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February 1995


This daily correspondence between schools she attended and us gives you a glimpse of our daily life. Most parents of typical children do not communicate on daily basis with the teachers. This gives a reader an insight to how important daily communication is for a child with autism.

Kat has attended school since she was 3 years old. These are school notes that were result of correspondence with her parents and her teachers. We have made comments at a later date reflecting back on the impact of these events. Kats School Notes Index








Hi , Kat had a great vacation in Charlotte , NC . She went swimming and museums . I hope she can readjust to working fairly quickly .


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2/2 Good morning! Well here we are in the computer room and doing very nicely. How was your trip? When I saw Kat this morning, after our Hello's, she looked at me and said, "Where did you go ?" So I said Where did you go She told me, Then she said " Did you go swimming?" so I asked her if she went swimming! Then she said , "Did you visit a museum?" So of course I then said, Did you visit a museum? All the while chuckling to myself!

It's interesting that she asked ME the questions first before I had the chance to ask her!

She is doing very well in computers. We played the matching word game in touch typing, and then went to a game called Jungle Boy. Here she has to make words and race against an opponent to get her jungle boy across the river first. Her behavior so far as been super; a little talkative, babbly, etc. but generally OK.

We'll be leaving here in about 5 minutes so I'll continue my narrative back in the room in her notebook.


2/2 Happy Ground Hog Day ! cont . . .

She's having a little trouble just now getting started w/ her work. No trouble at all in computers but that's not really work ! Calendar was diffcult ; she kept stopping & babbling . The same w/ dictionary ; singing , babbling , giggling etc. She really didn't disturb anyone but still the noises are inappropriate & I tried to stop them as best I could (wiping off smiley faces) but I think she might need time to readjust .


( 10 : 20 )

* At one point she got so loud that I wiped off 2 smiley faces . She was singing Xmas carols ! She then finished up most of her packet quietly ,but we ran out of time .


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2/3 Hi E. ,

What is your feeling on the effectiveness of happy faces . Has it helped in dealing with her behaviors? The clock is strange she is not consistant with the errors she is making .

The library skills , would you like to shoot for the week of 2/13. When would you like for me to talk to the 2nd graders ?


Hi ! You know I'm really not sure about the smiley faces . She does enjoy making them & gets upset when I remove one , but does she really understand why it is taken away ? Maybe if I really get "tough" & don't give her a reward ( pretzels & sticker ) because she didn't earn enough smiley faces she'll understand ?

I really don't know . I can try that if you want & see what happens. Please let me know . How do the smiley faces workat home ? Any problems there ? So far this AM (it's 9:30) she's been pretty quiet, w/ the occassional humming . I've spoken to her about 4 times already about it .

9 :40 On her dict. paper, she had a word spelled incorrectly & some words all squeezed together on one line . I had her fix everything & boy did she complain ! She whined & whimpered & NO! for about 10 sec until I went for the smiley faces . She said NO ! grabbed my arm , clamped her lips together &made her a mmmm sound , thenfixed it all w/out further incident ! !

So to get back to the question of " do the smiley faces really work/help ?" I guess in this particular instance , yes !

She had difficulty on a clock page today . I circled the ones that she missed & tried to correct her but she insisted that the time was 6 : 80 !

As far as library startling wk of 2/13 - that's fine . You can come in one day next week to talk to Mrs. Bl.'s class or you can let J.R. do it. Just let me know.

The children had free time today & they played on the computer . She saw them & said "computers " I had her ask me what she wanted . " Mrs. L. may I have a computer . " ( I corrected her . ) " Mrs. L. may I use the comp. " I told her yes , but you have to finish your work first . She nodded& began to work. Each time she " acted up " I reminded her about the computers . She then resumed working quietly .

Unfortunately ,we ran out of time ,but I don't think she cared ; she earned her pretzels & sticker ! Have a good weekend !


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2/6 Hi E. , I will call J. today to see if he could talk to the class . I am sure he has a better understanding of what level 2nd graders can understand .

She had an uneventful weekend . She loved the snow . About time we had some . Are you planning a valentines day party ?


2/6 Hello ! How are you ? In regards to the Valentine's party , it will be on Valentine's Day from 2 -3. Mrs. Br. has to contact the mothers still. If anything changes I'll let you know.

Something happened this AM ( 9 : 30 ) that hasn't occured in a long time . The class was taking a spelling pre - test & Kat was working on her dict . word . All of a sudden she cried out & started whimpering loudly. She stood & cried out . I had her stand up away from her desk & her eyes got that "wild look " & she shouted NO ! I wiped off a smiley face & she started to fake cry . I guided her out in the hall , &shefaced the wall . She stood against the wall & bounced a couple times, clenching her fists - I turned her around &she said , "sad , " Isaid Kat are you sad ? Yes . Tell Mrs.L. why you are sad . She answered "sheep" & smiled . Now , do you know what " sheep " could mean ? I said " Don't be sad " & hugged her . She smiled again , I asked if she's ready to go back in & she answered YES !

On the clock page, #179 , I checked the one she got wrong . It was all the 1/2 hr times . She was an hour ahead of the time .(ex : a reading of 4:30, she wrote 5:30 .) I corrected them w/ her. She wasn't too happy about that ; whimpered at 1st ,then complied . Does she do that at home also ? Let me know . Have a good day!


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2/7 Hi E., Lately she has been pretending she is Cinderella. She will sob with real tears and we ask her what what are you and she responds " I can't get to the ball." or she pretends she is little Bo peep who lost her sheep . If she does that tell her "no crying now, it's time to work." Comforting her just prolongs it , and since she is acting just treat it like you did or like other behaviors.

The clock has been aproblem with the worksheets . We will try and change the worksheets .

I talked to J.R. he said he would get back to me Wed. or Thurs.


Ps.I will try to include a surprise in the bag for her . so that you can have another option for surprise

2/7 Hi ! When I opened up the black notebook & sawthebag w/ SURPRISE written on it , the same time I saw it Kat yelled " SURPRISE " ! All the kids looked over ! What's the surprise , they wanted to know. Believe it or not , Er. told them : when she's good & gets all smiley faces she get a prize :

* I don't have any dictionary papers for her , so I used her other paper .

When I handed her the 1st packet , she leafed through it & practically threw the clock page onto my table - whimpering all the while. I put it back in the pile , at the bottom & told her we'll do it together . She quieted down & began to work. When she got to the paper, she started it on her own , but was selective about which ones she did first . Obviously she did the ones she knew & then went on to the more difficult ones. Ipeeked over her shoulder to see how she was doing & she seems to be getting confused w/ the big & little hands (hour & minute ) & the placement of the hour hand when the time is 1/2 hr . Did I explain that right? I circled the ones she missed .

She was doing alot of singing today ; having her finger in her one ear & staring ahead& singing . I must have spoken to her 6 times ! Other than that she worked & behaved well& had a great day. By the way, she loved your surprise !


P.S. - The 2nd set of clock papers that she did - she bombed ! As I said she is all mixed up for some reason . I try to talk to her& explain but she won't or can't listen to me . She is an hour ahead of the correct time & when I try to tell her , Is it 1 : 00 yet , " she'll say YES, when the clock shows 5mins . to 1 : 00 (12:55) & she writes 1 : 55 )Then I'll say - "It's not 1 :00 yet it's just before " but I don't think she understands. Can she count by 5's? Maybe that will help her.

Hi E. , I took all the clocks out ! We will troubleshoot again. Kat does not like to be wrong or should I say " be corrected " . I'm not sure if it's because she does not understand why something is wrong when we try to explain it . Today I put raisins in her surprise bag. I will try to keep it to different items so that she does not expect books all the time.

Did you get a copy of the report Melissa did on Kat's progress ?


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2/8 Hi ! Everything is going OK this AM . I did not receive Melissa's report . Was it through CST or from you ? I'd be anxious & interested to see it . Interesting behavior note - Kat was seated sideways at her desk looking through a catalog , & C. came over, hung up her coat , turned around& said , " Kat I like your boots." Well , Kat jumped up , scrunched up her face, yelled , clenched her fists & jumped up & down a few times ! All the while C. stood there gaping ! I said, "Kat, C. said she likes your boots . " "What do you say ? (I totally ignored her wild behavior , but I put my hand on her arm & other hand on her chin so she would haveto look at me while I spoke )she then relaxed & smiled , then said "Good morning C. " And then we started the conversation all over again & it ended w/ Kat saying "Thank you ." Whew ! ! I don't know when set her off but I think I handled it OK. You had said that your teaching her to ask people 3things ? Maybe we can try that here , getting her to ask specific things to a certain child . Does she wait for an answer & then respond ? Does she respond to compliments? Please let me know . Thanks . By the way , J. went to speak to Mrs. Bl.'s class today , so she'll be set to start library next week .

During her break between worksheets , the " girls " took her to the reading corner, sat her on pillows & played school w/ her . She loved it . They read to her, asked her questions ,talked w/ her & she had a good time ! Ask her about it !

See you tomorrow .




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2/9 Hi E., I am not sure why she responded that way . She reacts usually that way if she is busy having fun and she thinks you are going to make her work in some way . She misunderstands what is being said to her . I think you responded great . Kat is usually ok unless demands are placed on her . If you find that she is showing higher levels of frustration you may want to let her finish the worksheets even if she does them incorrectly and just make it up for us . We will either pull the worksheet out or work more on the item she has problem with . Almost like a test each time .

When does she sing more during worksheets or during free time ?

I will wait to next week to stop in maybe on the day of the library?

2/9 Next week would be fine . She seems to be singing more during worksheets. However, when I pick her up in the morning , she will sing almost all the way down to the room . In fact today , she was singing The 12 days of Xmas.

Comp Tues 9 : 10 - 9 . 40

Library - 9 : 50 - 10 : 20

She said during computers today, " Melissa is coming today ? " I repeated it back to her as a question & she said " Yes " & smiled . Everything went OK in computers .

Back in the room

During work time - (dictionary &calendar) she sang " Somewhere out there " , waved her arms ( she was flying , she told me) made noises w/ her tongue &lips (kind of a clucking noise ) & was generally behaving " different ". I wiped off 2 smiley faces but she continued w/ this behavior . I even took her out in the hall &did exercises to no avail ! I guess she was having an off day . She worked for a few minutes at a time , had wierd behaviors , went back to work . It took her agood 10 mins to complete the dict . page . It wasn't that she was frustrated , it was that she wasn't attending . It seems there was some outside or" inside " stimulus that set her off . At one point she jumped up & grabbed me ! When she looked at themath dot page - she said NO ! & handed it to me . However, not one to be daunted , I turned it around & did the 1st 3 w/ her . I asked how many dots she told me , I wrote . I asked 1 + 2 = ? She said 3 . I wrote the answer . She did the rest of that side w/ me . I then took it away from her. She sang alot this AM & also had alot of arm movements . You will see only 3 smiley faces because her beahviors were too bizarre . She even was giggling while working on her papers . Have a great day .


2/9 E. , May be try showing her the surprise bag (leave itout in sight but don't show her what's in it) & leave out smiley face sheet in sight . Sometimes I just point to the smiley face as a warning & she behaves better . When she came back I showed her the surprise bag but did not showher what's in it and did not give it to her . I pointed that she did not get the smiley faces . She was not too happy about it . The math sheet she does at home by herself she makes mistakes sometimes but I don't correct her ,insted during the drills we will focus more on the ones she is having problems with.

The smiley faces realy seem to work well at home . How often does she earn the surprise ? Maybe you can increase the reward frequently and give her more rewards like a walk ?


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2/10 Hi ! Well , she came off the bus very happy & saying something about "Mother Goose " & clutching her 3 Look & Find books in her hands . Our routine is :

Mrs. L. - Good Morning Kat

Kat - " " Mrs . L.

Mrs. L.: How are you ?

Kat - I am fine ,thank you .

We don't go anywhere until she says all this, while making eye contact w/ me. This AM, she couldn't get past " Good Morning Mrs. L." - over & over again . So after a few tries, we walked &then stopped in the hall &tried again . This time she told me I'm 8 yrs old . I repeated my question - she looked away as if she was thinking , looked back at me &said 'Iam fine Thank you '. I praised& hugged her, she grinned broadly & off we went to class. I did as you suggested ; showing her the surprise bag , and leaving the smiley face on her desk& pointing to them . During her calendar & dict . work, she would stop - bounce around in her seat as if she was moving to rhythmic music , and once she even stood up & " danced ". I corrected her & pointed to the smiley face & she slowly went back to work . ( It's now 9 : 35 )

She picked out a library book yesterday " Berenstain Bears& Junk Food ". Please send it back on Monday or Tuesday, as she starts library next week & can't take out a book if the previous one is not returned .

When I gave her free time to look at her books, she would take my finger & point out all the characters . " Mommy is Mother Goose & M . G . is Barnaby . " !

In between sheets (when she finishes one , moves it over & gets ready to start another ) she takes her pencil & " flies " it around her head area , like a plane . I take her hand & redirect her to her work . Does she do this at home ?

You asked about the "surprise? She getsit when she's ready to go home ; a reward for being "good at school. " Do you want me to do it differently? Possibly have 2 rewards ? Up to now ,she's been alright w/ this . She looks forward to turning over the smiley face chart to see what her surprise is . She loves to hold her hands out for her pretzels . It's her cue that she's done a good job .

We took a walk between worksheets today . She ran ! down the hall laughing & giggling . I called after her not to run but I think she needs to let loose w/ all the energy she has . We were out about 10 mins &came back to work . She started up again OK . but again in between papers she did the pencil thing again & she would stop. I said hand down & she resumed working . This happened about 3 times during the 2nd group of papers .

The rest of the time she was fine - see my notes on her worksheets. I'll see you next week . I gave her her surprise & she said "Melissa ! " Chr. offered to take her to the bean bags& read her new book & Kat and 3 girls all sat & read together . It was great !


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Hi ! How is everyone ? Don't forget - if you want to come , the Valentine's party is tomorrow from 2 - 3 . I'll try & stop down if I can . She has been singing , humming & talking all morning ! Especially when working , not when reading. Is the notebook home ?

Imade up a new " surprise " happy face sheet -the other one was falling apart . Tomorrow is library at 9 : 50. I guess I'll see you around 9 : 30 ? I'm taking Kat today to Mrs. Bl.'s room to meet everyone. I'll keep her library book w/ me to return tomorrow .


* Library is Wed not Tues . see you them ,same time !

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2/14 Hi, Happy Valentines day ,

Sorry I forgot this notebook yesterday. Kat & I will stop over for Valentine's day party. Did you get a chance to talk to Mrs. Br. about some names of the children?

Hi ! Yes I did , however , something like that , when it involves another child should come from J.R. I passed all the info onto K.D. & she in turn spoke or will speak to J. It seems it's more involved than just having a child come over after school & playing ( so I'm told!) so John should be contacting you about it & then you can get the ball rolling ! We gave out all the valentine cards& candy .

*While working , I left my seat to go across the room & Kat got up & went over to the pencil sharpener all by herself ! Of course she needed help pushing the pencil in while turning & one of the girls helped her w/ that . Isn't that fantastic?! I was soo pleased ! ! When finished I had her thank the person helping her - " T . Y. for helping me . " That part was hard but worth it ! !

She worked reallyhard this morn w/ a min. amount of silly talk , humming , etc. She seemed really focused !

By the way, when I helped her pack up her bookbag ,I noticed 3 Strawbridges bags ,but no notes, & I couldn't make out who they were for, & didn't want to give out the wrong gift to the wrong person , so I sent them back & I'll see you later re : them . OK ?

Have a good day & see you around 2 : 00.



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2/15 E.

Kat had a great time at the party. she was so happy she was going and the whole night she kept saying "happy " .

I will see you later . good luck with the library. Bring the " smiley " sheet with you . And show it toher


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2/16 Hi Ellen ,

That was great ! I couldn't believe my eyes that she was participating in Mrs. Br.'s class and paid attention. I thought about 50 - 60% of the time . But the library real surprsied me . When she started to imitate the other children sounds & hard movements. I couldn't believe it . And then, she raised her hand when other children raised their hands to answer the questions. she realy tried to imitate the other kids. We didn't teach her those things at home . I hope that yesterdaywas a beginning of things to come .


Hi !

Yesterday was wonderful ! She did such a super job in library , that even Mrs. Ro. came into my room later in the day to say how well it went . I think we all were preparing for the worst just in case ! But it turned out great ! ! I don't think we'll have a problem with her & library . Mrs. Bl. said she was thrilled ; her class felt so happy & proud to be able to help other children . All around it was wonderful ! !

Kat is just zipping through her worksheets today . There still is a little "extra : noise w/ it . She completed her calendar, dictionary & 3 sets of worksheets . She played a computer game w/ B.

Have a good day !


* She loved her "pagemaster" toy . Er. asked to see it & after some prompting she relinquished it & let him hold it !

P.S. By the way - while at the computer , she was repeating the daily announcements : " I pledge " . . . & then she waited " Please remain standing for the nat'l anthem " , then started singing , & " Have a happy Hamilton Day ! " .

February 16, 1995

Dear E. ,

Just a note to say " Congratulations! " for helping to make Kat's library experience such a success. Danuta told me all the goodnews yesterday - thanks to you for you big part in making it happen .

Here are a few questions that you might begin to ask Kat in school when you feel it is appropriate . " R " means the response (s) she has been taught so you know what to expect or how to prompt her if necessary . If she does not respond within 10 to 15 seconds ,simply say " No " in a neutral tone and repeat the question . Do this twice before prompting the answer for her . She is generalizing so many new responses while at home that I feel it is time to give some of these a try at school . Let me know if they are working for you and we can proceed fromthere .


What is it ? (point to specific object) R -----> (Response) It is a _______.

Who is it ? (point to specific object) R -----> (Response) It is a ( person only ) .

Where is it ? (point to specific object) R ------> (Response) It is ( prepositions known) the _______.



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Hi ! I'm reading her report you sent in & am finding it very interesting! In fact, drill #6, (impossible tasks ) was tried out this AM . We went to the bathroom & when finished I asked her to turn out the light . She said yes & looked around for a switch . (There aren't any ! ) She looked at me & said, I can't . I said why not . Because there aren't any _______ & then she stopped. I said " There aren't any light switches ? She said yes & I had her repeat what I just said . 15 mins later Mrs. Br. & I went back to the girlsroom & I had Mrs. Br. ask the same question . Kat's answer was perfect ! " Because there aren't any light switches . " When I do the dictionary w/ her I tell her the dict . word & ask what does _the word_ begin with ? She is always correct !

Imade a copy of the report for Mrs. Br. to read & for me to re-read again & if there is anything specific you want me to do or try , just let me know, OK ?

Have a nice weekend & I'll see you next week .



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Hi ! So far Kat is having a super day . ( 9 : 40 ) This continued all morning . We ran out of time on the 3rd packet .


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2/22 Hi We were running late yesterday and I didn't get a chance to write. I am enclosing a note from Melissa. Another idea you may try is when Kat asks you for something you can send her to another person. For example :

" Kat:Mrs. L. May I have a book please.

Mrs. L, : I don't know ,ask Er. .

Kat: Er. , may I have a book please.

Er. : Sure Kat here is a book :

So that she asks children forhelp.

Should we get together with J. and Mrs. Br. to set next goal ?

Good luck with library


Hi ! Thanks for all the info on questions to ask & correct responses from her . In fact - I had her ask J. for a pencil, and she did - beautifully . She seems to enjoy the word search papers . Also , she only wanted to write in pen today . I had her put the pen away & take out her pencil & she sat in her seat , bounced up& down & she scrunched up her face to become angry . I pointed to the smiley face & she stopped bouncing & pulled out her pencil . She did not whimper or make any unhappy noises , just facial expressions .

By the way , I love her haircut ! OK - now we're off to library (9:45). I'll let you know how things went . We're back ! A little fidgity at first . Had to sit on the floor facing her to keep her still . Smiley face sheet was in her hand . 1/2way thru the story she started to focus on the book & look at it & not around her. After that she was fine! (Mrs. Ro. did a 5 - 10 min . intro on publisher & copy rights ,etc which loved her.)

Are you coming in this week ?

Have a great day !


P.S. Have her show you the sticker she got from library !

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2/24 I would like to come over Friday, If that's ok. I was wondering if it would be ok to videotape Kat at school? OR do we need to go through approval process. It would be great for Tom & other therapists to see Kat at school.


Hi ! In order to videotape in the classroom, you must get permission from the principal , etc. I checked w/ the office & should have an answer by tomorrow when I see you . Kat did weill in computers this morn . , but back in the class , it was hard for her to do her work . She became easily distracted over the slightest thing & had alot of silly talk . I had to redirect her to her work about 4 times. All in all she had a good day . Nothing out of the ordinary - she's a hard worker !

See you tomorrow .


* At 10 : 20 she put her finger in her ear & yelled something out . I immed. wiped off a smiley face & she cried " NO SILLY TALK ! " & finished her work. Funny, Er. looked at me & said, " Boy , you're really serious w/ this smiley face thing aren't you?" I explained to him that just as he must have appropriate behavior & sounds in school ,so must she. He nodded in agreement . It's funny how they just accept her - no strings attached .

*The Blow Pop is from Brandon -he wasn't here for Valentine's Day.

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2/27 Hi , Kat had a great weekend . We have worked on eye contact a lot . When we talk to Kat and she does not look we'll say no & repeat it again. Even if she turns her eyes away in middle of our sentence we will say no and repeat our sentence . When she is responding and she is not looking at us we will interrupt her as soon as we loose eye contact and we'll say " Say it better." We don't use look at me at all . A lot of family members have not seen Kat for a year or two and they all were commenting about the changes she is making . This was at a family birthday party . Kat danced the day away. She tried chicken dance, limbo & any "train" she would get on. She was laughing and observing she had a great time .


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Hi Danuta,

It's me, T. E. is absent today . I'm not familiar with "Dictionary " and "Surprise " so I didn't attempt either . I 'll ask E. to fill me in so I can keep to the routine .

Kat had a super day - Appropriate behavior in classroom , indoor fire drill and bathroom . She breezed through her work . I'm amazed at how eager she is to do her work.