Take 2: Teaching Children w/ Autism Washington, DC

 
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Aug 2, 2012

Britt and Alexis Go To Camp

Morning Agenda
Morning Agenda

“What’s a balloon’s least favorite type of music?”
See the bottom for the answer to one awesome camper’s joke!

Britt Lake, GlobalGiving’s Director of Programs, and I recently had the pleasure of spending a morning at Take 2, a camp for kids ages 6 to 11 with Aspergers and High Functioning Autism.  We had a blast!

The team at Take 2 has done an amazing job creating a fun learning environment for the kids. The camp has taken challenging tasks like recognizing emotions, looking at and thinking about the person you are with, and uncovering the mystery of friendship and made them fun with games and prizes. The camp is a kind, patient, and supportive atmosphere for the kids, who are learning, growing, and having fun!

When we arrived, we walked into a room full of excitement. The kids were hearing about their agenda for the day and learning some of the key skills they would be practicing in their activities—like S-PEC-L when someone is talking to you (Stop what you are doing, Periodic Eye Contact and Listen to what they say).  Lynn Cannon, the Director of Take 2’s camp, talked us through some of the camp basics. The camp has almost as many staff as campers, meaning that each child has the chance to receive personal attention at camp. This year, the camp theme is detective work. Every camper is a detective, solving little mysteries every day! To make learning fun, campers earn detective points for participating in activities, staying attentive and focused, and responding well to challenging situations. At the end of the day, kids count up their detective points and pick prizes.

Britt and I sat in on the morning session, designed to help the campers discern emotions using facial expressions and tone of voice. The campers played a round of guess-that-emotion, watching Brenna, the teacher’s face for clues about the emotion she was acting out.  The game was a resounding success, with every kid guessing the emotion correctly. Then, Brenna instructed kids to listen as they heard clips of popular TV shows—iCarly, Victorious, and even Saved by the Bell (much to Britt and my delight)—to use tone of voice to understand the character’s emotions. This game was a bit more challenging, even Britt and I were listening intently to hear the characters’ emotions, but the kids came through again, guessing each emotion correctly.

At the end of our visit, we spent some time hanging out the campers during snack time and getting to know some of their fun personalities. We spoke with one boy who absolutely loves scuba diving, granted he’s never been himself, but he’s sure it’s awesome! We exchanged some jokes with another boy, including the one at the top of this post (“What’s a balloon’s least favorite type of music” See answer below). And we learned about one girl’s classmate who has the same name as Alexis!

Thank you, Take 2, for inviting us to spend the morning with you! We had a great time and GlobalGiving is thrilled to be working with such a great, local organization doing work in our own backyard!

Answer: Pop!

Jun 14, 2012

Fantastic Success Yesterday!

To our wonderful friends, family and Take 2 supporters,

Thank you for all your help!

Yesterday’s Bonus Day was a huge success for Take 2.  Huge.  Incredibly, in that one day, we raised $11,055 from individual donations and matching support from Global Giving.  That’s really just incredible.  These funds will directly support this summer’s work, which begins officially next week, though of course Lynn has been busy with planning for a much longer time.  We will thank each of you donors individually by the end of the week, but in the meantime want to extend this big electronic group hug and thank you all collectively.  THANK YOU SO MUCH. 

With love, gratitude and, frankly, amazement,

Lisa, Monica & Lynn

Jun 12, 2012

Time Sensitive - Take 2 Needs Your Help Today!

Dear Friends,

It’s that time again: Global Giving is matching ALL donations we receive today, Wednesday, June 13, at 50 percent.  This is a really important opportunity for Take 2.  If you are able, please help us raise the funds we need for this camp season, which begins June 25th.  You can click here to donate: http://www.globalgiving.org/projects/teaching-children-with-autism/.   You can also learn more there about Take 2. 

We did this match campaign once before, in October of last year, and it was enormously beneficial.  Our costs are low – other than staff salaries we have very few expenses – but we rely on this help from generous friends because camp tuition doesn’t cover our necessarily low staff to child ratio, and in addition we are committed to providing financial aid to any family that needs it.  This year, 60 percent of our campers are receiving scholarships.

We’re grateful for your support every day, but on this one day your generosity will be amplified, so please donate if you can.  Last year Global Giving matched our fundraising at 30 percent, but this year, because we are one of their organization “Superstars,” they will match for us at 50 percent. Please give early in the day, before the matching funds run out.

Global Giving continues to be a fantastic resource for Take 2.  In April we visited their offices and met with staff to learn more about how we can get even more out of this relationship.  They give us the benefits of an infrastructure we couldn’t possibly afford, and that allows us to devote more of our time and funds to running a terrific program.   As I write this, Monica is actually in Puerto Rico working with a group that is using the Take 2 curriculum to start its own program for children with autism this summer.  We are delighted to support that effort.

Thank you so very much for any help you can give us.   And, by the way, if you know how to do this sort of thing, please post  to your Facebook, Tweet to your followers, or do any of that tech-savvy stuff that we are still too old-fashioned to take advantage of!  Or just call or email friends and relatives and let them know about this opportunity to do good.  

Gratefully,

Lisa, Monica and Lynn

Apr 30, 2012

Take 2 Collaboration Yields Big Results

Since Take 2 began in 2004, clinician-researchers at the Center for Autism Spectrum Disorders at Children’s National Medical Center have been integrally involved in developing the program’s curriculum.  Several years ago, the CASD doctors, together with Take 2 staff and teachers and administrators at the Ivymount School, developed and began piloting a novel approach to teaching children with autism spectrum disorders the important skills of flexibility, goal-setting and planning.  Difficulty with these and other “executive functions” are common in children with high functioning ASDs.   The collaboration has so far proved extremely fruitful: based on early successes, the National Institute of Mental Health awarded the group a grant to take the next step in testing the intervention:  the curriculum, called Unstuck & On Target, is now being tested in mainstream schools.  In addition, the curriculum has been published and is available to parents and educators who would like to give its methods a try.  The approaches described in the book are designed to be enjoyable and accessible and to integrate well into children’s real lives.  You can see the cover of the book at the top of this Project Update and you can  read more about it on the publisher’s website and on Amazon, which you’ll find links for below.  The forward to the book is by New York Times best-selling author John Elder Robison.  A training program for parents is part of the Unstuck curriculum and there are plans to publish soon the manual that accompanies this training. 

We are very proud that Take 2 played a key role in launching this much needed and so far extremely promising new intervention. 

As always, we thank you for your support for Take 2.  Also, we'd like you to know that in June Take 2 will participate in GlobalGiving’s “bonus day,” when all gifts will be matched.   We’ll be in touch with you before that to ask for your help. Please see below for links and for a glowing review of Unstuck & On Target.

With gratitude,

Lisa, Lynn & Monica

Here are links where you can learn more about Unstuck & On Target

http://www.brookespublishing.com/store/books/cannon-72032/index.htm

http://www.amazon.com/Unstuck-Target-Executive-Curriculum-Flexibility/dp/1598572032

And here's a recent review from Amazon:

5.0 out of 5 stars The most helpful book I've ever bought!, April 4, 2012
By 
Amazon Verified Purchase
This review is from: Unstuck and on Target!: An Executive Function Curriculum to Improve Flexibility for Children With Autism Spectrum Disorders, Research Edition (Paperback)
This book has helped me on so many levels help my son who has autism. I can take him shopping or take him to school; have him try new foods at a restaurant and even have him do something totally off his schedule and not have the meltdown explosive behaviors that he use to have. One of the things that this book teaches is that if I want him to be more flexible then I have to model what that looks like for him. I've learned to help him realize that when he is stuck that there are coping strategies that he can use. My son is so much more relaxed and I am so proud of how he is able to breathe and calm himself down rather quickly.

I recommend this book to anyone who has a child in need of being more flexible and goal directed!!

Attachments:
Apr 18, 2012

Looking forward to summer and back at the fall

Dear Take 2 Supporter,     

There's no "ask" here, none at all. You're getting this email because you've generously supported Take 2 in the past and we'd like to take a moment, as we prepare for our ninth summer (!) to thank you for your help and tell you a little about what went on at Take 2 this past fall.  Here is director Lynn Cannon's wrap-up:   

      This fall, some of our summer campers were reunited for a weekly social learning group that was designed to reinforce and expand on the skills and concepts they had learned over the summer.  The theme of the fall group was “learning to C.H.I.L.L.” This is also known as “hanging out.”  What’s involved in that?  You know, things like playing video games, enjoying a meal together, exchanging gifts – the goal was to simulate the ways that typical late elementary and early middle school students spend time with their friends.

To C.H.I.L.L you need to:

C- ompromise

H- idden rules (follow them!)

I- nitiate conversation

L- isten

L- augh, when everyone laughs

      Campers’ parents were also reunited in the fall program. Once a month, parents came together to discuss the group themes and generalization opportunities and to participate in our guest speaker series. Guest speakers included a speech and language pathologist who shared strategies for improving conversation skills, facilitating play dates and other peer interactions, and expanding social thinking. We were also joined by a local education advocate who provided tips on how to obtain appropriate special education services, and where and when to start the challenging search for the right middle school.

      Everyone took away something from our groups this fall. For parents, it was some useful planning tips and a chance to connect with a community of parents. For staff, it was the chance to see a group of boys re-unite and ultimately, and independently, “C.H.I.L.L” over a pizza dinner- laughing and chatting the whole time. Most importantly the campers had an opportunity to spend an hour each week re-connecting and enjoying time with their friends!

Thank you again for your generous support of Take 2.  We couldn't do it without you -- we really couldn't!

Sincerely, 

Lynn, Monica & Lisa

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Project Leader

Lisa Greenman

Washington, DC United States

Where is this project located?

Map of Take 2: Teaching Children w/ Autism Washington, DC