Friday, August 24, 2012

Random Guy Apps

Random Guy and I had a deal at the beginning of summer. He is 10 and refused to go to summer school as I related in this post about summer homeschooling.
He could earn an iPad if he did his lessons, behaved well and did what was asked of him; this included attending Yoga Calm and some therapy sessions at the Autism Society.  He earned all his stars on his chart and even had an extra strike that he didn't use. I ordered it for him last week, (along with an Otterbox Defender case) and it arrived.
Now the fun part! I have been scoping out apps for my Random Guy and found all kinds of cool ones. The starred ones are already loaded. The other ones we will get around to installing soon. All apps are the usual 99 cents to $4.99 unless otherwise noted.

Social apps

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*Autism: 5 Point Scale- Free from the Autism Society of Minnesota. A color coded scale to rate how you are feeling to get a handle on emotions before they get out of hand.  Customizable, but I haven't gotten around to that yet.

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Phrase Wit:  Quizzes or scroll alphabetically to learn those tricky idioms in a fun way.

Educational apps

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*Khan Academy: Free, the world's most popular education website has an app.

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Bike Baron: A motorcycle stunt game using a physics generator to control the outcome from your input.

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Catapult King: a great 3-D style catapult game, putting you right behind the catapult. Reported to be a great stress reliever too.

Fun apps

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*Lego Instructions: Written by fans of Legos. It has instructions to construct 233 different Lego items, includes Lego City and Star Wars themes as well as many others.

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*Angry Birds Space HD: Eliminate the pigs using your space catapult. You get the Mighty Eagle for free in this one.

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*Annoying Orange: Yes, it is annoying and older kids think it is hilarious. Even SensiGirl likes it.

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Fruit Ninja: Similar to speed slice on our Wii Sports Resort game.

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Ninja Fishing: like fruit ninja but with fish, (you can see the guts of the fish once it has been cut, may be kind of gross.)

Relaxing apps

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Minecraft Pocket Edtion: 6.99- the classic building app.

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*Dr. Who: Free, a platform for buying comics by Comixology, much like MeeGenius. Most comics cost 1.99 to 3.99. They give you two free ones to start out.

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Drift Away - guide the bubble through the environments. Some logic thinking involved, a shoot them up version is included.

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Zen Bound 2 - paint the figures by wrapping the rope around them.

With all those comics to upload and apps to buy, I can see Random Guy looking for things to do around the house to earn money for them. He is already offering to take care of the recycling and help with the dishes. I can't wait.

Commonsense Media
Apple itunes

Monday, August 20, 2012

Back to School: Getting to Know You Letters

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I have a letter that I edit and adapt for each of my children for their new teachers when they start a new grade. I have talked about it here: that's-what-happens
This year, SensiGirl has the same teacher as last year. WunderTeacher gets it. She is very intrigued by Sensi's various skills and is a pro at handling difficult behaviors. She plans and thinks ahead, so luckily our collaboration on SensiGirl's Getting to Know You letter for ESY makes writing a new one unnecessary. I do need to update her IEP since she participated in AIT therapy this summer and she will need her hearing protected during fire drills and keep listening headphones off for at least 6 months.
We have to make sure to attend the Open House for Random Guy. I send his father, the Atomic Punk, along since I don't do crowds very well and he doesn't seem to mind too much. That way he and the teacher get to meet, since they usually won't see each other again during the school year due to Atomic Punk's work schedule. It's helpful that they meet him so that when I refer to similarities between Random Guy and his father that they have seen the grown up version and can make connections about where things are going in Random's development.
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Random Guy is going to be getting a full update for his letter as there have been quite a few changes for him this last year. He is still having trouble socially and will need some help with navigating the 5th grade social scene. We have cemented most of his basic math facts this summer, but he still has trouble with the spiraling and looping that is Everyday Math. I have more work to do to change his math curriculum in his IEP. Luckily at his school I have allies in both the school social worker and the principal.
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The letter goes something like this:

                        Getting to Know Random Guy
I just wanted to share some information about Random Guy with you. He started wearing glasses for nearsightedness this summer. He prefers to be called Randy now rather than Random. R. is a great builder and has a wonderful visual memory.  He is interested in American History, Geography and Social Studies, (he’s really good with dates.) R. does well with spelling and is very proud of learning to cursive write. He loves all kinds of Legos themes, Pokemon and Dr. Who. He is a fan of the Wimpy Kid Books and of the Avengers.
He may not look at you or make eye contact while you are talking, but he is usually listening.  It sometimes is easier for him to concentrate when he isn’t looking directly at the speaker. He doesn’t like those unfamiliar to him to touch him or get in his space. We have found that he does better with getting to class on time if he has a locker or coat hook at the end of the row, otherwise he stands back and waits and waits for the others to finish up.
He has an IEP with the disability label of autism, please read it if you can.  In it there is a testing adaptation, R. is supposed to sit apart from the other children when he takes tests. R. likes to know the daily routine and will most likely memorize it. It helps if it is written somewhere he can refer to at first.  R. doesn’t like to be singled out for discipline in front of the class, he would prefer that you take him aside and talk to him privately or at least quietly.  He also has some trouble with reading facial expressions or understanding when someone is being mean to him right away, and sometimes has trouble with bullies because of that.
He will not report a bullying incident immediately, but will tell me or his father later that day, or the next day. If you see Random upset, this may be the reason.
 Please contact me if you need any other insights or information about Random.

Savvy Advocate Mom
h. 523-0966
c. 432-8605
So that is the gist of it. Let them know the good things, warn them about the things that might be issues in school and make sure they know that you are aware of them needing to read the IEP. I also usually call a meeting in October to make sure that any problems are ironed out early.  Good luck with your own "Getting to Know" letter. They are a tremendous help. 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

What Happened? Confrontations

We were at Theraplay the other day, and Random Guy and I were waiting for SensiGirl while she was with her therapist. There was a new woman with her son and they were confrontational with my Fancy Friend about her older son being in Random Guy's space. I just asked Random Guy if he would like to move, and left us out of it.
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We finally got over that uncomfortable situation and while I am listening to Ms. Jen tell me about Sensi's session I see Random Guy and the woman's younger son come charging in the wait area from outside. "Mom he hit me" says the younger son. "No he's a liar, I didn't hit him" says my boy.  Back and forth with the two boys to the new mom and myself. I was becoming addled by all the input. I asked Random Guy to quiet down so I could hear the other boy's side. He said Random Guy had hit him. This is not something that happens unprovoked.
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Every time I have been told that Random Guy has hit someone it has turned out that the other child was provoking him by taunting him or touching him.  I need to remember that, but it seems with boys that they are always tangling with one another and playing too rough. I am so not used to that growing up with a sister. So I tend to lend credence to the report that Random Guy hit someone because he has hit SensiGirl when he gets over the top. He plays too rough and sometimes someone gets hurt.
He is getting to big and old to do that, but I usually can protect Sensi and myself from his angry outbursts. He is also getting to an age where he needs to understand that you say you are sorry, especially to strangers to keep a situation from getting out of hand. If I had not told the new mom how sorry I was, I could see her getting all up in my face about the situation. Especially with how confrontational she was with my Fancy Friend earlier.
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In the end, we both apologized to each other. Random Guy was frustrated that I did that. He was visibly upset on the way home and then when we got out of the car, R.G. decided to grab his sister and start pushing and pulling her around. SensiGirl was oblivious to what had occurred earlier and was very upset and confused to be treated that way by her brother. I took SensiGirl in my arms and lead her up the front steps. R.G. started screaming and hitting himself in frustration while I was trying to open up the door and give us all some space from each other. As soon as I opened the door, Random Guy picked up his sister and shoved her through the doorway and ran upstairs.
I am glad we started some therapy for him at the Autism Society this week, we are going to have a lot to talk about at his next appointment. Now until then we just have to remember to breathe.
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Monday, August 13, 2012

AIT Berard Ear Training: Week Two

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The week started pretty uneventfully. SensiGirl has been constipated, probably due to not having much of an appetite. Aside from that, things were okay. Monday night, she got herself ready for bed early and was asleep on the early side.
Sensi didn't eat her lunch and then went to the park with her Tutor Tuesday afternoon. She did a lot of screaming about not getting what she wanted. She screamed about being told to cool it with the fruit roll ups. She also screamed about being told to leave the tennis courts at the park after she had wandered in during a game. She did eat most of her dinner, but was still constipated.
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Wednesday she woke up reluctantly, and didn't eat any breakfast. Sensi was crabby getting out of the car at the therapy center, and screamed a bit during her session. She continued on the screaming and/or crying on and off for the rest of the day. She didn't want to finish her listening session, but she did with some encouragement.  She was hungry when she got home and ate quite a bit of cereal. Pretty much all she ate that day was Cheerios, pickles and turkey pepperoni minis, with a couple of celery sticks thrown in.
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Thursday, still not hungry and still constipated. We tried our usual last resort remedy and had some success. When we returned home in the morning, her father had eaten her toast. I told her to tell him" You ate my toast, Daddy." She turned around and looked at him and gave him the stink-eye while telling him," Daddy, you ate my toast." Not spontaneous but not exactly echolalia either. SensiGirl was in a great mood all day; she sang for most of the day. It was like having Ethel Merman in the house. She is singing her songs like she is on Broadway.  She did great going to the library and with her Tutor time. Her constipation finally resolved itself. Overall, she had a pretty great day.

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Friday was the last day. We had an extra early session that day so it was hard to get her up and going. She insisted on having her favorite CD on during the drive and to have the window open so she had the breeze on her in the back seat. Usually we have the AC on especially this summer, but it was a cool morning. She is able to work out the lyrics to her songs better as we drove. She also spent much of her session writing nonsense words with the therapist.  She did seem a bit unsteady on her feet after the last session, but by the time we walked down the hallway, she was fine. She was pretty happy and content the whole day. She is still sensitive to the sound of the mailbox, and still pauses when she steps out the front door. She has stopped screaming at the word "no" for the most part.
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She still did do some screaming on Saturday, mostly due to her frustration with her dad and brother. One nice thing is she came outside after I mowed the yard and sat down with me and just hung out in the tea house under the ceiling fan. We talked a little and she asked for some grapes from the vine. It was all very charming.  She was up in the middle of the night Saturday, having one of her SensiGirl bounce and sing parties. She was up at 4:30 and I don't know if she fell back to sleep at all. On Sunday morning her daddy went into her room and said "Good Morning" she looked right at him and said "Good Morning Daddy" right back at him. She ended up floppy, tired and sad in the afternoon so I put her in her bed. She took a nap for the first time in almost 5 years.
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She is slowly interacting with us a bit more each day. Little tiny baby steps, but when you look back a week or a month, things are going in the right direction for her. I won't know how this will all play out. Most changes are supposed to take place in the next weeks or months. I will keep updating about her progress.


Monday, August 6, 2012

AIT, Berard Ear Training: Week One

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We started SensiGirl's AIT listening training. It has been eventful from the get go. Sensi was okay with wearing the headphones, since she had done other listening therapy in the past. Everything started well, at around the 20 minute mark she started screaming and took the headphones off and refused to put them back on. There were many screaming refusals and we finally gave up after about 5 long minutes of trying to convince her that  she needed to complete the session.
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Our listening therapist gave me a social story to read to SensiGirl about some of the possible effects of the therapy. They had explained to me before we started the therapy that there might be some regressions in toileting and behavior otherwise. What I didn't expect was the Sensi party in the wee hours of the morning. She was up singing and bouncing at 4:30 and I think stayed up until I arose at 7:30. I can't be sure though because I think I fell back asleep around 6:00. We completed the second day; saying that she would be extra sensitive is a bit of an understatement. She plugged her ears at the TV, at the sound of the mailbox clanging open and shut and the squeak in the door. She was also extra bouncy and silly and spent some time just screaming because she could.
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The third day, Wednesday, was tough. She was compliant enough about wearing the headphones and listening, but she was having trouble with transitions. It didn't help that we had a few extra since her brother went to his auntie's for fun and games. She also wouldn't leave the building after her afternoon session. She kept telling me "A boat, a train!" I finally made the connection that she felt sort of seasick. So I picked her up off the floor, put her in the car and headed across town to pick up Random Guy from his visit at his auntie's house. There has been a lot of screaming but when I asked her if she felt scared or sad or sick she could answer me. She said she felt sick. That is a huge step.
Then on Thursday we had no trouble with listening or feeling sick, she was popping out 5 and 6 word sentences here and there and playing hand clapping games with her brother. The down side to the day was the gigantic melt down at bed time with flopping on the floor and kicking and screaming. She was mad that she didn't get to finish watching the Angelina Ballerina special she picked for her Netflix turn. She eventually settled down but we had to compromise on nightclothes. She kept her dress on from the day and she let me put on her p.j. pants. She went to bed singing sad melodies; eventually she cheered up and went to sleep.
Friday, we made it through the last sessions of the week. I have noticed she was tired and a bit crabby, well a lot crabby. When we picked her daddy up at the airport she said "Hi Daddy," in response to his greeting. She usually has to be prompted. She fell asleep at her usual time.
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Over the weekend, the Atomic Punk (DH) noticed she is speaking more, and is more apt to answer questions now. She did request to be spun in the office chair for a good half hour on Saturday. She still plugs her ears at certain songs and sounds, but she is talking more about her feelings, she said she felt fidgety.
Sunday morning she slept in, which she will do from time to time. She was much more interactive with us. She had more to say about what she watched on TV and what she was drawing. In general she was sharing her thoughts with us more.
We have one more week to go. I will write the next update after next week is over. If you have had an experience with AIT listening therapy, it would be interesting to hear how things went for you.