Search

A Beautiful Hot Mess

Tag

Teaching

Teaching for Teens with Autism

I work with a fourteen year old girl with autism along side a team of ABA staff for which we provide in-home therapy based services several days per week. I could work on programming for this kiddo all week long because she is simply the best.

Which I had the chance to do this week. 💙

One of the projects I’m working on currently has been writing a program for teaching the differences between friendships, close friendships and romantic relationships. Additionally these teaching targets will help our learner be able to distinguish the difference in heathy/unhealthy relationships and between appropriate/inappropriate behaviors across social interactions.

It is not uncommon for children and teens on the autism spectrum to exhibit deficits in the area of social skills and therefore teaching programs in their ABA plans serve as an effective means for strengthening these skills.

From an essential living perspective, it is important for all children and teens to understand behaviors in social interaction and be able to discern healthy and appropriate circle of relationships into their adult lives.

Who can use these targets?

  • Parents and teachers can use this resource.
  • All kids can benefit from understanding circle of relationships.
  • Kids with autism who have a hard time understanding differences in social interactions.

How to use these targets:

  • Print out target cards (double-sided) and laminate each sheet.
  • Cut each sheet into individual (double-sided) index cards.
  • For kids who have a hard time understanding social interactions it may be helpful to not cover every card in one discussion.
  • Consider introducing or discussing 1-3 index cards at a time until they independently respond with the correct understanding of target item.
  • Prompt discussion or redirection of correct understanding as needed.

If you would like to download the index card materials you can find it here:

friendship-romantic-healthy-unhealthy-relationships-program-target-cards.pdf

If you would like an electronic or app friendly resource of the index card materials you can find it here:

https://quizlet.com/439821787/friendship-romantic-relationships-recognizing-healthy-unhealthy-behavior-flash-cards/?i=21hdso&x=1jqY

Note: Be sure to download the quizlet app on your mobile device before use.

* Tip: Many teens love their mobile devices. Use it to increase motivation for learning! If applicable of course.

* Tip: Star the cards you are working toward mastering OR star a few to break it down into smaller steps for them.

Feel free to reach out with any feedback or if you found this resource helpful. Email: ajarchow@braintrustmi.com

And please remember…

Loved By Grace,

Advertisements

Space Stalker

It is possible to control ones reactions and feelings even when one is faced with frightening hardships. The psychiatrist Viktor E. Frankl has been credited with the following:

Between a stimulus and a response there is space.
It is in that space where we find our power to choose our response.
In our response lies our growth and our freedom.

Many call what I do for a living the behavior super hero’s. I don’t know about super hero but I do know we hold this space mentioned as sacred. We are some epic space stalkers. Major ninjas and we wear black on Friday’s. Just kidding we wear flannel Friday, it’s almost Fall.

We are space stalkers because we will keep you in this space until you get it right. Whatever “right” might be that brings about meaningful change in the persons lives.

Not going to lie, sometimes people get super pissed. I mean, don’t we all want this space to ourselves? I know I do! Do not space stalk me and error correct me when I’m doing it wrong. WTF right? Then it means I have to change. That’s too much work. No thank you. Insert scar on the arm and bruise on my elbow from the past week.

You know what? Jesus space stalks all of us when we let Him. It might even feel like He put our sweet little selves on extinction when we aren’t getting it right. That is a fancy word for ignoring. Nobody there, yep crickets. But the minute we try it His way Jesus is right there beside us. Actually He never left. Perhaps we were just escaping the space stalking? Food for thought.

One of my kiddos learned this escape trick the hard way. Yes, the consequence was horrible. She was probably thinking WTF? If I don’t escape this space stalker lady it means I have to change and that is too much work. No thank you! I’m out of here.

You are probably curious what happened? Well…she stood up to run from the work, fell down mid escape over a chair, landed on her wrist to brace the fall and fractured it. All while we were trying to help her in this space with the different choice. This happened about six months ago and while her broken wrist healed quickly, the memory of it remains for everyone involved. Today she is learning to ask for what she needs by asking for a break instead of trying to escape. Which essentially is her learning that asking for help in this space can be life changing. At the very least it is a heck of a lot better than the six weeks in an arm cast.

Instead of broken bones she has healing.

I often think of the scars on Jesus when He chose the cross. Jesus also had a choice in the space and He chose to heal us. It takes work to let the space stalker change us. In fact we might escape to a few broken bones until we learn differently.

When we accept the help and no longer engage in the escape…Jesus will be our space stalker.

I don’t know about my super hero title in people’s lives with ABA but I do know the super power of Jesus. If we embrace our imperfections, I know love will do the rest. ❤️

Proud to be a space stalker.

Loved by Grace,

Aimee

What Makes A Good Christian?

Have you ever wondered what makes someone a good Christian? Well you can really never know everything about this topic but there a few things that are known traits that make people good Christians.

One thing that makes someone a good Christian is they follow Jesus’ example at all times as best they can and love others with their whole heart. This makes sense because Jesus loves everyone equally so one thing you can do is try your hardest to love everyone equally in your life.

One other thing that will really help you in life is acknowledging that you have faults and sins and instead of just being sorry about those things repent, change your attitude and pray.

This next thing you can do is something a lot of people do on a daily basis. It is to read the Bible and do what it says and along with that allow God to change you. Now I know it sounds simple like it won’t help you become a better Christian but it actually helps you see other situations in life in more of a faithful manner.

Another thing that you need to be able to do is understand that you will be persecuted for your beliefs.

One other thing that you need to do on a day to day basis is set aside time for effective and meaningful prayer because not only will it aid you to becoming a better Christian, it will also give you relaxation time away from the rest of your life.

The next thing you can do every day whether you are with friends or even if you are just out and about is trying to see the perspectives of others around you. In other words the point of view of others. I know that sometimes I get into little fights with my friends and I sometimes need to just think about what they feel like and think of if I were to put myself in their shoes how hard this fight is for them. This helps you become a better Christian because you are thinking about others and not only yourself. This also goes along with being patient with people who do not make you happy or even with people who make you upset. This trick helps me a lot. Sometimes if you are just so upset about something and you can’t forget about it just work and pray for others to the best of your abilities because if they are that bad of people they really need it. This is a trick I got from my mom.

Lastly, it is very helpful to think about keeping your faith through everything because if you are constantly worrying about things you will never live your life to the fullest. All of these things together if you try to work at them every day you will slowly become a good Christian.

This was written by one of my students and to say I’m proud of them would be an understatement.

Loved by Grace,

Aimee

Tuesday Truth

Today on this national teacher appreciation day, Tuesday thoughts.

How can one possibly know all there is about the mysteries of life if they’ve never written with its color? It is those who have been brave enough to write with different colors who have always moved us beyond the black and white.

The greatest teacher of this was and is Jesus Christ on this earth. Here is to the many others who live in that truth. ❤️

#keepteachingtruth

Loved By Grace,

Aimee

Little Rosa

You must never be fearful about what you are doing when it is right. ~ Rosa Parks

A few weeks ago I had an encounter with a third grader that has stayed on my heart ever since we sat together. It’s a story of little Rosa.

As a teacher we spend time reading with the kids and having them read to us which is important in the growth of developing readers. It is usually these moments that stop me in my tracks because children will tell you their fears, hopes, dreams, you name it they tell you. On this particular day A, initialed for privacy, asked if I would sit down with her to read and because she had some questions. She was reading an non-fiction book about Martin Luther King Jr. and was already a few chapters in to the book. At the end of the chapter, the paragraph she began to read out loud to me about the woman who refused to give up her seat on the bus. We all know from history this woman is Rosa Parks.

What A and I read about Rosa was no less inspiring than any history book might cover but it was the question A asked me which hit deepest. The paragraph described a time when black people would have to stand in line at the front entrance of the bus, enter on the bus, give the bus driver their ticket, then exit off and walk to the back of the bus where they were allowed to re-enter to a seat in the back.

We all know Rosa Parks changed the trajectory of this practice, a misguided belief system which was unjust but A just read it. A paused, looked up at me and asked if this could or would ever happen to her on a bus. If I keep in mind she is a black female student in a predominately white community I can immediately begin to sense her concern. It sounded as though she wasn’t quite sure this could or would never happen again.

It was hard to fight back tears. What do I say? I can’t promise her without a doubt that injustice will never happen to her and that means every one of us holding accountability in continuing to speak up at injustice. I can reassure her that Rosa Parks is a hero because she stood for truth and empower her to hold tight to what this incredible woman did in history. To remind her that she has the same freedom regardless of any fear that surrounds us.

A is a little Rosa legacy. At the end of the day I reflect and remember the book of Esther when fear feels too great of thing to change. Rarely has choosing it over love changed the world.

Love demands that we start to push back on shame, and start showing up in our own lives. For many of us, this will be a risk. A huge leap of faith into the hopefully present but sometimes seemingly invisible arms of love. ~ Hillary McBride

Loved By Grace,

Aimee

Tearing Down Forts

I haven’t felt like writing much over the past several months for a variety of reasons but mainly because of one key point. My morning devotion shined a razor focused light on that point right toward my brain so thank you Jesus for the jolt awake today. No amount of the self induced caffeine fort is going to cut it today. HA!

So, I’m simply going to write from my heart regardless of the whopper sized day ahead. You see, one of the biggest forts that I build for myself is protection from fear. One of those has always been death or the lack of control thereof from the reality of death. But it is something we all face no matter how far away we run from it. I suppose I’ve done what many people probably do which is the use of self made protection or we could also say the use of our own forts. We all have them to some extent because we are special little hellions that Jesus loves regardless. The point is when we follow Jesus there will be fear surrounding us and it will be hard and not all of it will be pretty. The cross was pretty. Not everyone likes that kind of hard but Jesus loves that kind of hard. In fact the Bible references do not fear at least 365 times which is our daily affirmation to dismantle it.

Back to my forts. Running from it, putting it out of the mind, thinking about it as little as possible, trying to forget, sometimes even numbing it. But you can’t forget because it exists. All of these self induced forts are futile because hard things exist under God’s sovereign plan of life. Question is when to stop running and when to start facing.

There are a lot of self made things I’m still dismantling so this girl right here is far from perfect. However, I’m working hard at dismantling them because of Jesus. One of is a commitment I made in working with grieving children. Let’s just say there would have been no way on earth my previous self would knowingly walk in to a room full of death and grief and pain. Who am I kidding, my current self wouldn’t be able to do it without Jesus either. But I’m doing it with Him by my side. It is some is heavy stuff and with the hard, heavy stuff there is so much love.

He was the one who found her and had to cut Mom down from the rope.

When I’m here I know I am not alone.

Suddenly, any of my own first world problems melt away.

To be continued…today hopefully. Tearing down more forts over here peeps!

Loved By Grace,

Aimee

Confessions Of A Weary Teacher

Much like the rest of the existing world, my mind has been filled with thoughts on schools and the people who fill their hallways nearly every day. What on earth are the right answers to keep them safe? It feels like an impossible answer, a trick question nobody can seem to get right yet everyone seems to know an answer. Meanwhile the debate rages on while lives who fill the hallways continue to die tragically when it all goes wrong.

This is a snapshot of a window into our schools. It is your school, it is their school, it is my school. Most people might see a cozy welcoming entryway for our kiddos but a teacher sees preparing for the worst. You see, those curtains in this picture serve a much bigger purpose then friendly decoration. They are there for a very distinct purpose, to block the visibility of the window to the classroom. While welcoming to most visitors, the intentional reason for the placement there is for protection in an active shooter situation. Yet teachers make it look safe, nothing to panic about when we see it. Look around in a school and you will see it. Every teacher has it in some fashion or theme of their choosing but they have it.

Next look at the door itself. It is open on the inside for entry out but the handle locks from the outside once the door closes shut. Most days students come and go out of the door for various activities or when they need to go to the bathroom which is an all day occurrence. You might be thinking what happens when they have to come back in? You guessed it! Someone is always knocking on the door. To be honest it can be a huge distraction to learning. Much of the time the kiddos themselves automatically place a small magnet in the crack of the door so they don’t have to interrupt when they come back to class. Yet we live in a country where the automatic locking of the door may be what saves lives.

Nobody wants to believe this is all possible in any school until the unthinkable happens. It is easier to push it out of our minds because it is a coping mechanism until we have to accept its reality.

Last week this particular school had a lock down. It wasn’t a drill. A student had escalated to the point of throwing chairs in their classroom, consequently damaging school property and fleeing to the hallway. While there, continued to throw items at the lost and found bins toward staff who was trying to intervene. A threat to themselves and others in this escalated state means the rest of the school secured in lock down procedures. Occurring during the lunch time, the rest of the students were kept longer on recess or in the lunchroom to keep them safe from the situation.

The child I’m describing here is in first grade and I happen to have spent time with them in the classroom. The reality is some of our most innocent, youngest and most impressionable minds are at every school, your school, their school, my school. They are as young as kindergarten. The majority of the time they are as well adjusted and happy as any other child in school. In this one child’s world I’ve seen it. He happened to be student of the week the last time I was in the class and beamed with pride getting to help the teacher read a book aloud and present his show & tell. This is a kind, caring, creative kiddo but one who doesn’t function like the “regular” mold. As such he can escalate to frustration which can quickly turn to anger on to rage and the rage brings out an uncontrollable side to him. This is a child receiving care and attention at school to help him, as much extra care as possible with the resources available.

Is it enough? I’m not certain the supportive services will guarantee this child’s future. What is certain is this first grader doesn’t know how to stop himself once he escalates. What is certain is he is just like every other child I encounter who struggles most in their classroom. The more “different” episodes they experience, the more it shapes their existence. The more it effects how other people treat them.

What is certain is when not escalated he shows love toward others and in turn needs the most love. What is certain is that he needs love tenfold but the opposite so easily happens.

What is certain is seeing school staff scurry to clean up the mess so that others would not panic.

Mental health, it’s struggles, it’s challenges and risks are real no matter how much we try not to face it. Nothing is as raw as seeing it overtake a very young child’s functioning and the impact it has on their existence. Witnessing rules of existing peacefully backfire on their impressionable hearts is disheartening…I behaved badly, now others think I’m bad…my peers say I’m bad…therefore I am bad.

Social connectedness or lack there of is critical to our human experience. God wired us this way because God designed us for love. The stigma of “bad” reinforced over time has the potential to do incredibly more harm than any school support system in place to combat it.

Witnessing those lost and found items flying through the air was difficult because I see this child’s heart. Yet at the same time I could not help but see this kid suddenly lose control of his heart. In that moment I see him behind the eyes of a nineteen year old, escalated to the point of uncontrollable rage they can not control. Knowing it as a cycle that had been building long before any bullets began flying through the air.

It is not justification to take life but it is coming from a broken person. We can and should protect all of our most innocent youth. When will our country wake up when it is almost as easy to pick an AR-15 at the store as it is for this first grader to run to the lost & found? When is it enough?

Love for others, respect for human life and protection of the innocent are all things Christ taught on this earth. Not once are we to value own life and our rights over others and that includes guns.

As a teacher, the thought of spending the day armed with a concealed weapon, to possibly have to defend innocent children’s lives is a weight already heavily weighted shoulders. Even worse, the thought of taking a child’s life who has escalated beyond control is an unbearable thought because at some point or another we have also seen their fragile heart. We’ve seen it and either way we lose.

We’ve failed both. Confessions of a weary teacher.

Loved By Grace,

Aimee

Wednesday Wisdom

Wednesday wisdom roll call from third grade reading and writing gallery:

“You really don’t care what people think.”

“About what?”

“About sitting with me. About anything.”

“Why should I?” asked Dyamonde. “I know what I think, and that’s enough.”

Free just shook his head.

“You can’t do things or not do things just ’cause somebody else thinks you should. I mean, what if they’re dumb as a rock and you’re paying attention to them? That’s silly. Anyways, can I get a couple of fries or not?”

Free pushed the plate of fries toward Dyamonde and was quiet for a long while. She sure gave Free a lot to think about.

From the book:

Make Way for Dyamonde Daniel by Nikki Grimes

Have to admit, this teacher right here paused still as a rock…pause, pause, paused…nope can’t bite my cheeks, laugh, laugh, laughed out FREAKING loud! By the way, I happened to be the narrator reading this to the class…out loud. What can I say? I try to practice the pause but this was just the BOMB of a chapter! Make way for Dyamonde Daniel!

This my friends is like a modern day clip of a Jesus parable. Now having said that, Jesus did not say dumb as a rock in scripture but the point he made was the same. OH YES it sure was so I just stop in my tracks now when I hear it spoken in modern day terms. Note to self, those Pharisees did think they were pretty smart but we know how that went…sucked rocks.

Jesus loves rocks, he loves sucky rocks and dumb rocks which is important to remember. But he sure didn’t listen to them. Just saying.

THIS! From the third grade reading library.

Did I mention how much I love this class? T, my man, OH-EM-GEE look at your epic blue hair! Well duh, of course because this kid is the BOMB of a third grader right here! T. Martinez, he drew me the portrait above in case any of us wondered. Whether you love or hate our President you have to admit, my man T nailed it!

These guys have grown a foot since before Christmas.

And J, you stayed in class today! Although my heart is just a bit sad to hear you are leaving to a new school but I know it is going to be the help you need. Prayers for that J, praise God. Today however, is my opportunity to influence the small voice in your brain above all the other garbage that says doing the work of school isn’t for you. It is J, you just have to find the right way your brain goes about accomplishing it and the rest, well…it’s just BS.

Here is the proof…YOU DID YOUR MATH with me today. Sure, it was only after I asked you to work on it in a different way, okay maybe I tricked you but you did it! You started in on one of your adventures which I welcomed and encouraged. A kick a*% story about Scott, Cindy, Josh and you at the park taking care of the facilities and tending to the tasks of the rocks which it sounds like you actually get to do in real life. Dumb rocks. No irony there, no sarcasm. Then you cleaned some desks with Clorox wipes to keep your hands busy which is not a surprise, your hands are always creating or busy doing something! As we talked about your adventures before you knew we were throwing math in to the adventure and BOOM, math work is done. HAPPY DANCE!

Don’t tell me your brain doesn’t work J because I know it does. Don’t listen to rocks when you are a diamond. Show us how diamonds work. Small voice J, it is there, don’t ever lose it.

Hebrews 9-10 Highlights:

Christ’s tabernacle, the presence of God (Christ’s spirit) is not part of human creation. It is not built by human hands. It is different!

Jesus sets aside the first to establish the second.

Jesus puts his laws in our hearts and minds.

Small voice J, it is spirit there in our hearts and minds. In spite of rocks.

Loved By Grace,

Aimee

Simply Not True

My heart completely broke this morning for one of my students. What do you say to a child wounded by the mean words of another? It is not an easy task. It makes me want to help the world see we must do a better job. His little tears depend on it and the only way I know how to do that is to write about it.

I thought yesterday was a mess which is a story for another blog post but then here came Thursday. Let's just call him T for the purposes of this blog. There he was looking up at me with tears welling up in his eyes as I asked him what was wrong. As he is crying he says J told him Mexicans are bad and people from Mexico don't belong in Michigan. More tears with a pause. Then T says "my Momma and Grandma are from Mexico" and then just huge tears looking up at me. I'm Mexican too.

OH-EM-GEE! Even a young child can understand the fact that there is nothing he can change about who he is or his family. Yet have another person leave him feeling completely unwanted, wrong, shamed, bad. How do you explain to a child what they are feeling is oppression?

T gets it. He's not wanted, shouldn't exist…SIMPLY NOT TRUE. 💔

My heart broke for both these kids today. One because I love J and I know he does not have an easy life. I've written about J in the past. He has suffered in his young life far too much but he has nevertheless learned privilege from this world and his heart is hardening. He decided to use it to deliver incredible harm to T.

J isn't the only child saying harmful words. I've heard a black student called a brownie…I've heard another student told they show everyone what it looks like to be gay. And I've seen and wiped tears from these children's eyes every time.

I missed seeing J today but he was sent home. Educators have to teach them these actions are wrong. But seriously, the odds feel incredibly high when our country has leaders who take pride in this kind of hate. It's sickening because a teacher can see it come straight back out of the mouths of children.

We aren't born of hate. We learn it or we experience it and it just becomes a horrible cycle.

I'm sitting here tonight teary eyed with prayers for T. Praying he never has to hear something so wounding about his identity ever again.

All I could do was hug him and insist what was said to him is simply not true.

Loved By Grace,
Aimee

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑