Reading skills are one of the most important and basic set of skills toward your child's success. It can be a fun and imaginative activity for children and opens doors to all kinds of new worlds for them.

Offshoot Kids believes kids should have fun when they are learning. The quirky publishing company produces carefully structured and level-appropriate storybased books that are the perfect stepping stones for 3-5 year-olds. They focus on making learning fun. These books keep children entertained while educating, delighting, and sparking imaginations. See what books Offshoot thinks you should be reading with your child.

1. That's My First: Three book series - Book of First Words (pictured), Book of Animals and Book of Numbers. These books introduce young learners to new words and numbers through rhymes and beautiful illustrations. All the three books are developed as a visual dictionary because what a child sees, he remembers.

2. To Stick is to Learn: Two book series Amazing Alphabet and Naughty Numbers. In addition to beautiful illustrations and rhymes, these books focus on the concept of learning by repetition. The child sees the same letters and numbers highlighted and used various types and subconsciously internalizes the formation and usage of the letters and numbers.

3. The Un-alphabet Series: Two book series - How I learned My Language and How I learned My Language II. As the name suggests, both the books in this series are developed on the more usable and easily understandable format of learning to write simpler letters first. This series does not take the child through the traditional method of teaching A to Z in that order, but focuses on helping the child form letter stroke by stroke. These books also have quite a few tips for the parents on how to engage the child more productively.

4. The Baa-Baa Series: Two book series That's How We Say It and I See I Learn. The two books on sight words and phonics are created to introduce the child to basic sounds and words in a systematic manner.

5. Ten Little Stories: This book takes the child from numbers 1 through 10 in rhymes. Each number is given seven pages. The child sees and reads the number time and again and internalizes it.•

Fullerton School District & Fullerton Cares Open New Sensory Room for Special Ed Students

Fullerton School District announces its new sensory room at Sunset Lane Elementary School opening in Fall of this year, with school-wide trainings and presentations being held August 11.

The sensory room is in a permanent classroom featuring many of the most hightech and evidence-based sensory tools designed by educators and occupational therapists for regulation of the senses and behavior, including sensory swings, a "cushy corner" and more.

Fullerton Cares makes donations raised through grassroots fundraising efforts and corporate community support. Fullerton Cares, along with corporate and community supporters, presented and committed upwards of $10,000 at the March Fullerton School District in support of the creation of this space, which is now opening less than six months later.

The idea for this project came from within the school site itself, with Sunset Lane Elementary Special Day Class teachers Amy Jahn and Karina Tran working hard to make this dream a reality. Fullerton Cares received recognition from the CA Assembly for their "commit ment and dedication to providing support for autism programs throughout the Fullerton School District" from Sharon Quirk Silva of the 65th district and presented by Fullerton School district Board President Hilda Sugarman.

Said Sugarman of the founder Larry Houser: "Fullerton Cares and Founder Larry is an angel in our community. Here's a parent who was given someone special as a child and thought 'I'm going to take this opportunity to make it better for all families.'"

Fullerton Cares Board Director Summer Dabbs said, "I want to thank the teachers for recognizing there was a need for this [sensory room] at their school."

Dr. Tracy Gyurina, principal at Sunset Lane said, "I just wanted to thank Fullerton Cares and our partnerships for everything you are doing to support our vision…helping us realize our dream."

Fullerton Cares Founder Larry Houser, a dad to a child with autism himself, says of the sensory room, "Fullerton Cares is deeply appreciative of the outpouring of community support to spread autism awareness and raise funds for local autism initiatives. This donation to the Fullerton School District is truly a community effort illustrating the passion in our community for including all people of all abilities."

Awareness, acceptance and action are the pillars of Fullerton Cares, a nonprofit spreading autism awareness throughout North Orange County founded by Lawrence Houser, after being inspired by his son, Boyd, with autism. Raising funds for autism charities and programs in Fullerton schools through organized awareness and entertainment events, Fullerton Cares was founded in 2010 and has raised over $75,000 for autism initiatives. Visit them online at fullertoncares.com or on Facebook at facebook.com FullertonCaresAutismFoundation

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), autism now affects about 1 in every 68 American children affecting communication, social relationships, and is often accompanied by behavioral challenges.


On Saturday, June 17, competitors from the United States and Canada met in Los Angeles at the University of Southern California (USC) for the 17th Annual Braille Challenge® Finals Competition, the only national reading and writing contest in braille for students who are blind and visually impaired. Sponsored by Braille Institute, the Braille Challenge is an academic competition designed to motivate students and emphasize their study of braille, while rewarding their success with fun-filled, challenging events. Knowing that braille literacy is essential for success of youth with low to no vision, Braille Institute developed the two-stage annual competition to encourage school-age children to fine tune their braille skills and celebrate their accomplishments. This year more than 1,100 braille readers participated in one of 51 preliminary regional events across the US and Canada.

"The Braille Challenge is a hallmark program for Braille Institute and our donors as it focuses on braille literacy, while supporting children with vision loss in communities across the country and in Canada to strengthen their academic skills and develop life-long friendships," said Peter Mindnich, President, Braille Institute. "This year, by bringing the event to the campus of USC, we created reallife opportunities for the best of the best braille readers and writers to experience life on a college campus. This is especially important because statistics show that many children who are blind or visually impaired struggle to make the leap to secondary education. Through the Braille Challenge we see participants blossom knowing that they can accomplish anything they set out to do."

Understanding how essential braille literacy is for success in the sighted world, Braille Institute developed the two-phase, annual competition as a way to encourage children who are blind and visually impaired to fine tune their braille skills and celebrate their accomplishments.

"This year, by moving the Braille Challenge to the USC campus, we were able to offer the 50 finalists and their families their first taste of what college life will be for them," said Sergio Oliva, MPA, Director, Programs and Services at Braille Institute. "Our 'Braille Challenge Village' on campus experience helped to demystify higher education and foster discussion about a successful high school transition to college."

Autism Science Foundation Announces 2017 Research Accelerator Grant Recipients

The Autism Science Foundation, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to advancing innovative autism research, recently announced the recipients of its 2017 Research Accelerator Grants. These grants are designed to expand the scope, speed the progress, increase the efficiency, and improve final product dissemination of active autism research grants. This year's award recipients are Antoinette Sabatino DiCriscio, PhD., of the GeisingerBucknell Autism & Developmental Medicine Institute at Bucknell University, and John Strang, PsyD, of the Children's National Medical Center and the George Washington University School of Medicine. "Our accelerator grants allow researchers to maximize the impact of ongoing and promising autism research," said Autism Science Foundation Chief Science Officer Alycia Halladay, PhD "By providing additional support for these important research initiatives, ASF will help scientists find answers for families more quickly and efficiently."

Dr. DiCriscio's research is focused on the pupil's response to light and other stimuli, called pupillometry, which serves as biomarker for arousal state, attention, and cognitive effort. The expansion or contraction of the pupil differs in people with autism compared to those without ASD. The mag nitude of the pupil response also falls on a spectrum with some people showing a huge response and others showing a more moderate response. In this way, pupillometry could help define individuals with autism across a range of symptoms, expanding our diagnostic capability beyond a single "yes" or "no" classification. The ASF accelerator grant will enable collection of pupillometry data from a subset of participants in an existing genetic study of individuals with autism who have known de novo copy number variations, so that the genetic basis of pupil response can be better understood. The pupillometry data will be compared to behavioral features of ASD to directly examine its relationship to autism symptoms. Better understanding of this biological basis of differences across behaviors in people with autism will improve diagnosis and intervention efforts, help define different subtypes of autism, and ensure each person receives the most appropriate treatment as quickly as possible.

Dr. Strang is expanding his research examining two different interventions for autism focused on social skills and executive function in middle school-aged children. The longer term post treatment follow-up of an additional four months will enable the team to collect data on both the immediate and longer term impacts of these interventions on autistic behaviors in the classroom and allow researchers to obtain feedback from parents and individuals with ASD about their experiences and impressions. Most research projects are only funded to track post-intervention outcomes for a limited time after the study period is over. In addition, study-based interventions are delivered in a controlled setting and generalization to other, more natural environments is typically unknown. •