Monthly Archives: October 2016

Having a safe, fun and memorable Halloween

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Halloween is an exciting night and creates lasting childhood memories for both kids and parents. Here are some strategies that will help prepare your child on the spectrum for a night of ghouls, goblins, critters and candy.

The first thing you should do to get your child on the spectrum excited about Halloween and a night of trick or treating is to let them pick a Halloween costume they will feel comfortable in. Some children on the spectrum can be sensitive to face makeup or masks. If the costume calls for either, find alternative ways create the look your child is going for. Glue popsicle sticks to a mask so that they don’t have to wear it on their face, but have the option to present the mask if they choose to.

Always try to do a Halloween dress rehearsal before the big night. Have your child on the spectrum put on the complete costume and role play by going to a family, neighbor, or friend’s home and practicing saying “trick or treat”, holding their basket or bag out and saying “thank you” after they receive their candy. Remind your child to be polite, wait their turn, and take one piece of candy.

It is important to establish your guidelines in advance. Prepare your child with autism for what to expect on Halloween. Let me know what time they will be going trick or treating, for how long they can expect to be out. Explain to them that they can only go to homes with their lights on. Give them specific guidelines of what streets they can be on and the fact that they need to stay near you, a family member or a friend’s parents. Use visuals if it is easier for your child on the spectrum to understand what to expect on Halloween night. Remember to review everything right before you set out to start your evening.

Candy guidelines are also a factor that needs to be taken into consideration. Children can become very excited when it comes to candy. Set rules on how much candy they are allowed to have in a day. Before you go trick or treating make sure your child on the spectrum knows to bring all the candy home and give it to you so that you can check it before they eat it. Create a chart on when your child is allowed to eat candy and how many pieces they can have.

With guidelines in place and expectations managed, your child will have an incredibly fun night of trick or treating and you will create special Halloween memories that will last a lifetime.

Teaching your kids cooperation skills

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Fall is filled with exciting activities and social situations. Help prepare child on the spectrum for working with others, problem solving, and other important social skills in a fun and stress-free way.
When your child, who has been diagnosed with autism, struggles to play with peers or communicate properly with adults, they have a hard time, working with others and making friends. Learning to play and work with others is a critical skill for developing friendships, completing group projects, and participating in extra-curricular activities. Cooperation skills also build the foundation for more complex social skills.
Here are some fun ways to teach your child on the spectrum the social skills and cooperation skills needed to make friends and work well with others.
Here are some fun activities you can do with our child, who has been diagnosed with autism, that will teach them skills such as waiting, turn taking, and following directions.
Cooking – Family cooking activities are a fun way to divide work and practice skills. Start by making a written or pictorial recipe with ingredients and steps presented in order. Assign roles to each family member and practice turn taking, following directions, and sharing responsibility for creating something you can all enjoy later.
Gardening – A great way to do a group activity with your child, who has been diagnosed with autism, is to spend the afternoon gardening with them. Whether potting seeds or planting flowers, it is best to assign your child with a specific task that they are responsibly for. Gardening provides the opportunity for continued cooperation and responsibility; and many kids enjoy it.
Art – Group art projects such as murals and collages provide the perfect opportunity for dividing work and creating a lasting reminder of cooperation. Select a theme and have your child on the spectrum look for specific pictures in magazines, books, on-line, or whatever resources you have at home. Then give them the responsibility of creating the design for the collage by placing the pictures together in the order they like best, while someone else glues the pictures down. This is a perfect way to practice teamwork.
After your child has developed basic cooperation skills, give them opportunities to use these skills at home, at school and in the community. Encourage your child on the spectrum to use the social skills they have learned to master tasks on their own.

Making Sleep Easier For You And Your Child Witj Autism

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Sleep is important for everyone. It is a time to recharge your body and your mind. Many people struggle to get enough sleep and although adults can somehow manage a few days of inconstant sleep routines, studies have show that for children, both late bedtimes and irregular bedtimes affect their mood, behavior and performance.

Here are some very important tips to follow to ensure that your child with autism is getting enough sleep and to make bed time an easy routine for them to follow.
1. Consistency is Key – When you have consistency in your bedtime routine, your child with autism knows what to expect and is not caught off guard when their activities are interrupted. It is important to keep these routines consistent all week long, not just during weekdays, but on weekends as well. Your child on the spectrum doesn’t know the difference and will have to go through a period of adjustment every week if the routine is broken

2. Routines include pre-bedtime activities – When you plan your “bedtime routine” take into account the activities that lead up to actually getting into bed as part of the routine. Start your routine before bed time, brushing teeth, story time etc…whatever it is that you do with you child on the spectrum to get them to go to bed. When you factor all of this into the routine, the activities leading up to getting into bed are consistent daily and will make going to sleep easier. Plan ahead for bedtime. Some children need verbal prompts to start their routines, or reminders that it’s time to get in the bath etc., others will benefit more for visual schedules. Find what works best for your child with autism and stick to it. Reading stories about a bedtime routine can also be helpful for your child on the spectrum. By seeing or hearing that others, including their favorite cartoon, or TV characters have a bedtime routine, they are more likely to want to have one too. There are several children’s books with popular characters that talk about bed time routines, sleeping in your own bed, etc.

3. Be Positive – Make bedtime something to look forward to. Plan pre-bedtime activities that calm your child with autism down, use soft tones in your voice to get their minds ready to relax and no matter how long or tough your day was, stay positive and keep a good attitude around your child at bedtime. This will keep you from forcing them into bed as apposed to guiding them into bed.

4. Follow Through – There will times when you will struggle to keep your routine. There will be times when you child on the spectrum will fight you to go to bed, and there will be times when events or activities run late (especially on weekends) and you will have to plan in advance. If you can bring your child’s PJ’s with you do so. At least changing them into their PJ’s will eliminate one step when you get home. Changing times, routines, and expectations can also lead to unnecessary stress for a child on the spectrum who depend on routines. Setting a schedule and enforcing it may be difficult at first, but following through with the set bedtime and routine is essential for success.

5. Recognize Bedtime Benefits Everyone – It will take time for you and your child to the set bedtime routine into consideration. You will have to get used to the routine just as much as your child does. In the long run a bed time routine does benefit everyone in a positive way. When your child follows a bedtime routine and gets used to the consistency of their routine, they are less resistant to it, which causes less stress on both the child and the parents. When you child on with autism goes to bed at a reasonable hour, you are then able to relax and get things done before you go to bed as well. In the end the benefits of creating ad sticking to a routine defiantly outweigh the struggle to get your child to follow a consistent routine.

Bedtime is difficult for everyone at some point in their lives, but your child on the spectrum will benefit from a consistent bed time routine. Once you and your child on the spectrum get used to following a routine, bed time will become more pleasant and less stressful for everyone.