Learning Tools & Ideas #4
Agenesis Corpus Callosum
What is so unique about this teaching tip?
Well, it comes from a pre-Kindergarten teacher,
Patty, and SHE has Agenesis of the Corpus Callosum!
When I created the Learning Tools & Teaching Tips
section on this blog I asked for input from a lot of
people in the ACC support groups that I belong to.
Patty sent a note and reminded me of the previous
input she shared, in her own ACC story, about the
midline exercises SMART program that she uses with
the students in her classroom.
And then today another pre-Kindergarten teacher, who
has a young nephew who was recently diagnosed with ACC,
read Patty's ACC story (and read the section of Patty's
story where Patty mentions and describes the midline
crossing exercise program) and the teacher posted a
comment regarding her interest in the SMART program!
I believe that Patty's input about the midline crossing
exercise program, from the standpoint and perspective of
a pre-Kindergarten teacher AND as an adult who has ACC,
is absolutely worth reposting here in this Learning Tools
and Teaching Tips section.
I hope that you will, too. Please read it for yourself...
PATTY TALKS ABOUT THE SMART PROGRAM:
It is very evident to me that Patty is a dedicated
teacher who cares about helping her students learn
and I have seen her passion for teaching and helping
kids/students take place before my own eyes.
Patty belongs to one of the same ACC online e-mail
support groups that I belong to. In fact, just
recently Patty reached out to the parent of a young
child who has Agenesis of the Corpus Callosum who
was asking for help with her child's learning needs
and challenges. Patty gave advice to the parent and
offered specific, detailed teaching methods and ideas
to try. Along with Patty's specific reply to the parent
she also included this information:
"If you stimulate the different hemispheres of the
brain with crawling activities and stretching across
the body activities, the brain will begin to be
Even with having a ACC-C myself. I have found that
these midline crossing activities help my cognition
to engage better that day, and I am the teacher!
Look into a local S.M.A.R.T. training program near you.
The program is for struggling students in the early years.
The program is very hands on and was designed by some
people who had children with special needs. It combines,
OT and PT and ST mixed in. The activities themselves are
between 2-5 minutes each."
S.M.A.R.T. stands for:
Stimulating Maturity through Accelerated Readiness
S.M.A.R.T. is a multisensory program.
Many kids who have Agenesis of the Corpus Callosum
have benefited from using a multisensory teaching
approach. The midline crossing exercises that are
incorporated into S.M.A.R.T are an added bonus for
someone who has ACC.
The S.M.A.R.T program is being implemented into
some schools in pre-kindergarten, kindergarten and
in some first and second grade classrooms and seems
to be a big hit with the students and staff.
Because I have a child who has Agenesis of the Corpus
Callosum, I was curious to learn more about S.M.A.R.T.
I asked Patty:
Do you know of a specific website for S.M.A.R.T.?
"I have my resources at school. go figure. SO I
would have to look the website information when
I get back to school. I can check on Monday.
I know there is a 4 day training seminar that all
"moderators" (and teachers too) are supposed to
take to be accurately trained. I am doing the
budget version and having my sister train me
(until my district would pay all or part of my
way of course.) My sister is the moderator for
her school. So she does the activities with all
kindergarten, all first grade and some second grade
students. She had them on a weekly scheduled time
just as gym or art would be scheduled. The reading
and math scores have greatly improved in one years
time from the impletation of this program. She has
several of the large motor activities done in her
classroom. In addition, each of the dedicated
teachers do more activities in their daily routines
such as I do. The only class that did not show
improvement with measurable success was from a
teacher, who had students in a half day program.
She was "too busy" to be consistent and take time
to do the activities. I heard that and knew I
could make it work in my half day program.
I will send you an email containing exact details
off the materials that I have at school. I should
have time to grab the books on Monday... if I
remember.... ha! I crack myself up! Note to self:
bring SMART books home! I know the creators of this
program set out to help their own child with special
needs. It worked for them so they wanted to share it
I love that Patty is able to make a joke about her
difficulty with short-term memory loss and can laugh
In my own research I found the following information
about S.M.A.R.T. and will share it here for anyone who,
like me, may be curious and interested:
Check out a school in Wisconsin where a teacher uses the
S.M.A.R.T. program with the PreK students in her class.
The teacher, Miss Beth, wrote:
"The S.M.A.R.T. curriculum is designed to help each
student progress at her or his own rate and to enrich
and enhance the student's abilities in a positive and
Have a detailed look at S.M.A.R.T. in the News
A S.M.A.R.T. new program at Jefferson
Minnesota Learning Resource Center-S.M.A.R.T. Info.
S.M.A.R.T on Facebook
S.M.A.R.T. News-April/May 2008
S.M.A.R.T. E-Newsletter Archives and E-Mail Sign Up
S.M.A.R.T. Online Resources
I asked Patty:
Do you do midline activities with the students
in your classroom?
"I do midline activities every day. I have received
many compliments from parents that they have new
children with their profound improvement of skills.
I have not done a ton of "academics" I do a ton of
"train the brain" activities. It may look like we
don't do much to the untrained professional. Yet by
golly I have a class of students, where 95% of them
are ready for Kindergarten. Hallelujah!"
"I do the "hulk stretch" where we reach up and grab
something, with both hands, big from the sky on the
left and carry "it" over to the right side with our
arms going from extended up to lowered down and SMASH
the thing across our knees. My 4 year olds of course
have to show me a good "grrr" muscle pose before it
as a added humorous body building move! Hulk-smash...
get it! Then we do the crossover "smashing about five
times on each knee, alternating left/right/ left right/
alligator crawl - picture not Patty's class
"We do the alligator crawl where their belly must
stay on the floor but they have to crawl with
their bottoms down also, Their knees alternate
as if to crawl, left arm up right knee up, right
arm up left knee up. Their bottoms must be down
at all times and their arms can not carry them
they must bring their knees up in te correct
pattern. I had 3 to 4 kids who could not do it
in October that are able to do it more successfully
now. THey do not do it 100 % all the time but their
success is up from 0% correct body patterns to about
75% of the path is done correctly. My path for this
is about 10 - 15 feet long. I moved tables and chairs
away from a part of the room."
"I do the bear crawl where their hands and feet
do the crawling pattern with their bottom in the
air....I had a few kids tip over from having their
legs go faster than their hands...The length of
the path is the same as the gator crawl.
I do a flamingo stand with one foot in the air at
a time, counting to 5 at first, then building to a
count of 10. Also I do a heel tap where the child
stands up and taps the right heel with the left
hand both in front of the body for x amount of
times and then behind the body for x amount of
sensory crawl - picture is not Patty's class
"There is a sensory crawl where pictures of objects
are in clear pockets taped to the floor. The child
names the object and taps the picture. then he
crawls to the next picture on the floor and does
the same. use 10 pictures of objects at least.
Hook board- little mug hooks are on a post and a
child puts varying size washers on the hooks all
with one hand and then uses the other hand to take
all the washers off. start with bigger washers
and then move to smaller washers.
Wipe off boards- Make simple maze patterns and
have the child follow the right path with their
finger first. Another activitiy is drawing letters
or lines on the wipe off board and have the child
erase the lines using their pointer finger.
Use small tongs (without the sliding ring- it
pinches fingers) and have kids pick up pon poms
from small bins, putting them from one bin to
Do the same with eye brow tweezers and small
pon poms or beads. Boy do they really have to
concentrate on that! I love their little tongues
sticking out trying to focus on a steady hand."
spin in circles - picture is not Patty's class
"Spin in circles counting to ten. or get a
"sit and spin" and let it rip (counting to 10)!
Then reverse the direction they are spinning.
I had horrible problems with one girl's need
to spin before I was told by my sister
(trained in SMART) " let her do it"
"do it daily" we did it daily for 4 weeks.
She was a new child! She sat still better
and had better focus after we spun! Spinning
builds the core muscles in their belly needed
to sit better on chairs.
I could on and on....."
She could go on and on and I could listen to
her with great interest.
As a mom myself of a child who has Agenesis of the
Corpus Callosum, I am highly interested in what Patty
has to say from both the perspective of an adult, who
has ACC, and as a teacher.
Thank you very much, Patty, for your willingness
to openly share your ACC Story, for taking the time
to answer my questions and also for sharing some of
the S.M.A.R.T. multisensory and midline crossing
exercises that you do daily with the students in
Do YOU have a learning tool that you would like to share here?
I'd love to hear from you, and so would a lot of other people too, who will be able to see and read all about the learning tools and ideas that you use with your child who has Agenesis of the Corpus Callosum.
It is my hope that this section will become a collection
of multiple learning tools (for families to browse, see and
read about) to find a variety of new and inspiring ideas to
help their young child, teenager or grown child in many
different areas--from academics, to fine motor/large motor
skills, to sensory issues, to potty training--and anything
else that comes to mind.
Note: this new topic was inspired by Amanda, the mom of a child with ACC, at Blogging for Beau, where she shares some excellent ideas and fun "Learning Tools".