Friday, December 2, 2011

Happy Special Education Day!

Dear Friends,

This year marks the 7th anniversary of Special Education Day!!

MSAAFinc takes this day to honor progress and celebrate students with disabilities--and their strong parents, amazing teachers and schools. Our hats go off to you!!

Special Education Day began in 2005. That year marked the 30th anniversary of the IDEA--the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

Where are we now on providing access to education for all children, including children with disabilities? Do you feel we have come a long way from when President Gerald Ford signed the ground-breaking legislation?

We have come a long way but we still have a long way to go. I am thankful and grateful everyday for IDEA. And for the strong community that stands behind it!

Thank you!!
The MSAAFinc

Please click here, for a story about President Ford's signing statement.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Thanksgiving Activities

A collection of fun free and educational Thanksgiving activities! Enjoy <3

Pilgrim printable activity book and video

How to make a leaf turkey

Thanksgiving Mobile

Hand turkey

Thanksgiving Figures

Thanksgiving Day Poam with text and PECs

Tons of printable coloring pages!

Thanksgiving Maze

Printable color/write in turkey book.

Thanksgiving worksheets!

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Twelve Tips for Helping Those Living with Autism Have a Happy Holiday Season

Twelve Tips for Helping Those Living with Autism Have a Happy Holiday Season!

While many happily anticipate the coming holiday season, families of people on the autism spectrum also understand the special challenges that may occur when schedules are disrupted and routines broken. Our hope is that by following these few helpful tips, families may lessen the stress of the holiday season and make it a more enjoyable experience for everyone involved. The following tips were developed with input from the Autism Society, the Indiana Resource Center for Autism, Easter Seals Crossroads, the Sonya Ansari Center for Autism at Logan and the Indiana Autism Leadership Network..

1. Preparation is crucial for many individuals. At the same time, it is important to determine how much preparation a specific person may need. For example, if your son or daughter has a tendency to become anxious when anticipating an event that is to occur in the future, you may want to adjust how many days in advance you prepare him or her. Preparation can occur in various ways by using a calendar and marking the dates of various holiday events, or by creating a social story that highlights what will happen at a given event.

2. Decorations around the house may be disruptive for some. It may be helpful to revisit pictures from previous holidays that show decorations in the house. If such a photo book does not exist, use this holiday season to create one. For some it may also be helpful to take them shopping with you for holiday decorations so that they are engaged in the process. Or involve them in the process of decorating the house. And once holiday decorations have been put up, you may need to create rules about those that can and cannot be touched. Be direct, specific and consistent.

3. If a person with autism has difficulty with change, you may want to gradually decorate the house. For example, on the first day, put up the Christmas tree, then on the next day, decorate the tree and so on. And again, engage them as much as possible in this process. It may be helpful to develop a visual schedule or calendar that shows what will be done on each day.

4. If a person with autism begins to obsess about a particular gift or item they want, it may be helpful to be specific and direct about the number of times they can mention the gift. One suggestion is to give them five chips. They are allowed to exchange one chip for five minutes of talking about the desired gift. Also, if you have no intention of purchasing a specific item, it serves no purpose to tell them that maybe they will get the gift. This will only lead to problems in the future. Always choose to be direct and specific about your intentions.

5. Teach them how to leave a situation and/or how to access support when an event becomes overwhelming. For example, if you are having visitors, have a space set aside for the child as his/her safe/calm space. The individual should be taught ahead of time that they should go to their space when feeling overwhelmed. This self-management tool will serve the individual into adulthood. For those who are not at that level of self-management, develop a signal or cue for them to show when they are getting anxious, and prompt them to use the space. For individuals with more significant challenges, practice using this space in a calm manner at various times prior to your guests' arrival. Take them into the room and engage them in calming activities (e.g., play soft music, rub his/her back, turn down the lights, etc.). Then when you notice the individual becoming anxious, calmly remove him/her from the anxiety-provoking setting immediately and take him/her into the calming environment.

6. If you are traveling for the holidays, make sure you have their favorite foods, books or toys available. Having familiar items readily available can help to calm stressful situations. Also, prepare them via social stories or other communication systems for any unexpected delays in travel. If you are flying for the first time, it may be helpful to bring the individual to the airport in advance and help him/her to become accustomed to airports and planes. Use social stories and pictures to rehearse what will happen when boarding and flying.

7. Know your loved one with autism and how much noise and activity they can tolerate. If you detect that a situation may be becoming overwhelming, help them find a quiet area in which to regroup. And there may be some situations that you simply avoid (e.g., crowded shopping malls the day after Thanksgiving).

8. Prepare a photo album in advance of the relatives and other guests who will be visiting during the holidays. Allow the person with autism access to these photos at all times and also go through the photo album with him/her while talking briefly about each family member.

9. Practice opening gifts, taking turns and waiting for others, and giving gifts. Role play scenarios with your child in preparation for him/her getting a gift they do not want. Talk through this process to avoid embarrassing moments with family members. You might also choose to practice certain religious rituals. Work with a speech language pathologist to construct pages of vocabulary or topic boards that relate to the holidays and family traditions.

10. Prepare family members for strategies to use to minimize anxiety or behavioral incidents, and to enhance participation. Help them to understand if the person with autism prefers to be hugged or not, needs calm discussions or provide other suggestions that will facilitate a smoother holiday season. If the individual becomes upset, it might also be helpful to coach others to remain calm and neutral in an effort to minimize behavioral outbursts.

11. If the person with autism is on special diet, make sure there is food available that he/she can eat. And even if they are not on a special diet, be cautious of the amount of sugar consumed. And try to maintain a sleep and meal routine.

12. Above all, know your loved one with autism. Know how much noise and other sensory input they can take. Know their level of anxiety and the amount of preparation it may take. Know their fears and those things that will make the season more enjoyable for them.

Don’t stress. Plan in advance. And most of all have a wonderful holiday season!

For more information please visit Autism Society

Thank you Autism Creations for making our neat Tag. Please
Find them on Facebook

Thank you for reading The MSAAFinc

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Thanksgiving food drive!

Dear Friends
Please join us in helping families in need this Thanksgiving.

Last year friends of The MSAAFinc donated enough
Thanksgiving groceries to feed over 10 families directly, and another 20 individuals where provided with a hot meal!

How can you help? Here’s how it works. If you’d like to adopt a family for Thanksgiving, just email The MSAAFinc at We will gather needed information and offer you options about the family or families you wish to adopt.

For a family of four: 12 pound turkey Two each of: Canned corn Canned sweet peas Canned cut green beans Canned yams Mac a roni & Cheese Boxed stuffing mix Canned chicken Broth Cans of fruit One each of: Turkey gravy Canned Cranberry Sauce Boxed corn bread mix Boxed instant potatoes
What you decide to do for your adopted family this Thanksgiving is entirely your choice. The suggested list at the right is a general guide for a family of four, but is in no way intended to pre scribe your Thanks giv ing meal choices. Do remember that if you are adopting a family of more than four, you will want to adjust your quantities accordingly.

While many of our sponsors are individuals, many organizations, churches or plantations also call and sponsor any where from 1–5 families. So, either call your self or propose to your Book Club, neighborhood, etc. that you do some thing together.

Last year we fed over 10 families. This year we are expecting more. We need your help! Thanks for participating!

Any donation no matter how small will be of great help!!

Thank you so much!!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

5th Annual Tools for Transformation Parent and Professional Conference and State of the State Legislative Breakfast

Dear Friends

Happy Autism Awareness Month!! If you live in L.A. This is a event you cant miss and its free!! Hope to see you there!!

"This FREE breakfast and annual conference features 16 presentations and workshops led by nationally renowned experts in the fields of developmental disabilities, law, medicine, education, and advocacy. This is the largest and most comprehensive Autism/ADHD/LD conference held in South Los Angeles. It is a “must attend” event for parents, professionals, attorneys, advocates, and medical professionals. Registration includes free meals, childcare, educational resources, access to health and resource fair, give-aways and much more.

The conference begins with the State of the State Legislative Breakfast on Friday, April 15th, during which state and local elected officials will provide updates on proposed and pending legislation impacting children and families with special needs including the latest autism insurance mandate bills. The breakfast provides an opportunity for community leaders, parents, and policy makers to network and collaborate on key issues that impact children and families in Los Angeles County and across the Golden State. The second day includes workshops, resource fair, book signing events and student awards luncheon. "

Please fallow the link for all the information!
5th Annual Tools for Transformation Parent and Professional Conference and State of the State Legislative Breakfast:
Hosted By Special Needs Network

Thank You

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Cool Event! STONE SOUP & OTHER STORIES...a Sensory Friendly Performance

STONE SOUP & OTHER STORIES...a Sensory Friendly Performance

Saturday, June 11 · 10:00am - 11:00am
Paper Mill Playhouse
22 Brookside Drive
Millburn, NJ
Created By
Paper Mill Playhouse
More Info

Paper Mill Playhouse "Theater for Everyone"


a live musical performed by PUSHCART PLAYERS

Sat., June 11, 2011 at 10:00am
A charming, well-seasoned blend, these carefully selected folk tales from around the world are dynamic, participatory and filled with zesty entertainment!

This unique presentation is designed in cooperation with

For thrills, excitement and wonderful memories, there’s nothing quite like the live theater experience. It’s something a child never forgets. And now, for this special performance, the theater environment will be altered to offer a comfortable, judgment-free space that is welcoming for all families.

• Lights up inside the theater
• Lower volume & consistent sound level
• Kids free to talk and leave their seat
• Show runs about one-hour with an intermission
• Private "chill-out" space provided
• Family bathrooms
• BYO snacks & drinks
• COMING SOON....Online resource materials: sequence book, study guide and sing-along prep video on Paper Mill Playhouse Code

New to the theater experience?

“MEET YOUR SEAT!” before the show!
Join us for our FREE OPEN HOUSE on FRIDAY, JUNE 10th from 3pm – 6pm, expressly for children to visit the theater space before
the show. (no reservation required)

TICKETS ON SALE NOW! Call 973.376.4343 or visit Paper Mill Playhouse
Tickets are Only Orchestra $15, Mezzanine $12!

Paper Mill Playhouse
Paper Mill Playhouse

If your on Facebook please go visit the event at Stone soup and other Stories
Thank you!