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One of our big focus points this month has been how to help your child succeed during their school day. One of the most important things that often gets overlooked is the importance of eating lunch! Why is it so important? Food is fuel! If your tank is on empty you are going to be hungry, cranky, angry (hangry?), more irritable and you lose your ability to focus.
Now think about your child. Do they eat lunch every day at school or is something preventing them from eating their lunch? You may send a lunch or lunch money for them to buy a lunch but they may just be sitting there trying to hold it together, unable to focus on eating their food.
Lunch rooms can be loud and the smells can be overbearing for some kiddos. This is true especially if your child has sensory processing disorder (SPD).
So what do you do? This is exactly what we spoke about here:
“No child should eat lunch alone”
And as a follow up, since the first video was so popular and sparked SO many questions, I did another free video answering questions and chatting MORE about helping your child succeed in school (especially during lunch hour)!
Check out part 2 here:
“When your child with autism wants to eat alone at school”
And here is that video I referenced in my Facebook Live: He Just Sued The School System
I hope you are having a GREAT day and your kiddo is having an even BETTER school year!! Sending lots of love and happy lunches your way!
April is National Autism Awareness month. There are many organizations out there that raise funds and spread the message of awareness, but one of my favorites is the Autism Society, who also promotes autism acceptance, inclusion and more. Since 1965, the Autism Society has made it their mission to “make it a better world” for all people living with Autism. The set out to improve the quality of life of those living with autism and I believe that while we have a ways to go they certainly have begun to pave the way.
There are tens of thousands of people (children and adults) diagnosed with autism every year. Currently about 1 percent of the world population has autism with 1 in 68 having autism in the United States (CDC, 2014). This means that more than 3.5 million Americans live with autism.
That said, there are still many people who do not know WHAT autism really is. As such I feel it is important to continue to educate the public. So here is a quick breakdown on what Autism is, according to the American Speech-Language and Hearing Association (ASHA):
- Autism or autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability.
- Children with ASD, have social, communication and language problems.
- They also have restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior, interests, or activities, such as flipping objects, echolalia, or excessive smelling or touching of objects.
- Autism may be mild or severe.
- If you know one child with autism, you know ONE child with autism. In other words, no two children with autism are the same or have the exact same struggles.
As a pediatric speech-language pathologist that specializes in working with families and children living with autism, it is important to understand and discuss the various characteristics or challenges that come into play when a child receives an autism diagnosis. Some of the most common challenges, people with autism face, include:
- Social skills: while some children shy away from interacting with others and prefer to play alone, many would like to play with their peers but simply do not how to go about the interaction
- Empathy: children with autism find it hard to show empathy to others (remember these characteristics are not true to ALL children with autism as some a very empathetic beings), but can be taught to understand and empathize with others feelings
- Physical contact: some children or people with autism do not like to be touched
- Speech: some children may present with echolalia where they repeat heard words/phrases/sentences without meaning or an intent to communicate through those verbal repetitions. Others may be nonverbal or severely delayed in their speech development.
- Sudden changes to environment; some people with autism have a hard time handling sudden changes to the environment like loud noises, changes in lighting and/or smells.
- Changes to routine & behavior: while many children thrive when there is a routine in place, children with autism can become very dependent on it. When a change in the routine or schedule occurs this can often lead to undesirable or challenging behaviors. An unexpected change in routine is very unsettling to a child with autism.
Please share this article to help others understand autism better. It is my goal to educate and create acceptance for people with autism, while encouraging people with autism to be themselves!
Note: This post first appeared on thedcladies.com on April 11, 2016.
As I read this article on ABCNews I sat here in tears. It pulled at my heart strings. Seven-year-old Mollie-Raine has Autism, ADHD and other special needs according to her mother. In completing a homework assignment, she wrote out what you see pictured above.
anbrstens me. (understands me)
Nos I hav atesm. (knows I have autism)
Smiles oll the time. (Smiles all the time)
All Molly-Raine wants is a friend that understands and accepts her for who she is, her autism included.
Many children get to a point in their life where they want and/or enjoy being around a friend. This is a tricky topic for children with autism. So many of the children I have worked get to a point where they seem to want to be around friends but don’t quite know HOW to act around them.
Take Seth for example. Seth was a preschooler who enjoyed being around his friends but he was not sure how to play with them. He would line up a group of kitchen toys across the classroom, happily playing along side his friends, and this was what he was capable of doing at the time. This was a big deal! He was in a noisy overwhelming room, playing next to his classmates, but not yet interacting with them in play.
It became obvious that Seth wanted to play with his classmates. He would watch them play but his attempts to join in were unsuccessful. Seth would walk over and take a toy, knock over a tower, wreck the train tracks or hit a friend (usually the same child).
To those that don’t know Seth, he might appear as a trouble maker or a naughty kid. To those that do know Seth, we recognized this as an attempt to join in with his peers. We tried picture symbols, using a low and high-tech device and verbal models to help Seth interact.
It was not until we put it into the form of a story, connecting the pictures with what to say, role-played and then practiced with his peers, did Seth understand how to ask a friend to play. Once we tackled that and he became a pro at asking friends to play we moved on to teach Seth about the concept of sharing so he could have ongoing success once the play began.
This method that we used with Seth has successfully been used with hundreds of other children. Children I have worked directly with and children of families in our Little Sprout Speech (LSS) community! If you’re interested in helping your child make friends you can get the same tools I personally used to help Seth here: http://littlesproutspeech.com/store/mini-stories-make-keep-friends/
Here’s to friendships being made!
This post was originally made by an unknown author to the Bill Clay Spalding County Discussion Page. A parent on our Facebook page shared it with us and it was too great of an idea to not pass along to YOU! Please share this with your child’s teacher/school/county in any way you can!!! What this teacher is doing is beneficial to ALL children, including those with autism, aspergers, ADHD, depression, and many other speech-language related disorders. These disorders can make children feel disconnected from their peers. And the social impact that this can have to help create connections for children who struggle to connect with their peers is absolutely phenomenal, given that it is a simple strategy that ANY teacher can and should put in place in their classroom.
ATTENTION ALL TEACHERS AND PARENTS
Every Friday afternoon Chase’s teacher asks her students to take out a piece of paper and write down the names of four children with whom they’d like to sit the following week. The children know that these requests may or may not be honored. She also asks the students to nominate one student whom they believe has been an exceptional classroom citizen that week. All ballots are privately submitted to her.
And every single Friday afternoon, after the students go home, Chase’s teacher takes out those slips of paper, places them in front of her and studies them. She looks for patterns.
Who is not getting requested by anyone else?
Who doesn’t even know who to request?
Who never gets noticed enough to be nominated?
Who had a million friends last week and none this week?
You see, Chase’s teacher is not looking for a new seating chart or “exceptional citizens.” Chase’s teacher is looking for lonely children. She’s looking for children who are struggling to connect with other children. She’s identifying the little ones who are falling through the cracks of the class’s social life. She is discovering whose gifts are going unnoticed by their peers. And she’s pinning down- right away- who’s being bullied and who is doing the bullying.
As a teacher, parent, and lover of all children – I think that this is the most brilliant Love Ninja strategy I have ever encountered. It’s like taking an X-ray of a classroom to see beneath the surface of things and into the hearts of students. It is like mining for gold – the gold being those little ones who need a little help – who need adults to step in and TEACH them how to make friends, how to ask others to play, how to join a group, or how to share their gifts with others. And it’s a bully deterrent because every teacher knows that bullying usually happens outside of her eyeshot – and that often kids being bullied are too intimidated to share. But as she said – the truth comes out on those safe, private, little sheets of paper.
As Chase’s teacher explained this simple, ingenious idea – I stared at her with my mouth hanging open. “How long have you been using this system?” I said.
Ever since Columbine, she said. Every single Friday afternoon since Columbine.
This brilliant woman watched Columbine knowing that ALL VIOLENCE BEGINS WITH DISCONNECTION. All outward violence begins as inner loneliness. She watched that tragedy KNOWING that children who aren’t being noticed will eventually resort to being noticed by any means necessary.
And so she decided to start fighting violence early and often, and with the world within her reach. What Chase’s teacher is doing when she sits in her empty classroom studying those lists written with shaky 11 year old hands – is SAVING LIVES. I am convinced of it. She is saving lives.
And what this mathematician has learned while using this system is something she really already knew: that everything – even love, even belonging – has a pattern to it. And she finds those patterns through those lists – she breaks the codes of disconnection. And then she gets lonely kids the help they need. It’s math to her. It’s MATH.
All is love- even math. Amazing.
Chase’s teacher retires this year – after decades of saving lives. What a way to spend a life: looking for patterns of love and loneliness. Stepping in, every single day- and altering the trajectory of our world.
TEACH ON, WARRIORS. You are the first responders, the front line, the disconnection detectives, and the best and ONLY hope we’ve got for a better world. What you do in those classrooms when no one is watching- it’s our best hope.
If anyone knows who the original author is, please contact me as I would like to give credit where credit is due! For more on helping your child connect, go here:
Mary woke up and just wanted to hide in the bedroom. She could already hear her child with autism was awake by the stirring coming from his room. She kept replaying yesterday’s playground scenario in her head.
Her son, Jason, was playing on his own when a group of kids approached him and he went into meltdown mode. You know, that meltdown mode where all of the other children look at your child like they have 5 heads, not knowing WHY they are upset. And of course your little love is melting down and in no place (even if they do have the language) to explain what just set them off.
So what happened? They had entered Jason’s personal space. It didn’t matter if he wanted to play with them or not, as soon as they were too close for comfort Jason lost it…
Then there was the incident last week. Jason hates when people enter his personal space but doesn’t understand that he needs to stay in his own space (and out of others) as well. See, this day, Jason walked up to a kid he didn’t know and gave him a hug. When he wanted a little girl to look at him, he grabbed her face and turned it towards his. Neither of these children wanted to play with Jason after this and Jason looked confused. This made his mom, Mary sad.
If you relate to this, today’s 4 tips will help you.
- Go watch the video I shared here and on our facebook page so you can grab the first 3 tips I always share with parents on personal space.
- Create “safe” spaces. What is a safe space? A space that ONLY belongs to your child. A space with boundaries. Maybe this is a sensory room in the home like we have explained here. Or maybe it’s a fort, a box, a ball pit or some other space that your child knows they can go to and where their belongings are always safe from other peers and siblings. Creating their own space for them helps them to understand that others ALSO have and want their own space for themselves, too!
- Use VISUAL cues. Even for children with excellent language skills, visuals still work wonders! In the video featured in Tip #1 above, I discuss creating a BUBBLE and how to do that. Check it out. You can use that idea of creating a bubble and use a hula hoop to show your child what the bubble around them looks like! Other ideas are having your child stretch their arms out next to them and showing them this is their bubble and this is how much room they should leave when standing near or talking to others.
- Use Pictures. I am a BIG advocate of pictures, again, because they are visual. Find some books with people or animals that have space between them. Show your child the “space” or “bubble” around these people/animals and how it makes them feel when there is enough space (versus how they feel when someone enters their space).
These 4 tips can be used on their own or in combination with each other. For the best impact, I recommend using all of the tips together in a complete approach to help your child understand what their personal bubble looks like as well as what the personal bubble looks like around others. That personal bubble around others is what most of our kiddos struggle most with understanding so putting a big emphasis on this and talking about it daily for a week or two should start to help shed some light and at that point you should start to see some progress.
If this is all too overwhelming, one of our mini stories found here, tackles personal space in a very simple and easy way that WORKS (and takes out all the guessing on your end).
Here is to your child learning how to stay within their own personal bubble!
Are you aware that more than two-thirds of 2-year-olds are using tablets? Are you also aware that half of two-year-olds reportedly use smart phones and 1 in 4 use some sort of smart technology at the dinner table? The most recent studies report babies around a year of age are now amongst smart phone/tablet users as well. Let’s look at some recent facts from the American Speech-Language and Hearing Association (ASHA; based on a sample of 1,000 parents with kids 0-8 years of age):
- 68% of parents’ 2-year-olds use tablets; 59% use smartphones and 44% use video game consoles.
- 55% of parents voice concern that misuse of technology might be harming their children’s hearing; with respect to speech and language skills, the figure is 52%.
- 52% say they are concerned that technology negatively impacts the quality of their conversations with their children, with about the same percentage saying they have fewer conversations than they would like because of technology.
- Hearing loss among children is a concern; 72% of parents polled agree that loud noise from technology might lead to hearing loss in their children. Couple that with research showing that one in five Americans 12 and older has hearing loss that makes communication difficult, and you can begin to see the enormity of the problem.
Now before you get your panties in a bundle, thinking I am going to reprimand you for if you have a kiddo under 8 years of age, I am not. I will however, tell you the implications of this, as well as give recommendations on healthy levels of technology use for your young child.
Before we move forward, take a moment, as a parent, and think back to when you were a child. What did you do when you were bored? You played. You made up games with the toys and tools in front of you. This often required creative thinking and social interaction with another child or adult in the room. Interacting with other humans is necessary to increase a child’s speech and language skills! This is just not something a smart phone or tablet can replace.
And when there was no other child to play with you entertained yourself with toys and your own creative ideas on what to do/how to play with your toys. THIS is the biggest thing I see lacking in today’s generation of toddlers. The difference between US and THEM; we grew up WITHOUT these devices, so we can put them down and function without them, creatively and socially. We, however, appear to be training our children to rely on these devices rather than verbal and social communication with other human beings, from a very young age.
As a pediatric speech-language pathologist, it is scary to see how many children (with and without special needs) have NO idea how to play with toys. OR what I often see is a child revert back to playing with the same toys repeatedly and repeating the same type of play because no one has given them the opportunity to be creative and expand on their play skills (since they spend most of their time glued to a smart device).
As soon as many children catch a glimpse of a smart phone or tablet their brains appear to be wired to grab on to it and never let go. And forget about not giving it to them, they WILL have an absolute meltdown. Sound familiar? Let me tell you, this is not healthy for our kiddos.
So what am I saying? Well, the more technology your child is exposed during their infant and toddlers years, the more you will have to physically work to teach them social and play skills. It has started to occur that children with more exposure to these devices are also requiring more help with developing speech and language skills (I see this in my private practice). This is something that can be avoided!
Am I saying throw out the iPad and iPhone? NO! I think they are wonderful devices, especially to help non-verbal children communicate, teach concepts that may be difficult to get a child to engage in otherwise, and more (but I digress). That said, I am recommending that you limit the use for young children.
So what does that look like? Just like TV may be limited to 30 minutes a day, it’s a good idea to limit smart phone and tablet usage to 30 minutes or less per day, especially in the preschool population. A majority of your child’s time should be spent exploring toys, talking to you or another adult they spend time with and just interacting and engaging with humans, which forces them to use their brain to problem solve and be creative! Under the age of three, your child’s brain is developing at such a rapid pace that we want to make sure what they are are learning is how to be creative and interact with the world around them.
So, how long do you allow your kiddo to use an iPad, iPhone or other smart device each day?