free before committing to purchases that may not work for the individual child. If you have a laminating machine at home (who doesn't, right?) then you can actually substitute many purchased learning materials for free ones.

Do2Learn has some wonderful illustrations that can be used to help autistic children create and maintain a schedule. Print, laminate, add Velcro stickies.. POOF! You're done. I have to commend this site for giving away for free what a lot of parents have been paying for.

LearningPage has a great selection of worksheets and printable books that would be excellent for both typical children learning their fundamentals and autistic children learning vocabulary, sequencing, and categorizing. The site is free but requires registration. High five for the developers of this resource as they provide an almost complete K-5 curriculum's worth of activities. is a site that has wonderful printables for those learning English as a second language. The illustrations are snappy and the concepts uncluttered. They would work well for teaching vocabulary, daily routine, adverbs and adjectives, and prepositions to children with autism. I myself use their preposition cards. This is a truly stunning site. The printables are offered in many different formats so that you can choose which best suits your needs. I'm very fond of the PowerPoint layouts because it allows me to print 6 images to a sheet of card stock, which I can laminate for my child to use.

While I'm sure that these materials were not created with an autistic child in mind they are just as impressive as those that are. I have to give the creator some serious kudos on that.

If a child is learning a second language they are an excellent resource as well because most of the printables are available in more than one language. Aside from flash cards they offer coloring sheet, phonics worksheets, printable stickers, and great clip art. A wonderful free site!!!

And just for fun... Here's a random paper toy. It's an autism awareness car!

Thanks to Jamie Sue for letting us use your article: Free Printable Learning Activities for Autistic Children. The free printable fun blog also has a nice selection of other links.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Play Doh Activity Mats, Great tool for pretend play

Play Doh Activity Mats are excellent for pretend play. Kids are encouraged to create shapes from play doh to fit onto the mat. Recreating and completing the various scenarios. The birthday party scene includes making candles, balloons, presents, decorating the cake, faces to complete. A great tool to expand play. Other scenes include, dinosaurs, a table setting, animals etc. I thought these mats were very helpful in giving a simple themed visual concept to expand on. My only complaint is that the product could be more durable.

The Body Game by DK

Does anybody recommend this game? I have not used this game yet, but it looks like a great resource. Learning body parts, visual representation of actions, giving 1 and 2 step directions. Please post - if you think this game is worth using.
Found this version at: autism school success

Friday, August 24, 2007

DK Picture Pairs Matching Game

DK Picture Pairs Matching Game seems to be an older edition, the one I have was a hand me down. You might be able to locate a version on Ebay or click on the linked name (just recently found some for sale via Amazon). It was a great tool for matching photographic images of items in categories. Foods, Clothing, Toys, etc. I also used velcro on the sturdy cards, this helped tremendously as it was sometimes not easy keeping the card on the matched item. Great visual tool for coming up with assorted games, like bingo, matching, labeling, turn taking and we used it for, "Who has the...?", "I have the..." and "you have the...".

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Drum to the beat

Posted by aspiedrummerchick from Autism Speaks Community Bulletin Board.
"I have Asperger's Syndrome and something that has helped me greatly is music. Drums are an excellent instrument for anyone with Autism because it helps build coordination, focus, and it is very repetitive so an Autistic person would love it."

"I'm not disabled...I'm enabled!"
"I rock with rhythm!"

"Feel free to ask me questions about my Asperger's Syndrome through my thread ("

Richard Scary's Biggest Word Book Ever

Thanks for the suggestion by ngonz from the Autism Speaks Community Bulletin Board.

"The one thing that I recall helped my son tremendously and lead to a communcation break-through with him: Richard Scarry's Biggest Word Book Ever. Using this book, he finally realized that words had meaning and that things had names. After that, he wanted to learn the names of everything. This book is packed with lots of stuff going on--really fun visuals." Article: Is Autistic Artistic?

Is Autistic Artistic?
Read this impressive article written in 2005 by N.F Karlins for about Autism, Art and view amazing art created by some truly inspirational artists.
" Should art of the mentally ill be considered different from other art? The drawings, paintings, collages, digital photos and computer animations by the 17 artists on display at Ricco/Maresca may be distinctive but are hardly alien to those already found in galleries throughout SoHo, Chelsea, Brooklyn and elsewhere. So are these "Outsiders" because of their mental condition?"
"Guest curator Dr. Larry E Dumont, director of inpatient child and preadolescent psychiatry at KidsPeace Hospital in Orefield, Pa., asserts in an essay available at the gallery, "Artistic is autistic." He goes on to say that the personal vision of artists in general can be considered autistic, though this doesn't mean that they have autism. He also states that not all autistic artists are equally interesting, and that "What distinguishes [interesting] autistic artists is that unique passion they bring to their subject." It seems to me that this can be said of any interesting artist.
Autism and art -- immense, messy, and intertwined topics -- is the subject of a panel led by Dr. Dumont and including researchers and members of families dealing with autism at the American Folk Art Museum in New York on Jan. 25, 2005."

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Newsweek Article: The Puzzle of Hidden Ability

The Puzzle of Hidden Ability
By Sharon Begley
Aug. 20-27, 2007 issue - "Even their parents struggle to draw the tiniest hint of emotion or social connection from autistic children, so imagine what happens when a stranger sits with the child for hours to get through the standard IQ test. "
Be sure to check out this article about the need to reassess how we categorize children with Autism. We should not just assume that the the ability to memorize, be artistic or have musical skills is due to brain limitations, but an ability that should be nourished.

Read the full article

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Little Tikes Whirley Rocket

The Whirley Rocket is a fabulous toy for many reasons. Visual stimulation, requesting movement, vestibular, proprioceptive - all that fun OT activity packed in one toy. Great for two kids to play together or for one child to even spin alone. Independent spinning encourages good upper body exercise.

Brown Bear by Eric Carle and Bill Martin

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you see? by Bill Martin and Eric Carle. This book has a fabulous sing song approach for encouraging speech and pattern. This book was incredibly helpful in many ways, memory, identifying animals, generalizing simple illustrated images, pointing. Eric Carle has created a fabulous illustrated series of books for children. Well loved, well worn.
Eric Carle's website also has a link to valuable suggested activities from various classroom teachers. I love reviewing suggested ideas and modifying it for my own use to help expand concepts beyond just reading a book. brown bear activities

Melissa and Doug Shape Sorter

The traditional shape sorter by Melissa and Doug is a helpful tool in realizing fine motor skills through positioning pieces correctly into the sorter. Identifying and locating shapes, visual tracking/scanning , color and shape labeling for simple speech, giving choices. The simplicity of the colors and wood help to make this also a visually less stimulating option. Features 12 wood shapes that make a satisfying clunk as they fall into the hardwood cube! A bit pricey but worth the investment.