Monthly Archives: June 2016

Helpful Tips To Having A Safe 4th Of July

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When planning your 4th of July, think about your child and their needs. Would your child enjoy themselves more at a small family BBQ or would they be ok going out to watch an entire firework show…or lastly, could they watch fireworks from the car where they aren’t faced with the crowds.

If you feel that you want to go attend a fireworks display – or a big party – here are some tips to make your day run as smoothly as possible.

1. Prepare your child in advance – As a general rule of thumb, it is very important to prepare your child with autism in advance for a major event or holiday such as 4th of July. Talk to your child about what they can expect on that day, the people, the food, the fireworks etc. Show them pictures and videos of firework shows. It is a good idea to ease them into the loud noise that comes with fireworks, so it would be good to start by letting them watch it with the sound off and then slowly increase the sound each time they watch it again, so they can get used to the noise before the actual day.

2. Bring along favorite toys games and foods – Focus on the fun of the 4th. Tell them the story of America’s independence and what we are celebrating. Explain to them that they get to eat hot dogs, burgers, ice cream or whatever their favorite American foods are. Share with them some of the fun summer games they can play during the day. Let them know that they can bring even their favorite toys, games and snacks with the to the fireworks show. This can provide a great distraction if your child gets antsy or has a hard time with the actual fireworks. Also remember you don’t need to take them into the crowds if they have a hard time with it. It’s just as nice to park your car with a view of the fireworks and away from the crowds and let your kids stand outside with you or sit in the car to watch through the window.

3. Consider making them as comfortable as possible: Bring your child a chair and a towel to create their own personal space, bring them headphones so that they can down out the noise if they need to, consider sitting somewhere distant where you can still see the fireworks display but without the intense noise.

4. Give your child a break – Make sure your child knows how to ask for a break and that you can provide him or her with a break from the noise, the crowds and all the excitement. If they are verbal, teach them to say “I need a break” and if they are non-verbal create a card, or give them an item to give you when they need a break and explain to them what it is for and when they should give it to you.

July 4th is a wonderful holiday to celebrate, but it’s also a noisy and busy one. And can cause children who have been diagnosed with autism to have sensory issues, stress related breakdowns and can issues with loud fireworks and large crowds. Handling these challenges properly can be the difference between a happy 4th of July filled with celebrations or a stressful 4th of July filled with obstacles.

How to help your child with autism understand what others are feeling

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Often times children who have been diagnosed with autism struggle to understand other people’s feelings and manage their own emotions. This lack of intuition can have a negative impact on their friendships, adult interactions, and their behavior throughout the day.

Some ways that will help you teach your child on the spectrum about facial expressions and emotions are through the use of flashcards, role play, the use of a mirror, and fun creative games that will grab their attention so that they can learn the differences between happy, sad, mad, etc.

The first step to helping your child on the spectrum understand how facial expressions portray actual emotions is to educate them on what facial expressions correlate with which emotions. You can do this by creating or purchasing flashcards, pointing out expressions in books, on TV or in the community.

Flashcards- these will help teach your child what facial expressions look like and what emotions go with each picture.
Images in books and on TV- this is a great way to practice what your child has already learned in the flashcards.

People in the community – by pointing out facial expressions on actual people you are able to discuss what they might be feeing and how it is affecting them. You can point out more than what their facial expression looks like, you can talk about their posture, their eye contact etc.; and how their overall body language is effected by how they are feeling.

Once your child, who has been diagnosed with autism, learns facial expressions and the body language that goes along with each emotion, you can start role playing situations. Role playing can lead to specific emotions and how people will react in specific situations. It is a fun way to practice identifying feelings, and can be group activity or a one on one game.

You can also make a game of identifying feelings by having your child on the spectrum practice facial expressions in a mirror. Name an emotion and have your child look in a mirror and create the expression that goes along with that emotion. Point out how their eyes, eyebrows, nose, and mouth change shapes as they practice different facial expressions. Take turns so that they can see how you would express different emotions. They will learn by watching what you do.

Bring out their creativity by making a game of identifying feelings. Art is a fun way to learn about facial expressions. Have your child, who has ben diagnosed with autism, draw or paint a picture showing people with different feelings, or work with them to create a collage of emotions. Cut out sets of eyes, eyebrows, mouths, and noses. Have your child on the spectrum put faces together showing emotions.

Learning to read facial expressions is important for social interactions. When your child on the spectrum can identify how a friend, classmate, sibling, parent, or person in the community feels, they can respond appropriately.

Tips For Preparing Your Child For Summer Camp

bmca logoSchool is out and summer is in which for many children means going to day or overnight camps. Help prepare children for a great camp experience. Here are some ways to prepare your child on the spectrum for an amazing summer filled with fun camp activities and new friends.

1. Visit the Camp before you sign up– Get your child on the spectrum familiarized with the camp you want them to attend. Plan a day where they can visit to see the facilities, meet the councilors, and ask any questions that you or your child might have. Unfamiliar places and situations can be very stressful, if you plan a visit before signing your child with autism up, you can prepare your child for what to expect. Since many children with autism are visual learners, it would be a good idea for you to take your camera and take pictures of the camp surroundings, and the schedule of activities and then create a story about what to expect.

2. Ask Your Child’s Opinion – It’s a good idea to involve your child with autism when planning to start a new camp program. Let them pick their own backpack and pack some of their favorite things from home to ease their stress levels. Use this as an opportunity to discuss the weather and appropriate clothes for activities. If there are choices for activities on camp enrollment forms allow them to have a say in what activities they want to participate in so that they will enjoy the experience.

3. Set Their Expectations – Be sure your child on the spectrum knows what to expect throughout their day and week at camp. Since schedules and activities at camp can be different daily, prepare your child with autism in advance for what each day holds for them. Explain to them when they will be dropped off, when they will you picked up, who they can expect to see, what they will eat (if you have that information) etc. All of this additional information should be included to help reduce any anxiety they may have.

4. Create Lasting Memories – Camp should b ea fun and exciting experience for children. It’s their time to enjoy the warm weather and the outdoors, but your child with autism might often forget the details of what they did while there. Camps often take pictures of children and email them to parents. These pictures are a great resource for creating a memory book to enjoy or a story to remind your child about camp. These are also great tools to use over and over again when prepare your child for camp again next year and for many years to come.

Going to camp is a way for your child on the spectrum to learn new things, create memories, and enjoy summer fun with old and new friends. Although a fun experience in many ways, your child with autism may have a difficult time with new situations, people, and schedules. By preparing your child in advance with what they can expect, you are able to easy your child’s levels of anxiety and allow for them to truly enjoy their time off of school.