Education

The Face of Autism

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Studies show that 1 in 68 children are currently diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Autism does not discriminate; it affects children of all races, ethnicities, gender and socio-economic groups. With the right support, all individuals with ASD can thrive. But understanding its complexities and raising awareness is critical.

Sally Meadows is a published author who travels to schools talking about her book The Two Trees (see summary below) and speaking to children about autism and the importance of being a good friend. I conducted a Q & A with her, and I hope her thought provoking answers illuminate you.

 What are the most important messages you bring to children regarding autism and the importance of being a good friend?

I am a former teacher and I use a teaching technique that encourages students to draw on their own experience and knowledge to ultimately bring out the important messages in my book. As a start, I ask the children (ages 5-9) to brainstorm practical ways as to how they could show friendship and kindness to Syd, the boy with autism in the story, if he went to their school. Then I ask them to share what they know about bullying. (There is a scene in the book where Syd is pushed up against a wall and the other kids throw balls at him.) I emphasize that when we say or do something hurtful to someone, it can stay with him or her throughout his or her life. Read the rest of this entry »

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Why I LOVE Working with Children!

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I love being a writer.

It rocks.

But sometimes, writing can be an isolating experience. One of the reasons I love giving workshops is because I get to interact with children of all ages. And let me tell you, that is a truly enriching experience! Even though I’m there to teach them about building narratives and developing characters, I end up learning a thing or two after each workshop.

Here are the top 5 reasons I love working with children:

  1. Children are hilarious!

I often write down the things they say because the statements can be incredibly funny. Even when they’re not trying to be funny, they’re funny. When I walk into a school, I like to have a notepad and pen handy at all times.

Read the rest of this entry »

How Grade 5 Students Created a Picture Book in Three Days!

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I’ve been dying to give writing workshops at Royal Vale Elementary for years now. I keep hearing about how outstanding the school is, and how the parents camp out for days during the registration period. After a few years of trying to entice the administration, I was ecstatic to be invited to their school!

I had the privilege of meeting and working with Miss. Wendy’s two grade 5 classes.

Our mission? To create a picture book, complete with developed characters, a plot, polished text, and illustrations in just THREE DAYS! Actually, it wasn’t even three days, it was three workshop of two hours each. And I worked with two classes, so the mission was to create two books. We had our work cut out for us…

I’m happy to say that we accomplished our goal! Here’s how it went down: Read the rest of this entry »