I know I'm a couple days late for Thanksgiving, but I just feel like I really need to express my gratitude today. I have been so blessed throughout my life, and I like to look back at how experiences and relationships have shaped my life over the years.

I feel so fortunate to have been led to a career that I absolutely love, I know that's not the case for everyone. Like a lot of new High School grads, I had little idea what I wanted to do for my career. Even when I finished my undergrad, I still wasn't exactly sure what I was going to do. I was lucky to have people enter my life that helped teach me and give me opportunities to grow to get me to where I am today.

I have had so much support from my friends and family, as well as families of individuals that I have had the opportunity to work with. I am continually receiving so much encouragement, and I know that it keeps me going through the difficult times. I am so grateful for all of my students/clients that have taught me so much about courage, love, and determination. I am also grateful for the people that come into my life that I may never even know their names. There have been some strangers that have had a huge influence in my life, and I'm grateful for that.

Whether the relationships we have with others are just a glimpse in time or whether they are lifelong relationships, they matter. Without one another, it would be difficult to progress to our full potential, we all need each other. I am so grateful for everyone who has crossed my path, and I hope that someday I can do for others what you all have done for me. Thank you for being part of my life!


Show and Tell: Letter School App

I know that whenever I do show and tell, I always say it's my favorite, but this app really is the favorite of all my students. We do Handwriting Without Tears at my school, so this is nice because it has a mode for Handwriting Without Tears. Another thing I love is that it follows the concept of I do it, we do it, you do it. The graphics are great and engaging for the kids so that they want to keep doing it over and over.

When I use Letter School, I generally have the kids learn the prompts and practice on paper or a chalk board first and then follow it up with the app. It's well worth the $5.  Check it out at

More senses than 5

Before I started working with kids with autism, I had heard quite a bit about sensory input. My sister is a pediatric occupational therapist and works a lot with sensory integration. Then when I started working in the school setting, I had one of the best occupational therapists working with my students. I have been privileged to be in the midst of some great occupational therapists throughout my career.

We always hear about the 5 senses, and then we hear about the 6th sense. Well, there is really a 6th sense and a 7th and probably more. The way we experience the world we live in is quite incredible, I have to say. There is so much to process, and our bodies are capable of so much.

I just want to give a quick overview of three of our senses: tactile, vestibular, and proprioceptive.  Some kids may be seekers, and others may be avoiders. And a kid can be a seeker in one area and an avoider in another. We are all different, and so we individualize our approach :)

TACTILE: This is how we take in information through our skin, we process information about touch with this sense. This has to do with lighter touch. Different textures may have different reactions. Some textures you may want to think about are soft, hard, slimy, wet, gooey, crunchy, fuzzy, etc.

VESTIBULAR: This is how we receive information through our inner ear. It has to do with movement, gravity, and balance. Some activities you may look at to see if your child avoids or seeks might be swinging, spinning, running, climbing, rocking, bouncing, etc.

PROPRIOCEPTIVE: This is how we take in information through our muscles, ligaments, and joints. We process information about body position and body parts. Activities might include wrestling, tickling, being buried in pillows, crashing into things, pushing heavy things, etc.

As we are more aware of a child's sensory motor profile, we can facilitate activities in these areas to promote greater engagement and help in the child's development.

If you're interested, here's another post I did a while back about our sensory systems:

Show And Tell: 10 Fat Turkeys

One of my favorite books to do in my preschool for Thanksgiving time is 10 Fat Turkeys by Tony Johnston.  This book is less than $4 on my amazon affiliate site, if you're looking for a copy.

This is a fun book that talks about numbers 1-10, it also a lot of fun actions.

Here are some skills you can work on while reading this book:

  • Counting to 10
  • Counting backwards
  • Action words
  • Pretend play: act it out
  • Repetitive phrases for the kids to repeat
  • Predicting the text (dramatic pauses for them to complete the phrases)
  • Find the rhymes
  • Turn taking (when using visuals, have kids take turns having the turkey fall off the fence)


I recently did a training for the staff I work with about Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. It got me thinking a lot about the second level of the pyramid, which is safety. In order to continue up the pyramid to relationships, achievement, and self-actialization there is this need to feel and be safe.

If that safety is missing, it can be so hard to reach our potential because we fall into survival mode and oftentimes react in a way that might be defensive rather than moving forward towards our potential. We are just trying not to go backwards because of fear rather than confidently moving towards our goals and dreams.

I've been there, and it wasn't a very happy place for me. So how does this relate to the kiddos that we work with? Everything. It's important that we create an environment that is not only physically safe, but also emotionally safe. A place where it's ok to fall because you know that someone will be there to encourage you and cheer you on to keep going.

Temple Grandin is an incredible woman, who has helped the world understand autism on a different level. She is a scholar and a woman of success, and she knows what it's like first hand to have autism. At one conference I attended, she talked about how her amygdala (fear center) is four times larger than the average person. This has stuck out to me since I heard her say that. So building an environment of safety takes on even greater meaning. Being safe is one thing, but feeling safe can be on a completely different level.

Just a few things we can do to help kids feel safe is to build a routine that is predictable. Picture schedules can be a great way to communicate the schedule. Priming can help prepare for upcoming transitions. Having boundaries is really important. When the boundaries keep changing, it can be difficult for a child to be able predict what is going to happen. Being aware of sensory overload and how to cope with that is also important when considering the environment. There are so many things to consider, more than I am going to write in this post. Little by little you can get there, don't feel overwhelmed with all you feel needs to be done. Just take it one step at a time. Little by little as the child progresses, less supports will be required as you see them move through different stages.