Why Your Child Needs a Sport, Activity, or Preschool

People cringe when you say, “My kid is in daycare/preschool.” I don’t understand why. I know some people have grandparents or friends who are able to cut back on expenses and actually make sure the children are cared for and having fun. However, I think that they should have at least three days a week of some sort of school activity.

I have had my son in some sort of program since he was about a year old. I work from home and I still manage to put him into programs just because he needs that socialization. He learns so much from others, he enjoys going, and he actually imitates them!

It makes me happy knowing that I drop him off and he gets to interact with other kids his age. The mingling really does help. People sometimes don’t like their kid being around other kids because they might get sick or whatnot. But it actually builds their immune system. My son used to be sick all the time. We feed him the right foods, clean his hands, and give him vitamins so that he doesn’t get as sick as often.

There is always going to be that chance of them getting sick. I think it’s better for kids to get an early start rather than tackling illness when they are older.

Above all else, children seriously gain so much from daycare, preschool, or an activity. If they participate in a program, they form the habit of a schedule and routine. They also learn from their peers and get to explore things differently than they do at home.

Here are some great items to have when putting your kid into a program. 

Check out some of our favorite autism activities:

 

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Birthday Gifts For Three Year Old Toddlers

My son is turning THREE soon, y’all THREE!!!! I can not believe it, but it has been such a fun time going through the past two years. I can’t wait to see what the next year holds for us!

I put together a list of items that are educational and fun for him to have for his birthday gifts. We like to always make sure that the toys are practical and are going to help him, especially being autistic. We know that he LOVES all of these items (from daycare and other misc toys). I hope that you can enjoy these fun interactive learning toys!

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  1. Toddler Musical Instruments- Ehome 15 Types 22pcs Wooden Percussion Instruments Toy for Kids Preschool Educational, Musical Toys Set for Boy
  2. Preschool Educational Toy Wooden Balance Scale Toy with 6 Weights for Kids
  3. Kennedy Toddler Learn to Dress Boards Early Learning Basic Life Skills Toy- Zip, Snap, Button, Buckle, Lace & Tie 6 pcs/set 
  4. Wipe Clean Workbook Tracing and Pen Control (Wipe Clean Workbooks) 
  5. Wipe Clean Workbook Tracing and Pen Control (Wipe Clean Workbooks) 
  6. Award Winning Hape Double Rainbow Stacker Wooden Ring Set Toddler Game 
  7. Peg Board Stacking Toddler Toys – Lacing Fine Motor Skills Montessori Toys for 2, 3, 4, 5 Year Old Girls and Boys
  8. Melissa & Doug Spray, Squirt & Squeegee Play Set – Pretend Play Cleaning Set 
  9. Melissa & Doug Shape Sorting Clock – Wooden Educational Toy 
  10. Melissa & Doug My First Daily Magnetic Calendar
  11. Melissa & Doug Food Groups – 21 Hand-Painted Wooden Pieces and 4 Crates 
  12. Melissa & Doug Band-in-a-Box Clap! Clang! Tap! – 10-Piece Musical Instrument Set 

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The Autism Truths From a Parenting Perspective

People don’t understand what autism is and they think they can figure it out from Google. That is not the case. I don’t ever recommend looking things up on Google; I learned this the hard way. I tried to find the right tools and resources time after time but met dead ends.

I tried to ask people questions and they always responded “every child is different.” I got the answers that I didn’t want. They say that you know your child better than anyone else, and I was always like sure I do, but how do I help him progress in a normal way?  

I ask myself many questions…

 

  • Will my child be normal? This is the constant battle I go back and forth about daily. What really is normal? I can’t define it so why does it even matter? I define “normal” as not flapping his hands and stimming all the time. I define it as doing the activities and having the behavior that regular kids do… you know… everything. My kid is special and unique in his own way and there is nothing I can change.
  • Will he be in special ed?? Well, that is a question that I do not know the answer. I know that currently he is getting all the help that he can, but in the future it might still affect him. Only time will tell for this one.
  • Will he ever talk?? I am positive that he will, it is just a matter of time before he does. It is a never-ending crusade, but I have complete faith. Each day we make small strides that lead us in the right direction.
  • Will he ever calm the stimming down? Stimming is when he makes noises and flaps his hands. This behavior arises when he tries to adjust to stress, boredom, life, or whatever the case may be. It can be pretty constant. I am sure in time this will fade away as well. Once he can talk, I am confident that this reaction will decrease just because of the fact that he won’t be as stressed or frustrated.

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Being an autism parent is hard because I put a lot of the blame on myself. I know that it isn’t my fault, but as a parent we want the best for our kids and try to fix everything. When we can’t, we beat ourselves up and tend to find ways to escape.

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The Top 5 Items For An Autism Preschooler

We have been prepping for pre-school behind the scenes. The truth is, I am a nervous anxious mama. Like all mom’s I am sure. However, I just don’t think my son is ready, so I decided to do some research and find somethings that can help Antonio get ready for preschool. These items help with the fine motor, gross motor, and even the letter and number recognition. They have been working wonderfully for us, and I know fellow mama’s could appreciate this!

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Do you have something that we are missing out on and you know we would enjoy? Comment below and let us check it out!

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Help Your Nonverbal Child Communicate with PECS

The truth is when you have a kid who isn’t talking, you are beyond frustrated. You see kids his age talking and you just wish you were up to that level. But then you take a step back from this make believe world, and realize all you have is non-verbal communication. Through strategies and time, we will get there.

Antonio’s ABA teacher has given us so many great options for getting him to communicate with us. Every time a new idea is suggested, I get overwhelmed because I wonder if it will be effective and how it is really going to work.

One of the new steps that we have tried is PECS (picture exchange communication system). This has been proven to help children communicate and talk. So, basically what it entails is printing out pictures of items that we use everyday and laminating them.

Whenever he wants to communicate, he has to hand us the card and we say the correlating word and take the card from him. This form of communication has worked incredibly well for food times and daily activities (bath time, vitamins, etc). We even have it down to a pattern now that he knows the correct order each component happens in!

Though he isn’t communicating verbally, this has helped us to keep the frustration at bay because we both know what he wants now. It is a great feeling! At first, I thought this was a dumb idea without much merit. But when I saw great results, I knew that this system was leading us in the right direction.

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When Your Child With Autism Goes to School; Navigating the System and Building Your Team (Part 2: 11 Tips to Team Success)

Keeping the points from my previous post in mind, here are some things you can do to make your school experience with your child with Autism the best possible journey.

  1. Educate yourself.  Before you go into your first meeting with your school, learn about your school district/division, state/province policies, procedures and beliefs around high needs learners. This will allow you to go into the meeting knowing your rights and your limitations regarding what you can expect for your kiddo.  It will guide your questioning, and will let the school team see that you are a savvy parent.
  2. Before meeting with the school team, have conversations with your autism support providers.  Your SLP, OT, PT, Autism Support Worker, medical team… everyone who works with your kiddo.  Some of these services may no longer be able to provide services as there will be people within the school system who will provide services instead.  IF this is the case, ask for a TRANSITION MEETING which INCLUDES you.  Transition meetings ensure that information is passed from one specialist to another.  Your presence at the meeting will give you the advantage of knowledge so that you can continue to support the service and so that you can have input into where changes might be needed.
  3. Talk to the Special Educator, Principal or professional who is designated in charge of special programming.  Find out what you can expect regarding a TEAM approach.  Many schools have mandates for team approaches.  Not all schools follow through with a full team approach.  By knowing what to expect, and by knowing the school district/division expectations, you will be empowered to request the level of team collaboration that you are entitled to and comfortable with.  Team meetings are time consuming to set up and take a great deal of coordination as many professionals have huge case loads.  But don’t let this deter you! Be as flexible and accommodating as you can, but make sure meetings are happening.  Set the next meeting at the end of the current one while everyone is at the table.  Generally there will be a team leader that takes care of this, but if they forget or omit to do it, bring it up!
  4. Ask for notes and  keep a file.  You are entitled to copies of any notes from team meetings, so ask for a copy and take your own notes to be sure you remember discussions.  Sometimes time spans between meetings can be great and people may forget discussions.  Having your own notes empowers you to help keep the team on track.
  5. Get copies of professional reports and assessments for your file. Specialist reports will be available to you at some level. Professionals who do assessments have different protocols regarding sharing of information.  There are also some types of reports where numbers and scores cannot be shared.  (This is to your advantage, so respect it! Sharing of numbers increases the risk that people who aren’t trained to interpret scores might get hold of them and misinterpret them or breach confidentiality!)  But get copies of whatever you can, especially the recommendations for programming!  SIGN whatever sharing agreements are necessary between your current service providers and the school so that they can work collaboratively and make sure that programming continues uninterrupted and confidentiality is respected.
  6. ASK QUESTIONS.  Go into your meetings with questions as opposed to demands.  Questions are less harsh, but still get to the point of your concerns. Your team will be receptive.  Demands have the effect of putting people on the defensive which makes for difficult team dynamics. Asking questions gives you the opportunity to hear what people’s ideas and plans are, and ensures that all team members are hearing what others think, and have the opportunity to give their input.  (See www.empoweredparentplan.com for a downloadable list of questions you can ask or adapt to your needs.)
  7. You will probably be asked to sign a form which outlines your child’s goals and program.  Make sure you understand it, and ask for clarification before signing.  These program plans are mandated in most school districts/divisions and are legal documents.  Please understand that they take a huge amount of time and coordination to put together, and that the person who’s preparing them probably is preparing a lot of them.  There may be mistakes or things left out.  Checking before signing is diligent, and will be helpful in making sure that things are clear.  Going forward, focus your discussions around that plan.  Copies of the plan should be shared with you and with anyone working with your child.  Most of these plans are “living documents” which means they are not written in stone.  If you think something’s not working, have a meeting to change the plan.
  8. IF there is a change in schools because of a move or moving up grades, or if a team member changes within the school, make sure that a transition meeting is held.  There should be a transition process for your child as well so that they understand the change and are not surprised/upset by it.  In my experience, sometimes things happen quickly and the school may not have thought about or had time for a transition.  Feel free to bring up the idea and ask how the change can be eased for your child. Social stories are a great strategy for transitions.
  9. Educational Associates or Teacher Aides, (whatever your school district calls paraprofessionals hired to support your child’s programming), are a great resource for your child, but they are not the teacher. Not all students with high needs will have full paraprofessional support.  It’s not always needed.  Sometimes it is needed, but budgets are tight and the school is unable to provide additional supports.  This can be a touchy subject.  First of all, realize that your child’s primary educator needs to be the teacher.  If other students or a paraprofessional are able to give some additional help that is perfect.  But make sure that decisions are being made and that your communication occurs WITH the teacher.  Some teachers feel inadequate when working with high needs kids because they have little experience or training with the specific special need, and are inclined to give a lot of responsibility to paraprofessionals who have the best of intentions, but may not have any training or experience with Autism. Teachers have a team of other professionals around them who can support and advise them.  Children with Autism often become very attached to and comfortable with a paraprofessional, which is great in so many ways.  Difficulty working with anyone other than the aide is not good for your child.  If they will only work for one particular aide, and there is a change, your child may have difficulty.  Paraprofessionals can also be assigned to work with OTHER students freeing the teacher to work with your child. I would never undervalue the role of the paraprofessional because I know from experience how an Aide in the classroom can be a life saver for the teacher and a huge asset to the child.  But as a parent, as much as you can, encourage your child’s learning flexibility and being given social and learning opportunities with PEERS, and some time with the teacher and perhaps other assistants, not just socializing all day with one particular adult. The paraprofessional should be a facilitator of social interactions, not a replacement for them.
  10. 10.You know your child best.  It’s not a bad idea to remind others of that sometimes.  On the other hand, your child may not behave the same at school as at home for a variety of reasons (another whole blog post for this).  Sometimes parenting kids with ASD can be so exhausting for parents that they slowly, slowly start giving in on more and more things.  It’s easier to give in than to fight, and you’ve got your kiddo 24/7. This is your reality.  It may not hurt to consider how the school is addressing things differently, and to carry that strategy into the home.
  11. 11.In my work with high needs kids, my biggest belief is that if we can give them nothing else, we should at the very least give kids what they want/need most in life, and that is Social Opportunity.  What we all want for our kids is for them to have friends and be loved, valued and included.  This is the gift of inclusion.  In the final analysis, whether or not your kiddo can name the food groups is much less important than whether or not s/he can live, work and play with others peacefully and be truly part of a group.  I could go ON and ON on this point.  In my view peers are not other high needs kids.  Peer groups should be a reflection of everyday society, including people of all abilities and needs.  My personal bias I know, but also the belief of many individuals and groups who work with high needs individuals.  There may be a place for some time in individual program work where life or communication skills can be learned and practiced away from the group.  But in general, your kiddo needs to learn to exist in the world.  And that can only be learned through practice.  We are social beings, and social learners. Even kids with Autism desire social contact because it is innate in all of us!  But they have trouble with it.  Social anxiety is often the underlying cause of this, and there are ways to address this if we try.  But being removed from social situations does not help.  Preparing for social situations is key.

I’ve said so much here and I fear it may be overwhelming.  I’m truly passionate about this topic and believe that children with ASD are a joy and a privilege to know and work with. I also know that they can be very challenging. When you enter the school system and through life, you are your kiddo’s #1 advocate.  Your engaged, informed involvement in his/her education will be a great gift both to your child and to the team working with him/her.  Know your rights, and expect them.  Be gentle but assertive with your team mates (they’re also trying their best!) to make the best possible collaborative work toward your child’s learning.  The value you will gain from everyone putting their efforts into the child (rather than into working against each other or constantly trying to establish a workable team) will pay off greatly.

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FACEBOOK Empowered Parent Plan~ Twitter @MpoweredparNT~ Instagram mpoweredparent ~ Pinterest Roberta Luchinski

Contact roberta@empoweredparentplan.com

BIO- Roberta Luchinski is the Owner/Facilitator of Empowered Parent Plan.  She helps busy parents prevent, respond to and change their kiddo’s difficult behaviours.  Roberta uses positive parenting strategies and brain based methods tried and true from her experience as a Mom, Grandma and 30 years of Educator experience. Roberta holds an MEd in Educational Psychology and has worked with diverse students as a Classroom Teacher, a Diversity Teacher, a Special Educator and a Consultant.

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My kid isn’t Attached To Me; It’s The Other Way Around

The problem is that with an autism toddler, I can’t let him do what he wants because he doesn’t understand. I don’t expect people to feel bad for us or treat us any differently. But I know it appears that my son is attached to me because I am watching his every move.

When he goes to play with others I have to watch him and make sure that he is understanding things. I have to make sure that he isn’t throwing a tantrum or isn’t making other children mad. See we don’t communicate well. If there are stairs, I have to make sure he doesn’t try to go down them without me. It is a constant battle to try to get him to understand.

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When he starts to get nervous or scared, he will take my hand and point or walk me towards whatever it is that is making him feel uncomfortable.
I imagine this is all part of parenting, but I don’t know any different. Autism or not we all have to watch our kid and be a parent. But I feel like I’m doing it while other people are looking and judging.

The other day we went to a kids gathering event. I know the people there, but it still makes me nervous. I want to make sure that my child is behaving well. Sometimes, he goes up to others and takes toys or food away from them. People will say hi, and instead of responding, he will ignore and run away. They probably think my child is rude or mean, but that isn’t even the case. I like to tell people why he does these things to help them become aware of this; especially if they are kids.

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View some of our favorite items for autistic kids.

  1. elmo tub 
  2. elmo letters
  3. cookie drop roll 
  4. potty songs 

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When Your Child is Ready For a Toddler Bed

Lately I have been going back and forth about a toddler bed for Antonio. He is autistic and I don’t feel like he can communicate or listen well. So it worries me to put him a toddler bed all alone.

I wonder if he will get up or fall out etc. I mean it’s all new to us. We have put it off for so long because I didn’t think he was ready, but we have to do it sooner or later and the time might be now. I have to put my mama bear feelings behind me and accept he’s no longer a little boy.

  • Signs that he’s ready
    sleeps through the night on his own and doesn’t get up. This is the first thing that we noticed. Even when he wakes up before us, he stays in his bed and occupies himself.
  • Can understand no. Whether he likes it or not is another story but for the most part he understands and usually stops.
    – The room is 💯 baby proof. This was my biggest fear. I didn’t want him to open all the drawesr to his dresser or play with toys or get into trouble so we had to make sure this was taken care of.
  • Puts an interest info bigger beds whether it’s a toddler bed or just parents beds. He loves coming into our bed and loves being super comfy, so we knew he enjoyed this.

Here are some of our favorite items that we used to get his room ready for his new bed.
REGIONAL’S CLEAR CORNER PROTECTORS | High Resistant Adhesive Gel | Best Baby Proof Corner Guards | Stop Child Head Injuries
Excellents Baby Magnetic Cabinet Safety Locks. Pro 8 locks+ 2 Keys keep your child safe. Baby proofing Easy to install just Stick on – No drilling With Extra Strong 3M Tape!

Safety 1st Power Strip Cover

Jambini Self-Closing Outlet Covers – An Alternative To Socket Plugs – 3 pack

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The best activities for autism kids without any toys!

My kid has sensory issues, but we never really understood what this all meant until we went to some counseling and therapy sessions. I knew he had something going on and I heard others talk about it but I didn’t understand it through my son. People told me about it but I was like what does this even mean? How do I change it and the truth is you can’t really change it especially over night. You have to continue to work and allow him to get the sensory input he needs.

One of the biggest things that I hated was that my son would hold my ear all the time especially when drinking milk or cuddling at night. It drove me nuts, but it was part of his sensory that he needed; it gave him calm feelings that he needed. I couldn’t stop it and. I learned that I shouldn’t ever try to stop it, he needed it and this shall pass someday.

The other big sensory item was that he was always climbing on me, he wanted cuddles and kisses, etc. Believe me I was okay with this too, but I hated it sometimes when I wanted to just chill. I learned that this too is also sensory. He LOVES pressure.. we learned this and I needed to keep fulfilling that in order to make him happy and move forward, otherwise it would end in a tantrum.

So let’s first talk about what sensory really is. It is the difficult processing everyday sensory such as any of our senses; they can be over or under-sensitive at anytime. They love to explore all their senses.. They see things differently than all of us and they love getting simulated with certain senses.

How can we help with sensory issues/ It really depends on the sensory items that they might need, so you need to adjust accordingly, here are some items that work for my son who loves movement, music and the pressure. So we had to incorporate all of these ideas in our daily life and activities:

Ring around the Rosie – He would start spinning whenever he wanted it and we would sing the song. He loves it and it caught his attention and would keep doing it several times.

Patty cake – This is another one where we would sing and exaggerate the “roll” and he would love it! He would giggle everyday we said roll AND did it with our arms! He would start to roll on his own in his brain whenever to get his fulfillment.

Lots of climbing and jumping on momma – We love “rough playing” we throw him on the couch (gently) or cover him with pillow and blankets playing peek a boo, and he loves it. This is one of the best things we can do, he can’t ever seem to get enough of it!

How can you tell if they like it? Well … they really giggle and give you the eye contact that they want! They ask for more in non verbal communication by showing eye contact, or giggles. They will grow out of these and will want something else as time goes on, but for now these have all worked so well with us!

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View some of our favorite items for autistic kids.

  1. elmo tub 
  2. elmo letters
  3. cookie drop roll 
  4. potty songs 

Read our disclosure.

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Break through for an Autism child

It seems that everyday we learn or do something new with Antonio’s autism. He is constantly changing. Kids go through changes autistic or not. The question is why and how to deal with them. Sometimes I wonder where he even comes up with these things that he does. However, it makes me happy when there is a new habit he starts because I know that we are making small steps .

I often wonder even is autism? I still haven’t found the answer to this. I’m not sure I ever will either, all I know is my kid is “different”.” But he is the happiest of them all, so it makes my job slightly easier. He lights up the room and enjoys life. The doctor gives fancy definitions but since every single kid is different there isn’t no real reason why or what.

I noticed that music and tv makes Antonio the happiest! This is considered “self-stimulating.” This is basically what makes him happy. It is when there is a repetition of movements, sounds or objects. This is a great characteristic of autism. But when he is watching tv he seems calmer.

What I love is that lately he has found his own way to communicate.. He will go up to someone’s hand or shirt and pull on it. This is his way of getting someone to walk over to what he wants whether it’s food or a toy, etc. This makes my heart melt just a little inside and I LOVE IT!

I try to take him out and expose him to as much I can. When we are in stores and I let him walk he will often times stop and sit on the floor. It could be embarrassing for me not him, but in this scenario I pick him up and take him towards something of interest and say, get up walk, with a great patient voice.

I told myself when I found out that he was autistic I was given this because God believed I could do this, he wanted to give me a challenge; he knew I am strong and could handle it! So with that being said I make sure to try to be patient and strong with him, and even others.

So when you are our and about and there’s a different kid.. or even a mother rushing.. or a mother trying to gather her kids. Tell her she is doing a great job she will appreciate more than you know. If you a mother you understand the struggles.

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