Monthly Archives: December 2017

Ringing In The New Year With A Child On The Spectrum

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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.

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 hearts be filled with love.
Here’s to a fantastic 2018

Tips To Surviving The Holidays

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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 some tips to making your Christmas both merry and bright!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!

Teaching Your Child To Listen

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Most of us can’t count the number of times we have to tell our child on the spectrum to do something before they listen. Sometimes we even feel like we have to revert to yelling, punishment, or taking away favorite toys or privileges. What if there way a way to get your child with autism to listen the first time you told them to do something…Wouldn’t that be a miracle.

Well we are here to help bring you one step closer to your holiday miracle with a few techniques that can get your child on the spectrum to listen when you speak. Although these are some valuable tips and trice, please remember that all families and parents are different so there is no one scenario that will be exact, but some of these might come close.
What to do when you child does something wrong or annoying and you want them to stop?
Remember your child with autism knows your cues probably better than you do…they are on the receiving end and know when you are at the end of your rope, so you can repeat yourself over and over again, with no change until….they hear your “I’m at the end of my rope” voice and knows that you mean business.

Now that you know this…why not start with your “I’m at the end of my rope voice” be firm, be commanding, use your child’s full name if you need to…whatever it is that you know will get their ears to perk up and their eyes to look in your direction. If you don’t know what those cues are, do what your child does, monitor their reactions to more closely and once you can recognize what makes them perk up, use that to get them to listen.

Are word and a firm tone of voice enough to get them to listen? Maybe…but probably not. What is a guaranteed (although it takes time) is to show your child on the spectrum that you mean business and to be consistent in your message. Your words, your tone and your actions all have to say the same thing. If you tell them they will be on time out and they don’t listen, do not repeat yourself a second time, put them on time out. If you say you will take away their favorite toy if they don’t listen, don’t repeat yourself, take away their favorite toy right away. By showing with words and actions, your child with autism, will begin to understand that you mean business.

Remember that at the beginning there will be challenges, tears (on both ends), and will cause frustration all around, but there is a light at the end of this tunnel of tears. In the end this process will improve your relationship with your child on the spectrum, so keep calm and watch your child with autism transition from reacting to responding to your instructions and requests.

Once again, remember that all parents and all children are different, what works for one, may not work for the other, so takes these tips for what they are…tips, and adapt them to fit your home.