Tips for Trick or Treating with special needs children

Over the years Harvest festivals or Halloween has been one of those hit or miss holidays for Connor. He doesn’t always love wearing a costume, he doesn’t like seeing other kids in costumes and he definitely doesn’t love the fog machines and scary music. But he will almost always endure anything for that candy. I think the biggest struggle of all is when someone offers out a whole bowl of candy to him and expects him to pick just one. His first reaction was to say, thank you, take the whole bowl and turn around and walk away.

I recently came across offers tips that we will be trying this year and I wanted to share them with you.

Here are some tips for preparing a child in the spectrum for participation in the festivities of a Harvest Festival or Halloween:

The Costume: Allow choice making regarding the costume. Ensure that there is active agreement regarding what costume will be worn. Understand your child’s own sensory considerations and ensure that the costume does not pose a sensory challenge. Also, consider your child’s allergies and ensure you do not introduce a costume that may provoke an allergic reaction (e.g., latex, or make-up). At least one week before Halloween, you will want to “rehearse” putting the costume on and walking around the house with it on. This will allow you to rule-in or rule-out any of the issues mentioned above.

The Dark Neighborhood: At least one week before the Haloween, “rehearse” walking in the neighborhood, in the dark, with a flashlight (if the intention is to go out in the evening). Pre-teach the entire Trick-or-Treat sequence:

.    Approach a house.

.    Knock on a door or approach an open door.

.    Select one piece of candy, or treat (this can be challenging since children are not often presented with an entire bowl of candy and asked to select just one).

connor superman

.    Saying thank you for the treat.

.    Follow the flashlight to the next house (again, if dark outside during the house visits).

Watch You Tube videos of other children going through the trick-or-treat sequence, like this one for instance: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BXvkVLCDdxs

The Candy: Of course there will be a desire to eat the candy. You will want to set expectations in advance. One way to manage the request is to create a narrative (a story) that you will review with your child a few days prior to the event. In addition, you can use a timing device your child can wear or hold in their pocket. A device that sounds an alarm or vibrates will signal the time for a “gobbling goblin” break.

 

 

 

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Special Needs Kids Eat Right

As we begin a new year, I’m sure like many of you, It’s a time for a fresh new start. Whether it be eating healthy, exercising, getting organized or beginning new devotionals and bible reading plans. We all have our resolutions.

 

I also take this time to re evaluate my son’s long-term program. I take a look at his progress in dietary, biomedical, labs, and therapists. I prayerfully consider what steps I have taken and wish to continue and which ones I need to adjust or no longer use.

 

I just rediscovered a book that is packed with useful information on how to assemble a team of qualified and supportive members for your child. It has information on testing and nutritional steps. Suggestions for supplements to consider and recipes and menus. I would highly recommend it to those of you beginning this journey or to those pros that just might need to a refresher.

 

The book is called “Special-Needs Kids Eat Right” by Judy Converse, MPH,RD,LD

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Extraordinary Communication

God recently reminded me of a valuable way to communicate with our children.

 

When Connor was 2 years old, at the urging of one of his therapists, we introduced him to ASL signing. He didn’t have a lot of language at the time and the therapist’s shared with us that if you give your child a way to communicate with you it can lessen their frustration.

 

So, the first thing we did was introduce him to the children’s show, Signing Time. He instantly loved the show. It was very animated with lots of music, which made it fun to follow along. We would watch it with him and sign along as well.  This became a fun way for us to interact with him. He learned to count, his ABC’s, words and sentences all through signing.

 

Over time Connor’s language did develop and he is very verbal today. Signing just became a fun second way for him to communicate.

 

Fast forward to this past weekend at champion’s club. A little boy in Connor’s class, who just started to learn to sign, who isn’t completely verbal yet, started getting upset, wanting his mom. One of Connor’s teachers turned to him and said, “Connor, can you sign, Mommy will be back soon for him?” Connor did several times and the little boy settled down and went back to playing.

 

Both us, the little boys parents, and the teacher’s rejoiced together over how the boys had communicated with one another.

 

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mdhcH5nI45w

 

http://www.signingtime.com

 

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First…Then Concept

One of the best communication tools we learned to use with Connor was the First/Then concept.

 

We started by using visual cards. One card said first and the other card said then. The first item is typically something you are asking them to do (which is typically non preferred) followed by something they prefer. (first work, then play)

 

Start with small things that can be done fast and the reward is immediately available. Then you gradually build it. For example, if you are doing a table activity, you would say, first stack the blocks, then you can have one gummy bear.  You would put the First/Then cards in the appropriate spot by the items. If the child stacks the blocks then they would get the gummy bear and praise instantly. Then you do it again. For Connor the praise and the clapping and the excitement was almost as rewarding for him as the gummy bear.

 

At first if you are working with a young child or one that does not read you will use pictures. The next step would be to use words and then eventually just be able to speak the first/then to the child.

 

This can be used in getting your child to try new foods. First eat the carrot Then you can have a French fry.

 

It can be used for chores, First make your bed, Then you can play outside.

 

It can be used when talking about the events of the day. First we are going to the grocery store, Then we will go to the park.

 

In the beginning it may take candy or a cookie to be rewarding for them. But quickly move away from it always being food as a reward. Use books, or toys or favorite videos.

 

I have include How~To Templates for the First-Then Board

Copy & paste to the URL below for the Templates from HandsInAutism.org

http://www.handsinautism.org/pdf/HowTo-FirstThen.pdf

I hope this helps in same way and just know we are cheering you on!

Sami

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Parenting Kids With Autism – 4 Tips for Toilet Training

Parenting Kids With Autism – 4 Tips for Toilet Training

It can be very difficult, parenting kids with autism. There are so many issues that come up that wouldn’t normally come up if you had a typically developing kid. One of the troublesome ones can be toilet training. It can take some kids with autism years longer than their peers to learn how to use the toilet.

Fortunately, there are strategies that can help autistic kids.

It is common for parents of autistic kids to become frustrated when trying to get their loved ones to use the toilet. He just sits there and won’t do anything. Diapers can get bulky and annoying to change, and of course your autistic child needs to be toilet trained, in most cases, in order to be able to go to school.

Toilet training is one of the more difficult issues in parenting kids with autism, but luckily, there are a lot of parents who have gone before you. Here are some tips.

  1. Take one step at a time. First and foremost, when teaching kids with autism to use the toilet, you should break everything into small steps. This works best if your autistic child already has an understanding of what you use a toilet for. Some autistic kids have a lot of fear around a toilet. This could be because it’s so loud, or different, or even because they think they might fall in, but whatever it is, they need to know what the parts of the toilet are and parents may need to show them the different parts of the toilet in a low pressure environment. Parenting autism is not easy…but it does not have to be difficult either.
  2. Use physical rewards as encouragement. You will want to find some rewards that might be of interest your child with autism. These can be anything from cookies or some food treat to action figures or baseball cards. Choose anything that is small and that you can keep in the bathroom so that you can access it easily. Parents of kids with autism use these “reinforcers” to acknowledge a job well done and to say to your child that they have succeeded in the task at hand.
  3. Have patience. When parents bring their kids with autism into the bathroom, assume that you will stay for some time. Provide acknowledgement and praise if your autistic kid is willing to stay in the bathroom and does not want to leave. Provide a reward for staying close to the toilet. A good thing to do is to reward your child if he or she sits and stays on the toilet, even if they are doing nothing but sitting there! Remember, parenting kids with autism can be a slow and gradual process and you will eventually get there.
  4. Reward any step accomplished successfully. If there is an “accident” go to the toilet, remove your child’s pants and show him or her were the waste goes. This will help your child realize where the waste is supposed to end up. Remember, eventually your child will get the idea. Then let them flush the toilet and use toilet paper to clean. Each step that they accomplish gets them closer to the finish line. When parenting an autistic kid, each step, even if accomplished out-of-order, should be praised.

The goal is to gradually, step-by-step, build to your desired outcome. In other words, having your child use the toilet- and do the steps that lead up to it enough times that it will eventually sink into his head what he’s supposed to do.

You will of course want to be sure to reinforce your child if he uses the toilet in an appropriate way, and he will, eventually. Patience is the key to all problems involving parenting kids with autism.

The above suggestions for parenting kids with autism come from parents who have achieved success. Tips from other parents and professionals can be extremely helpful. A great book that has tips and suggestions for helping your child with autism is the The Autism Survival Guide. Parents rave about the useful advice the book offers.

Contributed by autismparenthood.com

On a spiritual note…We tried different methods with our son and though we would have some success it just never seemed to click. So we asked God to show us a way to pray and believe for our son to come out of this drought that we were in for 8 years of him not being potty trained. Through a friend my husband Craig met named Mark Batterson we received his book “The Circle Maker.” It talks about how God wants us to pray bold prayers and believe that He is big enough to bring us out of whatever our drought was and into the abundance of rain. So we begin to draw our circle around Connor and pray bold prayers. At the same time we had heard of Dodie Osteen when she had cancer was given only a few weeks to live. She begin to take scriptures out of the Bible centered on healing and speak them everyday. She believes that the Word of God is so powerful that when it’s spoken over your life things can miraculously change. She was healed of cancer and her story has been told all over the world. One of the reasons she believes she was healed of cancer was because she spoke Gods Word specifically over her situation.

So we begin to pray bold prayers, used the tips above, and begin speaking healing scriptures everyday over our son Connor. One day shortly after we were all sitting in the living room and Connor for no apparent reason came in from the back yard, walked right by us, and went to the bathroom completely by himself. He has been going ever since. We believe in the tips we shared above but we also believe that when you’ve tried everything else give God a chance to do what no one else could do. Two books I would recommend is “Praying Circles Around Your Kids” coming out July 24th 2012 by Mark Batterson. Also, check out the “I AM’ declarations page on ConnorMoments.com and you will see scriptures on healing that you can speak over your child everyday. If God can do it for us, He can do it for you. God bless you on your journey.

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Simple Tools

 

A simple tool for correction

I simply call this tool “the cards system”. It is a disciplinary tool that can be made at home and it doesn’t cost a penny. I spend maximum 10 minutes to make it.

For consistency reasons, it would be great if both, parents and school used the same tool. Parents, who implemented the idea and applied it at home, helped their child tremendously to become more disciplined and compliant. School and home should always be on the same page; it is in the child’s best interest for both to communicate.

It is an old tool, but not many people know about it. For classroom use, there is the equivalent tool that serves the entire class. It can be found in the teacher’s and school supplies stores like Lakeshore. It is definitely not my invention.

When to use cards system?

At all times throughout the day, if the child is exhibiting an undesirable behavior, or refusing to comply.

Who would the cards system work for?

Children who understand the concept of consequences, and children who really care about certain things, and children who dread certain things or certain people. For kids with depression, it will be harder to find something that they really care about, if they have no motivations at all.

How does it work?

Explain to your child the meaning of each color.

Green means he/she is doing a great job. Remember to catch your child doing something good and praise her/him. Who doesn’t need encouragement?

Yellow is a warning that means that the child is doing something wrong and she/he needs to change or stop the undesirable behavior.

Tell your child about what would happen if she/he were not going to stop or change the undesirable behavior. (E.g.: cannot play her/his favorite game, will get time out, go to the principal’s office, call parents, go home, removal of a privilege, like not going to certain places or seeing certain people). Choose whatever works best for the child. You know your child best. Children with autism are so different, and what works for one doesn’t necessarily work for the other.

Usually, we give three chances before we change the card to red, simply because if you decide to go to red, you are stuck in a no choice position. Which means the consequence should be applied.

Red means applying the consequence you’ve talked about when she/he was on yellow.

Change the card back to green after the consequence has been applied. It gives the child the opportunity to modify her/his behavior.

The cards system should be used consistently in order to be an effective tool.

It is one of the simplest and most effective tools.

Variation

You may include a transition time between yellow and red to allow more thinking time and more chances. Insert a blue card between yellow and red and talk more about approaching the last chance. Some children need more processing time and this blue card allows the child more chances to make the right decision. It all depends on the child, but most of them respond easily to green, yellow, and red only. Based on the child’s needs, it is up to the adult to choose to add the blue card.

Start off the day with a green card, and remember that every day is a new day. Start with a clean slate every day.

How to make the cards system?

1- Use any color paper: green, yellow, red, and black (instead of black you may use any other color of your choice different from green, yellow, red, and blue). You may add blue if you decide to have a blue card. I personally use construction paper.

2- With the black paper make a pocket.

3- Cut out 3 rectangles green, yellow, and red (or four if you decide to add a blue card) of the same size.

4- Insert the 3 (or 4) cards inside the pocket.

5- Label the pocket and write the child’s name on it.

6- In the classroom we keep it on the board using a magnet. At home you place it where the child can easily see it. Make sure it visible to allow the child to monitor her/his behavior.

7- If the child goes to mainstream and needs constant reminders, this tool works very well because it doesn’t require too much talking. We always look for less

Children with autism have great visual skills. This tool is very easy for them to understand. When they get used to it, you’ll notice that you will not even need to talk anymore. Just by pointing to the cards the child would modify her/his behavior.

In a later stage, you may refer to the cards without even having them available, like being in place away from home or school. Just by mentioning the cards the child will consider changing her/his behavior. If the child is acting up tell her/ him: “Do you want me to change your card?” The immediate response would be: “No,no, no”.

Hope it works well for you.

Contributed by Mrs. A from Autism Tips

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Welcome from Sam

Thank you so much for taking the time to stop by Connor moments with us. Since you are visiting, your life has probably been touched by a special needs child. I Truly believe that with these specials needs come some amazing special abilities as well. When you take the time to find out what your child is good at and what they enjoy doing, you can use it as a huge motivator for them.

Autism has been described as an onion, you have to pull back layer after layer to get to the root cause of how it is affecting your child. So many times Dr’s want to treat the systems and not find out the true cause. Every child is different although there are similarities; it’s amazing how no two cases are exactly the same. That is why this journey is so difficult to navigate. Something that works great for one child can have a reverse affects on another child.

The one thing that has proven to be true for all of us is a healthy lifestyle and proper nutrition. Food can be a huge issue with our kids. What goes into their bodies truly does affect their systems. One book that I continually go back to for guidance is:

“Healing the New Childhood Epidemics” by Kenneth Bock. This book is great because it breaks things down for you with example cases of real families. How the children were when they first started the recommended treatments and how they are doing today. I hope it will bring you hope that healing is possible. Because we know with God ALL things are possible.

Blessings,

Sam

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