Tips to Help Your Autistic Child Survive the Holidays

Parties are always a hard time for an autistic child. I know my son gets overwhelmed for festivities or in large groups. He will start to stim and be “in his world.” Plus, he will not interact with anyone, and people wonder what is wrong with him or why he doesn’t say “hi” to them.

I wanted others to understand that it is okay, and here are some great tips to cope.

  1. Prepare Your Child: Keep your child updated. Let them know months before and the time leading up to the party. Reiterate to them weeks and days prior so that they understand and can ready themselves for the celebrations. I let my son use his ‘calendar planner.’
  2. Choose a Familiar Venue: This step might be tough, but try to make it as easy as possible. We live out of town, but still visit grandma and grandpa’s home often. Let your child know if they need to travel (like we do), how long it will take to get there, and where it will be taking place. Help them prepare by stating “remember when we went here.”  I let my son play on his ipad.
  3. Limit the Number of Guests: This point may also be difficult to do, but know that you need to have a list and let your family/friends know that if they can limit the number of attendees, it might benefit your child better. Help your child be ready for the guests by saying, “remember your cousin, Billy.”
  4. Stick to Your Party End Time: Keep festivities short and sweet. Too much party time can cause your child overstimulation or aggression. I always tell my son we have x minutes, and we will be going home at x time. This acknowledgment allows him to enjoy himself before we leave. Reassuring any child with autism is always the best measure so that they can cope before the action happens.
  5. Maintain Your Schedule: Having a schedule at a celebration can happen. Try to keep eating on track. Bring some snacks or a meal so that your child doesn’t get upset if necessary.

All of these factors might be hard to accomplish, but try to prepare your child as much as you can. Sticking to this checklist can improve and brace them mentally.

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Best Sensory Toys for Kids with Sensory Processing Issues and Autism

Sensory toys are toys that provide the particular sensory input that many children with autism crave. Whether it is visual or tactile, the toys have the power to capture our kids’ attention, making the right sensory toy a powerful reinforcer (reward) in applied behavioral analysis (ABA) programs.

Does your child with autism have issues with sensory input? Perhaps he/she would benefit from sensory-based intervention tools such as sensory toys. Take a look at some of the top sensory toys for autism recommended by many occupational therapists to include fidget spinners, hand toys, chew toys, cubes, and sensory rings for children with autism.

Here are the top sensory items:

  1. JVIGUE Sensory Toys Set- 15 Pack Stress Relief Hand Fidget Toys for Kids and Adults, Sensory Therapy Toys for ADHD Autism Stress Anxiety 
    FIDGET TOYS VALUE PACK: Total 15 Pack of Fidget Toys,2xSqueeze Soybean Fidget Toys;2x Silver finger Massage Rings;2x Gold finger Massage Rings;1x Squeeze Grape Ball;3x Mesh And Marble Sensory Toy;2x Fidget Stretchy String;1x World Map Foam Balls;1x Monkey Stringy Balls;1 Pack Large Water Beads.
  2. Bapon Fidget Bag – Includes 14 Bundle Sensory Toys – Relieves Stress, Anxiety, Anti-Depression and Increases Focu 14-PIECE FIDGET SET. Providing tactile, visual and auditory stimulation, this set includes an 8-inch rain maker. three stretchy strings, three fuzzy poms, a bubble glass, a green bean and five water ball bottles, all stored inside a reusable drawstring bag.
  3. SpringFly 030 12 Pack Bundle Sensory Fidget Cube/Bike Chain/Liquid Motion Timer/Rainbow Magic Ball/Mesh and Marble Toy/Soybeans Squeeze Grape  Liquid Motion Timer Bubbler Is a Perfect Fidget Toy For Calming The Brain Down. The Descending Bubbles And The Mix Of Two Soft Colored Bubbles Have A Soothing And Mesmerizing Effect That Will Keep Kids Entertained For Hours and Helps Improve Visual Tracking Skills. It’S Great For Kids With ADHD, Autism, Emotional Disturbances, And Any Kid Who Has A Meltdown!
  4. National Geographic Play Sand – 2 LBS of Sand with Castle Molds and Tray (Blue) – A Kinetic Sensory Activity  SENSORY SAND – This sand is kinetic, so it sticks only to itself and not to you! This perpetually “wet” sand is perfect to mold, shape, and squeeze
  5. YoYa Toys Pull, Stretch & Squeeze Stress Balls by 3 Pack – Elastic Construction Sensory Balls – Ideal For Stress & Anxiety Relief, Special Needs, Autism, Disorders & More PREMIUM PULL & STRETCH BALL SET: If you are looking for great and effective ways to reduce stress and at the same time have some fun, then we got you covered. We proudly present you the best squeeze ball set that will become your favorite companion from this day on and will allow you to play around no matter where you are, no matter what you are doing.
  6. Sensory Ring and Fidget Toy | Soft, Flexible Ring and Rubber Spikes | Helps Reduce Stress and Anxiety| Promotes Focus and Clarity | Children, Youth, Adults Sensory Toys  SENSORY STIMULATION TO REDUCE STRESS–Offering a tactile feel that helps reduce stress and anxiety, these handheld stress-relief toys provide tactile stimulation to reduce a racing mind so you can keep restless hands busy.
Sensory toys are toys that provide the particular sensory input that many children with autism crave. Whether it is visual or tactile, the toys have the power to capture our kids' attention, making the right sensory toy a powerful reinforcer (reward) in applied behavioral analysis (ABA) programs.
Sensory toys are toys that provide the particular sensory input that many children with autism crave. Whether it is visual or tactile, the toys have the power to capture our kids’ attention, making the right sensory toy a powerful reinforcer (reward) in applied behavioral analysis (ABA) programs.

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Why Sign Langugage Matters

It has been a while since I wrote about our autism progress. Quite frankly, I don’t remember where we left off. A lot has changed; we started a new program. This program is fantastic, but at first, I was so bent out of shape and cried. I was scared that it wouldn’t work after having a bad experience with the previous one.

I was in denial, I was hopeful, I had to push ALL my feelings aside and be a mother. I had to get my act together so that my son could move forward. I didn’t have time to think and be mad. I put everything aside and was open minded.

I was impressed with how structured this place was and how they had great communication. But besides that, I was able to learn a lot more about autism. It’s important to understand all you can and ask questions. It’s essential that they know his strengths, goals, and weaknesses. These were all great elements that the new place had.

The first thing that I noticed was that we kept track of progress. We are focusing on a lot of sign language, along with some other gross motor skills, but the sign language we learned was implemented at home immediately. We kept data on how many times he signed without us showing him and how many times he did it on his own when he wanted it without us asking.

For example cookie – show me cookies (he shows the sign for cookie). Independent is when he can show cookie when he wants one and not when we prompt him.

All of these signs help us communicate, and not get frustrated, but also know what he wants. Before, we never knew what he wanted. We are continually making noises and sounds, even with the sign language, so that we can take away the sign language in a few months and get him to be verbal hopefully.

The fact that he understands all of this makes me feel like the proudest mother ever. And, that he can communicate and tell us what he wants makes life so much easier for us both; from this moment on, I realized that we are on the same page and doing alright. So, yes,I am glad I made the decision that I did and pushed aside all the personal problems.

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Check out some of our other autism posts:

WHY YOUR CHILD NEEDS A SPORT, ACTIVITY, OR PRESCHOOL

HOW SIGN LANGUAGE HAS HELPED US

BIRTHDAY GIFTS FOR THREE YEAR OLD TODDLERS

 

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Autism: Positive Parenting Makes the Difference

Life has a tendency to throw a lot at us. We all are going through some obstacle at one point or another and manage to pull it all together. I see this more and more everyday. When my son was diagnosed with autism, I felt lost and sorry for us. I wanted people to feel sorry for us. I felt like I was alone and no one else could understand.

Then, I started to notice so many people, moms included, going through their own struggles. I witnessed people going through infertility and felt bad for them. I observed moms who’s kids had been sick or in ICU after birth. We all face some hardship in our lives and should not compare each person’s problems. Every issue is so different and unique that we can’t say “oh she doesnt understand what I am going through or even care.”

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People tell me all the time I am so positive. Well, why should we be negative? I try to make the best of a situation whenever I can and stop being so hard on myself and those around me. The truth is that I am so hard on people sometimes. I am so hard on Antonio’s teachers.. my parents.. my husband… even Antonio. All because we can’t get him to talk or make the progress that he needs. So what do I do? I take my frustration out on someone else by being rude, mean, or just thinking I know it all (but I don’t).

Recently, I wasn’t happy with Antonio’s progress. I decided to take matters into my own hands. I literally hold him like a baby and let him watch my lips while I make different noises or sounds. Next, I allow him to imitate me to get the results that I want. I thought, “it can’t be that hard. Why aren’t they doing it at his speech?”

But there is one difference here… I am his mom. I am able to give him that comfort and love. I am his best friend. I am his go to person. He tried so hard to do all the things that I was doing. He made good progress. I again was wondering why they couldn’t get anywhere with him? I knew it was because I had the advantage of being his mom.

The other element I add is to be loud… and I make sure to really be annoying trying to get him to talk. I am silly and loud all the time. I don’t care if people look at us or laugh, etc. It is what works for us. I narrate situations constantly so he can understand and at least try to communicate whenever possible.

See, we all have some challenge and are all hard on one another. Just live in the moment and get excited when some small success happens. When Antonio made the same noise back, I gave hugs and kisses and he was super happy and smiling. Who cares about blaming someone. At the end of the day, we are all trying and have the same goal.

Shop Autism Things:

 

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Parenting is Scary and it Doesn’t Get Easier

They say having a kid changes your whole life and we can never prepare for parenthood. We can raise our kids to be the best or the smartest, but the truth is that once they grow up, they are out of our hands.

My son is only three years old, but I worry about everything. Lately, I couldn’t help but wonder what will come about when he is a teenager or even an adult. Will he understand all the situations he encounters? It is a tough world out there and we try so hard to make sure that they are prepared the best.

How do we prevent our kid from danger or wrong decisions? How do we let them learn and be the best? How do we explain all the rights and wrongs? How do we instruct them on dangerous aspects? How do we teach them about sex? I mean, let’s be honest.

All these questions run through my head. Though we have enough time before we have to worry about these topics, I want to be prepared as a parent when the time comes. I know one thing, being a parent means we go with the flow and surprise ourselves a lot because we know more than we think we do!

Truthfully, we as parents can only do our best. Once our children become adults, we hope that we have taught them everything they need to know to be successful when out on their own in the big, wide world.

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  1. How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk
  2. The Whole-Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind
  3. The Explosive Child: A New Approach for Understanding and Parenting Easily Frustrated, Chronically Inflexible Children

 

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Mom Thoughts About a Nonverbal Child

I wonder all the time, literally all the time, if talking will make it all better?? By that I mean would life be “easier?” Would speaking make our bond even stronger? Would we have better communication? I ponder so many things all day. I wish that I had the answers and the easy way out, but I don’t.

Talking will make everything else go away, right?? That’s what I think. His autism will just be gone and we can be “normal.” But, it will always be there; it will just present itself less and less. Hence why it is so important he gets all the help he can now rather than later.

If he can talk, he can do what other kids are doing and can truly try new things, right? Does that even matter? Will that really help? These are my thoughts… constantly… as I try to fill my head with answers and wonder what ‘talking’ will actually accomplish.

What if he’s able to start talking but doesn’t want to and would rather throw tantrums? Because, let’s be honest, such is the toddler life. Nothing else can be done. But then he talks back and a whole new issue arises, right?

Will he still stim if he can talk? Will he follow directions? What would it be like if he could speak? What really does being verbal achieve?!?

There’s more to it than just talking — that’s what I have to keep telling myself.

It’s a two way communication street. He has to understand and talk in order for it to be successful.

Let’s just live in the moment and focus on what’s in front of us. Let’s stop comparing and questioning. Let’s enjoy those snuggles and giggles that he still loves and hold on to each a little tighter because one day he will be older, he will get a bit embarrassed, and I won’t be able to get those hugs.

Shop some of our favorite autism activities.

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  1. Stages Learning Materials Language Builder Emotion Picture Cards Expressions, Conversation, and Situation Photo Cards for Autism Education, ABA Therapy
  2. Stages Learning Language Builder 9-Box Set Educational Flash Cards
  3. Stages Learning Materials Language Builder Picture Noun Flash Cards Photo Vocabulary Autism Learning Products for ABA Therapy and Speech Articulation

PS Check out these Amazing Cotton Baby Booties!  They are super fun and adorable. Plus they are brand new and are lightweight booties are made from 100% organic cotton. Don’t worry they are perfect for year-round wear. AND did I mention super comfy?!

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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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How Sign Language Has Helped Us

Since my son has been diagnosed with autism, it has been hard to get through to him. He is nonverbal and has been for most of his life. We have tried everything but end up getting frustrated. Since he joined ABA, we know now that sign language can work; we just have to keep working to learn and know how to use sign language.

That was our biggest problem, or mine rather. I couldn’t follow through because I wanted to give up. I wanted to just get him to talk and thought I could do so by skipping a step. But when I look back on it, I see that this was an important step. In fact, most babies sign before they reach toddler age. So in order to really move forward, we needed to use sign language for him to communicate.

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We tried it for a while, but it didn’t work. When he was in ABA he would pick up on things much better and easier there just because they knew what they were doing and could dedicate time. It’s hard when you are a mother and have a million things going on or just give into your child so you can get other tasks done. It is a constant toss up.

Once we really started to use signs, it made all of our lives so much easier. Whenever someone else watches him, we make sure they are using the signs. Before sign language, there was a lot of frustration and getting mad (from both of us). Now, we can really understand each other. I ask him if he wants more and he shows me the sign for more, please. I mean, that is incredible.

Autistic or not, there are so many great reasons to teach your child sign language and really help them to understand.

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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.

Shop our favorites 

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