The holiday season can be a very fun and exciting time, but it can also be overwhelming for some of us and for our kids. When a child becomes over-stimulated during the holidays, it can lead to stress, anxiety, or behaviors that can make this special time with family and friends difficult. Here are some tips to help make the holidays more enjoyable.
Parents of children with Autism, especially those with more severe challenges like language and sensory issues, often fret about embarking on toilet training. Questions about when to start and how to do it may linger and create anxiety. Also, as a child develops in personality and behavior, they are also changing physically, so it is important to remember the differences among kids and try not to compare your child to others. Your child’s readiness will depend on their own learned skills as well as developmental abilities such as muscle control.
The other half of the toilet training experience depends on the parent’s readiness. It takes time and energy to begin toilet training and may not always be an easy process. However, with some hard work and consistency from the child and parent, it can be done. Remember your goal; having an independent, happy child will be well worth the effort.
Signs that your child is ready to begin toilet training:
• Stays dry for longer periods of time
• Shows visible signs of urinating or having a bowel movement (e.g. squatting, pulling up pants, touching themselves, crossing legs) Read more
Holiday gift giving can be tricky to juggle when providing educational toys that also happen to be fun for your children. Here is a list of suggestions that is seperated by Ages, Sensory Considerations and Fine and Gross Motor Skill Development.
Holiday Toys for Infants (0-1yr)
“Tummy time” offers strengthening of the back, core and neck muscles that are critical to a baby’s development. There are many tummy time mats on the market to help this important position be a part of your everyday routine,
• Tummy time play mats; $14.99 – $24.99
Babies enjoy exploring environments that are filled with music, colors, lights and a variety of textures. Cause and effects toys are great for developing fine motor skills as well as eye-hand coordination such as,
• Fisher-Price Little Superstar Classical Stacker (6mos & up); $13.99
Providing infants with teethers and rattles of a variety of shapes, sounds and textures will assist in their exploration of their environment as well as help sooth those teeth coming in. Read more
After reading Siblings Without Rivalry by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish, I had to question whether or not this title was realistic. Don’t all siblings have difficulty getting along sometimes? The answer is yes – all brothers and sisters go through conflicts that may cause you to pull your hair out. However, there is a difference between normal sibling rivalry and behavior that is not typical between brothers and sisters. There are also plenty of ways that parents can both reduce the tension in the household and actually exacerbate the situation.
Why do Brothers and Sisters Fight?
• Siblings fight due to developmental levels. Younger children are going to argue over “silly” things, such as sharing toys and sitting too close to each other.
• Brothers and sisters may not get along because their personalities are either too different or too similar. You also may have two children with very strong personalities.
• Siblings of children with special needs may have difficulty with understanding why their brother or sister gets more attention than they do.
• Sex and age can also cause sibling rivalry. Children of the same sex and close in age may be more competitive due to having similar interests.
• Parenting plays a major role. How you resolve conflict may impact your children’s problem-solving ability. As a parent, you also have the power to increase or decrease the tension based on how you react.
• Fighting amongst siblings is normal. How and how much they fight is the question to be answered when determining what atypical behavior is. Physical interactions between siblings are never okay and should always be addressed. You may never fully eliminate arguing between siblings, but the frequency can always be reduced. Read more
Aren’t toddlers so fun and adorable? You’re probably saying to yourself, “Well, most of the time!”
Keeping your toddler well-behaved at a family function can be extremely difficult, especially because you don’t want to unleash the “monster parent” in front of other family members.
Keep cool! Remember that your toddler is doing the best he or she can with the limited skills they’ve got. Tantrums, throwing items, hitting and talking back are all “normal” – these behaviors show that your child is curious and “independent (or at least that is what you tell your family).
This is true to an extent. Toddlers are at an extremely curious age. They always want to know how things work and will often try things out that aren’t exactly ok (e.g. seeing if their sister’s new fish can swim in the toilet). It’s important to remember that communication at this age is tough. In the mind of a toddler, it’s much easier to throw their plate rather than try to say, “Mommy, I am done with my food.” It’s just not going to happen! And finally, remember that they all want to be independent at this age. They are seeing what they can do by themselves, which often leads to frustration, anger and then the dreaded tantrum. Read more
The leaves are changing, Thanksgiving is right along the corner, and the temperatures are dropping! It is so important to keep your entire family active during the winter months, including your infants. Many area community centers have “Mommy and Me” and “Gym and Swim” classes that encourage fine and gross motor activities. Local music centers also have specialty classes just for the little ones. There are still plenty of great activities that you can do indoors with babies to keep them active and achieve those gross motor milestones along the way.
Below are some fun activities to do with your little ones outdoors and indoors as the weather turns colder.
1) After a diaper change when your baby is still on the changing table, ‘bicycle’ their legs in a rotating movement from their hips and knees. This reciprocal motion is great for learning to crawl and walk!
2) If you have a dog, include your babies in the daily dog-walking. Quick, ten- to fifteen-minute walks with your kiddos that can walk or be pushed in the stroller get them (and you!) out into the fresh air. As you are walking, talk to your children about the nature around them and how the seasons change the trees, grass and temperatures. As a rule of thumb, dress your babies in one layer heavier then you would yourself. Read more
Parent and teacher conferences are soon approaching. This is an exciting time for parents, as it serves as the first means of identifying how their children have been progressing thus far in the school year. However, too many times parents leave the conferences with more questions than answers. This is a hectic time; teachers are extremely busy, as they have twenty some conferences to prepare for themselves, and parents are often in a rush and feel unprepared. Here are several ideas and guidelines for making the most out of a conference.
It is important for parents to make the most of the fifteen or so minutes that are planned for the conference. Teachers usually have an idea of what they want to discuss during the meeting, and more often than not, the focus is on the child’s academic work and behavior within the classroom. Parents, please develop and write down an outline of what you want to discuss during the meeting. Like any structured meeting, the agenda must be decided by both parties. It is important to identify what the current concerns are, as well as what your (as parents) ideal outcome is from having the meeting with the teacher. Read more
Myths About Your Teen And Parties:
• My child is a scholar and student athlete: he or she does not have a risk of experimenting with drugs or alcohol.
• I would know if my child is under the influence.
• My child went through a drug prevention program at school and received a certificate, so I don’t have to worry.
• My child is too young to have a drug or alcohol problem.
• Letting my child and his or her friends drink at my house is safer than letting them experiment elsewhere. At least I can monitor things.
• My child went through high school without having a drug or alcohol problem, so college will be fine.
Facts About Drugs, Alcohol and Teens:
Research tells us that:
• All kinds of students can experiment with drugs or alcohol. Good grades and involvement with sports or other activities can reduce risk, but does not eliminate it.
• Our children can fool us. We can miss the signs of experimentation.
• Drug and alcohol prevention programs don’t always work. Kids can know the facts and risks of substance abuse but experiment anyway.
• Alcoholics and addicts often report that they began experimenting in middle school or even earlier.
• Drinking while underage is always against the law, and serving underage kids is against the law and creates liability for parents. Letting them drink at home is a dangerous practice.
• College presents a new set of challenges including more independence, initiation into fraternities and sororities, the presence of older students who are over twenty- one, and binge drinking.
This is all frightening! What can we as parents do to help protect our tweens and teens from drug and alcohol abuse?
What to Do For Your Teen?
• First of all, accept that any child and any family can be confronted with this problem. Educate yourself about the risks and research.
• Communicate, communicate, communicate. Start talking early to your children about the dangers of smoking, drugs and alcohol use. Have regular discussions of any topic to create a climate where your children are not afraid to bring up issues.
• Set rules and guidelines that meet your family’s needs and values, including curfews. Your child will always be ready with examples of other people’s rules, but that is irrelevant. Your family has its own rules.
• Know your child’s friends and the friends’ parents. Set up a communication network with other parents. Let them know that you want to be informed about problems. Parents that are picking up or dropping off at parties /events should be alert to problematic behaviors.
• Talk to other parents about plans, and make sure that there will be adult supervision at parties and overnights.
• Get to know your child’s teachers, guidance counselors and coaches. Familiarize yourself with the school and team rules and policies governing drug and alcohol use. Most school and sports teams have zero tolerance policies.
• Have a zero tolerance rule at home for teen alcohol use.
• While privacy is important, let your child know that his orher room is not off limits to you.
• Be aware of changes in your child’s behavior. Unusual difficulty getting up in the morning, falling asleep in class, slipping grades, a change in peer group, loss of interest in usual activities or hobbies, or physical and emotional changes may all indicate a drug or alcohol problem.
• Remind your child over and over again that it is never OK to drive under the influence or get in the car with a driver who is under the influence.
• Have a “no questions asked” policy. If your child is at an event or party and does not feel safe, he or she can call you for a ride home at any time, no questions, asked.
• If your child is in college, make sure that he or she signs a release form so that college officials can contact you if problems arise.
• If you suspect a problem, talk to your child. Trust your judgment. Consult with your pediatrician who can do urine and blood checks. Seek out professional help if needed.
At all stages of your child’s development, educate, communicate and be proactive. Be an ongoing problem solver and source of support for your child.
Note: Jan Keller Schultz is the mother of three grown children who have made it safely into their twenties!
Halloween parties, costumes, make-up, masks, trick-or-treating, and treats. This all sounds like fun to many children, but Halloween “fun” can be a sensory nightmare for children with sensory issues. Fortunately, there are ways to help make Halloween more enjoyable for the child who struggles with sensory issues.
SPD For Halloween Tip 1 – Exposure to Halloween early and often
Start early in explaining Halloween to your children to ensure a successful night. Repetition helps kids with sensory processing difficulties understand an event or holiday.
SPD For Halloween Tip 2 – Pick the right costume
- Choose a non-scary costume
- Let your child help select a costume. A bumblebee suit with wings and bobbing antennae may be too much to handle, but a silly shirt or a handheld prop might be perfect.
- Try out the costumes, make sure they are a good fit.
- Practice walking and sitting while wearing the costume.
- Wearing a mask may be uncomfortable. He may prefer to hold the mask or just skip it.
- If costumed, make sure it’s something she can partially or fully remove so she doesn’t have to go home if she becomes uncomfortable.
- If your child is not wearing a costume, make sure they know there is nothing wrong with them.
- If your child is afraid of trick-or-treating and seeing others dressed up in costumes, stay home and hand out candy from the front yard or the doorway.
- Your child can wear his costume in safe and familiar environments such as the neighbors’ and relatives’ houses.
- Never force your child to wear a costume. If they do not want to wear one at all, that’s okay!
- Experiment with face make-up as tactile exploration. However, bring baby wipes to remove it just in case.