Autism Awareness 2016

April is a special month to me. It is Autism Awareness month.

It is a time set aside to  promote awareness of Autism; what it is, what can be done to help people diagnosed with it and to educate the public and raise money to help with research as well as advocating for the those individuals on the Autism Spectrum.

... is it important to me?

I am a sister of a person with Autism!

I have been a special education teacher for many years.

when we grew up together.

 There wasn't a name for how different my sister was. or why she was the way she was. As her little sister, it was often difficult to understand why she was different.

 She was "special".  She walked with an odd gait, she spoke in a loud voice,  all the time, it seemed to me, and she would sit on the floor, rocking back and forth for long periods of time.  She was always the kid who stood out, standing alone a lot at school and church, not knowing what to do in social situations. She struggled every day in school and didn't understand why other kids ridiculed her, calling her retard and many, more names.

Growing up, I watched her struggle to make friends. She stood out in a crowd. She was ridiculed by her peers and yes, this little sister was embarrassed from time to time at the things she would do.
You see, there were NO services back then for people with Autism. There was barely recognition of what it was in everyday living.

Specialists told our parents, put her in an institution. That will be the best for her.  Thank goodness, my parents refused; believing they could help her best at home. They worked with her to ensure she would become the best she could. And in my opinion, they succeeded!

I thank my lucky stars

that there is more awareness of the Autism Spectrum out in the world today. There are more services today to help people with Autism integrate into the world the best they can. 
You see... now I am not just her sister; I am her caregiver too.  It took me until I was an adult to really appreciate her unique qualities and all of her strengths, but she ignited in me a passion to discover why she was the way she was. She sparked my LOVE for special education. She kept me studying and working diligently to discover ways to help her.

In addition to two awesome parents and supportive extended family, there were people along the way that did understand and accept her. There were some very special people along the way that accepted her; special teachers, friends of the family and people at church.
Today she lives on her own with her husband, also with disabilities, They receive services in daily living skills, grocery shopping as well as social skills. She enjoys being supportive of  her husband and living on her own. You see - her life long dream was to be independent and SHE IS! 

In honor of Autism Awareness I am joining some other Special Education bloggers for a big giveaway.
Enter the giveaway and you could win 7 products all printed and laminated, mailed direct to you ready for use in your classroom.
From my TPT store you will get my Autism Visual Flip Book. 

The Autism Visual Strategy Flipbook is a  customizable flip book with multiple pages that you can use for one student's schedules the routines needed for your classroom and attach the schedule pieces to the book pages.
This Product features:
*a title page with a picture placeholder to personalize the book for each child.
*5 tabbed blank pages for you to personalize with included schedule pieces.
*45 schedule pictures included for arriving at school, classroom morning routines, dismissal routines, lunch steps and bathroom picture cues.
*Customizable tabs for you to enter your own schedule names or use the pre-made labels on the 

last page.

This offer will only be mailed within the United States. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway Image Map

4 Steps to GREAT Measurable GOALS

Special Educators - a breed all our own. There is nothing better than being a teacher of individuals with specials needs. As special educators, we are tasked with working with students with mild, moderate and severe disabilities. We teach all types of  skills; whether its academic skills, life skills or behavioral and start at whatever level the students come to us.

At the heart of everything in the world of teaching special education besides the students, is the Individual Educational Plan or IEP for short.Some district and schools  do IEPs all through the year  as  I did whenever the child had been placed in special education classes. Other  have one specified time of the year (end of the year, or beginning) that you get them all done,   - How do we make our jobs easier? The IEP presents the student present level of functioning, state the goals of where we want them to be at the end of the IEP whether thats a grading period or a school year.

As the school years begin to wind up soon,  many teachers will be involved in reevaluating and assessing student progress,  and updating and reviewing those IEPs and writing new ones for next year. 
Lets take a few moments to reexamine goals and IEPs. Here are a few reminders about making great measurable goals. 
1. Writing good goals depends on having a good Present Level of Performance (PLOP).
All measurable goals should be based on where the student is functioning at the time the IEP is written. This is the foundation on which the IEP should be written. 
Present levels should "paint" a picture of that particular student. Can someone else read this and start teaching from what I have written about this child? 

2. Write a clear description in each academic subject, functional area or domain goal.  
Be specific about what you want to the student to be able to do when this goal is mastered. Be sure to include 
WHAT What do you want accomplished (count to 5, read 5 sight words, sit in assigned area)? WHEN When do you want it finished: what time frame? by the end of school year, grading period, by the next meeting of the IEP team?WHERE Where will this take place?  Include the setting, classroom, lunchroom, at P.E. Are there any specific conditions that need to be put in place? Do they need to be with others or work alone to complete the goal?

3. Each goal should be measurable. It should be able to be counted, recorded and observable. This student will be better at math or do the next grade level of math is too generic. Will the student be able to do it 5 times in a row or 4 times out of 5 or 80% of the time? 

4. Make the goals in small enough chunks that it can be achieved for each particular student. All IEPs will NOT look the same with the same goals for your class.  Make the goal relate to the information you put in the present level. Make sure it attainable.

No matter when you do your IEPs, don't forget. keep them doable, measureable and clearly written.
Thanks for joining me today for this quick review of measurable goals.

Take care!