Friday, March 28, 2014

'Unlocking the Social Potential in Autism' by Karina Poirier

Unlocking the Social Potential
Unlocking the Social Potential_Final_ShadowsTo your dismay, your child has received a diagnosis of autism. Along with this alarming news comes the barrage of emotions that suffocates you like an avalanche— denial—confusion—depression—guilt. You want to fix your child; you have a million questions; and you want answers immediately. Autism is a journey in which the child and her family navigate challenges and experience achievements along the way. To guide you in this rewarding journey, Dr. Karina Poirier offers her expertise in this book that parents will find incredibly useful.

In this book, you will find the answers you’ve desperately been seeking. Dr. Poirier has provided in simple, easy to comprehend language, an overview of child development, a descriptive explanation of how autism affects each developmental area, and guidelines for advancing your child’s functioning in all developmental domains. You will appreciate the multitude of hands-on, full-color sample lessons for teaching social and emotional skills, language, problem-solving and decision making, and play skills to children with autism.

Publisher: Social Cognition Publications | Irvine, CA Color: Full-color illustrations Pages: 300 ISBN (Print): 9780988798205 ISBN (Digital): 9780988798212 Available: March 2014
Available at:

Improving social and communication skills in children with autism

Dr. Karina Poirier, author of Unlocking the Social Potential in Autism, says that understanding a child’s unique needs is the key step to dealing with concerns and developing their strengths.

“Bring everything into the light. The worst thing you can do,” she said, “is to ignore the issue. Parents can help their children learn how to communicate better and develop social skills that will help them thrive later in life.

Get help early, identify the specific issues you are facing, ask questions, learn everything you can, and devise a concrete and detailed strategy for engaging your child so key skills are developed and strengthened”.

Here are her answers to some key concerns that parents of a child with autism are faced with.

Q: My child can sit through a learning task on the iPad or television; however, he becomes restless and fidgety when working with a teacher. Why?

A: Your child’s attention system is reactive. Consider how much children learn from viewing television. Teachers struggle to get children’s attention when an activity does not include the sensory kaleidoscope children are used to receiving when sitting in front of the television.

Key Action: Children must be taught at an early age how to develop the mental tools (attend, remember, think) to engage in deliberate and self-directed learning experiences with an adult’s guidance.

Q: My child does not respond appropriately to mood changes in others (e.g., when a peer’s mood changes from happiness to distress). Why?

A: Your child may be lacking the ability to read nonverbal cues. Children with autism often have impaired ability to read, interpret, and process social and emotional messages. Children who are unaware of others’ thoughts and feelings risk not developing the sense of self.

Key Action: Treatment to teach the child the emotional codes that are part of the social experience. The child needs to develop the ability to understand other peoples’ emotions from their facial expression, tone of voice, and body posture. The child should be taught to recognize and interpret how people around him think and feel.

Q: My child has difficulty with describing his/her day at school, recounting an experience, or relaying a message. Why?

A: Delayed recall skills utilize episodic memory. Episodic memory allows us to remember past events and share these events with others. In other words, it is how we engage in reciprocal conversations with others. Episodic memory produces a conscious awareness of events that have occurred at any one time; it enables people to remember what happened to them in the past or to conceive the future.

Key Action: Effective treatment is required for the child to learn about memory strategies and to practice remembering. Through repetition, the child develops not only better recall of past events, but also the skills to communicate the memory of the event to peers or adults during a conversation.

Q: My child is verbal and has good command of language; however, he has trouble initiating conversation with others and taking turns during a conversation. Why?

A: Children with autism have difficulties in social initiation and social-emotional understanding. Engaging in a reciprocal conversation with others requires the development and interaction of memory, information processing, and expressive communication skills—all of which are pervasive deficits of children with autism. It is not that these children do not desire involvement with their peers. On the contrary, they do have the desire to be socially engaged with others; however, the dilemma lies in the fact that these children lack knowledge of social norms.

Key Action: Effective treatment that emphasizes social norms and rules, and teaches children how to process social information by distinguishing between relevant and irrelevant information in a social situation. Initiating and maintaining a conversation requires a person to have social knowledge, which is knowledge of event schemas.

Q: How much play time is appropriate to include in my child’s learning routine?

A: For a young child, teaching through play is extremely important. Play gives children something to do with their ample free time; it also serves the important purpose of honing children’s physical, social and emotional development. Play does not occur spontaneously in children with autism the way it does for typical children.

Key Action: Investing significant time teaching through play focuses the child on developing fine and gross motor skills, interpreting the social cues of other children and adults, and responding to those social cues appropriately. Play can be used to develop the ability to interact with, explore, and, ultimately master their surroundings. Play is an essential part of the learning process, and its ability to mimic real-life scenarios makes it an ideal way to stimulate overall development.

About the author:

Karina Poirier, Psy.D., BCBA-D

Dr. Karina Poirier is the Director of the Center for Social Cognition , a board certified behavior analyst at the doc-toral level (BCBA-D), and a certified cognitive educational therapist. Her clinical practice is devoted to providing outstanding individuals and group therapy that improves social and cognitive outcomes for individuals with autism, ADHD, Traumatic Brain Injury, and related disorders.

Learn more at


Win a $75 Amazon gift card Fill out the form below to Enter
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Support the campaign for 'I See You: Anti-Bullying Lesson Plan with Film (Teaches literature and tolerance)'

Support the anti-bullying campaign

'I See You'

a film by Cinti Laird

It takes a village to raise a kid. Bullying is a problem that is even more prevalent than ever. We need to attack the problem before it starts, helping younger children learn to not be bullies.

This film seeks to do just that.

When you support this film campaign, you can also get access to anti-bullying lesson plans for your classroom or to share with a whole school.

Visit the IndieGoGo page directly for more information.

Visit the website for the film for more video.

Thank you for your support!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Celebrate the Polish My Life Grand Opening!


Welcome to Polish My Life's Grand Opening
To celebrate she is having a sale August 16 - September 6
Use PROMO CODE - "Sweet10" to get 10% off your purchase!
Click over and check out all of her polishes


Polish My Life

She created Polish MyLife because her love of nail polish; it is her "happy place." She loves providing quality, hand-crafted boutique nail polish to nail polish lovers.

Each is bottle 15ml in size and contains 2-3 stainless steel mixing balls. It's recommended that you use a base coat and a quick drying top coat. Also, allowing a little drying time between coats will maximize results. Roll and shake well before using!

Late Summer Creams & Dreams Collection Bundle

    • Image of Late Summer Creams & Dreams Collection Bundle
Get the entire Late Summer Creams and Dreams Collection for 25% OFF with the current promotion!
and you can use the promo code "Sweet10"to get 10% more off of that!

Don't forget to sign up for the Polish My Life Newsletter to stay current on new promotions and products.

Follow on Shop / Twitter / Facebook / Pinterest / Instagram

Polish My Life is having a contest open to US residents 18 + Ends 9/6/13

Fill out the form below to enter.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

"Talk to your kids or talk on the phone"

It's a common sight these days, and something that many of us are guilty of doing. We are playing or talking on our smartphones, while the young ones are nearby. Sometimes it is while they are playing with other children at the playground or children's museum. Sometimes it is while they are alone, sitting in their stroller, as we go for a walk or take a break at the park. We are just ridiculously conditioned to pay attention to those technological devices at all times. We are all addicted.

But to what cost to our young ones? NAMC shared an interesting article today on The Atlantic, called "Papa, Don't Text: The Perils of Distracted Parenting." It talks about the importance of actually engaging in two-way dialogue with children, even as young as infants, to teach them about linguistic skills. A study done back in 2009 showed that children whose parents actively engaged with them on a regular basis did better than those who were stimulated with electronic means.


We all think that when we read something like this, but then how many of us go back to being on the electronic devices? How many people still rely on technology to "boost" their child's learning?

It's not just with the young children, either. Even as adults, we tend to play on our phones when we perceive that we are bored. I was recently in Chicago with one college friend, and we stayed with another college friend we hadn't seen in 15 years. I remember noting at the time how much our lives had changed. 15 years ago, I was probably the only one with a cell phone. It cost something like a dollar a minute to use, so I only had it for emergencies. Back then, we actually spent time talking and debating various topics. Now, we all sat playing on our phones, because it was too hot to go anywhere. There was little to no quality conversation during the entire weekend.

Make more of a conscious effort to put away the electronics, especially when young children are around. I try to keep mine put away when I am with my friends' kids or babysitting. They are not allowed in my classroom, unless we are looking up something. Talk to the kids and actively listen to what they are saying. Engage them in both natural language learning and socialization, before we create a generation of zombies!

Photo courtesy of MorgueFile

Monday, June 17, 2013

Australia's Silent Epidemic; it’s preventing good early year’s sites and services from demonstrating excellence.

While this guest post from Andrea Doyle focuses on the Australian education system, many of her points are also valid here in the United States. Read and let us know what you think.

Plus, check out the observation app that she has created for the iPad. It could come in handy!
This is a sponsored post via 

Is it just me? I don't think so. In fact, I know so. Early years carers, educators and leaders are frazzled, frustrated and in many cases burnt out.


Is it the myths and misconceptions we hold about what is required of us in our current roles, in the current educational climate of new regulations and frameworks? Do we do it to ourselves? No, there has always and will always be changes in education systems. As educators, we except, and expect this and have rolled with it for decades. I believe it is the magnitude of multiple changes all at once and the absence of support structures to assist in implementation and embedding into practice. We were balancing the ‘Reflect, Respect and Relate: Observation Scales’ and devising clever inquiry questions when we were handed the EYLF and almost immediately the NQS on top of it. We had no hands left. In comparison, look how slowly and steadily the Australian Curriculum has been rolled out. That's because when it was handed to school principals they had the strength and courage to hand it back, knowing that they would support each other in their refusal, that they would have one another's back, prepared to cause waves and rock the boat if necessary, to avoid additional stress and pressure and to maintain the dignity of their role. They said, 'The quality of my school, wellbeing of my teachers and learning of my students would be compromised if I agreed to such a task so no thank you, not until you tell me about and provide me with the support structures I require in order to implement this successfully. My teachers need training, release days and time to do this.' Leaders in the early years must find this courage too.

The sad fact!

I have experienced it myself and witnessed it personally over the past year or two and I bet you have too; Directors and team leaders stepping down from their role, an increase in significant medical and emotional illness and leave from work, family breakdowns and excellent, but bewildered, educators leaving the profession they once loved (and often still do).


Lack of understanding from the community, lack of support from demanding parents, lack of funding from government departments and therefore lack of sufficient administration time to do their job, the job they want to do to the best of their ability. They want the best outcomes possible for their little learners but there is no balance, most work many extra hours above their paid hours, they have to in order to try to meet the expectations of their role, they sacrifice time with their own families, time for their own professional and personal interests and as for leisure time, what's that? They are left with a deep aching conflict within themselves, the desire to make theirs the most exceptional early year’s site ever but an overwhelming feeling of job dissatisfaction because they are spread so thin they are unable to give 100% to any of the tasks required of them. This is not about a cry for more pay, I believe 99 out of 100 early years staff would just like a reasonable amount of admin time to meet the requirements of their role, time to write meaningful child observation records, to discuss and analyse the play program and plan together, to enter attendances into their Early Years systems and to follow up that issue that occurred today with a phone call to the parent - today.

Tell me why a small country school site with an enrolment of 100 students can have a full time Principal with no teaching load (and even a part-time deputy too) and yet an integrated Kindy site with childcare facilities and an enrolment of 120 three and a half (early entry) to five and a half year olds (due to the 'same first day' policy, I'm in SA) has a Director who is still required to teach two days on the floor?

In many sites, Directors, teachers and ancillary staff do not have breaks, they eat with the children because children must be supervised at all times with certain ratios but no additional staff has been employed/allocated to cover these ratio requirements. Even staff toilet breaks are taken at rocket speed, so as not to leave another staff member with too many children to supervise alone, the paper is off the roll before your backside hits the seat. It sounds like some kind of joke doesn't it? But, I am very serious. New young fresh graduates walk in with big smiles, plans and high hopes, excitement and a genuine love for children and go home by the end of their first week shaking their heads and asking 'This can’t be right, can it?'

The fact is, our early years sites and services are filled with maternal nurturing women (mainly, though I respectfully acknowledge and admire our few male colleagues dedicated to early years education) and they are wearing capes, scared that if they express concern over current demands placed upon them, if they question, complain, admit they need help or support, if they buckle under the strain or don't dot every ‘i’ and cross every ‘t’ as required they may be stripped of at worst, their job or what little super human powers that remain. Have I lost you? I’m talking about those super powers which allow these dedicated educators to miss their own children's Sports Days, Concerts, award ceremonies and school assemblies so they can be there to act as teacher, advisor, guide, counsellor, nurse etc to teach, challenge, develop imagination as well as water, feed, bandage, tie shoelaces, wipe noses, and generally 'mother' other people's children as if they were their own.

Do they receive medals, certificates, praise (let alone appropriate financial remuneration) or even just an occasional little ‘thanks’ for their choice, for the sacrifice they make? Rarely, in fact they mainly hear from parents when they wish to complain and bosses when they are requesting to add something more to the already overflowing sink of (becoming very cloudy) dish washing water. A commitment to continual improvement is one thing, I don't think there's many of us that don't want to be the best we can be, but to continue to raise the bar without proper acknowledgement of what has already been achieved is not just unfair, it’s plain rude.

The National Quality Agenda was necessary and long overdue, we all know why so I'm not going to go in to a lengthy rant about it, and I am not disputing that. I personally believe the National Quality Standards cover all they should and are well set out and written. I love the National Early Years Learning Framework. I believe it captured the recognised and unseen principles, practices and learning goals for children that Early Years educators have been dedicated to, enacted and aspired to for many years. To me it was like the old 'Teachers Work' document had been rewritten for the early years. It defines what we already believed about community, parents, children and learning, what we were already doing in practice and what we already aimed for children to know and do before beginning school.

Now, with implementation complete, QIP’s written and submitted, on-going assessment and validation continuing and a new deep understanding permeating all we do, as we deal with the continued lack of understanding, support, funding, and admin time, we need to be kind to one another, support one another, encourage one another and praise one another for all we have achieved in the Early Years over the past two to three years. For our sanity, we must prioritise the most important administration jobs, prioritise the needs of the children and let the rest go. It is hard and we hate it but the children will survive without pre-entry visits and huge bound scrapbooks of every painting they completed at Childcare. Some things have to go. It’s time to work smarter, not harder.

I wonder if maybe the next time we are handed that new massive framework of expectations we will have the strength and courage to hand it back, but likely we'll continue to be superheroes, waiting for the understanding, support, funding and time we need to make our good Early Years sites and services places of excellence.

Written by Andrea Doyle, Teacher, Leader, Learner and Business Owner of Teaching Made Easy

Teaching Made Easy’

During her Master Class, renowned author and educator, Maggie Dent, examines the role of stressors and explores ways to de-stress and relax to deal with the unique challenges of our teaching profession. We believe our ‘Teaching Made Easy’ resources compliment Maggie’s message perfectly.

In fact, I designed the ‘Teaching Made Easy – Child Observations’ app and ‘EYLF Made Easy’ programming and planning package after reading numerous blogs of educators crying out for help and after working as a Preschool Director and suffering health issues and stress brought about by the new requirements of the National Quality Agenda and implementation of the Early Years Learning Framework. Both ‘Teaching Made Easy’ resources aim to streamline the documentation demands of busy time-poor teachers to allow less time on paperwork and more quality time spent with children.

The ‘Teaching Made Easy - Child Observations’ app is a recording and reporting tool developed to assist educators in continuous documentation and assessment to meet the needs of individual learners. It allows users to easily develop a Child Profile Folder as they collect photographic evidence and align their learning story to the outcomes of current national curriculum frameworks (EYLF and the Australian Curriculum) and to identify extension ideas and intentional teaching opportunities.

You can view more screenshots & download your FREE ‘Teaching Made Easy, Child Observations’ app here:

We recommend you check it out and see if it would be an observation tool that might work for you.

The ‘EYLF Made Easy’ programming and planning package can be found in the featured products section of our ‘Teaching Made Easy Print’ website.

Please send me an email to if you would like more information or would like me to send you some samples.

If you are still not sure, join over 5,500 ‘Teaching Made Easy’ fans on our facebook page, and talk to other early year’s educators about why they love the support, features and benefits of ‘Teaching Made Easy’ resources.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

#AtoZChallenge Color Tablets

I love the color tablets for so many reasons. Yes, they teach children how to match colors and how to name colors. But, they also teach children to appreciate the gradations of colors that exist in our world. Ask a child to name something green. Answers may include grass, leaves, peppers, broccoli, apples, etc. If you think about it, yes, those are all representations of the color green. Every one of them, though, is a different kind of green. That is something children realize with the color tablets.

Color Box 1 teaches just the primary colors. Two sets of tablets include red, yellow, and blue. 

Color Box 2 adds more colors for matching, including pink, orange, green, purple, gray, brown, black, and white.

The third color box starts to teach children how to grade colors, from white to black, and grays in the middle. Some people use one color, grading lightest to darkest.

I learned Color Box 4 as being one in which you grade a color from lightest to darkest, as well as matching those tints and shades with two sets.

Color Box 5 is the best of them all. It grades all of the colors from Color Box 2 from darkest to lightest. Many people have the rows of colors radiate from a circle in the middle. My kids always call it "The Sun." It does resemble the sun or other star.

You can do all kinds of extensions with these materials. Maria wrote about he children using the original color tablets, which were actually spools of silk. You had to hold the ends of them so delicately, as fingers could leave a smudge on the silk and distort the color. Children delicately carried them around the environment, comparing them to everything they could find. I haven't yet seen my children do that, but carrying wooden versions don't feel quite as special.

When I was in training, my Montessori best friend made an original project in which children had to mix paint colors to try to match the color tablets in a grading sequence. I have added to that idea by creating cards that show a certain number of dots in a given color in each rectangle. They measure the drops and then mix the colors to see what they get. 

Does this impact kids for life? Well, I was the kid who always had to have the 64 box of crayons. As a teacher, I get annoyed with the 8-packs of colored pencils, markers, and crayons. I end up spending my own money on packages with more colors. I feel like you can be more creative, as well as more accurately represent the world around you with more color choices. I also aced the color chart exercise in my beginning oil painting class from a decade ago. The purpose was to create a chart of grades of all colors, to use as reference when painting. I whipped mine out in less than two sessions, when most people were taking several weeks to complete theirs. I feel like I can observe minute color changes everywhere around me, and find more complementary color combinations. My artistic eye was more finely tuned by using these materials. At least, that's my opinion. :-)

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

#AtoZChallenge Binomial Cube

My favorite materials in the Montessori sensorial area are the algebraic cubes. Because this is a post for B, I guess I need to focus on the Binomial Cube.

Forgive me. I forgot to take pictures of my planned posts before spring break. I can't get a picture until we return next week, and can't seem to find one quickly in my collection. So, I am going to refer you to links with pictures that will pop open in other tabs, to help explain a few things.

The equation for the Binomial Cube is (a+b) cubed. (I again apologize, because I don't know how to make the little 3 for the cubed sign.) Montessori for Everyone has some cards that can be used with elementary students who are learning the equation. They also explain how the colors correspond to the equation. See the picture here.

At my age level, though, we do not expect the children to memorize these equations, nor even know what they are. The cubes are a concrete representation of the algebraic equation. Children learn how to put the cubes back together like a puzzle, using the colors, sizes, and shapes of the various blocks. By doing so, they are mapping out later algebraic studies in their brains. When they have done it enough times, they should be able to put it together even when wearing a blindfold. I like to impress the kids by putting together the trinomial cube with a blindfold, to inspire them to try to do the same.

Take a look at kids doing the cubes in this post by Montessori MOMents. 

Does this really work? I tell parents time and time again that I truly believe that my experiences with the Montessori materials helped to shape my love for and ability to do advanced math in high school and beyond. I was able to better visualize the equations, and firmly believe it is due to having used these materials as a child. Others back me up on this.

Visit a Montessori classroom some time and see if you can put these together, yourself.