2022 Winter | Wildcat Chronicle

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PLANNING FOR THE FUTURE Westview embarks on a strategic plan to guide the future of the school

THE VALUE OF SERVICE-LEARNING How Westview can connect and build community through acts of service

WONDERFUL WESTVIEW ALUMNI Our Westview alums are doing so many great things!

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MESSAGE FROM THE HEAD OF SCHOOL Dr. Koch opens our Winter Westview Chronicle with a message to our community.


A LOOK TO THE FUTURE Westview's goal to be "the best little school on the planet" takes direction as we continue the work on our strategic plan.


WELCOME TO WESTVIEW Our staff has grown, and Westview welcomed many new faces for the 2021-2022 school year.


A HISTORY OF FOUNDER'S DAY Each October, Founder's Day celebrates Jane Stewart and remembers the special start to Westview.


WALK FOR APRAXIA Tiffany Bridis Indiero shares a thank you message to Westview for their annual support of this charity walk.


POW TRUNK-OR-TREAT Our annual family event was back on campus in the fall, and it was a spooky blast for all!


THE VALUE OF SERVICE-LEARNING 1830 Principal Dr. Laura Casper-Teague shares her insight on how service-learning can be an educational benefit to Westview students.

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POSITIVE CHANGES FOR PREKINDERGARTEN Pre-K adopts a new curriculum that will better prepare our students for Kindergarten using a multisensory approach that supports all learning levels. SCOUTING AT THE WESTVIEW SCHOOL Learn more about Troop 609, a part of Westview since 2010.

THE HOW, WHEN, AND WHAT TO TELL YOUR CHILD ABOUT THE DIAGNOSIS OF AUTISM Tracy Reese shares her insight on the how, when, and what to tell your child about the diagnosis of autism. 2021-2022 STUDENT COUNCIL ELECTED New members of our Westview Student Council were elected in October 2021. WONDERFUL WESTVIEW ALUMNI NEWS Our Westview alumni are doing amazing things!


SIMPLE THERAPY TRICKS TO TRY AT HOME The Stewart Center therapists share some therapy strategies that are simple to try at home.


2021-2022 ANNUAL FUND DONORS Thank you to all our donors for supporting Westview this year.

OUR MISSION is to provide a unique, specialized, and nurturing learning environment offering outstanding educational and social opportunities for children on the autism spectrum. OUR VISION is to provide a learning environment that is sensitive to the social, emotional, and academic needs of children with autism to ensure that they have opportunities to reach their full potential. OUR BELIEF is that when children with autism are educated in a nurturing and supportive environment, they learn, grow, and develop a strong sense of self and an appreciation for others. ​

message from the head of school BIG DREAMS + BRIGHT FUTURES

Dear Westview families, In a year and a half, we have accomplished so much. This issue of the Wildcat Chronicle will highlight some of these accomplishments. We have a comprehensive strategic plan that was developed with input from all members of the community. We have adopted a new science program to ensure our students have opportunities to develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills. We have secured outside funding for a new social-emotional curriculum called Fly Five. We have applied for and received funding for high-quality professional development for our staff. We have strengthened our relationships with other special schools to ensure partnership and collaboration within the special needs community.

We have replaced a 15-year-old Prekindergarten curriculum to prepare our young students for Kindergarten better and beyond. We have grown enrollment to its highest level in five years resulting in the addition of new lower elementary and middle school classes. We have added two new members to our Westview Board of Directors. We have upgraded instructional technology across campus, including the provision of oneto-one Chromebooks for Middle School students. We have modified our Middle School schedule to better prepare our students for the transition to high school.

These are just a few of the great things happening at The Westview School, and it is just the beginning. Ask any teacher, and they will say it is our students that make their job at The Westview School worthwhile. We believe that when children are educated in a nurturing and supportive environment, they learn, grow, and develop a strong sense of self and an appreciation for others. We thank you all for your support as we continue our quest to become the “best little school on the planet.”

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A Look to the Future

A Strategic Plan to Guide Westview

The Westview School Board of Directors has a clear vision for our school. It is for us to be “the best little school on the planet.” The men and women who serve on our board have a long history with The Westview School, and autism is something near and dear to their hearts. Our trustees have a passion for our school’s mission and supporting us in serving our students. In the Spring of 2021, The Westview School began the process of strategic planning for the school. The goal of a strategic plan is to identify priorities that will guide our work for the next three years.


In April of 2021, surveys were sent to all families, staff, and our upper elementary and middle school students. We had excellent participation and engagement, and we appreciate everyone who took the time to share their hopes and dreams for The Westview School. Using surveys and focus



Strengthen the program for teaching social skills - 53.73% Partner with local organizations 49.25% Strengthen quality of teaching practice – 29.85%

groups, we were able to identify the key priorities

Increase financial aid – 29.85%

among the various groups within our community.



The priorities identified by each group were closely aligned and helped us identify the most important things for our community. For example, when asked, “What three areas should The Westview School strive to develop to achieve its goal of being the premier school for children with

Strengthen the program for teaching social skills – 60.98% Partner with local organizations (colleges, business, nonprofits) – 43.90% Strengthen the quality of teaching practice – 39.02%

ASD in the region?” A Place Where You Fit | Winter 2022

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Individuals who completed the surveys were offered an opportunity to provide additional insights by participating in focus groups facilitated by the consultant. There were nine focus groups: 5 with families, 3 with staff, and 1 with the Board of Directors. These semi-structured conversations helped increase our understanding of the quantitative data provided in surveys. As with the surveys, the focus group conversations included some common themes.

FAMILY PRIORITIES INCLUDE: Enrich programs Improve facilities Develop a high school

STAFF PRIORITIES INCLUDE: Improve compensation and benefits Improve professional development (especially for technology) Improve facilities Develop a high school

BOARD PRIORITIES INCLUDE: Board development and succession planning Improve facilities Improve transition to high school and/or develop a high school

With a wealth of quantitative and qualitative data available, a core working group, consisting of all 6 Board members, Dr. Bevan Koch, Dr. Carol Harrison, Dr. Laura Casper-Teague, and Mrs. Amanda Warley, met with the consultants throughout August and September to develop a plan that addressed the key priorities identified throughout the process. For the next three years, we will increase our investment in Our People, Our Campus, and Our Students’ Futures.

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What Happens Next? Here are just a few of the things that are underway:

OUR PEOPLE: We have worked hard to secure outside funding to hire the Center for Responsive Schools to be on campus in February to train our staff in the Responsive Classroom. Our middle school teachers will be taking Intro to Blended Learning from the University of Texas.

OUR CAMPUS: This spring, we will identify a consultant to complete a feasibility study on the horizontal and vertical expansion of The Westview School. Plans for facilities improvements will be developed upon completion of the feasibility study.

OUR STUDENTS’ FUTURES: We secured funding from an EANS grant to purchase Fly Five, an aligned Social and Emotional Learning program designed by the Center for Responsive Schools.

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Welcome to Westview! Our Community is Growing

We are so thankful to our staff, new and old, who are committed to carrying out the mission of The Westview School. It didn't take long for these Westview rookies to learn exactly how special of a place our school is.
















It is the kids. I love seeing their contagious smiles every day and hearing all the creative things they come up with – never a dull moment! I have always heard great things about Westview, and now I feel blessed to be a part of the Westview Team! - Jessica Guerra What I love about working at Westview is being around the amazing students and staff! - Kashif Khan


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Westview is a beautiful layout for students to learn, play, and grow. The kids motivate me every day and I love seeing their smiling faces. The teachers are very professional and friendly, and they do a great job of working with the parents. - Chelsea Luviano I am so grateful for our staff! I am in complete awe watching these superheroes work their magic on our kiddos; always striving to provide a nurturing learning environment and a safe place where our children feel loved, special, happy…and they can absolutely shine! - Kim (Sunshine) Stafford

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Celebrating Jane Stewart A Look Back at Founder's Day Each October, The Westview School celebrates our founder Jane Stewart with Founder's Day. This annual tradition began in October 2011 following the death of Ms. Jane. Here is an excerpt from Donna Marshall's speech given in October 2011 for the celebration of the first Founder's Day. Donna's speech was the basis for the History of The Westview School video that is shown to our students each year in remembrance of Jane Stewart.

To all our brilliant students, to our wonderful teachers and staff, to our faithful parents, and to our visitors. Ms. Jane started The Westview School over 30 years ago. That is quite a long time ago. When Ms. Jane started our school, your moms and dads were still just kids, about as old as you are today. Some of your teachers were just babies. There were no video games yet, no cell phones, no home computers, and there were no special schools for children with autism. Ms. Jane started her school with just three little children in her kitchen. She helped our school grow and grow, and now we have a beautiful school with so many wonderful things like this auditorium and gym, our soccer field, the track, the OT lab and Speech rooms, two libraries, and so much more. She also planned for so many fun times for you, like Camp for All, LockIns, Parties, Playgrounds, Summer Camps, and many, many more. Today, we are here on Ms. Jane’s birthday to thank her for giving us this wonderful school. - Donna Marshall Message to Westview students. Founder's Day 2011

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1. The first Founder's Day, originally named Jane Stewart Day, was held in October 2011. Blue ribbons were hung on trees around campus in remembrance of Ms. Jane. (2011) | 2. Students express their creativity by creating a unique handprint to celebrate Ms. Jane and the Westview community - Joining Hands, Touching Lives. (2015) | 3. Pre-COVID years our students dressed in their Westview blue polos and would gather in Largent Hall for a short assembly to remember our Westview founder. (2016) | 4. Donna Marshall, Westview Head of School 2011-2020 and long-time friend of Ms. Jane, addresses the Westview student assembly on Founder's Day. (2016) | 5. We are thankful to Westview parent Jackie Howell for donating her time and photography skills to capture class photos on Founder's Day. (2021) A Place Where You Fit | Winter 2022

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thank You, Westview! A Message from Tiffany Bridis Indiero The Walk for Apraxia is an annual event that allows children with apraxia a time to shine and be celebrated for the hard work and countless hours of therapy it takes for them to find their voice. It also allows families throughout the Houston community to be among other families walking the same journey. The Westview School embodies the philosophy of caring for the whole child and supporting each family. And in that spirit, the school has hosted the walk for three years, quadrupling the funds raised, families in attendance, and Apraxia Stars recognized! While the walk itself is a celebration, the funds raised go towards educating professionals and families, facilitating community engagement and outreach, and funding research. Not only has Westview opened the doors of the school at no charge, but it provided tables, chairs, games, and volunteers that helped make the walk such a success! I am forever grateful to have been a part of the school, and no words can express my appreciation for what they are doing for these children trying to find their voice!

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trunk-or-treat A Spooktacular Event In October 2021, we welcomed a Westview favorite back to campus. The 4th Annual Trunk-or-Treat hosted by POW was a fun-filled morning for our Westview community. Thank you to POW for putting on a fantastic event for our families. It was an excellent kick-off to the Halloween weekend with gorgeous weather, yummy treats, and lots of creativity by our trunk participants.

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The Value of Service-Learning Connecting and Building Community Through Acts of Service BY: LAURA CASPER-TEAGUE, ED.D.

Martin Luther King Jr. often spoke on service. He said, "everybody can be great because everybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace, a soul generated by love." Service is simple. Education is not a requirement to serve. But combine the two - service-learning - and there is much a student can gain. Service-learning can benefit students because it connects them to the community and provides real-world and authentic experiences, leading to expanded career and personal interests, increased engagement with others, and development of skills. For a community to thrive, it requires citizens to be aware of and involved with the needs of the people living in the community. By assisting others, students become more conscientious of those around them. Instilling the value of providing service promotes the greater good and benefits more than oneself. Creating a habit of offering service to others at an early age can lead to ongoing and continuation of service work throughout life, thus increasing opportunities for people to connect and remain engaged with each other for extended periods. A Place Where You Fit | Winter 2022

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For many people with disabilities, once they age out of the school system, connections to others are lost or not as robust, leading to isolation. Loneliness and despair are not in the best interest of our community members. As social beings, connections and community are essential to social and emotional wellbeing. Service-learning is an opportunity for one to make a difference in others' lives, but it also enhances the well-being of the person providing the service. The Westview School values service-learning and actively plans and carries out projects to provide opportunities for students to give back to the community; this promotes friendship, character building, and empathy while building deeper connections with the community through service to others. One example of service-learning during the 2021-2022 school year was the annual collection of donations facilitated by Crystal Irvin, Middle School Social Studies Teacher, to support local families to have a holiday that would not have been possible without the generosity of The Westview School Community joining together to provide for others. The students caringly collaborated to plan purchases and shop for each family member based on personal needs.

They thoughtfully wrapped the gifts, and even though they were not the recipients of the gifts, they were rewarded with joy and camaraderie, representing the idea of connectedness so cherished and essential to a healthy and robust community.

Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?'

- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Service-learning is one way to build character while providing for others. Still, a well-rounded curriculum that promotes cross-disciplinary connections through academics and social-emotional well-being also promotes higher-order thinking skills. Through perspective-taking, reflection, and realizing how one's actions affect others, students can connect to and think critically about dilemmas, problems, and social issues explored in content areas such as science, literature, and social studies. This leads to deeper understanding and the ability to think logically, abstractly, and analytically about topics. The Westview School staff promotes the development of the whole child, which includes academics and social-emotional well-being. Service-learning is a supportive practice to develop empathy and service to others. It offers an opportunity for students to practice and generalize the social, emotional, and behavioral skills needed to successfully interact with others leading to more connections and meaningful relationships that transcend the school environment. The intent is to develop students' ability to foster longlasting friendships and partnerships to support and grow their personal success and benefit the greater good.

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Positive Changes Ahead PreKindergarten Adopts a New Curriculum Last year, Pre-K teachers and Dr. Bevan Koch, Head of School, and Dr. Carol Harrison, Lower School Principal, began an extensive search to replace the 15-year-old Pre-K curriculum. The group determined that Pre-K students needed to have a curriculum that prepared them for kindergarten and included multi-sensory materials that support all levels of learning. It was also crucial that the curriculum have a robust technology component that could be used in the classroom or online if needed for virtual learning. Many curriculum options were researched, and the committee chose five options to review in-depth. Pre-K teachers used samples from each program in their classrooms to see how well they met the needs of their students. The committee then met with representatives from each curriculum and systematically ranked each program to determine the best fit for their students.


After many hours of meetings, the Learning Without Tears (LWT)- Get Set for School PreK curriculum emerged as the obvious choice. Get Set for School is a research-based curriculum with lessons that address a wide variety of Pre-K learning and developmental standards. The curriculum uses hands-on, playful teaching strategies and multi-sensory materials to make learning fun and engaging for children. Through active participation, Pre-K students acquire and retain knowledge easily and effectively. The curriculum is comprised of three main components that help young children prepare for Kindergarten: Language and Literacy, Numbers and Math, and Readiness and Writing. A Place Where You Fit | Winter 2022

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Language and Literacy uses dramatic play, singing, fingerplays, manipulatives, and movement to teach children phonological awareness and pre-reading skills. This component also works on developing oral language and vocabulary. Students are introduced to rich literature to foster a love of reading, learn how books work, and build vocabulary. Numbers and Math develops problem-solving skills while teaching numbers and operations, measurement and time, and geometry and spatial relationships. Students play with concrete objects and test their ideas so that math becomes real and meaningful. Readiness and Writing teaches crayon grip, letter and number formation, social-emotional skills, and body awareness. This part of the curriculum is based on more than 25 years of success with the Handwriting Without Tears program. The Pre-K students at Westview

have benefited from the research

and due diligence of teachers and

administration to find a curriculum that is a perfect fit for our students.

Westview teachers and Occupational Therapists have long used Handwriting Without Tears to teach pre-writing and handwriting skills to our students. Writing requires many essential skills for school: physical, language, cognitive, social, and perceptual. Teachers and therapists use music, movement, and multi-sensory manipulatives to teach these core readiness skills within this learning area. Science and Social Studies lessons are also woven throughout the curriculum to spark the imagination of our students as they learn about the world around them. These lessons cover community, basic geography, self-care, plants, animals, and caring for the environment. A Place Where You Fit | Winter 2022

Get Set for School has been well-received by students this year. On any given day in Pre-K, you will see children interacting with Squawker the Parrot, a puppet who helps them develop vocabulary and use language to express their thoughts and feelings. You can also watch students enjoy a variety of sensory experiences while learning, such as playing with tactile literacy and math manipulatives or making letters and numbers with playdough. Students who previously disliked handwriting activities are excited to use the Pre-K Interactive Tool to write numbers and letters on the smartboard. The Pre-K Interactive Tool is a favorite of teachers as well, as it provides a variety of multimedia activities that can be used to reinforce lessons in the classroom. It has also proven to be an invaluable resource for teachers and students when the need to switch to virtual learning arises. Our students are continuing to develop the skills necessary for kindergarten, but they are doing so in new and engaging ways. Teachers have also benefited from the new curriculum by having more fun and easy resources to implement in the classroom. Just as they teach their students, teachers have learned that change can be a wonderful thing.

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Scouting at Westview ALL ABOUT TROOP 609


For more than 100 years, scouting programs have instilled the Scout Oath and Scout Law values in the youth of America. Today, these values are just as relevant in helping young children grow to their full potential as in 1910. Scouting helps youth develop academic skills, self-confidence, ethics, leadership skills, and citizenship skills that influence their adult lives. For children with special needs and their families, these stated goals can often feel out of reach – the stress of “differences” from neuro-typical or otherwise ‘able’ youth activities can be overwhelming. Troop 609 at The Westview School aims to ensure that ALL youth can have the opportunity to achieve all of these goals. The scouting program was introduced to Westview fourteen years ago with the founding of Cub Scout Pack 609. The Westview School founder, Jane Stewart, saw the value of the activities, skills, and peer socialization that the scouting program could bring to the Westview community.

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AGE RANGE: 11-21* Age of eligibility is 11-18 however certain youth with special needs can apply for registration beyond the age of eligibility

TROOP 609 EAGLE SCOUTS: Eagle Scout is the highest achievement or rank attainable in the Scouts BSA program of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA). Since its inception in 1911, only four percent of Scouts have earned this rank after a

Two years later, in 2010, Troop 609 was created to serve the needs of the boys in the Upper Elementary. Since that time, Troop 609 has been an active part of the Westview School community and the broader scouting community. From participating in the Westview Ice Cream Social, Trunk-or-Treat, and Family Fun Day to weekend campouts, service projects, winter camp, and summer camp, Troop 609 covers a vast spectrum of activities.

lengthy review process. Of our 6 Eagle Scouts, 3 are former Westview students

SKILLS LEARNED: First Aid, Camping, Cooking, Emergency Preparedness, Physical Fitness, Personal Management, Social Skills, Outdoor skills, and much more!

COMMUNITY SERVICE: Eagle Scout Projects (beneficiaries include The Westview School, The Houston Museum of Natural Science, The Periwinkle Foundation, Julian’s House Day Habilitation Center, and Katy Christian Ministries Food Pantry), Wreaths Across

Troop 609 meets at The Westview School on the 1st and 3rd Sunday of the month during the school year, from 4:00 PM to 5:30 PM. At these meetings, camping and other activities are scheduled for the troop throughout the month.

America, BSA Scouting for Food

PLACES VISITED: Houston area Council Camps (Winter Camp, Summer Camp, Weekend Camping), Texas State Parks (Goliad, Palmetto, Galveston, Brazos Bend), Out of State Summer Camps (Camp Pupukea, Oahu, Hawaii)

For more information, visit us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/BSATroop609, or email us at scoutmaster.troop609@gmail.com A Place Where You Fit | Winter 2022

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How, When, and What

To Tell Your Child about the Diagnosis of Autism BY TRACI L. JORDAN, PSY.D., L.S.S.P.

Children look to parents for strength and knowledge, and we strive to help our children cope with whatever life throws at them. That includes giving children the support and information they need by introducing critical topics as they grow and mature. When a child is diagnosed with autism, having ageappropriate information about their diagnosis may help them understand an essential aspect of their role in the world. You may worry that learning about a developmental diagnosis may cause them anxiety or self-doubt. You may be unsure about your child's ability to understand their diagnosis, especially if their language is still emerging or they are preverbal. Maybe you have just learned about their diagnosis and are in the early stages of educating yourself about autism spectrum disorder. Wherever your level of knowledge about neurodiversity, you are always the expert of your child. In making decisions about how, when, and what to tell a child about an autism diagnosis, trust your instincts! You can be sure children develop ideas about events in their lives, such as doctor and therapy appointments. A Place Where You Fit | Winter 2022

Talking directly about their autism diagnosis allows you to encourage questions about these events and ensures your child is learning from the most significant people in their lives. Perhaps the most crucial reason for generating discussions about autism spectrum disorder is to focus on strengths related to this diagnosis. We all need to establish a positive view of our individuality. There are times when all of us struggle to fit in and other times when we embrace our uniqueness. Therefore, cultivate a positive attitude about differences; emphasize that your family is not afraid to cherish differences. Preschoolers tend to focus on concrete, physical differences, such as height, so start with simple examples of family differences. As children grow, their awareness of individual differences tends to center on preferences; "you like football, your brother prefers swimming." By the time children are teens, a need to affiliate with others may come to the forefront. You might point out shared values family members embrace (e.g., honesty), as well as what makes each family member special (interests and appearance).

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There may not be a perfect age or time to talk to your child about autism. But, here are a few guiding principles:

Start with something familiar to your child—balance aptitudes with challenges. Draw attention to your child's keen ability to focus on a specific topic of interest. Next, point out that some children who have autism have a superpower focus allowing them to learn all about dinosaurs, the solar system, etc. When appropriate, however, you may want to remind them that "not everyone shares this superpower and may not be as interested in or knowledgeable about dinosaurs or the solar system as you are."


First and perhaps foremost, sooner is better than later. If you start early, it won't be a high-impact topic, and you talk about it the way you talk about other subjects. If you start early, you open the door for future discussion. If you start early, you can ensure your child gets accurate information directly from you. CONSIDER YOUR CHILD'S PERSONALITY

Second, take into consideration your child's personality. A child's ability to process and comprehend social sensitivities and curiosity are all considerations in what and how much you tell. Even if your child is too young to show an interest, older siblings can participate in the conversation. WATCH FOR YOUR CHILD'S CUES

Thirdly, children often signal by their questions when they are ready for the information. Questions give you a place to start because questions indicate your child is ready for the answers. Other children, however, may have similar thoughts but are not able or prepared to express them verbally.

Perhaps you will explain autism in the context of sensitivities: "loud noises are hard for you; some children who have autism have a difficult time with loud noises, let people know when you need a break." Also, explain that autism is a spectrum: "some children with autism do not use words to communicate; you really like to talk." Autism Speaks offers an abundance of resources for explaining autism to verbal children. If your child is preverbal, make the most of playtime and art to emphasize their strengths. Follow their lead and narrate their play to show appreciation of their interests. Find positive models they can identify with, such as Julia from Sesame Street.

Remember, explaining an autism spectrum diagnosis to a child is not likely a one-time talk; it is an ongoing process. Your child needs time to assimilate the new information about themselves at their own pace. Don't rush it; allow them to digest information in a manner that fits their needs. Weeks even months might go by before your child revisits the subject. When they do, be sure to maintain a matter-of-face, positive attitude; remember your child will mirror your perspective. WHAT TO EXPECT? Your child may understand autism differently as they get older and develop new questions. Maybe they want to know what to tell classmates about autism spectrum disorder. Give them a simple script, such as, "I have a hard time with loud noises. It is because I have autism. That explains why listening to the band is not always fun for me, and sometimes I need to go to a quiet place." IT TAKES A VILLAGE Consider involving siblings in the explanation process. Talking to a sibling about autism is much like telling your child who is on the autism spectrum, in that you talk about both talents and associated challenges ("your brother knows a lot about this specific topic; sometimes, he has to be reminded that not everyone is as fascinated by WWII fighting planes").

Children's books are terrific mediating steps for verbal and non-verbal children, providing children a safe way to project emotions. Books also take advantage of how children often learn best; by identifying with others. Two children's books you may want on your bookshelf: Uniquely Wired: A Story About Autism and It's Gifts, by Julia Cook, and The Superhero Brain: Explaining Autism to Empower Kids," by Christel Land.

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No legacy is so rich as honesty.

- William Shakespeare

Autism Speaks offers tips for helping siblings understand autism spectrum disorder ("A Sibling's Guide to Autism," 2018). What I love about their suggestions is that they normalize the needs and emotions of siblings. All siblings need time alone with their parents. All siblings experience ambivalent feelings toward their siblings. All siblings need to find activities they can share with their siblings and develop patience for their sibling's interests when they differ from their own. Many families choose to engage the assistance of a professional specialized in child development to facilitate the disclosure process. You may be your child's best advocate, but you can't always go it alone. A professional (e.g., child's doctor, therapist) tasked with educating the family about autism spectrum can provide objective information and recommendations for the entire family. They may also help you see things from your child's perspective and thus create the most supportive environment. You may even find your child's learning process mirrors your personal journey. Think back to the broad spectrum of emotions you experienced when you first learned of your child's diagnosis and the resources you mobilized and prioritized for your child's well-being. Now you can draw on these same resources to support and teach your child about their autism spectrum diagnosis. Your judgment and courage have taken you far in this process; trust your instincts. To paraphrase Mr. Fred Rogers, the freedom communication and honesty bring is "worth the trying."

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Tune in this Spring to Westview EDU, our education series for parents and caregivers of children with autism spectrum disorder. We have an excellent and informative lineup of sessions from both Westview and community experts with the knowledge to share. Visit us online for registration details.

FEBRUARY 3, 2022 GAMING AS A TEACHING TOOL Westview Principal Dr. Laura Casper-Teague and 1830 Building Faculty will discuss how gaming can be used in the classroom as a teaching tool. Learn about the new ClassCraft™ curriculum and how it facilitates learning and teamwork, plus strategies to encourage your child at home.

MARCH 3, 2022 PREPARING YOUR TEEN FOR NEXT STEPS Brandi Timmons, M.Ed, BCBA, LBA, Education Director at Social Motions Skills, will discuss strategies and programs for students transitioning into high school and young adulthood. She also looks at why it’s never too early to prepare.

APRIL 7, 2022 IS IT ADHD OR ASD? LEARNING THE DIFFERENCES Learn what ADHD and Autism have in common, key differences, and strategies to help develop essential executive functioning skills affected by both.

MAY 5, 2022 THE BIRDS AND THE BEES + KIDS WITH ASD Dr. Sarah Mire, Ph.D., returns to reprise her popular talk about puberty and adolescence for kids with autism and tips to help parents navigate this exciting and challenging phase. Page-22 | Wildcat Chronicle

And the winner is... Westview Student Council Elections were held for Westview Student Council in October 2021. Middle School students interested in being part of the Westview Student Council created posters, prepared speeches, and campaigned among their classmates. Public speaking can be a challenge, but our students came well prepared for election day, and the candidates spoke with confidence and poise in front of the entire 1830 student body. Following the campaign speeches, voting took place, and the following students were elected by their peers to represent Westview: Jackson (president), Max (vice-president), Finley (secretary), and Johnathan (treasurer). In his campaign speech, President-elect Jackson said that he was looking "to make a change and making a change requires good ideas." The first good idea for this group is planning a "Westview hangout." This event will be similar to socials from pre-COVID years. Student council members are planning and coordinating this event—everything from food to set-up to music selection. Stay tuned for more information.

JACKSON president

vice president




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Wonderful Westview ALUMNI NEWS




Sammy attended The Westview School from 2008 to 2012. He is a senior at Mirus Academy, where his favorite classes are economics and government. Sammy was accepted and will attend Columbia College in Chicago to study music production upon graduation. Sammy's Westview memories include having fun outside with friends and the first-grade lock-in, and he feels like Westview prepared him for his next steps in life. Sammy's advice to Westview students is, "Be who you are! Don't conform to what society wants you to be."

Cameron attended The Westview School from 2004-2013. He is a high school graduate of Gateway Academy. Post-graduation, Cameron held a working apprenticeship in Boulder, Colorado, at a store with a work experience program for young adults with disabilities. He currently lives independently in Colorado in a house with two other young men on the spectrum and a staff member from the Ascendigo program, which he attends in town. He is employed at the worldfamous Hot Springs as a greeter and pool cashier.


Eduardo most recently gave a TEDx talk about Asperger's encouraging acceptance of people with learning disabilities through a humorous delivery highlighting the similarities between all people.

A Place Where You Fit | Winter 2022

Eduardo was a student at Westview from 2013 to 2016. He attended Wesley Academy after a transition from Westview Middle School, and he currently lives in Dubai with his family. Eduardo is a senior at Dubai American Academy. His classes include a higher level international baccalaureate in English literature, world theatre, and global politics. Also, he played "TOM," the principal role in THE GLASS MENAGERIE for a local theater. He has traveled to Nepal and Cambodia to do social work with his school and has been a delegate for different countries with the MUN (MODEL UNITED NATIONS). He is applying for colleges in the US to follow his dream of becoming a journalist. His Westview memories include how fun and open the campus and playgrounds were, and he always felt encouraged by teachers who pushed him to be his best while forgiving him his challenges. Lessons learned at Westview helped Eduardo through many struggles and encouraged him to face my fears and function better in a neurotypical society. With gratitude, he said, "Thank you for standing by me and for making me grow. Thanks for making me believe in myself!" Page-24| Wildcat Chronicle




Ethan was a student at Westview from 2014-2017 for grades kindergarten to second grade. He is currently attending Spring Forest Middle School, where he enjoys math and science, and has recently joined the running club. Ethan has many interests, such as drawing and collecting Thomas trackmaster trains and putting together Legos. He stays busy over school breaks and participates in many area camps. Zoo camp, art camp, and cooking classes are just a few of the many things Ethan enjoys doing in his time off from school. His memories of Westview center around making friends. Ethan met his best friend Andres at Westview, and they are still friends to this day and do activities together. Westview taught Ethan the importance of "working together to do a great job at school."

Merce attended Westview for Upper Elementary. He currently attends high school at Xavier Academy, where his favorite things are tennis and chemistry, with geometry being a close third. Merce says that Westview's encouragement helped boost his confidence and move to the next adventure. He remembers the teachers being supportive and kind. He encourages Westview students to "push hard, and you can achieve your dreams."

Owen attended Westview from 2015 to 2019. He is currently attending high school in Denver, Colorado. Owen loves PE and lunch, works in the school library, is a member of the Unified Sports bowling team, and was part of his school's production of Peter Pan. When Owen is not busy at school, he loves to ride his bike everywhere and is learning to snowboard. Owen has many wonderful memories of his time at Westview, such as friends, lockins, and the haunted houses. "I remember it being fun with loads of nice people around me!" said Owen. Westview taught him the importance of hard work, making friends, and being a good friend. His advice to Westview students is, "Be nice to your teachers, and they will be nice to you. Also, when you are at a lock-in with Mr. Dawkins, try to beat him at Smash Bros!"


Owen and and his little brother started a hand sanitizer company with their mom named Mobply, supplying bottles to many area companies. Mobply has a mission to help others and gives back to the local community. A portion of each sale provides support autism families. Owen says the best thing about the business is "giving [hand sanitizer] away to those in need (and making money)." A Place Where You Fit | Winter 2022

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A simple and effective way to encourage communication with your child is to get down to their eye level when speaking to them. This shows your child that they have your full attention and you are ready ALEXANDRA NEVINS M.S., CCC-SLP

to engage.

TAKE A BREATH Deep breathing can be a signal to your brain to calm down. Encourage your child to take deep breaths by drawing on a sheet of paper with scented markers— model sniffing while taking a deep breath and ask them to try. Ask your child, "what did you smell?".



Use big emotions and dramatic play to help capture your child's attention and intrigue. Sing a silly song narrating an activity. Use a funny voice or puppet play to keep your child engaged.

JAMIE MACDONALD MOT, OTR A Place Where You Fit | Winter 2022

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FIRST AND THEN A simple way to motivate your child to complete challenging or non-preferred tasks is to use "first/then" language with "then" as the reward for getting the job done. For example, first, brush your teeth, and then play outside. ABBY COOK M.S. OTR


Follow-through is so important to establish trust and healthy boundaries between parent and child. You will also be modeling how to react and respond in those moments so make sure to have a calm and neutral tone of voice and body language to match! MIMI LE M.A., LMFT, LPC

FOCUS ON THE POSITIVE Focus on what the child can do instead of overemphasizing what they can't do. If your child has trouble saying a certain sound, e.g. (f), work on that sound alone.


Ask child-specific questions you know the answers to, e.g., what did you eat for lunch, what did you do today, where did you go today, etc.

JACQUELINE CASPER M.S. CCC-SLP A Place Where You Fit | Winter 2022

Once it becomes easier, incorporate it into syllables (fi-fi-fi / fafa-fa) before moving on to actual words that use it (fire, fall). LAUREN JOHNSON M.S., CF-SLP

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THANK YOU for your support Since 1981, The Westview School has always been a space where our students and their families could have big dreams. With a sensitivity to our student's social, emotional, and academic needs, Westview offers educational and social opportunities to children with autism spectrum disorder in a unique, specialized, and nurturing learning environment. The love and compassion Jane Stewart brought to the first Westview students in her home continues today on Kersten Drive. We see bright futures for each of our students. Westview is a place where our students can learn, grow, and develop a strong sense of self and an appreciation for others. Thank you to those who support our school through monetary donations.


PACESETTER $1000 - $2499

Clark and Charlene Thompson Foundation Susan Bettencourt Landmark Charities Tommy and Misty Cornell M.D. Anderson Foundation Robert and Judy Curran Margaret Dickson MAJOR BENEFACTOR Dr. and Mrs. Bernard Feldman $10,000 - $24,999 James and Deborah Gates The Pauline Altman Foundation Matthew Luke Hoeg - Betsy Goldstein Christopher and Anastasia Hogan Robert Boblitt James and Charlcie Hopkins Walter and Catherine Christopherson Nina Jezic The Ellwood Foundation George and Disa Lyon Gary Gregg Stephen and Susan Mahoney The George and Mary Jose Hamman Craig and Ann McDonald Foundation Trevor and Sara McGinnis The Junior League of Houston, Inc. Kathleen Ryan McLaurin The Mayfield Foundation Christopher and Ly Newcome Thomas and Mary Ryan Gary and Lee Rosenthal Alan and Lisa Stewart LEADER Joey and Laura Stewart $5,000 - $9,999 Robert and Margaret Szpak Robert and Joan Duff Nigel Willerton Albert and Ethel Herzstein Ryan and Laura Smith FRIEND The Wilkinson Family Foundation Inc. Up to $999 - Bruce and Suzanne Wilkinson Val and Linda Alfred Kristi Anders SPONSOR Joshua and Janette Babin $2,500 - $4,999 Robert and Kelly Baker Bayou City Road Runners Deniz Bozkurt Diana Brogdon Gena Brown Diego and Alejandrina Fraga Bill and Wendy Bruckner Matthew and Shannon Grigsby Betsy Buisson-Fusselman Mr. Paul and Dr. Namieta Janssen Rex and Karen Burch Glenn and Bevan Koch Michael and Rita Burke D.W. and L.K. Turner A Place Where You Fit | Winter 2022

Oralia Burks The Burns and McDonnell Foundation Jim and Susan Carr Sherri Carver Laura Casper-Teague Robert and Jackie Casper Michelle Chapa Bennett and Tanya Cook Roland and Teresa Cortez Jared Dawkins Mark Davidson and Sarah Duckers Taylor and Lina DeBarros Gerald and Sandra Desobe Don Dewalch Amy Douglas Steve Ellis Dayna Ellison Thomas and Lesha Elsenbrook Maia Felker Dr. and Mrs. Harold Fields Marie Fortenbach Thomas Frank Amy Girimonti and Christine Hobson Edward Goldsberry Hector Gonzalez Gavin and Elizabeth Gretter Sue Groth Susan Guarrine The Gural Family Charitable Fund Joel and Susan Hall Marian Hanvy Adrea Harris Mary Haydel Katie Hazeldine Donald and Elizabeth Henderson Page-28 | Wildcat Chronicle

Thomas Henderson Helga Hood Noah Horwitz Crystal Irvin Thomas Jennings Jeff and Faith Kangleser John Keeton Timothy and Jennifer Kelley Paul and Penny Khuri Ryan Koch Claudia LeBlanc Robert and Miriam Lin Mr. and Mrs. Sanford Lobliner Karen Louis Kate Lukaszewicz Humberto and Patricia Mancha Carolyn Means Gerald and Ann Melancon Brian Moeller and Rhonda Sherman-Moeller Todd and Leslie Mogil Bill and Cristina Moore John Moring Ann Morris Sylvester and Jackie Neely Jared Neely Network For Good Edward Neupert Lisa Okoh-Brown Trevie Pearlman Anne Peters Candi Pettit Sherri Pye Scott Ramsey George and Melanie Reeser Valerie Riback Danny and Shirley Ross Marilyn and Jessie Safarik Bob and Sharon Sartain Mariah Alexandria Schaefer Mr. Matthew G. Schmidt Judge and Mrs. William M. Schultz Giovanni Settonni Gayle Shadowens Manju and Priya Shetty Jon and Teresa Shipp Pat and Frank Simons Elizabeth Snell Leshia Terhune A.L. Morrice and Susan Thompson James and Stacey Thompson Donald John Trexler Jacquie Morris Tugwell

A Place Where You Fit | Winter 2022

Jamie Walczak Frederic Warner Danny and Kay Williamson Thomas Zalewski


Larry Bartell by Robert and Kelly Baker by Bennett and Tanya Cook Donita Choate by Jim and Susan Carr by Don Dewalch by Thomas and Lesha Elsenbrook by Marie Fortenbach by Thomas Frank by Elizabeth Snell by Gayle Shadowens Deborah Horwitz by Noah Horwitz Jane Thomas Smith by Mathew Schmidt Jane and Joel Stewart by Susan Bettencourt by Karen Louis by Stephen and Susan Mahoney by Kathleen Ryan McLaurin by Hector Gonzalez by Alan and Lisa Stewart by Joey and Laura Stewart Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this report and to recognize all gifts received. If any errors or omissions have been made, please accept our sincere apologies and notify Claudia LeBlanc, Business Manager at 713-973-1900 or cleblanc@westviewschool.org

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The Westview School 1900 Kersten Drive Houston, TX 77043 713.973.1900 www.westviewschool.org