I plan to work on two websites while I’m home with Paulie.  That will allow me to stay involved with my profession (special ed, specifically autism) while still putting Paulie’s needs first.  For quite a while I’ve wanted to create a social skills hub on the internet, a website that brings together all sorts of different information on teaching social skills to children with Asperger’s.  I haven’t been able to find anything like that online– specific social skills authors have their own websites, but I haven’t found one website that attempts to link up all of the different information available.  Asperger’s is not my field– my background is in working with people who have  more severe disabilities, such as severe autism– but this is an area that I really want to explore more.  I plan to review books on social skills curricula, and invite parents and teachers to share their personal experiences with various curricula.  I’ll also review books that are written specifically for young people who have Asperger’s Syndrome.  In addition, I’ll provide links to various authors’ social skills websites, as well as links to social skills products.  There’s all sorts of great stuff out there.  I’m really looking forward to learning more about it!

I’d also like to make a website aimed at teachers and parents of children with more severe autism.  For two years I worked one-on-one with an incredible little boy who has fairly severe autism.  I went to preschool and to kindergarten with him– private schools that were meant for kids who don’t have disabilties, but who were wondeful enough to let him join the class.  During the school year I accompanied him to school and helped him with every aspect of the school day, from hanging up his book bag to interacting with the other kids at recess.  I loved it.  It was very intense, but I absolutely loved it, and I miss “my boy” so much!  Although I have a degree is special education, I had to make up a lot of the strategies I used as I went along.  I found ways to help him make friends with the other kids, and ways to adapt the academics so that he could more fully understand and participate.  During the summer I worked with him at his house and accompanied him to his Vacation Bible School.  I’d like to make a blog specifically to share the strategies that I used with this little guy, mostly the strategies that I came up with myself.  I plan to put my posts into categories such as “Academics– Math” or “Making Friends.”  I’d like to also describe some of the tried-and-true strategies for working with kids who have severe autism, for those who are new to the field.  I think that, overall, the focus of my website will be including kids with autism in school– the full school experience, from the lunch table to the Specials classes to recess.  I really enjoyed my time with my little boy, and I’m looking forward to reminiscing while I create a resource that hopefully will be of use to others.

There’s an autism conference coming up in March– and it’s only a little over an hour away from here!  I can’t wait!!  I’m almost afraid to mention it, for fear that I won’t be able to go for some reason (I will be very big and very pregnant!!)  I’ll be attending a FULL DAY workshop on Social Skills for individuals with Asperger’s.  It’s called, “The Role of Hidden Curriculum and Communication Skills in Developing Social Relationships.”  EXACTLY what I want to make my website about!!  I can’t wait!!  The keynote speaker is a prolific author– I look forward to reading some of her books after the workshop.  I really enjoy reading someone’s books after I’ve seen the author is person– it really brings the material to life in a new way.

I can’t wait!!