Homeschooling Special Needs Children, A Short Reading List

After School Communication Activity Book (based on EASIC Evaluating Acquired Skills in Communication) I do not know what EASIC is, but I have found the activities in this book useful at certain times in The Cherub’s Life. I do not currently use it, but it was helpful for a while. Most of the activities are simple, repetitive physical activities that combine a scripted talk from Mom (or teacher) with some easy activities (put the beanbag on your head, singing Hokey Pokey, other simple singing games). Not for every child or every disability, it’s just what we used for a bit.

Active Learning for Threes – there are other books in this series, Active Learning for Fours, etc. This one was best suited to The Cherub. This is another one we no longer use, and I think I sold it. It was very helpful for the first year or two after we adopted The Cherub.

Basic Sign Language for Children: I think this was an inhouse booklet published by Hewitt Research. We used them years ago when we first adopted The Cherub, and I can’t say it was a great match for us. Our consultant seemed to be under the impression that because she functioned at the developmental level of a three year old in most areas that first year, that 12 months later she would be functioning at the level of a four year old. I know a lot of people flinch over the lable, but The Cherub is mentally retarded, and retarded children do not progress a full developmental year in a chronological year. Hello? That’s kind of why the word retarded is used- it means s-l-o-w. And while I am digressing let me just say that I hate, hate, hate to see the word retarded used as an adjective by clueless people who really mean something more like stupid, idiotic, asinine, or clueless. Am I oversensitive? Yes, actually, because the word ‘idiot’ was formerly the medically correct term for the same condition, and I do not flinch the same way over ‘brain-dead,’ or even the rhetorical question screamed at umps, “Are you blind?” But I still hate the misuse and abuse of the word retarded more than the others. No, it isn’t rational.
Overlooking my temporary hissy-fit, The Moore Academy says they offer Special Needs counseling for homeschoolers. Back when The Cherub joined the family the Moores were partnered with the Hewitt Research group, so maybe they carry some of the useful materials Hewitt used to.

Pre-Sign Language Motor Skills This book is wonderful, and I am not getting rid of it. If you have a child who needs sign to communicate and who combines that difficulty with any physical difficulty (C.P.; M.S.; M.D.; the low muscle tone associated with Down’s Syndrome sometimes), this is a great help to figuring out what signs are easiest to make. Signs that move in toward the body are easier than signs that go out, for instance, and this book explains why and tells you more about it.

Communication Skills in Children with Down’s Syndrome by Libby Kumin

When Slow is Fast Enough by Jane Goodman- Ouch. This appears to be out of print (oop), and because it is so absolutely fabulous it’s 46.00. Unfortunately, I do not own it. I borrowed it from Nathhan’s lending library years ago. It was excellent. Try interlibrary loan.
Even if you do not homeschool, if you have a special needs child, especially if that child’s disability is in the cognitive abilities, please try to borrow a copy of this book and make sure the teachers who work with your child read it, too.

Steps to Independence by Bruce L. Baker and Alan J. Brightman: This is also a must read book, and it is also one I do not own. LIke the above title, I borrowed this from Nathhan.  (I’ve since been able to find it at an affordable price) Excellent. This is where I learned about figuring out all the detailed steps of an activity and then working backword to accomplish it. You want your child to learn to wash his hands, rinse, them, dry them, and then hang up the towel? Begin with the very last step of straightening up the towel on the rack. Once that is done, walk it back and teach the hanging up of the towel. Then teach drying hands, one backward step at a time. This way, the child is rewarded by ending the activity with something he can do. It’s a gret help to helping those children who don’t have many successes feel successful. The authors explain more about the method, the techniques, and hows and whys, and then they take apart dozens of household activities and sort out the steps for you. Wish I owned it.

Some of these are books I found at my library, some I purchased, and some I borrowed from the excellent lending library free to members of NATHHAN. The last two remain two of the best I have ever read, the most useful, practical, and helpful.

One other helpful resource is Dianne Craft’s work. She works with all sorts of special needs in all ranges, from mental retardation to autism to learning disabilities.

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One Comment

  1. Queen of Carrots
    Posted July 1, 2006 at 2:02 am | Permalink

    I have nothing helpful to add, except to say that I used to work for NATHHAN, about ten years ago, doing office work, proofreading, chasing kittens out of the office, and even, IIRC, occasionally mailing out things in the Lending Library. It was my first real job, and a wonderful experience. Maybe I even mailed you something! Or maybe not. Anyway, glad to know they were helpful to you.

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