Sunday, February 26, 2012

ASNC and Do2Learn Partner—JobTIPS

In the Winter 2012 Edition of the Autism Society of North Carolina's (ASNC) magazine, The Spectrum, there is a wonderful article about a collaboration between the Training Department at ASNC and Do2Learn with the JobTIPS program. The initial group consisted of five individuals and two facilitators. Please read the entire article for more information about the vocational training group on page 17 of The Spectrum.

JobTIPS is designed to help individuals with disabilities such as Autism Spectrum Disorder explore career interests, seek and obtain employment, and successfully maintain employment. It also addresses the social and behavioral differences that might make identifying and keeping a job more difficult. Do2Learn offers JobTips FREE and the program is designed for direct use by the individual. Often it is more suitable to have someone else go through the program with the individual such as a job coach, parent, teacher, etc. Having this guidance may add structure to the program and having someone there to answer any questions right away is always helpful.

To assist those helping someone going through the JobTIPS program, Do2Learn has a comprehensive tutorial page complete with a step-by-step guide to assist in navigating the website.

For example the explanation of the toolbar:

The main toolbar on the left shows you all the major topics discussed on the website. You can use your mouse to scroll down to the topic you are interested in. If the title becomes highlighted when the cursor is over it, click on it. Most topics have a sidebar that appears the the right, showing the subtopics within that section. Use your mouse to scroll over the subtopic you are interested in and click on the highlighted title to go to that webpage.

The JobTIPS tutorial page further explains in detail videos, tip boxes, printables, key points, why boxes, and navigation arrows. This page is a good place to start when beginning the JobTIPS program for a successful navigation experience.

Do2Learn is committed to assisting those with Autism Spectrum Disorder in finding appropriate employment opportunities. Look for Transition Toolbox coming soon!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Feelings Journal

Today I am bringing in a Guest Blogger to review Do2Learn's Feelings Journal.  Kaitlin Moncol is my daughter who you have all had the pleasure of reading about in past blogs. She is weighing in on this great product that offers specific information about different types of emotions.  For more info click here. Should you have any questions for Kaitlin leave them in the comment section and we will pass them along for her responses. Take it away Kaitlin!

Feelings Journal

Hi!  I'm the new guest blogger, Kaitlin, and I would like to talk about the Feelings Journal. The Feelings Journal is like the journals bought in the bookstore, but a lot more structured. I find it's structure makes it really easy to use because it's not just pages with blank lines. Some pages ask how you're feeling and why you feel that way. Other pages are more like worksheets by giving you an emotion and an activity related to that emotion. I even found some activities that I wish I could have used during high school English classes because they would definitely have been helpful. The best part of the structure is that it's not boring. When I wrote in a plain journal I got bored really easily. It just didn't motivate me. Even if it was an assignment in school, I was not motivated to do it at all. This journal motivates me because it gives easy directions and sometimes pictures, which I really like.

Another thing I really liked about this journal was the super, awesome, amazing cover. It has a design that is modern for today's world. I like that it is a mostly purple colored cover, but that is just my preference.  I also really like the paint splatters on the cover. Not only are designs on the cover, but they are also on the individual pages. They are different for the worksheets and the journaling pages. They are in black and white, so they would not distract from any writing thoughts.

I think that teens and young adults should write and/or draw in a journal. It helps get their feelings our when they don't want to talk about them. I know that when I was a teenager, I did not always want to talk about my feelings. It's not to offend you guys; we just don't always like to talk when we are upset about something.  Parents, I think you should get the Feelings Journal for your son or daughter because it might make it easier for them to express feelings in a productive way. Teachers, I would suggest getting this for a student who might be going through a hard time. That's all I have to say about this! Can't wait til next time!

Kaitlin in her younger years!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Special Education Teachers Are Awesome!

Special education teachers have jobs that are more challenging than ever these days. There is more and more paperwork that must be filled out, even if it is on computers, it still takes valuable time to get it done. With the economy causing systems to make budgets cuts, these teachers are having to do more with less. The student to teacher ratio is beginning to change in some classes, so some teachers have more students then ever and these students have individual educational needs that must be met according to IEP guidelines. How are these teachers doing it? They are educating our students with special needs and doing a fabulous job!

  • They love their students—It is obvious that special education teachers love children.
  • They engage their student's parents—These teachers make sure there is a home-school connection. This may be by sending a newsletter by email, phone calls, daily notes, etc.
  • They are creative educators—With each student in their class having an IEP and each IEP having individual goals, these teachers have to be creative to come up with ways of meeting multiple goals at the same time. That is the ultimate in multitasking.
  • They create safe classrooms—Special educators have classrooms where their students feel safe to make mistakes as they are learning. You will often find that these classrooms are where a lot of “typical” students will gather because they feel the security within that class provided by that teacher.
  • They have patience—Oh do they have patience! Special education teachers know that they may have to go over and over an educational directive many times before it finally clicks. They also know that they may have to change the approach and these teachers never give up.

Special education teachers are so incredible and so vital to our students. We know (as mentioned in our How To Spot A Great Teacher post) that graduation time is coming up soon and student teachers are in classrooms. We are grateful to those individuals who are going into special education and we have the perfect online resource to help them get started. Our Teacher Toolbox is a compilation of advice from Dr. Claire Coles' team of experts at the Marcus Institute and the Maternal Substance Abuse and Child Development Center at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, USA.

We also have the perfect Graduation gift to help them get their new classrooms started. In fact it is a wonderful resource for ANY special education teacher! Our Special Needs Handbook for Teachers will help create an organized and efficient classroom where special needs students will thrive. Resources to help students develop problem solving in reading, language and math skills are included with a whole lot more.

Making this purchase for your favorite special education teacher will be received with such appreciation. They really need all the support and encouragement they can get these days for all the wonderful ways they are providing priceless education to our children.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

How To Spot A Great Teacher

Do you remember your favorite teacher?  Why were they your favorite teacher? I bet learning was fun in class and you never realized you were learning. You looked forward to going to school because you knew you were not going to be bored and that you would feel encouraged when you left school at the end of the day. Of course when you were younger you may not have been able to express your feelings in this way, but your parents could tell that you liked your teacher by how happy you were and how much you learned. Even if your favorite teacher had to scold you they did so in a way that effectively taught you how to do the right thing the next time you were faced with a similar situation.

As a parent I have witnessed both my daughters become enamored with teachers and those teachers all share some of the same qualities. Of course I viewed my favorite teachers differently as a parent then I did as a student. The qualities that come to mind time and again in those top teachers my daughters were fortunate to have are:
  • Organized—they have the classroom ready to go and they themselves are structured and appear prepared for what the day may bring.
  • Good listeners—this always helps form strong genuine bonds with their students.
  • Makes learning fun—they know what motivates students to learn and they know that learning happens in and outside of the classroom.
  • Good communication—with the parents as well as with the students. Teachers who are clear about expectations in the class with both parents and students, and are not afraid to contact parents about any issue good or bad.
  • Break it down—having a teacher who can explain concepts in an understandable fashion is priceless to both a student and parent.
We are nearing the time of year where student teachers are working in classrooms with students. This means they will be graduating in a few short months and then off to their own classrooms. This is such an exciting time for those “soon to be” new teachers. Perhaps you know a student teacher or even a teacher who is still “new” to teaching and you would like to be encouraging and offer support as they begin their new career. Do2Learn has developed a Handbook for New Teachers that is specific for teachers K-5. This handbook is really a great way to show a new teacher how much you care and support them.

The Handbook for New Teachers is an essential and easy-to-use guide for K-5 teachers that is designed to make the first day of teaching stress-free and organized. Practices proven effective by experienced teachers are presented in a visually clear format, with all needed forms and examples to make them work. This handbook contains over 60 pages of reproducible forms. These include room centers and book labels, passes, parent contact letters and communication sheets, student contracts and behavior point sheets for graduated behavior levels, special education schedule forms, procedures lists, student homework and weekly folders, seating charts, work overdue and field trip notices, complete substitute teacher much more. Building on its teacher and special educational experience, Do2Learn has developed and tested this thoughtful and valuable resource for the new teacher.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Fine Motor Skill Deficits – Starting Early Counts

When we think of fine motor skills the word dexterity often comes to mind. These skills are the coordination of small muscle movements, such as in the fingers and hands, (also toes, lips, tongue, etc.) along with the eyes. Often a child with a fine motor skill deficit may have difficulty with handwriting, painting, using scissors, and even dressing themselves or tying shoes. You may even be surprised to know that fine motor deficits can affect facial expressions and eating.

A Doctor can make a referral to an Occupational Therapist who can do an evaluation to see if there are fine motor skill deficits and recommend specific interventions for your child/student. This may also happen within a school setting as well. If you already have that information, or just want to encourage those skills in your child/student, there are lots of activities that are done everyday that work on those fine motor skills. For example, just passing an object from one hand to the other is a wonderful activity that works on fine motor skills. Picking up those little o-shaped cereal pieces are great for the pincer grasp. Building towers with blocks and cutting with scissors, not to mention learning how to tie shoes, all work on fine motor skills. Plus they are all so much fun!!

Do2Learn has a Fine Motor SkillsActivity Book available that is designed to improve fine motor skills. It contains activities that provide positive sensory feedback and enhances hand-eye coordination. These activities also exercise the muscles needed to manipulate a pencil in a mature tripod grasp. Work on this grasp is needed to prevent fatigue during handwriting activities.

For more information on fine motor skills development and activities be sure to check out this page.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Redesigning – Need Your Help

Do2Learn is in the process of redesigning many of our resources to make them more usable for schools and other organizations. Specifically, we are doing a complete redesign of our Make-A-Schedule program. We value your opinion and need your feedback and suggestions. So if you will answer a few questions regarding MAS and a few regarding your local school's software policy we would be very appreciative. We know you are out there reading this blog, visiting our site and using our resources. We see the stats and we want to make all our our resources easier for you to access. Tell us how we can do that.

Concerning Make-A-Schedule: (comments can be left in the comment section below or at this page at our site)
  • What would you like us to keep, drop, change or add within the program? This can be anything! Let your imagination go wild when you give us this feedback. Tell us about what new pictures would be helpful. Different templates? Is there something we need to do differently to make it easier for you?
  • What “picture program/schedule maker” are you using now and why that program? Be honest! Is it because it's what your school provides? As a parent is it affordable for you? Ease of use? Better pictures?

Concerning school software policy: (comments can be left in the comment section below or at this page at our site)
  • What is your school system's policy for software and outside web site access? This information will help us so much in the redesign of our products to assure you have ease of use.
  • Do you have a vendor check list for software compliance? If so, please share that with us! Again, this information will be very helpful in assuring your ease of use with our products.
  • If you don't know the answers to these questions, please forward the name and contact information of the IT department at your school/school system and we will happily contact them directly.

If you are having any problems in giving feedback with the above methods please visit our Facebook page and leave the information there or email your comments to me at We thank you in advance for your help in this matter.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Support – Who is Holding You Up?

When you have a loved one with special needs you need support! Some days more than others, of course. Those early days right after finding out about a diagnosis may feel like a blur, but that is the time to begin to reach out and locate resources for support for you, your family and your loved one.

WHO—Who can offer support? Hopefully the professionals giving you the diagnosis will give you information on local resources in your area. Look to them for support. Perhaps there is a local, state, or national organization related to your loved one's disability or special need that you can connect with. Churches or other religious organizations offer support. Look to your friends and family, though they may be struggling themselves to understand what is happening with your loved one, they can still be a great source of encouragement. In fact, it would be very helpful to get them involved with your support search. There are professionals such as counselors, social workers, psychologists, etc. and you should never hesitate at any point to involve them in your search for support for yourself, or any member of your family! There are sibling groups, Father's groups, Mother's groups, and even Grandparent support groups for varying disabilities these days.  We now have the Internet and there are vast resources for support there, but be cautious about how and what you share unless you “know” the group in real life.

WHAT—What does support look like? Well it can be as simple as another person just listening to your story and offering encouragement. Support can be in the form of a group made up of people who have been through, or are going through and can relate to what you are going through and keep you from feeling like you are alone. It can be your loved one's teacher sending a note home telling you what a great job your loved one is doing! Sharing your moments that only someone “in the know” could laugh along with you, on Facebook at 1 AM is wonderfully supportive.

WHY—Why do we need support? Support is our foundation when we have our low points. Loving someone who has special needs is more than a full-time job and is like a roller coaster. There will be ups and downs and we need a strong foundation and lots of props to lean upon during those moments when we stumble.

No matter where you are on your journey with your loved one with special needs know that support is a vital part of that journey. You may be at the beginning stages or pretty far into the journey, but know that we are all in this together. Supporting one another is how we share information on coping strategies, medical interventions, public policy and financial information, camps, and loads more.

So go share, go support and be supported!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Environmental Demands on the Job - JobTIPS

How often do you think about the environmental demands of your job? I work inside in a temperature controlled area and I can turn the music up, down or off and on to my own liking. I have complete control over certain interruptions just by turning my phone ringer off or on. I am lucky, but not many jobs allow for that much environmental control. Let's look at what an adult, with special needs, looking toward employment will need to consider as they begin to search for a job.

A good place to start to learn about some of the possible environmental demands on the job would be by going through Do2Learn's rating sheet found here. The best thing about this rating sheet is that there are no wrong answers. Some of us are not outdoor workers, some of us love to work in busy office areas, etc., this sheet can help sort out what sort of environment might be a best fit when seeking employment.  Right here you have two worksheets to help sort out what kind of job might be a good fit for someone with special needs.  Good stuff!

Sometimes there are situations in job environments that are beyond our control and we need to work around those situations. For example, our office might be drafty and there is nothing that can be done.  So to cope we just need to bring a sweater and have it in the office for those times when we are cooler. Here is a worksheet to assist and guide an adult with special needs in dealing with those environmental demands that need some accommodations in work situations.

Let's look at some other demands and how we might can cope with such situations on the job. (please note that these links are to pages where you can find comprehensive information and videos to provide further assistance)
  • Location—You might work indoors or outdoors. What types of jobs could you do and how would cope?
  • Noise Level—The noise level in your work area might be very loud or very quiet. What types of jobs could you do and how would cope?
  • Lighting Level—Lighting at some jobs can range from low to bright to florescent. What types of jobs could you do and how would cope?
  • Work Hours—Some jobs are full time and some are part time. You might even work shift work. What does this mean?

  • Amount of Movement—Some jobs require a lot of sitting at a desk and others a lot of standing. What types of jobs could you do and how would cope?
  • Cleanliness and Odors—Workplaces can range from very clean areas to very messy environments. What types of jobs could you do and how would cope?

  • Work Attire—Jobs have a dress code (clothes you should wear) that is appropriate for the job you are doing. Find out what is required for your job.
  • Structure & Predictability—Some jobs are very structured and predictable and others are less structured an unpredictable. Which environment would be best for you?
  • Work Pace—Pace refers to how quickly you work. Here is a great guide to finding out what your best pace is and how to cope with jobs that require changing pace.
We all face these environmental demands on the job, but for someone who has special needs they are much more difficult to recognize and cope with. If those who are assisting in job placement or teaching vocational skills can begin the process of recognizing the person's strengths early on, the smoother the employment process can go.  Do2Learn has put together talented teacher's and clinicians from around the world to assist you in navigating this process.  Please be sure to check out all the information of Environmental Demands in the JobTIPS section of our website.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Valentine's Day and Other Winter Activities

There are only 14 days to get those Valentine's Day cards ready! So make your list and get to work. No shopping needed. Just click and print! You have your choice of color or black and white so that your child/student can color them any color they wish. These make for a perfect activity on a chilly afternoon. I would recommend breaking down the activity into parts and structuring it. Perhaps making a list of who to give Valentine cards to one day and then addressing them the next. I would also make a sample Valentine card for your child/student to follow if this is needed. Now is the time to get started to make sure you have them all done in time for February 14th!

Here are some other wonderful Winter activities too! Just print and have fun!  These are great to have in a binder for quiet time in a class, at home to work on while getting dinner together, or in the car while traveling.  Let us know how you used these activities. We really love hearing from our readers!