This is a partial listing of some of my most popular articles. Browse and enjoy – but please respect that all material is copyrighted and cannot be reproduced, in print or on the Web, without author permission.
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Comments are always welcome: booing or just wondering.
TEN THINGS EVERY CHILD WITH AUTISM WISHES YOU KNEW
Article-length condensation of the updated edition of the award-winning book by the same title
TEN THINGS YOUR STUDENT WITH AUTISM WISHES YOU KNEW
The article that inspired the award winning book by the same title
JOURNEY TO INDEPENDENCE: Guiding your special needs child to adulthood
An enlightening list of action items whose do’s outweigh the don’ts.
LEARNING TO SAY ‘SORRY’: Encouraging the development of empathy
It seems like it should be such a simple thing, teaching your child or student to say “I’m sorry” when an apology is called for. But truly understanding the nature of an apology and being able to deliver one sincerely requires a level of social competence. Breaking that “simple” apology down to understandable increments goes a long way in helping our child with autism understand and apply this critical interpersonal skill.
THE OTHER INTELLIGENCE: The social side of autism
Throughout a child’s education, he will be tested to gnat’s eye on reading, writing, math and other supposedly measurable gauges of his learning and growth. But it’s likely that much less emphasis will be placed on his social and emotional intelligence. And social and emotional intelligence is very possibly a bigger determinant in your child’s long term success in life than cognitive intelligence.
ART-FUL TEACHING FOR DIFFERENT LEARNERS
Art can be a wonderful, expressive medium for all children, but for those who have language, emotional or neurological challenges, art activities can be especially meaningful. Explore your child or student’s art potential with these these creative ideas come from art therapists and paraeducators.
LET’S MAKE A DEAL
Contracts and deals can be effective behavior management tools, in the home and in the classroom environment.
VISUAL STRATEGIES FOR LANGUAGE-CHALLENGED LEARNERS
Because so many of our educational and social interactions take place verbally, opportunities for communication breakdowns are ever-present for the language-challenged learner. Supplementing verbal communication with visual tools can help.
SHARKS AND MINNOWS
Overcome the fears, the flailing and the funky smells to help your child enjoy swim lessons
TEACHING CONCENTRATION SKILLS
Replace the lazy shortcut “pay attention!” with concrete skills and strategies that help your child or student settle and focus.
STORM TROOPERS: A Team Approach to Handling Meltdowns
Meltdowns are frequently part of the landscape when you have a child with autism in your classroom or home. Understanding that this behavior is almost certainly a result of a sensory or emotional overload, not deliberate or malicious sabotage, is the first step toward constructive handling of a meltdown. Having a plan in place when one hits is essential to minimizing the impact of these events to both child and environment, whether classroom or home.
Instilling the amorphous, intangible concept of “fair” to our concrete-thinking children with autism goes far beyond who got two more French fries.
WE WALK BEFORE WE RUN
The diagnosis of autism seems to come with a fast-forward button that makes us leap light years ahead, wondering will he ever – go to college, hold a job, marry, be a parent. But the future we envision for our children is built one step at a time, in thoughtful, patient, and well-planned increments, not “break-throughs” or miracles.
RIGHT ON THE MONEY
Your autism fundraiser is a success. Now, where will those dollars do the most good?
More than 20 of Ellen’s autism essays not listed here are collected in her 2007 book, The Autism Trail Guide: Postcards from the Road Less Traveled, a ForeWord Book of the Year finalist and Eric Hoffer Book Award finalist. Read an excerpt here.
Genealogy and Family History
For children of all ages who have ever loved – or yearned for – a tricycle comes my story of a grandmother’s century-old remembrance of a heart’s desire unfulfilled, in Ancestry magazine’s final print issue.
NICE WORK IF YOU CAN GET IT
The amateur unpaid genealogists of today do it because it — the thrill of the chase, the exhileration of discovery. But we had well-paid predecessors a century ago.
THE REPORT OF MY DEATH WAS AN EXAGGERATION [PDF]
Obituaries, like heirlooms, grow more valuable with time. But when is an obituary not an obituary? When they come before the subject has actually died. The how and why of premature obituaries can offer chuckles…and surprises.
A TOMBSTONE TELLS ITS STORY [PDF]
My story about the 1893 murder of a police officer that outraged an entire county and reverberated for decades sprang from a chance encounter with a very unusual tombstone.
THEN AND NOW: ISLAND PARK, MAYVILLE, NORTH DAKOTA [PDF]
First in a new series, take two looks – 1908 and 2008 – at a beautiful city park in a small North Dakota college town, photographed during my travels last summer.
WITH BOTH FEET ON THE GROUND [PDF]
There is nothing like the magic of “being there.” Unforgettable experiences unfold when you answer the call from another time and put your feet on the ground your ancestors called home.
LITTLE BOY FOUND
The fantastic voyage of a 111-year-old tombstone ends where it began. A child’s tombstone is fished out of a river 60 years after his death and remains unclaimed for another half-century. A true-life history detective story about Ellen’s search to find the rightful home of a stone memorializing one whose life was over too soon.
A family’s loss of a 20-year-old WWII Navy aviator resonates across six decades. The common thread to all such stories is their ability to overwhelm us with sadness. When relatives leave us too soon, a special responsibility passes to us as family historians — to tell the story and bear witness to a life that mattered perhaps all the more because of its brevity. Download PDF from Ancestry Magazine [1.9 mb]
IN SPELCHEK WE DON’T TRUST
Love it or hate it, Spelchek is here to stay. But woe unto those whose faith is blind! Spelchek will not save you when your flying fingers add ‘double garbage’ to the new home description instead of ‘double garage,’ or when you tell the boss you ‘hate to talk to him’ rather than ’have to talk to him.’ And Spelchek, far far being a genealogist’s friend, can seen downright hostile.
We really are what we eat. How food choices affect your child’s behavior.
READY OR NOT, HERE I COME? Gauging your teen’s college readiness
Not all students are ready for a four-year college right out of high school. Here’s what to look for in gauging your teen’s readiness.
THE RELUCTANT ATHLETE: Easy PE adaptations for home and school How to encourage the lesser-skilled child in a manner that promotes success and self-esteem.
THE OFF-SITE VOLUNTEER: Making a difference — on your own schedule