A Parent Tool Box
Good morning everyone. my name is Ella. I’m one of the senior therapists here at Autism 360 and we’re going to chat this morning a little bit about resources that you might find helpful, whilst, doing your best to home school your kids on the spectrum or with additional needs.
Homeschooling is the job that none of us signed up for. Apart from the long term homeschoolers. We salute you. And before I start, I really like to stress that homeschooling doesn’t have to look a certain way.
These resources are just to help you to do what you can with your kids and get a little bit of learning happening at home without the pressure of sitting at a desk for six hours a day. So as we all know, we’re working in a very difficult time at the moment and the world is really struggling now to contend with the social and economic ramifications of COVID-19.
And as parents of kids on the spectrum, we faced with the reality of educating really quite high needs kids from home without a clear-end-date insight. And we’re seeing a lot of commentary in the media, the mainstream media about how difficult it is to balance working from home and educating kids at home.
But we’re not seeing a lot of discussion around the additional challenges of educating kids with special needs from home. Government agencies are really scrambling, to try and put in place policies and protocols for kids to learn from home. And in the midst of this, it can really feel like our kids are being left behind.
So I want to assure you that, with your Katie’s verbal, nonverbal continent, incontinent, compliant or non-compliant, I’ve put together an array of resources to cover, a range of different needs and abilities.
NDIS and COVID-19
We’ve got a parental control app, we’ve got video storybooks. I will also be covering the NDIS changes that are occurring during this time. Which are to allow greater flexibility of funding for our kids during homeschooling.
And I just want to stress that let’s not put pressure on ourselves about the way homeschooling should look. We’re just got to try and do our best and hopefully, these resources will give you, you know, just a little bit of a helping hand and maybe even squeezed a little bit of learning in if we can. So I’m going to start with, the changes that the NDIS have made to their policies during this COVID-19 crisis.
The NDIS seems to have recognized that participants will need to change the way they access their supports during lock-down. And this means that the NDIS is now funding access to assist you technologies under $1,500.
For those participants who need a device to access remote intervention services like telehealth or to access the homeschooling curriculum. This has been a change from their policy in the past, which prohibited the use of NDIS funds to buy any kind of device.
So what this means for us is that, you know, according to NDIS, if you don’t have a suitable entry-level laptop or tablet to allow you to access telehealth appointments, intervention appointments, therapies, or homeschooling, you may now use your core consumables budget to buy one.
If you’re self-managed, you can buy from any provider but if you have a plan manager, you’ll need to consult them about the places that you can buy from. I want to stress that these changes are time-sensitive. They’re going to be reviewed at the end of July and at the moment they’re only going to be available until September.
So further to this, the NDIS is also supporting the purchase of assistive technologies to continue gross motor programs, and physical goals, strategies, which means that your consumables budget could now be used flexibly to purchase things like trampolines, crash mats, swings, bikes if they align with your plan goals.
The NDIS has stated that if you don’t have a core consumables budget, there will be flexible funding arrangements made available to you from May 9th. So these new changes, we need to be aware won’t cover things like software.
But they will be available for physical purchases. Unfortunately, you will still need to have, specific software outlined in your plan if you would like to use your core consumables to purchase those things. And these policies don’t change that. So I would be remiss, to talk about, to talk about parenting resources if I didn’t mention the Autism 360 club Facebook group.
Autism 360 Club and Facebook Group
This is a closed Facebook group private, moderated by our staff. And our therapists are available on there to kind of chat with parents and those kinds of things where parents can share success stories and collaborate on ideas.
I found this great, this group of a really great place for people to share strategies about specific problems they’re experiencing. And if you’ll see this post up on the screen the one particular parent posted that they were having struggles with the sensory feelings of their child washing their hair.
And he can see the, we’ve got 18 comments from parents providing strategies and suggestions and support including, you know, lots of ones that I’d never heard of before, like using a mirror or modeling them, washing their doll’s hair as a way of helping them to understand what it is that’s going on.
Problem Solving Apps
There’s just a real sense of camaraderie amongst the parents of the group. So I’m really encouraging you to check it out as a resource for some cool parenting acts. Alright, so let’s talk about some of the apps that can be helpful, for the processes of homeschooling.
And a lot of our kids struggle with the lack of visual input from listening to books being read aloud. I have several families who have reported that you know, sitting and listening to a book being read over zoom or as a recording on good classrooms or whatever is one of the biggest challenges that they do.
And to combat this issue, I would like to suggest two apps. One is called the time timer app. This app is made by the same company who make the time timer clock, which is a visual colored clock face that allows people to visualize time intervals.
So they have a free app that you can download onto your device, which shows a colored clock face to represent the amount of time remaining in an interval. And it just gives kids a better understanding of just how long it might be that they need to maintain attention.
Additionally, there’s a really cool website called Vooks, which is like a digital library of book animations that read the story along with the animation. So, the words and the pictures come up on the screen along with the audio track of the book playing along which can just be something a bit more tangible for kids to grab hold off. And it can be a great way of getting your kiddo who struggles to attend to a pure audio stimulus to engage with stories. There are lots of great classics in there.
There’s, we’re going on a bear hunt where the wild things are. Giraffes, contents, all sorts of good ones. And additionally, YouTube has some really great recordings and fun animations of books. So if you’re struggling with that side of things, see what you can find on YouTube.
There are all kinds of things on there. So speaking of YouTube, there’s a number of really cool channels that has sort of stepped up to the plate during COVID-19 and then delivering some real value to kids who are learning from home.
And one of the really good well-known ones is called Cosmic Kids Yoga. If your kid is really struggling with regulation and needs, movement breaks, and those kinds of things, I would suggest using a Cosmic Kids Yoga as a movement break. So Cosmic Kids Yoga is a kid directed channel that makes mindful yoga interesting and fun for kids of any age.
Alternative Learning Engagement Resources
It’s very relevant. And that sort of thing. You know, there’s kind of Elsa and Ana yoga and whatnot. And they have videos of all different lengths. So I suggest that it would be, it’s a great natural way of bringing a movement break about and then having it naturally in just using the length of one of those videos.
Additionally, PE with Joe is a super fun channel that can help kids to kind of, well, you know, let out all their wiggles, get out all their energy surges and concentrate a bit better on homeschooling. PE with Joe releases one a new 30 minute PE class every weekday.
And they just very accessible. They don’t require any equipment or anything like that. And they can really work well as a regulatory strategy for our kids who need to let off a little bit of steam before they try and concentrate on something.
Another great YouTube channel that’s releasing Monday to Friday content is art for kids hub. So they release a new art lesson Monday to Friday, about half an hour that teaches kids in a fun way just to draw things that they’re interested in. Things like, Ariel or Sonic the hedgehog or a funny taco and while this activity isn’t going to be suitable for everybody, you know, lots of our Autism 360 kids wouldn’t quite be at this stage.
It is a cool way to ease our kids into the school day with something that does require, you know, focus and concentration and sitting, but is presented in a really fun and engaging way. So the last kind of media resource that I’m going to suggest is the ABC kid’s early education page. There’s a huge number of resources on there.
ABC Kids Early Education
And they’re actually informed by the Australian national curriculum and there’s a number of different programs that are specifically designed to engage kids in literacy, numeracy, and STEM, science with, without kind of a little bit of sneaky learning that I really know that they’re doing this.
So those three TV shows, accord number blocks, learn a word and imagine this Number block is designed to sneak a little bit of a numeracy education into our kiddos viewing. Learn A Word is the English language equivalent.
It’s sort of created with the purpose of focusing on forming single words and writing and those sorts of things. And the science equivalent is called Imagine This, which is a show about making science fun and about how we can use science to answer the interesting questions we might have about the world.
As well as these cool things. There’s an amazing number of audio resources, things like guided sensory walks, for the garden or kid-friendly dance parties lots of stories that have written out as well as a playlist that helps your kid to make up stories.
So I think that’s just a great resource that can help our kids do a little bit of learning and they don’t even know they’re doing it. Next, I’m just gonna touch on a few more autism-specific apps. Now, these apps aren’t going to assist directly with homeschooling, but they are helpful for skill development overall.
For example, if your kid is nonverbal and they’re showing signs of frustration, something like Proloquo might be a helpful tool. Proloquo2go allows kids to communicate through their iPad by turning visuals into vocalizations.
Other Helpful Resources
So that could be a really helpful thing. And it’s a great time to really get stuck into that kind of thing. When everybody’s at home together with an app which is, gonna help your kiddo to build up, physical and emotional regulation. It’s called Mightier, so it’s an app that’s out all by I believe, Harvard.
And it’s a game of education of biofeedback, sort of tracking your heart rate and breathing. And it helps kids through the game to gain a sense of control over their bodies and emotions through the use of a heart rate monitor, which comes with that. You get, a little tablet and a little wristwatch and it helps kids to learn the techniques and strategies that allow them to calm or excite their body. And they’re getting, you know, the skills to emotionally regulate whilst having fun.
So that’s a bonus. What are the next one is Conversation Builder App is about if your kiddo is feeling a bit nervous about the prospect of going back to school and especially the social aspect of going back to school, I would suggest that the Conversation Builder App might be a helpful tool for them to use.
It allows kids to create social scenarios and scenes and situations in which conversation might occur with peers or with teachers. And they get to create ideas around what something they could say in the conversation might be how their peer might respond, what they could say.
And it just gives them a bit of a range of ideas to draw from when they do get back into those social situations. When they might be feeling a bit nervous, they will have already thought through some options about things they can say and conversations they might be able to have.
The next resource that I’m going to mention here is called Otter. Which is a tool that will allow kids who do have the ability to sort of vocalize a story or an answer to something, but don’t have the motor skills to write it down or don’t have the coordination and planning to type something out?
So Otter is a website that will record your voice and translate into written notes that you can then use in, you know, Google classrooms or wherever you see. So wherever your answers need to be Otter is great because the first 600 minutes are free, 600 minutes a month are free for you to transcribe.
And you no longer have to be your child’s dictation device. You can let Otter do all the hard work for you. And it really makes it much easier for kids who haven’t mastered typing to remain engaged in that sort of a learning environment where everything’s done digitally.
Raz Kids is, is an online reading program, is very popular with homeschoolers that were actually recommended by one of the Autism 360 parents to me. And it gives reading a lot of different dimensions for kids to engage with.
There’s lots of kind of interactive eBooks and downloadable books. And at the end of the reading, there are quizzes that will help kids with retrieval and comprehension and we can make sure that they’re not just reading without any comprehension, that they’re actually processing the meaning of the words that they’re saying.
So, before I finish up, I just really love to mention a resource. That’s so, so relevant to the parenting of kiddos with additional needs during this pretty difficult time. It’s cool. It’s a, first of all, it’s a podcast and it’s called Too Peas in a Podcast.
Too Peas in a Podcast
It’s a funny, heartwarming podcast about how hard and how hilarious it can be to parent a kid with additional needs. It’s hosted by two moms from Melbourne who have all had laughing and crying along with them as they talk about the challenges and the victories of parenting kids with special needs.
They have a Facebook group, which is one of the kindest, most uplifting places I’ve seen for parents to share their struggles. And their wins. It’s very nonjudgmental and inclusive. And I would highly recommend it to anybody who feels like they could use some parent friends or community who understand the struggles of what it’s like to parent a kid with additional needs.
So that is going to take us up to the question and answer portion of this, of this. So if you’ve got any questions, just raise your hand. We can absolutely. We can absolutely have a discussion about you know, where we’re at, struggles that we’re having and what you might need help with specifically.