Monthly Archives: October 2019

How to Prepare for Halloween

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.

Fun Activities for Teaching Cooperation

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.

How To Cope with and Correct Hand Flapping

Hand flapping is a self-stimulatory activity that is commonly seen among children with autism. It is believed that the act of repeatedly flapping or opening and closing your hands is an attempt to soothe sensory overload. A child that has been diagnosed with autism ( or may be on the autism spectrum), who engages in hand flapping behavior tends to do so when they feel stressed out. It is important to watch for this behavior in your child with autism because it is a sign that there is a problem and if that problem is not dealt with, they may end of having an emotional breakdown.
Children with autism tend to be very sensitive to sensations and sounds which tend to cause distress so it is best to try to avoid loud noises and large crowds when possible. In order for your child on the autism spectrum to cope with this form of distress they commonly revert to hand flapping as a way to try to escape the sensory overload they are experiencing.

Some of the strategies that we have found to help replace hand flapping in a child who is experiencing sensory overload are:

1. Make sure to carry a stress ball, playdough, clay or a fidget toy to give to your child on the onset of who could potentially be a situation where your child could experience sensory overload.

2. Give your children a large bear hug to help calm them or teach them how to give themselves bear hugs so that they can learn to self-soothe in a stressful situation.

3. Verbally re-directing your child on the autism spectrum can also be a great tool to use when you sense your child is becoming over stimulated.

Our Los Angeles based Autism Therapy Center works with children ages 2-18 to help redirect inappropriate behaviors, work on sensory issues and identify other behavioral challenges. We strive to help your child with autism grow up learning how to manage these behaviors and stresses in day to day life. At Beautiful Minds Center for Autism we work with your son or daughter in a personalized way to make sure they are able to reach their fullest potential.  We teach our parents that it is important to provide consistent strategies over different environments so that your son or daughter will know what do at home, at school and within their community. This avoids unnecessary stresses that could make them revert back to hand flapping.

If you or someone you know has concerns about hand flapping, please feel free to reach out to us at 310-247-8712 and we will be happy to answer any questions you have.