The blog I found myself drawn to is Thoughts of an Autism Teacher. I found this Blog while looking for teachers and classrooms for kids with special needs. I’m interested in this blog because the blogger seems very interested and engaged in her students. She posts up the most interesting little projects and ideas for the classroom, which can certainly make a difference for children with Autism. I’m currently a substitute teachers aid for children with special needs. Majority of the students I work with have Autism. Everyday I learn something new and  each day I work in different classrooms with different teachers. Each teacher has their own unique way of setting up their classrooms with their own special reasons and solutions.  As you spend time with different teachers, you begin to see the “method to their madness”.

The blog Thoughts of an Autism Teacher can build a connection with my peers by help them understand the difference between a basic classroom and a classroom for children with autism and special needs. Reading thorough this blog has helped me  have a better understanding on how to work one on one with my students and understand why certain teachers avoid a visually busy classroom.

“One mistake I see sometimes in other autism classrooms is the overuse of visuals. What, you say?? Visuals are so important to students with autism, right??

Yes, visuals are important. However, some teachers take this a little too far. If you have TOO many visuals…

1) They lose their meaning. Student’s don’t know what to attend to.

2) They can be too visually overstimulating and distracting.

I like a lot of the suggestions from the blog, Clutter-Free Classroom. This blog is not actually an autism blog, but many of the concepts apply. Classrooms that are clean, organized, and minimize visually stimuli create great environments for our kiddos to learn.”

Not only is it important to research what teachers had to blog about Special needs, I was also interested in the parents perspective. Understanding a condition inside out can also make a difference. Working with the parents and parents working with the teachers can help children make little changes day by day.A more personal blog coming from a  parent whose daughter has Autism is, Child’s Work, Child’s Play Blog. The author of this blog is Jessica, and she reaches out to other parents and help them with little tips here and there on how to cope with different situations for Autism. Her personal posts are touching and you can feel the love that she has for her daughter. Jessica not only reaches out to parents, she also gives brilliant ideas for activities and art for teachers. One the most inspirational and touching post she made is Finding Happy ( MUST READ ). With the recent tragedy that happened in Connecticut, I believe people need to learn and understand that Autism is not the blame, and sometimes you come across people with ignorant remarks and comments just because they don’t understand.

On a more personal note, I recently realized how much people are clueless about this condition. I had a conversation with a close family member and they actually questioned Autism and practically tried to make it an issue regarding the Connecticut shooting, at that point I was in tears, trying to explain to them what autism really is. Working with these kids you begin to have connection you didn’t even know was there. At that point I realized how much I truly love working with my kids. With one explanation at a time people will eventually wiser about the condition and stand up for these innocent children, teenagers and adults.


‘thresh·old’ to the Future

Health, many people fail to realize, exists in a dynamic state. Like I mentioned in my earlier post 

I’m EXTREMELY passionate about the subject, BUT I’m not only pitching the typical diet and exercise speech you hear everywhere else in the world, INSTEAD overall well-being.

I decided to come into the Health Education field when I was a 17 year old Senior at Flushing High School sitting in my health class realizing that I was just a few months away from college and didn’t even know and understand the anatomy of my own body. I watched some students struggle with grasping information thrown to us in a quick 14 weeks. And while some students looked to know all this information Ms. S gave about sex, drugs and other topics, you would’ve thought I was the 40 year old virgin who favored simple living and was unaware of the true world that exists around her, but instead lived in a giant bubble.

This is when I used myself as an example and said the topic of health education, not just sexual education, should have presence in earlier age grades.

I went on a search for issues in Health Education and found great interesting blogs in the field of education by Julia Steiny

… a writer and education consultant who’s been working on kids’ issues for over 20 years.

Her blog post titled “Put Kids’ Mental Health at the Center of Education” sheds light on another dimension of health that society is not used to hearing about and one rarely associated with children, mental health.

— Kids’ mental health is at least as important as their physical health.

YESSS – I’m very much interested in Julia Steiny’s thoughts because as a future health educator, my plan is to move children and bring to parents’ attention that a healthy child and practicing living a healthy lifestyle is not just about how you eat and how fit you are. Though those are important, it also has to do with relationships children encounter all throughout growing as well as making sure their minds are healthy amongst the other dimensions. It seems to quickly be forgotten that kids can share the same feelings as an adult such as bad moods, insecurities and trouble fitting in. Steiny says,

… the mentally healthy are those people who feel able to identify their own needs and issues, and can negotiate for themselves civilly, within the context of a community.  Kids and adults alike must learn to take responsibility for their daily moods, feelings and the nasty messages they allow their heads to tell them. (Like: “I’m too weird to have friends.”) Those who can’t manage feelings on their own need to talk to a friend, a mom, a professional.

Society needs to stop using the terms “mental health” and “mental illness” interchangeably and begin putting effort into understanding children’s feelings, letting them talk and reassuring them you’ll always be right there working on it with them, together as a parent, a friend or as an educator. Each individual has their role in this and with each contributing their two cents and investing their time in these children, changes are almost undeniable.

So my wish for the new years is that we move mental health to the center of our concerns for kids.  Leaving it at the fringes is doing none of us any favors, but least of all the young people we’re supposed to protect.  Even if it’s only the sniffles, we attend to illness.  Why put up with so little attention to feelings?

All dimensions of health exist interdependently, where the physical component is just as important as the environmental one. A healthy being cannot exist without possessing characteristics of each. It is not until then that they are whole. Julia Steiny’s “Put Kids’ Mental Health at the Center of Education” and her writing in general motivates me to make health education a subject of relevance. In today’s society, it needs to be taken seriously because although it may be late for some of us and although we’ve missed out in ways,  our children should have a chance. Our children have a chance. I hope other educators and people of all kinds share my ideas so that we can save our children. They are the future and they should be whole, vibrant, healthy little kids.