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Kindergarden

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in SPOTLIGHT

BIOGRAPHY: Estrellita AlaffaFeatured

My name is Estrellita Alaffa, I was born in Tamaulipas, Mexico, on February 19th, 1982. I graduated with a technical degree in business administration, I worked in Mexico as a secretary in a law firm for three years, then I got married and emigrated to the United States in 2003.

I am a mother of four children, two of them have autism and although it has not been easy, my resilience has helped me reinvent myself as a mother and at the same time work wise. In 2012, I took a course to obtain my CNA license in the state of Texas and worked for almost four years in a nursing home, where I put into practice all the ove, patience and empathy that my children taught me as they grew up.

But at the same time, my children’s needs were requiring more and more of my time, so I decided to leave my job and dedicate full time to my children.

In 2018, we emigrated again to the state of Wisconsin, looking for new opportunities and although I was home for several years, I always had the desire to do something else besides that.

So in 2020, I joined the group of health leaders as a volunteer, from the Sixteenth Street Clinic, where I participated as a health promoter and received training in community advocacy. This great experience was a great tool to develop me professionally, because in 2023, i started working with UW-Madison Extension, as a bilingual nutrition educator, and at the end of this same year i was nominated to be part of the board of directors at the Sixteenth Street Clinic and for me it is and honor to be part of this board of directors.

Therefore, every day I strengthen my commitment to my family and my community, my resilience drives me to cultivate myself as an individual, I live to be useful in the lives of the people who know me and I feel the moral commitment to serve and intercede for those voices that are not heard.

Although being a mother of two autistic children has not been easy, since there are many challenges that we face every day, there are also many gratifying moments that we experience every day and that is the most important thing.

What we enjoy the most as a family is doing outdoor activities. I am pleased to see their smiles, their innocence and the unconditional love of each one of my children.

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in ACTIVITIES, RESOURCES

Plan and implement: Lesson plan and activities plansFeatured

Among the primary responsibilities of early childhood educators is the responsibility to plan and implement intentional and developmentally appropriate learning experiences that promote social and emotional development, physical development and health, cognitive development, and general learning skills of each of the children that attends.

It’s important to plan activities based on the ages of the children and the objective we want to achieve. The study plans and teaching methods are built from each child’s resources by connecting their experiences in school or educational environment with their home or community environment.

What is a lesson plan?

A lesson plan for toddlers is a teacher-structured document that describes the sequence of activities and learning experiences designed to teach a specific concept to children at an early age, usually ages 3 to 5. These plans are designed to be interactive, fun and adapted to the needs and development levels of young children. Here are some key elements you could include in a lesson plan for toddlers:

Lesson objective: Clearly defines what children should learn at the end of the lesson

Materials: List all the materials needed for the lesson, such as books, toys, art supplies, etc.

Introduction: Include a starter activity to capture children’s attention and prepare them for the lesson topic

Development: Divide the lesson into sequential steps or activities that help children understand the concept. Use interactive and hands-on methods, as children learn best through experience.

Evaluation: Include strategies to assess children’s understanding, such as questions, observations, and follow up activities.

Adaptations: Consider possible adaptations to meet the different needs and learning styles of the children in the group.

Time: Set a time estimate for each activity to ensure the lesson fits into the available time frame.

Closure: Conclude the lesson effectively, summarizing what children have learned and provide opportunities to ask questions or make comments.

It is important to remember that young children have limited attention spans, so lessons should be short, stimulating and full of variety to keep their interest. Additionally, flexibility is key, as you may need to adjust the lesson based on the children’s responses and level of engagement during the teaching process.

A lesson plan can be done weekly with a single topic or with different topics weekly. For children between 3 years old it can include gross motor activities, fine motor activities, art projects, crafts, sensory activities, outdoor activities, learning and experimentation games.

Example of a lesson plan for a week:

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in RESOURCES

AUTISMFeatured

Nowadays, there are a lot of resources where communities can educate themselves about the disabilities that a lot of our children around us suffer from.

A lot of kids have special disabilities, in most cases a disability can affect their health and their development in all areas.

Let’s talk about Autism in particular.

Is Autism a disability? If it’s not a disability, what is it? Is it a disorder? Or is it simply a way of responding to people and the world around us?

These are some of the questions that most parents ask, just like people from the spectrum themselves. Unfortunately, the answers are far from being simple.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), autism spectrum disorder is defined as a “developmental disability”, while the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) states that ASD is a “developmental disorder”.

Meanwhile, the Individuals with disabilities education Act law (IDEA), has 13 categories for the disabilities, and autism spectrum disorder is number three on the list, calling it a developmental disability that affects “social and communication skills”, but it can also have an “impact on behavior”.

(LONGO, 2021)

Currently, experts recognize 3 levels depending on the particularities of each patient. For many people, the concept of autism, also called autism spectrum disorder (ASD), can be confusing.

The brazilian journal of Psychiatry, authored by the American psychologist Ami Klin, from Emory University (United States) and the brazilian psychiatrist Marcos Tomanik Mercadante, from the Federal University of São Paulo (Unifesp), defines ASD as a family of socialization disorders that affect personal relationships, communication, the learning and adaptability of individuals to different environments.

For its part, the brazilian ministry of health highlights among the signs of autism difficulties in communicating and socializing, poor understanding of language, and the adoption of restrictive behaviors (for example, eating only one type of food and rejecting the others) and repetitive (such as moving a part of the body without stopping).

What are the types of autism?

According to revision 11th of the international classification of diseases (ICD-11) from the world health organization (WHO), currently, autism divides into 3 different levels depending on the needs that each person presents.

Level 1 (considered milder)

  • ASD without intellectual disability and with slight or no functional language impairment;
  • ASD with intellectual disabilities and mild or no functional language impairment

Level 2 (Moderated)

  • ASD without intellectual disability and absence of functional language
  • ASD with intellectual disability and absence of functional language

Level 3 (considered more severe)

  • ASD without intellectual disability and absence of functional language
  • ASD with intellectual disability and absence of functional language

What is Asperger’s syndrome and why is the term no longer used?

During a long time, health authorities understood Aspenger’s syndrome as a high-functioning “form of autism.” This means that the carriers presented similar difficulties to other autistic people, but at a very reduced level.

However, the ICD-11 grouped all autism related disorders into a single diagnosis: ASD.

According to WHO, the change was made to avoid errors, simplify coding and facilitate the diagnosis. There is also a movement, among the medical community itself and people with autism, to abolish the use of the term “Aspenger”.

All children with autism deserve the opportunity to have a happy and independent life. Looking for resources where they can help families with children with autism where parents can educate themselves with everything related to autism, where they can learn how to connect to the world, in hand with professionals is the first step that families can begin with.

(nationalgeographicla.com, 2024)

Courtesy of: Caravel Autism Health

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