Thursday, June 27, 2013

Love is Blind Performance

Alan Bersten and Jasmine Mason So You Think You Can Dance 10 Video Alan Bersten and Jasmine Mason   Contemporary   So You Think You Can Dance 10   Video
Confession time---I love So You Think You Can Dance! The other night Alan and Jasmine performed a beautiful piece completely blindfolded. Now I am not one to give in to blogging about them just because they were blindfolded. It got me thinking about how we teach non verbal body language and how we can work harder at really teaching our kids how to express themselves. It was just a little reflection and then I went back to appreciating the performance. 

Pardon my cheesiness, but I am going to blog their performance because I just loved it! Perhaps it will cause you to reflect briefly on how we can bring out this kind of expressive emotion in our kids :)

Tuesday, June 25, 2013


Hi Friends, I am back from vacation! I went out west to Utah and Jackson Hole! It was a blast to be back on the west coast! It was also super fun to surprise my mom!! She had no idea that I was stopping by for a visit. She thought she had to sign for a package so imagine her surprise when she hears my not-so-quiet voice booming across her dining hall!

Anyways, I got to thinking that it's been awhile since I have blogged about a good Recipe Renovation. I had an idea while preparing dinner the other night about how fantastic salads are for cooking projects!! Salads come in great varieties, can be big or small and can be customized to fit anyone's kitchen skill repertoire. My other win-win of salad making is that it is a healthy choice and doesn't usually require the use of a stove, microwave or oven.

A few of my fave ideas for salads:
The Waldorf Salad (a great mix of grapes, yogurt, apples and cranberries). Perfect for the "non veggie" salad kind of kid. You can hit up for some great ideas on Waldorf salads. 

The pasta salad--okay, I know I said no stove but this one is for the more experienced chef. I found tons of super easy pasta salad ideas from Simple recipes that include basic stove skills--great for the  student who needs intro to cooking skills!

Seven Layer Salad Recipe for ChristmasThe Seven Layer salad. I actually thought this one would be fun for kids because I thought they might get a kick out of making the layers. Plus the layered salads can be easy for some students because they are quite prescribed as you need only do one layer at a time. 

Mini fruit salad cornucopia... cute idea for summer parties!I loved this idea! Now, make sure you cut yourself some slack and realize that your kid might not make it this pretty. I just thought the cone idea (maybe even with some yogurt) would be fun for kids. You can also make fruit salad in a bowl. This is also a great idea as an alternative for dessert!

The other fabulous part of salad making is that if you allow your kiddo to go to the grocery store to buy ingredients, it allows them to explore an area that is quite hands on. Salad making utilizes kitchen skills that can go from basic---just mix and serve to using slicing, peeling and mixing skills (even cooking if you prepare pasta or chicken). If you are teaching a life skills class, have the students do a salad taste off and let them prepare then sample a variety of salads (then vote on students favorite). It's a simple skill that can work as a side dish or a main dish. How cool is it if your kid prepares the salad for the next family BBQ? It would be great to see our kids preparing something other than brownies (healthy too!!)

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Adorable Blind Kid Syndrome

Hi friends, I get so excited when I have guests blog for me and I am smiling brightly about our latest guest blogger, Dave Ferland. Dave is a Certified Orientation & Mobility Instructor who is dynamite. I often pick his brain for ideas and thoughts as I am putting together programs or ideas. He has been telling me about this "syndrome" he has observed and its implications on mobility. I highly advise parents, paraprofessionals and teachers to read this and bookmark it.

Adorable Blind Kid Syndrome
by David Ferland, COMS

As an orientation and mobility instructor, I’m often asked a question like, “What is keeping Johnny from being more independent in school?” Let’s go through the list: Is he using his cane properly? Techniques can always be taught and refined, especially with good support in the school. Is the paraprofessional allowing the student to make mistakes? This usually requires some work since the paraprofessional wants the student to be safe and look good. But a good paraprofessional usually comes around and gives the space and opportunity for Johnny to solve mobility problems. Is he using his landmarks, clues, and routes? Working on routes and staying oriented can be an ongoing process as kids get older and there are more travel expectations in the school. But, in my experience, there is another less concrete factor affecting the mobility of younger school-age students.
For K-4 students, one of the largest obstacles to independent travel in school is the “Adorable Blind Kid Syndrome” (ABS). Here is a typical ABS scenario: Children are entering the school, streaming in as the buses arrive. Staff members are at the doors and in the halls, moving things along, greeting some of the kids. Business as usual. But wait! Here comes Johnny with his white cane! Isn’t he adorable! And so brave! Did you know, his hearing is superhuman! I’m going to go right up to him as he’s walking, suddenly get right there in his face and ask him to guess my name. Then I’m going to look at his paraprofessional and tell her how cute he is while all the other kids are drifting past observing and listening to the whole thing. Johnny’s a bit startled by this adult’s sudden approach and the adult’s voice mixed with the clamor at the start of the school day isn’t helpful at all. But Johnny knows this game. He’s good-natured and knows how cute and adorable he is because he’s told this every single day. One thing he does not know is that it doesn’t happen to any other child entering the school. But the other students notice and the message is constantly reinforced: Johnny is special, different, and separate. And Johnny learns that someone will always bail him out. If uneasy or disoriented, he can just stop moving, wait, and someone will always help, solving his mobility problems for him. Because he’s special and adorable. These helpers may even give the paraprofessional a dirty look for allowing an Adorable Blind Kid to become confused or lost. Or they may tell him and his paraprofessional how amazing he is, how difficult it must be. Even though he just got lost in a school he’s attended for three years!

There is a teensy bit of exaggeration in the above scenario but I think all of us working with blind students will recognize some truth in there. Rule of thumb: look around. If other kids are not being fawned over, then blind students should not be fawned over either. When he’s walking, he’s working, especially in school. When he becomes disoriented, give information and ask questions. “That’s the rug near the gym.” “Someone’s walking up the stairs.” “Do you hear Mrs. Smith talking to her class?” Encourage other students to let Johnny know when he is about to barge into them so he can make his own adjustment. Of course Johnny’s cute. All kids are cute and special (mostly). But mobility expectations should not be lowered because of cuteness. And they definitely should not be lowered because of blindness. Give that Adorable Blind Kid some space and watch him thrive like just another kid.