Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Project Autism - Free to join - Private online group for those that are active within the autism community

Please visit a new online group. And its FREE and private. (membership only) I decided that I often visit many of these yahoo groups which are great, but just feel like there are too many. So I decided to create a simple social network for those of us that are active in trying to find solutions to this complex puzzle called Autism. You are welcome to join and if you do not want to participate (mandatory) then opt out. No big deal. But this will be a small group that wants people that want to participate with dialog to help eachother answer questions that we are all asking. All are invited.

or email me if you have any questions

Monday, December 1, 2008

Puppet Kit by Martha Stewart is ideal for spectrum kids

Martha Stewart has a how to paper bag puppet kit available and it is a part of a series of simple craft projects for kids. The whole line reminds me of the sewing patterns that existed long ago. We really enjoyed the puppet kit which included 5 puppets with various body parts that were stuck on via peeling off the back of the sticker. What a great project that encourages fine motors skills to peel, identifying and locating body parts like feathers and paws and facial features. We also expanded our project to include the classic song for Old Macdonalds Farm and acted out the various animals. All in all, I would say a great way to cut to the chase, not have to cut out all the little pieces and have very cute and fun looking set of puppets. Sometimes, I just do not have the time or energy and find these simple projects when my energy is low are a great way to capitilize on time limitations. Something to be said for buying a prefab kit that really is worth every penny. If you have more than one child you could also incorporate paper bags, paint and cut out shapes to duplicate the original set.

There is also a lovely site via www.marthastewart.com that has a variation available via online suggestions paperbag article. Worth checking out. The photo above is from the online free version

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Harold and the Purple Crayon sparks creativity for kids with ASD

by Jax Chachitz
Creative Spectrum

Harold and the Purple Crayon is a fabulous book series that I find really useful for many reasons. All you need is the book and a purple crayon or what I use is a white board with a purple marker. You can easily get a copy from your Public Library. The illustrations are fairly easy to copy and it is great to work on reading comprehension, copying the images, asking questions about the story, encouraging your child to draw in pictures, following a storyline, etc.

My son absolutely loves for me to draw out the pictures and sometimes we try to go a step further and act out the scenes with random improv props. Its fascinating to see what he comes up with. For Harold going to the moon, we used a bed comforter for the moon and some bristle blocks for a rocket. We scrunched up paper as moon rocks and collected those in a bag. Really, the book series is fabulous and if you just use your imagination to inspire and create, you will inspire your child to have some fun coming up with ideas. All of these skills can sometimes be very difficult for kids with Autism, ASD, PDD, and Speech and Language delays. I find creating an art project or acting activity and sprinkling your speech and language, Q & A or whatever you happen to working on at the moment into the play helps to practice and work on the things that are more difficult. Let Harold animate your childs world.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Free Printable Where Questions Book for Children with Autism, ASD, PDD

Free Printable Where Questions Book for Children with Autism
by Jamie Sue Austin
Free Printable Fun

In this free printable book Monkey explores the question "Where?" and learns his prepositions. Prepositions can be really hard for children with Autism.

This is an interactive book. On the last two pages are images for you to cut out. You are to have the child apply the appropriate image to the story as you read it. I recommend laminating the story pages and cut outs and using velcro dots to attach the pieces to the story.

Free Printable Where Questions Book for Children with Autism.
Download in PDF format.

Free Printable Why Questions Book for Children with Autism, ASD, PDD

Printable Why Question Book for Children with Autism
by Jamie Sue Austin
Free Printable Fun

Children with autism often struggle with "wh" questions like Who, What, Where, and Why. My son struggles with all of these, but I think his not being able to understand "why" is the most frustrating for both of us. There are books out there designed to teach children with autism to answer "wh" questions. My son's speech therapist uses the Buddy Bear books from Lingui Systems. They are kind of expensive so I decided to make my own versions of them.

My son's nick name is Monkey so the main character is a monkey and since it was written for him it addresses come common occurrences in our house, but it should still be of some use for others. The book addresses three "why" scenarios: "Why" Monkey wants an object, "Why" Monkey is wearing an item, and "Why" Monkey has a particular thing.

This is an interactive book. On the last two pages are images for you to cut out. You are to have the child apply the appropriate image to the story as you read it. I recommend laminating the story pages and cut outs and using velcro dots to attach the pieces to the story.

Printable Why Question Book for Children with Autism PDF

Free Books from Online Sources

I have recently found a fabulous list for teachers and think it is well worth investigating how these resources can be applied to the Autism Community. These links include audio books which are appropriate for listening and comprehension and may be able to help with Auditory Processing. I have gotten this list via Smartteaching.org, Alisa Miller. I wanted to review the links and will post more.

The following books are all available for free. Some are interactive online books, others are audio downloads you can use in the classroom, and they range from titles for the youngest child to high school age.

1. Reading A-Z. Download and print several free books that include leveled readers, readers in Spanish and French, and books that focus on phonics, vocabulary, and fluency.
2. LearningPage.com E-Books. Sign up for a free membership in order to download these free books.
3. Audio Stories 4 Kids. Download from MP3 files of many audio books for children. Titles include Alice in Wonderland, The House at Pooh Corner, and Madeline.
4. The Cinnamon Bear. This story is an old radio series from the 1930’s and you can download both the music and PDF files to use in your classroom. On this site, you can also download free audio files of Christmas on the Moon.
5. Book Adventure. This reading motivation program sponsored by Sylvan Learning is free for students to use in grades K-8 and teachers can receive a free Book Adventures Teachers Guide to help guide them in using the program in the classroom.
6. Children’s Storybooks Online. Find full-color story books for young readers to books for older children all available to read online and all for free.
7. Lookybook. With a click of a mouse button, you can flip through the pages of these high quality and frequently gorgeous children’s books.
8. Fairrosa Cyber Library of Children’s Literature. Classics such as Little Women and Peter Pan reside next to fairy tales and poems on this resource full of children’s literature.
9. Storyline Online. The Screen Actors Guild has compiled several children’s books at this innovative site. Click on a book and the actor will introduce the book and begin reading it. Along with the narration, the video streams the pages of the book and the accompanying text.
10. Stonrynory. These free audio books are targeted at children and include both classics as well as new stories.
11. Free Classic Audio Books. Available in MP3 or m4b for iPods, get classics from Mark Twain, L. Frank Baum, Herman Melville, and more.
12. Adam Smith Academy. Download classic stories such as An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge and The Tell-Tale Heart onto your iPod or iPhone. They are currently developing DVD packs for middle and high school as well.
13. PaperBackSwap. If you’ve got some old books you would like to exchange for different titles, you can join this free group to help facilitate trading books with others.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Being Hyper Visual in a Verbal World

Here is an incredibly interesting article about being hyper visual in a verbal world. It may be interesting for us to try to think this way. Visually instead of verbally. I can sometimes totally relate to this, being an artist. I can often times relate information as if I see pictures. I wonder if this is just more extreme for those with Autism. To really view the world this way, to the point where processing other types of sensory information is more difficult. I totally relate to the part about my son not hearing me if he is totally absorbed in the television or other stimuli, also walking down the street. I can see how even visual stimulation can be completely overwhelming.

Hyper-Visual in a Verbal World - Autism and Communication Disorders
August 22, 2008 | By admin In Uncategorized |

A child or adult with Autism or a Communication disorder will have difficulties fitting into our extremely verbal world. These difficulties can create isolation from others and threatening walls of silence. However, there is a specific sub group of people diagnosed with these disorders who have a hyper-visual system. In these cases, when the visual system is harnessed, teaching communication becomes much easier.

I Rode the Train, I Want to be an Engineer
Hyper-visual people are experiencing visually when speaking. Their communications may appear to be almost nonsensical rambling but in fact they are following a very logical pattern. The difference is the pattern followed is visual rather than verbal. The exchange below illustrates this point.

I asked Mark, a college student, ?How did you get here today??
He replied, I took the train in from Long Island. My family went to the beach (Mark was seeing himself on the train but did not say this). Maybe I will be a engineer. The reason I like engineering is that there are serious problems. (Mark was thinking about being a transportation engineering and designing train tracks and freeway intersections) I have always been good in math. When teachers are difficult to understand. (Mark is seeing himself at school doing well except when the teacher is confusing and then associating to a video he watched about Einstein)Like Dr. Einstein- There was an exhibit on Einstein at the history museum did you see it?

Mark was attempting to answer my question but his picture mind took him on quite a ride as one picture blended into the next from the train- to a vacation to an engineering career to Einstein, at the museum. The expected answer was ?TRAIN?. This very verbal illustration demonstrates how the visual pathway can create leap-frog thinking-which to verbal people can seem like impulsivity.

Instead of negotiating the world with verbal reasoning, a visual person often negotiates with patterns. As a result the ?sameness of routines? becomes the template to make sense of the chaos of everyday life. We refer to these visual learners as ?Mavericks.? We often ask Mavericks to adjust to changes in schedule or adjustments in plans based on how we typically explain things - by talking. These words can create more confusion and frustration as they may not be processed at the speed expected. This lag in processing time can create resistance, immature behavior, odd play, tantrums or reluctance to participate. As a result the normal teaching methods that are based on processing incoming language can fail.

Sequencing & Associating
Visual people often use the brain?s Associator to form memories. They learn of a new idea and they relate that idea to their own knowledge base. The opposite of the Associator is the Sequencer from the verbal pathway.

The Sequencer is rigid and ordering, one sound following another to make a word, words produced in specific order to form grammatically correct sentences and ideas linked in order to make paragraphs.

The Associator is time-independent and the Sequencer is very time based. Understanding consequences depends on a time based understanding of cause and effect.

My son, Whitney, at age 4, wanted to jump off of the roof to fly like Superman, without understanding, from verbal reasoning, the danger involved. Whitney would sit mesmerized watching Disney?s Snow White as if he were deaf. In fact, at times, I could scream in his ear and he could not hear me even though all of the parts of his ear to brain physiology were judged to be normal. At these times his visual brain powered by his associator were shutting down his verbal sensory system.

If the pictures drive the thought, children can appear to be oblivious to cause and effect. They may disregard threatened consequences. Often Mavericks feel that they must complete the pattern to finish the thought they have developed through the associator before they can transition to the next idea. If the thought is disrupted the Maverick may hit a wall and resort to talking with lines from a movie or echoing what was said or get stuck like a broken record and repeat the same thing over and over again.

With the appropriate training, Mavericks can learn effective verbal communication. The teaching methods must first then harness the visual system first before moving forward to teaching communication.

Dr. Cheri Florance is a brain scientist with training and clinical experience in how to teach the brain to replace symptoms of communication and language disorders. In her books, Maverick Mind, (http://www.penquinputnam.com) and A Boy Beyond Reach (http://www.simonschuster.com), she describes how she taught her own autistic son, Whitney to replace disability with ability and become symptom-free. To learn more about her own personal journey and successful methods visit her complimentary Learning Library at http://www.ebrainlabs.com

Friday, August 22, 2008

Grant to help with therapy

Grant to help with autism therapy

They are accepting applications up to $500. It must be postmarked for November 1, 2008.


# Have an individual with a diagnosed developmental disorder or disability living at home.
# Live in the Mid-Atlantic Region of the United States (i.e., Virginia, Washington D.C., Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York only)

Find out more on their website

If you have any other questions, you can contact them here:

PO Box 716
Richboro, PA 18954

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

ABC's Animal Memory Game

Thanks to Mina for leaving the information about the ABC Animals Memory Game. It is downloadable for PC Users, not Mac - so unfortunately I cannot use it. But please tell me how it is for all those out there that can access the program. I guess the download is free but you can buy the game if you find it useful.

ABC Animals Version 2.
Card matching memory game for kids.

Author (Support): Green Forest Studio
Price: $9.95 File Size: 2.66 MB Requirements: 32M RAM Language: English
Date Updated: 2008-5-20 3:00 AM Platform: Windows 98 or higher
Long Descriptions of ABC Animals
Card matching memory game for children (age 4+). Match up pairs of beautiful animal pictures!

It's really easy to play. Just click on the cards to flip them over and try to find the pairs. Your main goal is to find the legendary unicorn as fast as you can. In this way you can earn bonus points. Rate yourself on the High Scores table!

The game also helps to learn the letters of the alphabet while playing.

Ideal preschool or first former educational game for kids - with children's friendly interface and cutting edge graphics. Have fun!

How to article on using Printables to teach children with Autsim

Here is an article written by our favorite printable expert, Jamie Sue Austin. It is posted on the How to site, which also seems like a great resource for information

How to Use Printables to Teach Children with Autism

By Jamie Austin

Teaching children with autism can be difficult at times. Autism affects how a child processes information. Repetition is often the best way for children with autism to learn something new. Teaching materials specially designed for children with autism can be prohibitively expensive. Printables, online items that can be printed for free, can be used to create folder games, PECS cards and picture schedules for children with autism. Explore various ways to use printables in your daily lessons.

Difficulty: Moderately Easy
Use printables to create folder games. Folder games help easily illustrate key concepts for children with autism. Folder games are usually comprised of a variety of images which a child can match or manipulate to achieve a goal. For example, to teach a child with autism about animals and their habitats using printables you would search online for clip art of various animals and pictures of various habitats that those animals would reside in. A picture of a frog would match with a picture of a pond. Print out and cut apart all the images. Glue the images of the habitats to the inside of a manila folder. Have the child match the images of the animals to the correct habitats. Use clear laminate, contact paper or packing tape to protect the images.

Use prinables to create PECS cards. PECS, or Picture Exchange Communication System, cards are pictures used to convey information. A child who cannot verbalize his needs can use a picture to communicate with others. PECS cards can be found online and printed out for use with the child. PictureSET and MESEnglish are two excellent resources for printable PECs and PEC-style cards.

Use printables to create a picture schedule. Picture schedules help maintain order during a multi-step activity and help reduce anxiety for children with autism. Knowing what comes next in a sequence can help children with autism more easily transition from one aspect of an activity to the next. Print images that can be readily identified by the child and arrange them in order to create a picture schedule. Use a picture schedule to convey an entire day’s worth of activities or as a visual reminder to help the child complete a multi-step activity like using the bathroom. Do2Learn has many free printable picture schedules.

Use printables to improve coloring and writing skills. Many children with autism need extra practice when it comes to correct writing grip. Printable coloring pages can be found on almost any subject. Giving a child with autism coloring pages on subjects that interest them can help motivate her to practice coloring and writing skills.

Use printables to improve cutting and pasting skills. Many children with autism need extra practice when it comes to cutting with scissors and pasting. Cutting and pasting are important skills for all children and are a prerequisite for surpassing early education. By using printables focused on subjects that interest the child, the child will become more motivated to improve his cutting and pasting skills.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Free Browser for kids with Autism

Zac BrowserZAC is the first web browser developed specifically for children with autism, and autism spectrum disorders such as Asperger syndrome, pervasive developmental disorders (PDD), and PDD-NOS. We have made this browser for the children - for their enjoyment, enrichment, and freedom. Children touch it, use it, play it, interact with it, and experience independence through ZAC.

Zac BrowserZAC is the zone that will permit your child to interact directly with games (a LOT of games) and activities (focused on MANY interests) that cater specifically to kids who display the characteristics of autism spectrum disorders, like impairments in social interaction, impairments in communication, restricted interests and repetitive behavior. ZAC has been an effective tool for kids with low, medium and high functioning autism.

Zac BrowserZAC focuses on the children and their interaction - But we also provide an excellent forum for parents, caretakers, teachers, and others to share their experiences, tools and resources and to unite as a caring, compassionate, and extremely knowledgeable community. It is said that "it takes a village to raise a child", and that is exponentially true for raising a child with autistic spectrum disorders. The power of your experience yesterday is going to be instrumental in helping someone successfully tackle the circumstances of today.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Free Printable Autism Resources

MouseTrial Autism Software
Fun animated online exercises to help kids with autism

All the items on this page are completely FREE for you to take away, reproduce and distribute as you wish. They are ideal for use on autism-related web sites or for inclusion in information packs for parents and carers. Feel free to take whatever items seem useful and email them to any friends who might find them useful. There's no need to contact us before using these materials (although you are more than welcome to email us if you have any specific queries).

MouseTrial Software
Don't forget that you get lots of free goes in the MouseTrial software itself. Please don't be shy about using up all of your free goes, - that's what they're there for! Each individual game (or "submodule") has its own quota of free goes, so don't give up just because you've run out of goes on the first game you try!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Book focuses on talents of autistic artists

There is an interesting article by the Washington Times on special talents of children with special needs. The article also discusses the upcoming book that I have posted on a previous blog post. I really enjoy these articles and think more needs to be written and discussed about the talents that exist for many kids on the spectrum.

For once I would love for the autism education experts to not give me a glazed look every time I talk about how talented my sons art is or how he has an incredibly photographic memory. It gets to be really annoying when you know these looks are really just a fake smile suggesting that the person you are talking to is not really supposed to touch upon the cold facts that they believe these are only just splintered skills in certain areas that professionals really do not categorize as talent. They are more like an obsession with colors, shapes, numbers, music, art, memorizing.

But I know, as an artist, that these odd skills and rare abilities need to be enhanced. They are borderline genius in many kids and adults, and it is a shame that many just cannot appreciate the talent for what it is. It is almost as if no one really understands a photographic memory or an innate ability to paint, understand music or numbers. Seems education experts should really rethink how we can better accentuate these talents and use them as tools for more interaction and most of all for self esteem. When I was 8 and realized my artistic talents, I was thrilled. I think educators need to also appreciate this more in kids with specials needs and autism. Maybe part of the problem is we do not fully know how they think, thus we do not know how to help them except in our limited capacity of how we learn.

I also want to add, that it is very unfair for children with special needs. Just because they do not learn like other children should not mean that they are denied respect for their talents. If you have a small child that is "gifted" any parent would give them piano lessons or special tutoring in the area that they excel. We as parents of kids on the spectrum must do the same. Find their talents and let them sparkle and shine! You will be amazed at what they can accomplish when given the opportunities.

Special Deeds Children
Washington Times - Washington,DC,USA
There is something very Paul Gauguin — impenetrable colors and primitive forms — about Kevin Hosseini's oil paintings.

Which is very impressive in and of itself considering that Kevin is only 13 years old. Add to that the fact that he's autistic.

"Gauguin & Me" is an oil painting by Kevin Hosseini, a 13-year-old with autism.

"I've painted for three years. ... It makes me feel good," says the Carpinteria, Calif, resident who is working on a large oil painting with bold blues and greens. "It's an ocean scene," he explains.

Kevin's and about three dozen other young autistic artists' works will be presented in a coffee-table book, "Artism A-New," due out in October (submissions are still accepted through Aug. 15 at www.artismtoday.com).

Monday, July 21, 2008

Autism Community: Stop feeding into the hype

Update: Sears has written me back claiming they do not support this radio station and AFLAC has pulled all advertising from the program. Thank you to those that support the Autism Community.Also A Champ reports Home Depot does not support the radio station.

Thank you A - Champ for bringing attention to the recent attack on children and adults with Autism by radio's Michael Savage. Below I have included the information by A-champ.
My only concern is that we need to better undertand the nature of the beast. These people thrive on attention, and the more attention we give it the more it will keep happening. In terms of marketing and promotion bad publicity can be perceived as good publity. So do not go to the links to the network, do not go to the links for the actual telecast. All it means is high hits and attention for the network and the broadcaster. So what do we do. I propose a Black List. Very simple, money talks and BS walks. When we feed into the hype we are just creating and feeding the fire of those that want the attention. Just think, this guy says something insulting and his numbers go off the chart.

BLACK LIST those that do not support the rights of individuals with Autism - Do not buy products from these vendors. Stop listening to the Radio broadcast from Buckley Broadcasting/WOR Radio. And spread this to every person you know. And/ or call to complain. It is very simple. Doing anything indirectly just leads to numbers, weblinks = hits which bring more revenue and advertising dollars. A telephone call and an email do not. Stop buying Home Depot(7/21/08 - does not support the radio station), Sears (7/22/08 - does not support this network), Radioshack, (AFLAC- 7/22/08 - pulled ads from network) and Budweiser. And another embarassing thing for stores is bad publicity. Xerox the copy of the Achamp letter and leave them at every location. This will instantly get attention and may even deter others from purchasing from these locations.

I have removed all links for sites for automated replies, calling to complain is better.

Buckley Broadcasting/WOR Radio
General Phone Number: 212 642 4500
111 Broadway 3rd Floor, New York, NY 10006

Home Depot
(770) 384-4646

Sears Public Relations And Communications
(847) 286-8371

Media Relations_
Riverfront Campus _Mail Stop #CF7-130_300 RadioShack Circle _Fort Worth, TX 76102-1964_
Phone: (817) 415-3300_
Fax: (817) 415-2585_
E-mail: media.relations@RadioShack.com

1-800-99-AFLAC (1-800-992-3522)
Laura Kane, 2nd Vice President External Relations Aflac Incorporated_1-706-596-3493
Mechell Clark_
Media Relations Manager_

Anheuser-Busch, Inc.
One Busch Place
St. Louis, MO 63118
1 800 DIAL BUD
(1 800 342 5283)


Talk Radio's Michael Savage Trashes Individuals With Autism / Act Now To Show His Conduct Is Not Acceptable!
Michael Savage Calls Children With Autism "Brats" and Autism a "Scam"

Take Action!
Use the Autism Action Network to Tell Savage's Broadcasters and Sponsors What You Think of Savage and His Offensive Remarks


That's What We Call The Words of Trash Radio Host Michael Savage

(t/n Michael Weiner)

Take Action Against Michael Savage's Remarks!

"Idiot" "brat" "moron"

These are just a few terms Savage used to describe children with Autism on his radio program. He went on to say autism, a lifelong debilitating disorder that leaves many children without the ability to speak and in constant pain, was a "fraud" and a "racket" perpetrated by inept parents.

Do not permit Savage's offensive statements to go unchallenged. Savage and his broadcasting syndicators must be held accountable for his hateful and ignorant tirade. Contact his sponsors and demand that they withdraw their support. Most reasonable people, and most for-profit corporations, do not want to be identified as oppressors of the disabled. Your words will have great impact and will make the choice clear for them.

To Hear Savage's offensive comments for yourself with some helpful commentary that puts him in his place. click link.

Opportunity: Institute on Disability Seeks Artists for its 2009 Calendar

News from the Artists Foundation

Institute on Disability Seeks Artists for its 2009 Calendar

Are you an artist looking for an opportunity to get your work noticed?
Do you know someone who is an artist and might be interested in such an
opportunity? Every year since 2000, the Institute on Disability
(IOD) at the University of New Hampshire has
produced a calendar that features 13 original works of art. These highly
anticipated calendars are distributed to thousands of people around the
world each year who are connected to the IOD’s mission of
strengthening communities and ensuring full access, equal opportunities,
and participation for all persons. The IOD is currently inviting artists
to submit artwork to be considered for its 2009 Calendar.

The theme for the 2009 calendar is reflective of the quote

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes,
but in having new eyes.”
Marcel Proust (1871 - 1922, French novelist and essayist)

If you would like to submit, here are some simple guidelines to

* All artwork must be 2-dimensional (i.e. drawings, paintings).
Unfortunately, we are unable to accept photography and sculpture.
* Artwork for submission may be created for the purpose of this
calendar or may be selected from an existing portfolio of work.
* Artwork should reflect the artist’s interpretation of the Marcel
Proust quote above.
* Artists are encouraged to submit artwork with vibrant colors (see
links to past calendars below).
* Artists are welcome to submit up to three works of art for
* Submissions must include the artist's name, phone number, email
address and title(s) of artwork.
* If chosen, the original work submitted will be requested and will
need to be sent to the IOD. All originals will be returned to the
Here are links if you would like to see a PDF copy of the 2008
and 2007

Digital copies (scanned or photographed artwork) for consideration
should be sent as a JPG or PDF file to contact.iod@unh.edu
“2009 IOD Calendar Art” in the subject line. Please do not send
original artwork at this time. If you would like to submit a printed
copy of your artwork via snail mail, please mail it to:

Attn. Matthew Gianino
10 West Edge Drive, Suite 101
Durham, NH 03824

During the final selection process, the IOD may request the original
artwork for further consideration in some cases. The 13 finalists will
be asked to complete an Artwork Release Form
. Please be sure you are
able to comply with the terms of the release form prior to submitting.
The deadline for submissions is Friday, August 8th 2008. All artists
whose work is chosen for the 2009 Calendar will be contacted by August

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Opportunity: Submit art to new book for artists with autism

The creators of the book "Artism: Art by Those With Autism!" are seeking new, original artwork to include in the next book in this series titled "Artism Anew." The first book on Artism was the winner of the Global Book Publishing Award. (see article post)

The goal of this book, filled with color artwork by people with autism, is to transform the lives of the readers. The project is being spearheaded by Karen Simmons, the founder of Autism Today and the author of the books "Artism" and "Chicken Soup for the Soul: Children With Special Needs," and will be curated and co-authored by Debbie Hosseini.

Some of the artists who have already agreed to contribute include: Ping Lian Yeak, Jonathan Lerman, Seth Chwast, George Widener, Gregory Blackstock, Amanda LaMunyon, Marcy Deutsch, Temple Grandin and Donna Williams.

If you or someone you know with autism would like to be included in "Artism Anew," please visit www.artismtoday. com for more information. Artwork must be received by Aug. 15. There is no limit to the number of submissions.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Free Printable Classification Game

Free Printable Classification Game
by Jamie Sue
Free Printable Fun

Autistic children often struggle with classification. Knowing what things go together and understanding under what situations those items go together can often be challenging for autistic children. My son sometimes struggles with this. Recently a visitor named Missy contacted me via the Plugoo widget on this blog to request help in finding a printable that addressed classification.

I looked around, but to be honest, I couldn't find anything. If anyone knows of any good resources I'll be sure to list them. I think part of the problem was not knowing what to search for. I tried "category game" and "classification puzzle" and various combinations involving those words and I even broke down and searched for "things that go together" but I didn't come up with anything printable. I did find a nice board game similar to the one my speach therapist uses named (guess what?) Things That Go Together (looks like they couldn't figure out what to call it either) that was very reasonably priced. Considering how much laminating sheets are it might be worth it just to buy a copy of the game.

In the mean time, here is my version of a classification game:

Classification: things that go together puzzle in PowerPoint
Classification: things that go together puzzle in PDF
Classification: things that go tother classification puzzle high res original images for resizing at home .zip

Thanks to Jamie Sue for this wonderful article about Classification systems and creating fun game. Seems categories are not an easy topic and may be worth collecting more resources for. If you have any suggestions or links please feel free to pass on your information to us and others.

Jax Chachitz

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Ideas for travel games for families with an autistic child

I really enjoy the FREE Printable options from the Family Education Website. School's out and summer is here – it's the perfect time for a family vacation. Stop here...

Sometimes I read these passages and wish I could easily just pass it on as an activity for my child to work easily with. This is not so easy a task for kids on the spectrum it takes more work but is so worth every second!. Teach them the simple games, simple skills like these can help in playing games with other children as well as help with back and forth sharing skills. Besides I would rather keep my child's brain running as opposed to just sitting in a car seat staring out the window, not saying a word. Does that sound familiar. Dont sweat the big stuff, if he does not enjoy it, at least you tried and maybe several times are necessary before it sinks in. I also think having a piece of paper and marker in your bag can be a wonderful way to play a simple game to keep your child busy in a pinch. Take the time to teach these and yowill be glad you did.

Print out Family Educations booklet designed for two or more players. Games like Tic-Tac-Toe, Hangman, Dots, and others will keep your children happily entertained while traveling. Print your booklet or you can print your favorite individual games:
Dots to Boxes
Join Five

I also happened to recently see a game by Melissa and Doug called Hangman. It is a faulous wood board that has all the pieces attached via cords. Its simple and perfect way to challenge a child with a word game and not have to worry about pieces flying everywhere in a car. Brilliant.

jax chachitz

Monday, June 30, 2008

Printables to understand the July 4th holiday for kids on the spectrum

Free printables at Family Education has a host of printable options for July 4th. I think using printed materials are a great visual reference and really help kids with Autism get the idea of a holiday celebration. When concepts branch across several avenues then this helps to generalize concepts. Here are just a few that I think are appropriate. Besides printables celebrate by decorating cupcakes or making jello or ice pops, visit a low key event or join in a parade, dress up the kids with red white and blue and join in your local festivities. Happy 4th of July! (I tried to only have ones that were more creative and not just your typical flag.)

Fourth of July Word Search
Printable. Celebrate America's independence with this printable Fourth of July word search.

Patriotic Resist
Printable. Create wax resist works of art using paint and crayons.

Patriotic Hat
Printable. Children create a patriotic hat that will be sure to show off their American pride.

Egg Carton Uncle Sam
Printable. Create an Uncle Sam sculpture and recycle egg chttp://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gifartons at the same time!

Star Design
Printable. Create a picture using the stars and stripes as basic elements.

Mobile of people
Printable. Children can make a mobile of patriotic people by following the directions in this arts and crafts printable.

Patriotic Design
Printable. Everyone will enjoy this collage art activity.

Special Days
Printable. Employ a printable activity that helps build skills in recognizing names of U.S. holidays.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Teaching Children with Autism Categories, Free Card Games

Free Printable Categories Game
by Jamie Sue Austin
Blog: http://freeprintablefun.org/

Jamie Sue Austin has written a game for Categories of objects. Sometimes a difficult concept for kids on the spectrum to generalize.

Categorizing objects into groups (for example: a chair, a couch, and a bed are all furniture) can be difficult for children with autism. Understanding negatives (i.e. this is not food) can also be a struggle. I created category cards to practice these concepts. (If you have problems downloading the cards from that link try it here: http://www.mediafire.com/?isyzmt2hddt)

There are several ways to play:


Print the cards and cut them apart. Help the child sort the cards into categories.

Flash Card Games:

1. Place three of the four cards in a category in front of the child (i.e. three food items) show the child two more cards, the remaining category item (such as food) and a non-category item. Ask the child to pick the one that goes with the cards in front of them.

2. Place two cards in front of the child (i.e. an apple and a mouse) and ask the child to identify which card is not the other (which one is NOT the mouse?)

3. Place three cards in front of the child, two of which will be of the same category, the third one which is not (i. e. an apple, a sandwich, and a bed) ask the child to identify which item does not belong (which one is NOT food?)

Category Memory Game:

Place all the cards face down. Have to child flip over the cards one by one. Try to match categories.

While you are learning about categories Do2Learn has a nice little "what's different" game on thier site. :)

Paper Dolls for Autistic kids: Perfect for social activities, social skills and just plain old homemade fun!

Free Printable Paper Dolls
by Jamie Sue Austin
Blog: Free Printable Fun

Let's talk paper dolls. Paper dolls are a tradition as old as history itself. Since ancient times, many cultures have made paper representations of people, animals, and dwellings to serve as ritual or ceremonial items. The first paper dolls, as we now know them, were the playthings of 17th century high society. Paper dolls have been used as toys, advertisements, and educational tools for the better part of three centuries. The Original Paper Doll Artists Guild has a lot of great information about the history of paper dolls.

The Internet is teaming with free printable paper dolls. There are countless varieties from vintage styled printable paper dolls to paper dolls inspired by television and movie characters. Because printable paper dolls are so prolific online I'm just going to point out some of the more remarkable sites.

Anita's Paper Dolls: These free printable paper dolls are probably the coolest things in the galaxy. I do believe this paper doll artist peered into the deepest resources of my heart and said "You know, the world really DOES need Are You Being Served paper dolls." And then, just to make sure I was duly content the artist went a step further to make Red Dwarf and Star Trek paper dolls. OH THE JOY!!! These illustrations (color them yourself) are stunning. I'm really impressed by the artist's ability to render the various outfits worn by Mrs. Slocombe and by her inclusion of Mr. Humphrey's tingaling shorts. I am very sad that there are no Doctor Who dolls. :( I could spend endless hours coloring the various Doctors...

Marilee's Paper Dolls: Each and every wonderful printable paper doll resource one could imagine has been neatly compiled, sorted, organized, and reviewed by Ms. Marilee. If you can't find it on her site... it probably doesn't exist. What a printable paper doll aficionado! This is my favorite site for printable vintage paper dolls.

Making Friends Paper Dolls: These printable paper dolls are phenomenal educational tools for autistic children. In fact, my son's speech therapist uses dolls from this site. They are excellent for teaching gender, occupation, parts of the body, pronouns, illustrating social stories, discussing clothing, etc. These printable paper dolls can be used to teach a variety of lessons and will grow with your child as you teach more complex concepts. The best part of these dolls is that they are very much "blank slates" all dolls are gender nuetral until hair and clothing is added which makes them easy to use for special needs children. There are no tabs or slides to fuss with. Just cut and glue. OR for reusable paper dolls consider laminating and adding velcroe dots. This site goes beyond printable paper dolls into fun and engaging learning activities like the "Dress a Friend" game to how to create awesome educational toys like "Travel Friends" to making crafts and scrapbooking with your newly printed friend. I like this site so much as a learning aide that I think it deserves a link in the Links list :)

Edited To Add:

I've shorted a great printable paper doll illustrator. Gail's Dolls are beautifully illustrated, stunning likenesses of the people they represent. At first I passed this site over because it seemed to focus on US pop culture icons and I have limited interest in US pop culture. However, upon closer review, this site does deserve a recommendation. The collection of "Famous Americans" and "British Royalty" are a bit small, but they are wonderfully well done. I hope to see Gail increase her historical, political, and otherwise educational offers in the future. Paper dolls can do so much for making history come alive for young people. Gail also does custom work.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Yummy Coffee at the Autism Speaks walk for Autism

Yummy coffee is giving away FREE coffee at the Autism Speaks Walk in NYC on Sunday, June 22, 2008. Event kicks off at 10:30. Music and activities for kids are between 9 -1.

Yummy Coffee is artisan roasted fresh daily, by hand in small batches.

Every coffee is chosen for the unique qualities that it brings to a given blend. In addition, each coffee we use is recognized in some way for contributing toward a sustainable social, economic, agricultural, and environmental balance throughout production. Third party certification agencies have verified that the coffees in our blends are Fair Trade Certified, Certified Organic, Rainforest Alliance Certified, and / or Smithsonian Bird Friendly Certified.

100% of the profits generated after taxes are donated to various organizations that serve the autism community. We hope to build a sustainable product that can change the lives of children and all those touched by autism, one sip at a time.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Artists for Autism: Art to Cure Autism

by Jax Chachitz

Artists in relation to Autism. Creativity is endless when it comes to the passion artistic parents have for their children that also happen to see the world a little differently. A spotlight needs to shine also on those that dedicate their work to help to support their children. We all know that having a child on the spectrum leads to a huge financial burden. So I invite you all to share with, applaud and support the parents and families that would gladly trade their talents for an easier path for their children to follow. I know I would give up every ounce of creativity for my child to someday lead a typical life. We need to show some support for eachother! I will tell you first hand, artists do not have it easy! It is a very difficult business and hard way to make a living. Maybe we should spend a little less on outrageously priced therapy toys that feed into our guilt when a good hour of floortime and a cardboard box would suffice. So I invite you to collect art from the families of those on the spectrum and if you cannot afford to buy art - buy prints (it is such a reasonable solution for enjoying great artwork. I will continue to compile a listing of links so you can start collecting now!

Art To Cure Autism
Artist Hal Betzold

Here is a fabulous family that is so incredibly involved and dedicated to their son, his treatment, education and encouraging art for the Autism Community. Artist Hal Betzold and his wife Linda Betzold. They have also just finished organizing the Autism One Art Festival. Linda also works with Tacanow in Chicago and also just rallied at the Green our Vaccines rally. Talk about endless dedication! You will be touched by their story and moved by these lovely storybook pieces to add to your childrens room. Prices range from 50 to 150 dollars depending on the type of quality Giclee that you want. Beautiful pieces!

Jax Chachitz

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

ACHAMP.org - Pass it On, Green our Vaccines - Vote for CDC & NHO Transparency - Shed some light!

I normally try to keep politics separate but with the power of the internet - I think EVERYONE should write a letter to their politicians. If enough people speak up about doing what is the right thing to do, then maybe we can begin to move forward in the great debate about vaccines polluting our innocent children. Where is the data? Why isn't anyone analyzing the non vaccinated population versus the vaccinated. Are there kids that are not vaccinated that have Autism? They have the data, they just choose to continue with the same song and dance to sedate the public. We will get answers. Speak up for all the children - This is not their fault, it is ours - if we fail to get questions honestly answered by our elected officials.

Keep the Green Our Vaccines Momentum Going

Take Action!
Get Your Representative to Support Green Vaccines

Let’s keep the momentum of Jenny McCarthy’s and Jim Carrey’s Green Our Vaccines Rally going by getting your member of the House of Representatives to sign on as a sponsor of three excellent vaccine reform bills already in Congress.

Representatives Dave Weldon, MD, (Republican-Florida) and Carolyn Maloney (Democrat-New York) along with other thoughtful Representatives have sponsored three bills that move us toward greener vaccines.

Please send a message to your member of the House of Representatives and ask them to sign on as sponsors of the following crucial legislation. Insist that your representative sign on as a sponsor. These bills need solid, public support now, not a weak promise to vote in favor of it if the bill every makes it to the floor.

House Resolution 881, Mercury-Free Vaccine Act of 2007 would ban the use of mercury-containing vaccine in pregnant women and children younger than 6. It would ban the use of any vaccine with more than 1 microgram of mercury for the rest of the population.

House Resolution 1973, Vaccine Safety and Public Confidence Act of 2007, This bill would create a new agency completely separate form the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to evaluate the safety of vaccines. This would stop the fox from guarding the henhouse. Prospective employees who had worked for the CDC of vaccine manufacturers I the prior 5 years would be banned for working at the agency.

House Resolution 2832, Comprehensive Comparative Study of Vaccinated and Un-Vaccinated Populations Act of 2007, This bill would have the National Institute of Health do the obvious, but never performed, analysis of the health outcomes with vaccinated and un-vaccinated groups.

These three bills would make important steps to a vaccine policy that puts the safety and health of children first. But they will only happen with your active support. Please click on the link below which will take you to the A-CHAMP website where you can send an email to your Representative and get these bills moving.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Pretend with Charades: Great for kids with Autism

by Jax Chachitz
Blog: Creative Spectrum

I have finally found a great Charades Game! YAY! The game is called The Best of Charades for Kids by Pressman, for ages 4 and up. The game includes a board that is very simple, we really have just modified our method of playing it simply moving forward, since the concept of acting out words is complicated and attention span is critical. I find too many players acting things out actually makes the game last a long time. Pretending and understanding or somehow creating body language to express a concept, person, animal or object is not so easy. We also really just focus on my son acting out all the various words and are not so fixated on the back and forth game playing and trying to figure out other players actions. With other games it usually takes a little time to break down the basic game concept and eventually master it from beginning to end.

I am so pleased to finally have found a game that can help our kids pretend. The cards also have 3 levels that you pick via rolling a die, but we sometimes just stick to the simple option that also includes a fun simple illustration which is great for a visual learner. I have also seen other variations of this game that may be just as good. It seems there is also just a card deck available too. Happy Pretending!

Jax Chachitz

Teaching Children with Autism: Printables Can Help

By Jamie Sue Austin
Blog: Free Printable Fun

Autism is a neurological disorder that usually becomes apparent by age three. It typically causes delays in developing communication and social interaction skills. Autism currently affects 1 in 150 kids.

My son has Autism. He is an intelligent, energetic, and adventurous four year old boy. However, like most Autistic children he struggles with some basic language and speech concepts as well with understand social cause and effect. He is currently enrolled in speech therapy to help him improve his language skills. Teaching children with Autism requires a lot of repetitive instruction and learning materials that break complex social interactions or parts of language down into simple parts. Most of the resources that our speech therapist uses to teach my son come from specialized clearinghouses of special needs educational tools and are visual aides. Some can be prohibitively expensive for the average parent to purchase.

When my son had difficulty learning his prepositions I developed a printable based off of the resources his therapist was using. It worked very well. I began to incorporate other printables into our daily lives. I wrote a blog post about some of the printables I used and recieved a lot of positive feedback from parents.

Printables provide a wonderful free resource teaching children with Autism. Through my searches online I've found that there are free printables available to teach almost any concept. Some require only a small amount of modification and others require a great deal of creative thought. I use printables to teach speech and social concepts.

There are many times that I can't find the printable I want. Last year I wanted to teach my child what type of clothes to wear during what weather. We were struggling to keep him from walking outside in t-shirts during the winter! I couldn't find a printable that conveyed this lesson well. BUT, I did find an awesome picture of a little boy named Tommy at Learning Pages (free membership required). Tommy is the main character in "Tommy Tales", a free online book series available on the Learning Pages website. I used Tommy to create a folder game. My son and I spent time arranging weather conditions and clothing around and on Tommy until we had learned the concept. I encourage parents of Autistic children to create the printables they need when they can't find what they want. Or you can email me, and if I have time I'll create one for you. If you want a copy of my version of Tommy you can download it here, but keep in mind that I am most likely in severe copy write violation of the good people at Learning Pages. ****If you represent Learning Pages and would like this printable download removed just email me and I will do so.****

In this folder game I taught site words using clip art. We first started matching the pictures themselves. Then matching the words to the pictures. We ended with gluing the words under the correct pictures. Clip art is another great resource for making printables to teach any number of subjects. Good clip art (like the kind that comes from English as a second language websites like MES-English.com) can even be used as PECS. I've also used clip art to explain concepts like "Little" and "Big." I still have that printable if you need it you can download it here. The resolution wasn't very good on the clipart so of course the images are kind of fuzzy. But, it works just as well.

Printables are great for teaching children with autism conventional knowledge as well. My son and I just spent a whole day exploring frogs using printables we found online. When teaching about a subject I usually like to include a book, a craft, a puzzle or coloring page, and an activity. All of the information, ideas, and materials I needed to teach my son about frogs were available online and I managed to fill an entire rainy Saturday with froggy fun.

Don't underestimate the power of the humble printable in teaching children with Autism. Printables are a powerful tool for parents and educators. I will be creating and uploading more printables for teaching autistic children so book mark me.

Free Printable Emotions Game for kids with Autism from Free Printable Fun Blog

By Jamie Sue Austin
Blog: Free Printable Fun

Children with Autism often have difficulty recognizing and identifying emotions. They often miss the facial cues that other people rely on to gauge the moods of others. This printable emotions game is designed to help identify emotions on the faces of others.

How to use this game:
Print one copy of Emotions Bingo from either the PowerPoint or PDF file you downloaded. Cut out the blue circles on the last page. Call out the name of an emotion and challenge your child to place the blue circle in the correct spot. The child wins when either all of the emotions are covered or when three emotions in a row are covered (your choice.)

Other Uses:
Print one copy of emotions Bingo. Cut apart the game and use the squares as flash cards. Have the child draw various faces (happy, sad, disgusted) on the blue circles and match them with the flash cards.
Print one copy of Emotions Bingo. Cut apart the game and use the squares to play "memory." Place all the cards face down and have the children turn the cards over to find a matching pair of feelings (two sad people for example.) If the cards do not match turn them face down again. Continue until all cards are paired.

I would not consider this a beginning game for a child with Autism. I would suggest introducing emotions in the form of PECS first. This game serves to bridge between PECS and real life interpretation of emotions.

FYI: Images were obtained from Flikr under the Creative Commons, modify, adapt, build upon, and commercial licenses where ever possible. If an image belongs to and you would like it removed please contact me.


ABCTEACH: Has a nice collection of free printables for that would be useful in teaching emotions to autistic children available in several languages. My favorite flashcards on their site are here.

Austim-PPD.net: Has an active and wonderfully educational forum devoted to autism and PPD. Many great members work hard to provide each other with the resources they find. Here is a fabulous post giving links to emotion games and learning activities.

Edupics: Has some cute printable coloring pages focused on emotions. A lot of the pages have an Anime feel and would be suitable for a slightly older child.

Do2Learn: I can't say enough about Do2Learn and their AWESOME printables. But, have you checked out their games? The "Feelings Game" is an awesome companion to FreePrintableFun's Emotion Bingo and "Facial Expressions" is a great way for kids to learn how to identify a person's emotions.

This interesting printable from TeacherVision has children draw a face to match the feelings described in the sentence below. These flashcards from Happy Discipline are a quick print.

Enchanted Learning: Is a subscription site, but they do have nice printables. The printables are very well done, but I come across so many free printables that I haven't found justification for subscribing. However, if you are low on time this might be the one stop shop you've always dreamed of.

MES-English: Again, this site, which was originally design to teach English as a second language, shows how well designed their learning materials really are. They are perfect for teaching autistic children!

PictureSET: Actually, I couldn't find PECS for emotions on here, but I bet they are. There are SO MANY AWESOME visual aides that would work great for autistic children on this site, for free, that it's really unbelievable and deserves a special mention.

Thanks to Jamie Sue Austin for her wonderful blog called Free Printable Fun Blog

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Puzzles for kids on the spectrum

Free Printable Jigsaw Puzzles
by Jamie Sue Austin
Blog: freeprintablefun.org

Here are some additional resources for people looking for printable jigsaw puzzles. I created a few puzzles using Photoshop. Nothing fancy-- just generic kitten, puppy, pony, and landscape puzzles. Of course if anyone needs a specific printable jigsaw puzzle I'm glad to take a crack at it.

Download Printable Jigsaw Puzzles
from Jamie Sue Austin : freeprintablefun

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Autism One Art Festival in Chicago

The second annual Autism One Arts Festival in Chicago is running in conjunction with the conference Friday May 23rd to Sunday May 25th. The Art Festival is proud to present a wide variety of artists from painting to the performing arts. Its about life and passion and joy and celebrating the unique gifts our children bring to the world. I will have posters from my Autism Series for sale, titled I just want you to say mommy one time.

The festival also includes classes in music, acting and painting. Art can be the bridge to connect our children to the world. The Festival is free and open to the public. Here are also links to the various other artists showing and selling work. If you are in Chicago don't miss the event!

Trent Altman
Kaitren Beechey
Mark Rimland
Carly Hatton
Josh Peddle

A gallery that brings the work of a lot of different artists: Art on Main Gallery

Jax Chachitz

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Peek in on the progress of an artist working with special needs kids

I am thrilled to share the work created by 3 incredible kids working with one very talented artist, Joanna Whitney. Joanna is new to the challenges of kids with special needs. But she has been able to make a valuable connection and tap into the creative energy of these incredible children.

I think it is wonderful that she is objective when dealing with the various disabilities, ASD, Autism, Aspergers Syndrome and Mental Health Issues. Sometimes as a parent or therapist, when you know only one way of interacting it really limits your creativity. My philosophy is to have a broad perspective of the traits of the disability, be educated about the dynamics of the disability. Watch, listen, learn from those surrounding the child, there are obvious successful methods to get the kids to interact, we all know them via the countless therapies. Exposing kids to art and an artist forces the artist/teacher to be exposed to the dynamic of the disability and try to think about how to inspire and communicate artistically. The communication is what is tapped into and flows via body language and expression. I find my son, watches me when I paint with him, he really is incredibly observant about the nuances of what I do as an artist. As an artist/teacher it is important to always remember it is about the experience of creating, not about what the final product looks like. As adults, we tend to get too involved in the final outcome and the "rules". Creating art should be just about creating art and does not have to be about talking, being verbal, body language is a valuable tool for communicating your wants, needs and desires. Whatever way that needs to be expressed.
It is wonderful to see some of the works created so far by the children working with Joanna Whitney. The spontaneous ideas that are overflowing. Exciting! Please visit her ongoing journal of progress, she has some fabulous ideas and genuinely wishes to inspire others out there. I am looking forward to seeing more. Will keep you all posted. http://www.joannawhitney.com/files/sn.html

Jax Chachitz

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Project Spectrum: Amazing 3d Software for Children with Autism

Children with Autism Architect Their Ideas Using 3D Design Software

Here is an amazing FREE software product for kids with Autism. Check out the site but also visit the utube videos of the projects that kids have actually created. Phenomenal. What a wonderful tool for kids that are visual but unable to physically be able to draw as well. This software tool helps to bring to life ideas visually and make concepts easy to expand on.

"Project Spectrum was developed by the SketchUp Team at Google to help people with autism take advantage of their visual and spatial gifts.
The idea for Project Spectrum originated when we began getting phone calls and emails from users telling us about how much kids on the autism spectrum were enjoying SketchUp. As the calls kept coming in, we learned that people with autism tend to be visually and spatially gifted—that, in fact, they think in pictures. When people with these gifts get their hands on powerful, easy-to-use 3D design software like SketchUp, sparks tend to fly."
"Inspired by what we've learned, we've partnered with the Boulder, Colorado chapter of the Autism Society of America, the Boulder Valley School District, and the Life Long Learning Lab at University of Colorado to provide children with software and guidance that may help them to express an idea or even develop a life skill."

"SketchUp provides new ways for people with autism to articulate their thoughts. Here JP uses SketchUp to share his dream of becoming a filmmaker. See the video Meg's aquarium dream house is a great example of how SketchUp can enable someone to express the pictures in her head."

Try Google SketchUp - free 3D design software
Sign up for the Google for Educators Newsletter
Join our online community at the Project Spectrum Google Group
Learn to use SketchUp with Self Paced Tutorials
Download the Project Spectrum Manual of Lesson Plans

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Art lesson for children with Autism: Collage Stories

This will be an ongoing series of ideas for teaching art to kids on the Autism Spectrum. My goal is to tailor and customize solutions for teaching kids with Autism about art and creating art.

Create collages with paper. Use familiar images from childrens books.
The basic premise is to cut or rip small pieces of paper to create a collage of color like a mosaic.

Supplies needed: Scissors, Glue, Favorite Book, Old Magazines or Construction Paper.

When I was first introduced to this concept, we used newspaper. We took a classical image, projected and mapped out an outline onto a large piece of paper (about the size of a wall) and then collaged the gradations of color with only using black, gray and white. This was a great undertaking in terms of reproducing color into black and white and really seeing the values of color through limited color. I am not suggesting this as the final project for the little ones but as a variation.

You begin by finding a favorite character or book illustration. Place the page on a window and trace the outline onto a white piece of paper. Or trace the outline anyway possible, even share this as part of the process, as outlining is a good skill to have. You begin by cutting or ripping the small to medium pieces of a paper in various colors represented in the story. You may want to stick to simple graphic like images for an easier activity. Share in ripping, cutting and glueing the various pieces into the outlines. Your child will enjoy representing the various sections. You can even expand the concept and use magazine pictures for silly noses, eyes, body parts. The important thing is to have fun. Always remember these projects are about learning to use tools for expression, visually representing images with color and shapes, and most of all enjoying the experience of creating.

There are many famous artists that use collage as an art form. Utilizing scraps of paper, magazine cut outs of what exists visually is a great way to incorporate instant color, images to create stories and encourage spontaneous ideas with simple tools. You can even embellish objects, similar to decoupage and decorate crafts. Another trick for getting that exact image you are looking for, the google image search tool or online clip art.

Jax Chachitz

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Art lessons for children with Autism: Color Mixing

This will be an ongoing series of ideas for teaching art to kids on the Autism Spectrum. My goal is to tailor and customize solutions for teaching kids with Autism about art and creating art.

Colors and Color mixing. Primary colors produce secondary colors

Supplies needed: The primary colors (red/yellow/blue) can either be playdoh or paint. The book to use is called Mouse Paint by Ellen Stoll Walsh. I suggest taking the book and reproducing or drawing the black and white pictures to help the visual learner participate and actually physically produce the colors. For play doh use the paper underneath the play doh and fill in the figures with the playdoh or clay.

Red, yellow and blue are primary colors and mixing these colors together produce the secondary colors, Purple, Orange and Green. I have found that giving the colors in either paint or playdoh helps the child to physically see and create the secondary colors of green, purple and orange.

You begin by reading the clever story of three white mice as they venture into paint and learn about the colors. Acting out the actions of the three mice of mixing and stirring with paint in cups or on the paper. For the playdoh version, create little mice out of the clay and when you mix (smush) the colors red and yellow together - it will actually produce the color orange. Your help will be necessary to really mix the colors well.

I have found that this lovely story combined with acting and participation has helped to teach mixing and creating colors.

Other ideas to extend play: Depending on level of student you could extend color concept to matching mouse colors with pecs cards, creating flashcards, or writing and coloring/shading letters.

I strongly suggest to keep the project simple with not too much academic activity. Art is about creativity and expression, most of all have fun creating and get messy with color!

Other Sources:
Printable color mouses and various links to extending project. Color charts, flashcards, coloring letters. Depends on student level. I find somtimes less is more. May be too stimulating to extend project visually.

Jax Chachitz

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Art Play Project: Social play, creating stories with playdoh

I have decided to experiment with incorporating social stories into art projects. You can view some information from various websites like, what are social stories by Carol Gray. You can view her website The Gray Center with links to purchase products. But you can also find a few free samples stories to play with. I have not ventured into using the concept of the social story to create a social dynamic to reference but to enhance speech that is appropriate for social interaction. Hope this makes sense to you all! Book image above is from musickit.com, the original book I have was a song by tom Glazer and Illustrations by Rob Barber, Goodyear Books, Harper Collins Publisher.

For example:
Art Play Project: Playdoh and the book "On Top of Spaghetti"
We begin by making spaghetti, meatballs and cheese with the clay and create the props to act out the story/song for "On Top of Spaghetti" song book. After and during the project I write a simple story, that we read together to document the activity. I was thinking of also taking photos for visual reference. Here is a simple story.

"My name is -------. I am playing with Playdoh with my mommy. I like playdoh. My favorite color is -------. We are reading the book on top of spaghetti. I am making spaghetti with the spaghetti maker. We push and push and push the red playdoh in the maker . Help me. We made spaghetti. Yeah. "

I am finding that incorporating stories has helped to encourage familiar speech, fill in the blanks, and expanding spontaneous appropriate phrases. I have to purchase a simple photo printer for on the spot printing of images. Will post more when this happens as I think the visual cue will be an interesting dynamic to retell the story and add more to the story as we progress.
There seems to be a real lack of toys that can simulate these types of interactions for practicing fluid spontaneous back and forth speech. Any ideas or suggestions out there?
I also have found a link to a boyscout page that has the classic song. On Top of Spaghetti.

jax chachitz

Resources for Teaching Children with Autism

I am trying to create a list of links of helpful and/or free websites. If your child has been diagnosed with a developmental delay and you have tried to find teaching materials, then you have more than likely experienced "sticker shock" For some reason the makers of toys and learning materials for children with developmental delays have to make more money than the rest of us for their labors. True, they provide a great service and thank god we do have access to the multitude of toys out there but . . . DO THE TOYS HAVE TO COST THAT MUCH! There is a point where pricing is becoming somewhat sketchy. Same goes for all those GFCF food products out there! Fortunately, there are some wonderful folks who have put their hearts ahead of their bank accounts and provided some free stuff for parents and teachers of children with autism and developmental delays.

The following links will take you to some wonderful web sites. Many are run by parents with children with Autism. Be sure to check out the free downloads, pictures, ideas, and more. If you know of any other web sites that have helped you, please email me at: jax@atelierjax.com. Enjoy:

Links I have reviewed: I will gradually try to add to this list. I also want to thank msn group for some of these website suggestions. I am pulling from various resources.

Hiyah - Written by a mother with 2 boys with Autism. "My name is Sara. I have 2 boys who both showed an interest in the computer, but didn't know how to use the mouse or keyboard. Since there was nothing on the market to meet their needs, I developed a series of educational computer software programs that they could operate on their own by simply pressing the spacebar. I am making these programs available at no charge to any parent or teacher who thinks they may be able to use them.

JAMBAV - Jambav uses its expertise in software to make a difference in the lives of children of all ages and all abilites. Check out the parent blog and especially ToonDoo, their cool new online comic strip creator. Create your own comic stips, publish, share and discuss!

STARFALL - You are gonna love this site and so will your child! Start with the A-B-C's and move to reading simple stories, like Zac the Rat. The graphics and sounds will keep most kids attention for a long time!

CHILDREN WITH CHALLENGES - Prewriting Activities, Fine Motor Skills, Cutting activities, Cheap do it yourself activity suggestions. Free, printable practice pages for tracing, copying letters, and more. Don't stop at this page. Go to the main page for some excellent suggestions for teaching children many fine-motor skills.

Accentuate the Positive - Not a toy or an activity but spread your appreciation!

Thomas the Tank Engine and Autism - "Thomas often serves as a 'gateway to learning' for children with ASD. The interest in Thomas provides children with the motivation and interest to try new things." This web site has some great ideas for using Thomas to help kids with autism learn. It has many great pictures of Thomas' facial expressions that can be used to teach emotions.

Funbrain.com - Many on-line learning and fun games for kids of all ages and grades.

Facial Expressions Game - An interesting resource "game" from DoToLearn. A computer generated facial expression simulator. Weird, but interesting with the nuances of facial expressions.

Beyond Autism Pecs Pictures/Icons Pages - The best collection of PECS pictures, links to all kinds of pictures, and sage advice from a parent who's "been there, done that." You're gonna love this page and amazing source of information and links!

Kids Fonts - Download fonts to create dot-to-dot letters so your child can print, begin cursive writing, or color his/her own name. They offer do-it-yourself supplies for teaching young children
to recognize and write their alphabet and numbers.

Superkids - Educational Software Review - For playing music, music - c scale, travel back in time, create your own math and vocabulary worksheets, play on-line games, and so much more!

Riley and Drew's Thomas The Tank Engine Site: Check out the coloring pages and characters at Thomas The Tank Engine Site.

Facial Expressions of Emotion - An interactive figure allows your child to make a face, guess the emotion, and then click to see if he is correct. Directions: Single click on a set of eyes and a mouth. Then single click on the Done button to check your emotion. If not successful, you will be encouraged to "try again." Very cool for kids who are struggling with recognizing facial expressions.

BillyBear4Kids.com - Print & Play Worksheet Games - Three skill levels. Print out practice sheets for alphabet, numbers, (dot-to-dot), writing, math, social studies, fun, and much more. Worth checking it out.

DoToLearn - Free picture cards, schedules, and tips for visual learners. Also includes products you can purchase. A great resource!

Thomas the Tank Engine Get the latest news on Thomas and the Magic Railroad and much more. Includes brief movies, many wonderful learning and fun games, simple activities, and great animations.

http://www.frontiernet.net/~imaging/train_set.html. Build and Run a Train Set Train Set for the Jet Set by Paul Flavin. A pretty cool toy train set that you can build, run, and control with your mouse. Make it run fast or slow. For the comuter and mathematical savvy.

KinderArt - KinderArt Coloring Pages are free, printable coloring sheets for children.

BrainCandy - Get Connected - A puzzle game in which you rearrange the wires to get everyone connected to the Internet. A challenging game. Requires great puzzle-solving ability, patience, and good mouse skills.

OZMO - Fun Toys and Interesting Stuff - Created by parents of an adult with autism and OCD to encourage easy, safe, wonderful fun with toys, posters, books, novelties, puzzles, jokes and other interesting stuff.

jax chachitz - artist - www.atelierjax.com