'The Power of Video Games' by Jenny Lockwood

Caroline’s Commentary:

Video games are popular with children and you can use this interest to help make learning more fun.  In this article, ‘The Power of Video Games’, Jenny Lockwood describes how Rowan first got interested in video games and as a result these games enhanced both his learning experience and his social interactions with other children as well as with his teacher, Jenny.

‘The Power of Video Games’ by Jenny Lockwood (about The Horse Boy Method)

A little over a year ago Rowan and I visited Cabela’s for the first time, (an outdoor shop that has an impressive display of taxidermy)  and it was here that he discovered and fell in love with their ‘Big Buck Hunting Game’. Over the weeks and months since, we have gradually noticed his hand eye coordination improve as he learnt to navigate a relatively complex game that involves aiming, firing and reloading a plastic gun in quick succession. He is now at the stage where he very rarely misses a shot and is regularly awarded the prestigious honor of ‘hunter hero’.

However it wasn’t until eight weeks ago that Rowan discovered the world of video games outside of Cabela’s. Whilst his friend Tashka was visiting from Australia, he met and fell in love with Mario, Yoshi and their friends when she was kind enough to let him play Super Mario Brothers on her Nintendo DS. He was soon hooked and became even more so when a few weeks later he discovered the Nintendo Wii and Mario Kart.

In the two months since we have noticed many changes in Rowan, both in terms of his cognitive and social skills. Since September Rowan has been attending a nearby school one day a week and soon after getting his own Nintendo DS we asked whether it would be possible for him to bring it with him to the school. It wasn’t long before he was discussing the best way to defeat the various enemies that these games involve with the other kids and generally interacting with them in a way we had not seen prior to this.

It was at this point that we asked ourselves whether we could use his love of these games in order to help him learn. As is often the case with Rowan he himself showed us how to do this by inventing a new game which involved him as Mario and me as Yoshi adventuring together in order to collect ‘power stars’ which we could then take to the ‘Luma Shop’ and use to buy any item that we desired as long as we had enough stars.

It was then we realized that not only do these games encourage turn taking, perspective taking and an understanding of rules and their consequences but they also require a relatively complex understanding of math. For example collecting the appropriate number of power stars can incorporate addition and subtraction and using them to buy various items in a shop is a good way to model money. In fact if you use your imagination it is possible to introduce any number of topics (speed, distance, space, gravity to name but a few) using these games. We therefore encourage all parents of children on the spectrum, and in fact all parents in general, to not resist these games but instead use their child’s interest in them to help them learn in fun and intrinsically motivating ways.


'The world needs all kinds of minds' Temple Grandin talks at TED Conference

Caroline’s commentary:

I watched the movie ‘Temple Grandin’ again over the Christmas holiday.  If you have not seen it yet, you must watch it.  Here is a talk Dr. Grandin gave at a TED Conference just after the release of the movie about her life, where she emphasizes the world needs all different kinds of minds: visual thinkers, pattern thinkers and verbal thinkers.   She also stresses the importance of mentors as teachers in high schools and one on one tutoring for autistic children under 5.  “You’ve got to show student’s interesting stuff to learn,” says Temple.

Here at the Tree of Life Centre for Creativity, in the Creative Art Adventures program, the student’s learn about all sorts of subjects:  natural life cycles, weather patterns, insects, all kinds of animals, geography, the 4 elements, air, fire, water, earth, and how we humans are connected to all the elements and to all life.  We teach all subjects through painting, drawing, clay modelling, music and storytelling.  The children are encouraged to follow whatever interests them, in this way the learning experience is exciting and fun for everyone.


'8 Steps to Help You Stay Balanced for Teaching the Child With Autism' by Caroline F. Butson

An autistic child can be extremely challenging to live with sometimes. Your own self-care is vital as you can easily become drained or thrown off balance by the demands of parenting and teaching these kids. Do something you love to do every day which will recharge you. If you love to play music, then play music, if you love to garden, then spend time in your garden, if you love to ride horses then go riding. Do whatever you need to do to care for yourself.

Here are 8 STEPS to HELP YOU recover your energy and help you stay balanced.

1. Make a strong determination to overcome this challenge and to not be defeated by this diagnosis of autism.

2. Adjust your attitude from how unfortunate I am to have an autistic child to how blessed I am to be given a child whose mission it is to bring Light and Love to this world! See the gifts autism has to offer. The only thing we can control is our attitude and the most positive attitude is one of hope.

3. Strengthen your Faith. Implement a spiritual practice if you do not already have one. Whatever spiritual path that will nourish your spirit during difficult days. Prayer, mindful meditation and chanting are some ways which can help strengthen your faith.

4. Listen to and follow your Intuition which will guide you.

5. Appreciate your partner. You are not alone you are together as one team facing this challenge. Be determined that the challenge of autism is not going to tear apart your marriage. Take time out to spend time as a couple.

6. Find and build a support network especially if you are a single parent. Remind yourself that you are not alone. Talk to other parents either in a support group or in an online forum. Find support that uplifts you.

7. Do your inner work. It is important to clear your emotional baggage and negative beliefs that do not serve you anymore as children will tend to mirror your inner state. Find a healing modality that is effective and gentle, and a practitioner that you feel comfortable and safe with.

8. To care for yourself I recommend these simple methods:

  • Yoga
  • Meditation
  • Deep Breathing exercises
  • Receive Reiki to raise your life force and relieve stress
  • Take Access Body Talk course as a simple First Aid technique

'Steps to Help You Teach Children with Autism' by Caroline F. Butson

You may be feeling grief upon receiving a diagnosis that your child has Autism or Aspergers Syndrome etc. Do not despair! There is hope! Many individuals on the autism spectrum have grown up to have productive, fulfilling lives. Your child can still have a bright future! One out of 120 children coming into the world are now being diagnosed with some form of autism. It appears to be becoming a world wide epidemic. You are not alone. Here are three alternative steps to take to improve your child’s life and your own:

1. Creative expression
2. Telepathic Communication
3. Life Style Changes

It may be helpful to understand that many of them are Indigo or Rainbow children. This means that these children have more activated DNA, they are extremely sensitive, gifted, and highly intelligent. At the same time their speech may be delayed or others may have physical developmental challenges.

As such, children on the autism spectrum are often gifted in painting, drawing, sculpture and music. When you allow them to express themselves in these other mediums, the whole family will benefit. Creative expression is therapeutic in and of itself, as it allows freedom for feelings to be expressed in a safe, fun way. These feelings may otherwise be buried and come out later in a destructive way. For all of us, with or without autism, emotional expression is vital for our health and well-being. It is a normal part of being human. This is why music, painting, and drawing is important for autistic children. It provides them with another language, which may be easier, for the autistic child than verbal expression.

You don’t have to be a professional artist or art therapist to support your child in expressing themselves. You can paint or draw along with them or create music together. If this is a challenge for you, just keep it simple and fun. Try to let go of your inner critic. Art education is vital for the development of the autistic child because it will develop their inner realm, and will help them discover who they are and how they fit into the world around them.

These children have a highly sensitive metabolism which means they may have a tendency to become overwhelmed by large groups of people, large classrooms, noise, and emotion. When they are feeling overwhelmed or over stimulated they can either withdraw further within themselves and from the outer world or they can become more hyperactive, or escalate the situation to have an emotional meltdown. At this point hugging or holding them can feel uncomfortable or even painful for the autistic child if they are highly sensitive to touch or energy. A highly sensitive autistic child may be clear sentient, clairvoyant and telepathic. It is more natural and easier for them to communicate this way. You will learn to appreciate their strengths and what they have to offer the world.

The worst thing you can do is nothing and give up on them. Remind yourself that you are not alone. There is lots of support today in the form of many different kinds of therapies and programs. It is important to find the ones that are suitable for you and your child. Additionally, you may have to make some adjustments in your lifestyle such as looking for alternative choices in education, and housing options to help them adjust. Likewise they may feel better eating a diet of healthy organic fruits and vegetables for the most part.

Your own self-care is most important as you can easily become drained by the demands of parenting or teaching these kids. This is being wisely selfish. Do whatever you need to do to stay balanced and recharged. You know yourself best. Do something you love to do every day so you don’t get burnt out. You are the most important person to influence your child. Continue reading “'Steps to Help You Teach Children with Autism' by Caroline F. Butson”

'Autism is a Gift!' by Shawn Garza

Caroline’s Commentary:

I agree with Shawn Garza that we have to have the attitude that autism is a gift.  The only thing we have the power to change is our attitude and the most positive attitude is one of hope.  Many individuals on the autism spectrum are extremely talented in the Arts and Music, Acting, Mathematics, Physics and even Teaching.  What do you think?  Is Autism a gift or a disabilty?  Leave your comment below.

‘Autism is a Gift!’ by Shawn Garza

Too often, we tend to think of autism as a disability. However, the word “disability” is typically defined as “lack of ability.” It may be true that people with autism can lack some abilities, such as speech, the ability to potty train, empathy, withstanding touch or emotional control. Additionally, children with autism spectrum disorders often cannot tolerate everyday situations such as shopping, eating out or driving due to the inability to filter sensory input. These issues can be frustrating and downright depressing for parents, family and friends.

We must remember, however, that autism is not a disability. Autism grants its own gifts to those who have it. Those gifts can manifest themselves as stellar mathematical abilities, memory, creative writing, visual arts, or even acting. Some individuals with autism spectrum disorder even make fantastic teachers. In this role, the communication abilities of the individual shine in ways that parents, families and peers initially thought would never happen. Continue reading “'Autism is a Gift!' by Shawn Garza”

Horse Boy Method Intro with Rupert Isaacson

Caroline’s Commentary:

If you enjoy horses and horseback riding both you and your child will benefit from the healing power of horses.  As a parent or teacher spending time with a reliable horse will help to relieve stress and recharge.  Some children on the autism spectrum really connect with horses and you may want to explore this more with them.  Here is a video about the Horse Boy Method designed for autistic children as well as their parents, teachers and caregivers.