Browsing: Autism

Developing Self-Esteem in a Special Needs Child

All children deserve to hold themselves in high esteem – that is, to respect who they are and what they are capable of. But many children have a hard time developing their own self-concept to the level of being able to respect themselves, much less esteem themselves. It's up to you to help them.

What Is Self-Esteem?

There's a significant misunderstanding of what self-esteem is today. Too much of the rhetoric in our culture has put any use of the term 'self-esteem' in the category of 'participation ribbons' and false compliments. The truth is that those things actually destroy self-esteem, not build it. In order to build self-esteem, a child must have four things:

• Consistency, the ability to feel like previous lessons will continue to be applicable,
• Agency, the ability to make decisions that they believe matter,
• Competence, the ability to overcome challenges, and
• Associations, the ability to maintain a stable group of peasants to interact with.

Establishing Consistency means creating a regular routine and enforcing a set of rules that does not change without warning. For example: a child who gets giggles for using a vulgar biological term one day but gets punished for using the same term the next day can not establish a 'value' for that action. The most common result is that they will keep using it, trying to figure out what factor it was that got them the 'jackpot' that first time around. Often, they will simply continue to get punished more and more severely until they realize that they have failed and they will never get that positive result again. That's not the basis for good self-esteem.

Another very important element of consistency is establishing expectations. Especially for a child with special needs, it's very important that you explain to them before any new experience exactly what you expect of them – how to act and how to react. This will also give you a chance to manage their expectations, explaining to them what is about to happen and why their actions and reactions are important.

Giving Agency means teaching your special needs child that they have the right to make decisions about their lives, and sometimes about parts of the lives of others. At almost every joke at which the long-term result is not going to be negatively affected, a child should be given options (all of which should be acceptable, obviously) and allowed to choose between them. You should praise wise choices, and without it's untenable, ignore bad ones (ie allow them to make a bad choice and experience the results themselves without 'rubbing it in.')

Encouraging Competence means recognizing the areas in which your child is capable and encouraging them to test the limits of their capacity. If they are capable of dressing themselves, make a contest out of it by timing them while they do so. If they want to enter a contest, participate in a sport, or otherwise put them in a situation where failure is a real potential, do not keep them from it without it's absolutely necessary for their safety. Failure does not lead to low self-esteem – but being told you're not even allowed to try totally does.

Enabling Associations means helping your child find a group they can belong to that will continue to be there for them as time goes by. Whether it's a soccer team, the Girl Scouts, or just a few good friends who consistently come over to do homework together, having a regular set of associations is the single factor most strongly correlated with good self-esteem in any person, child or adult , special needs or not.

{ Comments are closed }

The Various Stages of Games for Children With Autism

Children suffering from autism spectrum disorder, or ASD, enjoy playing games like any other kid. It's only that they find some games difficult or play in a repetitive way. For instance, an autistic child may rather like to fixate on watching the wheels of a toy car spinning, or may finish a puzzle in the same way all the time. Autism spectrum disorder affects the development of communication and social skills. As a result, simple skills needed for games-like the ability to emulate simple actions, share objects with others, explore the environment and respond to behaviors-often takes a hit.

But individual with autism spectrum disorder can develop special skills for playing games. Following are the stages through which they usually pass.

Exploratory

At this stage, autistic children typically explore the toys and objects rather than play with them. They may cuddle with a teddy bear, or put a block in their mouth, or inspect a doll's hand. Autistic children, like others, begin to learn about their world through various colors, shapes, textures and sizes.

Causal

This is when the autistic child plays with toys that require action for producing the desired result, like pressing a button to play some music, or winding up the jack-in-the-box. Praising your autistic child when he completes the correct action will encourage them to repeat it. Even if they fail, encourage them to do it correctly the next time.

Functional

At this stage the usual activities include pushing the toy car, bringing the toy phone close to the ear, or throwing a ball. Of course the child will need assistance because the response time for children with autism is usually slower than their non-autistic peers.

Constructive

This stage involves working towards a goal, like finishing a jigsaw, making towers from blocks or simply drawing a picture. Children with ASD may be slow carrying out certain tasks but can outperform others in some. They often excel in drawing. Encourage your child to play constructively by showing pictures or through practical demonstration.

Physical

Physical play involves running around and several other games that familiarize children with people and their immediate surroundings. Observation of this stage has paved the path for the development of various games for children with autism. Mobile apps in particular help improve fine motor skills, leading to quick physical response to environmental stimuli.

Pretend play

The importance of pretend play is almost impossible to undersine in the context of games for individual with autism. Activities include dressing like superheroes, feeding a teddy, pretending to drive a car and so on and so forth. Pretend play develops skills required to build social, communication and language skills. This type of play could be an unfamiliar territory for individual with autism, but with support and necessary intervention, many are known to overcome their difficulties.

Social play

As the name suggests, social play involves playing with others or in a team. It's particularly challenging for children with ASD. Other children may be associated to include an autistic child in their group. Parents of non-autistic children need to make their kids understand that a child with ASD is like any other kid. They just need more support and acceptance.

{ Comments are closed }

The Necessity of Online Jobs for Autistic Individuals

Several virtual reality programs promise to help adults with autism excel in job interviews. These computer-based programs offer people with autism an opportunity to conduct simulated job interviews with virtual human resource (HR) representatives. Equipped with voice recognition technology, the software are designed for assessing the appropriateness of response and giving feedback.

Adults suffering from autism spectrum disorder usually face difficulties in social communication. Needless to mention, limited communication skills can have a detrimental effect on job interviews. The virtual reality programs help autistic people to overcome the difficulties, work as a team member and convey to the employer that they are hard-working.

The key to successful employment for most people with autism lies in seeking professionals that suit their special talents and choices. Many people with autism spectrum disorder look for online job for autistic workers that focus on narrow fields of interest. In many cases, these interests could have developed into successful carers.

Let's have a look at some of the career options available for autistics.

Science

Science is usually a good career option for people with autism and there are online jobs for autistic individuals in this domain. Undivided attention to detail and full adherence to routine practices are important in scientific fields. While an average person could find these qualities difficult to master, structured environments are often the areas where people with autism excel.

Technology

Many online jobs for autistic persons are about technology. Many people having autism can be found working as successful software engineers and computer programmers. An ideal online job for an autistic individual could be working with computers by taking advantage of their superior mathematical aptitude. Beside, working conditions common to software technology could have been well suited for an autistic person. This is because such employees often prefer working in their own space with just a computer. A technology-driven online job for autistic could be ideal for them.

Information

Journalism and writing could be another area where autistic individuals are likely to find their niche. This is a great online job for autistic. The best journalists often set opinions and personal emotions aside while covering a story or reporting an event. Gathering facts in an unbiased and organized manner is often the second nature of several autistic persons.

Manufacturing

The need for repetitions is largely common among autistic persons. Jobs that seem tedious to many people could be rewarding for most people suffering from autism – even comforting to a great extent. Manufacturing jobs are often a good fit for individuals having these tendencies. Assembly line work is liked by autistic people because they keep to a single track only.

Working with animals

People with autism, for whatever social interaction could be a major issue, are known to be fond of working with animals. They enjoy spending time with them. While many autistic individuals may have difficulty to interact with people, they can communicate with animals in a wonderful way. They often make fine veterinarians or their assistants. Although this may not be an online job for an autistic person , it's a major domain for them suddenless.

{ Comments are closed }

Long Term Care for Adults With Severe Autism

There has been a reasonable amount of attention garnered that clearly focuses on people with autism. We have heard about the broad spectrum of talents and abilities within the autism community as inclusion efforts are on the rise. Much of the attention has centered around children activities during the formative years such as behavioral therapy, educational reform, and socialization trends. Early intervention in identifying and relating autism related disorders is always a wise investment in the lives of children, and I personally support such initiatives. However, as the autistic population moves toward adulthood, we must shift our attention to the needs of caring for them long term. Within that framework, there is another layer of care that is seldom talked about – caring for adult men and women with chronic autism in a long term care environment.

Experts tell us there will be approximately 50,000 autistic teens transitioning to adulthood during the next decade. That number will only increase as some young adults will be diagnosed for the first time as a result of pre-employment screenings or comprehensive testing for military service. From the ranks of more than half a million autistic adults, a fair percentage will not be capable of taking care of themselves in adulthood. Currently, the role of caregiver falls primarily with parents within the family home. In some cases siblings and other family members have assumed the role in the parents' absence, but these types of cases are not the norm. To be clear, this group of individuals has severe limitations and requires assistance with the most basic areas of care. Parents are accredited to helping with feeding, bathing, toileting, dressing, and grooming activities. Some of the adults at the lower end of the spectrum have self stimulation issues, such as head banging, which may be hurtful – or even fatal. Caring for these special adults can be physically demanding, but the rewards are extremely gratifying for those who love and care for them.

The parents and caregivers are to be commended for their tireless counseling in taking care of autistic adults with serious restrictions on a day to day basis. However, there is a major problem brewing as parents and caregivers are getting older, so making it more difficult to serve as primary caretakers. There is a huge opportunity looming for the building industry, specifically contractors specializing in long term care facilities. The senior population has been the focal point for decades for long term care builders, but the market will expand to include adults with autism over the course of the next two decades. As baby boomer parents with special needs adult children approach retirement, there are valid concerns regarding future care options for their children. Now is the time for leaders representing the long term care industry to start a dialogue that provides some degree of assurance that this issue is under consideration. The young men and women on the spectrum deserve our very best in creating residential units designed with their sensory issues in mind. They deserve a legacy worthy of respect and dignity that allows them to live in a supportive and loving environment.

{ Comments are closed }

Autism and Gluten Free Diets

Children affected with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) often have a lower level of antioxidants and detoxification enzymes and are thus more susceptible to food chemicals like gluteus and environmental toxins. Autistic children usually have a much lower level of antioxidant / detoxification enzymes that makes it more difficult to break down the glutens. While there is no holistic treatment for ASD, a treatment program must address the three major systems in the human body ie nervous, immune and digestive.

Triggers of ASD are on the rise globally. The more vulnerable children, come in contact with triggers like gluten. Those exposed to toxins like pesticides, lead, mercury, and passive smoking, have higher ASD levels. Many studies have claimed that supplement nutrients like vitamin, zinc, magnesium, and omega-3 fatty acids, are likely to provide moderate benefit to the ASD patients.

Intolerance and allergies to food and food-related activities also affects ASD. Removal of potentially allergic foods like gluten, revealed mixed results on autistic children. A Norwegian study has found out that 10 autistic children having gluten-free diet for a year, improved on autistic exercises, motor skills, and cognition, to a much greater extent, than 10 children who were given a standard diet. Other studies have revealed that children with ASD have higher chances of intestinal permeability (leaking gut syndrome).

While a gluten-free diet is imperative for all children with ASD, some researchers have even suggested that oral pro-biotic bacterial supplements could be useful for treating autism. The effect of food additives, refined sugar and gluten on ASD, however, is debatable. A sample of 16 children with ASD revealed that sugar challenges were involved with worsened inattention among four children, little change among 11, and improvements in only one child. Foods free from artificial coloring, gluten, and preservatives, were widely used for treating children with ASD, since they were introduced way back in the 1970s.

Beside food colors and gluten, benzoate, monosodium glutamate, nitrates and benzoate can worsen the symptoms of ASD among children. Foods that contain salicylates, like oranges, almonds, apples, raspberries, grapes, cherries, strawberries, peaches, tomatoes, plums, and cucumber, are also known to worsen the symptoms.

A meta-analysis of 15 placebo-controlled, double blind studies have found that specifically added colors like tartrazine, increased symptoms significantly. Five analyzes indicated that gluten and food colors were associated with increased ASD symptoms, eight showed that gluten and food colors had no significant effect, and only two showed a decreasing effect on autism.

ASD usually involves a broad range of prenatal, genetic, social, nutritional, environmental and developmental factors. There is no one single cause that leads to the disorder or any one common factor that can be found among all the affected. Multiple modalities of treatment are required for each person that usually calls for environmental, nutritional, pharmacological and psychosocial interventions.

All children born on this planet have many hurdles to overcome. For those having ASD, the obstacles become more difficult. Compassion and scientific nutrition habits and social skill teaching can transform their lives. ASD children are as mainstream people as any other.

{ Comments are closed }

Vitamin B6 in the Treatment of Autism

Scientists have often considered vitamin B6 as an effective treatment for autism. While many drugs have shown positive effects sporadically, B6 is the only drug that has produced consistent results. When a drug shows positive results, in over half of the studies, it's considered successful and can be administrated to autistic patients. But despite the remarkably consistent findings of various studies, safer than most other drugs, very few practitioners use it for treatment of autism.

Research on vitamin B6 to treat children with autism began in the 1960s. British neurologists AF Heeley and GE Roberts, in their research, claimed that abnormal metabolites were detected in the urine of 11 of the 19 autistic children observed, after a tryptophan load test. A single 30mg vitamin B6 tablet normalized their urine. No behavioral studies, however, was conducted. Then, in 1968, German investigator VE Bonisch reported that 12 out of 16 autistic children studied, shown considering improved behavior when administered a high dose of (100-600mg) vitamin B6. Three of his patients, in the open clinical trial, spoke for the first time after the medicine was given.

Latest clinical trials have revealed that 30-40% of autistic children showed significant improvement when vitamin B6 was administered to them. Some minor side effects, like sound sensitivity, irritability, and bed-wetting, cropped up. But they were quickly alleviated by administrating additional magnesium.

Over the decades, children have shown a wide range of benefits from vitamin B6. These include, improved eye contact, more interest in the world around them, better speech, and fewer tantrums. They showed better overall improvement, though they were not completely cured of the ailment. Recent studies by US investigators at the University of North Carolina, Thomas Gualtieri et al, and by George Ellman et al, at California's Sonoma State Hospital, have disclosed positive effects of vitamin B6 on autistic children.

While no autistic person has been ultimately cured after administering vitamin B6, several instances have been reported where there has been a noticeable improvement in the conditions. In an interesting case, an 18-year old autistic person was evicted from a leading mental home. Massive amounts of drugs had no effect on him. The guy was considered too much violent and even abusive at times to be kept in a hospital. Psychiatrists and doctors then administered vitamin B6 and magnesium as the last resort. The person calmed down soon after a period of treatment. One of the psychiatrists in the team, later informed that she recently visited the man and his family, and was pleasantly surprised to find that he was now an easy going person who plays the guitar and sings songs.

The need for vitamin B6 varies broadly. Scientists have not ruled out that vitamin B6 may not come of much use if administrated in the later stages of life. Diagnosing the ailment early and starting the medicine course is imperative for better treatment. But vitamin B6 has emerged has a rational and safe approach to treat autism. But singular administration of vitamin B6 is in the early stages of study. It is usually given with a combination of other drugs.

{ Comments are closed }

When Your Special Needs Child Is Getting Bullied

Special needs children are almost universally at a greater risk of bullying than their less-needful counterparts – and and more than any others, they need their parents to respond appropriately. But what exactly constitutes an 'appropriate' response when your special needs child is getting bullied?

Signs of Bullying

Many children do not ever mention to their parents that they're being bullied – it's your business as a parent to know what being bullied looks like after the fact. If you see your child's eating or sleeping behavior suddenly change; if they seem jumpy, anxious, or guilty for no reason; if they go out of their way way to avoid a particular predictable part of their day (like asking to be taken to school instead of going on the bus, or asking for a sack lunch to avoid the cafeteria) – ask them directly if someone is being mean to them.

How to Fail Epically

If you do learn that your child is being bullied, there are a few ways you can completely fail to respond in your child's best interests. Do not ever:

• Be ashamed, disappointed, or angry with your child,
• Encourage your child to fight back against a bully,
• Say anything what about being a 'tattletale,' 'snitch,' or anything similar, or
• Tell them to 'man up' or otherwise simply accept being bullied.

Instead:

Listen First

The most important thing you can show your child is that you're paying attention, and you care more about their experience than you do about punishing someone (them or the bully). Listen for as long as they want to talk, and ask them open-ended questions to keep them sharing for as long as they're willing. Not only will you be giving them the kind of support they need the most, but you might learn some details of the story that will mean meaningful to teachers or administrators down the line (so write down everything you can!) When they're done , praise them for being open with you about the experience.

Reassure Them It's Not Their Fault

One of the most pervasive disturbing aspects about bullying a child with special needs is that the bully is often extremely adept at portraying the incident as something that the victim is responsible for. Communicate clearly and firmly with your child that this is a lie, and that the bully alone caused the incident.

Contact the Teacher and Administrators

Get in touch with your teacher and ask for a meeting with the IEP team. Discuss the situation with them, and work out a plan of action to address the situation. Ideally, such a plan will involve three steps: contacting the bully's parent and asking for their help, changing your child's schedule to either avoid the bully or ensure that there's someone to watch, and, if the bullying is enough to qualify as disability harassment , involve the law.

By being there for your special needs child on a personal level, and taking action on an administrative level, you have the best chance of keeping your child feeling safe and effective at school.

{ Comments are closed }

Back to School: A Guide for Parents of Special Needs Children

It's summertime, which means if you have a special needs child, it's time to get ready for back to school! Yes, done correctly, the back-to-school process starts nearly the moment school is out, depending on your child's specific needs. Let's jump right in:

Set Up Your Paperwork for Next Year

The end of a school year means a lot of paperwork for a special needs child. Even the least intensive IEP means dozens of extra pieces of paper from a half-dozen or more specialists. Setting aside an area to keep those papers organized and handy will make the end of August a lot less stressful, so just do that part now.

Set Up a Communication Log

There might not be a lot of communication with teachers, specialists, and administrators over the summer – or there might be a HUGE amount, and it depends more on the school than on you or your child. So be prepared, and get a special notebook that you can keep next to your phone to record the names, dates, times, subjects, and results of every phone call that comes in from any school employee regarding your child's next school year. You'll thank yourself come back-to-school time.

Read Your Child's IEP on the 20th of Every Month

Perhaps counterintuously, some special needs children have an amazing ability to grow and develop in large spurts over the summertime, in ways that completely alter their skills and abilities. By reviewing your child's IEP toward the end of each month – just read it aloud to yourself – you can continue keep track of which parts are most relevant and which bought to be addressed before school starts again.

Keep Up on News in Your Child's Area

Medical science is constantly evolving – and politics is also constantly, albeit usually belatedly, struggling to take new knowledge into account. Find a few reliable, dedicated sources of news about your child's particular situation, and catch up on them every week. You never know when you can bring something to the table on that first IEP meeting of the year that will alter your child's entire experience during that grade!

As the School Year Approaches … Talk!

The school-is-coming jitters can be greatly addressed by pointing out that they exist! Talk to your child about the classes that excite them the most, the friends they're most interested in reconnecting with, the events they can look forward to participating in, and so on. Focus on the anticipation rather than the nervousness and you can get your kid psyched up instead of psyched out.

As the School Year Approaches … Plan!

One of the most powerful tools you can give a special needs child is the ability to feel like they're in control and they understand what's going on. To that end, sit down and plan out what a typical school day and a typical school week are going to look like before school starts. Put up a schedule somewhere they can see it and use it, and if you feel it will be useful, do a 'test run' or two – waking up at the correct time, eating breakfast the way you expect to during the school year , and so on. The more comfortable they are with the routine, the easier it will be to slip into it 'for real.'

{ Comments are closed }

A Basic Glossary for Parents of Children With Special Needs

Not sure what some of the technical terms in your child's IEP mean, and missed the chance to ask the teacher? Here are several definitions of common terms used in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act:

Autism: A developmental disability involving meaningful verbal and nonverbal communication issues and social non-interaction. Generally evident at age three or earlier. Adversely affects educational performance. May also show signs of repetitive or stereotyped movements, resistance to change, and unusual responses to sensory stimulation. If a child's educational performance is mostly affected by emotional disturbance, they may not be valued as autistic even if many of these factors are presented.

Deaf-Blindness: A simultaneous visual and hearing impairment which results in severe communication and other developmental issues that can only be accommodated within a program specifically created for children with deafness, blindness, and / or deaf-blindness.

Emotional Disturbance: A condition that adversely affects a child's educational performance and meets one or more of the following standards:

• An inability to relate satisfactorily with peers and teachers,
• Continuous inappropriate behavior under otherwise-normal circumstances,
• Continuous pervasive negative emotional state under otherwise-normal circumstances,
• A marked tendency to develop fears or physical symptoms related to school or personal issues.
• A learning disability that can not be explained by any other standard factors.
• The educational performance is not affected by “mere” social maladjustment.

Intellectual Disability: A significant sub-average level of general intellect co-existent with adaptive behavior deficiencies and adversely affecting the child's educational performance.

Orthopedic Impairment: A severe impairment of the skeleton or connective tissue that adversely affects a child's educational performance. Can include diseases (ie polio), birth defects (ie osteogenesis imperfecta), or impairments with other causes (ie cerebral palsy, amputations.)

Other Health Impairment: Educational performance limited by a significantly lower-than-average degree of strength, vitality, or alertness with respect to the education environment caused by a chronic or acute health problem. Asthma, ADHD, diabetes, epilepsy, heart disease, hemophilia, leukemia, nephritis, sickle cell anemia, Tourette syndrome, and many other issues can fall under this umbrella.

Specific Learning Disability: A disorder in at least one of the basic brain processes used to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell, or do math. Does not include learning problems that are the result of direct sensory disabilities, motor disabilities, mental retardation, emotional disturbance, or environmental, cultural, or economic disadvantage.

Speech Impairment or Language Impairment: Adversely affected educational performance due to communication disorder including stuttering, malarticulation, delayed language development, or voice impairment.

Infant with a Disability or Toddler with a Disability: A person under 3 years of age that requires early intervention to address significant developmental delays in one or more areas, including cognitive development, physical development, communication development, social development, emotional development, and adaptive development.

At-Risk Infant or At-Risk Toddler: As above, but after the person in question has begun to respond to early intervention.

Twice Exceptional or 2E: A student with special needs who also shows evidence of high achievement capacity in intellectual, artistic, creative, or leadership areas, or in specific academic fields, who requires a level of activity or engagement not provided by the school's ordinary curriculum in order to fully explore and develop those capacities.

{ Comments are closed }

Job Opportunity for Autistic People: Change or Stagnation?

Finding meaningful employment is difficult for all but people with autism spectrum disorder usually face extra challenges. Job opportunities for autistic individuals are also not very encouraging. Beside, many adults with autism who are employed are often overqualified for their positions. But since there are not many autism job opportunities available, they often do not get the money they deserve.

Bernie Hernandez, founder of a Seattle-based technology company which trains people with autism spectrum disorder for placement in various corporate sectors, says that although people spend a major part of their lives in working, there has been negligible investment relating to services for people with autism. Funding, he says, could help them in the transition from high school to the workplace.

Unfortunately many employers have reservations about hiring people with autism spectrum disorder. Trainers and instructors working with autistic people are trying hard to change this mindset. The process, Bernie says, is slow but employers are increasingly waking up to the potential benefits of hiring autistic people. For one, people battling autism spectrum disorder typically have photographic memory and devote full attention to details. Second, they are also good at recognizing patterns and following structured work. Finally, they can be nice work companions because of their openness, honesty and loyalty.

Beside, helping autistic adults to land the right job opportunity can also save taxpayers and families the costs involved in providing daytime aides and subsidies that often add up to a million during the lifetime of an adult person with autism.

Stephen Standifer, who has been dealing with autistic adults for several decades now, rues that lack of awareness on part of the employers, along with society's apathy towards those disabilities, are detrimental to creating job opportunity for autistic people. People with autism must experience the workplace much before a neuro-typical adult. Stephen suggests that high school autistic students must speak to career counselors about jobs that interest them. They can also visit local organizations and gain valuable work experience through part-time or volunteer work.

Stephen suggests that autistic adults should visit voluntary rehab programs and non-profit organizations that conduct mock interviews. This is one of the most difficult parts that an autistic person has to face. These organizations also work with employers to change their mind while interviewing. For instance, potential employers are often advised to provide a proper setting during an interview or change the format so that people with autism can be more comfortable during the process.

Some companies have responded well to these organizations' request to open up job opportunity for autistic individuals. Some of them have even replaced the traditional job interview system to give people with autism a fair chance to prove themselves. In a leading movie theater chain, the interviewer took the autistic job applicants to a tour around the multiplex. They were taken to both the loud and the relatively quieter areas. Guess what, the applicants demonstrated a significantly higher level of composition in the quitter places.

{ Comments are closed }

4 Summer Activities for Special Needs Children

Summertime is an opportunity for parents of special needs children; a chance to organize some unique hot-afternoon activities for you and your kids that can help them grow and you bond. Here's some activities suggested by some of the leaders in developmental learning:

Squishy Sloppy Sensory Silliness

Sensory integration is the name of the games! Head out into the backyard – or anywhere else you can easily hose off when you're done – and set up some seriously tactile 'activity stations.'

• A big bin with a few small 'treasures' hidden inside for discovery; pour some of the birdseed in here to bury the treasures and have a piratey digging game.
• Another bin filled with ooblock (1.5 c. Corn starch + 1 c. Water + 1 drop food coloring), for some serious non-Newtonian-fluid type goopy fun!
• A dozen paper plates loaded up with shaving cream for a 'cream pie' fight – or just a few for scooping and slopping about.
• A small dish with just a little bit of coconut oil for smearing and slickness.
• And of course, if possible, a mud pit to roll around in for maximum serious grossness right before hosing-off time!

The Water Park

You do not need Wild Waves! With just a few inexpensive toys and some everyday materials, you can make your own water park in the backyard. A traditional bar sprinkler, an impact-rotor sprinkler, a watering can with a 'rain'-type nozzle, and a small bin to use as a hands-or-feet splashing station and you're in business! For more active (and possibly more dexterous) kids, try making a water-balloon piñata station by tying several water balloons to a clothesline or other structure, or make a 'shove-of-war' by putting a bucket or watering can on the clothesline and having two teams use a hose or a bunch of water guns to try to force the can in the other team's direction.

A Bus Adventure

In many municipalities, when you buy a bus ticket, you get to stay on until you get off (or the bus goes home for the day.) And in almost all municipalities, the bus goes in a grand loop, suddenly arriving back at your house. So for the cost of two bus tickets, you can take your special needs child on an exploration of both the bus itself and the route it drives. If you live in a city that allows 2 transfers without buying a new ticket, you can even take the bus to the main station, pick a different bus, drive a full loop on that bus, and then get back on the first bus for the trip home!

The Best Fort EVER

This one is easy and the kids love it: just grab every sheet and every chair in the house, put them all in one big space (even out in the yard), and build the best fort ever! Crawl around and through, modify the structure on the fly, and challenge them to make it as close to perfect as they can manange. For kids that need a safe or soothing place, design one nook as the “quiet corner,” and equip it with a bean bag or other relaxing and safe resting spot.

Your home (and your neighborhood) are rife with opportunities to keep your special needs child active and learning all summer long. All they need is your creativity and a bit of application. Have fun!

{ Comments are closed }

The Special Needs Parent: When Your Baby Has a Birth Defect

What do you do when the life that you've been nurturing for the last 280 or so days is finally here … and they come into the world with a birth defect? We all hope – and most of us expect – that our children will be 'normal,' but some 150,000 American children are born with a significant birth defect each year. This means, importantly, that you are not alone. Other people have been through an experience very similar to yours, and the tools and support you need do exist.

Acknowledge What You Feel

The worst thing that you can do is try to quash your feelings of denial, shock, outrage, loss, or grief. It's perfectly legitimate to feel these things – after all, you did lose something: you expected to have a normal parent with a normal child (which is challenging enough!). If you try to override or ignore these feelings, they will fester and they will make themselves manifest at some point in the future. Better to give into them, to feel them fully here and now, so you can assimilate them and move forward with them instead of in spite of them.

Find Support

Before you leave the hospital, ask a nurse or the hospital's counselor (yes, all hospitals have counselors) if they can recommend a support group or another social tool to help you learn about your baby's condition and what it's going to mean for their life – – and yours.

Celebrate!

Even in the most extreme circumstances, there's something to be celebrated in the creation of new life. Jump into the role of parent: cuddle, nurse, play, and enjoy every development milestone as it comes. The more you put effort into your child, the stronger your bond will become and the less relevant their condition will be to your ability to love and receive love.

Become an Expert

Your next determination should be to establish yourself as an expert in the field of your-child-ology. Visit the Internet, visit the library, visit specialist doctors and alternative doctors and alternative specialist doctors. Write down every question you have, and call experts until you get an answer that satisfies you (or you've proven that no such answer exists.) The best thing you can be for your special-needs child is an expert in the exact way that they are special and needful.

Seek Out the Earliest Intervention Possible

For most special-needs children, the earlier the treatment begins, the better off they end up. If that means looking for the pediatric surgeon that is the most confident if their ability to operate on an infant, start calling around. If that means obtaining a team of occupational, nutritional, speech, and physical therapists together to put a plan together for an eight-month-old, start calling around.

Having a child with a birth defect is a challenge – but every challenge is an opportunity, and this is no exception. It's time to learn what real love means.

{ Comments are closed }

Parenting a Special-Needs Child: Dealing With Hyperfocus

ADHD is the most common disease that causes hyperfocus, but it's hardly the only one. Aspergers, autism-spectrum disorders and several others all can cause a child to play a single game or repeat a single activity with a focus so intense that they will immediately become a terror if they're forced to stop.

Are There Benefits to Hyperfocus?

Of course! The most obvious benefit is that they will gain a lot of skill in that one activity, though often those skills are of questionable “real-world” value. But hyperfocus can also help a child escape from difficult situations such as awkward social interactions or even simple boredom.

Is Hyperfocus Unhealthy?

Perhaps predictably (and possibly ironically), the answer is “in moderate amounts, no.” Of course, the nature of hyperfocus is to exceed “moderate amounts” rather dramatically, but it's important to note that the important is taking breaks, not leaving the focused activity behind completely. A hyperfocused child can easily wet themselves, skip meals, miss important social cues and opportunities, and in the extreme cases, even develop repetitive motion syndrome – all of which a break can take care of.

How Can I Safely Break a Hyperfocused State?

Provide them with warning – a visual, auditory, and tactile interrupting informing them that have a limited time left before they have to switch activities. Then set a timer and put it where they can see it, and let it run down and go off while in their private vision. When the time comes, be gentle but firm in moving them away from their focused activity – literally. Do not just have them switch games on the computer, for example; move them into an entirely different room, where they can no longer see the computer, and engage them in a completely different activity for a while.

Practicing the Break: Story Telling

Before you engage that 'breakaway' activity, however, sit down with your child (when they're not hyperfocused on something) and talk to them about what to expect. Tell them that, as they do that thing, you're going to interrupt them and ask them to do something completely different. But insure them that the interference is temporary and they'll be able to go back to their activity of choice soon … ish.

'Automating' the Break: Timers

Occasionally, the goal is to enable your child to take the requisite breaks on their own. The easiest way to do this is to give them a simple egg timer, and get them in the habit of setting it each time they start engaging in their chosen getaway. 30 minutes on, five minutes off is a good metric for most games and similar tasks.

Having a child prone to hyperfocus does not have to be a long-term hassle – but you do have to put some significant thought and effort into finding a way to deal with the situation in a healthy manner. Keep the ultimate goal of enabling self-control in mind, and you will get there ever.

{ Comments are closed }

Bringing Up a Special Needs Child in the Digital Age

There's a curious similarity to be had in the lack of eye contact, the effortless and steadfast obliviousness to conversation, and the touchy 'leave me alone' attitude held by both children absorbed in a video game and children who suffer from social disorders and mild autism -spectrum disorders. It's enough to make a parent think that sometimes involvment in the digital world is exactly the wrong thing for a child with a social disorder … but that thought is wrong.

The fact is, digital media can be an excellent way for a child to explore what may otherwise be a strictly terrifying setting – social interaction – from a position of control, able to get away at any moment by turning the device off. The key, as with most aspects of the life of a child with special needs, is a large amount of support, communication, and structure provided by an adult. Here are some of the many ways in which the digital age is solving problems for special needs parents:

Get Involved

This can seem a little paradoxical to many parents – how do you 'get involved' when your child is clearly checked out, off in their own little digital world? The best way to do it is to figure out what they're doing when they're 'checked out,' and do it yourself. Learn what it means to have to mine far enough below the surface to start collecting diamonds, and how many you need to craft a diamond sword, and why it's important to have a diamond sword in the first place. The more intelligently you can talk to them about what they're doing, the less they'll check out, and the more they'll come to you to talk about the cool thing they completed. You do not have to be playing the same game at the same time – it's enough to understand why you should be impressed (and even better if you can offer a few wise tips from the almighty Dad to help them along!)

Communicate Your Expectations

This is true on almost every level, in every activity. If your daughter has ADHD (and is, let's be frank, six years old in the first place) and wants to play a community-based online game like Clash of Clans or Hearthstone, you need to sit down and talk to her about sportsmanship, about accepting losses along with victories, and about how to communicate with clanmates and enemies effectively and maturely. Do not assume that just because a game is digital, it's OK for your child to act less civilized than they would at soccer or Little League.

Similarly, communicate your expectations about the device usage in the first place. Some standard rules include “no iPad until after lunch / school,” “no social media unless someone else is in the room with you,” “no more than 45 consecutive minutes in front of a screen,” and so on. Whatever your expectations are, communicate them clearly and express your disappointment if they are not met.

Get Them Thinking

ESPecially about social media: sit down and go through some people's Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Vine accounts, and ask them what they think about each person. Ask them how they would like other people to think of them, and how they might act in order to achieve that goal. The more they can think ahead and plan their own path ahead of time, the less likely they are to have a significant negative experience on social media (or anywhere else, for that matter.)

{ Comments are closed }

Parenting the Sibling of a Special Needs Child

There's always another layer of complication that can make your current situation seem reliably easy. If you're concerned about your ability to be a parent, you can rest assured – parents of children with special needs have a whole different level of stress. And if you're already the parent of a child with special needs, well, you could have one with special needs and one precocious little sibling that has a hard time dealing with the fact that their brother or sister consistently gets the lion's share of time and effort. As many experts say, “siblings of children with special needs … have special needs.”

How Does It Feel to Be a 'Special Needs Sibling'?

There is already a plentitude of natural stress between siblings as they compete for their parents' attention. However, when that attention is already heavily claimed by a sibling who has special needs, that stress level goes to eleven. Here are some feelings the siblings of special needs children are known to exhibit:

• Concern for their sibling's well-being,
• Jealousy over the amount of time / attention being given to the other child,
• Fear that they will lose their sibling,
• Anger at being passed over or inadvertently ignored,
• Resentful of the time and energy they have to spend supporting their sibling,
• Resentful of the lack of time and energy they have to go other fun things.
• Pressure to be the 'whole child' that their sibling can not be, and of course,
• Guilty for their anger, resentment, and jealousy.

How Can I Tell If These Feelings are Becoming Too Strong?

If your child's feelings become too powerful, they can easily disrupted their daily lives. Here are the most common warning signs of potential emotional issues:

• Sudden changes in appetite,
• Sudden changes in sleep schedule, or ability to get sleep or awaken,
• Regular or constant physical aches – headaches and stomachaches most commonly,
• Driven perfectionist critiques of their own work,
• Anability to concentrate on normal everyday tasks,
• Separation anxiety,
• Unexplained crying or fretting,
• Hurting themselves (or talking about hurting themselves), and
• Sibling abuse.

How Should I Respond If I See These Symptoms?

Quite simply, you should immediately bring them up to your doctor, social worker, or other relevant expert. The list of potential responses is long, complex, and varies immensely by circumstance, so trying to go into it in any useful amount of detail here would be foolish. The important thing is that you bring in someone who has access to the right resources as efficiently as possible.

What if I Never See These Symptoms?

Then you're a very loyal parent – but you should still still take a few moments that you might instinctively give to your special needs child and consciously give them to their sibling instead. It's useless to try to 'balance' the two kids – but you can and should 'reward' the healthy sibling with the one thing that they want most of all … your time and attention.

{ Comments are closed }