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Homeschool Conventions, Autistic Children, Visual Dictionary Online

By Heather Idoni

Added Friday, April 18, 2008

The Homeschooler's Notebook
Encouragement and Advice for Homeschool Families
Vol. 9 No 31 April 18, 2008
ISSN: 1536-2035
Copyright (c) 2008 - Heather Idoni, FamilyClassroom.net

Welcome to the Homeschooler's Notebook!

If you like this newsletter, please recommend it to a friend!
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Notes from Heather
-- Convention Tips Revisited
Helpful Tip
-- Fun with Window Markers!
Winning Website
-- Visual Dictionary Online
Reader Question
-- Autism: Tips and Tricks?
Additional Notes
-- Searchable Archive
-- Our Email Group
-- Sponsorship Information
-- Reprint Information
-- Subscriber Information

Notes from Heather

Homeschool Conventions Revisited

From a reader:

"Recently a lady submitted reviews on some math materials she
found at a homeschool fair or tradeshow -- not sure what they're
called. How do you find information on when and where these
shows are and what tips do I need to know for a first time


As convention season rolls around again, you can brush up on your
conference planning strategies with an article from a previous
issue of the newsletter:

Making the Most of Curriculum Fairs

Here is another good article, too:

And here is a great link to find conventions near you:


Do you have further ideas to share about homeschool convention
strategies? Do you have an experience to share that might help
our readers with a first-time conference attendance?

Please send your emails to: heather@familyclassroom.net



Helpful Tip

Fun with Window Markers

"For a change from the pencil and paper format with our school
work, I purchased some window markers. These work on any glass
surface (sliding door, windows, mirrors, etc.). My kids love
writing on the sliding glass door! Anything you can do on paper
can be done on the glass. I purchased the Crayola Window Markers
because they are washable, but you can also use regular dry-erase
markers normally used on white boards. These seem to write darker
and are easier to read than the Crayola version. Clean up with
either is very easy! Just wipe the glass down and you're done."
-- Jodi in Iowa


Do you have an idea, experience, or tip to share? Please write!
Send to: HN-ideas@familyclassroom.net

Winning Website

Visual Dictionary Online

From the site --

"The Visual Dictionary is designed to help you find the right
word at a glance. Filled with stunning illustrations labeled
with accurate terminology in up to six languages, it is the
ideal language-learning and vocabulary dictionary for use at
school, at home or at work.

When you know what something looks like but not what it's called,
or when you know the word but can't picture the object, The Visual
Dictionary has the answer. In a quick look, you can match the
word to the image."

Last Issue's Reader Question

"My son is 7 years old and has mild to moderate autism. He can
read and is verbal; he does addition and subtraction using little
bears so he can visualize what he's doing. Complicated explana-
tions don't work very well. He can memorize exceptionally well.
Are there any parents who are homeschooling an autistic child
and would share what they use or tricks they have learned?
Thanks." -- Mary Ann

Our Readers' Responses

"Mary Ann -- please check out the NATHHAN organization:
www.nathhan.com . This is a support network of parents of
special needs children. Some of their articles are free; for
a small fee you can join and have access to a directory of other
parents who are eager to help." -- Mary Beth


"I am a homeschooling mom to 5 lively children. When working
as a special education teacher, I found the 'Reading Milestones'
series (designed originally for deaf students) to be successful
with students with mild/moderate autism. It is language based,
teaching the concepts and structure of language in a systematic
fashion. I would examine the books first because he may be ready
for Level 2 or 3. I found a very high correlation of carry over
for language, spelling, vocabulary and writing skills to their
own communication. The stories include a variety of genre
including fairy tales, modern stories, biographies, and science
topics so the students are exposed to both fact and fantasy.

Another helpful resource is 'Teach Me Language' by Sabrina
Freeman and Lorelei Dake which has some scripted lessons that
you can use for a variety of academic and social topics." -- Jan


"Hi Mary Ann -- My 7 year old son is autistic also (and he's
not a very good reader yet, but that's not relevant here). For
math we use Touchmath (www.touchmath.com) and he absolutely gets
it, because the little dots (called touchpoints) on the numbers
are very concrete and visual for him. You can teach addition,
subtraction, and even multiplication and division with touchmath.
In fact, if you call the people at Touchmath, they will send you
a 'Teaching Touchmath' kit, with a DVD that shows you just how to
teach it (you do have to return the DVD). You also get a poster
of the numbers, showing the touchpoints. I was warned by my
'moms of special needs kids' group that some kids get really
dependent on the touchpoints, and have to draw the dots on every
number all the time, so I was careful to teach where the touch-
points are, but not draw them on every time (we look up at the
poster when needed), and it works like a charm for us. Math is
his favorite subject now, because he has confidence that he can
do it. Best of luck to you!" -- Pam in Utah


"My daughter is 9 and also has HFA (High Functioning Autism).
She reads, writes, and does math in her workbook and is a bit
of a computer whiz. Mary Ann, I think your son and my daughter
may be at similar levels.

Unfortunately, that also may be where the similarity ends. I
will tell you some things that work for us, but every child with
autism is soooooo different, that what works for my daughter
may cause a meltdown in your son (and vice versa!). The main
thing, of course, is to work with your son's strengths and his
positive and negative sensitivities and triggers.

That being said...

We find it helps tremendously to meet our daughter's sensory
needs first thing in the morning -- back rub, tickles, deep
massage, etc. Whatever your son needs, do that first.

I think the biggest stress for so many ASD parents (me included)
is that we want to see our children develop at some level of
age appropriateness. We want the hope of seeing that. We know
they are bright, but we can't get to that streak of intelligence
consistently. But, we still need to take them as they are. Don't
worry about complicated explanations right now. Help him on the
level he is at, and he will grow into them. Forget his grade
level and age -- keep him at his own pace. Although he is 7
chronologically, he is probably still 3 or 4 in many ways -- you
know about the social deficits, of course, but those also mean
that his brain, however brilliant it may prove to be, is probably
still not ready for complicated instructions in many areas. Keep
the instructions clear and basic, and let him grow from there.
The fact that he is reading and doing math is EXCELLENT work on
your part! We always knew our daughter was bright in certain
areas, but accessing that intelligence is so hard. When she was
8 she tested so gifted in 2 specific areas that our pediatric
neurologist was even amazed! And yet we still can't entirely
access those areas on a regular basis, but she steadily improves.

Children with autism are very, very literal. We try to keep our
instructions brief, to the point, and at one level until she is
ready, in a given, specific area, for us to add another level.
I always have to remember that she has great difficulty proces-
sing and understanding the day-to-day sensory input constantly
exploding around her. That input alone is enough to make her
have to wrestle her way through the day. And to that, we add
education, chores -- whatever instruction we think she is up to.
Not to mention the social demands of just trying to figure out
what other people intend!

Do you know your son's learning style? Most children with autism,
including my daughter, have a very visual learning style. We
use DVDs, computer games, and especially art, along with brightly
colored books. She's into animals, bugs, and monsters right now
and will spend hours poring over the books, drawing what she sees,
and asking us to read the names and characteristics of the various
creatures (she can read, but some of the vocabulary in these books
is beyond her). We use this interest to spur her learning process
and keep her mentally stimulated. It helps if your son has a
particular interest -- USE that interest! Remember Temple Grandin!
(A famous and successful adult with autism who forged an incredible
career out of her autism-related obsession and gifts -- google her
if you are unfamiliar.)

If you have other children, I am sure you have seen the value of
sibling play -- we try to allow quite a bit of time for that. I
have two other children and my middle child, 11, is especially
amazing with her 9 year old sister. We are also involved in a
co-op and a moderate balance of home school activities, all of
which help to keep our daughter's brain moving. We are careful
NOT to overdo it, though -- you know what happens -- meltdown city!

And FINALLY -- there is a site and support group specifically
for homeschooling ASD children. Go to following site and scroll
down for various groups. I like AUT-2B-HOME.

Here's the link:


Blessings!" -- Karen

Answer our NEW Question

"I have a first grader who is very interested in learning. To
say the least, she loves reading. I let her read under her read-
ing level for fun, but for school I want to challenge her. I am
looking for books that would interest her that also challenge her.
She reads on a 4th grade level. I have been researching a lot
and we have been working on it, but she is flying through these
so quickly I cant keep up. The problem I have found is if it
interests her it is not her reading level. Any ideas would be
great!" -- August


Do you have ideas for this mom?

Please send your answer to: HN-answers@familyclassroom.net

Ask YOUR Question

Do you have a question you would like our readers to answer?

Send it to HN-questions@familyclassroom.net and we'll see
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Next - More 'Conventional' Wisdom, The Imperfect Guide, Reading Interest Levels
Previous - RightStart Math, From Dark to Dawn, Fitting in the 'Fun'

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