Sunday, November 18, 2007

The MN Special Hockey season II is underway

The South Stingers are looking good.

This is our second full season. We're still open for new players -- all ages, genders and abilities.

The only entry requirement is a cognitive disability including ADHD (more to the severe side), autism, Asperger's, Down's and more.

MN Special Hockey has two other teams, one in Woodbury and another in Blaine. The Stingers are in Edina.

Try it.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Reading about autism and ADHD - our personal favorites

More than a year ago I started an "introduction to autism" post. I'll return to it some day, but I'd like to say something today about what we've read that, in retrospect, was most useful.

First, an important caveat. My wife and I are physicians. We don't bother with popular books with a medical emphasis because we know that stuff. So our reading is biased towards behavioral and legal topics.

We've read a lot over the years. You can click on this snapshot of our library to get a quick review of the books we've kept.
Not all the books are equally valuable however, and not all the most important reading has been in books.

There are two items that stand out. The first is a book, the second a throw away newspaper article.

The most important is Greene, The Explosive Child. This is from my Amazon review:
If I had to choose the most important book I've ever read, the one that most influenced my life, the one book I could not afford to have missed, it would be this book.

We read it about seven years ago. My marginalia sprawled from the pages to the back covers, replete with emphatic circles, arrows and double underlines...

...There are some quibbles I have. Time outs, for example, work well if they're used as calming interventions that last from seconds to a minute (even though we call them "punishments" since that's what our son prefers, they are only to allow him time to calm himself).

The fundamentals, are as sound as can be. I most appreciate the modesty I remember. Greenes is frank that not every child has a happy ending -- no matter the interventions. We're talking a serious struggle here...

... Even if you have a merely difficult child, or straightforward ADHD, or mere high IQ autism, or simple Asperger's, you should read this book.

If you have an explosive child, you must read this book...
The other one is very short. Yes, a NYT article about using 'extinction' in animal training.

I think of "extinction" when working with children as an advanced technique. It must be done in such a way that it does not induce anxiety, and the child has to be able to calm themselves when others withdraw. It doesn't work if the child will pursue aggressively, or react with destructive or dangerous behaviors.

It is, however, powerful.

Those are the top two. I also particularly remember Welcome To Alaska, one or more of Temple Grandin's books on life with high IQ autism, and Benjamin Pollis "Only a Mother Could Love Him" - an insider's guide to life as an explosive child with severe ADHD.

The rest of our reading is more routine. Any number of references on Personal Care Attendants or disability law will suffice.

Update 5/3/10: For the adolescent phase of special needs life, I like a book written about selling, sales, and persuasion: 3 Steps to Yes by Gene Bedell.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Free-reading: an open soure reading program

Oddly enough, I came across this via a Slashdot post:

Main Page - Free-reading: "Free-Reading is an “open source” instructional program that helps teachers teach early reading. Because it's open source, it represents the collective wisdom of a wide community of teachers and researchers. It's designed to contain a scope and sequence of activities that can support and supplement a typical “core” or “basal” program."

A while back I'd thought of developing a library of short stories that could be used in reading programs; including more boy oriented stories. They're doing something like this.

There's some content in place and it has a real advisory board:
Catherine Snow
Henry Lee Shattuck Professor of Education
Harvard Graduate School of Education
Michael Kamil
Consulting Professor of Education; Psychological Studies in Education; Learning, Design, and Technology
Stanford University School of Education
Barbara Taylor
Guy Bond Chair in Reading
University of Minnesota
Director of the Minnesota Center for Reading Research
Barbara Kapinus
Senior Policy Analyst
National Education Association
Fred Carrigg
Director of Humanities K-12, Middletown Public Schools
Former Special Assistant to the Commissioner for Literacy, NJDOE (2002-2007)
I think most of the contributors are teachers. They claim to have an evidence-based philosophy, that would mean a much stronger phonics orientation than is common in Minnesota.