Issue No. 27, July 2010

Do not ask how smart is my child,
but how is my child smart?
- David Sousa, author of "How the Brain Learns”

“When I grow up, I want to be…”

Parents of teens, this is for you. Parents of younger kids, they will turn into teens before you know it. And if you’re just a big kid yourself, you might want to stay with me here.

                  Rare is the parent who has never wondered what their child will grow up to be. Rare I am not although I did, for pure energy conservation reasons, postpone my wondering until my children were well into puberty. I might have postponed the wondering about Bryce longer – he was progressing nicely and I had faith in the process – but for a middle school teacher who volunteered the opinion that she could “see our friend Bryce doing well in a cubicle doing clearly delineated tasks exactly as he is told.” There’s nothing wrong with cubicle jobs, and they are just right for some people (see below). But Bryce was already interested in filmmaking, an outside-the-cubicle profession if ever there was one. The cubicle prophecy was only one of many factors that led us to Thomas Edison High School, the only high school in our state devoted exclusively on students with learning differences.

                  One of the cornerstones of Thomas Edison High School is their Transitions program, which kicks into high gear during the senior year. Transitions focuses on each student developing a plan for life after high school. All options are explored through field trips (colleges and employers), guest speakers, class instruction and hands-on experiences (all seniors enroll in community college and take an elective class and a “college survival” class). For some students, Transitions will take them down the SAT/college application path. Others will pursue community college and yet others will seek employment. (Edison’s graduate-to-college rate is 90%, far higher than the state or national average. In the hands of the right teachers and staff, learning differences are not “disabilities.”)

                  For Bryce, now entering his senior year, the Transitions process has begun. One of the first steps was his completion of the O*NET™ Interest Profiler.

                  What will your child grow up to be? The O*NET™ Interest Profiler is not a crystal ball, but rather an eerily accurate indicator of interest areas, and how those interests fall into six categories that suggest real-life jobs to which those interest can be gainfully applied. The profile consists of 180 activities to which you respond with “like” or “dislike” (not “can” or “can’t”). Your score will reflect your most cogent occupational interests. The six areas of interest are Realistic (practical, hands-on work, often outdoors), Investigative (thinking through problems, searching out facts), Artistic (jobs involving self-expression, forms, designs, patterns, often without a clear set of rules), Social (helping others with learning and personal development), Enterprising (project-oriented, especially business), and Conventional (jobs that follow set procedures, rules and standards, working with concrete data rather than concepts).

                  Now, many of us are sick to death of phony quizzes that attempt to sort a general population into half a dozen herds of general thinking. The Transition teachers at Edison knew some parents would be skeptical, so they encouraged us to complete the profile ourselves and see how accurately it gauged our own work interests.


                  My profile registered sky-high scores in Artistic and Investigative (reflecting my work as a writer and researcher) and near-nonexistent scores in the other categories.

                  Bryce’s scores were similar to mine, although in lesser degree, underlining his interest in film and history. The strait-laced cubicle job area (Conventional) was his lowest score.

                  So I’m sold on the accuracy of the profile as a doorway to exploring career options. But the real beauty is in how it breaks your chosen interest category into five levels of employment possibilities, beginning with jobs requiring no preparation/further education and continuing up to jobs requiring extensive preparation (college degrees/advanced degrees). This information will be an important stepping stone in helping Bryce and his classmates identify employment opportunities that not only suit their interests, but their abilities and financial resources.

                  And how about you? How well does your employment suit you? If you are unemployed or unhappily employed, this could be a good time to reshape your thinking about your own direction. I couldn’t help but notice how I wasn’t interested in many of the questions that indicated entrepreneurial or business-management interests. Fifteen to twenty years ago, at the height of my corporate career, I would have been all over those questions, and my Enterprising score would have been the dominant one. We all evolve over the course of our lives. Complete the O*NET™ Interest Profiler and let me know how it comes out for you. Home run? Off-base? At the very least, it’s a trip to the concession stand – food for thought. (for downloading the program and the scoring tool)

See Bryce’s 2009 film about teen stereotypes here.

Join the discussion

Fascinating discussions unfold every week on my Facebook author page. Find me and readers from more than twenty countries and add your voice to these important topics, and more.

Is Physical Education in the public schools expendable?

When good bumper stickers go bad

Stamping out suffering – where it doesn’t exist

More reads

The Learning Disabilities Association of Alberta - Calgary Chapter (LDAA-CC) is a not-for-profit organization that provides information and resources to children and adults with learning disabilities, including social skills programs, summer camps and adult employment programs in the Calgary area.

“Let’s Make a Deal,” excerpted from 1001 Great Ideas for Teaching and Raising Children with Autism or Asperger’s, appears in the Summer 2010 issue of LDAAs magazine Perspectives. The excerpt outlines how to use deals and contracts as effective behavior management tools with your child or student at home and in the classroom.

Other great articles in the issue deal with the illusion of misbehavior in LD children and pointers for ensuring the best camp experience for your child.

Download Perspectives magazine.

Children’s Voice
May-June 2010
Exceptional Children: Navigating Special Education and Learning Differences: Creating Positive Partnerships

Read the most recent issue here.

My CV columns dating back to 2006 are all available here.

Rule Number One: Ask for Help – Easy Physical Education Adaptations for Home and School – Teaching Concentration Skills – Let’s Make a Deal – Visual Strategies for Language-Challenged Learners – Encouraging Social and Emotional Intelligence – The Teacher and the Learner in All of Us – ART-ful Teaching for Different Learners – Gauging Your Teen’s College Readiness – Summertime, and the Reading is Easy – Classrooms that Inspire – So Many Books, So Little Time – What Special Education Teachers Want You to Know – Behavior is Communication: Yours, Mine and Ours – Food for Thought about Video Games and Special Needs Children – The Rules of Believing

Silver Award for 1001 Great Ideas

1001 Great Ideas for Teaching and Raising Children with Autism or Asperger’s, 2nd edition, has won a Silver Award in the 2010 Independent Publishers Book Awards. Salute! to my co-author and soul sister Veronica Zysk!

See new excerpts, "What We Miss in Misbehavior” and "Game Plan for Meltdowns" on my website.

People in Your Neighborhood

Burleson, Texas Intermediate Service District.  Every month is Autism Awareness Month thanks to the efforts of Kellie Hohreiter, instructional coach, swim coach and mom of a daughter on the spectrum. Kelly and several colleagues worked with me to create the Ten Things T-shirt pictured here. “The idea behind the shirt,” says Kellie, “came because my oldest daughter needed a service project for National Junior Honor Society.” The shirts were sold during Autism Awareness Month in April, and “we wore them all around town during April and continue to wear them to raise awareness.”  The artwork on the front of the shirt depicting the Ten Things was designed by a local student. 

Kudos to Kellie (left in photo), colleagues Kim Estes, Sharon Graves and many others who shared in the project.

Seattle Milal. Korean-language resources are available for Seattle area families of children with autism and other special needs; visit  Through the generous donation of time from volunteer Eunju Park, a Korean translation of Ten Things Every Child with Autism Wishes You Knew is now available on their website, and on mine.

Los Angeles area – What’s In Your Lunchbox? WIYLBOX was founded in response to the lack of nutritional support and information available in low-income communities to families with special needs children, including those impacted by autism.  WIYLBOX has developed interdisciplinary education and training programs focused on diet, nutrition, adapted physical activity and therapeutic exercise and advocacy. The programs are offered at no cost to families suffering from the economic down-turn.

Though I do not live in the LA area, I’ve been on the WIYLBOX mailing list for several years and, given my deeply held personal belief that basic nutrition plays a critical role in the our children’s success, find myself applauding many of WIYLBOX’s events and programs. Visit their website to learn more.

Congratulations, Bryce – x 3!

Two more hankie moments for me – Bryce is the recipient of Thomas Edison High School’s 2010 top academic awards for U.S. History and American Sign Language I…This month he begins an internship at Film Action Oregon’s Project Youth Doc(umentary), where he has been a student for the past two summers. PYD is an intensive, four-week-long film production program in which young teens produce a documentary, from concept through post-production.  “We think Bryce will be the perfect intern,” says his supervisor, Outreach Coordinator Justen Harn. 

See Bryce’s 2009 film about teen stereotypes here.

Book excerpts on website

Cick here for book excerpts

Ten Things Every Child with Autism Wishes You Knew
from Chapter 8: Please Help Me with Social Interactions

Ten Things Your Student with Autism Wishes You Knew
In its entirety, Chapter 3: I Think Differently

1001 Great Ideas for Teaching and Raising Children with Autism or Asperger’s, 2nd edition
from Chapter 4, Daily Living: Your friend, the dentist

The Autism Trail Guide: Postcards from the Road Less Traveled
from Postcards from the Homefront: I Sound Like My Mother – I Hope!

Newsletter archive: if you are new to our newsletter community, please visit the newsletter archive on my website and browse some popular past features at my newsletter archive

If you’ve read my books and feel inclined to share your thoughts with others, please consider posting a review on my book pages at It’s easy to do and you don’t have to post your real name.

Please forward this newsletter to anyone you feel might share an interest in our kids with autism. New subscribers can sign up at here.

©201o Ellen Notbohm | Third Variation Strategies

Keep up with my latest on Facebook
Please join me on my author page on Facebook. This is where you’ll find the latest news, dialogue and preaching ;o) about all the subjects my work encompasses. Post your comments and share your ideas. See you there!

Visit me at
Book excerpts, articles, news blog, foreign translations, newsletter archive. Stop by and tell me what you think and what you’d like to see.

Invite me to visit you. Got blog? Yes, I do guest shots.  Got book group? We can hook up by phone.  Got show? Web, radio and podcast interviews available via phone or Skype.

I always answer my email.
But we live in a world of imperfect servers, aggressive spam filters and power outages. If you’ve written to me and I haven’t answered, please try resending your message with a different subject heading.

Ellen's website and
emails are designed
by DBD+A