Some of the highlights of the summer with my students are

Banana Bread

may17 pizza

  • restaurant dining where the kids ordered for their food and learned about splitting the bill (photo still in the mobile gadget and yes, no blog post yet, argh!)
All in all, it was a rewarding summer with the students. For some, summer was about being able to decode more while for others, we were able to tackle on the more sensitive issues that they need to understand so that they won’t offend other people with how they voice out their opinions and points of view.


A is for Autism

Autism is classified as a neurodevelopmental disorder that can be diagnosed during early childhood and is characterized by three major signs/symptoms:

1. communication problems
2. problems with social interaction
3. repetitive, restricted and stereotyped behaviors

There are different types and range of autism according to DSM IV-TR or Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

Classical autism is considered as “severe” because of the inability of children diagnosed with this as having no or low eye contact, facial expression and use of gestures and body language to communicate, among other characteristics. Spoken language is severely delayed or not developed at all. There is a preoccupation to one object or part of that object like a certain toy car’s wheel.

If a child has very delayed or showed no attempts with communicating with others, it is best that he/she is brought to a specialist.

Autism spectrum disorder or ASD on the other hand is considered a “milder” form of autism. A child diagnosed with ASD has the ability to develop his/her language, self-help and cognitive skills but needs help in several areas of development like: developing social interactions, adjusting to changes in routine and rituals, emotional reciprocity and being able to share interests with peers.

PDD-NOS or Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Other Specified is a diagnosis that cuts across the two previously mentioned conditions. DSM IV-TR lists that: PDD-NOS is a type of childhood developmental disorder which forms part of the group of Autistic Spectrum disorders. (ASD) This group also includes Classical Autism, Asperger’s Syndrome and Childhood Disintegrative Disorder. The diagnosis of PDD-NOS is one of exclusion, made when a toddler or child clearly has a Pervasive Developmental Disorder but the symptoms and signs do not comply with the Diagnostic Criteria for any of the other ASD’s (or childhood psychiatric disorders).

Autism and Communication

Children with autism have difficulties in talking to or expressing themselves using words the way other children do. There are those who usually “keep to themselves” and are able to communicate with devices.

These children can’t usually “connect” or easily understand the underlying language symbolisms which include non-verbal language cognition and the more advanced skills like pragmatics and listening. They usually respond to short and easily understandable instructions rather than long complicated ones. Their names will be called but they do not look at the person calling them.

They react differently in situations like when there’s a thunderstorm or a certain part of a tv/radio commercial or song being played.

Social Interaction

Due to these children’s difficulties in communicating with others, they have a hard time making friends, start conversations and “get” the humor behind jokes.

Repetitive, Restricted and/or Stereotyped Behavior

They thrive in routine like putting socks on the right foot first and not the other way around. They do repetitive behavior like banging or clapping. In some of those classified as having classical autism, these children manifest hand-flapping, rocking back and forth, turning things around over and over among other things.

The number used to be much bigger but these days, it is said that autism affects 1 child in every 150 children.

Scientists are still baffled as to the cause of this condition for one because of the complexity of the human brain.. Some believe that some of the brain connections that have something to do with communication, emotions and certain behaviors affecting social interactions do not develop as it should.

There are instances of sibling or cousins with autism.

How to Deal with Autism continue reading this entry »


Reading is an important aspect of the whole learning process and not just a part of language development.

Reading is the basic foundation for learning. In this day and age when students are more adept at copy-pasting that they pass off as research, the fundamental reading (and writing) skills needed to create original research and documents seem to be rare traits in students.

We want our children to learn to read. We want our children to love to read. We want our children to have fun reading.

So how would we encourage them to do so?

They’d probably argue that reading does not just limit to holding a book and reading this. Sure, reading translates to many mediums like those troves of “comic book” treasures in the internet, e-books, magazines, newspaper articles and even instruction manuals of the latest gadget bought.

Technology has changed the way people read. I for one used to do an all-nighter, an I-can’t-put-a-good-book-down-until-I-finished-reading habit while tossing and turning on my body pillow. All these reading habits have changed because of technology. Yes, I’ve been into e-books several years before the tablets were invented because I read a lot of these in my old Palm Pilot and big Symbian phone. I’ve read almost all HP books (except 1,2 and Deathly Hallows) in e-book format.

In this blog, I’ve written posts about reading:

On Friday, my youngest daughter will go to school “dressed” as a storybook character. We’ve been doing this storybook character for a long time when the teen-aged oldest child was still in preschool. Since we already have a costume worn by Kuya from last school year’s drama club presentation, we will just add details to it. No buying since we will adhere to the school’s “recycle and reuse” costumes rule.

Other school activities lined up till next week are: fashion show (for the storybook characters), speech choir, declamation pieces, English Night presentation, Drama Club presentation and exhibit of works related to reading and literature.

Reading is fun. Reading is great.

Now, off to prepare to face a student who asks: “Why can’t I read like my classmates?”

Lately the children and I have been listening to music particularly good pop songs. Well, mostly pop songs that pass our “standard” meaning no cuss words and other profanity.Yesterday was fun when we discovered karaoke versions of some songs they sing on YouTube. Yey!

Listening to good music has many benefits. Aside from this activity serving as bonding time for the family, they have these benefits:

  • helps children listen to different tunes and tempo
  • helps children listen to words and increases vocabulary
  • encourages children to be more expressive
  • stimulates the mind to be more active
  • relieves stress and relaxes the mind
  • encourages children
  • for religious and soulful music, these not just uplift the spirit but bring inner peace
  • music help people socialize
  • for those who love to dance, music is the non-chemical high that can help them express themselves through movements

I’m sure there are a lot more benefits that I haven’t touched regarding the benefits of listening to good music.

It’s no wonder there are a lot of people who love music especially those who write wonderful songs that make symbol barcode scanner go beeping with their sales. Yes, it’s a ka-ching ka-ching industry for those who have real (and auto-tuned) talent.

It’s April 26 today and we are halfway through our summer vacation. That fast? Yes, but not because it is summer means the children are off the books. Nope. Summer means upping the reading skills by more fun choices.

I’m sure children will get bored if they are not engaged in summer fun activities so reading, and not just clicking on those gadgets, will give them fun and excitement too. Now is the time we parents and teachers and parents lead the way and make them love reading.

I’m sure when they are adults they’d rather read fun stuff than read minute details of work-related literature like contracts, North Carolina health insurance, and manuals.

Here is a list of books for summer reading. Let’s hope the reading continues on till after summer vacation. I know *rolls eyes*, it’s 2009 but it’s still a list 😀

Here is another reading list.

I’m not one who get books with popular animation characters because the children can watch these characters on TV so why bother have them in books? I’d rather children read books that will take them to different places, stir their imagination and make them want to read more. Or maybe be a children’s books author some day.

I’ve read about Tomatis years ago during my early foray with the web and I’ve learned from a student about Tomatis Philippines branch. Ok, this is circa late 90s. Among the so many articles I printed about special education, the one about Tomatis method was read again and again. It interested me so.

Fast forward to three years ago, I had a student who underwent a Tomatis Listening Program in Alabang. The parents were so happy with the results. They said that their child, my student, has greatly improved after she underwent a Tomatis Listening Program.

What is Tomatis Method?

The Tomatis Method was developed by Dr. Alfred A. Tomatis, a French Ear-Nose-Throat or ENT specialist. The study of auditory processing and language development was pioneered by him which led to a new multi-disciplinary science called Audio Psycho Phonology or APP.

It was the Tomatis Method which led to the discovery of ear and voice interrelationship: the voice can only reproduce what the ear hears. One of the causes of learning problems is the inability to listen.

The Tomatis Method allows children and adults alike to improve their listening skills for better and improved learning skills in a non-invasive and drug-free way. This can be coupled with occupation and/or speech-language therapy and/or special education services.

Listening and communication are the targeted learning modes wherein the auditory stimulation between the ear and the voice are given focused to stimulate the ear’s ability to listen and the brain’s ability to understand what is being heard.

The Tomatis Method makes use of the Music of Mozart because of these three elements: rhythm for human balance, harmony for reaching emotions and melody for the intellect.

The Tomatis Method also uses Gregorian Chant (which by the way, our nun teachers had us learn to sing via Latin songs) because of its proportional beat that is close to the respiratory rhythm. This beat has a succession of sequences of unequal length said to be found in ocean waves that come one after the other but not identical.

The Tomatis Method re-trains the listening system through:

  • use of electronically modified music and language to improve auditory information processing
  • enhances the ability to know the difference between frequencies which are all necessary for language development and auditory information processing
  • use of Electronic Ear

Why is Listening an important factor in Learning? continue reading this entry »

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