“Once you learn to read, you will be forever free” Frederic Douglass

“Once you learn to read, you will be forever free” Frederic Douglass.a true notebook

When thinking about a quote, it is important to know who said, or wrote the quote. So, who was Frederic Douglass? Frederic Douglass was born into slavery in 1818, but died a freeman in 1895. He became a prolific speaker and writer, and with every breath and pen stroke, from when he escaped (September 3, 1838), to when he became free (December 12, 1846), to when he died (February 20, 1895), he spoke out against slavery, and spoke out for knowledge, self-improvement and self-empowerment. His family, continue his legacy and are dedicated to perpetuating the legacy of… the famed orator, author and statesmen and editor…to promote financial literacy, bridge the digital divide, promote small businesses, economic development and to save our youth. FDO awards scholarships to deserving students and makes them aware that the genesis of transforming their lives revolves around providing them with opportunities to enhance their reading, writing, and oratorical skills through involving them in real life, real time experiences that serve to enhance their skills in these vital areas as well as build self-esteem.” (Douglass IV, Fred, U.S.A.,http://frederickdouglassiv.org/, 2015)

Frederic Douglass understood that reading was knowledge, and that knowledge was power. However, he also understood that reading is only a part of the puzzle. Success comes through, “reading, writing, and oratorical skills,” (FDO,http://frederickdouglassiv.org/, 2015). Therefore, teachers should aim to teach their students these three skills. After graduating from High School, the majority of students will know how to read, write, type and speak. However, will they know how to actively and critically carry out these activities? How should these skills be taught?

Oratorical Skills

It is easier to learn oratorical skills if one is speaking in a small-group format. This can be orchestrated during a novel studies unit; divide a class into “Book Clubs.” It is not necessary for students to study alone. In fact, if students are auditory or kinesthetic learners, then studying in a group might be the best way of learning information. Students can choose the novel they wish to read, as long as it is grade/reading level appropriate, and two to four other students wish to read the same novel. However, it is important that Book Clubs are organized. Here are some tips to help:

  • It is best to have just three-five people in a study group. That way, everyone has the opportunity to talk and everyone understands the material. Plus, if there are more than five people gathered, then it is no longer a Book Club…It is a party!
  • Be respectful of all members.
  • It may help to have one person act as a leader. The job of the leader is to make sure that everyone stays focused on learning. One thing that can be done is have “experts” on topics and those experts become the leaders for each study session.
  • Make sure to be prepared. A study session is a time to share understanding of a topic and the more members can offer the group, the better!

When the students have completed their chosen novel, each group will teach a lesson to their classmates. Everyone in each Book Club will be required to give a speech to the entire class, based on what they learned in their club. One student will be responsible for a particular section: characters, setting, plot, imagery, climax, etc.


Reading becomes easier if it is active and if students are interested in what they are reading. It also becomes easier if students are able to concentrate on what they are reading. One thing teachers may be able to implement is D.E.A.R. Time (Drop Everything and Read). In this day and age, it is (almost) impossible to devote all of your attention to just one thing. Our society has become capable of splitting focus into different directions at one time. At any given moment, one may have email accounts, Facebook pages, blogs, and Twitter feeds, open and accessible. Cell phones are always within easy reach. Add T.V. to the mix and in less than a second, attention becomes split and one is no longer devoting all attention to the work at hand. (So, bear with me for a second as I turn the T.V. off, close the windows of my email, blog, Facebook pages and Twitter feed….Ahh, that’s better. Now, I can turn my full attention to the task at hand.) It is natural for minds to switch from one topic to another, and thoughts become scattered. However, it is imperative to concentrate when one is reading a novel. So, provide students with the opportunity to read.


The main writing task in this scenario is the speech that will be presented. Ensure that the students understand their presentation needs to flow with the presentations of their group members. The teacher will be able to give advice and assistance, however, they will be evaluated by their peers in the Book Clubs, first.

It will be easy to write about a novel if the students become involved, and interested in what they are learning. It will also be easier for them to retain information. Encourage students to read over their notes and identify key concepts, after each lesson. When students type, or write these concepts, they will become an outline for their speech. When students complete this activity, they are writing, and reading, actively.

Real – Life Experiences

Computers and technology are a part of our real – life experiences. Encourage students to read novels on e-books, accessed through on-line sources. Complete their research using the internet, and type their notes on a tablet, or notebook computer. Use the speech – to – text software on their phones to record lectures, and Book Club sessions. Encourage them to present a part of their speech using PowerPoint, or create a web site. This will assist in increasing their self – esteem because they will be able to use something familiar to them.

Using technology, reading, writing, and speaking together about a common novel will increase said abilities of Senior English students in High School will help to ensure their success in the world outside of the school walls.


Now, Individuals with ASD and other Developmental Disorders can Enjoy a Day at Canada’s Wonderland!


Canada’s Wonderland

Spending time in the Greater Toronto Area this summer, and need to plan a fun day for your family, or client(s)? Why not consider Canada’s Wonderland? Canada’s Wonderland has a plethora of games, rides, and shows perfect for every age-range, and interest. They have also, “taken steps to be well-prepared to welcome and provide accommodations for all types of disabilities, including autism and related disorders.” The following list outlines some of the steps Canada’s Wonderland has made to make sure all peoples enjoy a day at the park:
• Announce your presence to Guest Services and they will give you a KidTrack wrist band, a map of the pack, disposable ear guards, and any other help you may need.
• The KidTrack program is a wrist band which assists in the reuniting group members if they become separated.
• Another suggestion is that you take pictures of all the members of your party, and keep them on your smartphone, just in case you get separated.
• There are air conditioned restaurants, restful attractions and quiet places which can provide a break from the sensory stimulation of an amusement park.
• Guests with a mobility impairment, or an Autism Spectrum Disorder receive a “Ride Boarding Pass,” with wait times.
• Their staff is trained, knowledgeable and eager to assist in any situation.
• The Parent Swap policy allows one parent to ride, while, “another parent waits with the child. When the ride is complete, the parents swap child responsibility at the exit.”

Canada’s Wonderland is a very safe summer destination for families and clients of all abilities and interests. “Our goal is to make your experience at the Park both smooth and full of family-fun.” So, why not enjoy a day at the GTA’s premiere amusement park?

Additional Resources

The following is a list of Additional Resources from Canada’s Wonderland.

• Complete information is available in the 2014 Guest Assistance Guide.
• To check height restrictions, be sure to download the 2014 Rider Height Guide.
• You can view and download Canada’s Wonderland’s rider safety guidelines for 2014 in the Ride Admission Policy Grid.
• The Autism Society has published a guide entitled, “How to Enjoy the Amusement Park”


Positive Behaviour Management Strategies for ASD Students
Virginia Willems-Rossman
May, 2014
General ABA Proactive Classroom Strategies:
 Create pro-social ways to attain desired outcomes – replacement language/behaviours and capitalization on pro-social behaviours and coping mechanisms
o Outlined in the OSR, or IEP
 The goal is that students view school as a positive environment, and not a place that produces anxiety
Clear Rules, Instructions and Expectations:
 No more than five Classroom Rules are displayed
 Classroom Rules are talked about and decided on by the entire class at the beginning of the school year
 Predictability through a visible classroom schedule is increased in the classroom environment
 Expectations for activities, or routines are explained in simple and concise language, without ambiguity
 Instructions to carry out a behaviour (sit down, line up, stop doing …..) are precise, direct, and issued before the behaviour, not after the fact
Capitalize on Success and Praise
 Use behaviour specific praise more often than ambiguous praise
o Ex. Behaviour specific – “I like how you sat down the first time I asked.” / ambiguous – good job or thumbs up
 Use praise of positive behaviour of other children to draw the attention of the target children
o Ex. “I like how Tina is standing in line. Nice job Tina! Let’s all stand like Tina. ”
 Give a lot of verbal praise to those who need it the most
Activity Space
 Create a variety of activity areas in your classroom that encourage working in a small group to increase social skills. These small groups will set-up students for success.
 Ensure that you also have area(s) in the classroom where students can work if they need time alone
Motivational Support
 Establish a predictable and consistent contingency between expectation and reward. It is important for students with ASD and other developmental delays to know how they will earn their reinforcement. If not, the reinforcement system will lose meaning and will not be a motivator anymore.
o Expectations for tokens are to be written out/clearly defined at the beginning of the activity and should remain consistent throughout.
 Ex. 2 questions = 1 star, OR sit in circle for 2 minutes = 1 star
 Build tolerance through establishing a warm and inviting environment for students. Be flexible so that you are ready to make changes to the learning environment, or activity when tolerance levels increase, or decrease.
 Develop a system with the token economy to give students a break and/or a reward BEFORE they lose their self-esteem and “give-up”.
o Expectations should be built up…Start low and build through reinforcement
o E.g. If they consistently start to lose interest and a behaviour is triggered five minutes into an activity, reinforce them every two minutes to build behavioural momentum
 Reinforcement can be in the form of tokens, of modified questions (easier) or by earning 5 starts to gain reward (independent computer time, sticker, parent approved snack, choice of activity etc.)
 Developmentally appropriate expectations
o Keep rewards for tricky transition times, for most students with ASD do not have the capacity to wait until the end of the day/week for their reward
o An activity schedule also helps to build independence and self-advocacy
Priming Strategies – Picture Schedule
 Give notice ahead of time about upcoming activities throughout his day that may be challenging, e.g. a fire alarm, or class trip
 This can be added to the daily schedule. “Tomorrow, we will be going on a class trip….Today, we are going on a class trip, after lunch. This may be difficult, but don’t worry, I will help you. When we come back, it will be time to go home.”
 Priming can happen every day to give plenty of notice of upcoming transitions
 Encourage each classroom teacher to have a visible (picture) schedule for these students. This will remind them of what is next and will also serve to continue to prime them for upcoming challenges, and add ways to work through them
High Probability Questions and tasks
 To increase the likelihood of meeting curriculum expectations, questions and tasks with a high probability of a positive success rate can be introduced
 An example would be to include easier questions intermittently throughout harder, or target questions on worksheets, on blackboard work, etc. These questions can be from the unit before, or even the grade before.
o Ex. 10+4 = ___, 11+2 = ____, 1+2 = ____, 4+4 = ___, 10+8 =___ etc.
 Other examples could be asking them to perform a physical, or social developing activity before completing a difficult task e.g. handing out paper to other students, picking up a dropped pencil
 This may increase positive behavioural momentum
Instructional Modifications
 Differentiated instruction – helping the students gain access to curriculums in multiple ways according to their learning style.
Environmental Modifications
 Keep the desks of students with ASD away from items of distraction, or other items in the environment that will trigger behaviours e.g. windows, or doors
 Try different seating arrangements – rows, groups with other peers and see if you notice a difference in learning and attention
Token Economy System
o The larger reward should always be chosen by the student and reassessed throughout the day to ensure it is still the more preferred – Never assume that they like the same thing they liked last week as this may result in noncompliance because it has lost its allure
o Tokens are a form of praise. Expectations to earn tokens should be laid out clearly for the child. Every child’s expectations will be different
o Praise should be dense – every 3-5 minutes the child has an opportunity to earn a token – therefore they should be earning the big reward 1-2 times per hour
o With success, it is possible to increase the amount of tokens required to earn the big reward
o Verbal praise can be phased in, instead of using tokens. This will introduce a real-world feeling because not everyone they meet will be able to give them tokens, however, most people will be able to give them verbal praise if they have done something well
Picture Cards
Picture cards can be used in two main ways.
1. Instead of using words – as a visual reminder
2. In combination with your words
 Remember that they are only used as a pro-active tool. They are never used negatively, or as a punishment.
First-Then Boards
First-Then-Boards can be used in lots of situations. Pictures, or sticky notes can be added to boards. It’s great if the student is able to attach activities to their own board. Consistency is very important when using a First-Then-Board. The following are examples of when to use a First-Then-Board:
 When the student is to do something they do not want to do
o Show them – FIRST 5 minutes of homework, THEN 2 minutes of IPad
 When you are teaching about sharing
o FIRST ask for permission, THEN go and see the toy/game
 In transition
o First washroom, THEN free play
Carlaw, Andrea, “Positive Behavioural Management Strategies”, Toronto, Canada, October, 2013

Seven Things Families & Education Professionals Need to Know

Seven Things Families & Education Professionals Need to Know.

It is very important for all family members, professionals, and caregivers to be educated, especially if your family is one of the thousands affected by an Autism Spectrum Disorder, or another Developmental Disorder. There are Seven things all Family Members and Professionals need to know.  They are:

1.  How to tell if a family member, or a student has an Autism Spectrum Disorder, or another Developmental Disorder.

  • There are Developmental Milestones that children reach at certain ages.  Examples of these Developmental Milestones include: taking a first step, smiling for the first time, and waving “bye” .  Children reach milestones in how they play, learn, speak, behave, and move (crawling, walking, etc.).  If a child is delayed in one, or more of these areas, they might have a Developmental Disorder.
  •  Both Autism Canada and The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention have excellent resources on understanding Developmental Milestones.  Please, find their links, below.
  • The staff at Our Learning Centre can also assist in determining if a family member has a possible Autism Spectrum Disorder, or another Developmental Disorder and can help develop a list of questions to ask your Family Doctor.

CDC: http://www.cdc.gov/NCBDDD/actearly/milestones/index.html

Autism Canada: http://autismcanada.ca/aboutautism/earlysigns.html

2.  How do families receive funding?

  • Families receive funding through different avenues, including the Government.   If you are living in Ontario, Canada, please use the following link for The Ministry of Children and Youth Services to find out if your family is eligible for Governmental Funding.
  • Our Learning Centre can assist in the preparation of funding claims.

Ministry of Children & Youth Services: http://www.children.gov.on.ca/htdocs/English/index.aspx

3.  What is an IEP?

  • IEP is an acronym for  Independent Education Plan.  Students with learning challenges receive Independent Education Plans if they are attending a Public School (and a select number of Independent Schools) in North America.  IEP’s focus on specific areas of strength, weakness, goals to attain, and how the student is going to attain those goals.
  • You may use the following link to find examples of IEP’s, as well as a template to use when writing an Independent Education Plan.
  • If you are a Teacher and need assistance Writing an IEP, or if you are a Parent and need help deciphering your child’s IEP, Our Learning Centre can help!

IEP: http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/general/elemsec/speced/iep/iep.html

4.  What is ABA?

  • ABA stands for Autism Behaviour Analysis.  It is a scientifically based method of Instructing individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders, and other Developmental Disorders.  It is a technique that Teachers, and Support Workers, Caregivers and Family Members can use when Communicating With and Instructing Diagnosed Individuals.  If you would like to learn some more about ABA, contact The Geneva Centre for Autism, using the following link.
  • If you are an Educational Assistant, Teacher, or Family Member and would like to Learn ABA Techniques, please feel free to contact Our Learning Centre to set up a Private Training Session, or Attend one of our ABA Workshops.

ABA:  http://autism.net/

5.  What is CPI?

  • CPI stands for Crisis Prevention Intervention.  Crisis Prevention Intervention is something that everyone who Lives With, or Works With individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders, or other Developmental Disorders should know.  It is a series of techniques that can be used to protect Yourself, and the Diagnosed Individuals you are working with.   The following link will take you to the Home Page of the Crisis Prevention Institute.
  • If you would like to learn more about CPI, and how to use it, please contact Our Learning Centre.  You may also want to attend one of our CPI Workshops.

CPI:  http://crisisprevention.com/Home

6.  Do I need to know First Aid?

  • Emergencies can happen to Anyone at Anytime.  Many Individuals Diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders, and other Developmental Disorders have Food Intolerances, or Allergies.  Our Learning Centre will be conducting First Aid Workshops with The St. John’s Ambulance.  Please, contact us for further information.
  • It is very important that those who are Living and Working with them  know what to do in any Emergency, including those caused by Allergies.
  • The St. John’s Ambulance offers courses on First Aid.  Please, follow the link to find out more.

First Aid:  http://www.sja.ca/English/Pages/default.aspx

7.  Is a Criminal Reference Check Important?

  • A Criminal Reference Check is important because it is a way of ensuring that Everyone who works with  venerable individuals has not been Convicted of a Criminal Offence.   One way of completing a Criminal Reference Check is through My Back Check.com.  You will find the link, below.

Criminal Reference Check:  https://www.mybackcheck.com/Public/Login.aspx

If you would like to Attend a Workshop, or Receive more information on any of the topics listed above, please Contact Our Learning Centre