Innovations At The Boys School

All students at the Boys School at Maple Lake completed an Innovations project this past summer. Each boy was able to choose a topic that they had interest in and then researched that topic in depth.

boys school

Monster fish


These subjects included: metalworking, woodworking, fishing, mining asteroids, the election process, climate and weather, wilderness survival, and many other topics.


One student presented ideas on how to solve and beat Rubic Cube problems.


cube 1


This student demonstrated that in a series of prescribed steps, that cube problems could be solved.

Other students did a power point, video, or prezi.

elect map

Overall, the quality of the presentations were very high and well done. The teachers and Ed. Director were very proud of the boys and the efforts that they gave in presenting these projects.







Innovations At The Girls School


All students at the Girls School at Maple Lake completed an Innovations project this past summer. Each girl was able to choose a topic that they had interest in and then researched that topic in depth.

Horse2.JPGAt the end of the summer, aHorse2.JPGHorse2.JPGll of the girls presented their findings to the school. Each Horse2.JPGpresentation lasted at least ten minutes and several lasted longer.

Each girl did a great job in communicating what they had learned during the summer. Several subjects were covered during the student presentations.


cake+.JPGThese subjects included: Espionage, Vet Science, Egyptology, Music Therapy, Snakes, Types of Riding Styles on Horses, Becoming A Doctor, Decorating Cakes, History of Soccer, and many other topics.


Story Board.JPG


Students could use a variety of delivery methods. This picture is a story board that a student created. Many students used a power point or prezi but other students had creative ways that they shared their topic with the school.

Snake Box.JPG

 One student had a box, and on each side of the box were several facts about snakes.


Other students used You Tube Videos to help them illustrate their presentation.IMG_2821.JPG










Innovations Girls.JPG

Overall, the quality of the presentations were very high and well done. The teachers and Ed. Director were very proud of the girls and the efforts that they gave in presenting these projects.

Asperger’s Kid Book

I am constantly amazed by the quality of work that I see at our school. Our students are very talented in many academic areas. I listened to  a student read an essay that they called a book several months ago. Since then, I have met with the student and had them refine the book.

The name of this book is “That Asperger’s Kid.” We are keeping the author of this book anonyomous at this time. At some point in her life she may add to it and make it even better and larger and then publish it under her name. I honestly believe that her material has that type of potential. Both student and parental permission have been obtained in order to share this powerful message on the blog. I believe that this is something that every parent and educator  should read. I  hope you gain as much from it as I have.


That Asperger’s Kid

The autobiography of a child with Asperger’s Syndrome

By Anonymous

Fore note

I always knew there was something about me that made me different than other kids, other people, and other minds. It made it hard for me to focus in school, to make friends, and to act like everybody else. I wondered why I was sometimes pulled out to take a little class with the school tutor, but I never asked. Every so often I would be pulled out of classes a couple times to take a special test with pictures and blocks and silly questions. I had no idea why for a long time, but again, I never asked because it was fun and the people giving me the test were so kind.

I slowly figured out that my differences had an official meaning. Then I heard the name: Asperger’s. I remembered all that I had heard and seen about it, like that episode of Arthur where he met another kid with Asperger’s, who appeared playing by himself and being extremely specific about things. Also, when something unusual happened, the boy went into a tantrum. I looked again at that episode. My Asperger’s was not quite as severe, but I knew why and understood the boy in the cartoon, though I could not put it into words.


Students, families walk to support Autism Awareness Month

Students and family members from Johnson Primary School march, holding signs and banners in support of autism awareness aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, Friday. According to the center for disease control and prevention, one in every 68 children in the U.S. is diagnosed with the disorder. (Photo by: Lance Cpl. Andrea Ovalle)

Chapter 1

That Different Kid

I think back to preschool and distinctly remember the looks of disgusted confusion I was given by the teachers and the other children. I was completely oblivious to the regular behaviors of my peers. What I considered right, wrong, normal and strange was a bunch of barely fitting puzzle pieces put together in a fashion I had known my whole life, and I had not understood why nobody else’s puzzle fit quite like mine did.

One time, in kindergarten, I remember we were making log cabin pictures with pretzels while we learned about Abraham Lincoln. But after I had done the interesting part, perfectly shaping the pretzels to border the windows, I was and knew I was going to be very bored with doing the same old thing with the rest of the flat little house.

To my right were three computers. I wanted to play the alphabet game. After a few minutes of being on the computer, my unfinished project still laying on the table, I felt my chair whip around and all of a sudden I was nose to nose with my teacher. Her lips curled in her rage as she hissed “what are you doing?!?” She ushered me forcefully back to my chair, not much harming me but leaving me bewildered and terrified. I cried softly.

I understood she was mad. But I didn’t understand exactly why. She had not made it apparent that I needed to complete the craft or else… I only understood my mothers’ instructions. With the tone of her voice, the shape of her lips, the look in her eyes, I could determine the importance of the task I was given. But my teacher had said so kindly that she would like us to finish our pictures so we could take them home, a message I did not see manditoriality in. I was absolutely dumbfounded at her response, how her soft gentle speech turned into a whipping spit of anger.

I remember that I would occasionally play sailors with my little brother on his loft bed, but most of the time, especially as a young child, I would play by myself in my dollhouse. I found it very awkward to play like I did in a doll house with another person. I liked to control the story and basically shape whatever happened.

It was around that time that I began narrating in my head, something I still do. I would say out loud the story I was playing, and when I grew tired of that, I always felt I had to say a formal good-bye as a narrator. Now, at an older age, I still mentally narrate my actions and things that I see (such as movies), as they happen.

aspergers ribbon

Chapter 2

That Dumb Kid

My teacher shouts my name. I look up to see what it is she wants. No, I did not hear what she said. I was very busy playing with the erasers in my desk. I am not interested in this topic. I am not defiant—I just can’t seem to pay attention or learn anything and now that I am behind and I would feel stupid to ask her to repeat herself.

“I just told you to pay attention two minutes ago. Give me those things!”

I do not want to give her my things. They comfort me and give me something to do.

I remember being pulled aside into the hallway on the way to the computer lab. “Why don’t you pay attention?”

I begin to cry. This is hard for me, being asked that question I wish I knew the answer to. “[My 2nd grade teacher] didn’t tell you… she should’ve told you that. I can’t, I just can’t focus. I try really hard but I can’t.”

She tries really hard to understand me, but she still looks confused and concerned. I want to know why, she wants to know why, but I don’t know why and can’t tell her why. It just is, the fact that I can’t pay attention.

Math was always hardest for me in elementary school. The numerous changes in every equation was hard to keep up with. If every number, answer, and operation was the same, I could’ve done fine. But if it was like that, it wouldn’t really be math, would it? The worst thing was when one little change makes everything different; that drove me crazy. “Oh you forgot this number was negative now the whole problem is going a whole other direction” or “multiplying the fraction is different than adding you can’t just add across”. I often ended getting fed up after the first try and just daydreaming for the rest of class.


Chapter 3

That Weird Kid

I tried the night before every new school year to ask my mom how to make friends. I could never get a straight answer, nor one I could understand. New school years always exited me. New books, new backpack, new shoes, new teachers, and new schools. I was constantly switching schools for whatever reason. A home movement, or going from elementary to middle (most often the first). I had a very hard time making friends. I could not keep reciprocal conversation; I was very awkward; and I was once called by my godfather “funny looking”, so I knew that much had to be true.

Other kids either picked on me or avoided me completely. One boy liked to watch me squirm while he told the principal that I had been being mean and vicious to him and others. I had not been, and many a time had no idea what the ruthless terms he said I used meant. Another fellow liked to hit me with his music stand and see me try to fight back. Other times he said things to me I feel embarrassed to mention, and I of course was very flustered and confused at the time. I sometimes wonder if I did anything to cause them to feel such resentment, or that I was fun to insult. I never have understood what gain one gets from being so cruel to another. I cannot imagine what would drive a person to make another suffer day after day.

My daily life felt like a battle, a war between me and the world. They had swords; the things they called me, the fingers they pointed at me, the laughter they uttered to bleed me, the way they ignored me. I had my smile, nothing else. I didn’t have a single defense to being attacked; the on looking adults didn’t care. It hurt. I felt drained and scared. But I needed to keep my smile. It wasn’t a shield, it didn’t protect me; if it was anything like that it was a target. It was not a sword either. It couldn’t inflict pain or exact revenge on my attackers. My smile was a band aid. While the wounds on my heart piled up I just smiled, and it weakly served to heal me. It worked like a cotton ball taped over a flesh wound; hardly helping but better than nothing at all. A comfort, a small sign that I would make it out alive, a ray of hope that everything would be alright.

My identity became the judgements and lies my peers pinned on me. At the mention of my name, the response would be, “oh, you mean the weirdo?”, “the freak?”, “the demon girl?” The name my mother gave me seemed to change into the beastly things they would call me. My brothers and I’s last name became a curse. To be me or my sibling automatically made you an outcast. It was because my brothers and I are all diagnosed with Asperger’s. It made our lives difficult all the time; not making the grade, not being popular, being misunderstood everywhere we turned was our daily reality.

My heart hardened and became isolated and armored. I did not want to be hurt anymore, and drove all foes away swiftly. My band aid smile transformed into mouth of sharp, defending teeth. This is about when I began to think rigidly. It was black, or it was white. You were nice, or you were mean. You were my friend, or you were my foe. I stopped sorting a separate place for in-between. I held tight to my friends, the few that would treat me kindly. Anybody who laughed at me, was mean, or made a fool out of me was pushed away every time they dared to get close. Sometimes, when a person resembled an enemy by appearance or action, I did not even give them the chance to wrong me. This occasionally drove off even good people. After so much bitter treatment, I was not going to have it happen again. It hurt too much.aspergers_is_not_my_problem_by_journal_of_falconSix Things Those Asperger’s Kids Want You to Know

  1. The following instructions listed are not true for every child or adolescent with aspergers. It is most important for you to realize that every aspergers child is different. Ask the aspergers child you know what they personally need.
  2. Don’t think that I am not listening to you just because I am wearing a blank expression. Usually, it means that I am in my head and trying to picture what you are telling me as best as I can.
  3. Never ask me why I can’t just be like a normal person. I DON’T KNOW.
  4. Pictures and visuals are a desperate part of my learning. Don’t tell me; show me.
  5. Please don’t tell me to stop crying. It helps me to feel better. Just validate my feelings and then let me cope however I must.
  6. Don’t compare me to anybody else. I am my own, individual, different-in-more-ways-than-you-can-imagine person.
























Maple Lake Snowmobiling Trip

Maple Lake Snowmobiling Trip

Last Thursday and Friday Maple Lake took the students on a snowmobiling trip. The boys school went on Thursday and the Girls School went on Friday.

Snowmobile Girls 1

Maple Lake Staff drove the snowmobiles and gave every student a chance to ride for around an hour.

Boys Snowmobile 1

Since this was an outdoor activity and all day, the school provided snacks and a hot lunch for the students.

Boys Snowmobile 2

It was also quite cold so everyone dressed in warm snow clothes. And for safety, everyone wore helmets while on the snowmobile.

Snowmobile Girls 2

While they waited, other students built snow sculptures or just played around in the snow.

Boys Snowmobile 3

Even though it was cold, it was a beautiful sunny day out in the mountains. This is the type of winter weather that Utah is famous for.

Girls Snowmobile 3

In addition to building stuff. The students had different kinds of races and snow activities.

Overall, it was a very successful day for both schools.



Teaching Social Skills

Teaching Social Skills

Children with Aspergers and Autism struggle with social interactions with others. A big part of our educational program at Maple Lake deals with teaching our students the social skills that they need to be successful in relationships. This impairment in communication skills affects their relationships at school, home, and with friends. Our Vital Behaviors program covers several Executive Functioning Skills and many of these skills deal with social behavior.

Students are rated on their Vital Behaviors on a regular basis by teacher and residential staff. Results are shared with the student, parents, and therapists. As students grow in their ability to interact socially, we see their scores improve.

The inability to connect with others has very tough consequences like bullying, teasing, and outright rejection. Our students have a hard time realizing what is the root cause of these behaviors by others. But the way our students are treated is very painful to them and causes them to act out or behave in ways that attract even more negative attention.

Social problems typically occurring in Aspergers children and teens include:
1.   Aspergers children take things very literally. This may mean that it becomes difficult for  them to follow a lot of what their peers are talking about.
2.   Neurotypical peers may get the Aspergers child into trouble because, while often bright in some subjects, he is gullible when it comes to social behavior.
3.   Some children and teens with Aspergers learn that they have to ask a question to start a conversation, but then, instead of listening to the answer, they ask question after question, in effect drilling their peers and making them feel uncomfortable.
4.   Their difficulties reading social cues cause them to irritate peers. Difficulties in reading
social cues range from (a) trouble understanding the zones of personal space, causing them to stand too close to others, to (b) a lack of basic conversation skills.
5.   They have passions, certain things that they focus on, but they may have a hard time
talking about anything else, which is often annoying to peers.
6.   They may not understand social banter, and so they become easy targets for bullying.

little boy Mark Hutton, a noted psychologist and expert on Aspergers and Autism states that teaching social skills and cues are at the very center of treating these problems. The material from this blog has been taken from a website post by Mark. Parents can also by an e book by him that explains these issues in far better detail. The address for this site is listed below:

You can click on the link and be taken directly to the website.


Also, checkout the youtube video below it has some good information.










Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays from our school at Maple Lake Academy. We had a great December with many positive activities for students. The Recreation department at both schools hosted a cultural night for the students which was great.  



The Girl’s School attended the Festival of Trees in Salt Lake City. The money made at this event is donated to Primary Children’s Hospital which is one of the largest pediatric hospitals in the country.

At the festival, different individuals and organizations created, decorated and donated these trees. The trees were later auctioned to private donors.



The Recreation department and the Boy’s School hosted a Holidays Carnival at a local elementary school. There were several stations with various activities. The students would then rotate around the different stations. The boys had a great time interacting with the elementary students and had a very positive experience.

Many of our students are on a home pass right now for the entire winter break or for parts of it.

Below, are some calendar items to help parents and students prepare for the upcoming weeks.

January 4, 2016              School Resumes 

January 15, 2016            Term 2 Ends At Both Schools

January 15 -16, 2016    Parent’s Weekend At The Girl’s School

January 18, 2016           Term 3 Begins (Martin Luther King Day)

January 22-23, 2016    Parent’s Weekend At The Boy’s School

Many parents have asked me about homework during the Winter Break. If the student is caught up with the assignments that the teachers have given in class, then they will not have homework. If they are missing assignments, then this would be a great time to get caught up.

Students can access all their classes on the Edmodo system from a computer at home or a library. They do not need their school computer to do homework. We do ask that parents strictly supervise any computer use during the break.








The Cold Within

The Cold Within

Several years ago, I heard this very powerful poem. During this special time of year, I hope we can all find someone to give “our stick of precious wood.”

I have had the chance to review countless pages of research on what touches, affects, and changes people. Without reservation, the most powerful tool is service. Service builds empathy and the more empathy a person has the better they will be able to function as part of a community.

At Maple Lake we emphasize service through many activities. As our students build empathy, they grow and mature and also gain greater social skills.

Additionally, we need to be willing to accept all people. It does not matter what they look like on the outside it is what people have on the inside that counts. In my experience, the majority of people are good and have good hearts. Race, religion, creed, sexual preference and other differences will always be present when there are two or more people in the world.

If we are going to survive the coming years, we must learn to accept everyone and be willing to offer a helping hand or yes a “stick of wood” to others who are in need.

coldtreesThis poem was written by James Patrick Kinney who was an activist in the civil rights movement.

His most famous poem, “The Cold Within”, is simple, straightforward and powerful, which, as you’ll soon learn, also describes the man who wrote it. When you understand the man, you’ll see why he wrote the poem. First, the story, then the poem. Thanks to Timothy Kinney, James Kinney’s son, we have insight into the man behind this now-classic poem:

The story I’m about to tell you is from my memory of the story that my mother told of that time, so the details can be regarded with reasonable suspicion, but I believe it to be generally accurate. 

When I was a young boy we lived in Cheviot, Ohio, which is a township on the west side of Cincinnati, Ohio. There was still a law on the books there that a black person was not allowed on the streets of the city after dark. This was during of the civil rights movement, and my father and a group of men from his church felt that this was an outrage, so they approached the City Council to have the law abolished.

They were told that, since there were no black families in Cheviot, any black person on the streets after dark was obviously up to no good, so the law would remain. My father’s group found a family of black activists who were willing to move to Cheviot. They helped them move in and tried to make them feel at home. Then they approached the City Council again and said “Under the new circumstances, the law must be changed.”

The City Council changed the law, but they were not very happy about it. My father was really unhappy with the community and the way they reacted to the change, so he pulled out and shared with the community a poem he had written during the early years of the civil right movement; it was “The Cold Within”, a parable about the things that separate us and how the coldness in men’s hearts is a kind of death. The message was so powerful, the poem took on a life of its own.

cold_within fire
























Dear Teacher

Over the years, I have heard some teachers refer to students who struggle as “unintentional learners.” I have always confronted and fought this attitude. Unfortunately, many teachers do not understand learning disabilities and the problems faced by students in their classroom everyday.

The public school system is geared to serve the student who does not have any significant challenges. Teachers are not trained in how to help students who struggle. Even some special education teachers lack the knowledge and skills when dealing with students who have disabilities. Most districts and schools are waking up and beginning to understand the importance of meeting the needs of these students. I was able to observe many positive changes that help these students over my thirty year tenure in the public schools.

We are fortunate at Maple Lake to have teachers who are sensitive to these learning disabilities and who continually train and learn about them. Class sizes are low at our school but it is a great challenge in meeting the individual needs of every student in the class. With the help of house staff, and the student’s therapist, we are able to develop and carry out a positive educational plan for our students.

It is very rewarding for the teachers to watch the students grow over a period of time at Maple Lake. As the students work on their treatment and school work, the teachers literally watch them change and grow in their executive function skills, social skills, vital behaviors, academic knowledge, and other areas as well.

I would just like to thank the teachers at our school for all the hard work and effort that they put in on each student’s behalf. It is awesome to work with a group of educators  and others who are so committed in helping students grow.

The short video clip below is a touching look at how things might be seen from the student’s point of view.

One Brave Fish!

One Brave Fish!

I really enjoyed visiting with all of the parents over the past two weeks at Parent’s Weekend. In most cases, their student was doing very well and growing academically. In a few cases, the student was struggling and not succeeding at our school. Regardless of student standings, I felt that we were able to solve problems and set new goals for the future. Why do students fail in school? I spent 30 years in the public school system. The majority of that time was spent working with students who were not successful in the school setting.

girl2jpgMany of them struggled with Asperger’s, Autism, NLD,  ADD, ADHD, and many other types of disabilities both physical and mental. The school system is not equipped to properly help these students. Places like Maple Lake are safe havens for students with these types of issues. As an educational staff at Maple Lake, we are constantly training on the issues surrounding these disabilities and how to address them in the classroom.

antibullyjpgI have often expressed my feelings about these students and their parents. One thing that strikes me deeply is the courage that both the students and their parents have. Many or most of these students have failed in school over the years; been bullied by their peers; misunderstood by their teachers and school counselors and administration; and in general left behind by the system. Their parents often stand by with a feeling of helplessness wondering what they can do to save their child. It takes great courage for students and parents to keep trying and staying in the fight by either making the public system work for them or by finding private schools such as Maple Lake that specialize in helping these students.

If they find the right private school, it means that the child will have to stay away from home for long periods of time so they can attend school and receive treatment. For the parents, it means watching your child live away from home for months at a time. During that time, your heart is always aching for their well-being and success. For parents, it also means juggling finances in a drastic way and finding the means to pay for their child’s school and treatment. All of these things take perseverance and a great deal of courage.


Above, is a Japanese proverb that translated into English says ” fall down seven times and stand up eight.” Rising up one more time than you fall is a great secrete to success.

cat-fish-funny-animal-humor-jpgI have attached a video of a very brave fish. I think that this fish teaches us all great lessons in living with adversity and making the most of what you have. I have a fish tank that I enjoy as a small hobby at my house. A while back, I bought  several fish and brought them home.

bigeyesfishjpgThe next day I discovered this fish swimming sideways and upside down and acting like he was on his last leg.a fish is acting in this manner it will die very soon. I watched this fish day after day fully expecting it to die the next day. It continued to live for several months. After a couple of months, I was so impressed that I took a short video of the fish. That fish lived several months after I took the video. Like I said, I took the video about two months into the fish being in my tank. So this fish lived at least four or five months. When he died, who is to say what he died from. He could have died from old age for all we know. What I do know is that he never gave up and fought to the last wiggle of his little fin.

I share this with you hoping that it will inspire you and give you a feeling of respect for effort in the faced of all odds. I will also be showing it to the students at some point and discussing with them many of the principles that I have discussed here. After watching that fish it is hard for me to feel sorry for myself at anytime. Again, I am grateful for the students and parents of Maple Lake who are teaching me lessons or resilience and courage everyday.

Important Announcements

Important Announcements

Blog Update

The Blog has been updated and changed extensively. The easiest way to find things that you are looking for is to look on the sidebar menu. Blog posts are now under the “In The News” section. Liking the Blog and comments are very much appreciated.

Course Curriculum Maps

I have posted the curriculum maps for most of the courses that the students are taking. This will help parents follow along with what their student is learning and also help parents understand what the school wants their student to learn. Teachers reserve the right to change the pace or schedule to meet the instructional needs of the students. For specific information on a course contact the teacher.

Parent Weekends

Girls School……………………..October 16, 17

Boys School……………………..October 23, 24

Last Day Term 1

October 23

First Day Term 2

October 26

Thanksgiving Break

November 23-27

Winter Break

December 21-January 3