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 c 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

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:

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 - 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 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. 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