Have students write a collaborative poem or story using Twitter, IM, Edmodo or Facebook. This way, authors can contribute one word, one line, or several paragraphs.

This website is dedicated to promoting inclusive schooling and exploring positive ways of supporting students with autism and other disabilities. Most of my work involves collaborating with schools to create environments, lessons, and experiences that are inclusive, respectful, and accessible for all learners.

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A Peek at: Get Out, Explore, and Have Fun!

Posted on July 11, 2011 in Autism, Families

Some of you know Lisa Jo Rudy from her column on About.com but she is not just a writer but also an educator, advocate, and mom. In her new book on having fun in the community, Lisa Jo encourages families, educators, and community members to think about inclusion beyond school walls. Recently, I had a chance to conduct a little interview with her for this blog:

  1. There is no other book like this on the market. Why did you write it?
    There are two major reasons. One is personal: my husband and I come from the museum world, and we’ve seen how multisensory learning situations can open the world to kids with learning differences. A child who fails in school may be a roaring success in a science museum, on a climbing wall, or in the woods. We’ve worked hard to help our son discover his own areas of strength and interest, and as a result we’ve discovered that he has perfect pitch, a great love of the natural world, and a passion for creating his own lego structures and miniatures.

    The second reason is more “mission driven” – I believe that parents of kids with autism are often so overwhelmed by the diagnosis and their own drive to “fix” their child that they forget that there’s more to the world than therapies and IEP’s. Parents of children with autism need to engage with the world, and when their child with autism is comfortable in a community setting, parents and siblings have a chance to enjoy the setting as well. I’ve seen this happen at YMCA’s, at nature centers, and in many other community settings.

  2. Some parents may think, “Why in the world would I care about getting my child out to have fun in the community when he can’t even cope with ordinary shopping excursions?” What do you say to this?

    With autism, the usual activities of childhood can be very tough indeed. School and shopping are fraught with social and sensory pitfalls; as a result, kids with autism are often overwhelmed most of the time. But there are many places and activities that are ideal for kids on the spectrum – situations in which your child can shine. Some kids with autism, for example, are wonderful musicians, naturalists, swimmers or builders – but you’ll never know what your child can do, or where he may fit, if you don’t offer him the chance to try.

  3. Beyond “just having fun” (a good reason indeed), what are some of the reasons you feel people have to “get out” and “get going”?
    Life is for living. Our kids with autism will almost certainly become adults with autism – and if we spend all our time, energy, money, hope and love on remediation and “normalization,” all of us lose out. All of us need to engage in the world, find what we love and what we’re good at, explore avenues that interest us, and seek out people who will accept us. That includes kids and adults with and without autism – everyone!

Would you like a copy of Lisa’s book? She has kindly offered to give one away to a lucky reader of this blog. Just post a comment below about what kind of excursion, activity, event, or extra-curricular activity you would like to try next with your child or student. We will draw a winner at 5:00 PM on Friday, July 15th. Good luck!

Comments

  1. From Valerie on 11 Jul 2011

    I would love to have this as a resource for my parents. I would also like to see ways that I might expand my classroom experience for children beyond our building and in our community. Having field trips out would be a great way to help my students. One of the things that I’ve done with my summer program is to use the town library’s reading program and help them participate – offsite currently but how exciting to think that we could include going out to the library as well!

  2. From Ellen on 11 Jul 2011

    I have a student who I have been taking places in the community along with a friend. One of her favorite places to go with me is our local zoo. I would like to take her to some nearby zoos where everything would be new and we could compare our zoo to this different one together.

  3. From Leanne Heinrichs on 11 Jul 2011

    I would like to try to take my son to an aquarium or a theme park with rides. We’ve slowly been attempting outings and have been building upon his successes and I think he might be ready for these “bigger” outings.

  4. From Lia on 11 Jul 2011

    We just got back from a beach vacation with our 5 year old son with autism. He really lived the dolphin-watching cruise we took. We were apprehensive at first but he did really well. We try to take him everywhere, we did the boardwalk, rides everything. It was difficult and my husband had to carry him on his shoulders a few times but we want his childhood to be filled with different experiences. I think next we’d like to try a deep sea fishing excursion.

  5. From Janna Woods on 12 Jul 2011

    I work with many families who need to hear the that it is just as important to have “fun” as it is to attend all the therapies. I would love the chance to add this to my reading library to encourage parents to live a fully included life!

  6. From Kim Harding on 12 Jul 2011

    I too am inspired by this book. It is so true. It took me several years to learn that all the therapies will always be there but sometimes you just have to LIVE.

    Some of the best learning experiences as well as family bonding occur when you are together doing new things. It is scary sometimes to be brave but as they say, you never know until you try.

    This year, we did something new. We made a bucket list of things to do for the summer and put it on our fridge. My son enjoys zoos and the library very much which we still do but we also put new things on our fridge. Visit the local airport to watch the planes, take a raft trip down the river, go horseback riding, and ride bikes down the back road by the creek.

    I take photos of all excursions and print index of photos on piece of paper. Then in school, my son uses the index to more easily write about real life events that he has experienced first hand.

  7. From Amy Johnson on 12 Jul 2011

    We conquered the Disney cruise in 2010. We were worried because if our daughter did not like the cruise, there is nowhere to escape to. :) However we worried for nothing and she loved the experience. My next travel goal is a flight from Virginia, where we live, to Arizona. My hesitation is the flight – nowhere to escape in case of meltdown and lots of angry stares!

  8. From Heidi Bernardi on 13 Jul 2011

    Our daughter is 7 yrs old and is affected by Autism. We have always expected our daughter to be included in any activities we were doing as a family out in the community. We adapt our plans to suit her needs best- We are planning a trip next month, which includes a travel on an airplane to a large city. She will definately be out of her comfort zone for a day or so… but we will get through it and enjoy each moment :)

  9. From Yael on 13 Jul 2011

    ok, we’ll try to go swimming a bit more… :)

  10. From Angie Abraham on 13 Jul 2011

    I would love to have this resource to share with my 9-yr old Aspie’s teacher and with my 4-yr old NT’s preschool (which is very inclusive). Summer is always a challenge at our house because the routine is so fluid. However, it’s always our goal to get out and go as much as possible. Two things we’re planning are a trip to the US Bureau of Engraving and to a water park. I try to surround my sons with friends they are comfortable with in order to better enjoy these excursions. I use daily coupon sites and other internet offers (like group tickets) to reduce the cost and include everyone in our social circle. We’re always looking for new adventures we can share with our friends.

  11. From Nicole Bright on 13 Jul 2011

    I am a school psychologist an would love to have my students with ADS to have more community opportunities. I am working for ACAP in Portland this summer and I love seeing how much fun the kids have I’m the community!

  12. From Paula Kluth on 16 Jul 2011

    Congrats to Yael- our winner! Yael, send your address to me at paula.kluth@gmail.com and Lisa Jo will send your book out to you! Thanks to all for entering!

  13. From Mary on 21 Jul 2011

    I would love for my Aspie son to be able to participate in sports with other kids in the community.

  14. From Lisa Jo Rudy on 27 Jul 2011

    I’m so glad the book struck a chord with all of you. I have to say that it’s been a LOT of fun getting out there and enjoying the world with our son with autism. Without him, we’d miss half the sunsets, rainbows and amazing wildlife that he’s focused on we’re just ignoring as we focus on “what’s next” and getting ready for dinner!

    All the best,

    Lisa Rudy