Labels for Kids and Too much Tech?

My son has a label and he also gets that look from some moms when they find out how many hours he spends in front of a device…..  What’s funny is that they don’t also know how much time he spends running through the house.  Given a fitbit (or other recording device), I’m fairly certain that my son would put any of them to shame – yet we were sitting in a meeting a couple weeks ago and got to hear a research project that is going on with our kids that involves setting goals for activities and then withholding electronics from them if they don’t meet those goals.

There was no chance to pull her aside first and explain that my son would take everything she said and put his own interpretation on it.  Believe me, I’ve been there.  I once told my son he couldn’t play a game until he went to preschool (the one he had taken a dislike to on the third day for a reason I couldn’t identify)  – Let’s just say that game never got played again, ever.  My little one will do things in his best interest, but reasoning with him goes much further than do this or no that.  Additionally when asked how many hours he spends on a device, there was no taking into account that half that time he is galloping around in circles through the house while I hope he doesn’t bump his toe again and have a melt down.Code Game (from Target)

For those that haven’t guessed, my youngest has an ASD diagnosis. It doesn’t change him, he’s still the same wonderful, friendly boy that he has always been.  He just has his own quirky way of looking at the world that is different from the way we interpret them.  He also tries very hard to assimilate into the world around him.  He listens to his friends jokes and tries to repeat them to us, he looks at their favorite clothes trends and tries to follow if they fit with something he’s willing to wear, and he tries sports too (soccer and golf are his favorites).

So where to draw the line for too much time on the television, games, and watching videos?  We also do a lot of activities after school – where do you draw the line on that too?  Isn’t it nice to just sit and pretend to be a vegetable for a few minutes (though I don’t really see my son do that for long) He draws a lot from video, games, and tv.  They are great talking points for him. He is extremely talkative and will tell any adult all about his latest favorite, picking up parts of the show or game that we had no clue even happened (and he remembers every detail).IMG_1027

And the big question, how do you handle other mom’s criticism, especially when they may only know half the story?  It’s not really required to explain about my son, his diagnosis, all the hours he spends running in circles….  How do you get past feeling that you have to justify parenting decisions?

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Text Messaging! It’s not just for teens.

My youngest has his iPad (soon to be 7) and loves to play on it.  Recently he discovered texting, he can send a text from his iPad to any other iDevice.  I will admit once in a while it does take away from the ‘get up and walk into the next room!’  but I’ve noticed when he has a game question he doesn’t just to run to the nearest person anymore.  He opens up a text window and texts his brother.

Not only that, but his brother texts him links to videos he might like to see. My little one then reopens them later to get back to the videos.  My older two have now moved up and out oIMG_0942.PNGf the house, so this is a great way for them to all stay in touch.

He’s also learning though:

Interaction with family (it really is a communication device)

I really need to make sure his brothers censor the videos first.  Being adult kids, I have heard some language in the videos that made me cringe a little.  (Our computer for the little one is a desktop in the middle of the living room) All this being said, it is good to keep an eye on who your child interacts with.  I do totally trust my older children to text my little one. The rest of his list is pretty short though, grandma, mom and dad, and his brothers are the extent of it.


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Test Prep – K-12:Getting Ahead!

This Little Parent Stayed Home recently reviewed Testing mom is a web site for test prep for K-12 kids. (If you haven’t listened This Little Parent Stayed Home is great!)

Personally I have at least one child that just doesn’t test well.  He can know the material inside out, but put a test in front of him and yikes! I blame it partly on being a perfectionist.  He has to go over every part a million times and if he doesn’t know the correct answer for sure, he will not take an educated guess.  He finally sat in on a training session for the ACT and ended up raising his score the 1 point he needed to go from no scholarship qualification to yes, you are at the qualification.

Another son can go in cold, forget his calculator accidentally and  score and amazing high score without even preparing ahead.  They are both great students, but they have crazy different ways of dealing with tests.

I already see my youngest getting ready to have issues with tests.  His very literal translation of everything we say is going to make homework and test taking almost impossible.  I can already see the “Why did the Chicken Cross the Road?” – Well I have to have more information!  They don’t say what was on the other side of the road.  Was their chicken food?  Was a wolf chasing him on the other side?  I also have these issues with my hubby and he somehow finished and got a PhD, so I’m sure my youngest will finish school – it just may take an advocate in the new educational environment.

The site is a site that offers test prep to help kids excel at testing.  Testing anymore determines where kids place, what groups they are included in, what services they qualify for, and even whether they can be included in a standard classroom.  This site is worth checking out if your child needs a little help with testing or even just wants to get ahead.

The founder started the site because her son was told that he would never function in a normal classroom! He now is has a degree from NYU.

Karen first became interested in testing when she noticed that her son, Sam, wasn’t developing as quickly as her daughter had. A doctor diagnosed a hearing problem that could be fixed via surgery and (after giving Sam an IQ test where he scored in the 37th percentile) pronounced that Sam would never function in a regular classroom. Luckily, Karen’s mother was a PhD in Early Childhood Development. She showed Karen how to work with Sam and get him ready for both testing and a regular classroom. Karen worked diligently with Sam for about 30 minutes every day doing activities that would build the abilities he needed for school and testing. A year later, Sam scored in the 94th percentile on an IQ test. He was admitted to a competitive private school in Manhattan and was placed in honors classes.

Karen went on to co-found a consulting business helping families get their kids into NYC’s best public and private schools. There, she taught parents how to work with their children to get them ready for testing just as she had worked with Sam. A few years later, she left the company and wrote The Ivy Chronicles, a humorous novel about the experience of working in the competitive school admissions world of NYC. Karen wrote a total of four novels (two of which have been optioned as movies) before going back to the book she says she was “meant to write” – Testing For Kindergarten. In 2010, Karen co-founded with Michael McCurdy, a site that offers test prep and a full array of top premium educational websites as part of their membership package. Karen lives with her husband, Mark, in San Diego. Her daughter, Schuyler, is a working actor in NYC. As for her son, Sam, who was never supposed to function in a regular classroom? He just graduated from NYU.


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Getting Stronger in the Pool

(Guest Post by Allie Gleason from EducatorLabs)

Bilateral breathing when swimming

Via Flickr – by Simply Swim UK



If someone were to ask me why I love swimming so much, I would tell them about how much it has boosted my confidence. And that’s a big deal coming from me. As a kid, my Asperger’s made it difficult for me to make friends. I was very self-conscious but often didn’t know what I needed to do to fit in with my peers.

And then came swimming. My parents put me in swimming lessons as more of a safety precaution than anything else. But it didn’t take long for me to fall in love with it. Eventually, it was hard to keep me out of the water.

There are many reasons swimming has given me such a confidence boost, but one major reason is that it has made me stronger—physically and mentally–which has improved my overall wellbeing.

There’s certainly no reason other young people with Asperger’s can’t experience the benefits I’ve had from swimming. Here are a few ways I’ve used my time in the pool to get stronger and in turn get a big boost to my confidence.


Swimming laps. I swam regularly throughout middle school, but when I entered high school, I joined my school’s swim team. Going to regular swim practices has really helped me build muscle strength in my arms, legs, and core. And as this article on aquatic therapy for kids with autism reports, a study found that swim training helped improve “hand grip [and] upper and lower extremity muscle strength” in kids with Autism Spectrum Disorder.


Toning exercises. I love to swim. I would swim laps for hours if my body could handle it. But sometimes even I need a break. My swim coach recommended doing water aerobic-style exercises whenever I’m burnout on doing laps. One of my teammates from the swim team and I found these toning exercises and decided to try them out one Saturday at the pool. We turned on some music and went through the whole workout. It was a lot of fun. And the great thing about it is it includes videos. I’m a visual learner so that made it a lot easier for me to understand what movement I was supposed to be doing and to ensure I was doing it correctly.


Stretches. The act of swimming strengthens and lengthens your muscles but that doesn’t mean you should skip stretching. This article on getting fit in the water from Portland, Oregon’s Parks & Recreation Department offers a side stretch and a full body stretch. When I first started swimming, I was not big on stretching. As a result, my muscles were always really sore. My swim coach taught me the importance of properly stretching after any exercise. So, if you’re a young person who’s just starting out with your swim routine, don’t forget to stretch!


Relaxation exercises. One of the most unexpected and gratifying benefits of being in the water has been the calming effect it has on me. And it is yet another reason I think swimming, specifically, is so great for kids and teens with Asperger’s and autism. A day at school for a young person on the autism spectrum can be stressful and sometimes disheartening. For me, especially on those bad days, being in the water is an escape from the stress of my day. Honestly, I think simply floating around does the trick, but if you’re looking for more structured water relaxation exercises, has some great suggestions.


            Swimming has improved my overall wellbeing significantly. And now that I feel better physically, I feel better about myself, too. Having more confidence has made it easier for me to make friends and to not be so hard on myself when I’m having trouble relating to my peers.


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Allie Gleason, a teen with Asperger’s Syndrome, attends high school student and in her free time works as a volunteer-intern-extraordinaire at EducatorLabs. She is a cheerleader for all those affected by ASD.

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Minecraft anyone? Yeah or Nay!

Minecraft is pretty popular around our house…. from the 6 year old to the 18 year old.  I do have to admit I encourage it.  There are several sites that review it… (here’s one)  For those of you that don’t know what minecraft is, It’s basically an online ‘world’ that allows you to wonder around interacting with the environment.   It’s very blocky and kids can build anything that they can imagine (including recreating architecture in the real world) Although there is no blood and gore, you do have to fight off monsters and hunt animals to survive. – There is a creative mode that prevents dying also.

One of my favorite things though is that there are a million and one things out there now to use minecraft educationally! (besides all the other products) You can learn to program minecraft – starting at 7 or 8 years old.  Modify it to be the way you want!  There are classes, books, and more all on this subject.

For younger kids there are chapter books and workbooks, math, science, and curriculum; all geared around learning and using the subject of minecraft.  Simple searches come up with anythign you might need!



An article with Math Worksheet Links

Minecraft Maze Printables

Minecraft activity and printables on Pinterest (a board to follow)

Minecraft Handwriting

Minecraft addition and subtraction

Minecraft Multiplication and Division


Please share anymore you find.  My son loves these!


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