Monthly Archives: December 2014

12 TIPS TO SURVIVING CHRISTMAS WITH A CHILD DIAGNOISED WITH AUTISM

Tis the season to be merry, but in order to get there you must prepare your child for what to expect during the holidays. The malls will be crowded, the music will be loud, the children will be taking pictures with Santa and you and your child may find yourselves on edge, but it doesn’t have to be that way. This holiday season we want to share with you our 12 tips to making your Christmas both merry and bright!

  1. Need to get last minute shopping done? Don’t be shy about asking a family member or friend to babysit for a few hours. Your child will enjoy being in his or her regular surrounds and you can zip through the mall with the greatest of ease and get back quickly to enjoy time with your child before they go to bed.
  2. Last week we wrote about gift ideas to get your child with autism, but if your child’s favorite toy or activity wasn’t on that list, tell your friends and family members what your child likes. Better yet, make it easy for them to find. Create a wish list on amazon or other sites that you may be using and send the link out to your family and friends. The easier it is for them to find the gifts your child enjoys, the better chances you will have of making your child’s Christmas dreams come true. How great would it be to be able to check off their entire gift wishes on Santa’s list?
  3. Looking for a great gift to give the parents of a child with special needs??? We have the best idea, and it won’t cost you anything. Give them some of your time!!! Offer them a night out to a movie or dinner, offer them a home cooked meal that they don’t have to rush home to make. What about offering your cleaning services? I’m sure they would really enjoy that as well…Whatever it may be that you can do to help…that would be the greatest gift of all. Remember, we are all busy during the holidays, so if you don’t have the time to help out at the end of the year, don’t stress. Give them a certificate or coupon that they can redeem at any time. The support they will feel with this small gesture is sure to bring a large smile to their face.
  4. If your child with special needs has a sibling who feels like they are missing out on the holiday season, set up a play date or a carpool to a holiday event or party. They will be happy they could be involved in something they might have otherwise missed.
  5. What about your special needs child? Have you wanted that perfect picture with Santa or have they? We’ve been seeing articles about Sensitive Santa in the news lately and think it’s a great idea. Call your local malls, stores, schools, or Christmas tree lots and request a Sensitive Santa Program where Santa greets children with autism outside in a quite area away from all the loud music and shoppers. Offer to dress up if you have to. This way your child will get to experience the yearly tradition of taking a photo with Santa without the added stress that goes with it.
  6. If going to a large party or gathering with a child that has been diagnosed with autism, prepare them in advance for what they should expect. You can create visuals, social stories, or even role play with them so that when you arrive, your child won’t be overwhelmed.
  7. If having a gather in your own home, it’s also good to prepare your child for what to expect. First, we recommend keeping the gathering small. Consider having a gather of just family one night and friends on a different night. That way you break up a large crowd into two small crowds, making the evening more manageable for your child.
  8. Where ever your holiday events take place, try to either set up a quiet room or monitor your child and take them outside or into a less crowded or loud space when they need to retreat. Be mindful of their needs. If you do this, your child will have less chance of breaking down or having a tantrum. It is important to give them a break from noise and activity.
  9. If going out for a holiday dinner, check with the host on what they are serving, or look up the restaurant menu in advance. Make sure your child has something to eat and drink. If nothing is available bring snacks with you that you know they will enjoy, or create their favorite meal before you go out and enjoy it with them.
  10. If cooking a holiday meal at home for family or friends, make sure your menu includes a few dishes that your child loves. Make them feel part of the celebration by including them in your kitchen. Allow them to help you prepare and get them excited for the night ahead.
  11. Use this time of year to do good and spread good cheer by volunteering at your child’s school, church, temple or other programs that your child is involved in. Show these organizations that you care and that you support the efforts they are making with your children with special needs.
  12. Donate! Donate to an organization that conducts autism research, spreads awareness, and/or implements treatments as the more funding these organizations get, the more research can be done and the more awareness of autism can spread. This will lead to greater acceptance and a better world for everyone!

 

This year may your Christmas truly be MERRY and BRIGHT!

 

A Guide to Holiday Gift Giving for Your Child with Autism

Buying a gift for a child on the spectrum can be challenging. You should first keep in mind their developmental ability rather than their actual age so that you minimize frustration and maximize their enjoyment. We wanted to take this opportunity to share with you some toys, games and activities we think they will love.

Activities

Activity games such as therapy balls and hopper balls are a great way to allow your child to expend energy while getting a good workout and at the same time improving balance, sensory integration and coordination skills. They are great for indoor and outdoor activities and can be deflated and inflated for easy transportation.

Board Games

Board games such as Zingo and Apples to Apples are games that many children love. On top of recognizing or learning new images and increasing thinking skills they are also great tools to use when working on sharing, turn taking and following directions. These games are not only fun for your children, but can involve the whole family, making them perfect for expanding communication skills as well.

Sensory Toys

Sensory toys such as Kinetic Sand and Brain Food help your children with tactile exploration and with sensory processing difficulty. These sensory toys allow your children to relieve stress and help them relax by being able to squeeze, mold and run their fingers through these toys.

Building Toys

Legos are a great way to improve social skills in children with autism. They are a perfect activity for an imaginative child to do on their own, and are also great to use in a group where your children are required to interact and work with others. Magna Tiles are also great for children on the spectrum because they allow you to use your imagination as well, and also shape math, tactile and special skills. Both can lead to hours of entertainment and make great gifts.

Now you no longer have to worry about what to get your children this holiday season. All of these toys are readily available both for online purchase and at major retailers, and will not only be fun for your kids to play with, but will also help them improve many skills. So have no more fear and enjoy your holiday shopping this year.

 

Indoor Winter Fun

Happy December Everyone! With winter approaching and the weather turning cold, rainy and in some places snowy, we know that it is hard to get out of the house and entertain your kids with special needs, so we wanted to share with you some great indoor activities you can entertain them with. Whether your child is on the autism spectrum or has developmental delays these activities are great ways to develop skills during play time. 

  1.  Sensory toys such as slime and kinetic sand are great ways to keep them entertained while also working on fine motor skills. Teach your kids to use the slime to pick up small toys and objects. Help them build and shape things with kinetic sand. If your child is either a sensory seeker or a sensory resister, this activity is great for everyone.
  2. Creating an obstacle course out of everyday items you have at home is a perfect way to incorporate gross motor skills into a fun at home activity. By lining up a few chairs in two rows and throwing a blanket over them you can build a tunnel, use pillows to build hills or a fort that they need to get to. Lay towels on the floor and tell them they are traps they need to jump over, the possibilities are endless. For more advanced fun, try hiding toys around the house and turning the obstacle course into a scavenger hunt.
  3. Create a craft corner filled with construction paper, glitter, glue, Popsicle sticks, scissors, tape, feathers, buttons and more. Working with your child on arts and crafts will help your incorporate skills like following instructions, turn taking, and sharing into the activity. How about making your own sensory toys, like your very own bean bag tossing game? A great and easy way to do that can be found by clicking on this link: http://familycrafts.about.com/od/easysewin1/ss/beanbags.htm Once you’ve made your bean bags, it’s time to get creative. For indoor fun, set up toys or plastic cups and make your kids stand a distance away and toss the bean bags to see if how many they can knock down.

 

Don’t let winter weather bring you down, enjoy indoor fun time with your family and keep your special needs kids entertained while also working on vital skills to help them advance.