Recently AutismSpeaks asked on Facebook and Twitter what 5 things that people would tell parents right after their child was diagnosed. So having boiled it down to one answer, which encompasses them all but is still a little too vague entirely on it’s own, I will broaden it out to answer the original question: what 5 things would you tell a parent right after their child is diagnosed with Autism?
The scariest part of getting the diagnosis is that most of us really don’t know what Autism actually is at the time and so our minds start racing about all the things that must be wrong with our children and all the ways their future is going to be impacted. This has to be your second step because early intervention is the key to helping your child overcome Autism and live a productive life. The sooner you find the best places to go for help, the sooner you can get in the door to talk to them. Also, some places will take you but not until after you’re approved for funding, or some other stipulation and again, applying right away means you get the paperwork done faster. If it’s a nutritionist, ask for a list of essential foods to try for, ask for suggestions on how to get a picky eater to eat the things they have to instead of just what they want to.
The one good thing about Autism being everywhere is that there are so many people out there going through similar situations. Children with Autism are extremely diverse and you’re very likely to find parents that have children that are extremely low functioning, some that are high functioning, some that have had made great progress in getting their children developing and even some poor parents that have had their child regress.
On top of all that, unlike most parents that are forced to become doctors, psychiatrists, chauffeurs, banks and so forth, you’re also going to have to become a researcher, scientist, psychologist, therapist, nutritionist, supporter, event manager and even more. It sounds pretty daunting actually, but the good news is that even though it does happen pretty fast, it’s still not over night. No matter how busy you become, don’t be too busy to put it all aside and play with your child. I’m still not nearly at the super-hero stage, so I guess the only thing that I would add is that it could take years before you reach that status! This post is awesome…I would have loved to have read something like this when I was first being thrown into this new world.
I am on the stage of shocked when the psychologist say that my daughter might have light symptoms of autism. It’s difficult to give advice as everyone in the world has different levels of services available to them. However, I can say that if you want to move forward, an official diagnosis will go a long way.
The Paradox of Web 2.0 is the realization that the big transformations and changes sweeping the worlds of communication, marketing and new media, from bottom-up participation to sharing and open collaboration are light years ahead and as distant as a far away galaxy from the education and schooling worlds where we supposedly prepare and nurture our kids to become the bright minds of our future. In this second part of my presentation at theEVO 2009 Multiliteracies event, I focus on further exemplifying what learning really is by showcasing my personal experience with Seymour Papert's Logo turtle, a fantastic tool to learn math and geometry, as well as my frustration in learning to play percussions with my own music teacher. From these two simple stories you can see how much the diving into, the being part of, the loving of something are so essential components of the learning process.
I then explore again some of what, inspired by Stephen Downes' own list of true critical things to learn in life, should be some of the core topics of mandatory learning curricula everywhere. Let me take some real-life examples, which I think can be quite illuminating for supporting my topic.
For those of you who haven't had the experience to try this, it may sound a lot of abstract good thinking.
So, we downloaded this tool, there are many different versions available for all you to use, and they are all free, many open-source, and you get a very simple interface where you can give some simple task commands, and there this apparent turtle, it's just a circle in some cases, that moves.
And so, he lit up in a second, and he said: "Daddy, not only I know that I can make a circle now, but I also know how many sides it has to be. In that moment, my son had created a circle himself, and he was one with that circle, knowing that he had created a circle, and knowing perfectly how it was made.
Anyway, I have there a private lesson with a teacher, and once a week we sit down in front of each other in sound-proof room, and we try to learn something. But when he sees that I cannot make a step, that I'm all blocked, he just doesn't know what to do. Then, as soon as he stops, or while he's going, you start playing back the recording, and then you tell your hands to do that rhythm. Again, here learning is very much getting into the music, many of you know this, and it's not transmittable by way of words, diagrams, or charts. And so my teacher puts in a very frustrating situation many of the learners, because he doesn't realize this.
So, one thing that we have set aside is that the paradigm shift is made up by realizing, in acknowledging, that teaching is not equal to learning in very deep, meaningful ways. But what do we really need to learn is very much about what we would teach our kids on that spaceship we have left before, and that certainly again is not going to be very much about the seven kings of Rome, or some other dry notionistic stuff. Knowing a little bit of the biology, chemical made-up of your organism, what makes you feel good, what makes you feel bad, what you need to put inside to get outside energy, coming out of your pores, and bloods, and veins?
Number two, because we know that without health we can't really do nothing, Stephen Downes suggests, and I take directly him up on this, understanding really how to read things.
Stopping and understanding all, to read in a meaningful way, and what are the techniques, the methods, the approaches, the strategies to do that, it's very very valuable, and that's something we should learn, in the time we dedicate to what we now call school.
It's about learning a very extended number of approaches, about exploring, trying out, making mistakes, summarizing, reviewing, sharing, planning out, using techniques that whereby you have a piece of paper and a pen you can do a thousand useful things with other people, to explore new grounds, to inventory new ideas. I didn't get any of this when I went to university in Rome, Italy, or San Francisco, California.
Then, if those problems are more in the visual or auditory reality you tend to fall in the more classic, artistic fields, but you can be very artistic and very creative also when you fix some of your kitchen problems or electricity ones.
This is one of the things we miss the most, that is: Being able to put myself inside the shoes of whoever I'm talking with. We're here conferencing, chatting, and this and that, but many times, many of us, when confronted with another two eyes, and a mouth in front of us, are just competing for time in which they introduce their own words and share their ideas, but that sharing is very much one-way. The ability to listen-in and listen-in between the words is really all about understanding pro-actively what the other is saying and what the other is craving for.
Let's take a few more of these key topics that we never cover in the ideal learning classroom.
We have the situation all around where many people have a very hard time separating truth from fiction, propaganda and the protection of self-interests and so on. People are less and less equipped to evaluate by themselves the information that is given to them, and they have sold their beliefs system to newspaper, television, and radio mainstream channels.
I think this is very bad for this planet in general, not because of the news being brought forward or what they represent, but because it takes away from the thinking muscle.
Look at the future is now what am I advocating, to look in the crystal ball, but many of our kids do very stupid things. So what about training a little bit myself and everybody around me in thinking a little more, in stopping and thinking before doing something.
Learning that is not a matter of getting good grades, but learning how to give yourself the opportunity to explore new grounds independently of the judgement of others and maybe sometimes against the judgement is very important. Try also to question, and question, and and put yourself in front of the question forever: "Where the hell am I going, and why am I going there?" It's got to be some of the time that I spend if I have an ideal classroom or space ship that I'm on to, and that I want to use to make my time useful. I think myself that this is probably the one most important thing and most approachable thing to learn. Mastering this allows you not only to live a better life, but to build opportunities for survival, that have been unthinkable of until today.
Because tomorrow many of us are going to be teachers, and guides, and many will be paid for doing this. I think we got to learn very well how to do what we just did until now, which is to keep asking ourselves great, fastidious, tremendously fastidious, uncomfortable questions so that we can open new gateways, new doors, new roads, make some mistakes, and find where we really want to go and how to get there. Originally recorded by Vance Stevens for Vance's GeekSpeek on February 26, 2009 as "The paradox of 2.0, an EDUPUNK perspective". In early December I was pleased to be able to meet today’s guest author Susanna Zaraysky for lunch here in Istanbul. The neurological links between language and music are vast but the basic thing to remember is that music activates more parts of the brain than language does, on both the right and left sides of the brain.
Have you ever heard a song on the radio that you haven’t heard in a decade and you surprise yourself by singing all the lyrics?


Music and catchy jingles can stick in our minds for years while names of people, places,  verb conjugation charts and memorized data disappear.
Just yesterday, I was writing an email to someone in Spanish and telling him that I needed to dust off my Thai cookbook to remember the recipe for Thai coconut milk soup for a Lunar New Year party with my friends. My words about Thai coconut milk soup were not as poetic or romantic as the words from the song, but it was my memory of the song lyrics that made me think of the word “desempolvar” in Spanish.
What happens when you hear something in a song is that you are opening yourself up to the greater global picture of the language.
Songs are awakening the language capacity of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords who suffered brain damage caused by a bullet that passed through the left side of her brain, causing her to lose expressive speech. If songs can help someone with brain injuries regain speaking abilities, then music can help everyone else learn languages.
Watch this video to understand the fundamentals of how to listen to a foreign language to learn. After listening to the song(s) several time to get used to its sounds and melody, students write the lyrics of the songs while listening. If you can’t locate the lyrics on the lyrics websites, just type in the name of the song in quotes in a web search. If you don’t think that Sesame Street is actually a viable option for anyone over the age of five, think again.
Note: Sesame Street has various international versions available on You Tube from Russia, Germany, Ireland, Israel, Egypt, Indonesia, South Africa, Brazil, Palestine, Jordan, Bangladesh, Japan, India and France. Ready to get serious about learning another language?Enter your email to get resources and updates from The Everyday Language Learner.
I had a Hungarian guy working for me a few years ago in Ireland who had atrociously bad English, yet when he sang English songs on his guitar you would have thought he was an American. I am involved in 2 European funded projects that are also using music in language learning. Good music can fascinate you enough to convince you to learn the language of its country of origin. We would like to ensure that you will be able to communicate in real-life situations by providing you Q&A role-play. With more than 700 plus role-play question and answers, they are according to DVD animation and topic to the lesson. Desperate because mastering the English language will open up new doors of opportunity for them, for their families. I think we can start a grass roots movement of free information that a new system for language building can be built upon. If you can't make it, then undo your RSVP so that other members on the waiting list can have your spot. We start going through our memory files trying to think of every single thing we’ve ever learned or heard about relating to Autism. That is to say, you may have speech therapy appointments once a week which help a lot, but how much more would it help if it was daily instead of weekly??
They are professionals but they can only do so much because it’s not just your child that needs them.
I do my very best to stay educated and do what ever is necessary to ensure my children have the tools they need to thrive. You might be able to get by without it with some people but you’ll hit a lot of roadblocks.
Your doctor likely won’t be able to do it but they should be able to refer you to someone that can. The trick to learning fast is that  you skip the learning and start doing the thing you want to learn. If you walked 24 hours a day, and wore levitation boots you would arrive in London in 1833 hours. Actually, I would even venture to say that those extra factors characterize a true, deep form of learning, vastly distant from what, although normally called learning, is just rote memorization with little or no understanding. It is in fact, by realizing how distant the topics we force our kids to study are from those skills and abilities that can effectively help any human to communicate, listen, be creative and move swiftly through the many perils and surprises that life has in store for us. So, by moving forward, right, left, top and down, you can actually design shapes, geometrical shapes, and so it was very easy for him to create a triangle, by learning a few commands, and then a square. And the number of sides is 360." He had that number sitting in there, inside his head, from before, from school, and so he decided that those two things now finally made sense if you create a 360 size of 1 pixel each, you are going to get a circle.
Because my brain when it comes to music, doesn't work like that, and for most people that I talk to, those who have made their brain work that way, it has take them a lot of effort, and they really have had to re-wire their brains; or they're great musicians, who have had the opportunity to learn this technical know-how straightforward, serialized learning, after they had learned music through personal direct learning.
He goes mad because he knows that I have a good ear, good sense of music, good rhythm, good timing, and I'm not just a stupid guy. So, I take over subliminally, and I use all my smart brain technology and I say to myself: "Look, if he's going to get mad, he's going to try to play that rhythm back to me. Those can be of great help, ONCE YOU KNOW the rhythm and can play it, and then these can give you great extension of your vision, and more in-depth understanding, but not without FIRST getting your hands dirty. How do I work, is it good if I drink 20 Coca-Cola everyday or not, what difference does it make? Not how to read for the sake of knowing the letters and the words, but being able to read in a way that is the exactly the opposite of what my kids are being taught in school, which is to memorize flawlessly what is written there, and specifically the terms that are in the books. Because if it's then asked them what they just said, and they don't know what those words mean, and why things should be that way or another.
How to learn is not sitting in front of a teacher and listening, and looking quiet and educatedly posed with your body. This is not a gift sent by God into your DNA, this is a faculty that anyone can develop by learning about the fact that creativity is all about knowing, enjoying how to solve problems. It should be an exchange, and the exchange should be dictated by curiosity or by desire to help others.
If you don't exercise that muscle, is going to get loose, is going to get weak, is going to get like a mozzarella. Yes there are some of us are very undecided in life, and that is not the point we're trying to cure.
Trying to answer this question and putting your energies and slotting your time so that you can fulfill it in your lifetime, I think brings great rewards. To the person next to you, with voice, as well as with the most sophisticated technologies: from video to blog, RSS, P2P, whatever that is. So it's not that it is going to be a commercialization of the teacher, but in this world of fast change and of knowledge economy it's evident that there is going to be a lot more learning that is going to happen, and it's not going to take any place in the classroom. And unless these people can communicate clearly including showing me the rhythm by doing PU-PU-PA PU-PU-PA-PA instead of telling me, we're not going to learn very much. Yet sometimes it feels like I am talking to the wall when I tell people how lyrical songs can help people learn language. So if you remember something to a tune, you are more likely to recall the information than if you just read it or heard it spoken. Then when you learn what the words mean by using a dictionary or reading the translation of the lyrics or just guessing from the context, you are putting the puzzle of the language together. As you can see in this ABC News special report about her recovery,  songs are helping the former Arizona Congresswoman regain her speech.
After listening to songs, Representative Giffords remembers the words from songs that she previously could not say. This five minute video can save you many hours of painful work later on to polish your accent. Paul Sulzberger, did his PhD thesis in linguistics in New Zealand about how people learn Russian. Seriously, it’s not uncommon to find language teachers who aren’t familiar with contemporary music in the language they are teaching and play old songs that don’t resonate to their student’s ears. The Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California which trains staff from all branches of the United States military in different languages shows Sesame Street in Arabic to its Arabic language students. The best way to find the videos in those languages is to do a search for Sesame Street and the name of the country or language.


This is an approach I’ve taken with Irish (I started teaching myself a few weeks ago). I think the reason is that they are not consciously making a link between their singing in their target language and their speech. As a teacher of Spanish and French, I try to use music in my lessons as often as I can because my students really enjoy it.
Unfortunately this year, I had less hours to teach and had to follow a curriculum, so I didn’t have enough lesson time to repeat this experience.
I agree that music is powerful and should be used as ofen as possible for learning or improvenig languages. Talk to your doctors and also hit the information super highway to learn how Autism affects people. In fact, you will likely find a much larger support group online since you literally have the whole world at your finger tips. I share my stories and experiences in an effort to further grow and strengthen the online Autism community and to promote Autism Understanding and Acceptance. I say tell them that even though their life is about to become full of new and unpleasant stuff (like the learning, learning, learning + therapy + insurance fighting + education advocacy, etc etc) that it is very important not to give up on family joy and having fun. It goes into your virtual portfolio – you can tell about it to your future employer, impress friends, and brag at parties.
Many of you may know about the turtle from the language LOGO developed by Seymour Papert, a great computer scientist, educational scholar and researcher, who over 20-30 years ago, developed this programming language that would allow kids to learn mathematics, and geometry in a way that was very engaging, playful, and which allowed them to discover those things by themselves and become one with them. We were creating and changing reality, though abstract reality, with our own thinking, and that was very powerful, enjoyable, and certainly a memorable experience, whereby mathematics for him is not now anymore for him something dry to memorize. So, I just wait for the time he's going to get so mad, that he's going to play it again for me. What is good food and what is not without having to be sold to anyone line of thought, nor medicine, pharmaceutical, nor alternative, but understanding the information and where to get it so I can make my own choices without having to depend on prescriptions from somebody else. Maybe one per cent of the overall curriculum is dedicated to that, but if you're going to another planet, don't you think this would be quite useful, to be able know how to learn? To think outside of the box, to think with your lateral thinking as Edward De Bono would say. And so by stopping and looking at what it's not been said, one can see where the other is wanting some gratification, reward, or wants to establish himself even if the others don't want to and can be proper way with that desire if the setting and opportunity allow it.
In a world that keeps changing and where mainstream media is more powerful than ever, if Fox is your God, go for it. I think they have all of the right not to listen to us and verifying things, but they don't have the frame of mind, have not given the frame of mind, to think about what is going to happen next.
It doesn't matter if you're publishing a blog post, or if you're shooting some firecracker out of the windows for new year's eve. We're trying to cure when we act too much out of impulse, when we act not thinking about the consequences, whether that is electricity we're wasting, or pollution, or doing sex without thinking, it makes a big difference what type of human being and civilization we create for the future. Not all the time great money, but I don't think that's the key to living a successful life, or to really learn what is key to survive in any type of situation. I speak seven languages and listening to lyrical music in these languages was fundamental to my being able to copy the melody of these languages and remember pronunciation and vocabulary.
If you start with the puzzle pieces (grammar rules, conjugation charts, vocabulary lists, etc), you may end up using those puzzle pieces as a sleeping pill rather than as means to learning the language. If you listen first to your target language, before speaking, you have a better chance of having good pronunciation. He had one group of students who got to listen to Russian speech before formally learning Russian.
Some words will be hard to write because they may be idioms or slang that you haven’t learned yet, but just write as much as they can understand.
If GI Joe and GI Jane can learn to speak al- arabi with the Arabic equivalent of the Cookie Monster, then so can you! If you know the name of the program in the specific language, like Plaza Sesamo in Spanish, then use that name in your search on You Tube. I spent the entire first week just listening to TV and radio in Irish Gaeilge to tune my ears before opening my mouth.
If teachers don’t make the connection for students, not all students will realize that songs can effect their spoken and written language. Even if you can’t work on songs in class, you can have your students find songs they like, decipher them and sing them in class for extra credit and do a presentation to the class explaining what the song is about and what they learned. It’s wonderful that kids in Europe are getting such early musical exposure to foreign languages. As you learn the signs, symptoms and effects it has, you’ll begin to recognize them in your child. I love soul music, I like very much the rhythms that come from Africa, and so since I was a kid I liked to bang on something at the rhythm of the groove. So what he will tell me is: "There are four beats in this, and on the up of the second beat you're going to hit with your right hand with an angle of 45A° down this way, and then as soon as that finishes you see there's an up note so you'll have to go "pick, pick" with the other hand, while you hit the bass with this.
I'm sure I'm not the first telling you this, and I'm sure you're more convinced than me since earlier times. Having that skill coming up as a key one and not just as a secondary "I happen to learn abut this during my life" would be really valuable.
Let yourself breathe in the language with music so you can get a rhythmic introduction to the language.
If you launch into speaking from Day One, you are likely to be speaking with a poor accent and it will be hard to rewire your brain later on to produce different sounds after you may have solidified your speaking patterns. This is especially important for visual learners because they can see the story being told by the lyrics and better understand what the song is about and match their new vocabulary to the images on the screen.
Compare the lyrics they noted down with the original song lyrics that you will provide them and see how well you were able to understand the song. I don’t know if the Arabic Cookie Monster eats baklava or cookies, but his message can reach you. The challenge in the US, where I live, is to expose children and adults to foreign language media as almost all of our radio and TV broadcasts are in English. I have seen amzing results and believe that music should be part of every curriculum in all educational systems.
Independence from the system is possible, but  a revolution in language education needs to take place.
You’re going to stand up and make sure that people are treated far better than they have been, when before you might have let it go or just said something without getting too involved.
So, on and off, I started at applying myself to it, and recently I signed myself to a percussion music school.
Too many times we act like actors in a movie, like Tom Cruise's of the situation, but the situation doesn't warrant us to act like Hollywood stars, because there is no end of the movie, and the consequences are real.
Those who spent time listening to Russian before studying it, had an easier time than those who had no experience listening to the language when it came to recognizing individual words in speech when they were formally learning the language. I just simply record with my brain." It's a function you have by default, you don't have a driver to install, you don't need a plugin there. Your ears need no other distractions to properly hear all the high, medium and low frequencies of the language.
Therefore, the exposure to listening to the language to pick up the melody and sound patterns before learning words and grammar was advantageous to the students.
Use them to break the chains of a broken system and set language learner's free to learn on their own.



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