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Humor is a wonderful skill reserved for the human race and telling jokes is a great way to spread it around. Many studies have shown that laughing is good for your health. It reduces anxiety and stress which most individuals with autism experience on a daily basis.

Unfortunately not everyone is adept at telling jokes or comprehending them. An individual on the autism spectrum whose brain processes information in a very literal manner will often misinterpret the punch line.

There is an art to telling jokes – an art that is difficult for many to master. At a minimum, telling a funny joke requires a good memory, perfect timing and a controlled delivery. Understanding a joke calls for certain skills as well. It requires knowledge about the topic and an ability to connect the dots between the ideas presented. A concrete mind will have trouble connection those associations especially when idioms or some type of word play is involved.

To truly understand a joke it involves two levels of communication – one level takes in the literal meaning and the other evaluates it. The second part of this process is usually where children with autism get stuck. Coming to realize that the intent of a statement can differ from what is actually being said is a hurdle that most children with ASD struggle with.

Studies show that these two levels of communication come from different areas in the brain. The left hemisphere of the brain helps a person understand the literal meaning of a joke or idiom. The right side of the brain, the frontal lobe in particular, is responsible for interpreting context and double meanings.

For children with autism this part of their brain is typically not making the necessary connections it needs to understand the abstract language of jokes and idioms. Therefore, jokes and idioms are often lost in translation.

The more complex humor is, the more it requires an understanding of context, metaphor and the contradictory meaning of words. Anything ambiguous, such as an idiom, often leaves a child with ASD scratching their head in confusion or accepting the statement as fact yet denying the possibility.

Idioms are word combinations that suggest something different than their actual meanings. They are non-literal phrases that imply the unexpected. It can sound like a foreign language to a child with autism.  How does curiosity kill cats? Why would anyone want to take ‘a bitter pill’? Why would someone ‘cut a rug’? And the list continues.

  • A drop in the bucket
  • Pull the plug
  • Wearing your heart on your sleeve
  • Ace in the hole
  • Bite your tongue
  • Spitting image
  • A piece of cake
  • Break an arm and a leg
  • Barking up the wrong tree

Humor is important to your child’s social development because being able to tell a joke and laugh with others will help her interact socially and create new connections. So what can a parent do to trigger and create the neural pathways necessary to help expand your child’s sense of humor and understanding of jokes and idioms. Here are five strategies to implement.

  1. Intentionally teach idioms. Gradually expose your child to idioms and explain their meaning. Make it a point to use them or instruct your child directly by using homemade flashcards. This will force the neurons in her brains to make new connections that will help her develop a better understanding.
  2. Train your child to seek clarifying information when he is confused. The trick is to get him to realize when something doesn’t make sense rather than accepting the information as fact . Then you can teach him to take it to the next step by asking an adult to explain.
  3. Focus on visual humor when possible. If your child is a visual learner, sticking with slapstick comedy, cartoons and comic books that are read aloud while your child follows the pictures. This is a good place to start before proceeding to the telling of jokes and more abstract humor.
  4. Teach your child one or two jokes he can share socially. Simple knock-knock jokes are a good place to start. After a while your child will start creating his own jokes but will require guidance to make sure the punch lines are headed in the right direction. The goal is to ensure that his schoolmates will laugh with him and not at him.
  5. Practice, practice, practice. Never think this task is complete. As your child gains more experience in stretching her brain to create new neural pathways, you can raise your efforts to a more sophisticated type of humor. Remember, a family that laughs together, has less stress and grows together in amazing ways.

Never forget that in addition to nurturing and caring for your child’s basic needs, parenting involves teaching as well. Focusing on the tactics mentioned above makes it possible for your child with autism to expand the neural connections necessary to understand jokes. And depending on your child’s unique autism blueprint it may also help him develop the neural pathways to tell a joke appropriately within a social situation. As your child matures this will get easier for her but taking the steps above will help accelerate the process.

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potty trainingJust like a pilot runs through a checklist before he is ready to fly, it’s always a good idea for any parent thinking about potty training their child to run through a similar checklist before they begin. This will help you verify that you have the proper equipment and are prepared for any obstacle or circumstance you might run in to.  You always want to tackle the job with confidence and being proactive is a smart way to approach the teaching of any new skill.

Below you will find a partial checklist designed help you identify some of the things you need to consider before you start the toilet training process. Depending on all the qualities that make your child unique and where your child falls on the autism spectrum, the preparation will differ for each and every parent but this is a good place to start.

  • The bathroom environment. Is your bathroom environment user-friendly for your child and if not, what accommodations can you make? You need to make sure the important articles are accessible such as towels, towel racks, step-stool, and soap. It’s important to identify any barriers that might be in the way of success such as doors, light switches and water that is too hot.  As silly as it sounds, consider mood music and lighting because a relaxing, calm and inviting atmosphere will go far in reducing anxiety and producing the results you desire. Consider minimizing possible distractions such as decorations, fancy soaps, toys, windows, toilet paper so your child can concentrate on the task at hand.
  • Clothing considerations. Will the clothing you use help your child independently care of his/her toileting needs? Forget cute and go functional! Restrictive clothing increases risk for accidents because it is too timely to remove. Consider loose fitting, easy-on/easy-off, knit wear. It may not look that great but is user friendly. Skirts and dresses are OK but you may want to avoid long shirts.
  • Diapers vs. underpants. Children need to feel wetness when accidents occur and diapers pull wetness from the body which defeats the purpose. You need to make accidents uncomfortable! Consider regular underpants with a diaper or plastic cover over it. This catches the excess but still allows for wetness on their skin. To avoid sensory sensitivities from interfering with the potty training process, consider what your child’s sensitivities might be to fabrics and textures, pressure of elastic, tags and/or seams in advance.
  • Training equipment. What equipment will be the most user friendly to your child? What accommodations will work best to lessen any potential for anxiety? Will a standalone potty chair or a commode with adaptor help your child feel most safe, secure and comfortable? A simple step-stool is extremely useful for reaching the sink to wash hands and to create a safe and stable platform for sitting properly on the commode to support legs at a 45 degree angle which will facilitate pushing /straining for bowel movements.
  • Reward systems. Specific, verbal praise from someone that loves you is often very effective but sometimes is not enough. For learning a new and challenging task such as potty training, you may have to use an additional type of reward. Whichever you decide to use, make sure the item is enticing and highly preferred. Make sure you only use this item for success in the bathroom and nothing else in order to reinforce the toileting behaviors you want to see. Your choice of reward needs to be determined in advance, used consistently and given only after the entire toileting routine is completed.
  • Timing. Timing can be everything is crucial. When approaching any new task it is important to shoot for a time where you have normalcy in your regular routine. Starting a potty training routine for your autistic child is stressful for all and adding it to a situation that might already be filled with tension is not a good idea. Potty training is not a wise thing to introduce if you are going on vacation, in the process of moving, or the birth of another child is approaching.
  • Communication. A key component! Is your autistic child verbal or non-verbal? A visual or auditory learner? Does your child think best in pictures? Are alternative forms of communication necessary? Your answers to these questions will determine if there is a need for spoken or visual cues such as a printed word check-off list or a picture schedule. If you have a child who is a concrete black-and-white thinker you need to specify your prompts. Saying pull your pants/underwear down to your knees vs. undress is better because literal thinkers will remove all clothing when given the term undress.

All of this may sound excessive but a successful potty training program demands it. Let’s face it, the training process is going to interfere with your established and comfortable routine as well as your child’s. The best way to make the transition easier for both of you is by making sure you have all your ducks in a row.  Once you feel prepared the next step is to effectively and clearly communicate what the new toilet training schedule will look like to your child. If you would like more strategies to guide your potty training efforts you can email me at connie@parentcoachingforautism.com to schedule your free 20 minute consultation.

 

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school vacationIf you are a working mom I know you look forward to your vacation time. The change of pace is always refreshing and often reboots your energy for the return. Unfortunately, the time off is temporary and sometimes just not long enough. If returning to work is a difficult transition for you to make just think about what it is like for your child to return to school after a vacation break.

Whether it’s a long or short reprieve for your child it’s important to empathize with the reluctance he or she may express to “go back to work”. Many children, with or without autism, do not like their ‘job’ of going to school. And there are two things that can make vacation even more difficult – transitions and anxiety.

Transitions: Children on the autism spectrum take longer to adjust to a change in schedule. Your child may just be getting comfortable with the ‘all day at home’ schedule when suddenly it’s time to make yet another shift in routine. Recurring change is the enemy of most autistic children and can cause stress levels to rise and anxieties to increase causing much friction and unrest in their households.

On the other hand, there are a few children who actually look forward to going back to school after a vacation break. Many can transition well despite having to adjust to another new schedule. Regardless of the category your child falls into, the following suggestions will help facilitate a smooth vacation transition.

– If the school break is a short one, try not to relax the rules around bedtime. Making smooth adjustments to an established bedtime routine in the course of one week may be an unrealistic expectation. Consider the time your child requires to make a stress free transition and honor it.

– Hold a family meeting before school begins again to discuss and plan for the transition. If you’ve never held a family meeting before this is a great time to start.

– If screen machine privileges have been increased during a school vacation make sure you give fair warning about when they will end. And once you re-establish the TV, video and computer use rules make sure you stick to them. Children thrive on predictability.

– Relay a positive attitude when discussing the return to school. If your child isn’t enthused about returning, focus on the events they find the most interesting such as, sports, computer or music.

Anxiety: Many children can harbor anxiety about school. Be it issues with friends, bullying, challenging class work, sensory over-stimulation, or a new teacher, it’s important to address the culprit.   When dealing with a child who is very resistant about returning to school after a vacation break ask her to express her worries and concerns. This may be difficult if your child is non-verbal or struggles to communicate.

– If your child has difficulty expressing himself try a different tactic. Drawing, looking at pictures, reading books etc may be helpful tools to help you identify the things that cause your child anxiety.

– Sometimes all you can do is anticipate what the anxieties might be based on past experience and good detective work. Then you can address each possibility with a plan of action.

– Touching base with your child’s teacher is always a good idea. Email, call or make an appointment to talk to your child’s teacher. Ask if she has observed differences in your child’s behavior or any behavior of other peers towards your child at school.

If you are a parent of an autistic child (or any child) who is showing signs of anxiety about returning to school you can find extra support and ideas for making the transition more manageable in my new book – Autism Parenting: Practical Strategies for a Positive School Experience. Available on Amazon Kindle.

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schedule for kids with AutismDon’t let the upcoming time change upset your child. The shift to Daylight Saving Time doesn’t have to have a negative impact on your household. Adjusting the clocks forward or backward can a big adjustment for anyone. When you have a child with an Autism Spectrum Disorder who thrives on routine it can be disruptive.

Question: How can you help your child spring forward happily along with the clocks?

Answer: Stick to a schedule.

Why? Schedules and routines are an extremely important part of any child’s life. Having a schedule and sticking to it in times like these will help your child with special needs feel a sense of stability despite the loss of an hour. Even though they may not realize an hour has vanished, their body’s internal clock will detect it. Depending on the child, springing forward can have a significant impact on a child with autism.

Question: What are the benefits of maintaining a schedule?

Answer: It will diminish your child’s anxiety.

How? Anxiety is normally an issue for most children on the spectrum and switching to Daylight Saving Time has the potential for triggering a state of worry or stress. When the timing of things like bedtime, getting up and getting ready for school typically happened in the light or dark and suddenly this is different, it can easily create anxiety or resistance in a child with autism. Maintaining the same routine in all other respects will help prevent anxiety levels from increasing further because it will reassure your child that everything else is staying the same. Knowing what to expect makes life more predictable and therefore less stressful.

Children with autism often have many appointments with therapists, doctors and other professionals – sometimes there will be more than one appointment in a day. Keeping a schedule will not only help you and your child anticipate appointments but will ensure you don’t miss them as well.

Schedules can be extremely helpful when trying to get a child to do something they do not want to do. Let’s face it – going to the doctor’s is not much fun but simply showing a child that after they do one thing they will get to move onto something else can help motivate them from one task to the next.

Some children on the autism spectrum will benefit from having a visual schedule. Having pictures for all the daily activities allows them to see what is coming next and will help avoid some emotional breakdowns. Keeping the schedule posted where your child can refer to it often is helpful. If you ever have to make a change in the schedule explain the shift to your child as soon as possible and transfer the pictures on the calendar to the newly designated date and time.

There will always be things that come up on occasion and have the potential to throw a child’s world out of whack, day or night. When troublemakers like Daylight Saving Time show up and get you off track, the best thing to do is to try to get back on it as soon as you can.

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sensesColor my Senses: The Sensory Detective Coloring Book by Paula Aquilla BSc, OT, DOMP is a wonderful educational tool for any child to explore all eight of their senses! Factual descriptions are provided with the practical example of waiting for a school bus to help the reader understand how their entire sensory system works. It begins with an explanation of how our sensory system depends on our nervous system and how information is carried throughout the body – to and from the brain.

The book will appeal to children young and old, as it presents options for both. Younger children can activate their senses through the process of coloring while a parent reads the text to them. Older children can easily read the book to themselves, with or without a little help, because the descriptive visuals help boost comprehension. The author has done a wonderful job of illustrating the bigger words that name the various parts of the sensory system. Even the term sensory modulation is described in such a way that will make sense to most children.

Of course, one is never too old to color as the popularity of adult coloring books testify too. The act of coloring itself has the capacity to calm the nervous system and soothe the senses. It’s also a fun and appealing way to learn!

The author, Paula Aquilla, has been an occupational therapist for more than thirty years and her understanding of children with sensory issues is evident.

Color my Senses: The Sensory Detective Coloring Book is published and available in paperback from Future Horizons, as well as Amazon and Goodreads.

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gift

My wish to you this holiday season is for a pleasant, peaceful and joyous time full of wonderful connections for every member of your precious family. And, my gift to you will help make that happen.

My holiday gift, Have a Happy Holiday with your Child on the Spectrum, is an ebook designed to provide you and your entire family with much holiday cheer. Click here to access the seven holiday tips and strategies I created based on the letters in the word H-O-L-I-D-A-Y and ENJOY!

  • “H” is for “Humor”gift
  • “O” is for “Obligations”, “Observances” and “Obsessions”
  • “L” is for “Love,” “Laughter,” and “Limits”
  • “I” is for “Inclusion”
  • “D” is for “Dress” and “Decorations
  • “A” is for “Appetite”!
  • “Y” is for “Yuletide” memories!

Discover great ideas to create a more relaxed atmosphere over the holiday season. Start by imagining a season without stress. A holiday with more humor; less obligations; an abundance of love; inclusion for all; comfortable dress; a healthy appetite; and loads of wonderful yuletide memories.  Then I’ll show you how to turn that image into reality.

Does that sound too good to be true? I tell you it isn’t. It is all possible!

Begin creating the holiday you dream of by taking little steps towards your goal. You can always add more next year. Whatever adjustments you make, it will be progress in the right direction.

I look forward to seeing you in the New Year with a smile on your face and a positive attitude for the 365 days of 2017. I’m always here to help you make the best of them!

Peace!

 

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depressionWe often fear what we can’t control or don’t understand. Fortunately, education is a powerful antidote and the information Dr. Wilkinson presents in his book, Overcoming Anxiety and Depression on the Autism Spectrum: A Self-Help Guide Using CBT, definitely delivers. Not only does it equip the reader with a better understanding of the processes involved with anxiety and depression but it offers therapeutic strategies that will increase a person’s feeling of control as well. What more could one ask for?

This self-help guide is for individuals in early to mid adulthood that may possess autistic traits, whether officially diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder or not. It is an effective tool for individuals challenged by anxiety and depression who want to improve their psychological wellbeing. The book itself is extremely helpful on it’s own but can always be combined with personal therapy sessions to make larger strides at a faster pace.

Dr. Wilkinson starts by slowly encouraging the reader to begin a journey into a better understanding of who they are, how they (their brain) functions and what they can do to manage their feelings. Each chapter takes them one step forward to acquiring new ways of thinking and doing.

The focus of this book is strength based and in no way does it attempt to eliminate, cure or change a person’s autistic traits. Instead it concentrates on empowering the individual with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) skills. CBT addresses cognitive dysfunction by challenging irrational beliefs and thoughts and replacing them with positive thoughts, feelings and beliefs for better emotional health. The result being that one can live life with the confidence and knowledge that they can manage these destructive thoughts and feelings whenever they appear.

Other highlights worthy of mention:

– I always like a book that explains how it is set up. The author clarifies what to expect in each chapter beyond the one to five words in the Chapter Title. Dr. Wilkinson wrote the book to build upon itself. The foundation he sets in the earlier chapters help facilitates a better understanding of the information in latter chapters.

– The book also provides many user-friendly, evidence-based tools – the Adult Autism Quotient, Empathy Quotient, and Systemizing Quotient – that will enhance self-awareness and self-acceptance. These are located in the back of the book and many of these forms are also available in downloadable format that can be printed.

– Best of all, the author introduces us to new terminology with the term/acronym ASC, Autism Spectrum Condition, as opposed to ASD, Autism Spectrum Disorder. Other experts have previously introduced this particular language in an attempt to emphasize a condition that includes strengths as well as challenges. Describing autism as a condition has a more positive connotation and normalizes it to a set of attributes shared by ALL individuals in the general population.

All in all, this book provides hope – a beacon of light at the end of the tunnel that will gently guide the reader to the other side. It functions as a road map, affirming there is a way out that will lead to better decision making skills and management of thoughts and emotions.

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Do you have travel plans for the upcoming holiday season?

Thanks to new technological advances such as computers and Skype, staying in touch with loved ones is so much easier than it use to be. Despite the magic of screens that bring families together from distant parts of the globe, there’s nothing better than being there in person to get a real hug from those you love.

The holiday season is that time of year when everyone makes an extra effort to be with family and close friends. When extended family is scattered here and there around the world, holiday traveling is a requirement if you want to give and receive those special hugs. That could mean a journey either by plane or car to get to grandma’s house for the weekend, that special dinner at Uncle Jane’s, or the traditional family get-together that relatives take turn hosting.

Traveling by air is stressful. It often requires intensive security checks, long waits and the possibility of flight cancellations. Traveling by car is another option but traffic jams, bad weather and tired kids can make the journey just as stressful. Getting to the family Hanukkah festivities, the Christmas Day celebrations or other holiday functions can test everyone’s stamina.

There are many ways to minimize the stress involved when traveling with your special crew. Being prepared is the best way to face the challenges and ease the tension. Smart travel planning is essential. Here are some traveling tips to consider before your holiday journey whether by air or ground.

travelingTraveling by air:

  • As soon as you have determined your destination and the airline carrier you will use, call them! Sharing that your child has an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) will open doors to services that can make air travel less stressful for all. Airports and airlines have become much more accommodating to individuals on the autism spectrum. Some are offering mock flights to help familiarize autistic children and their families with air travel before the real event.
  • If you are flying you will need to be prepared for security rules. Time can be wasted if you have not prepared your children ahead of time for what you can and cannot do, or take onboard the flight. It’s important to check the rules and share them with your child before you leave the house.
  • Contact the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). TSA Cares, is a toll-free helpline that provides information and assistance to passengers with disabilities and medical conditions and their families before they fly. Travelers may call TSA Cares toll free at 1-855-787-2227 prior to traveling with questions about screening policies, procedures and what to expect at the security checkpoint. The hours of operation for the TSA Cares helpline are Monday through Friday 9 a.m. – 9 p.m. EST, excluding federal holidays. After hours, travelers can find information about traveling with disabilities and medical needs on TSA’s website at: https://www.tsa.gov/travel/passenger-support. TSA recommends that passengers call approximately 72 hours ahead of travel so that TSA Cares has the opportunity to coordinate checkpoint support with a TSA Customer Service Manager located at the airport when necessary.
  • Knowing what to expect during a security check with your child can make it more predictable and less likely to overwhelm her. Take the time to practice the airport security check with a dress rehearsal before you leave for your trip. Taking a few hours to play, “Let’s go to the Airport” not only prepares your child for what is to come but can be a fun activity for the entire family.
  • Paying attention to the sensory sensitivities your child has and thinking ahead to what might trigger resistance or a meltdown is important. If your child does not like walking in stocking feet then you need to prepare him for what is to come or find another solution. Stating it as a fact and writing a social story about it may be all that is needed.
  • Holiday traveling with gifts requires some special precautions as well when it comes to the security gates. Do not spend the time or money wrapping your gifts in brightly colored wrap because you may have to unwrap them in front of the security guards. Any young child, regardless of ability, may not understand why the security guard is making mommy or daddy unwrap the gift they so carefully wrapped for their grandma. This alone may be enough to make them become unglued.
  • If your child with autism has dietary restrictions you obviously need to pack snack items that they can eat. It is difficult to find gluten free, casein-free food in the airport eateries. Bring see through plastic containers or baggies filled with your child’s favorite treats and meals such as fruits, veggie sticks, toddler finger foods, cheerios and such that will appeal to their young taste buds and keep them happily munching. Remember to bring along wipes to clean sticky fingers.
  • Unlike a car ride, where you can pull off at rest stops, a flight is a long endless ride for any youngster. To help pass the time, pack your child’s favorite activities and simple toys in their carryon baggage to amuse them. Pack crayons and coloring books, stuffed animals, dolls and action figures. You can also bring along music CDs with headphones, which is a great way to reduce or control the noise level for a child with noise sensitivity.
  • Give yourself plenty of extra time so that you arrive at the gate before you need to. This way if there are extra security checks you won’t be late for your flight. Checking in always takes longer than you expect, especially when you have children. A good rule of thumb is to be at the airport an hour before domestic flight times and two hours before international flight departure time. You may want to consider doubling that if you have a child that thrives on routine and predictability, something that most airports do not provide. Having to rush with a child on the autism spectrum in a busy airport can easily send them into overload.
  • Google your airport’s website for a map. A good map comes in handy when you want to know where the nearest place to eat is and how close it is to your departure gate. Sometimes if you have a lengthy delay you might even find that your airport has a quiet place for families with children to have some quiet down time.
  • If all else fails, you may want to consider creating a card or some sort of written communication that will alert airport staff to the special needs of your child. This will keep you from having to verbally explain your situation to a security guard in front of way too many people.

travelingTraveling by car:

Did you know that car travel is the most popular way to travel during the holidays? 83% of traveling during the holiday season is done by car. Short automotive journeys can be challenging enough but long car rides take extra stamina. Being on the road at anytime of year can be stressful. Add a couple of excited youngsters in the back seat and the possibility of bad weather and you may need some extra patience. Any traveling with children in tow is a test to the effectiveness of your organizational skills.

Here are a few tips for making your holiday car travels run smooth.

  • Involve the little ones in the planning stage so that they will look forward to seeing something they helped plan. This will also give them a heads up of what the journey will entail.
  • Include some kid-friendly stops along the way so that everyone will have a chance to stretch their legs and have fun at the same time.
  • Allow for extra travel time just in case there are traffic jams, or weather related road conditions that slow you down.
  • Limit your road time to just 6 to 8 hours of driving time per day and have two drivers in the vehicle so that you can switch every two hours. Switching will make long drives easier and safer.
  • Do not disturb! Never make a rest stop when children are sleeping. If your bladders are all in sync, keep going. Driving during sleep times allows for you to make the most headway because it minimizes extra stops.
  • Pack a cooler with snacks and wipes for cleaning up before and after eating. Place the cooler between kids in the back seat so that they feel like they have their own space. The top of the cooler makes a cool place to play with cars and trucks too.
  • Traveling with children requires that you become an expert storyteller, comedian, actor, or magician in order to keep peace and make the time pass quicker. Think about and plan the type of entertainment you can offer when needed. Having a trick you can pull out of your sleeve at just the right moment can make all the difference.
  • It’s important to pack an assortment of play items for each child. Hand puppets, board books, favorite toys (that won’t irritate you), and even music CD’s with headphones, as well as books on tape that everyone can listen to. Audio books can be not only entertaining but learning experience as well especially if you are traveling far and can find an audio book about your destination.
  • Older kids can use travel-size board games or hand-held electronic games. Always pay attention to the amount of time your child is glued to a screen. Try to balance it with games that engage your child’s brain in 3-D reality. Car games like finding certain state license plates, counting red cars, or store signs are always fun. Trigger your child’s imagination by playing games like “I-Spy” – spotting something along the landscape that is a certain color or shape.

Overall it is most important that you don’t forget to pack your sense of humor. Looking on the light side of every challenge will help everyone move forward in a positive manner. Being in an enclosed space for long periods doesn’t have to be a negative experience. Reframe it into a positive – think of it as a unique time to bring your family closer together. Sharing jokes, telling stories, and talking about what is happening in your lives will make all of you feel more connected.

And of course, remember to keep those cameras at the ready in order to document those wonderful smiles that will create lasting memories for years to come.

Happy traveling!

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I saw this article on the National Institute of Environmental Health Science website that thought I would share it.

Do you worry about the long-term impact of all the chemicals and environmental toxins that have been invented in the last century? Do you wonder if they contributed to your child’s diagnosis of ASD or not?

To be fair, we do have government agencies that try to protect us from harm. They test new products, medications, food etc in an attempt to keep us safe.

Unfortunately, as careful as they are we sometimes hear the following, “Environmental health officials say . . . and other chemicals that were once thought to be safe in small amounts may have a profound effect on . . . .”

I have decided not to wait for the scientists to make definitive conclusions. Instead, I choose to ask myself, “What can I do to protect my children, my self, and other loved ones from the possible ill effects of exposure to toxic substances?”

That was about ten years ago and I have been making my own non-toxic cleaning products ever since. You can begin doing the same, with a few basic (and relatively cheap) ingredients: baking soda, vinegar, borax, castile soap, glycerin and essential oils.

If you need convincing that a more organic lifestyle makes sense for you environmentor if you want some great ideas on how to clean your house in an eco-friendly, non-toxic manner, let me point you to this amazing resource – Tabletop TUTORSTM. These are very affordable educational tools, developed by a colleague of mine. These info-graphics can be posted on your refrigerator door, or inside of a bathroom cabinet, for handy reference.  Click here to access these two cleaning related posters:

clean environmentWhy to Green Clean Your Home!

How to Make Your Own Green Cleaning Aids

… but there are lots more Tabletop TUTORSTM to choose from. Click here to access all 90+ posters.

Why not use them on your dining room table and get the whole family talking about eco-intelligent eating, cookware, personal care, laundry and lifestyle too!

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Product review: In-Sync Activity Cards: 50 Simple, New Activities to Help Children Develop, Learn, and Grow! by Joye Newman and Carol Kranowitz.

 

in-sync-activity-cardsWhat a great idea! Remember flash cards that facilitated a quick execution of aptitude? Now we have In-Sync Activity Cards: 50 Simple, New Activities to Help Children Develop, Learn, and Grow! by Joye Newman and Carol Kranowitz.

It’s not a book, although there is a book version available. It’s a deck of fifty easy to implement 5×7-laminated cards that enhance a child’s ability to master developmental skills. Created by Joye Newman and Carol Kranowitz, authors of the highly regarded book, Growing an In-Sync Child: Simple, Fun Activities to Help Every Child Develop, Learn, and Grow! These user-friendly, portable, and easy to share activity cards are based on their book. I see it as a vital addition to the resources that will help any child achieve his or her greatest developmental potential. Each card is a perfect mini lesson plan that parents, teachers and anyone who works with children can use.

All cards are double-sided. One side contains a description of the activity, including the necessary materials. The other side of the card contains information about how the activity addresses a child’s development via sensory, motor and visual skills; how to adapt the activity to your child’s ability; and, how to assess your child’s performance.

The deck is color coded and arranged by levels – beginner, intermediate and advanced activities – that are flexible and adaptable. Starting at the beginner level will help a child experience success and motivate him or her to proceed to the next level.

In addition to being a great guide for the adult, each card includes an illustration that makes a good visual for the child to follow and create understanding from.

These quick activities will get any child moving. Even those who don’t normally engage in gross motor movement, such as typical outdoor amusement and the physical games children tend to play.

What a quick and fun way to help enhance a child’s perceptual, visual and sensory systems without her even knowing it’s therapeutic. In addition, one can customize the activities according to the unique needs of the child to create a meaningful sensory diet that can be delivered in short spurts or longer blocks of time throughout the day.

Aside from their therapeutic usefulness, parents can use these cards on the go. Whether traveling on long trips or short excursions, they make the perfect “let’s take a break” when long waits or boredom are threatening to create havoc.

Kranowitz and Newman were very clever in creating these cards to go along with their book, Growing an In-Sync Child: Simple, Fun Activities to Help Every Child Develop, Learn, and Grow? The activity cards are a great companion that makes it simple for parents and professionals to implement the content within the 240 pages of their book. All of which will have a positive and powerful impact on a child’s development.

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Go to Sensory World  and click here to purchase your own set of these In-Sync Activity Cards. AND, you can get a discount when you use the code PARENTCOACH at checkout!

 

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