Nonverbal autistic student to give commencement address

There will be an inspiring commencement speaker today at Torrey Pines High School in California — non-verbal autistic student Jeremy Sicile-Kira. In the North County Times article below, Jeremy said he’ll tell his classmates to never give up on themselves.

Most people would consider scaling Mount Everest or winning a Nobel Peace Prize an impressive feat, but Jeremy Sicile-Kira —- who was diagnosed at age 3 with severe autism —- is scaling heights that are equally impressive.

On Friday, the 21-year-old is set to become the first nonverbal autistic student to receive a full academic diploma from Torrey Pines High School, San Dieguito Union School District officials said.

He will also give the school’s commencement address, which has been prerecorded using a computer voice generator that translated his typed speech into an audio file burned onto a CD.

via SOLANA BEACH: Nonverbal autistic student to give commencement address.

Students With Autism Learn How To Succeed At Work

People with autism often have a hard time finding and keeping jobs, so more schools are creating programs to help students with autism get prepared for the workplace. One of those programs helped change the life of Kevin Sargeant.

Just a few years ago, when Kevin was still in elementary school, things weren’t looking good for him. He was antisocial, desperately unhappy and doing poorly in school.

“He was pretty much a broken child, the way I would describe it,” says his mother, Jennifer Sargeant. “We really didn’t see that he would be able to go to college, even have a job. That just wasn’t in our future for him.”

Kevin, now 18, says his autism left him unable to handle the social interactions at school.

via Students With Autism Learn How To Succeed At Work : NPR.

Students cast nearly unanimous vote for Prom Queen with Down syndrome

oaprom01Colleen Fisher just may be the most popular Prom Queen ever selected at Oakfield-Alabama High School.

In a landslide of ballot votes, the 18-year-old garnered all but about two votes to be crowned at the junior/senior prom held at Stafford Country Club.

She is a graduating senior, very well liked, who happens to have Down syndrome.

“She is a wonderful young girl,” said High School Principle Lynn Muscarella.

via O-A casts nearly unanimous vote for Prom Queen with Down syndrome | The Batavian.

iPod technology helping autistic students

Here’s a story about a Nova Scotia school district that’s providing disabled students, including non-verbal autistic children, with iPods. Each student’s iPod Touch can be loaded with apps suitable for his or her needs.

LUNENBURG – Early in 2009 the South Shore Regional School Board’s SSRSB Assistive Technology AT Centre introduced the iPod touch to their programming as a method of providing engaging and portable opportunities of inclusion to students with disabilities who live in the area.

Now, a year later, over 50 students from schools across the district have had both their scholastic and personal lives changed for the better as a result of the technology.

AT specialist Barbara Welsford says iPods are multi-functional devices that can be programmed with applications, or apps, which are specific to each student’s individual needs. “It’s all app specific and that’s the neat thing. It’s a hand-held, multi-functional device,” she explains. “The teachers are saying they are able to better communicate with students and from our perspective … it’s a motivational device which offers rewards and social supports.”

via Off-the-shelf technology helping disabled students.

Activity helps kids learn about autism

Sometimes Madison Roberson has to explain her younger brother’s behavior to her friends.

Justin Grider is in second grade and has Asperger’s syndrome, a form of autism, and though he is an outstanding student academically, his social skills often are lacking, which is typical of autism. Autistic kids don’t always understand when someone is kidding or that they should respect personal space.

“I know my brother doesn’t have a lot of friends because people think he’s not nice,” said the fourth-grader at Hope Academy. “I had this friend, and I just told her that he’s the same as any of us, so just treat him nice. If she has a question, she just asks me, and she understands it better now.”

via Activity helps kids learn about autism.

Inclusion for children with Down syndrome in mainstream classrooms

Studies show children with Down Syndrome benefit from inclusion in the regular classroom. However, one of the risks of inclusion is that children will be placed in the mainstream classroom and without proper inclusion strategies to learn in that environment. Here are tips for successful inclusion.

via Inclusion for Children with Down Syndrome in the Mainstream Classroom.

College and special needs students

Can my special needs student go to college?

That is the question that is often on the mind of a parent whose children have special needs, especially this time of year.

The short answer is yes. There are things that parents can do to help their child have a successful academic career while at college.

via Can my special needs student go to college?.

Occupational Therapy and Homework

Fox News health blogger Jennifer Cerbasi teaches at a school for children on the autism spectrum. She offers ideas on how to get information from your child’s occupational therapist to help with homework.

For a child receiving occupational therapy services, homework involves more than just sitting down and focusing. Your child may have trouble holding his pencil, writing letters with appropriate size and formation, or difficulty copying notes from his textbook.

You may see your child’s occupational therapist at IEP meetings or periodically around progress report time. These meetings are typically filled with lots of reports and information from a variety of specialists, and can be overwhelming as you try to take it all in, while still asking the questions you need to ask.

This list of questions tackle some of the important areas of concern for strengthening your child’s skills through homework.

via Occupational Therapy Homework « FOX News Health Blog «

Technology helps family with autistic sons

Here’s an article about three brothers with autism who have been helped by technology — one who uses computers, one who communicates via PowerPoint slides and one who communicates with an iPod Touch.

Cathy and Bob Strybel, of Orland Park, want to get their three sons out into the world.

“We want to help them find their way,” Cathy Strybel said. “If technology helps them, we’re going to support them the best we can.”

The Strybels have three autistic sons, Patrick, 15, a freshman at Andrew High School in Tinley Park; Danny, 13, a seventh-grader at Jerling Junior High in Orland Park; and Matt, 10, a fifth-grader at Liberty School in Orland Park.

All three boys followed different paths to the diagnosis of autism and Cathy Strybel said the widely accepted genetic markers of autism are not yet found in her boys. She said they would be considered high functioning on the spectrum.

Technology has certainly helped the Strybels.

via Technology helps Orland family with autistic sons :: The SouthtownStar :: News.

Program gives autistic students confidence to join work force – Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

This Pennsylvania program gives students with autism a taste of the work world before they turn 21. The unemployment rate for autistic adults is 80 percent, according to this story from the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

Shawn Curren hates when his hands are dirty.

When the students in his class at NHS Human Services Autism School in Whitney pass around cheese curls to eat, Curren, 16, of Greensburg immediately has to wash off the orange powder left on his fingers.

But when his boss at Adam and Eve Pet Station near Latrobe asks him to dig into a bag of hay and pull out handfuls to put in a rabbit cage, Curren obliges happily.

“Try to get it around the bowl here,” pet store owner David Shultz tells Curren as he scoops up one last handful. “That’s good!”

Curren’s foray into the working world is part of NHS Human Services’ transition program for autistic students who attend the organization’s schools in Herminie and Unity.

via Program gives autistic students confidence to join work force – Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.