Tag Archives: Autism Spectrum Disorder

The Beginning… My Beginning

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The Beginning… My Beginning

It’s only fair that I explain how Annie from Gradeschool Brains became a teacher and why she started a blog.

Working with students with Autism is what I know I have been called to do! Some days are better than others. Some days, I can’t wait to research strategies and interventions I can use with my little ones. I go nuts creating multiple projects on donorschoose.org so that I can receive the materials that will enable me to better teach them. Some days, I spend hours choosing the right book or worksheet or activity to expand on the topic for the day. Some days, I can’t believe I’ve reached my dream of educating these fascinating, unique and mysterious students! …Other days, however, I wonder if I should change careers! It’s a fulfilling field but it is also quite tiring and draining. I go home and crash!

So how exactly did I end up here?

It all started with one single video in an education class in college. I had just changed majors from Architecture to… undecided? Yeah, I wasn’t exactly sure what to do from there. Education was sort of my go to option since I had been volunteering as a Sunday School teacher for my church for many years. I figured I had some experience and it was something that I liked and that came naturally. But I still wasn’t sure what field of education to pursue. Then my professor from my “Teaching Multicultural Students” class showed a video I will never forget. THE video that changed my life for the better and led me to my calling in life. I still don’t remember what the video was called. It was the story of the family of a child who was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. The parents spent a great deal of time and resources trying to get as many therapies as possible for their son- their first born. In the video, they expressed their frustrations and fears. They conveyed their challenges and joys. And just when they were coming to terms with the condition, they gave birth to twin boys who are also diagnosed with Autism/Developmental Delay before the age of 2. Yep! Not one, not two, but three children with Autism! They spent their life savings, they gave up other dreams, they dove into making life better and education more accessible for their sons. One of the many therapies that they were funding for their children was Applied Behavior Analysis. I was sold!!! From that day on, I looked up everything there was to know about Autism and Applied Behavior Analysis with gazelle intensity. Seven years of college, two Bachelor’s degrees and a Master’s later, I am in the field I envisioned my entire adult life.

But why exactly am I in the field?

Resources, resources, resources! The parents in the video lacked the resources necessary initially to help their little ones. As a special education teacher, not only do I get the opportunity to work first-hand with individuals with autism, but I also get to work with the families. I get to guide them and point them in the right direction. I get to provide support and hope that everything WILL be okay. That very part of my job is what makes my calling so enjoyable! And the reason why I am still around. My life’s work will always be providing resources and hope to families. For this very reason, I also started the Gradeschool Brains blog. I want to reach out to families and educators everywhere. Networking can often be the best resource, and is also free of charge!

Are you also beautifully entangled in the field of autism? How exactly did you end up here? What is YOUR beginning? Share in the comments below.

Parent to Parent of Miami, Inc.

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Parent to Parent of Miami, Inc.

Parent to Parent of Miami, Inc.

Supporting families for over 25 years

Supporting families for over 25 years

Advocacy is an essential component to leading your child to success! The following post will help you understand what advocacy is and how you can get started. 

According to dictionary.com, advocacy is “the act of pleading for, supporting, or recommending”. In your case, you are advocating for your child- and so are we! In the years to come, you will learn many ways in which you can become an active influence in your child’s life and academic endeavors. I truly believe that the first step toward that is through advocating for your child. Ultimately you are an expert in your child. You, better than anyone, knows his skills, abilities, strengths and needs. This knowledge will become an excellent conduct to leading your child to success and to challenge him in a way that will bring him closer to the goals you and those in his team have prepared for him.

Parent to Parent of Miami, Inc. is an organization created and guided by parents like you. The idea was to aid families of students with disabilities with the process of obtaining services needed and understanding the educational system which can be very confusing at times. Need help with IEP and SPED jargon? Don’t just google it on your own! Parent to Parent of Miami, Inc. can help with that. In fact, more than 25 years later, parents all over the county are still receiving the information they need to become their child’s number one advocate. Their website contains a great deal of information including resources, workshops, training and motivational stories about other families and how they learned to advocate for their children.

Get acquainted with their website (which has been hyperlinked to the featured image at the top of this post) and read up on some of the free information they have available and you will feel better equipped to advocate for your child!

Note:

Since I am located in sunny South Florida this post is mostly about Parent to Parent of Miami, Inc. If you are from another state and would like information about a Parent to Parent organization in your area, click on the picture below and you will find the link to Parent to Parent USA which can better guide you to an advocacy support system in your area. Happy researching!

P2P USA

P2P USA

Starabella Trailer

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Starabella Trailer

Here’s a great resource to add to your library!

This video provides a preview to the Starabella series. Starabella is a series of books for children between the preschool years and second grade. It is a series about autism and acceptance. This is a great addition to your library as you search to explain Autism Spectrum Disorders to your child or teach her about accepting others who may be different.

Also, these series are based on the real life of a young girl growing up with autism who used music to overcome her anxieties and fears. The series were created by a family involved in caring for the girl who is now a successful woman.

I’m looking forward to reading these myself and adding them to our classroom library! If you would like to know more about the family who put this series together here is a link to aid you in your quest.

Meet the Fialco family