Friday, December 20, 2013

Positively Autism December Newsletter

Main Articles/Resources:

December Newsletter Topic: Employment and Autism -

Autistic Traits: A Plus for Many Careers -

Self-Advocacy: Teach Skills Needed for Independence -

Choosing the Right Job for People with Autism or Asperger's Syndrome -

Autism Asperger Publishing Company's Employees with Autism -

Five Tips for Individuals with Autism on Finding Employment -

Different . . . Not Less: Inspiring Stories of Achievement and Successful Employment from Adults with Autism, Asperger's, and ADHD -

The Hidden Curriculum of Getting and Keeping a Job -

Developing Talents: Careers For Individuals With Asperger Syndrome And High-Functioning Autism -

Employment Toolkit for Adults on the Spectrum -

Free Stuff:

Jedi Knight Application (Practice Name, Address, Phone, etc.) -

Christmas Social Stories and Activities
  • "Visiting Family at Christmas" Social Story
  • "Going to Visit Santa" Social Story
  • "Getting Presents at Christmas" Social Story
  • "What to Expect at Christmas" Social Story
  • And more!


December Positive Autism News -

December Positive Autism News

These 8 Inspiring People Will Change The Way You Think About Autism And Asperger's

Finding His Voice: Autistic Young Man Loves Reading to Children

An Organic Greenhouse Run by Farmers With Autism

Autistic High Schooler Runs A 5K In 15 Minutes, Qualifies For Nationals After Running Changed His Life

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Employment Toolkit for Adults on the Spectrum

From Autism Speaks:

"Autism Speaks wants to help you with your employment search by giving you tools and tips to use while you look for a job. As an adult on the autism spectrum, you have strengths and abilities that employers are just beginning to understand. We have written the Employment Tool Kit to help you research, find and keep employment in the current, competitive labor market. Stories, tips and resources were developed by a collaboration of people, including adults with autism, dedicated to increasing the employment participation of adults on the spectrum. Download the Employment Tool Kit here!"

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Developing Talents: Careers For Individuals With Asperger Syndrome And High-Functioning Autism

By: Dr. Temple Grandin and Kate Duffy

Book Description (from This updated and expanded edition considers the continuing dismal employment statistics for individuals with ASD. The authors take an in-depth look at entrepreneurship. Using real-life examples, they point out that many of the unique characteristics of individuals on the autism spectrum lend themselves well to entrepreneurial ventures. The book explores many unnoticed aspects of Vocational Rehabilitation programs that provide job training and placement for people with disabilities, as well as Social Security Administration programs that offer vocational assistance. Employment figures and prospects have been updated, and new jobs have been added that are well suited for those on the spectrum.

Monday, December 16, 2013

The Hidden Curriculum of Getting and Keeping a Job

By Brenda Smith Myles, PhD, Judy Endow, MSW, and Malcolm Mayfield, BS

Book Description:

Adults on the spectrum often have difficulty getting and keeping a job that is unrelated to their job skills. This practical and easy-to-use book provides necessary yet often untaught information on a variety of topics related to getting a job, finding a mentor, networking, using agencies, interviewing, talking with supervisors, dealing with on-the-job-frustrations, understanding the social rules at work and many other topics. Authored by two individuals on the spectrum who have extensive experience in helping others become employed, Judy Endow and Malcolm Mayfield, as well as Brenda Smith Myles, an internationally known writer and speaker on autism spectrum disorders.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Different . . . Not Less: Inspiring Stories of Achievement and Successful Employment from Adults with Autism, Asperger's, and ADHD

By: Dr. Temple Grandin

Book Description:

This book is a compilation of success stories from adults with autism and Asperger's Syndrome.  Each shares what helped them during their childhood and young lives that made them the independent adults they are today. 
One of the most important missions Temple Grandin has is making sure people with autism and Asperger's make something of their lives.  As Temple says quite bluntly, "Being on Social Security is NOT a job choice."

These unique individuals often have great potential in parts of their minds that neurotypicals never even start to tap.  This needs to be shared with the world. 

However, in order to share their hidden genius, they have to overcome many social obstacles.  The point of this groundbreaking work is - it is possible, and it is WORTH it.  Let these crusaders, handpicked by Temple herself, show how it can be done.

Let this work by Dr. Temple Grandin inspire you to your true potential.  You will soon see why it means so much to her.


Thursday, December 12, 2013

Five Tips for Individuals with Autism on Finding Employment

This is a post by Kerry Magro, Social Marketing Coordinator at Autism Speaks. Kerry was diagnosed with autism at age four. He is a self-advocate and recently released his debut book "Defining Autism From The Heart" in which he discusses his life on the spectrum.

Last March, I started working full time for Autism Speaks as a Social Marketing Coordinator. After finishing my course work for my Masters in January, I was thrilled that Autism Speaks would offer me an opportunity for my first full time position within their organization.

My employment record before this included several internships and part time jobs. As we get further into National Disability Employment Awareness Month, I wanted to share some tips I’ve learned from my experiences with individuals with autism looking for employment.

1. Find your passion and maximize it.
 During college, I was constantly told about the hardships I would face trying to find a job in this economy. One way I managed to work through that was working on my first book called “Defining Autism From The Heart”. I have always loved to write and using that passion to do something I was interested in really benefited me. During college, I also started the paperwork to establish my 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization to build on another passion of mine, Self-Advocacy. I know these both seem like big projects and they did take a few years of work to accomplish. But no matter what you do, you should always be reflecting on what you’re passionate about and try to turn those passions into opportunities for yourself.

2. Ask Questions.
 In school they always tell you that the only dumb question is not asking that question. I’ve always seen asking questions as a critical element to whatever you are doing. No matter what type of education you have, self-advocating and being aware are key to any success you’ll have. Many young kids I know with autism have trouble with this. For those educators out there, teaching these “social skills” and self-advocacy skills can be critical to future success.

3. Do Your Research.
 This goes hand-in-hand with what I mentioned earlier about reflection. Research needs to become both an internal and external factor in your efforts to find a job. You need to target your strengths and then capitalize on them. Take the first two tips above, internally try to process this and then switch to external research, which is ultimately who is hiring and if a job isn't available, what possibilities there are in these situations to create volunteer/internships. Getting experience as a volunteer or an intern may open the door to entry-level employment within organizations or companies.

4. Don’t Run From Learning Experiences.
 Many individuals with autism who get an early diagnosis have already been working a nine to five job focusing on their therapies. So as young adults, they have already had work experience getting themselves to the point where they can be employed today. Hard work is not new to them. No matter what’s on the table, you should always give it a test run! Make sure you are very open about the accommodations you need in that workplace and then give it a few days to feel it out.

5. Don’t Sell Yourself Short! Reach for the Stars!
 No matter if this is the first job you are looking for or your 30th, never sell yourself short. Always go in with the mantra that no matter if you have autism or you don’t, you can and will achieve greatness. I always tell kids I consult for to “define their autism.” Go look for work with the confidence that you are who you are and that you have a passion and unique ability that can be valued in the workforce. Then find the places that will best value that.

Individuals with autism are reaching adulthood every day. I encourage those young adults out there who do have positive job experiences to share them with our community. When I was a kid, I didn’t know that one day I would have a job in something I enjoyed, but I do now and it’s an amazing feeling! Our autism spectrum is very huge, don’t get me wrong, but I do believe there are opportunities out there and more will be available in the future.


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Autism Asperger Publishing Company's Employees with Autism

Zach Zaborny has turned his experiences with Asperger’s and interest and education in publishing into a career as a marketing associate at AAPC — a career move that brings him full circle to the company that made its mark on his family and childhood more than a decade ago.

Read more:

Friday, December 6, 2013

Self-Advocacy: Teach Skills Needed for Independence

For most of your child’s life, you have probably been advocating for your child– making decisions for him or her.  However, as individuals with autism age, they will need to advocate for themselves to the best of their ability.  Helping adolescents with autism to develop a sense of self will aid in the transition process and will develop a skill that will benefit them throughout their lives.

Read more:

Monday, December 2, 2013

Dec. Newsletter Topic: Employment and Autism

To wrap-up 2013, we'll finish our blog post series on employment issues for adults on the autism spectrum. Be sure to check back throughout the month for employment tips, resource kits, books, and more. We'll also share Christmas and December holiday resources and freebies!

If you missed our November newsletter on employment resources, you can find it here:

Want to get a jump-start on Christmas preparation with our free social stories and activities? Find them all here:

Autism-Related Cyber Monday Deals


Lots of awesome autism parents and special education teachers sell helpful resources on Here are a few of the sales. Use promo code CYBER at checkout to save up to 28%!

Positively Autism (folder games, Christmas token boards and activities, first-then charts, behavior support and more!) -

Inspired by Evan Autism Resources (activities for sorting, emotions, academics, and more) - . It looks like this store has 10% off with the promo code; most stores will have 28% off.

Autism Educators (folder games, common core, matching, emotions, academics, and more) -

The Autism Helper (data sheets, adapted books, visual supports, social stories, folder games, and more) -

Different Roads to Learning:

Save 20% today only! Save on flashcards, games, timers, reinforcers, and more for your special needs student! We hope you will take this chance to spread the warmth and share this offer with your loved ones, and to find the perfect gift for your special student.
Save 20% by entering the Promo Code THANKS13

Sale ends 12/2/13 at 11:59 pm EST. Offer does NOT apply to ABLLS-R & VB-MAPP Assessment Kits (DRK 700-703) and 10- and 25-packs of VB-MAPP Protocols (DRB 682 & 683). Cannot be combined with any other offer.


Autism Asperger Publishing Company is offering 60% off on some of their titles. It looks like there is a new book on sale each hour, so check their website frequently. More details at their website:

Future Horizons

Future Horizons (an autism, Asperger's and sensory publishing company) is having a "Winter Warehouse" sale. More info:
If you're buying toys, books, therapy supplies, tablets, etc. for your child or students with autism, now's a great time to shop Amazon!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Positively Autism November 2013 Newsletter

Main Articles:

November/December Newsletter Topic: Employment for Adults with Autism -

Training Program Helps Students With Autism Land Jobs -

Digital Imaging Leads to Job for Arizona Man with Autism -

TSA May Have the Perfect Job for Autistic Workers -

Off to Work for Individuals with Autism: A Supported Employment Approach -

Asperger's on the Job: Must-have Advice for People with Asperger's or High Functioning Autism, and their Employers, Educators, and Advocates -

"What Can You Do?" Employment PSA -

Free Downloads:

Star Wars Alphabet List -

Thanksgiving Social Stories (Customizable), Activities, and Resources -

Christmas Social Stories and Activities -
  • "Visiting Family at Christmas" Social Skill Article
  • "Visiting Family at Christmas" Social Skill Story
  • "Going to Visit Santa" Social Skill Story
  • "Getting Presents at Christmas" Social Skill Story
  • Christmas Tree Token Economy
  • Christmas Song Visual Support (Pictures and Lyrics)


November's Positive News Stories About People With Autism -

November's Positive News Stories About People With Autism

Man with Autism Launches ePetition on Autism Employment
November 21, 2013

Anna Kennedy OBE Talks About Her Autism’s Got Talent Roadshow
November 19, 2013

Nonverbal Autistic Boy Sings Inspiring Rendition of Katy Perry’s “Roar”
November 16, 2013

Autistic Twin Runners Make Strides at 2013 New York City Marathon
November 3, 2013

Friday, November 22, 2013

Thanksgiving Social Stories and Resources from Positively Autism

Check out Positively Autism's collection of free Thanksgiving resources, including:
  • Thanksgiving Vocabulary Cards
  • Customizable Thanksgiving Social Story
  • Songs/Videos
  • Visual Supports for choosing foods at Thanksgiving and saying what you are Thankful for
  • GFCF Thanksgiving recipes, and more!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

New Free Download: Star Wars Alphabet

Recently, I was doing an uppercase and lowercase letter matching activity with my son. He was having much more fun when I started using his interests by saying a Star Wars character or place with each letter we matched (A is for Anakin, G is for Geonosis, and so on). So, I made a list of Star Wars characters, places, and things for each letter of the alphabet, just for reference for learning activities. Just thought I'd pass it along for those of you who have Star Wars fans!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Asperger's on the Job: Must-have Advice for People with Asperger's or High Functioning Autism, and their Employers, Educators, and Advocates

By: Rudy Simone

Book Description: Rudy Simone, an adult with Asperger's Syndrome and an accomplished author, consultant, and musician, created this insightful resource to help employers, educators, and therapists accommodate this growing population, and to help people with Asperger’s find and keep gainful employment.

Rudy's candid advice is based on her personal experiences and the experiences of over 50 adults with Asperger's from all over the world, in addition to their employers and numerous experts in the field.
Detailed lists of "what the employee can do" and "to employers and advocates" provide balanced guidelines for success, while Rudy's "Interview Tips" and "Personal Job Map" tools will help Aspergians, young or old, find their employment niche.
There is more to a job than what the tasks are. From social blunders, to sensory issues, to bullying by coworkers, Simone presents solutions to difficult challenges. Readers will be enriched, enlightened, and ready to work—together!


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Off to Work for Individuals with Autism: A Supported Employment Approach

One approach that has enhanced employment success for people with disabilities is supported employment. The concept is founded on the belief that all people, regardless of the severity of their disability, can work in real jobs for real pay...Supported employment involves identifying and facilitating, or designing and implementing, job supports specifically geared toward assisting people with the most severe disabilities gain and maintain employment.

Read more:

Monday, November 11, 2013

TSA May Have the Perfect Job for Autistic Workers

A study published this year by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University, the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Minnesota found that high-functioning autistic men were just as accurate and almost as fast as non-autistic people in finding weapons in X-ray images of baggage [at airport security baggage screening].

More important, their performance improved as time went on, particularly in correctly identifying bags that had no weapons.

Senior author Marlene Behrmann, a psychology professor at Carnegie Mellon, said "we were able to demonstrate statistically that the individuals with autism stayed more true to the task compared with people who became distracted more easily."

The study is part of a growing push to find jobs that autistic people may actually perform better than so-called neurotypical individuals.

Read more:

Friday, November 8, 2013

November Webinar to Focus on Teacher Training

I heard about this webinar on Valerie's List. Check it out!

November Webinar to Focus on Teacher Training
In partnership with the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, OAR invites interested teachers, educational administrators, parents, and community members from across the country to participate in a two-part webinar series on strategies for supporting students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

Each multimedia presentation will feature footage from OAR's Understanding Autism: A Guide for Secondary School Teachers DVD, question-and-answer sessions with a panel of Wisconsin teachers, and guidance from special education consultant Daniel Parker on how to apply evidence-based information in the classroom setting.

Thursday, November 21 (3:30pm - 5:30pm CST)
The next webinar will focus on specific strategies that teachers can implement to promote success for their students with ASD, such as priming, academic modifications, visual supports, and reinforcement. It will also help participants become familiar with the Individualized Education Program (IEP) and steps to building effective partnerships with special educators and paraprofessionals. Click here to register for free today!

Space is limited to 500 participants for each, so be sure to register today! For those unable to participate, both webinars will be recorded and available as Windows media files (with links from the OAR Web site) beginning one week after the live event. If you have questions or would like more information, please contact Ben Kaufman, director, programs and community outreach, at 703-243-9762 or


Digital Imaging Leads to Job for Arizona Man with Autism

When Caren Gomez read an article in the Autism Advocate about a digital imaging program in Minnesota that is providing stable work for people with developmental disabilities, she knew it was the answer to her son Nick’s quest for a steady, decent-paying job.

Read more:

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Training Program Helps Students With Autism Land Jobs

New research suggests schools should build on these students' strengths...

Schools are typically tasked with ferreting out what students can't do and teaching them how to do it.

But for students with autism, perhaps the focus should be on what they can do.

Researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University recently published the first study of its kind to demonstrate that the strengths of youths with autism can be parlayed into gainful employment given the right educational program.

Read more:

Monday, November 4, 2013

Small Business Town Hall Held in Texas

From Autism Speaks. See pictures of the event and find out more about this initiative here:

On Monday evening, Autism Speaks held its fifth Small Business Town Hall meeting, hosted by the University of North Texas (UNT) Kristin Farmer Autism Center in Denton, Texas. Due to the tremendous need for appropriate employment opportunities for adults with autism, and benefitting from close collaboration with the University and its Department of Disability and Addiction Rehabilitation, UNT hosted the largest Town Hall meeting of the series. More than 120 attendees packed the room (standing room only!) including adults with autism and their families, small business owners, employment service providers and academics.

The evening featured a panel of three speakers who shared stories of their success as the owners of small businesses that employ individuals with autism. Members of the audience engaged in a dynamic Q&A discussion with the panelists, asking questions about how their businesses got started, what their operating costs are, and what obstacles they have faced along the way. Other small businesses also exhibited materials and products to the Town Hall participants on tables around the room.
The three small businesses that were featured on the panel at this Town Hall meeting were:
All of the presentations were inspirational. Joe Steffy, a young man with Down Syndrome and autism spectrum disorder, gave a presentation which brought the crowd to its feet. Using a Dynavox, pictures and a video, Joe told the the story of a young boy whose future had been predicted by the professionals to be at best, unpromising. That young boy, Joe himself, is now a business owner of Poppin Joe’s Kettle Korn, a self-sustaining micro-enterprise that employs others with and without disabilities as well. At the end of the presentation, Joe provided all of the attendees delicious samples of Kettle Korn.

Among the organizations represented at the event, DARS (vocational rehab in Texas) showed the genuine commitment of Texas to employ people on the spectrum.

“This was a wonderful opportunity for Autism Speaks to collaborate with national and local partners and really SHOW families what we do,” said Pat Robbins, local Autism Speaks director. “It was rewarding to see how motivated the families were after hearing from these three amazing businesses!”

Autism Speaks looks forward to hosting four subsequent Small Business Town Halls this Fall, including one in Evanston, Ill., on Wednesday, Oct. 23! Please click here to find out if we are visiting a city near you.

These Small Business Town Halls are part of an Autism Speaks initiative, “Advancing the Role and Impact of Small Businesses in Employing Adults with Autism,” funded by a generous grant from the Ireland Family Foundation.

Friday, November 1, 2013

November/December Newsletter Topic: Employment for Adults with Autism

October was "National Disability Employment Awareness Month," so Positively Autism will be bringing you all of the new resources and information we gathered last month. We'll be providing resources to help your children/students with autism with transition and employment.

Check our blog, Facebook, and Twitter pages this month for these topics and more!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Positively Autism October 2013 Newsletter

This month, we're finishing our series on Montessori for students with Autism.

Montessori Articles/Resources

October Positively Autism Theme -

Sensory Issues in the Montessori Classroom -

Montessori and Children with Special Needs -

Visual Supports for Use in a Montessori Classroom -

Montessori How-To Videos -

Interview with Rhea Brashear, Director of Morning Star Montessori -

What’s Maria Got to Do with Aspergers/Autism? -

"The Asperkids Collection" of Montessori Materials -

Is Montessori TEACCH Without the Velcro? -

An Interview with Michelle Lane -

"Autism: A Montessori Approach" by Michelle Lane -

Freebies and Resources

Task Ideas for Matching and Sorting -

Halloween Social Stories and Freebies -


October 2013 Positive Autism News Stories -

Participants Still Needed for Cutting Edge PRT Autism Intervention (California) -

October 2013 Positive Autism News Stories

Autism Doesn’t Hold Back Montgomery College Graduate
October 1, 2013

'Joshua is the Winner, He's So Proud,' Autistic Senior Named Homecoming King
October 4, 2013

Blind, Autistic Man's Music His Gift
October 12, 2013

‘More Like You than Not’ Event Teaches CSUN Community About Autism
October 21, 2013

Autistic Artist Gives Hope to Many Through His Eco-art
October 24, 2013

Frederick Man with Autism Pays It Forward
October 25, 2013

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Positively Autism's Halloween Social Stories and Freebies

Halloween is almost here! Don't forget about Positively Autism's collection of Halloween freebies!
  • Halloween Vocabulary
  • "What to Expect on Halloween" Social Story
  • "Travis the Train Goes Trick or Treating" Story
  • Halloween Math Activity Bundle for Pre-K and K
  • "Things That Are Black" Activity
  • "Things That Are Orange" Activity
  • Songs/Videos
  • Books
  • And More!
Find all the activities here:

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

"Autism: A Montessori Approach" by Michelle Lane

Book Description: The book describes the combined program using the Montessori curriculum and Applied Behaviour Analysis for teachers, schools as well as parents of children with autism. It provides the reader with the history as to why the Montessori curriculum is ideal for a child with special needs, a curriculum overview as well as strategies for these children in a clinic setting as well as a traditional Montessori school setting.

Review: Michelle Lane's book series (which includes the main book, as well as program manuals and tracking guides), provide a helpful overview of using Montessori methods to teach children with autism. It provides a brief overview of two approaches: Montessori and Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), as well as the combination of these two approaches for teaching children with autism. This book does not go in depth about the Montessori philosophy, but readers seeking this information can find it in the many books available about this topic. It does, however, provide an easy-to-understand guide to using the Montessori ideas.

I would recommend these books for ABA practitioners wanting to incorporate Montessori instruction into their ABA programs, as well as Montessori teachers wanting to include students with autism into their programs.

Chapters in "Autism: A Montessori Approach" include:
  1. Montessori, Itard and Seguin
  2. Autism
  3. Applied Behaviour Analysis
  4. Blended Program
  5. Montessori Curriculum
  6. Sensorial
  7. Practical Life
  8. Language
  9. Math
  10. Culture
  11. Data Collection
  12. Play/Social Skills
  13. Sensory Processing/Anxiety
  14. Creating Your Own Program
  15. Summary
The following program tracking manuals and curriculum guides are also available:
  • Sensorial
  • Practical Life
  • Language
  • Math
  • Culture
Order at:

Monday, October 21, 2013

An Interview with Michelle Lane

Michelle Lane is the author of "Autism: A Montessori Approach" and has developed a program that combines Montessori and Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). Click below for an interview about her background and teaching approach.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Participants Still Needed for Cutting Edge PRT Autism Intervention (California)

I received the following newsletter e-mail from the Koegel Autism Center at University of California, Santa Barbara. Drs. Robert and Lynn Koegel are the pioneers of Pivotal Response Treatment (PRT), which, in my opinion, is a preferred method of early intervention for children with autism. Here is the e-mail:

Dear Friends of the Koegel Autism Center,

Do you have a 4 to 6 year old child diagnosed with ASD? Are you interested in receiving a developmental assessment and 16 weeks of intervention? Your participation will enable researchers to better understand the developing brain in autism. Through the use of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), we are able to see how behavioral intervention (specifically Pivotal Response Treatment or PRT) improves children's processing of social stimuli. This cutting edge research, funded by Autism Speaks, will hopefully lead to better care for all children with ASD. For more information on the current study, please see results from a similar project conducted at Yale University.

Please fill out the quick one page information form here and send it to

Please spread the word, even if this opportunity does not apply to your family!

For more information you may contact Avery Voos at

Koegel Autism Center
University of California, Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara, CA 93106-9490

Friday, October 18, 2013

Is Montessori TEACCH Without the Velcro?

by Nicole Caldwell, M.Ed.

When researching this month's issue of Positively Autism, I saw a comment on a blog post that that Montessori was like TEACCH without the Velcro. I attended a Montessori school as a child and worked as a teacher’s aide at a Montessori school in college. I’ve always thought that Montessori materials were ideal for children with autism due to their appealing and visually structured nature.

“The environment itself will teach the child.” – Maria Montessori

If you’re familiar with the TEACCH approach, you know that it places an emphasis on visual structure and creating materials and classroom spaces that contain many visual cues that allow a student with autism to understand what to do. I like to think of it as, “Show, don’t tell.”

“Education is a natural process carried out by the child and is not acquired by listening to words but by experiences in the environment.” – Maria Montessori

When using TEACCH, teachers provide visual supports such as picture schedules and structured workstations in which children complete a numbered or color-coded series of activities.

“The teacher's task is not to talk, but to prepare and arrange a series of motives…in a special environment made for the child.” – Maria Montessori

When you look at many traditional Montessori materials, you will see many of these same features of visual structure and clarity.

“To assist a child we must provide him with an environment which will enable him to develop freely.” – Maria Montessori

Additionally, TEACCH is founded upon a respect for “the culture of autism,” and the idea that individuals with autism may be different than those without autism, but they are not inferior. This seems very much in harmony with the Montessori philosophy of dignity and respect for the child.

“Bring the child to the consciousness of his own dignity and he will feel free.” – Maria Montessori


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

"The Asperkids Collection" of Montessori Materials

Wonder and curiosity. Respect and kindness for all children everywhere. These are the common goals of Asperkids, LLC, and of Montessori Services. Through Asperkids' award-winning multimedia social education and Montessori Services' beautiful practical life tools, we have created a road to confidence and independence for kids with Asperger Syndrome, autism -- and every other "typical" child, too. With you in mind, every single item in this collection has been "chosen, celebrated and personally used" by Asperkids' award-winning author (Aspie and Asperkid mom x3), Jennifer O'Toole.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

What’s Maria Got to Do with Aspergers/Autism?

Above all, they [children] absolutely want the joy of learning that they are capable, important, relevant human beings. In one word, then, let’s sum up the Montessori philosophy thusly: dignity.


Monday, October 14, 2013

Interview with Rhea Brashear, Director of Morning Star Montessori

As we continue our series on Montessori and Autism, we would like to welcome Rhea Brashear, Director of Morning Star Montessori.

Question: Thank you for taking the time to participate with an interview with Positively Autism. Can you start by telling us a little about Morning Star Montessori and your background at the school?


The school was started in 2008 to try and address the growing need for truly individualized education in the special needs community.  The school was originally developed as a ministry of a small church. Over the course of a couple of years Morning Star became an independent organization. 

I had personal experience with my own child that had special needs and I am a certified Montessori teacher.  My desire was to offer a hands on opportunity for harnessing two complementary approaches for the benefit of special needs children.

Q: How do you feel that your school’s approach, and Montessori methods in particular, benefit students with autism?

A: I have always believed that Montessori education had the best potential for meeting the differentiated educational needs of special needs / autistic children.  Dr. Montessori implores us as teachers to create the environment suited to the child’s needs.  By understanding more about the sensory, developmental, and neurological foundations of any of the disorders / delays that are so prevalent today, we can better understand how to look at our classrooms and make the lessons and the environments more attainable for these children.

Ultimately, though, this will require a deeper preparation of the teacher.  Dr. Montessori makes this point very clear in her writings. As Montessori teachers, we must stay focused on her words as we take the lead in education for the next generation.

Q: Your school uses The HANDLE® approach. Can you tell us more about this method and how it is integrated with Montessori?

A: This has been the school’s primary focus for the past 5 years. HANDLE has been the foundational approach for the program because it, by it’s very nature, is a holistic approach that looks at all people from the perspective of neurodevelopment.  HANDLE training is first about understanding the hierarchy of development from internal systems such as vestibular (inner ear), proprioception, muscle tone, kinesthesia, lateralization, vision, audition, and so on.  Each system is viewed in relationship to the others.  Then, through careful observation, we are trained to note differences and compensations such that the client’s indirect and direct aims can be understood.  This very important as many autistic children are non-verbal and can not tell parents or teachers what they need or why they are doing things.

Montessori philosophy is very similar because the emphasis is on the observation of the child in a prepared environment as well as  understanding the purpose of the child’s work in a holistic way.  First, understanding how this may be serving a need in the child, then how does this activity fit in the classroom community.

HANDLE trained me to go much deeper in the observational assessment with a profound level of understanding about the neurological implications of the natural desires / needs of the individual.  These all stem from developmental “thrusts” and can be facilitated differently in each child through careful observation.

Q: What advice do you have for Montessori schools and teachers in working with students with autism?

A: This is a tough question to answer because there are so many different aspects to autism that need to be addressed individually in each child.  In my area, the term Autism Spectrum Disorder is becoming more frequently used by professionals. This term gives credence to the realization that each child with an autism diagnosis will have their own unique combination of symptoms.  No two autistic children are really just alike.

It is very true that every autistic child may not be integrated successfully into a every Montessori classroom.  Some children do require specialized one on one care and this is often not possible in many school communities. 

But, keeping the tenants of Montessori in focus, it is possible to create a prepared classroom environment that would meet the needs of children with ASD, speech delays, Pervasive Developmental Delays, etc. 

The best direct answer to this question would have to be directed towards the teacher – parent relationship.  If a parent has come to your school seeking placement for their autistic child consider it an honor:

  1. They see you as a professional expert /resource in the community.
  2. They have heard the deepest message of Dr. Montessori for love/respect for the child and believe your school can offer this.  (Believe me, these parents talk to other parents voraciously! If your school was an option to be considered, you are doing something right!)
  3. No one plans to be the parent of a special needs child.  By the time the mom walks through the door of your school she is most likely feeling rejected, battered, and often discouraged.  They are mostly looking for acceptance for the child they love…just like every one else.

You could:

- Have the local resources ready in a file.

- Try to give them an extra few minutes in the interview.  The mom may just need listening ear for few minutes.

- Consider if your school could possibly offer some way for limited interaction?  Half-day inclusion one day a week?  Join for special events? 

-  Keep thinking!

Q: How can teachers in non-Montessori public and private schools and intervention programs use Montessori methods in their classrooms?

A: The Method is really central to the preparation and attitude of the teacher.  I could be placed in a traditional classroom and use the materials on hand and lessons plans in such a way as to foster individual exploration, self directed use, and encourage collaborative learning.  It comes down to having respect for the child and their purposes for learning.

Montessori education does not only exist in the Golden Beads, botany cabinet, or moveable alphabet!  It is an approach that is built from the inside out and must be facilitated that way from the teachers. 

Q: How can our readers learn more about Morning Star Montessori and your programs there?

A: Sadly, the building where our program was located had a pervasive mold contamination that was discovered just before the 2013 -2014 school year was set to start.   We contacted 13 other churches or schools looking for a place to relocate but none were available in time to start the new school year. We have had to temporarily postpone the school until new arrangements can be made.

I also want to explain that my classrooms were small with very low ratios which would be difficult for many schools to replicate.  We had at the most 9 children in class with 3 teachers.  The 3:1 ratio is not budget friendly! 

But the combination of Montessori and HANDLE did work in amazing ways for the children that came to the school.  We were able to accept children with autism, Cerbal Palsy, PDD-NOS, Turner Syndrome, apraxia, and developmental delays. 

I had to really challenge myself to reset the expectations and structure of the classroom to adjust to the new challenges presented in the children.  After 5 years, I am convinced that these children are just like other children.  They too have a desire to learn, find community and develop a sense of self. 

The children learned to talk, read, write, and make friends.  I used the practical life and sensorial materials in ways that were a few steps way from the “traditional Montessori way”, but they met the needs of the child and that keep me focused on what Dr. Montessori really intended.

Q: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?

A: I would welcome the opportunity to speak with any school with regard to how any individual child could be helped in the classroom. 

To the adage of pictures being worth 1000 words:


This student with autism needed more proprioceptive input in order to focus on the lesson.  He was able to complete the triangles but I had adapt to giving the lesson in an unconventional way. 

The internal order of the child will be developed, but the teacher may need to understand that the child is beginning from a different point than the typically developing child. 


Friday, October 11, 2013

Montessori How-To Videos

My Works Montessori Provides:
  • Information on Montessori Education.
  • Video tutorials for parents and/or educators on the Montessori method and principles.
  • Interactive Montessori video lessons for at home use between a parent and child. Video lessons taught by AMS certified Montessori Directors.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Montessori and Children with Special Needs

From Casa Vera Montessori School: "We would like to show you how children with special needs influenced Maria Montessori as well as affected the development of her educational philosophy and how Montessori education can help these children to reach their potential. "


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

October Positively Autism Theme

This month, we'll wrap up our series on Montessori education for children with autism. We will provide information to help Montessori schools include children with autism, discuss the similarities between Montessori materials and the TEACCH approach, and post new free downloads.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Positively Autism September Newsletter

Thanks for reading Positively Autism's September Newsletter! This month, we're focusing on Montessori educational strategies for children with autism, as well as some fun Halloween/Fall freebies!

Main Articles/Resources:

What is Montessori? Video -

What is Montessori Education? -

Montessori vs. "Traditional" Approach to Education -

Treatment Meshes Montessori and ABA -

Parallels Between Discrete Trials and Montessori Lessons -

"The Absorbent Mind" by Maria Montessori (Free on Kindle) -

New Freebies!

Halloween Social Stories and Activities -

Halloween Math Activity Bundle for Pre-K and K -

Fall Worksheet Packet for Preschool-First Grade -

Other News:

September Positive Autism News -

Autism Survey for Texas Teachers