Monthly Archives: December 2015

How to Celebrate New Years Eve with a child who has been diagnosed with Autism

  The end of the year is upon us and if you haven’t already planning your New Years celebration, here are some suggestions on how to have a fun celebration at home with your child who has been diagnosed with autism.

Just because you are home, doesn’t mean you can’t have a festive celebration with your family. Sure, it’s not the same as hanging out at the coolest club or hitting the hottest party in town — but you can still have fun while ushering in the new year with your child on the spectrum.

Here are a few ideas of how you can make your celebration festive:

If you are on the East Coast Re-set the clock. If you are on the West, celebrate “New York” New Years!

Do your kids generally go to sleep at 7 or 8 p.m.? Don’t make the little ones have to strain to stay up until midnight. Instead, if you live on the east coast, set your clock forward a couple of hours so that they can still celebrate at mock midnight — they don’t have to know it’s early.

If you are on the west coast, the best way to “ring in the New Year” is to watch the ball drop in Time Square. Your children will get the sense that they are celebrating the end of one year, and the beginning of a new year, but in reality it is only 9 pm and only an hour or so past their regular scheduled bed time.

If both cases, be sure to start preparing your child with autism a few days prior to the new year. Let them know they will be staying up late, prepare them for the ball drop, the noise makers they may hear on TV, or fireworks they may see. Create a story about the New Years celebration so that they know what to expect and are happily anticipating a new beginning.

Head to the kitchen

Cooking with your child on the spectrum can be a lot of fun. Get them involved by asking them if they want to bake cookies, make their favorite meal, or bake a cake…whatever it is, use the hours leading up to midnight to prepare something special with your child on the spectrum, to enhance their New Years celebration..

Toast with sparkling cider

At midnight, pour a round of sparkling cider into plastic champagne glasses. Toast the New Year with your child, who has been diagnosed with autism, and reflect on all your blessings from the last year.

Create a memory book

New Year’s Eve is a great time for crafting and scrapbooking. Have your child with autism help put together an album or memory book of all the fun activities and events your family experienced in the last year. Include pictures, drawings and ideas from each family member, no matter how little. Make a new book every year on New Year’s Eve — you’ll treasure them for years to come.

A Special Thank You


Now that you have a plan in place to create a memorable and festive New Years celebration with your child on the spectrum, we know that your evening will be much more meaningful than any party, club or gathering you may have gone to in previous years.


All of us at Beautiful Minds Center want to wish you a very happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year. May your homes be filled with laughter and your hears be filled with love.



Tips for Family Vacations and Weekend Trips

Many of us will be traveling this holiday season to visit our family and friends. Help make holiday travel go smoothly by preparing your child on the spectrum for what to expect when traveling and while away.

Family vacations create memories and will teach your child on the spectrum about new places. They also provide an often much needed break for you, your family and your child. Unfortunately, some children, who have been diagnosed with autism, have a difficult time with new situations, people, and schedules.

Here are some ideas for making vacations and weekend trips less stressful and more enjoyable.

  1. Prepare Kids – Unfamiliar places and situations can be very stressful for some children with autism. Prepare your child on the spectrum for a trip by showing images of where they will be staying, activities, people going on the trip, and transportation are helpful for setting expectations. If you are flying, discuss the security process and etiquette for how to behave at the airport and on a plane. Also if they are expecting Santa, make sure you let them know that Santa can find them wherever you go!
  2. Involve Kids in Planning – Unless you are going to visit family in the same location as always this holiday season, you may want to involve your child on the spectrum in your planning process. Consider your children’s interests when booking a get away so that they look forward to the trip and know there will be plenty of fun activities for them to do. Before a trip, let your child on the spectrum help pack their suitcases so they know what they will have with them. Use this as an opportunity to discuss the weather and appropriate clothes for activities. Pack and have readily available a small bag of toys and books for car rides, unexpected waiting periods, and downtimes.
  3. Create a Sense of Familiarity – Do what you can to maintain a somewhat consistent routine while away. Although sleep schedules may be difficult to follow, but keep wake up and bedtime as close to the child’s usual schedule as possible. Familiar objects also help children with consistency. If a child reads a favorite story before bed, carries personal items in a backpack, or uses a stress ball, be sure to pack these items.
  4. Remember Downtime is Important – Families often over plan vacations. Spending time with friends and family, going from one location to another, or doing a number of things at one place can exhaust children. Be sure to remember that your child on the spectrum needs some downtime to play on their own, to rest, maybe even to take a nap. Make sure you keep that in mind when planning your days away.
  5. Create Memories – Most of all use your time away with your family to create memories that will last a lifetime, take lots of pictures, buy a travel diary before the trip and if possible try to spend a few minutes every evening discussing the day’s events, so that your child doesn’t forget what they did by the time they get home.


Early Signs of Autism in Infants

We often hear so much about the “red flags” seen in toddlers, but there are many signs that a child with autism beings to display earlier on in their infancy stage. If caught quickly, early intervention can help your child on the spectrum advance their language and communication skills at a faster rate then once these skills have already developed and need to be retrained.

One reason many families have a hard time recognizing these red flags may have to do with the fact that since children do no start producing spoken language until one year of age, the “early signs” might be too subtle to notice. This could be especially true for families with limited resources and access to information. Therefore, these children who should have already been evaluated are not referred to early intervention therapy until after they are expected to produce spoken language.

Here are some of the early signs of autism that begin in the infancy stage. These signs are important for all parents to be aware off. The earlier that autism is diagnosed and therapy begins the better chances your child has of overcoming certain social and behavioral obstacles later on in life.

  • Smiles late or very minimally – occurs in the first few months of life
  • Seldom makes eye contact with people – typically emerges between two to four months
  • Does not respond to calling of their name with head turns – occurs between eight to ten months
  • Does not turn or look when you point or say “look at this,” – occurs between ten to 12 months
  • Does not point at objects or people – emerges between 12 to 14 months
  • Does not babble back and forth – established at six months of age. Babbling becomes more complex with more syllables between 8 to 10 months
  • Demonstrates unusual movements, such as hand flapping, spinning, tapping or playing with the same toy in a way that seems odd or repetitive
  • Doesn’t explore surroundings with curiosity or interest

If you have any concerns about your child’s development in the infancy stage, please reach out to your pediatrician and voice your concerns. They will be able to refer you to a specialist who can evaluate your child’s development and connect you with the proper program, such as Beautiful Minds Center, that specializes in early intervention therapy.