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“Beep, Beep, BEEP, BEEP!!” That’s the sound of the alarm ringing at 3:02 am. Time to get up, time to write. The glare of computer screen, the blackness of the morning, and the quiet breathing/pulse of sleeping from my 11 family members spread throughout the 4 bedroom house leaves my mind ready to write.

Writing a curriculum and a Website that supports the learning of communication, to notice and understand nonverbal cues, to express feelings appropriately, and to work appropriately in a group can be a challenge! However, in my family of 9 children (three who are on the Autism Spectrum, two who are deaf and the rest range in-between), I have great examples to pull from. I am also a founding parent of Spectrum Academy, a charter school for children with Autism, I have my Master’s degree in Special Education, and I have taught Special Education for over 10 years so you could say that I have seen it all, but I know I have much to learn.

As a mom and a teacher, I have become very familiar with instructing social awareness and appropriate social behavior in society. After many years of research, experience, and implementing techniques and strategies, I came up with a complete set of social coaching supports that have made a difference in the lives of my children and of my students. And now, teaching students who are Deaf in ASL each day, has added more and more skills and strategies to my teaching.

This website and curriculum contains unique social supports, which are intended to teach you as the instructor how to break down complex social skills into simple, concrete, visual, and applicable practice for the student. That is done through a focused goal of vocabulary, video modeling, social coaching and practicing of the skill. Following this sequence aids the students to know the intrinsic value of social communication in society. The more the student practices social skills in the natural environments, such as home, school, and extra-curricular activities, the more generalized the skill will become.

I have learned that when we strongly desire something, bumps and snags will always join for the ride. The idea of writing this curriculum has been a 4-year process containing several conversations with peers and within my own head and many brainstorms that left a confused visual mess on my computer screen. I just needed to right timing and motivation to focus these ideas, strategies and research; and that time came right after I found out that we were going to have our ninth child. Then 15 months later find out that we were going to move to Texas that those events would change our lives forever. Nothing like a 9-month deadline, and a cross-country move to get you motivated, right?

Thankfully, we (I say we because this project has spilled over to my whole family) have moved and have been helping students learn how to conduct themselves with manners, social connections, and hopefully lead them on their way to find the intrinsic value of how they interact within and without their social circles. After all, BASE is created for them, regardless of their level. Thank you for all who have been supportive and involved. Thank you everyone for the hours of childcare, dinners, and laundry folding. You have made my website—Pieced-Together--and my books possible. Spread the word and share the love!

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