Autism Service Dogs

IMG_7012Hello everyone. I hope Fall is off to a wonderful start for you (quite frankly, I miss summer already).

We are once again delighted to feature an article, written by high school student, Kathleen Carter, a teen living with Asperger’s Syndrome. Today she writes to us about the impact of having an autism support dog on her day to day life with AS. We thank her for allowing us a glimpse into her life and sharing her insight.

A couple of years ago when I was really struggling in middle school, my parents decided to put me on the waiting list with an organization that trains autism service dogs. I was being bullied often, and as a result of the bullying, my self-esteem had plummeted. I no longer liked or wanted to go to school. It had also caused some of my Asperger’s-related symptoms to worsen. For example, when I feel overwhelmed or anxious, I wring my hands. I was wringing them so often at school that when I came home each day my hands ached. The process of getting a dog can be lengthy, but my wait is about to come to an end. I’ll be getting my service dog a couple of weeks after school starts back. While I’ve made a lot of positive changes in my life that have helped me improve my self-esteem, the timing for my dog’s arrival is actually perfect because I’ll get to work with him for a couple of years before it’s time for me to start college, which will be overwhelming, I’m sure! (Photo by Sonja Lovas)

Here are a few reasons why I’m looking forward to working with my autism service dog:

The dog will be a calming presence. As mentioned above,calmDog in a couple of years, it will be time for me to start college. It took me a long time to adjust to being in high school so I worry that being on a college campus will simply be too overwhelming for me. As this article from Canine Journal on psychiatric service dogs notes, trained service dogs can help keep you centered in difficult situations. They “provide a focal point when situations become difficult to cope with.” I think having my dog there with me in college will help me get centered when I start feeling overwhelmed.

He will help me manage repetitive motions. My hand-wringing has been a big source of embarrassment for me over the years. The truth is often I don’t even realize when I’m doing it. But back in middle school, there were a couple of bullies in my class who were always quick to point it out. Of course, that usually only made things worse. While this is a habit that I’ve gotten largely under control, I worry that it might creep back in when I start college. handsAs this article on service dog tasks notes, my dog and other service dogs are actually trained to nudge a child on the autism spectrum when they give in to repetitive behaviors. This nudging helps the child recognize what they’re doing so that they can stop.

He will keep me safe. As this article notes, one reason autism service dogs are so valuable is that they can reduce a child on the runningautism spectrum’s ability to wander. And while wandering isn’t an issue I’ve ever had to deal with, my dog will keep me safe in other ways. For example, he can be my eyes and ears in public situations that I might find overwhelming. When I do feel overwhelmed, it can be difficult for me to figure out what to do to get myself out of the situation. When I’m in reaction mode, I don’t always notice everything in the environment around me. My dog will help calm me down and help lead me through these situations.

He will be a great companion. My service dog will be able to help me in many ways, companionbut one of the most important roles he’ll play is as my companion. Who wouldn’t want to spend their time with a friend who can, as this article from Mental Health Dogs notes, boost self-esteem, improve mood, help in social situations, reduce feelings of loneliness, and so much more!

The wait to get a service dog has been long, but I think he will be well-worth it. While I’ve gotten to spend time with him while he’s been in training, I can’t wait for him to become a more permanent part of my life and a member of my family.


Kathleen Carter enjoys educating her peers and others about AS. Recently, she began writing proudly about how her experiences differ from other people her age. She is so grateful to have the opportunity to write for EducatorLabs.

Advertisements

Children Learning to Interact with Each Other with “Words” – A Review

A review of WORDS by Lian Wright at Reese Speaks…

Reese Speaks

The VP of Cuteness began school this September, and she could not wait to start this new adventure in her life! As a parent, I was super excited for her to become more independent by starting school, but I also worry about how she will interact with her classmates since she has been at home with me and her younger brother. I do not know how she will take kids not liking her or being picked on. This is why I was thrilled to review Words by Lora Rozler to help reinforce some of the things we have been teaching her at home.

Reese_Speaks_Words_Cover_Photo

Words is a fascinating children’s book about a lonely letter, Little e, trying to find its place in its world of words. After a lot of searching, Little e has a choice to make. It had to choose between hate and love; Little e ultimately chose to…

View original post 431 more words

It’s Monday! What are you Reading? – Fantastic Fall Favorites (Part 1)

A collection of Fall favourites by Adrienne Gear

readingpowergear

IMWAYR

It’s Monday and I’m happy to be participating in a weekly event with a community of bloggers who post reviews of books that they have read the previous week. Check out more IMWAYR posts here: Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers

Ooooooo…. I just can’t help myself!  The new picture books that have been coming out in the last few weeks are SOOOOOO good – I am bursting with book love!   There are so many that I have decided to share a few each Monday this month.  Here we go with Part 1….

Steve, Raised By Wolves– by Jared Chapman

LOL!  This book is hilarious and would make a brilliant back to school read-aloud for any grade! Young Steve is literally raised by wolves.  Mother wolf sends him on his first day of school with this advice:  “Just be yourself!”.   So Steve proceeds to do just that – howling in class…

View original post 704 more words

What it means to be Canadian

In a word


Hope, richness, belonging, open. These are a few of the words some naturalized citizens from across Toronto used to describe their feelings about Canada and their citizenship.

To celebrate Canada Day the Star profiled 10 naturalized citizens, representing 10 different countries. Some were refugees; others came as immigrants. Some have been here for decades; others are newly arrived.

But they all share a common love for the freedom Canada has guaranteed them and the security their citizenship has given them. They place great value on their Canadian citizenship and it has deep meaning for them.

Click on the images to hear their answers.

From Pakistan

Aisha Daanish, 42, laughed as she recalled how she missed Canada when she went back to Karachi, Pakistan to visit family and friends only a year after she first arrived.

It was an odd and surprising reaction, she confessed. She had spent most of her life in Pakistan. Yet, here she was back in her native land and all she did was miss Canada.

She chose the word warmth to describe a country that has some of the bitterest winters on the planet. But it isn’t the temperature that she’s referring to, but rather the warmth in people’s hearts.

In Pakistan, Daanish, a kindergarten teaching assistant in a private faith-based school in Mississauga, realized it was that warmth she was missing; craving. Even the tiniest gestures of friendship, such as a neighbor advising her and her children to dress warm on a crisp fall day, made her feel she was part of the fabric of the country.

“That really touched me because that’s what Grandmas used to do in my country of origin,” she said, explaining she doesn’t feel she can call Pakistan her home anymore. “This is home now so there has to be another word other than back home.”


From Sri Lanka

Tolerance is the word Keren Stephen chose to represent her feelings about Canada.

“We are mindful,” she said of Canadians. “There is a reluctance to succeed at any cost here. And I guess the whole culture is one of tolerance and including people.

“I like Canada. I like its values. It’s amazing the amount of volunteerism that goes on here.”

The 50-year-old chartered global management accountant came to Canada in 2009 along with her brother, his wife and two nieces from Sri Lanka. They left because of the violence.

“Being in a war area there’s so much activity,” she said. “There’s so much negative. Even if you’re not personally suffering, you hear about others suffering. I was affected, but not directly. You’re living in a war. There is fear, risks.”

After travelling the world for business, she settled on Canada after ruling out the United Kingdom and Australia. “I had heard good things about Canada…One of the key things is values…Canada is a very inclusive country. I wanted to form my home base here.”

She got her Canadian citizenship in November, 2013. And it was momentous. “It was the final signing off,” she explained. “That’s it. You’re there now. You’re a citizen and have obligations. It also gave me the feeling that I can really behave like a citizen…I can call myself a Canadian.”

Continue reading

Happy Earth Day 2015

Dvorak-Earth-Day-2015Happy Earth Day everyone! Every year at this time we are reminded of how important it is to preserve the environment for future generations. Whether it be on the radio, television, social media or in educational environments, the flood of content blends into a common message – protect the earth!

We’d like to share a short, yet compelling video clip that made us pay just a little more attention this year. It’s called Dear Future Generations: Sorry. We hope you enjoy it too, and of course … share it.


My favourite line in the video was ‘An error does not become a mistake, until you refuse to correct it’. That is a powerful statement – in all facets of life, but particularly when it comes to taking care of the earth.

With this in mind, I’d like to share some classroom connections …clasroom

After many months of collecting recyclable materials, we finally set out to transform old boxes into new ART.

IMG_20150421_110257We used materials from our Art Centre (containers made from recycled products) to help with this Earth Day project.

IMG_20150421_135028


Here is a showcase of some beautiful pieces from our growing collection of Recycled Art:

IMG_20150421_131620

Fashionable Writing Utensil Caddies

IMG_20150421_131637IMG_20150423_111013

hybrid cars

IMG_20150424_105115

Spring Basket

IMG_20150421_134138An enchanting castle

IMG_20150424_104059building blocks

IMG_20150422_104536

Jewelry box

IMG_20150422_104910 The latest smartphone

IMG_20150422_105743A downtown apartment building

IMG_20150422_110737bird feeder

IMG_20150423_105937

Binoculars

IMG_20150423_105948Toy Box

IMG_20150422_111755Marker holder

IMG_20150422_111423IMG_20150423_111655 

 Decorative Tissue Boxes

IMG_20150422_112736 Pirate Ship!


Recycle is a poem I came across online that was written by Meish Goldish . Students enjoy the familiar rhythm, and the catchy pattern makes it a great math extension as well (don’t we teachers love that?!).

Recycle

After reading many books relating to Earth Day, our class sat down to brainstorm ways in which we can protect our environment. We also reviewed some of the things we were already doing in our classroom (i.e., recycling , reducing, reusing, composting, conserving energy, using only as much water as we need, not littering, etc.). Students then all had a chance to reflect on what more they could do (at school and home) and completed a promise note reminding them to take action and contribute in whichever way they could. No contribution is ever too small – every little bit helps.

EarthDayTemplate

IMG_20150424_105020

To download a copy of the poem and writing template, click on the image below.earthDaypic


Sometimes we may feel overwhelmed and wonder how these very small acts can possibly solve such a massive problem. But if we all contribute one little building block, we can turn an error into an opportunity.

For more ways you can help, click HERE.

As always, thank you for your time!

Lora

Happy International Women’s Day!

womn2A woman is the embodiment of tenderness, strength, love, devotion and wisdom. On this International Women’s Day, Words on a Limb would like to extend our appreciation and recognize women across the globe for being the pillars the world stands on. For without love, nothing else matters.

A young girl in a Plan funded schoolTo get involved in breaking the cycle of poverty and gender discrimination of girls around the world, please visit Because I am a Girl. Because I am a Girl is an initiative of Plan Canada, a global movement for change, mobilizing millions of people around the world to support social justice for children in developing countries.

Happy International Women’s Day, 2015!

We remember you … Maya Angelou

Today we lost one of literature’s most endearing, inspiring, brilliant leaders, Maya Angelou.

She was known for many things – actress, director, producer, teacher, activist, but perhaps what set her apart was her brilliant contribution to the world of literature as a poet and writer. In her autobiography, “Caged Bird”, Maya Angelou challenged the common structure of writing by producing work that her editor, Robert Loomis called, “high art”.

In honour of her life and the inspiration she has left with us, I’d like to share some of her words. They will continue to enlighten us in her passing.


Words mean more than what is set down on paper.
It takes the human voice to infuse them with deeper meaning.

 

If you don’t like something, change it.
If you can’t change it, change your attitude.

 

I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.

 

My great hope is to laugh as much as I cry; to get my work done and try to love somebody and have the courage to accept the love in return.

 

Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.

 

There is no greater agony than bearing
an untold story inside you.

 

Any book that helps a child to form a habit of reading, to make reading one of his deep and continuing needs, is good for him.

 

We may encounter many defeats
but we must not be defeated.

 

If you have only one smile in you
give it to the people you love.

 
If you find it in your heart to care for somebody else,
you will have succeeded.

 

Life loves the liver of it.

Rest in peace Maya.


Great article remembering Maya Angelou by Jian Ghomeshi