I am you an awesome poem by the truly exceptional Mari Nosal(M.Ed., CECE)!!!

I am You

I am you and you are me
For God created us all
The grass is greener on your side, but I shall climb the wall
I have many talents as you’ll see
Even though you view me differently
You laugh and sneer when I join your game
You ignore me when I ask your name
You think emotions I do lack
You talk about me behind my back
I shed many tears because of vengeful peers
I painfully endure the constant leers
But I am smart, make no mistake
I am here to say, a great friend I would make
Take the time, just be my friend
And misunderstandings, with time we’ll mend
It may take me longer to climb the wall
And along the way I may fall
But I will climb again until I get it right
And when I do you will see my plight
For I am you and you are me
We can be friends as you will see
I hope, I dream, and want to grow
We are not so different you will know
Some call me learning disabled
But I am handicapable
With a zest for life, and humor to match
That if you spend enough time with me you will catch
Just be my friend, and help me grow
In return, my talents to you I’ll show
For I am you and you are me
God doesn’t make junk as you will see.

 

Curriculum ideas for the inclusive classroom and parents too by Mari Nosal!!!

I am a huge fan of Mari Nosal and her writing. Here stories are very informative and inspirational and I really enjoy them.

 

 

Have you ever wondered how to encourage empathy, increase fine and gross motor skills, social awareness, independent thinking, teamwork, independent play, or anything in-between within a classroom or at home? I have compiled quite an array of activities throughout my years. The majority of my activities were used and intended for a multi-age classroom. The children I’ve taught range in age between five and twelve years and include those with emotional, physical, behavioral, gifted, neurotypical, and learning disabled circumstances. The activities are therefore acceptable for a mixed range of abilities and ages. I have pondered what I have learned through many years of trial and error. My goal is to share these activities with parents and educators to enhance the lives of other children who could benefit from my ideas.

1) Musical Paper Plates: This game is an adaptation of musical chairs. Musical paper plates is especially suitable for children who present gross motor skill issues. The chance of injury is diminished as children cannot fall on a chair when children are vying for the last coveted spot. Plates are strategically spread out in a circle. When the music stops, a plate is removed. For children who present with socialization issues and struggle with the concept of being “out”, leave all paper plates in the game. Thus, no one wins or loses. An adaptation I made for letter and number recognition is to write numbers or letters on the plates and keep everyone in the game. i.e. If a child lands on the letter A etc., I differentiate my question according to each child’s ability and ask questions such as, What is the name of your letter? What sound does your letter make? Can you name a word that begins with your letter? Can you spell the word ? My goal is to provide a game here that includes all children, no matter what their ability is, at their level, and without singling children out. I make the same adaptations with numbers. If the child steps on number five, I may ask them to stomp their feet five times, give them a math problem to solve, ask what number they are standing on, and more. The options within this game are limitless. The game then continues with no one left out of the game. This game has proved to be extremely popular with the children.

2) Enhance Thinking Skills: One child sits in the middle of a circle and mimes emotions. The child who guesses the emotion goes in the middle and the game continues. This game is an awesome springboard for discussing feelings and reinforcing social awareness. An adaptation is to pick moral oriented situations out of a bowl, and having children act them out.

3) Share a Book: This is a voluntary activity that proved popular with the children. Rather than reading for the children, ask for volunteers who would like to read during circle time. This enhances reading skills, positive self efficacy, and teamwork. I adapt this activity so all children can participate no matter what their abilities or age. If a child volunteers to read to the class, but is an early or none reader, they are allowed to choose another child to assist them. I wish to emphasize that no child should ever be forced to read if they do not wish to. Forcing a child with a developmental challenge, reading issues, speech problems, etc. to participate can backfire. The child will lose self esteem, become embarrassed in front of peers, and withdraw. I still recall being an advanced reader in elementary school. I also suffered from “watery S’s.” My second grade teacher would force me to display my reading skills in-front of the class. It was humiliating and still resides in my memory today. After the fact, I recall pretending I struggled in reading so the teacher would stop choosing me.  Some children will participate in the future if they are not forced and are allowed time to feel safe within the group.

4) Don’t Squish the Bug: This game can be played in a group, modified for two individuals, played one on one, or done just plain solo according to the child’s skills and social development. This game is great for increasing hand-eye coordination. The children fill balloons with jello and enjoy a game of catch, or adapted catch as mentioned above. It is suggested that this game be played outdoors. It is fun. However, when the balloon inevitably breaks – jello, jello everywhere. :-0)

I hope you enjoy my ideas. I would love feedback. If there is enough interest I will continue with weekly or bi – weekly curriculum ideas. Happy teaching and parenting.

Mari Nosal M.Ed.

 

A Parent is Their Child’s First Teacher by Mari Nosal with permission of Enabled Kids Canada

Mari Nosal
Article from Enabled Kids by Mari Nosal

Here is another nice article with regards to special needs education by Mari Nosal, a fellow parent of Autistic kids and she is also an educator as well. I can relate in many respects, I am asperger’s and have 3 kids on the spectrum.

Parenting our children is a full time, and occasionally scary job. When our children are born, we are the first people that they interact with. We provide stimulating environments, experiences, and safe challenges that encourage a child’s continuous development. Parents are cheerleaders, coaches, academic tutors, and provide a safe and nonjudgmental haven where children can feel free to make mistakes. Children realize that, in the safety of a home with supportive parents, they will not be judged and can therefore take on safe challenges. This is most important for children with learning disabilities as their home front and loving parental support provide a haven away from school, where they may struggle to fit in with peers daily. Education is defined as any experience which provides learning and growth to be achieved. Parents can view themselves as important co-teachers. They can provide schools with the difficulties or learning growth that is taking place on the home front. Parents can provide complementary support to the child’s teacher as well by continuing what a child learns at home. The message I am attempting to convey is that teachers, parents, educators, and more are all instrumental educators within their child’s life. Remember parents, you are an important component in your child’s development, so never underestimate your effectiveness. Most of all, keep dreaming, hoping, smiling, and lastly never ever give up. Always believe in yourself and your children.

Mari

As I sit and ponder what it means to be an educator, a powerful vision comes to mind: A flock of geese following one another in a perfect V formation. There is a correlation between the perfect educational system, and the teamwork geese employ as they soar through the blue skies.
One bird flaps its wings and creates an updraft for the bird behind it. The geese place themselves strategically. The strongest bird is in front. The weakest bird is in the back. One can surmise the reasoning for this. The strongest bird can lift the weakest bird with an updraft. As the stronger bird tires, the formation changes, the weaker bird now has a reserve of energy. Thus, the energized bird takes the place of the exhausted bird.
Like geese, people cannot fly solo. Education encompasses a large network of people. In order to educate the whole child, one must think of the process as more than academics. Social, emotional, familial, and environmental issues are part of the education process. Expecting a teacher to perform these duties alone is sure to breed chaos. Teachers need support when teaching becomes difficult.
Like the geese, the tired teacher needs someone to support them. The teacher needs time to go to the back of the flock and re-energize. Upon re-energizing, the educator can than successfully lead the flock once more. They are not co-dependent, but inter-dependent with parents and their peers. It is a vital instrument that ensures a positive classroom climate.
As geese form a perfect V formation, educators, administrators, and the community must work cohesively as a unit. The mutual goal should be the successful assimilation of the children into a society. If the children are not empowered with the skills to be productive members of society, successful assimilation has not occurred. If a bird tires, and another geese does not support their weak moment in flight, the formation is disrupted.
The weaker bird will tire and plummet. When assisting a child in developing to their fullest capacity, one does not get a second chance to repair the mistakes made. The inevitable result of no cohesive unit is a teacher who will plummet like the geese. The child will be left with negative self efficacy. Lack of support for the teacher breeds feelings of futility. Futility soon breeds apathy. There is a domino effect. The child becomes the recipient of the teacher’s apathetic demeanor. If the teacher loses their zest for teaching, the child loses their zest for learning.
My personal goal is continuously equip myself with the knowledge and skills to help communities become socially and academically well rounded. My utopian world is one where all individuals gain self empowerment skills, positive self efficacy, and learn skills for success. These are the building blocks for success. May everyone fly in the V formation. May No Child Be Left Behind.

This is a poem I wrote a while back. I believe it displays my ideology on what a teacher’s and parent’s role is.

Here is a wonderful poem by Mari Nosal as well quite nice–>

My Guide

Oh teachers listen closely

For this you need to know

My future rests right in your palm

I need you as I grow

My destiny is yours to shape

By words you choose to use

Encourage me, tell me I’m great

Your power do not abuse

Believe in me and I will shine

I will not let you down

Give up on me and let me fail

My choice will be to drown

Please teach me all you know my friend

Do not give up and leave

And I will thrive because I knew

In me you did believe

I have the talent to succeed

But sometimes feel lost

Please help me so I find my way

No matter what the cost

Don’t leave me on the tough days

I need to know you’ll stay

For you help me to grow and learn

And assure me i’m o.k.

Support me, guide me, and teach me

My fate is up to you

For with your words I’ll fail or win

It is up to you you’ll see

Please don’t leave nor write me off

I am worthy of your time

I promise I’ll not fail you

To give up would be a crime

My future is up to you you’ll see

In you I do believe

I will succeed and fulfill my dreams

If you walk with me

In order for me to succeed

I can not walk alone

Don’t give up on me and walk away

My emotions will turn to stone

Teachers listen closely

I need your help today

Help now and I promise

I will make you proud one day

MARI NOSAL

Previously Published on Enabled Kids Canada, See link–>link

Ten Commandments for Interacting With Kids On The Autism Spectrum by Mari Nosal and related Commandments!!!

I ran into Mari Nosal recently on twitter she is the amazing writer of several articles on autism education from Enable Kids from disabled to Enabled,http://enabledkids.ca/?p=2071

A bit about the author–>

About the author
Mari Nosal has written 12 articles for Enabled Kids.
Mari Nosal, M.Ed., CECE is a school coordinator, blogger and author. She is certified by the Department of Early Childhood Education as a lead preschool teacher, an infant and toddler teacher, and site coordinator qualified to manage school age programs. She is certified in Community Crisis Intervention by the Community Crisis Intervention Team of Bristol County. As a parent of a son with Asperger’s, she and her son show others how it is possible to overcome obstacles and achieve your goals.

Ten Commandments for Interacting With Kids On The Autism Spectrum

1. Thou shall not yell when speaking to me.
My disability does not impair my hearing and I am extremely bright. Perhaps even brighter than you are.

2. Thou shall not ignore me, talk negatively about me, speak unnaturally slow, or ask questions to others in the room that pertain to me.
I can comprehend what you are saying just fine.

3. Thou shall believe in me and help me believe in my skills and self worth.
Note the good in me and do not merely point out my negative behaviors. Believe in me and I will believe in myself.

4. Thou shall not perceive me as dumb.
I am extremely intelligent. I do not learn in the same way as you, and maybe not as quickly as you expect me to. Have patience with me. Once I recall information, I never forget.

5. Thou shall not judge my behavior.
I can get overstimulated in certain environments. I may be hypersensitive to sound and loud noises may hurt my ears. Fluorescent lights are distracting for me. They have a humming noise, and can pulsate. All the noises in a room can blur together. Please make accommodations to help me.

6. Thou shall not be so quick to scold me.
Do not tell me that “I know what I did”. I do not. Tell me what my infraction was in a simple, concise manner. I want to please you, but I have difficulties inferring meaning within a vague statement. For instance, do not say please clean up your bedroom. Tell me exactly what you want, such as ‘Please make your bed and pick up your toys”.

7. Thou shall not compare me to others.
Please remind me, and note the talents that I possess. This increases my confidence and positive self worth. Learning disabled or not, we ALL have talents to contribute within society. I need you to help me realize what mine is. Believe in me and I will believe in myself.

8. Thou shall not exclude me from activities.
Please do not mimic me, ignore me, or bully me. Please invite me to play with you. It hurts my feelings when I am excluded. I like to run and jump in the playground, and be invited to birthday parties too. Grownups can help me make friends by encouraging other children to play with me. I can be a loyal friend if you get to know me.

9. Thou shall give me choices.
I do not like being ordered about any more than the other children. Give me choices so I know you value my capabilities and opinions. Make them simple and concise. Present two options or so. I get confused when too many questions or directions are given at one time due to my processing speed. For instance, ask me if I would like to wear my blue sweater or green one, rather than asking which sweater I would like to wear.

10. Thou shall not judge me by my diagnosis, but by my character.
I am an individual, just like other children. As my son used to say, “Mom my name is John (name changed for his anonymity) not Asperger’s”. A profound statement I would say. :-0)

Part Two: Ten Commandments of Parents with Kids on the Autism Spectrum

1) Thou shall not avoid my family when you see us in a public place. Autism is not a communicable disease. It is merely a way of life. You will not catch it by being my friend. Hang out with me and my family and learn about us. Once you understand our challenges it will be self-evident that we have hopes, dreams, and feelings. We love our children just as much as you love yours. Who knows, you might grow to accept us if you give us a chance.

2) Thou shall not judge my family. If my child is having a meltdown and seems inconsolable, do not assume I am an incompetent parent. You cannot always judge a book by its cover. Do not tell me that my child is spoiled. Ask me why I cannot control him, or tell me that my child needs to be punished. He is already punished enough by remarks from people who assume they know what is best for my family, even when they do not even know us. I am attempting to be a good parent. Your negative remarks hurt me greatly. Your positive remarks give me the internal strength to go on, and rejuvenate my belief in me and my child.

3) Thou shall be patient. My child may have a large expressive vocabulary. This is rote knowledge that has been memorized. In this case, he may not process (receptive language) what others say unless it is presented in a literal, concise, and direct manner. My child may lack a large vocabulary (expressive vocabulary) but make no mistake that he can comprehend you through his receptive vocabulary. Get to know my child and convey messages through his learning style. You will be surprised at what a wonderful child he is if you get to know him.

4) Thou shall not snub my other children. It is difficult for neurotypical siblings to grow up with a sibling that has special needs. My heart breaks for my children when other children decline sleepovers, parties, and more because of my special needs child. Providing equal attention to all my children is quite the balancing act.. Their learning disabled sibling occasionally requires more time and energy then them. This is not by choice but necessity. Please make a point to help out and make my other children feel welcome at your home or functions.

5) Thou shall not judge my housekeeping skills. My house may occasionally be in disarray. That mess is a sign of love; a sign of a family that has placed priorities on going to therapy appointments, doctors, social groups, and more over the importance of several dust balls. We balance jobs, carpools, and daycare, just like the rest of society as well.

6) Thou shall believe in my child. Do not call my child stupid, lazy, spoiled, selectively deaf, a brat, and more. My child has a neurological impairment which can affect processing skills, focusing, expressive or receptive speech, and internal control mechanisms, i.e. “losing it”. There is an old phrase, “We become what we hear.” The self-fulfillment prophecy is alive and well. My child tries hard to learn, control his behavior, socialize, etc. Please attempt to tell him what is right with him, not only what is wrong. Role model appropriate behavior for the child. Children become what children see.

7) Thou shall accept me and my family for who we are. My child may not appear to have challenges on the exterior. Appearances can be deceiving. I can equate this with a cast. If an individual is wearing a cast, we know they have a broken arm. Children with autism often appear the same as all other children When you deal with my child, please remember that his emotional age is roughly four years behind his chronological age. Keep that in mind when creating expectations for him. My child cannot be fixed.. He can be smothered with acceptance. His Asperger’s has created the young man that we have grown to love and admire. We would not change him for anything. He and I both needs society’s acceptance.

8) Thou shall not assume my child is being defiant. My child’s difficulties with receptive language can mimic defiance. When directions are not broken down into literal simple steps, he may appear to be ignoring you. He is not being defiant. He did not understand your directions. Tell him to pick up the books in the classroom, put them on the bookshelf, than sit down. This will most often result in compliance. Do not just say “put the books away”. He most likely will not know which books, where, when, or how. Be patient, as he really wants to please you.

9) Thou shall tell parents of autistic kids what they do well:.We struggle with our child’s special needs, attempt to carve out time with our other children so they do not feel left out, carve out time for our spouse, attempt to create a copacetic environment for our families, love and accept unconditionally, and more. We parents are occasionally insecure regarding our parenting skills. We are not immune to the glaring disapproving eyes, and mumbles of disapproval regarding our parenting style of our special needs kids. We need support and understanding from you as we feel helpless when we cannot help our child during a meltdown, etc. Please tell us what we do right occasionally and offer to lend a hand. It means the world to a parent of a special needs child to receive a compliment regarding them or their child when the parent feels like giving up hope.

10) Last but not least, thou shall remember that we are all on this earth to make a contribution to society. Children on the spectrum make contributions as well. You just have to look a little deeper. For me, my son has taught me to be more patient, humbled me, taught me to look at what is good now and not worry about what may not happen ten years down the road. I do not take things for granted because of my experiences. My husband and I learned the meaning of teamwork. Most of all, my son has taught me to never underestimate what strides he will make in our world. It may be on his timeframe and not mine. We are climbing to the peak of the mountain, with occasional slips, but climbing higher every day none the less.

Part Three: Ten Commandments For Educators Who Teach Kids on the Autism Spectrum

1) Thou shall not perceive me as a diagnosis. It is not true that once you have worked with an autistic child, you have worked with them all. There are many different degrees of autism–hence the meaning of the term, “Autism Spectrum.” We have distinct personalities and talents, just like you. We may present ourselves as nonverbal, verbal, have advanced expressive vocabularies, receptive vocabularies, be aggressive, shy, funny, or ambulatory. We may have mobility issues, be extremely social or shy, or have gifted IQs, or low IQs. Spend time getting to know me. You may learn to appreciate my talents, and the contributions that I can make within the classroom and to my classmates.

2) Thou shall not assume that I am defiant. :-0) My ears are extremely sensitive. If I am sitting at my desk and you give me directives from the other side of the classroom, I may not hear you correctly. I have difficulty desensitizing myself from sounds. I may be struggling with attempting to block out the whirring of a pencil sharpener, ticking clock, rain beating on the window pane, and the humming of the fluorescent lights. They often hurt my ears and create one jumbled sound. The sound may be so intrusive to my sensitive ears that they hurt. If you want to give me directions, please walk over to me and look me in the eye to get my attention. Be specific and concise when conveying what you wish for me to accomplish. I am a concrete thinker. For instance, ask me to get my coat from the coatroom, than go back to my desk and sit down, and wait to be excused for recess. Do not merely say, get ready for recess. This is too obscure. I want to please you, I really do, but you need to help me out with this.

3) Thou shall help me learn to socialize with my peers. I may appear to be avoiding my classmates. This does not mean I do not want to socialize. Children on the spectrum want friends and need to be included just like anyone else. My issue is that I often do not know how. Perhaps you could encourage the other children to include me in their games. You could role model proper techniques for social interaction, how to read body language, and empathize. For instance, if my classmate has a bellyache, you could point out that his tummy hurts and that maybe I should tell him I hope he feels better soon.

4) Thou shall catch me being good. Please make an attempt to point out my positive behavior, actions, and character traits. If I only hear about what is wrong with me, I will feel as though I am unworthy and withdraw. If I merely get attention from you when I am in the midst of a meltdown, or presenting inappropriate behavior, I may become conditioned to misbehave so I can gain your attention. This is the self fulfilling prophecy at work. Give me positive attention through praise, and you will build my positive self-efficacy. Help me believe in myself. If all I receive is negative attention, I will still crave it. Remember: in this case, the squeaky wheel gets the grease.

5) Thou shall not attempt to embarrass me. Please do not compare me to siblings who were in your class. Do not compare me to classmates, embarrass me, or mimic me if I am frustrated. That hurts my feelings, and leaves me feeling more frustrated. I work twice as hard as my neurotypical peers to perform academically and socially. Embarrassing me will not force me to “straighten out’. That will merely force me to withdraw further within the academic environment, because I feel as though I cannot measure up to your expectations of me. Please try to remember that my emotional age is behind my chronological age. Please treat the behavior, not the child. I depend on you for external control.

6) Thou shall practice reflective observation and remediation. If I become distracted, hyperactive, speak out of turn, or agitated, please attempt to find out why I am doing so. It is easier to prevent a behavioral issue than to try and remediate it afterwards. If you notice the early warning signs, you may be able to make adaptations to prevent escalation. Once my behavior has gotten out of hand it will be difficult to assist me with getting back on task. Simple techniques may work. If I am having difficulty focusing, seem agitated, or become socially inappropriate, the bright fluorescent lights may be hurting my eyes. Please remember that my five senses are hypersensitive and I can become over-stimulated by everyday sights, smells, and sounds. Perhaps, dimming the lights in the room may calm me down. If I appear hyperactive, perhaps you could find a job for me to do in the classroom. The job could be as simple as making me a helper and asking me to hand out paper, or art supplies to the other children, pass out homework etc. so I can stretch my legs without being singled out in front of my classmates. If I am distracted by the other children while expected to take a test, perhaps you will allow me to wear earplugs to squelch my hypersensitivity to noise. I know I can be a lot of work at times, especially in a inclusive classroom. It is worth your effort, I assure you. It is a win-win situation for me and my classmates. They will learn to accept and respect differences in people through their interactions with me. They will carry this empathy into adulthood and the workplace. In turn, I will learn appropriate social skills through observation of my neurotypical classmates. With your assistance, the other children will learn to note and appreciate my talents and contributions within the classroom. I will learn how to be a member of a group who appreciates me. This in turn will boost my positive self-efficacy.

7) Thou shall not attempt to fix me. I cannot be fixed. I am not the equivalent of a broken engine in your automobile that merely needs some adjustments here and there to run like new. Besides, my mom and dad say they like me just the way I am. Respect me for the gifts and talents that I bring into your classroom (and I have many!). You can help me by teaching me compensatory strategies. For instance, teach me to go to a quiet area in the class to read, or to play quietly when I am over-stimulated. At first, I may need many verbal or physical prompts from you to recognize the signs of over-stimulation. As time goes by, I will internalize this mode of redirection through repetition and go to my quiet places independently. Remember to praise me verbally, or with a reward when I do so. I need to know that you noticed–it makes me feel proud of myself. For example, I may love to write but have issues with my pincer grip. Holding a pencil makes my hand hurt. Perhaps you could put a gripper on my pencil to increase my grasp and initiative to write so I do not go on strike during lessons.

8. Thou shall not say negative things about me. Please do not speak poorly of me to other teachers, parents, or students. My feelings get hurt when I observe you telling other individuals that I am a handful, that I take away time from the other students, shouldn’t be in your class, or push your buttons. Please do not refer to me as a bad seed, “that” one, a hateful child, unlikable, lazy, or defiant. This is unprofessional and inappropriate, especially when you talk while I am in the room. If you speak negatively of me and I misbehave, I am following your negative expectations of me, and living up to them. I may learn differently, but I can hear and comprehend your unkind conversations. I am not a diagnosis; I am a child like all the other children in my class. Please remember, I am dependent on you to help me hone my skills and succeed in life. I need your support.

9) Thou shall differentiate instruction. Differentiated instruction does not mean giving me different assignments or dumbed down assignments. Differentiated instruction is done by making accommodations so I can be included in the same projects and assignments as my classmates. If we are using shaving cream paint during art class, I may not want to put my hands in it due to sensitivity to textures. Perhaps you could offer me a tongue depressor to put the shaving cream on. This way, I can do the same art project as my peers while taking my sensitivity to textures into account. If we are doing a group history project on the colonial era, you may take advantage of my visual perception. I may not read well, but may be capable of building a scale model of a fort. Thus other children could research and present a report and I could provide the props. Perhaps you could allow me to take a spelling test which contains the same words as the other children orally if I have difficulty with handwriting. If we are presenting a play, the loud music and crowd may bother me. Perhaps I could change props, or be in charge of opening and closing the curtains during the performance instead.

10) Thou shall perceive as a human being. Please remember that every child has both positive and negative traits. Attempt to teach me what mine is are. Your investment in me will pay off in the future. Who knows, with a little help from my teacher, I could grow up to be the next leader of our country. I believe in you, will you believe in me?

I especially love her quote–>”Please join me in my utopian world where society perceives individuals as a whole, and does not judge them merely in character segments.”

I would like to thank Mari for allowing us to publish her information here on our news and autism site.

If everyone would just live by them.