Inclusive Education: From Political Correctness Towards Social Justice

A great video that explores the benefits and common questions about inclusive education.

Quote of the Week - Erna Alant

I have just started reading the book Augmentative and Alternative Communication: Engagement and Participation by Erna Alant. The book looks at supporting both AAC users and communication partners in developing both engagement and participation in dialogue. Participation refers to the frequency and nature of participation and includes many of the things that we commonly target when planning AAC interventions. Engagement is about the level of enjoyment experienced in interactions, the types of topics discussed, and the level of emotional resonance between the partners. Interventions using this framework include enhancing awareness and understanding in the AAC user of his own/her own interests, actions and feelings as well as enhancing the user's understanding of an interest in his/her communication partners. I'm looking forward to digging further in to this book!

Disability Creation Process

I'm currently reading the book When the Body Says No: The Cost of Hidden Stress by Gabor Mate. Over the past couple of years, I have becoming increasingly more fascinated with the mind-body connection as my job has expanded from working with students who have "disability" labels to those with "social/emotional/behavioural" labels. When I was taking my Masters and studying inclusive practices for students with "significant disabilities" I would often come across statements about the two categories of students who experience institutional discrimination and then would quickly skim over the material related to this second group so that I could get to my group of focus. I was looking for any material that would embrace the social model of disability.

The social model of disability is a civil right based approach to disability developed by disabled people. It focuses on challenging and removing barriers which prevent disabled people from living full and ac…

One Word 2017 - Self-Reg

It's that time of year again when we shift toward thinking about the concept of 'new beginnings' that seem to come with the changing of calendars. For the last couple of years rather than thinking resolutions, I have looked at "one word" that would set a focus for the year. The word that I have picked these last couple of years are actually words that found me through the course of the previous year. This year is no different as the word that I've chosen is one that has been a part of my life for several years but has become more a part of my life through 2016. The word that I'm choosing this year is Self-Reg.

This past year has brought with it many opportunities to dig deeper in to Self-Reg. I have come to more deeply understand the science of energy, tension and stress and, in that process, the word "Self-Reg" has become meaningful to me both personally and professionally. I'm excited to see what continued learning and application of Self…

CCN Alphabet: Language of Control

To get this series going again, I have decided to jump around the alphabet instead of follow alphabetical order. I wanted to share that in case anyone is wondering what happened to the letters F through K. They will come. As I am completing posts, I am linking them in the original post in the series which can be found by clicking here.

The idea for this topic comes from the book Enhancing Communication for Individuals with Autism: A Guide to the Visual Immersion System by Howard C. Shane, Emily Laubscher, Raif W. Schlosser, Holly L. Fadie, James F. Sorce, Jennifer S. Abramson, Suzanne Flynn, and Kara Corley. The information on the Language of Control and the language functions that reflect the Language of Control comes from this book and the thoughts and ideas are a combination of some of the thoughts and ideas from this book as well as ideas from other sources and my experience. I also wanted to think through how to use core boards or the individual's core based language system …

Quote of the Week: Stephen Porges

"By processing information from the environment through the senses, the nervous system continually evaluates risk. I have coined the term neuroception to describe how neural circuits distinguish whether situations or people are safe, dangerous, or life-threatening. Because of our heritage as a species, neuroception takes place in primitive parts of the brain, without our conscious awareness. The detection of a person as safe or dangerous triggers neurobiologically determined pro-social or defensive behaviors. Even though we may not always be aware of danger on a cognitive level, on a neurophysiological level, our body has already started a sequence of neural processes that would facilitate adaptive defense behaviors such as fight, flight or freeze. 

A child's (or an adult's) nervous system may detect danger or a threat to life when the child enters a new environment or meets a strange person. Cognitively, there is no reason for them to be frightened. But often, even if the…

Stuart Shanker's New Book

In the first paragraphs of this book, Stuart Shanker states "There isn't a single child who, without understanding and patience, can't be guided along a trajectory that leads to a rich and meaningful life. But stereotypes of the 'difficult child' color our views, as do our own hopes, dreams, frustrations, and fears as parents. Don't get me wrong: Some children can be a lot more challenging than others. But often our negative judgments of a child are just a defense mechanism, a way of shifting the blame for the trouble we're having onto the child's 'nature'. This can make a child more reactive, defensive, defiant, anxious, or withdrawn. But it doesn't have to be that way. It never has to be that way." 

And so a book that at first seems to be about managing children's "behaviour" begins. But as I have learned more about self-reg and read through this book, I first began to see self-reg is is related to "stress" a…

Pittsburgh AAC Language Seminar

Last week I traveled to Pittsburgh to attend a Pittsburgh AAC Language Seminar (PALSS) to learn more about core vocabulary, descriptive teaching, language development and the use of Minspeak language systems. The seminar itself was held in the Semantic Compaction Systems (SCS) office in Pittsburgh and all seminar attendants stayed in SCS guest houses. The days were filled with learning and the evenings with time to process, socialize and connect. It was both an incredibly learning and a wonderful social experience.
As with any learning experience, it will take me some time to piece together what all this new information means when converted in to practice. There was definitely a lot that applied specifically to Minspeak but there was also much that can be applied more generally to thinking about language development for students with complex communication needs.

The Goal is Language Acquisition

The emphasis throughout the seminar was about focusing on language acquistion when working …

One Word 2016 - With

It's early. Just past 5:30 a.m. This has always been my favorite time of day. For the most part, the world is still quiet and asleep and it's easier to connect to one's thinking.

The beginning part of the 2015-16 school year brought with it many changes both personally and professionally. 
My son began high school. This is his last transition within the school system and it went incredibly smoothly. I'm seeing him continue to grow and blossom and am realizing how quickly he has grown up which just makes me cherishing the times that we are together all the more. At the same time, adulthood is looming and I'm thinking often now how I can support him to transitioning to an adult life that is his own.
My job hasn't really changed but it changes each year simply because the students I work with and the classrooms I work in change each year. This means each year, I see both a bigger picture and a more focused picture. There are exciting steps forward and frustrating …

CCN Alphabet: Engagement

What did you do in school today? is a document that summarizes the information on a multi-year research project on adolescent student engagement that was completed by Canadian Educational Association (CEA). In this document, engagement is defined as "the extent to which students identify with and value schooling outcomes, have a sense of belonging at school, participate in academic and non-academic activities, strive to meet the formal requirements of schooling and make a serious personal investment in learning. For the sake of the study, engagement was broken in down in to three components: (1) social engagement, (2) institutional engagement and (3) intellectual engagement.  To be fully engaged in school, a student must experience all three types of engagement. We need to be intentional about facilitating all three types of engagement for students with complex communication needs (CCN) as there are potential barriers that may be experienced in each area.

Engagement, in general, …