Planting some love…

Things that I love….kids, books, holidays and RPM!  So, with Valentine’s Day coming up, I decided to do a lesson that incorporated all four of my favorite things!  Book lessons can be an easy go to.  Find a book that you like, read, stop and ask questions.  It does not get any easier than that!  This can be done at all levels – with choices and single word answers for beginners or more complex questions for seasoned RPMers.  Any book will do, just make sure to use one that engages your learner!

9780061986758

To go with the Valentine’s theme, I chose Plant a Kiss by Amy Krouse Rosenthal.  I wrote about it three years ago when I reviewed some quirky books for Valentines. (Any of these books would make a great story lesson). Plant a Kiss is really more of a poem than a story, although it looks like a children’s book, there are subtle layers of meaning that make it appealing for all ages (I have given this book as a gift for engagements, births and weddings). This lesson is best suited for elementary school kids, K-6th. Plant a Kiss remains a favorite, so it was a natural choice to use with one of my 9 year old sweethearts, Lucas.  Lucas has been RPMing since Spring 2014 and always has great thoughts to share!  (Note: Lucas’ responses are in all capitals.)

Lucas and his irresistible smile!

Lucas and his irresistible smile!

First, we talked about the fact that Valentine’s Day was coming up.
What holiday is on Saturday?  VALENTINE’S DAY

Then I showed Lucas the book cover, read the title, author and illustrator.  I talked to him about what authors and illustrators do.
What is an author?  PERSON WHO WRITES A BOOK
What is an illustrator?  PERSON WHO DRAWS THE PICTURES

I read the first couple of pages and asked, “What does the girl do?”  SHE PLANTS A KISS. “Can someone actually plant a kiss?” REALLY YOU CAN’T SO IT IS FUNNY TO IMAGINE PLANTING A KISS.

I went on to read the next few pages.  “What does the girl do to grow a kiss?” SUNSHINE, WATER, GREET, REPEAT.  “How can you greet something that has been planted?” WATCH IT GROW.

Onto the next page…”What happens after the girl plants the kiss?” SHE WORRIES NOTHING WILL HAPPEN.

We go through the next two pages, “what happened next?”  THE PLANT SPROUTS AND SHE MAKES HER FRIENDS COME OUT.

The friends stare at the plant in amazement.  “What does the girl decide to do?” SHE DECIDES TO SHARE WITH HER FRIENDS.  “What do the friends think about this idea?” THEY ARE AFRAID IT WILL BE RUINED IF SHE SHARES TOO MUCH.

We read through the next few pages, soaking up the beautiful illustrations. “What did the girl do?”  SHE SHARED THE PLANT EVERYWHERE.

After this, we paused and I explained, “A metaphor is a comparison used in writing and poetry where one thing is used to represent something else.  In this story, the plant is a metaphor. What do you think the plant represents?”  THE PLANT REPRESENTS LOVE. “What do you think happens when you give away love?”  THE LOVE GROWS THE MORE YOU GIVE IT AWAY.

We read to the end of the story, “after the girl has given away the plant, what has happened to the plant?”  ENDLESS BLISS (this is a quote from the end of the story). “What does that mean?” REAL EXPLOSION OF LOVE.

“So, this book seems like a very simple children’s story, but it is far more complex.  What is the lesson the story teaches us?”  THE STORY TEACHES US TO SHARE OUR LOVE INSTEAD OF HOGGING IT FOR OURSELVES. (*I laughed out loud as Lucas spelled this out! I have the best job ever!)

Creative Writing: If you could plant anything as a gift to the world, what would you want to plant and what would you want to do with it?
I WOULD PLANT SEEDS OF HAPPINESS THAT WOULD GROW INTO KINDNESS FLOWERS.  MY FLOWERS WOULD INSPIRE PEOPLE TO BE NICE TO EACH OTHER SO THE WORLD WOULD BE A MORE BEAUTIFUL PLACE.

It doesn’t get much sweeter than this my friends! I have loved this book so much that I bought it for my niece and nephew a few years ago and we turned it into a little craft project. We planted kisses to use as place cards-gifts for our family’s Easter dinner!  If I had all the time I wanted in my RPM sessions, I would include a sensory/motor activity in each lesson.  This craft project is ideal for that purpose!  As my wise little friend, Lucas, pointed out, love grows when you share it, so I am sharing a little love and this lesson with you (with modifications for all levels).  Happy Valentine’s Day – share your love and watch it grow! ~Elizabeth

We have a dream… celebrating MLK weekend in Atlanta

I returned from my second RPM workshop in Atlanta on Martin Luther King Day, January 19. What a great workshop – 9 funny, smart, hard-working and thoughtful kids, great parents eager to use RPM with their kids and a growing RPM community of parents, grandparents, sibs, teachers, Floortimers, flexible ABAers, SLPs, OTs, and aides. This community is so great that my next blog will be all about them!  For the moment, I want to focus on the kids!

The last day of the workshop was on Monday, January 19, Martin Luther King Jr Day. So, of course, I had to do a lesson on MLK. Rather than some of the obvious choices of lessons on Martin Luther King, Jr., I decided to do a quote lesson. Quote lessons are easy to put together – pull up some quotes that fit your subject matter, lead with a few warm up questions (In this case I had the kids spell Martin Luther King; asked warm up questions about his profession; his leadership role; and cause.)  Then, choose from the quotes, read it to the kids and let them fly!  Quote lessons work best with fairly fluent kids. However, if you wanted to use this lesson with a student who is at the word level, you could modify by asking questions instead of eliciting open responses.

This lesson features the responses of Graciela, John, Reece, and Charles who all attended the last Atlanta workshop in November. Since then, they have been hard at work developing their RPM skills with their families. Here are the words of these civil rights leaders from Atlanta!

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?'”
THIS MEANS THAT WE SHOULD BE THINKING OF HOW WE CAN BE OF SERVICE TO OTHERS ~Charles

LIVING FULLY DOES NOT MEAN LIVING FOR YOURSELF.  IT MEANS LIVING A LIFE OF SERVICE ~Graciela

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
TO REMAIN SILENT ON ISSUES THAT MATTER IS THE GREATEST COWARDICE! ~Reece

Reece 2

As soon as Reece could communicate through RPM, he has consistently expressed a desire to “help other kids like me”.

“Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”
BELIEF SHOULD NOT REQUIRE PROOF! ~Charles

BELIEVE IN THINGS THAT YOU CANT SEE AND IT MAY HAPPEN ~John

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”
THIS IS KING’S FINEST WORDS.  NO ONE SHOULD BE JUDGED BY ANYTHING OTHER THAN THEIR MORAL CHARACTER AND VALUES. ~Charles

Charles, whom I have nicknamed, "The Cool", and his Mom show their skills on the boards! Two star pupils!

Charles, whom I have nicknamed, “The Cool”, and his Mom show their skills on the boards! Two star pupils!

“Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into friend.”
LOVE IS ALWAYS THE MOST EFFECTIVE WAY TO COMBAT HATE ~Graciela

LOVE IS SUCH A POWERFUL FORCE.  IT CAN CONQUER MANY THINGS INCLUDING HATE. YOU CAN FIGHT MANY WARS MORE EFFECTIVELY WITH LOVE RATHER THAN HATE AND WEAPONS. ~Reece

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”
ONLY WHEN REALLY HAVING FULLY SEEN A PERSON CHALLENGED DO YOU KNOW WHAT THEY ARE MADE OF ~Graciela

Graciela, a seasoned RPMer just starting on the keyboard is making sure her parents are checking out her work!

Graciela, a seasoned RPMer just starting on the keyboard is making sure her parents are checking out her work!

“The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.”
EDUCATION SHOULD EMBRACE THEIR DIFFERENT LEARNERS AND EXPECT THAT EACH ARE EACH CAPABLE OF LEARNING. THIS PHILOSOPHY MUST BE ACCEPTED IF AUTISTICS HAVE ANY CHANCE FOR AN EDUCATION. ~Reece

I BELIEVE THAT SPECIAL EDUCATORS NEED TO RAISE THEIR STANDARDS AND EXPECTATIONS FOR AUTISTICS. INVEST IN OUR EDUCATION AND YOU MAY BE SURPRISED AT THE RESULTS. ~Charles

EDUCATION IS MORE THAN BOOKS.  IT IS REALLY ABOUT BUILDING INTELLIGENT RESPONSIBLE CITIZENS ~John

“I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”
ALWAYS CHOOSE LOVE OVER HATE. ALWAYS CHOOSE TRUTH OVER DECEPTION. ~John

John is making sure I am accurately writing down all of his words!

John is pure happiness contained in a body. Here, he holds my hand as he make sure that I am accurately writing down all of his words!

“The time is always right to do what is right.”
RIGHT ACTION DEFY A TIME TABLE ~Graciela

“We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.”
I THINK DISAPPOINTMENT IS AN INEVITABLE PART OF LIFE.  HOWEVER IT IS NO MATCH FOR THE POWER OF HOPE! ~Charles

ACTING DISAPPOINTED WILL GET YOU NOWHERE.  HOPE WILL INSTANTLY MAKE YOU FEEL BETTER ~John

What a fantastic group of kids, families and community! Workshops are always a crazy, whirlwind of back-to-back sessions but with such an incredible community and their non-stop support, the days flew by!  How can I help but be inspired by their powerful words? What will these civil rights minded students bring to our country’s future? And, can any workshop have a better ending than this?

Reece gives the greatest bear hugs EVER!

Reece gives the greatest bear hugs EVER!

Thank you Graciela, John, Charles and Reece for sharing your beautiful thoughts and words! Thank you Atlanta RPMers for pulling together to form a strong network of learning and support!  Thank you Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for your leadership in racial equality. These four leaders for neurodiverse equality, who are in league with many other young RPMers and the growing global autism community who KNOW that non-speaking does not equal non-thinking, are creating a ripple effect of change that goes far beyond autism awareness to true equality for ALL!  Like my kids, I have infinite hope. Buckle up, we are in for quite a ride! ~Elizabeth

 

Shoaling…

fish

As a Speech Language Pathologist, I celebrate communication, self expression and neurodiversity. I write quite a bit about RPM and the words of my clients.  This week, I want to share the words of one of my speaking clients with Aspergers.  I have worked with this young man, S, for the past several years. He is incredibly smart, kind, insightful, with a dry sense of humor that cracks me up! I absolutely adore him!  Now, S is in the process of applying to colleges and has graciously consented to let me share his words.

“I am not like everyone else. I am unique and I believe my life thus far has made me this way. I’ve lived more years overseas than in America. I lived in Poland for the first three years of my life, and South Korea for seven; almost 60 percent of my life. My parents’ jobs with the government requires them to live in such places. While we were in Korea, they often hauled me off to visit various southeast Asian countries. I could say that I expanded my cultural worldview, or broadened my horizons, but in reality, I was young and not too interested. But on some level I think the years of living abroad and all the trips to places like Cambodia and Sri Lanka have given me an international perspective most Americans never develop.

But that’s not really the story of my world. That story begins with a little boy hiding under a table, overwhelmed by the world. At that age, I may have known I had Asperger’s, but I didn’t understand what it meant. Even so, I knew I was different. When I was in seventh grade, I would fantasize about how someday I would become wildly successful. The rest of mankind, with their silly “small talk,” and “friendships,” wouldn’t stand a chance against me.

At some point, I realized I was letting the world pass me by. I didn’t slip through the cracks. I sought out the cracks and crawled into them so I didn’t have to stand in the open. But then, something happened. I went into a program for students with Asperger’s at my high school, and the world opened up to me. In my sophomore year, I never said hello to anyone when I walked in the room. In my junior year, I did. It took a long time, but now it’s a habit. In my freshman year, I never talked to my teachers. If I needed information, I did without it. The next year, I needed to ask for advice, or I wouldn’t have gotten my science project done. So I did. I started talking to people and I learned about opportunities in my community. Now, I’m tutoring other autistic people in math. Over time, with a lot of help and effort, I was able to grow into a leader among my peers, and through my newborn tenacity, I’ve revealed an entirely new side of myself.

I sometimes see people with Asperger’s who have learned how to be exactly like everyone else. They talk in the hallway. They go to parties. I know I’ll never be one of those people, and on some level I don’t want to be. But to live in the water, I need to learn to swim. And I have.”

I am drawn to S’s analogy of swimming. Schooling fish are usually the same species, age and size; spaced and moving with precision. Shoaling fish relate to each other loosely, including a diverse population of fish moving in the same general direction in their own way. So, even fish know there is more than one way to move forward!  S has become exactly the young man he wants to be. He is comfortable with who he is and has tackled the goals of his choosing with grace and tenacity. Currently, he has befriended two of my high school clients who communicate via RPM. He has learned to use the letter/number boards and is teaching them algebra and pre-calculus (but that’s a story for another day)!  Any college he attends will be fortunate to have S as a student.  I look forward to watching all that he will achieve! ~Elizabeth

 

Christmas Wishes

This year, several of my families asked if I could find out what their kids wanted for Christmas. I was all for this idea – but first I had to create a lesson!  I believe lessons are so important – not only does it help the student warm up their motor skills for a nice, juicy, creative writing; it helps build a context and focus for the language. Really, when you think about it, we talkers give our conversational partner a topic and build the details of our conversation as we go. Why wouldn’t we do that with our kids during RPM? Anyway, the lesson covered the history of Christmas and Christmas traditions. Great lesson. Epic FAIL as far as helping parents buy presents but a huge WIN for getting some of the most thoughtful, selfless, beautiful creative writing about the true spirit of Christmas that I have ever seen!

Creative Writing:  simplekids.net offers a simple gift giving philosophy. Simplicity is the key to ensuring the gift giving is meaningful but not the main focus for the season. They suggest a gift list of something you want; something you need; something you wear; something you read. Based upon this philosophy, what would you include on your holiday wish list?

Here is what my kids had to say (you may want to pause here and grab a tissue!)

*Note: I use all caps to signify words that kids spelled on the letter board. Questions or comments from me are in italics. Responses written in upper and lower case were typed by my clients on a bluetooth keyboard.

Emma

Emma

THERE IS REALLY NOT VERY MUCH THAT I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS. THE THING I WANT MOST IS TO SPEND TIME WITH MY FAMILY IN HAWAII. THIS YEAR, NOTHING I NEED BECAUSE I CAN’T THINK OF ANYTHING I DON’T HAVE IN MY LIFE. ONLY I WANT TO WEAR IS NEW HATS OR SCARVES. THE HATS I ENJOY ARE SOFT. TO READ, I WOULD LIKE MOM AND DAD TO READ TO ME EVERY NIGHT. THE BOOKS I LIKE ARE EVERYTHING ABOUT HISTORY, ART AND EARTH SCIENCE. If you had no limits and no restrictions, what would you give? I WOULD BUY MY MOM SOMETHING SURPRISING TO MAKE HER LIFE EASIER. JUST SIMPLY WANT TO TELL HER I LOVE HER VERY MUCH.  MY OTHER GIFT WOULD BE TO HELP FRIENDS TALK LIKE ME NOW.  ~Emma

Paul

Paul

Something I need is to communicate to all people that autistics like me who do not talk are smart even though we don’t look like we are. I want to have and opportunity to teach others about RPM and how it is possible to speak through spelling. I would like to wear a constant smile to show how happy I am now. I would like to read how others are succeeding in their lives now that they have the gift of community of RPM.  ~Paul

Luke

Luke

MY CHRISTMAS WANT IS FOR ALL KIDS TO BE ABLE TO HAVE SUCH LOVE LIKE I DO. NO ONE SHOULD BE WITHOUT A LOVING FAMILY.  MY CHRISTMAS NEED IS TO FIND GIFTS THAT SHOW MY FAMILY HOW MUCH I LOVE THEM.  MY SOMETHING TO READ IS A SHORT STORY ABOUT AUTISTIC KIDS WHO ALSO USE RPM.  THE THING I WOULD LIKE TO WEAR IS A BODY THAT LISTENS TO MY BRAIN.  If you had unlimited resources what would you give? I WOULD GIVE AUTISTIC CHILDREN THE GIFT OF COMMUNICATION THROUGH RPM.  ~Luke

Huan

Huan

Something I want is to help other kids talk using the letter board. This has opened so many doors for me.  I want the same for all autistics so they have the human dignity of communication too. Something I need is more compassionate people who will advocate for autistics like Meghann and Elizabeth have done for me.  To wear, I would like a suit of armor that protects me from the negativity of others. I would like to read more about others with autism. If you had unlimited resources are no restrictions what would you give this Christmas?  I would give tolerance and acceptance to the world.  ~Huan

William

William

NOTHING MUCH THAT I TRULY NEED. NOTHING I SERIOUSLY WANT. NOTHING I CARE ABOUT WEARING. I WOULD ENJOY SOME NEW BOOKS TO READ.  I WOULD ENJOY SOME HISTORY GEORGE WASHINGTON AND THOMAS JEFFERSON. Anything else? THAT’S IT.  If given no limits or restrictions, what would you give? I WOULD GIVE MY FAMILY A VACATION.  I WOULD GIVE MY FRIENDS WITH AUTISM A VOICE. I WOULD GIVE THE WORLD PEACE. THE END.  ~William

Carson

Carson

SOMETHING I WANT IS NEW TOYS TO SEND TO POOR KIDS. SOMETHING I NEED IS NOT TO GO TO BED EARLY.  SOMETHING TO WEAR IS NEW SHOES. MY SHOES ARE GIVING ME A PINCH. SOMETHING TO READ IS NEW MYSTERIES TO PUZZLE OUT THE CRIME.  ~Carson

Matthew

Matthew

THE ONLY THING I WANT IS MORE SONGS TO SING. ONLY THING I NEED IS A CHANCE TO LEARN THE THINGS THAT KIDS MY AGE ARE MEANT TO KNOW SOMETIMES SUCH AS THE MAIN THINGS THEY TEACH AT SCHOOL. TO ROUND OUT SOME TIME THE THINGS THAT I WANT TO READ ARE BOOKS AT SCHOOL THAT LET ME LEGITIMATELY LEARN. THE THING THAT I WOULD LIKE TO WEAR IS GRATITUDE FOR ALL THE AMAZING MOMENTS IN MY LIFE. ~Matthew 

Davis

Davis

THE THING I WANT IS TO NOT BE SO ANXIOUS. THE THING I NEED IS TO NOT UPSET OTHERS WHEN I FLIP OUT.  THE THING I WOULD LIKE TO WEAR IS A MORE OBEDIENT BODY. THE THING I WANT TO READ IS SCIENCE NOT LITERATURE.  ~Davis

Ben

Ben

I very much want to make a difference in the lives of autistic kids everywhere. I want to help EV spread the word about RPM and help her teach parents how to do RPM with their kids. I need to catch up on my learning! I would love to have any family and friends sit down with me and teach me what they know and love best. They don’t need to use the letter board. Just talk to me and I will understand. The thing I would like to wear is historical T-shirts. What do you mean by this? T-shirts that reference great moments in history.  The thing I would like to read is anything on audible books and anything someone wants to read to me. If you were given no restrictions and unlimited resources what would you give?  I would give the gift of communication to all those who do not speak. This has been the best gift I have ever received and is my wish for all autistics.  ~Ben

NOEL!

NOEL!

Merry Christmas from my kids to you and from all of us at Growing Kids Therapy Center! May all your holiday wishes come true! ~Elizabeth, Meghann and Jeanne

Tasty holiday treats served by two Lukes!

I am a well known “holidork” – I love holidays!  All of them!  Any reason to celebrate sounds good to me!  Bonus if it involves fun decorations, gathering with friends and FOOD! At GKTC we often develop lessons to go along with the holidays. Even if it is not a holiday that a particular client celebrates, I believe it is educational to learn about customs of our world’s culture and religions.  Wouldn’t it be boring if we were all the same and celebrated the same occasions in the same way? This RPM lesson on holiday baking was written by wonderful Practice Manager, Jeanne, who happens to also be a SLP, my sister-in-law, baker extraordinaire (I love to cook, not bake – too much precision in baking for me) and a fellow holidork and foodie! Jeanne managed to dig up fascinating info on baking that had me just as captivated as my kiddos! Yes, I know, many of our kids are on restrictive diets or have picky eating habits but that did not stop any of my kids from gobbling up this lesson!  Remember, you don’t have to experienced something or even enjoy something to learn about it!

This is a great lesson to do with kids of all ages.  We used it with 5 year-olds to teens. We had choices for the kids who are still in the choice stage. The questions posted below are geared toward kids who are able to give single word and short answers. For students who are very fluent in RPM, I ask summarizing questions such as, “tell me about the tradition of building gingerbread houses.” Summarizing information and retelling it in your own words is an important academic skill. This is also a good way for fluent RPMers to work on their craft of writing (I am constantly working to improve my own writing skills!!!) By tweaking questions, you can take an interesting lesson (or article, story, web find) and taylor it to your learner. Of course, not all content is appropriate for all ages, but you would be surprised by how easy it is to adapt content once you start playing around with it.  Add or subtract details, adjust your questions and TaDa! you have a lesson!

Today, I am featuring the responses of my two Lukes! Actually, one is a Lucas – but he also goes by Luke among many other terms of endearment! Luke just turned 8 and Lucas recently turned 9. Both have been RPMing about 9 months-ish. Both have parents who practice RPM daily at home. Both are wiggly guys who bring a symphony of noises, humming, drum beats and giggles to the table. Neither ever misses a thing I say to them. Both own huge chunks of my heart! I am including the responses of both boys, not for comparison, but so you can see how different learners may respond differently. Right now, Lucas responds best with frequent short answer questions with breaks to listen in between. I try not to tax his motor skills too much during the lesson so he has plenty of energy at the end for his fabulous creative writings.  Luke does best with longer “hunks” of information and fewer questions with time for longer responses! Every kid is different!!! Every student learns at their own pace and brings different ingredients (motor, sensory, age, learning styles) to the table. The key is to develop an understanding of your learner, their best learning channels, and their unique needs that will allow them to be successful!

So, for those of you new to RPM, or are worried that your squirmy, noisy little guys are not ready for RPM or can’t do lessons….keep at it!  If you have been at this for sometime, but you are wanting more: responses/spelling/RPM time…..keep at it! Your kids are listening and learning and with consistent practice will be spelling on the boards for you too!  The secret to RPM happiness is not to compare where your child is to others but to rejoice in where they are right now!

Lucas! I can't look at this face without smiling!

Lucas! I can’t look at this face without smiling!

Luke! This is how RPM rolls at GKTC during the holidays!

Luke! This is how RPM rolls at GKTC during the holidays!

(Note: Although I used the same lesson for both boys, I sometimes skip or alter questions as I go along depending on needs of the student.)

Christmas Baking

Christmas and baking go hand in hand.  It seems like they’ve been together since the beginning!  For hundreds of years, breads and cakes, cookies and pies have graced dining room tables whenever Christmas is celebrated.

What are we talking about today?
Luke: CHRISTMAS BAKING
Lucas: CHRISTMAS BAKING

Long ago, Christmas Eve was a day of fasting.  As a way of preparing themselves for Christmas, people didn’t eat anything for the entire day, so they were really hungry when they woke up on Christmas Day.  For breakfast, porridge– a hot, thick, bland cereal– was served.

What does fasting mean?
Luke: FASTING MEANS NOT EATING
Lucas: SOMEONE NOT EATING

To prepare for Christmas, when did people fast?
Lucas: CHRISTMAS EVE

When they woke up on Christmas and were so hungry, what did people  eat?
Luke: BROKE THEIR FAST WITH PORRIDGE
Lucas: PORRIDGE

What is porridge?
Luke: PORRIDGE IS CEREAL SERVED HOT
Lucas: HOT CEREAL

As time went on, creative wives and mothers began adding dried fruits, spices and honey to the porridge to make it a special Christmas morning treat.  With all these extras, the mixture was thick and stiff, so the cooks wrapped it in cloth and dunked it in a big pot of boiling water.  Voila! You have Christmas pudding!

To make the porridge a special treat, what was added?
Luke: THEY ADDED FRUIT, NUTS, SPICES AND HONEY
Lucas: HONEY FRUIT

When the mixture was thick and stiff, how was it cooked?
Luke: THEY WRAPPED IT IN CLOTH AND BOILED IT
Lucas: IN BOILING WATER

When the mixture is boiled, what do you have?
Lucas: CHRISTMAS PUDDING

Sometime during the sixteenth century, wheat flour replaced the porridge.  Eggs were added to hold the ingredients together, and the resulting treat became known as boiled plum cake.  The English used the word “plum” to mean any dried fruit, so what we actually have here is the creation of fruitcake!

What held the ingredients together?
Luke: THEY REPLACED PORRIDGE WITH FLOUR AND EGGS
Lucas: EGGS

What was this new treat called?
Lucas: PLUM CAKE

What do we now know this treat as?
Lucas: FRUIT CAKE

When the terms “bread” and “cake” became interchangeable, or meaning the same thing, they called it fruit bread.  At one point, ginger was added in remembrance of the gifts of the Magi, or the Three Wise Men.  Remember, they brought spices or resins that were really valuable back in the days of Jesus’ birth.  Maybe this makes fruit cake and gingerbread cousins!

What does interchangeable mean?
Lucas: SAME

Tell me another word for same.
Luke: INTERCHANGEABLE

What was added to remember the gifts from the Three Wise Men?
Luke: 
GINGER WAS ADDED IN MEMORY OF THE MAGI WHO GAVE SPICES TO THE BABY JESUS
Lucas: GINGER….what is another name for the Three Wise Men?  MAGI

The word “Bethlehem”, which is the birthplace of Jesus, literally means “house of bread”. That makes me think of gingerbread houses!  The tradition of baking the sweetly decorated houses began in Germany after the Brothers Grimm published their collection of German fairy tales in the early 1800s. Among the tales was the story of Hansel and Gretel, children left to starve in the forest, who came upon a house made of bread and sugar decorations. The hungry children feasted on its sweet shingles. After the fairy tale was published, German bakers began baking gingerbread houses. The houses became particularly popular during Christmas, a tradition that came to America with German immigrants.

What does the word “Bethlehem” mean?
Lucas: HOUSE OF BREAD

In what country did the tradition of gingerbread houses begin?
Luke: GINGERBREAD HOUSES WERE MADE IN GERMANY AFTER THE FAIRY TALE HANSEL AND GRETEL
Lucas: GERMANY….what fairy tale inspired the gingerbread houses? HANSEL AND GRETEL

Germans are also responsible for associating Christmas trees with Christmas cookies. As early as 1597, they hung oblaten (decorated communion wafers) on their tannenbaums (the German word for Christmas tree). Americans hung Barnum’s Animal Cracker boxes on trees in the 1800s (the boxes were designed for this purpose). Today some people hang gingerbread men on their trees, continuing the tradition of decorating with cookies.

What did Germans associate Christmas cookies with?
Lucas:  CHRISTMAS TREES
Luke: THE GERMANS USED DECORATED COOKIES AS ORNAMENTS ON THEIR TENNENBAUMS

What does “tannenbaum” mean in English?
Lucas: CHRISTMAS TREE

What did Americans hang on Christmas trees in the 1800’s?
Lucas: ANIMAL CRACKER BOXES

Creative Writing:
What is your favorite kind of cookie? We have gingerbread cookies shaped like boys and girls, maybe representing Hansel and Gretel.  If you could design a new shape of cookie or new type of cookie what would it be and why?  What would you call your cookie?

Lucas: MY FAVORITE COOKIE IS CHOCOLATE CHIP WITH A GLASS OF MILK.  I WOULD CREATE A NEW COOKIE WITH STUFF THAT IS DELICIOUS AND HEALTHY FOR AUTISTIC KIDS TO EAT.  THIS WOULD BE CALLED THE AUTISM-MAN COOKIE.  I WOULD DECORATE IT WITH QUITE A BIT OF LETTERS.

Luke: MY FAVORITE COOKIE IS PROBABLY CHOCOLATE CHIP.  I WOULD LIKE TO CREATE A NEW COOKIE FOR KIDS THAT WOULD MAKE THEM SMART AND KIND. THAT WOULD MAKE THE WORLD A BETTER PLACE.  THEY WOULD BE CALLED LUKE’S LOVE COOKIES.

Well, I am eager to try both of these incredible cookies!!!  Here’s a little treat for you, our holiday baking lesson to try out with your delicious RPMer! For an added bonus, precede or follow the lesson with some baking with your child.  Baking or cooking is a fantastic way to practice RPM – read the recipe step by step; offer choices of what ingredient is added next; spell the ingredients; practice math by adding fractions or making conversions; taste and smell ingredients; sequence the steps; measure and pour to for fine motor practice; compose a tag for your finished product!  The possibilities are endless and the result is tasty! Happy Holidays! ~Elizabeth

Remember. Honor. Teach.

Lately, I have been thinking quite a bit about my older RPM “kids”, who are not really kids at all, but young adults. These young adults, in their late teens and early twenties, are without a doubt, the most selfless, caring individuals I have ever met. Throughout their writings are consistent themes of desires to: make meaningful contributions to society; form strong friendships; learn; educate; gain independence; help other nonspeaking kids; and hold worthwhile employment. I take their words very seriously and am constantly thinking of ways to help them meet their goals. So, my friend and fellow RPM provider, Meghan Pennington told me that she and her client, Camille, were participating in Wreaths Across America at Arlington National Cemetery, I thought this was the perfect opportunity for these young adults to be of service and hang out together!

So, EARLY morning, on December 13, we set out on our first RPM Young Adults Outing! My crew: Meghann, my GKTC counterpart and RPMer extraordinaire (yes, there are 2 Meghann/Meghans in this story!); Christie, my partner in crime; and Linda, willing friend and adventurer and I met up with our band of young adults -Ben, Huan, Emma and Paul at the metro to ride to Arlington Cemetery. Because our young adults have expressed a desire for independence, this was a parent-free outing, and we “companions” agreed to be as un-parental, un-clingy, yet responsible as possible! Better than any words I could expend telling you about our day, I think these pictures tell the story best!

It was a loooong metro ride into the city!  What should have taken 20 minutes took 2 hours!

What should have taken 20 minutes turned out to be a loooong metro ride into the city! Overcrowded trains and long waits at the station did not diminish our fun. Ben and Emma took it in stride, enjoying the trip!

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Waiting for the next train to come through was a great time to hang out and chat.

Linda, Meghann and Paul are decked out in wreaths!

After arriving at Arlington National Cemetery we picked up our wreaths. Linda, Meghann and Paul are decked out in wreaths and leading the way!

After arriving at Arlington National Cemetery, we got our wreaths.

After arriving at Arlington National Cemetery, we got our wreaths.

We met up with fellow RPM friends, Camille, Meghan and John!

We met up with fellow RPMing friends Camille, Meghan and John!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ben and Meghann read the name of the veteran and pause in remembrance before placing their wreath.

Ben and Meghann read the name of the veteran and pause in remembrance before placing their wreath.

Huan chooses where to place his wreath.

Huan chooses where to place his wreath.

Emma places her wreath.

Emma lays her wreath on the gravesite.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meghan and Camille have a moment of silence.

Meghan and Camille have a moment of silence.

Paul views the miles of grave markers now adorned with wreaths. It is a stunning reminder of all who have served this country.

Paul views the miles of grave markers now adorned with wreaths. It is a stunning reminder of all who have served our country.

The gang befriends some soldiers, thanks them for their service and gather for a picture!

Our gang befriends some soldiers, thanks them for their service, and gather for a picture.

We stop talk about what we have learned today. Ben writes, I AM SO HONORED TO BE HERE SHOWING RESPECT FOR OUR VETERANS.  Paul spells, THIS IS BY FAR THE BEST DC OUTING EVER!

We stop talk about what we have learned today. Ben writes, I AM SO HONORED TO BE HERE SHOWING RESPECT FOR OUR VETERANS.

Paul adds, THIS IS BY FAR THE BEST DC OUTING EVER!

Paul adds, THIS IS BY FAR THE BEST DC OUTING EVER!

We decide to avoid the metro lines and walk into DC to catch the metro there! We pause for a group photo on the Memorial Bridge.

We decide to avoid the metro lines and walk into DC to catch the metro there! We pause for a group photo on the Memorial Bridge.

And who can resist a photo opp in front of the Lincoln Memorial?

And who can resist a photo opp in front of the Lincoln Memorial?

After a clocking in 4.5 miles of walking for the day, everyone was HUNGRY! The kids used the boards to spell out what they wanted for lunch and ate every bite!

After a clocking in 4.5 miles of walking for the day, everyone was HUNGRY! The kids used the boards to spell out what they wanted for lunch and ate every bite!

The "old adults" were worn out from the day, but the young ones had energy to spare!

The “old adults” were worn out from the day, but the young ones had energy to spare!

As you can see, our first RPM Young Adults Outing was a huge success and will not be our last! My kids are constantly challenging me to think of new ways to involve them in the community to: learn; educate; be of service; and show the world they are smart, talented and have something to contribute. I am always on the lookout for new and interesting things to do (Don’t worry, I have ideas in mind for my elementary and middle school kids too!).  Our challenge to you is to get together with your kids and RPM friends and see what you can contribute to your community! ~Elizabeth

A Heaping Serving of Gratitude for Thanksgiving!

How have two months passed without a single blog? It has been an absolute whirlwind of non-stop activity at Growing Kids Therapy Center since September! With all that busyness comes SO much gratitude! Since September: we launched a video about the Power of Words created by 5 amazing kids; threw a spectacular red carpet premiere for the video; hosted Soma, Tito and AEA in our offices in September and October;  held RPM workshops in Eugene Oregon, Seattle Washington, and Atlanta Georgia; welcomed out of state families at our offices in Herndon, Virginia for intensive RPM sessions; and continued to support the work of local families in their RPM journey! Whew! I look forward to a little down time over the holidays to catch up on my writing – I have so many stories to tell!

AppreciateYourLife

THIS moment is about GRATITUDE!  Every second that I work with kids and families is a pure joy. There is nothing more exhilarating than helping a client find their voice! Whether by pointing to choices, finally connecting via pencil or finger to the letter board, overcoming motor challenges to spell a word, a sentence, a paragraph – it is all simply GLORIOUS! To my kids: thank you for your patience, perseverance and your willingness to work so very hard to communicate. To parents: thank you for entrusting me with your child’s learning and communication. You are the constant teachers in your child’s life! To the teachers, OTs, SLPs and caretakers: thank you for your belief and your willingness to open your minds and hearts to a new methodology to teach the kids in your life. To the grandparents, aunts, uncles and siblings who have written lessons, read aloud, and engaged your loved one in new ways: thank you for your unwavering support. To the new RPM families in Eugene/Portland, Seattle and Atlanta: thank you for welcoming me into your lives and for rallying together to support each other and each other’s children. To my fellow RPM practitioners: thank you for your leadership, sharing your insights and reaching out to kids and families everywhere. To the incredibly positive online RPM community: thank you for being the voices around the world sharing, learning and growing together. To my local families: thank you for showing up week after week with a smile on your face and ready for anything.  To my amazing GKTC family – Meghann, Jeanne and Christie: you make all of this possible by organizing, teaching, learning and growing along with me! And finally, to Soma and Tito: thank you for being the creators of RPM, sharing your work and mentoring me through this process! Yes, I have so much gratitude this Thanksgiving – my heart is full and my life is overflowing with incredible people!

And now, my kids would like to express their gratitude. This week, Meghann Parkinson (my fellow GKTC RPMer) and I have been talking to our kids about Thanksgiving. Here is the lesson and their thoughts on gratitude. The responses to the lesson are from Luke, newly 9 years old, who has been communicating with RPM since April 2014. I have included creative writings from additional clients because gratitude is an emotion that is best when shared! (Note: the lesson is presented in regular font, client responses spelled via the letter board are in all caps.)

THANKSGIVING
Known as a day to give thanks for all good things given to us, Thanksgiving is primarily celebrated in the United States and Canada.  With roots in religious and cultural traditions, it is celebrated in a slightly different way depending on the region or culture.  A day set aside for “thanks” can also be found in the Australian territory of Norfolk Island, Liberia, Germany and Japan.

What are we talking about today? THANKSGIVING

What do we give thanks for on Thanksgiving? THE GOOD THINGS IN LIFE

Which two countries are considered prime celebrants of Thanksgiving? US AND CANADA

Name one country, in addition to the U.S. and Canada, that also sets aside a day for “thanks.”  LIBERIA

The most familiar narrative about Thanksgiving is one of a shared meal with family and new friends.  In 1621 Governor William Bradford invited local Wampanoag Indians to join a meal in celebration of their harvest. However, this meal was not formally known as “Thanksgiving” until 1623 when a long period of drought was cured by rain! The Pilgrims of Plymouth, Massachusetts are considered the founding fathers of Thanksgiving.

What is the most familiar narrative about Thanksgiving? FAMILY AND FRIENDS AT DINNER

What year was the first Thanksgiving meal held? 1621

Who did Governor William Bradford invite to Thanksgiving? WAMPANOAG INDIANS

What year did Thanksgiving receive its formal name? 1623

Why did they call it Thanksgiving? CELEBRATING CROPS AFTER LONG DROUGHT

Who are considered the founding fathers of Thanksgiving? PLYMOUTH PILGRIMS

In the United States Thanksgiving is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November; an annual tradition by presidential proclamation since 1863.  This year Thanksgiving will be celebrated on November 27. Most people have the day off from work and gather with family to take in local parades, attend religious services, enjoy bountiful meals, play flag football or even watch football on television! The Dallas Cowboys and Detroit Lions are guaranteed to play each Thanksgiving; a tradition that dates back to 1920!

What date will Thanksgiving be celebrated this year? NOVEMBER 27

Name one activity that families participate in on Thanksgiving. MAYBE PLAY FLAG FOOTBALL

Don’t forget to wish your friends to the north a Happy Thanksgiving!  Wait!  Canada already had Thanksgiving?  That’s right.  Canada actually celebrates Thanksgiving on the second Monday in October. Canadian Thanksgiving can be traced back to explorer Martin Frobisher in 16th century.  In pursuit of a northern passage to the Pacific Ocean, Frobisher held a Thanksgiving celebration for simply surviving the stormy journey from England. This celebration did not involve a large meal; simply prayer and communion! While you can now find the same culinary trappings as a U.S. Thanksgiving dinner (turkey, stuffing, pumpkin pie), those traditions did not arrive until settlers began to flee the U.S. during the American Revolution.

On what day and month does Canada celebrate Thanksgiving? SECOND MONDAY OF OCTOBER

How did Thanksgiving develop in Canada? ENGLISH EXPLORER FROBISHER WAS GRATEFUL FOR SAFE PASSAGE TO AMERICA

Thanksgiving is known, in general, as a day to give thanks for all good things given to us.  Celebrations will vary by country, region and culture.  On the Australian territory of Norfolk Island Thanksgiving is celebrated on the fourth Wednesday in November when families sell produce to raise money for church upkeep.  Further, they sing religious hymns and share a potluck meal of pork, chicken and pumpkin pie. In Liberia Thanksgiving is observed on the first Monday in November dating back to 1820 and the colonization of freed black slaves from the U.S. Liberian Thanksgiving features concerts, dancing and a meal of chicken and green bean casserole; often served spicy! In Japan Thanksgiving began very much like our own as it gave thanks for harvest.  However, it is now known as Labor Thanksgiving, focused more on thanking workers for doing a good job.  Children even make thank you cards for public servants like firefighters and hospital workers!

Name one reason Thanksgiving celebrations may vary from your own. DEPENDS ON CULTURE

What do citizens of Norfolk Island do on Thanksgiving? NORFOLK ISLAND RAISES MONEY FOR CHURCH ON THANKSGIVING

How do Liberians celebrate Thanksgiving? LIBERIA CELEBRATES FREEDOM FROM SLAVERY

Creative Writing: For this creative writing you may choose one of three options: 1) write a letter of gratitude to anyone or anything for which you are grateful; 2) create a gratitude list (This is a good creative writing option for kids who are just moving into creative writing); 3) compose an acrostic poem using the word THANKSGIVING. The only rule is that you must start your word or sentence with the assigned letter, whether your poem rhymes or not is up to you!

DEAR RPM,
I AM SO GRATEFUL FOR THE CHANGES YOU HAVE MADE IN MY LIFE.  THANKS RPM! NOW MY LIFE IS SO MEANINGFUL.  I LOVE GOING TO SCHOOL NOW THAT SCHOOL IS FINALLY CHALLENGING ME!  THIS IS A WHOLE NEW LIFE FOR ME!
LOVE,
LUKE

DEAR FAMILY,
ON THIS THANKSGIVING DAY, I AM WRITING TO TELL YOU HOW THANKFUL I AM FOR YOU.  DEAR DAD I AM THANKFUL FOR BEING SO HEART FILLED TOWARD ME. EACH MORNING I LOVE CUDDLING WITH YOU.  AMALIA HOW SWEET IT IS TO BE YOUR SISTER.  I ALWAYS DEAR SISTER, LOVE SPENDING TIME WITH YOU.  MOM, I AM THANKFUL FOR YOU.  EACH DAY HEAVEN’S GLORY KEEPS TELLING ME THAT I AM LUCKY TO BE A PART OF THE FAMILY.  TOO MANY FAMILIES DO NOT SHOW THEIR LOVE EACH DAY. FAMILY IS TOP PRIORITY, MEANS EVERYTHING TO ME.  A LOT OF NEW TEACHINGS THIS YEAR THANKS TO RPM. EACH DAY IS NOW A REALLY, ALREADY AWESOME OPPORTUNITY TO SPEAK TO YOU.
GRACIELA  (lesson completed with her mom on Thanksgiving vacation).

I AM THANKFUL FOR THE CHANCE TO WRITE THIS LETTER FOR YOU, MY FAMILY.  I THANK MOM AND DAD AND CHARLY FOR THEIR LOVE AND INSPIRATION. I THANK RPM WITH ELIZABETH AND MEG.  I THANK ANOTHER, MY SISTER FOR HER STRENGTH AND LOVING HEART.
WlLLIAM (lesson completed with Meghann Parkinson at GKTC)

THANKSGIVING IS NEAR
HAVING FAMILY AROUND BRINGS CHEER.
ALWAYS TAKE TIME TO REALLY LISTEN TO LIFE
NEVER FOCUS ON STRIFE.
KNOWING YOUR BLESSINGS IS THE KEY
SECURING YOUR HAPPINESS, LISTEN TO ME.
GIVING, NOT GETTING, CAN SHOW YOU THE WAY
TRY TO DO THIS EVERY DAY.
VERY SOON YOU CAN CREATE A HABIT
KNOW HAPPINESS EXISTS, REACH OUT AND GRAB IT.
NEVER GIVE UP ON YOUR AMBITION
GRATITUDE WILL BRING DREAMS TO FRUITION.
Ben

All of us at Growing Kids Therapy Center wish you all a gratitude filled Thanksgiving! I am always grateful to you who read this blog and share it with others! As our gift to you, I have posted this Thanksgiving lesson in its entirety on the GKTC website. Sit down with a letter board and someone you love and share a little thanks! ~Elizabeth