An ASD Friendly Experience, Eh?

45732265 - happy kids feeding cows on a farm. little girl and school age boy feed cow on a country field in summer. farmer children play with animals. child and animal friendship. family fun in the countryside.

sensory accommodations such as schedule suggestions, quiet spaces, hands-on opportunities, and a more tailored interaction with the Village staff Continue reading

Today’s In-Flight Programming: Inclusion

The hassles of airport security and crowds can be sensory overload for anyone, so for children on the autism spectrum, travel logistics can pose a variety of problems. While many parents may choose to avoid inevitable disturbances of extensive travel, some have begun to advocate for travel as a crucial educational tool enabling autistic children to learn through all of their senses.  One such advocate was featured in the Chicago Tribune this week for her outreach to the autistic community. Margalit Sturm Francus, whose son is on the autism spectrum, runs the website where she provides travel resources for parents and maintains a blog of successes and hardships with her son. Francus tells the Chicago Tribune of various conflicts her family has encountered, ranging from airport smells to broken in-flight entertainment. She suggests that parents be honest with airport security and flight attendants and come prepared for “dysregulation” like Francus’ son experienced with the surprise of broken in-flight entertainment. Now, when traveling, Francus brings two IPads just in case. Still, preparing for interruptions in a child’s routine implies that travel is routine. For Francus and her family, who have traveled to roughly 70 countries together, travel procedures have become normal and subsequently are less potentially upsetting. However, most families cannot maintain regular travel, so airlines and airports have begun accommodating ASD. Many airlines now allow and encourage early boarding for families of children with ASD. Some airports, in conjunction with TSA and airlines like Jet Blue, hold practice events that create the experience of airport security and boarding for autistic children.

For TSA travel resources for Autism or Intellectual Disabilities, visit here.

To check out Jet Blue’s aid for autism, visit ‘Blue Tales’ here.

To read Francus’ featured article, visit the Chicago Tribune here.

For travel tips and resources for families of children with ASD, visit Francus’ site

Share your travel experiences and opinions below!

Special Education Expert Presents Music Education Strategies & Strengths

Tuesday, at Shema Kolainu Hear Our Voices, Stephen Shore Ed. D. held a workshop on music education for children on the autism spectrum. Shore completed his doctoral degree in special education at Boston University and now teaches at Adelphi University in New York. Having been diagnosed on the autism spectrum and non-verbal until the age of 4, Shore brings a unique perspective to the field of special education. He attributes much of his success to the comprehensive interventions his parents guided and the music education he received from an early age. Subsequently, his approach to education is one of both specialization and inclusion. Shore’s strategies are developed particularly for the varying abilities of autistics, but are applicable for neurotypical education as well, allowing for integrated classrooms. While music is often recognized for it’s therapeutic benefits, Shore’s focus is not therapy, but structured, sustained education. Today’s workshop demonstrated the potential of music education to increase communicative abilities, strengthen neurological development in youth, foster social inclusion, and provide potential career paths for those with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Shore charismatically relayed stories of his students’ astonishing talents. One anecdote told of a non-verbal young man who, when guided hand-over-hand while playing piano, sang clear as day. Shore suggests that the structure, support, and focus the student experienced while guided to play the piano enabled him to sing, though he could not speak typically. Drawing from examples of students demonstrating expert knowledge in areas, who are unable to express understanding through certain mediums, Shore makes the case for specialized assessments in education in general, not just for students with developmental disabilities.

Check out Dr. Stephen Shore’s work and many publications at his website: The workshop, ‘Music for Children on the Autism Spectrum,’ will be streaming soon—stay tuned to see Dr. Stephen Shore speak