Thursday, October 23, 2014

Teach Your Baby to Read? Why You Should Do It? Here Are 4 Reasons Why You Should!

I find it extremely frustrating when I try and share with friends about teaching babies, toddlers or preschoolers how to read, the reactions I get.
Yikes looks like I'm pressuring him to read...

"Oh I don't want to pressure my child."

"What is the point in that?"

"They will learn that in school."

"They are not ready for that."

I do not pressure my children at a young age to learn to read. That comment alone is insulting. People will sit there and pester their children, "Say Mommy! Come on little Sally, say Mommy! Come on." Yet I sit and cuddle with my children and playfully read flashcards and books to them, not requiring a response. But I'm the one pressuring my child.  

Teaching your child to read in a fun, gentle thing can be super rewarding. 

4 Reasons WHY You Should Teach Your Child to Read:

1) Children LOVE to learn and at a young age they are like little sponges. Think about most 3 years old and what comes out of their mouth all the time. Why? Why? Why? Now image giving them the gift of reading. Suddenly they can sit down and read a book about their favorite subject. They don't have to fully depend on what knowledge an adult has about the subject to learn from. They can learn about how a train work, where monkeys live or why fish can breath in water.

2) Little children are in the zone to learn. Think about it, when they are born they don't know the family language, what name we call every item, or how to even propeller their bodies around. 

If you can introduce written language at the same time as your child is learning to talk, they can easily learn it. Also learning it at the same time makes more connections in the brain.

3)  Scary thing is our school systems are not doing that great at teaching our kids to read right now. 

If you wait till your child is school age, learning becomes a little tougher. As well you are leaving your child at the mercy of the school. Right now I know in Manitoba, Canada, our scores in reading and math are going down. You can't wait for the the system to be fixed, because it may come too late for your child. 

4) It helps build a good parent/child bond. Your child will know that you are investing time into their life. One of my favorite early learning stories came from one of my good friends. Her and her family had gone out camping. That night while sitting around the fire her 3 year old daughter turn to her and said, "Thank you Mama for teaching me to read."


Have you taught your young child to read? What was your main reason why? Have you been thinking about it, but worried? Share you concerns.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Teach your Toddler with TouchMath

TouchMath is an awesome, hands on way to teach children Pre-K(4 years old) to 3rd grade math in a way they can truly understand. It can also be used for older children who do not have a good grasp on math as a remedial. Its also great for students with special needs.

I used this program with my oldest Wes when he was 5 years old. We started with the kindergarten program and worked our way up to the Upper Grades. It is honestly a quality program. We had tried several other math program, and before we found TouchMath we both shed a lot of tears. 

So then my Little Z came along and he loved numbers and letters right from infancy. Z learned to count, skip count, and understand some basic math concepts before he even turned two. I bought him a Giant Abacus, we did some apps on the iPad. But over the last few months I have been scratching my head. Ok, its great he can do all this early math, this is what kids usually start learning in preschool or kindergarten. Z is only 2, and when I look at the Preschool World Book Typical Course of Study he has most of those math skills masters. Then went I look at the Kindergarten level, he has many of those mastered, and many he is starting to learn. 

So what do I do? Obviously he loves numbers, counts and plays math apps at his own free will. I feel like I should be gently exposing him to more math to help him learn the rest of the kindergarten concepts. Problem is there are no really curriculums designed for situations like this. 

Then I thought, "Could I modify TouchMath in a way Z could learn?" So I contacted them, told them about my son, and my idea and we got the ball rolling on another TouchMath Review.

I picked TouchMath because it is so user friendly. It requires very little modification of the actual material, more so a modification of my teaching technique.

I decided that Z's math knowledge was mostly beyond that of TouchMath's Pre-K program. Plus if there was anything we may of missed, I felt the Kindergarten Curriculum would easily be able to fill in those gaps. 


So I purchased:
Unit A: Counting, Adding, and Subtracting Within 5
Unit B: Adding and Subtracting Within 9
Unit C: Understanding Numbers 1–20

(I already owned Unit D from a previous review
3D Numerals (as pictured to the left)
TouchPoint Posters

The first thing I started doing over the last few weeks was introducing Z to the 3D Numerals. We would sit down with the box and go through at least 5 of them. I take his hand and guided him to touch the Touchpoints as we count. 

Make sure you count them in the right order. They have a proper pattern to follow to ensure Touchpoints are not missed, especially when your counting the larger numbers. As well all the worksheets and the CD roms also follow that pattern too. So its just easier to teach them the right away now, instead of trying to reteach them later. 

The next thing I did what print out the Vocabulary list. I took 8.5"x11" cardstock, cut them into threes and created flashcards. 

Why flashcards? 


If you've been reading me for a while you will know that I use a modified Glenn Doman reading program (along with other programs) to teach my babies, toddlers and preschoolers to read. Why not teach them to read the vocabulary words so when they hear the word during a lesson another brain connection will be made. Plus not only are you teaching your little one math, but your mixing in a bit of reading lessons too. 

Then I created a new section in our Learning Binder for TouchMath. 

Our Learning Binder is a binder that we keep several of our lessons all in one place. We sit down with it once a day and flip through. Once a week I retire some of the pages and replace them with fresh new materials. 

So for our TouchMath sheets, I flip through and talk about how I would work out the problem. I take his hand and use it to point to each thing I am talking about. 

Right now you have to remember, this is ALL ABOUT INPUT! If your child pipes up and offers to share what he or she has learned, great! If they stop sharing, you take over and keep talking. Do not pressure them to keep telling you what they know. They will not share voluntarily again if they feel they are under pressure. Remember they are still little, this is suppose to be gentle.  

Right now I'm keeping it super simple. But when your working with little children, less is more. 

As Z gets older, I will start:
- introducing dry-erase markers
- will teach how to place the TouchPoints with this product
- and eventually start just handing him a worksheet to complete on his own. 

Does your baby, toddler, or preschooler like counting, sorting, adding, or anything math related? If so share what you and your little ones like to do to learn math skills in the comments. 

Disclaimer: Full disclosure, while I did purchase this curriculum, TouchMath did provide me with a discount, in exchange for my honest review of the items. 

Friday, October 10, 2014

Does NAET help ADHD? Autism?

So last month I wrote about how Wes was doing with NAET. You can read about it HERE, but basically to summarize, it has worked WONDERS for him when it comes to foods that were once an allergic trigger to him. Like gluten and dairy. We were also able to reset his body when it came to damages caused by heavy metals in his body, from his vaccines. 

He is more focused at school. Able to participate in treat days at school and Birthday parties without having to bring a gf/cf alternative. He is now able to participate in activities at the Y without a one on one adult support. He is not really utilizing his level 2 support worker at school either. Also if things keep going this way, next year he wouldn't even need one. 

But the biggest difference I have noticed with NAET is in my 2 year old. He didn't have food allergies that we were aware of, But he was diagnosed with Autism and we were also told he most likely has ADHD, but they will not give him an official diagnosis till he's 5. 

Three and a half months into NAET he is a different child. I finally feel like I'm caring for a typical 2 year old. Not the tasmanian devil in a 2 year olds body. 

We really noticed a difference about 2 months in. Once the changes started happening, it was like a snowball effect. And literally we would have a treatment done and the next day he would start doing something new. Or stop doing something old. 

We went from a child that was only safe in a playpen, to us packing up and putting the playpen away.

A child who would not make eye contact, to a child who is making eye contact way more.

To a child who didn't care whether someone other then mom was around. To starting to show interest in extended family members. 

From a child who just runs back and forth all day, to a child who will sit down and play with toys or watch a show. 

I feel like I'm getting my little boy back. And I know this would not have happened without NAET. 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Dr Phil Show Mom Attempts to Take the Life of Her and Her Daughter. Is She a Monster or a Victim?

I got a message last night from my friend, "Did you watch Dr Phil today?" It was 11pm when I saw the message and things were very busy all evening in our house, so I just shot her a message back saying "No, but I have it PVR'd."

Then I got a call from her this morning. She told me I had to watch it, because it was about a woman who tried to commit murder/suicide. She couldn't handle her autistic child's violent attacks on her younger daughter, she felt had no resources available, so she tried to take her daughters life and her own. 

She also told me, "I get it. I would ever kill my autistic daughter, but I get the extreme hopelessness when your autistic child is beating the crap out of your younger child."

So when nap time came around today, I watched it and I had so many emotions running through me. I knew as soon as my boys were down for the night, I would be watching part 2. 

After watching both shows I felt for this mother who felt this was her only answer. I don't believe it was the right answer, nor could I image myself ever doing the same to my child. However I don't lay the blame in her lap, or her husbands. I blame the medical system and the government. When parenting leaves you with brain injuries and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder there is something terribly wrong. 

Parents are left to the wolves on long waitlists. They don't have the skills to deal with these situations or the resources. Anything worth doing with children with Autism either has a REALLY long waitlists that you can age off, or a huge price tag. Insurance companies cover some cost, but just as it starts working, you hit your max for the year. Which seems to be what happened to this family on Dr Phil. 

When I found out the waitlist that my son would be placed on I remember speaking to Wes's service worker supervisor. I told her, mark my words, some poor family with no resources will snap under pressure and a child will be hurt. Little did I know, this had already happened. 

I have been blessed to have found alternative therapies that are working amazing for my boys. Early Learning, naturopathic/homeopathic therapies, diet changes, NAET, ABA therapy, just to name a few. But I should also mention, this puts saving for our retirement, family trips, our children's educations, etc on the back burner. These therapies help and they are worth it, but the financial burden on the family is extreme. 

However, I have hope. My boys are amazing children. I know in my heart all our efforts are helping. I know in my heart my boys will be awesome members of society. I know they will have careers, and wonderful lives. I pray everyday they will find love and have families of their own. 

I have hope. I don't care if the debt keeps adding up. I will find the money to keep fighting. 

After watching these two episodes, I hope Dr Phil can help everyone involved. I hope he can raise awareness. I hope we can start finding answers. I also hope that the people in power can look into these alternative resources and treatments. They have been life altering for my family. I wish they were available to everyone. 

So my opinion, Kelli(the mother in this story) is as much of a victim of autism as her daughter Issy. So are Issy's siblings and father. Lets hope though that through this and with the help Dr. Phil offers, they can be no longer victims, but survivors.

Monday, September 15, 2014

5 Tips to Keep Your Kids Safe in Their Car Seats. Learn From My Mistakes.


Sitting forward facing, and was injured in a
minor car accident. (Whiplash) 

When Z was 18 months old, he hit 20lbs and was getting too big for his rear facing bucket car seat. So I thought, well the rules are if a child is 1 years old or older, can walk, and is over 20lbs its ok to change them to a forward facing car seat. Z met all these requirements so I thought we were good to switch him. Besides Wes was 13 months when I switched him(He was a big boy). Z got 5 more months rear facing, he must be ready.


4 months later we were in a car accident. An emergency vehicle was passing and I had slowed down with traffic to allow them to pass. Once they were passed I began accelerating to the speed limit, when out of nowheres, a woman went from the left turning lane, right into my lane. It was physically impossible for me to stop in time and I nailed her passenger side door. As we slammed into her I saw a 10 year olds eyes staring at me from the van's passenger seat. As soon as I knew everyone in our car was ok. I backed the car up a bit so I could open my door. I ran to the car and the child in the front seat was ok, and the woman was finishing her conversation on her cellphone!! Talking on the phone while driving is illegal in Manitoba, so to finish your conversation after you caused an accident is unacceptable. So I grabbed my phone and started taking photos. 


In the end everyone was ok, and she accepted responsibility. Luckily I wasn't going the speed limit as we had just slowed down for the emergency vehicle. Because if I had been doing 80km, a lot more damage would have been done. 


I hit the door during impact and got a pretty mean whiplash. Also because Z was forward facing, he sadly also suffered from whiplash. It wasn't until a few months later that I realized, if Z had been rear facing, he would not have likely gotten whiplash. 

Needless to say he got turned around that night. 

How can you keep your child as safe as possible in the car?

1) Buy a car seat that allows for your child to stay rear facing as long as possible. Don't change to the next stage until your child reaches the maximum height or weight.
Picture from
 http://www.besafe.com/en/i-size/rear-facing-car-seats-are-safer

Oh but they look so squished rear facing. My child's legs are too long. They don't like being rear facing. Well this is what I have to say to you. Have you ever seen the positions a child will get into while playing? Trust me they are not squashed. Would you rather your child have a broken leg or a broken neck? Also if they didn't having a bath would you not give them one?



2) Make sure your child's chest clip is where it should be, at the chest, not on the stomach. 
Photo from http://csftl.org/a-chest-clip-goes-on-the-chest/
According to Car Seats For the Littles website, if the strap is too low they risk being ejected from their car seat, and its too high they risk neck injury. 

3) Make sure your child's car seat straps are tight enough.

Do the pinch test. If you can pinch the strap, its not tight enough. You want to make sure to have the right fit, otherwise your child could wiggle their way out of the straps when you are not looking, not be held in tight during an accident and be thrown around in their seat, or worse case be ejected from the seat.  


4) Make sure your child's car seat is strapped tight enough to the seat, and it is in the proper spot. 

Make sure you cannot move your child's car seat more than 1 inch front to back, and side to side. While learning how to properly install car seats in my own vehicle, I found this Youtube video very helpful. 

5) Puffy snowsuits are a big no-no.

This one was news to me! Puffy snow are dangerous to wear in a car seat. This was hard to swallow for me, someone who lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Heck our city's nickname is Winterpeg for crying out loud. 

Basically what happens is a bulky coat, will cause the straps to fit the child too loosely, making them less effective. 

You can read HERE, to see if your child's jacket is too big, and what you can do if it is. 

Please ignore the fact that my son is forward facing in this photo, However you can see that he is wearing a two piece fleece suit over his clothes. I always prewarm the car and cover him with a blanket once he's strapped in. But 9 times out of 10, he doesn't need the blanket and bunches it up to cuddle with.We also alway bring along his warmer puffy jacket in case we hit a ditch or the car breaks down.



Disclaimer: I am not a car seat tech, or car seat specialist of any sort. I am just a mom of two, sharing with you my discoveries through my own research online and while talking with insurance approved car seat specialist. If in doubt contact your local automobile insurance company and ask them where you can contact a car seat specialist in your area. Many times local fire stations also have trained car seat techs. 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

What does a parent do while they are wait for ABA services?

What does a parent do while they are wait for ABA services?

Here in our part of Canada ABA services are covered by Manitoba Health. While this is awesome because most US residents have to pay thousands, if not hundreds of thousands a year.

This is a wonderful blessing! However, the only downside is the long, long waiting list. Right now people are looking at 18 months to 2 years. IF you child does not age off the list at 5 years old. This is very stressful for parents, and it wasn't always that way. Back in August of 2008, I signed up then 3 year old boy up for the program and his first visit with his ABA Senior tutor happened in January of 2009. 5 months. That was it! Totally doable for anxious parents. However this time around I signed my youngest up for services in February 2014, and we will be LUCKY to have our first visit in September 2015. 19 months. More likely January 2016, 23 months. Terrifying for an anxious parent. 

Sad part is ABA is most effective if started EARLY. Hence the title, Early Intervention. So parents CANNOT wait for services. Since the government doesn't seem to understand the seriousness of this, parents have to step up. This can be so scary for parents who have not been through this before. So I decided I HAVE to blog what we do in our home. Now while this might not apply to your situation, I'm hoping the resources I mention might have things that can help you. 
The BIG Book of ABA Programs :I call this book the ABA bible. It has a program written for each step of the ABBLS-R.
"The BIG Book Of ABA Programs After the ABLLS®-R has been completed, educators and parents are often left wondering how to transform the results into empirical IEP goals and quality ABA training programs. With the BIG Book of ABA Programs those concerns are a thing of the past. Each detailed program can be used with dozens of different children. Each program contains specific instructions for data recording and implementation for baseline and ABA teaching. Each program is customizable for different children and their unique settings, teachers, reinforcers, and steps pertaining to each program. Benefits Why pay a behavior analyst to write your programs? Why spend hours writing your own? The BIG Book of ABA Programs contains more than 500 precisely written, photocopyable, ABA program protocols for every teachable step in the ABLLS®-R. Each of the more than 500 photocopyable teaching programs contains: A well-written IEP and program objective A complete baseline implementation"

This book will help you get ideas of things you can do now to help your child while you wait for ABA services to start. 


 I highly suggest buying an 

Assessment Kit for ABLLS®-R, with Manual from Different Roads. 


I know it looks pricey. I will admit to ship it to me, but the end my bill was just shy of $1300. But that being said, during your child's three years in the Preschool Program, and three years School Age, this investment will be worth it. 
I wish I had know about it when Wes went through the program. 

I dreaded every clinic meeting because I knew I would be given a list of items, pictures, etc to find. And that program could not be started until I did so. So I spent thousands of dollars on dollar store items, ink for my printer, photo printing, things from the teachers store. Not to mention hours of time on the computer finding said pictures, and gas driving from store to store. I can't image how much easier it would have been to say, "Lets the bins and see what we have." Then been able to start the program that day! Instead of waiting till the next time the Senior tutor or Consultant came. 

I was talking to another ABA mom a few days ago. When I told her about this kit that I had bought for Z, she told me she wished she had know there was something like this available for parents, she would have likely made the investment too.

And lets say this is not an option for you to purchase outright, right this second. I highly suggest figuring out how many months you have on the waitlist, subtracting a few months in case you get in early, and figuring out how much money you have to put away each month to buy this kit. But if you can swing getting it ASAP, you will have more tools in your pocket to start working with your child NOW.

You might be thinking, there is no way I can run a 35 hour program on my own. I don't have the money for that kit. I work full time. Remember, every moment you work with your child it will pay off. Making time during meal times, before bed, in the car to daycare, every moment counts. So don't give up because you can't put in 35 hours a week. Yes 35 hours is the best. But 5 hours is better the zero hours.   

Activity Ideas:
- Verbally label everything.
- Do house tours labeling what each item is. 
- Make large clear written labels for things around the home. 
- Count everything. 
- Practice dressing skills. 
- Playing with Shape Sorters. 
- Puzzles

Flipping through The Big Book of ABA Programs will give you ideas on what skills your child might need to work on. 

Another thing worth suggesting is to start following through with everything. This is one of the hardest things for me to adjust to when my oldest was in ABA. Sometimes after a hard busy day, its just easier to give in. If you start following through with everything now, this is one last adjustment you and your child will have to make. 

Waiting for services is so frustrating. Trust me, I know, I'm there. But don't let your child rot waiting for services. Everything little thing you can do with them now, is one less thing your ABA term will have to do. Leaving them able to focus on the really tough stuff.

Good Luck on your journey!

What resources did you find helpful while you waited for services?

Back to Afterschool

Well Wes has been back to school for a little over a week and its going great! He has really matured over the summer months and is doing amazing in school.

Yesterday I attended his schools Open House BBQ. I got to meet his new principal who seems very sweet. As well has his classroom teacher. He is the only male teacher in the school, but the dynamics seem to work well for Wes. Plus he is doing amazing! What more could a mom ask for?

However even though he is attending a great public school, I do not leave his education completely in the hands of the government. As much as I would love to homeschool, right now thats not what is best for Wes. He needs the structure of school right now. Maybe in the future, if he would like to accelerate through high school to be able to focus on a trade training, become an entrepreneur, go to university or college early, then we might switch to homeschooling. Right now Afterschooling seems to be cutting it. 

What is Afterschooling?

To my family afterschooling is teaching my child academic activities before and after school, on the weekend or during school holidays. 

These subjects are:
- to help support what he's learning at school, 
- things that are not being focused on at school (Like spelling and math facts)
- Or to pre-learn math skills so he can succeed in his studies at school. I believe kids are not being challenged enough these days. When you look at what children were being taught in the late 1800s to early 1900s, and whats being taught now... its terrible. 

Oh my gosh! Why don't you just let him be a kid? 

Trust me. He has lots of time for that. Wes sleeps in each morning till about 1 hour before he needs to leave for the day. He gets up gets ready and comes down for breakfast. While he's eating his cereal, he does a lesson of Click N'Spell. If he has time he does a few questions on Dreambox Learning. Once he has his jacket, shoes and backpack on I show him and Z a quick 1-2min lesson of Visual Geography. Which he begs for another every day because they are so quick (I stick to one lesson a day to keep him interested). Then he's off to school for the day. 

My son does not get homework from his teacher. In the next few years when he enters middle school this will all change, and if he has never had do work after school I could see it being a big learning curve. So I have choice to be proactive. 

When he gets home I usually still have an hours and 15mins of daycare left. So by giving him these tasks to do during that time, I am keeping him busy, educating him and he still has from 5-8pm to do activities he might like to do. 

A typical day might look like:
- Get home
- Eat snack while reading for 20mins
- Practice piano
- Sit at the kitchen table while I dictate Saxon 5/4 questions and math facts to him from the stairs. This works on his writing and listening skills. (I sit in the stairs and supervise my daycare kiddos during free play)
- Bit of Dreambox
Once 5-5:15pm rolls around, he is done.

I read a blog a few years back that talked about how 2 hours and 20 mins a week of afterschooling would add 2 extra years to your childs education. I don't want to copy and paste what she wrote so check out the blog post HERE.

But it goes to show you, that a little parental involvement goes a LONG way. During the summer I'd say Wes was averaging 9-12 hours a week. Do I feel like I robbed him of his summer? No way! He was up for 14 hours a day, 7 days a week.
14X7= 98 awake hours
98-12= 86 hours to still be a kid.

Believe it or not his printing is actually improving because he has to
each problem out by hand instead of just filling in the answer.
Since the end of June, he has completed 41% of the grade 4 math curriculum on Dreambox. As for Saxon 5/4(designed for advance 4th graders or average 5th graders) he is 21% completed. 

Overall I believe this little extra bit of learning is great for my son. He does better when kept busy. He also does piano once a week year round, and is starting swimming and Zumba once a week as well for the school year. He was so proud of himself yesterday when he came home and told me, his teacher gave him math problems using letters(adding missing addends) and knew how to do it right away without being told how. 

I love empowering my children with education. Do you afterschool your children? If so how do you do it?