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Managing Behaviours and Dealing with Trauma

16 April, 2014

I recently attended a workshop/seminar where Margaret Goldfinch spoke about managing difficult behaviours, especially when trauma is involved. I found, though, that a lot of it was applicable to all children, although the kids with the challenging behaviour are the ones who need our intentional, consistent responses the most.

One of the most useful tips I got was to just keep enforcing the consequence. Don’t escalate it because they have done it three times already and thereby punish them for not learning quick enough. You just consistently, and patiently, enforce the consequence. Of course, over time you may need to change the consequence if it is ineffective, but it is not making the consequence bigger and bigger, just changing what it is.

On a similar note, we learnt about using the smallest consequence possible. Which, really, makes sense. You use the smallest consequence that will be effective.

I learnt more from the workshop than this but these were my two take-home, able-to-implement-immediately hints.

Hairy Maclary from Donaldson’s Dairy

15 April, 2014

Hairy Maclary was the first children’s picture book of decent length that I memorised as an adult. It seriously got that many readings. Mark had it memorised too. This is our second copy after the first was loved a little too much. Our older children have loved this book and I think it’s about time I introduced it to our younger children.

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Sensory Activities – Balls and Targets

14 April, 2014

I’ve written about sensory activities in the past but I’m hoping to blog a bit more about it in the coming weeks, as it’s something we need to work on in our own home.

My priority is to have all the sensory activities using either things we have already around the house, or inexpensive items bought from the grocery shop. I want to make sensory activities practical and accessible. I want it to seem simple – because it is – and not daunting.

Today’s featured activity doesn’t have a fancy name – balls and targets – but it’s simple. I drew a simple target circle on the brick wall with chalk.

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The idea is to then throw the ball at the wall to hit the target. You can use different sized balls, different sized and height targets and stand closer or further away to change the level of difficulty.

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This activity involves hand-eye coordination and proprioceptive senses.

Lifelong Learning – The Adolescent and Adult Neurodiversity Handbook

9 April, 2014

I’d like to start posting regularly about what I am reading and learning about, since this blog is all about learning.

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I recently borrowed The Adolescent and Adult Neuro-Diversity Handbook from the library. I confess I didn’t read the title properly when I borrowed it, but it was one of the few books in the library on autism.

I found it really interesting as we are currently considering a dyspraxia diagnosis for one of our children and there is very little information out there about dyspraxia. Dyspraxia is, basically, a deficiency in motor planning that is unrelated to intelligence.

I didn’t read the whole book – not all of it was relevant – but I read the introduction, followed by the chapters on Autism/Aspergers, ADHD, Anxiety and Dyspraxia. Technically I meet the diagnostic criteria for adult ADHD. One thing I am challenged by is the characteristic of impulsivity/poor impulse control that is a mark of adult ADHD as, in my mind, being able to control your impulses and exercise self control is a sign of maturity. Following your impulses is the stuff of childhood. How can you treat people as adults, when they act like a child (due to poor impulse control)? Food for thought.

I was also interested to discover anxiety disorders as part of a book on Neurodiversity. It certainly doesn’t enter my mind, in and of itself, as a Neurodiverse condition, although it often goes alongside conditions such as autism.

The book itself was easy enough to read although very few people would need to read it cover to cover, it’s more a “dive in where you need” book.

I’m sure this book will prove useful to many, and I may refer back to it at a later date, but we aren’t up to the adult/adolescent part yet – at least not in our household.

Studies in Australian History – the Last six weeks

9 April, 2014

I haven’t been posting regularly about our studies but we have been plodding along with them nonetheless.

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We enjoyed The Fair Dinkum War so much it will (eventually) make its way onto my list of recommended Australian History books.

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We also went on a slightly crazy excursion to visit local war memorials. Mostly thwarted by torrential rain and the fact that most local war memorials were outdoors.

We also read the books The Mozart Question and Faithful Elephants that examined the war from a foreign perspective and Angel of Kokoda by Mark Wilson. The more of his books I read the more I love the way he handles the difficult topics of life, like war.

We moved on from the world wars and touched on the Vietnam War with Vietnam Diary (also by Mark Wilson) and Afghanistan Pup (brand new, released less than a month ago) while touching on refugees (The Happiest Little Refugee by Anh and Suzanne Do) and our national anthem (Advance Australia Fair).

We’ve also enjoyed Python by Christopher Chen – while not history it was still Australian. We’ve been on nature walks and put our energies into other things other than Australian history.

We’ve finished Our Sunburnt Country and almost finished the My Place TV Series (which we are watching from end to beginning since the series is in reverse chronological order). We are still working through Discover Downunder and Prime Ministers of Australia, both of which will keep us going for the coming term. I still have some geography themed books for Australia we will incorporate but I think we are done with our history books for the time being.

Looking forward, our plans are to do some local area and family history, and study some of the bush poets, such as Banjo Patterson and Henry Lawson. After about a month of that we will dive headlong into our next history study – Tudor England.

So that’s us, up to date, although I’m certain I will remember books I have failed to mention.

Life has just been a bit too crazy to keep you all up to date on everything we’ve done of late and the last six weeks has brought a lot of appointments which have thrown our routine right out. >

Fifty Young Children’s Picture Books We Love – The Very Hungry Caterpillar

8 April, 2014

I always have grand plans that don’t always make it to fruition. My latest grand plan is to post fifty children’s picture books that we love.

To qualify for this list they need to be suitable for children under the age of five (but they can be enjoyed a lot older than that) and stand up to multiple readings. Some of these books have been so loved we have replaced them. Some more than once.

I’m not making this an “essential” or “must-read” list. Everyone has their own loves and dislikes. I just want to share picture books that we enjoy.

I’m hoping to post about one book per week for a year-ish. Sometimes I’ll have lots to say. Sometimes not a lot. That is more likely an indication of my available time and energy levels than the quality of the book.

The first book I’d like to feature is The Very Hungry Caterpillar. We own it in both Spanish and English – the only book I can say that about at the moment. The Very Hungry Caterpillar is a book I remember from my childhood. It is useful for teaching numbers, days of the week, life cycles and nutrition.

Our copy of the book has been read over and over and over.

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Nobody Tells You

14 March, 2014

When you have a baby everyone tells you these early days and years are precious. That the tiredness is short term.

Nobody tells you that sometimes it isn’t.

When you express your concerns about your child’s development, everybody tells you not to worry, he’ll be fine. Your friend. The community nurse. Your neighbour. The doctor. The registrar, the intern, the treatment room nurse.

Nobody tells you, you were right and we were wrong.

When you are struggling, people say to accept help.

Nobody tells you what to do when you CAN’T accept the help because there aren’t many people you can leave your child with.

Everyone will tell you “this is what will help your child. This is what you need to do”.

Nobody will tell you how to create more hours in your day to actually do these things because the basics already seem to take more than all day.

Everybody tells you, repetition and consistency. Repetition and consistency. Repetition and consistency. One lapse can set you back months of consistency.

Nobody tells you how to be a perfect saint with a 100% strike rate and get it right EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.

Everybody tells you how great your child is doing on a good day.

Nobody even talks to you when your child is having a bad day. They just stare.

Everybody tells you to look after yourself.

Nobody tells you how to find hours, babysitting and energy to exercise, cool healthy meals, take time out for yourself.

Everybody is willing to congratulate you from afar. Tell you you’re doing a great job. Tell you you must be a saint or have a super supply of patience. Put you up on a damn pedestal.

Nobody is willing to take the time to get to know you. Your fears and failures. Your successes – however small they usually are. Your hopes and your dreams.

Everybody tells you that it must be hard work.

Nobody wants to step into your shoes and see how hard it is. Or let you vent about your struggles and hear how hard it is.

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