Learning and Sharing

Helpful Props and Visuals


A few years ago, I purchased the game Remote Control Impulse Control™ by Franklin Rubinstein, Ph.D., from The game consists of a set of four card games which use remote control symbols to teach three essential skills:

• STOP and redirect behavior.
• REWIND and learn from past mistakes.
• FAST FORWARD and think about consequences.

I really like the concept of using the remote control as a prop during therapy, coaching sessions, and reading tutoring.  The above mentioned game comes with a card stock fold and use remote (which lasts about a minute).  I had an old remote gathering dust so I grabbed it up and put it in my Toolbox.



Several of my clients who are receiving specialized reading tutoring also have ADHD.  When they come to a word that they don’t know, their tendency is to look at the first letter/sound and make a random guess.  That’s when we press “pause” on the remote control and use strategies for decoding and to make a “smart guess”.  Once my clients “get” the concept and understand just how helpful a pause is when reading, the remote can stay in the Toolbox (or setting out on the table as a visual reminder).



I print out a handful of the “Smart Guess” visual and keep them handy in my Toolbox.

Another visual that I made –



I would like to hear from you, Followers, about tools in your Toolbox.  If you find the tools that I share helpful, let me know.  Best wishes for a school year full of flexibility, progress and fun.




Leave a comment »

What’s in your Toolbox for the new school year?




This has been a very busy, very different summer for me.  I have seen clients for speech therapy, executive function skills coaching, Orton Gillingham tutoring and in Social Thinking® skills groups, all in the name of Autastic Avenues.  When not seeing clients directly, I have been busy promoting the business.

In addition to all the above, I have been contemplating the “self” in self-regulation and the executive function of the self.  I have been going a bit deeper in my thinking about the strategies that we provide to our kiddos and more importantly how we help them to use the strategies in a time of need.  Are we really teaching our students that the self is the controlling agent and are we as teachers and therapists flexible enough to be proactive and prep them “up front” rather than react  to “putting out the fire” when the meltdown occurs?  Just thinking…

I have been collecting power tools to add to my toolbox.  Here are just a few:

Lauren Brukner is an OT who specializes in sensory integration and self-regulation strategies.  Check out her blog at and her book HOW TO BE A SUPERHERO CALLED SELF-CONTROL!  I love super powers, so introducing my young clients to Self-Control is quite fun.  His job is “getting kids to feel like super self-control experts!”.  This superhero wants to “pass the torch” so that kids can be in control and able to handle frustration, anxiety, sensory issues, anger, and strong emotions.


FullSizeRender 2


I have a 4yr. old client who is very “wiggly”.  The wiggles happen when one has been sitting too long without getting to move enough.  Adults say, “Please control your body” or “Sit still”.  How?  Our superhero shows us how to Push Your Wiggles, Squeeze Your Wiggles, Squash Your Wiggles, and Cocoon.  My client enjoys trying out these super powers.  He also likes yoga.



Yoga4Classrooms® looks great for helping all students, not just those with sensory processing disorder or struggles with self-regulation.  Yoga4Classrooms® “helps children develop the self-awareness to realize how they feel and what they need; unwind and manage their emotions; guides them through movements that optimize their strength, flexibility and balance; demonstrates healthy habits and reminds them to love and forgive themselves”.  Creator, Lisa Flynn, You are singing my song!!



The card deck is full of illustrations to guide conscious breathing (my 4yr old friend likes “Flying Bird Breath”), stretches and postures that provide physical relief from sitting for long periods of time, activities that give opportunities for  kids to stretch and strengthen, loosen up activities that improve mood and dispel stress, and Imagination Vacation, which is a child friendly approach to meditation.

FullSizeRender 6


Learn more at:

Check back for my next post as I continue to share the power tools that I am packing in my toolbox.










School’s Out!


Anyone else feeling exhausted?  What are some of the ways you plan to recharge?  I get a mental and emotional boost when I am near the ocean.  It is kind of like getting back to the source for me.

I recently took a giant leap of faith and resigned from my SLP job in a public school system.  My focus, going forward, will be on building my private practice known as Autastic Avenues.  This blog is very important to me, so I will continue posting and sharing ideas about how we work on social thinking skills PLUS so much more.

Stay tuned!


My Take-Away from the Social Thinking® Conference


The topic of Socially Based Executive Functions was discussed early on during the conference. These functions help us to accomplish specific social goals such as:

  • Make a friend
  • Keep a friend
  • Work well in a group
  • Express your point of view in a manner so that other’s can consider it

In a face-to-face interaction we use these skills to socially attend to the situation in order to create a social plan and then adapting our language and behavior to encourage others to interpret our intentions in the manner we had hoped.

Food for thought!

Michelle Garcia Winner talked a great deal about the Social Academic Connection:

The social mind helps us to actively listen, infer, get the gist, engage in deeper critical thinking, initiate communication, produce narrative language, and engage in personal problem solving. Without social knowledge, learning is trapped in rote based learning and responses. The ability to comprehend and explain information, spoken or written, rests on our social knowledge.

Ms. Winner has a knack for saying what some of us are thinking!!  We know the big buzz is “growth mindset vs. fixed mindset”.  She said that there are teachers trying to teach kids about having a growth mindset who DO NOT have a growth mindset themselves.  I have observed that quite a bit.

New Products:

Superflex My Hero Inside with CDI wish that I had had this CD during the Flexible First Graders group!  Music/songs help learning stick and these are charming.  All the way back to Richmond I brainstormed how I would use this next school year and with the Builders & Gamers at Autastic Avenues.

The 13 songs that support social emotional learning as taught through the Super Flex curriculum. Each song is an upbeat combination of music and lyrics that can help kids learn more about the sneaky Unthinkables that may be invading their brain and causing them to do or say things that make others uncomfortable. By calling on our Super Flex hero inside and using our super flexible thinking powers, we can learn to better problem solve and self-monitor our social skills to help keep others (and ourselves) feeling comfortable being together. Music and lyrics are based on the original Super Flex curriculum book created by Stephanie Madrigal and Michelle Garcia Winner.


The printable lyrics are available on the website.




I bought this a couple of weeks ago and I appreciated the references to the Guidebook and Thinksheets during the conference.  As with all of the Social Thinking® products, this is a tool.  We can make it work for us and our clients and students.
Social Thinking and Me uses language that is understandable to both kids and adults, and breaks down complex topics in a way that is clear and manageable to both new and familiar learners of Social Thinking. Its voice is guiding, kid friendly, and sometimes humorous in nature, helping kids let down their guard and feel open to learning concepts that challenge them.
It provides a deep focus on helping individuals understand their emotions and how their actions affect the emotions of others. The books mindfully work to help kids develop their own “feelings” vocabulary (beyond happy, sad, mad), guide them to begin thinking about their own feelings, and then discuss the feelings of others – such as how certain situations might make others feel, how our actions can impact how others feel and vice versa, and the body language or nonverbal communication associated with different emotions.

Social Thinking concepts covered include:
What is Social Thinking
Social Thinking = Flexible Thinking
We All Have Feelings
Thinking With Your Eyes
Thinking About the Hidden Rules and Expected Behavior
Keeping my Body, Eyes, Ears, and Brain in the Group
Thinking of Others vs Just Me
How Big is My Problem?
Thinking About My Reaction Size
Doing An Activity or Just Hanging Out

At the end of each chapter is a “pointer” that sends the reader over to the Thinksheets book, where they work through thinksheets to help them explore and practice these new social concepts in true-to-life scenarios and situations.

I achieve a better understanding of Social Thinking with each conference.




Leave a comment »

Give Away!

Lunch Buddies Plus is hosting a “Give Away”.  We are inspired to change by all of Julia Cook’s books, but we especially like That Rule Doesn’t Apply to Me!.  Click on the link below to enter.   Good Luck!

1 Comment »

Bats at the Ballgame



The language is rich and the word play is fun in this wonderful book by Brian Lies.  The first graders love the rhyme and meter.  As the children discovered the visual jokes, I heard laughter and “Oh, I get it!”.  I can’t imagine having any more fun than we had today.  We were transported by our imaginations to that late night baseball game.  We enjoyed popcorn and actually made our own cotton candy (that is a language lesson all by itself!).


Social Thinking® Conference #6


Going back to Baltimore at the end of the week for another Social Thinking® conference.  This will be my sixth conference.  I get new information, inspiration, and ideas with each one I attend.  Keep you posted!

1 Comment »

Happy Salmon!



Thank you Mary Keiger, ( for recommending this game for my Lunch Buddies.  It took some practice to adapt to the fast pace and allowing themselves to shout and keep shouting.  In the end we had fun and will keep playing.



May is Better Hearing and Speech Month






Communication Takes Care for Baby Boomers and Beyond


Treatment for Hearing Loss, Speech/Language Issues, and Swallowing Disorders Can Contribute to Vastly Improved Quality of Life


The ability to speak, hear, and understand language and conversation are central to almost every aspect of daily life. Yet, these skills are often taken for granted until someone loses them. For older Americans, communication disorders are among the most common challenges they may face. Unfortunately, these disorders may go untreated for years—or may never be treated.


Often, lack of treatment or treatment delays are due to myths about certain disorders (such as “they are just part of the normal aging process”) or outdated perceptions of treatment. During May Is Better Hearing & Speech Month, it’s important to prioritize treatment—because the ability to communicate takes care.


Types of Communication Disorders



Hearing loss is one of the most common chronic health conditions, affecting 50 million Americans. It is highly prevalent among adults, often with serious impact on daily life and functioning. In fact, 8.5% of adults aged 55–64 have disabling hearing loss. Nearly 25% of those aged 65–74 and 50% of those who are age 75 and older have disabling hearing loss. Unfortunately, among adults aged 70 and older who have hearing loss and who could benefit from hearing aids, fewer than one in three (30%) has ever used them. This is in spite of the fact that hearing loss may affect everything from mental health (anxiety, depression, and feelings of social isolation) to vocational success (including premature departure from the workforce) to other health issues (among them, earlier onset of dementia)—and the fact that treatment advances and today’s hearing aids are more effective and less noticeable than ever.


Speech, Language and Swallowing

In the areas of voice, speech, and language, many disorders may affect older Americans. Some may be the result of another health condition, and some may occur on their own. Aphasia (a loss of the ability to use or understand language) is most common in people in their middle to late years. Difficulty with speech and swallowing (both issues treated by speech-language pathologists) may result from medical conditions such as stroke or oral cancer. Treatment for these disorders is critical to daily functioning and improved quality of life.


The Role of Loved Ones


In the case of older adults, loved ones such as a spouse or adult child are often significantly affected by a family member’s communication difficulties. These loved ones are also the people who are in the best position to influence the decision to seek treatment. If you have a concern about a loved one’s speech or hearing, encourage them to seek an evaluation from a certified audiologist or speech-language pathologist. If a course of treatment does follow, loved ones play an important role in providing support—from accompanying the person to treatment visits and helping to provide medical information to being compassionate and understanding throughout the process.


Finding Help


Hearing and balance disorders are treated by audiologists, and speech/language and swallowing disorders are treated by speech-language pathologists. People seeking treatment for themselves or loved ones should look for professionals who are certified. These people will have the letters “CCC” following their names when representing themselves professionally (CCC-A for audiologists and CCC-SLP for speech-language pathologists). The CCCs indicate that the person has met the highest standards of professional excellence in his or her field. If you need help finding a certified professional, visit



Leave a comment »

The Game Changer




I witnessed something wonderful yesterday.  The fourth grade Lunch Buddies ended our session with a fine game of UNO!  We laughed and had so much fun.  After they went back to class, I realized why it was so much fun.  None of them whined,”It’s not fair”.  There were no tears or meltdowns when players had to keep drawing cards.  No one said, “But I wanted to win!”.  There was a natural ribbing between players; words were taken in the spirit of fun.  There were high-fives all around (without a prompt from me).  Expected behavior when working and playing in a group was the game changer!

Happy Friday to All,


Leave a comment »