Travel tips for your special family with special needs kids.

Vacations make us super excited. But for kids /adults with special needs, it is a huge challenge as; vacation disrupts the routine structure. It also poses the possibilities of the unpredictable crowd, new noises and environment for people with special needs. Vacation is a challenge not only for them but for you as their parents as well. However, with careful planning and information using the resources below, you will have an awesome vacation experience. Yes, working strategically and with planning is crucial for your perfect family trip. Therefore, read on to discover more tips on travel for your kids with special needs. So are you ready to hit the beach?

Preparing your kids beforehand:

Vacation means changes in daily routine; if you are a parent of special needs kids/adults, anticipate new things. I along with many experts suggest you walk your kids through the transportation process. Let them know how you are traveling-whether by air, car or ship. Make use of social stories- Interactive guides/ workbooks to describe social situations and what to expect. Show your children pictures or movies of the locations you will visit. Practice visiting public restrooms. This will be a great travel anxiety buster before the departure day.

The airport rehearsals:

Plane travel can be a nightmare for people with special needs. From airport security to boredom on the flight, can wreak havoc on them. Therefore, I advise you to learn what security screening will look like or if you need to request help. Practice runs with security. Call the Transportation Security Administration’s TSA Cares Helpline, 72 hours before your flight to let them know what to expect. While in the plane go prepared to keep your kids busy. Some parents have tried packing gifts wrapped in tissue paper in each child’s rolling suitcase and had enough for every hour on the plane for each kid.

Hotels:

Before checking into the accommodation you should know if the facilities are equipped for your special needs kids. As per the Americans with Disabilities Act, all public spaces should be accessibility standards-compliant. But for developmental disabilities, it’s a little different. Therefore, call in advance to inquire about accommodation’s safety for your family. You should know if they have quiet rooms for people with sensory issues or one with a balcony door that locks, for those who wander. Requesting a room at the end of the floor helps cut down noise pollution. Shelling extra is worthwhile if you stay in a rental or condo and can prepare your own food. Use of visual support is a great help during your vacations, such as a schedule board with bathroom breaks listed or “First-Then” boards.

Sufficient relaxing time:

Take relaxation time seriously especially bathroom breaks. Place proper breaks to relax in the itineraries to prevent being overwhelmed, especially for those with intellectual impairments.

Seek experts:

There are many specialized travel agencies and organizations in this arena, to assist you in designing vacations and finding resources. While traveling to other countries you may not get the same level of accessibility, so here companies like  ‘Flying Wheels Travel’ arrange accessibility and provide tours to locations around the world for special needs people and for those with chronic illnesses, difficulty walking or those who are confined to a wheelchair. More Travel groups that custom design trip are ‘Ensemble Travel Group‘ and ‘Autism On The Seas’. Traveling with your kids can incredibly be great. Only if you are careful to follow the help-tips and allow your kids to participate in the decision-making you will enjoy more. You will learn the benefits of traveling. So are ready to pack your luggage?

Let’s get going.

Summertime, Safety & Special Needs Children

 ‘Summer Vacation’– this brings a sense of excitement in most kids, but not all are celebrating. “No doubt it is the toughest time of the year for some of us” — and I completely understand your situation. But I am here to guide.

 To avoid seeing the best of your occasions turn into uncomfortable situations follow my tips which are a careful study on the inputs from special needs parents, medical professionals, and community organizations.


Experience this summer with your kids with a joyous difference; let the good time roll.

Is your Child hydrated and sufficiently cool?

# Heat is one factor that adversely affects children with special needs. Especially children who are neurologically impaired cannot tolerate prolonged exposure to high temperatures. They are easy victims of heatstroke and other serious heat-related conditions. Their bodies can respond differently. Precisely some medications and drugs can make their mouth dry; increase the sensitivity to the sun. Certain medications can even impair the body’s ability to regulate temperature or perspire. Therefore, it’s better they avoid outdoor activities during the heat of the day.

# To avoid and cut down heat reactions and exhaustion accommodate your children with air-conditioned bedroom, school buses, and classrooms. Also, heat can create a lot of nuisances and make it difficult for children with asthma or chronic lung diseases to breathe. During the summers, especially in the daytime, the air quality index can be poor, thus it is advisable to keep indoor and enjoy the fun inside. Time from 10 am to 4 pm being the hottest part of the day can be very taxing on your children’s health. Avoid any outdoor activity during that time instead plan creative and fun games inside.

# Hydrate your Children with adequate fluid. Always make your children drink fluids at least 30 minutes before going out. But please avoid drinks with caffeine or a lot of sugar. Include drinks that keep your child hydrated for a long time and take it at regular intervals of the day. Eat the right food and more frequently throughout the day. Make sure that your children’s meals are well-balanced, cool, and light. Avoid too much sugar or foods that have caffeine in them.

Is your child well-groomed for the sun?

# Beat the sun by applying sunscreen SPF 15 or higher at least 30 minutes prior to going outside. Re-apply at regular intervals or after swimming or sweating. Be sure to apply sunscreen even on a cloudy day. Feel the comfort and avoid the itching by wearing loose-fitting clothes. Light-colored clothes are best because they reflect the heat. Protect your heads with wide-brimmed hats.

# Keep your children away from surfaces that can burn sensitive skin, especially children with spina bifida. These children may get wounds on their feet, legs, buttocks or back in the hot summer. They can’t feel when they get a blister or sore, as they have low sensitivity to heat. Sitting in wheelchairs for long can also be damaging. The plastic covering of the cushions when gets heated up can cause excessive sweating, thus leading to dehydration and skin breakdown. The metal frames soon get heated up in direct sun which can burn skin.

Is your child well equipped near the water?

# Take every safety and precautionary measure into account and be prepared for it when there is water or pool in the near vicinity. Children should enjoy the water but with all the safety tools at hand.  Your child must wear well-fitting life jacket (typical or adaptive) whenever he or she is near a pool, lake, hot tub, or any open water.

Leaving your child alone even for a minute in or near water can be fatal. You should not leave children in wheelchairs alone parked near pools. Make a note of all pools, hot tubs at home and water sources around your home, make sure they have motion detectors, alarms, or safety locks in place. Pools should be fenced on all sides with fences at least four-foot-high. They should be non-climbable, with a self-closing, self-latching gate.

Be extra prepared if you plan on an extended outing. Take a cooler of ice and cold drinks, food, or formula. Carry all necessary medication or supplies you need to keep your child safe and comfortable. Here are some common symptoms of heatstroke you need to know.

  • High body temperature
  • Hot red /flushed dry skin with no sweat
  • Rapid pulse
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Strange behavior
  • Agitation 
  • Seizure
  • Coma

Despite all the precautions if you see any of these or other signs, get immediate medical help by calling a physician or 911. 

With the right accommodations, your children with special needs can usually do the same things as other children. You love your kids so much to find what’s appropriate for your children physically, emotionally and socially. Let’s make this summer fun with freedom, but keeping safety and health the top-notch priority. Let’s not be quick to judge our children’s activities and limit our children’s opportunities to try new things. Let’s keep our anxiety level in check while our kids try new things. Let them hone their individuality, to take risks and to relax.

Autism & Sleep

Autism couldn’t stop Einstein, Newton or Mozart from achieving greater heights and so will it not be able to stop your child. Only if we realize that in each of our kids there could be another Newton or Einstein hidden we will strive to help them bring that to the forefronts.

In this post, I share with you the most critical issue any child with ASD faces and how to handle it as a good parent. You have been a top-notch mommy trying to care for your autistic child, yet you feel you are missing out on something. As a daddy you see your kid getting irritated and aggressive and wonder why it is so?–“Do I require to know something more about Autism?” Yes, you need to and it’s about Sleep.

A recent study by a UK-based advocacy group Research Autism has revealed that approximately 40% – 80% of children with ASD have some or the other sleeping disorder. This is on the higher side among adults with ASD. They face difficulty falling asleep, have inconsistent sleep routines/restlessness or poor sleep quality and often wake up early or wake frequently because of erratic sleep patterns throughout the night. They also experience hyperarousal or heightened anxiety around bedtime and because they aren’t sleeping well enough at night, they feel extremely sleepy at daytime. Are you one of those who is witnessing similar cases at home?

If yes, you know these affects both the child’s and the families’ daytime functioning and overall health. Due to lack of sleep, your child (or an Adult) with ASD exhibit all or some of these behaviors:

  • Aggression
  • Depression
  • Hyperactivity
  • Increased behavioral problems
  • Irritability
  • Poor learning and cognitive performance

Does my child have a sleeping disorder?

The amount of sleep varies as per every child’s need and age. Here’s a guide to the amount of sleep children require in general.

·         Ages 1-3: 12-14 hours / per day (take into account naps as well)

·         Ages 3-6: 10-12 hours / per day

·         Ages 7-12: 10-11 hours / per day

If your child is not getting the required amount of sleep regularly because of difficulty in the onset of sleep or any of the signs above mentioned for sleep problems, please take it into account and make an appointment with your child’s pediatrician.

The doctor may refer you to a sleep specialist if your child shows signs of sleep apnea, sleepwalking, sleep terrors, restless legs syndrome or may refer to an ear, nose and throat doctor. He might also ask for a change in your child’s medications. For children with persistent insomnia, further behavioral or pharmacological treatment is required to improve their sleep.

What causes sleep disorders in children with autism?

The exact cause for sleep disorder in autistic children are unknown, however, several theories have been proposed in an attempt to explain it. Some of these are:

 Irregular circadian rhythm and production of melatonin: Our bodies respond to the normal cycle of sleep-wake based on sunlight, temperature, and other environmental factors, regulated by a 24-hour biological clock called the circadian rhythm. It is processed in the brain; people with ASD exhibit irregular sleep-wake cycle due to irregular production of melatonin, a natural hormone that helps regulate circadian rhythm. For the production of melatonin, the body requires an amino acid called tryptophan, which is typically found to be either higher or lower than normal in children with autism. Melatonin level rises at night and dips at daytime hours in normal children, while it’s just the opposite in children with ASD.

Mental health disorders: Anxiety and depression co-morbid with ASD; these conditions are often a precursor to insomnia and other sleep disorders. Over, 66% of children with ASD reported being insomniac. Over 50% of all children with ASD exhibit symptoms of attention-deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD), which can cause elevated moods around bedtime.

Medical problems and Medicine side effects: It is found that epilepsy is often concomitant with ASD. Thus sleep is greatly affected by seizures- these can be on a regular basis and severe. Other common medical issues that can cause sleep disorder include constipation, diarrhea, and acid reflux.

Medication can also have side effects that interfere with sleep. For instance, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), may cause agitation and hyperactivity before bedtime on the other hand antipsychotics like haloperidol and risperidone, may cause excessive drowsiness.

 In addition parasomnia (frequent nightmares/ terrors and bedwetting) and irregular breathing caused by the intracranial hypertension causing the child’s jaw to take on an irregular shape (in infants with ASD), disrupts sleep.

How to manage my child’s sleep better?

Here I recommend 3 common therapeutic approaches to improve your child’s sleep:

·         cognitive-behavioral therapy,

·         light therapy, and

·         sleep training.

Alongside you can also keep below mentioned tips/strategies in mind to establish and maintain a healthy night time routine and sleep hygiene in your children. Here I share, several lifestyle changes and natural sleep aid  that can improve both the quality and the quantity of your child’s  sleep:

  • Sleep environment: Create a relaxing, conducive to sleep, bedroom environment. Since children with ASD might be particularly sensitive to noises and/or have sensory issues, therefore the bedroom should be dark, quiet and cool for a comfortable sleep. Make sure that the temperature of the room and the choice of bedding fit with your child’s sensory needs.

·         Good food habits: Many foods are natural sleep inducers; you can include these in nightly meals and snacks to help your kids get better sleep. You can include foods like nuts, leafy greens, dairy products, and other products rich in calcium and magnesium. Tryptophan a type of amino acid is also found to induce sleepiness; this is found in turkey, chicken, bananas, and beans. Fruits like sour cherries, grapes, and pineapple that contain high levels of natural melatonin are good for children with lower melatonin level. Do consult your pediatrician about giving your child melatonin just before bedtime as a supplement. Caffeine, sugar, chocolate and some sodas (having caffeine) are a big no-no just before bed because they are stimulants.

·         Exercise: Encourage your children for daytime exercise, as it makes them feel more naturally tired at night. Physical exertion too close to bedtime should be avoided because it can hinder sleep.

·         Relaxation techniques: Relaxation techniques such as meditation, listening to soft music, reading, or laying in bed with the lights off can work wonders for children with ASD. You as a parent can associate in these activities to supervise and guide them to ensure the effectiveness of these techniques.

  • Shut down gadgets/devices: Electronic gadgets like television, video games, computer, smartphones, and other stimulating devices emit ‘blue light’ that can hinder melatonin production and increase sleep latency. Therefore, these should be avoided at least an hour before sleep.
  • Lights & Sound: Ensure the windows are heavily curtained to prevent sensory distractions due to light during the night. To ensure sound sleep, test the floor and door hinges for creaking sounds.

·         Bedtime schedule: Inculcate and develop a bedtime schedule for your children. Following and maintain a sleep diary can be of great help for children with ASD. Difference between the weekday and weekend schedule should be minimal. Check on their daily sleep routine, if unable to sleep reassure them—that all is fine and gently pat them on the head, rub their shoulders, or give them a high-five to help ease their worries. Consult a sleep psychologist about bright-light therapy. Short exposure periods to bright light in the morning may help regulate the body release melatonin thus helping children feel more awake during the day.

             ·         Teach your child to fall asleep alone:  Generally, children wake briefly during the night; initially, your child would need you to help him fall back asleep during the normal awakenings. But gradually, it is vital that your children learn the skill of falling asleep on their own. Instances when they wake up at night, they should be able to put themselves back to sleep without you.

  • Naps: It’s helpful for pre-schoolers but should be avoided late in the afternoon as they can be interference at bedtime.

My advice to you is to give your child the sleep he deserves and he will make you proud of giving what you deserve. After walking a long way together, I hope we have learned enough to take care of our differently able children, ready to realize our dreams. I am all set, are you?

Autism & Safety

Give your child the encouragement they need and see them fly. Children with autism are special children and they need special care especially when it’s about their safety and security. You wouldn’t leave any stone unturned in the attempt to provide a safe and secure zone to your autistic child, would you? I can hear your loud resonating “No”. I know you love your autistic child and in no situation would you want your child to land up in the unsafe zone. I am happy that we are learning a lot about autism this month. With this article, you will equip yourself to be a better parent and caregiver.

Facts state that nearly half of the children with ASD wander off from a safe and supervised place at some point in time in their life. Nearly 91% accounts for deaths due to drowning in children with autism after wandering, it’s really horrifying, isn’t it?  We should be well prepared before an emergency happens- and extra prepared when dealing with autism.

What Parents Can Do:

Ensure safety at home

·         Know wandering triggers: Children with ASD can be impulsive and might wander or bolt away trying to remove themselves from the overwhelming sensory stimuli or from anxiety-inducing situations. They typically wander to get something of interest, such as water, park, trains tracks, etc.

·         Secure your home:  Shut and locks the doors that lead your child outside, irrespective of age. Place an alarm on doors to alert you as the door opens, to keep you vigilant.

Swimming pools at home should be fenced to prevent the child from getting to the pool. The fence should be at least four-foot-high, non-climbable, four-sided fence with a self-closing, self-latching gate. Pool alarms and door alarms should also be in place. Giving your child swimming lessons are good however, they are not enough to prevent drowning. Make a checklist of nearby ponds, lakes, and pools to look for if a child wanders. 

·         Work on communication and behavior strategies: Teaching your child strategies to self-calm when stressed also how to appropriately respond to “no”, this can make a big difference. Always keep your child engaged to reduce his urge/opportunity to wander.

·         Consider monitoring technology and identification:  It may be helpful to use things like GPS devices, medical alert tags, and even their name marked in clothing because over 1/3 of children with ASD who wander are rarely able to communicate their name, address, or phone number. You can also check programs such as Project Lifesaver and SafetyNet Tracking available through your local law enforcement agencies.

·         Have an emergency wandering plan: Have it written safe with you. This includes all the information about for child, his official diagnosis, identification mark, medications, and medical needs. Call 911 immediately if your child is missing. Have emergency point persons well in advance appointed to help you contact neighbors, fax alert forms and inform local law enforcement. Make a list where your child is likely to go even to dangerous places and send your search angels if you have them already assigned to search for your child.

Ensure safety at school

It is advisable and critical to address wandering issues to your child’s Individualized Education Program (IEP). Call a meeting with school staff, administrators, and your child’s IEP team to make them aware of the past wandering situations if any, also give them an overview of the autism wandering issue. You as a parent may amend the IEP and adjust the particular items,  if an incident occurs. Make sure you are communicated immediately in writing should there be any incident of wandering on or off campus. Also, this should be made clear to them that under no circumstances should your child be left alone. Sharing the well-documented wandering related past information (where was your child found in the past? By what is your child fascinated or obsessed? The most likely place where your child could be drawn to near the campus? Etc… ) with your child’s school staff will help prepare them if such an incident occurs at school

                Get rid of all possible triggers that have led to or could lead to wandering. Be sure of blocking off all pools, lakes, etc. in the area of your child’s school to avoid any chance of your child accessing them. This is one such a scenario; you could think of other triggers as well and determine how to eliminate them.

Be well informed about the school’s policies on wandering prevention.  Voice your concern related to security measures used by the school if you think something is missing. Security of your child at school is vital and critical. Introduce your child to all security staff and provide the security team with the filled out “Elopement Alert Form “containing more specific information about your child.

Along with wandering-related information and wandering-prevention measures, include safety skills in your child’s IEP and therapy programs if you can.

Help your child with autism learn skills to keep themselves safe:

Safety of your child is often in your and caregiver’s hand. Figuring out the skills your child needs to be safe and protected at home, school and in the community is an important step towards creating a comprehensive safety plan. Sit with your child’s behavioral therapists, teachers, IEP team and doctors to determine the specific safety skills and learning goals your child needs to learn to stay safe and away from harm.

Teach your child how to react, respond and change their behavior when faced with danger. Here are some safety tools you can use to teach your child how to be safe.

• Visual supports/prompts: You can use images of a stop and wait signs wherever needed, ask them to follow your instructions of stop or wait. Praise and encourage them to following this rule of visual prompt in other settings as well.

 • Social stories: Stories that have pictures and text which can be used to explain a situation and expected behavior by providing step-by-step instruction.

• Visual schedules/charts

• Role-playing/modeling the desired behavior to practice ways to act safely in real-life situations

• Consistent reinforcement for safe behavior and consequences for unsafe behavior across all settings

Safety skills or goals my child should learn: 

Learning safety skills that can help keep your child out of harm across all settings is important. I am enlisting a few examples of general safety goals that could be included in a behavior plan or individualized education plan (IEP):

• Responding to name and questions about personal information such as phone number.     

 • Seek parent/ teacher when a stranger approaches

 • Requesting help when lost

• Safely crossing the street

• Waiting when necessary (while getting out of a car, walking in a parking lot)

• Identifying boundaries (do not leave the house)

• Requesting to leave a classroom or activity

• Using a cell phone

• Refrain from running/bolting

 Safety of our loved ones are our utmost priority. With the right information, we can now eliminate the chances of wandering in our children with autism. Let’s share our children’s safety concerns and related goals with our immediate family members, friends, neighbors and other trusted adults with whom they regularly interact with. Use all that we know to mitigate wandering. We can provide a safe haven for our children. Do we believe that!

Autism Facts – Did You Know??

“Autism is one word trying to describe millions of stories.”- Anonymous

 We are already in the 2nd week of Autism Awareness month. But it’s more than just spreading awareness… it’s about loving selflessly. Over a decade, more children have been diagnosed with autism than ever before. Researches reveal that there is a tremendous rise in reports of such cases since the 1980s. In The 1980s, approximately 1 in 10,000 was affected by autism, in the 90s, 1 in 2500 and later 1 in 1000. Today CDC estimates an increment of 14% from the 1 in 68 rates in 2016 and a 47% increase from the 1 in 88 rates in 2012. Is this question arising within you, “what’s the primary cause of it?”  Researchers are also doing their homework but they don’t fully understand why or what.

I believe every child is unique and special in their own ways; all we need to do is love them the way they are. I know it’s easy to say, but let’s not give up. I have already been in your shoes, so I’m trying to be of your best help.

 If your son is diagnosed with autism and you are not sure where to start, read on to learn more about autism so you can be a well-equipped parent. Here are quick facts which will help you down the line.

PREVALENCE & OTHER FACTS

In 2018 the CDC reported that approximately 1 in 59 children have been diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). 

ASD is unevenly split between girls and boys in a ratio of 1:4. It means your son is 4 times more likely (1 in 37 boys) to be diagnosed with autism than girls (1 in 151girls). Autism is not restricted to any geographical location or ethnic group, in fact, it has reported its prevalence in all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups.

Even with the widespread awareness of autism among people and the possibility of reliable diagnosis as early as age 2, most of the children get diagnosed after the age of 4. It is identified that the diagnosis of minority groups are often late and less.

You know exactly what to expect and how to handle an ASD affected child because you know his intellectual level is low. They assessed nearly 42% of children identified with ASD for developmental concerns by age 3 years.


TREATMENT & SERVICES:

While it’s true that there is no cure for ASD, but it can be treated. With early treatment and proper care, children with ASD can overcome the difficulties they face and also learn new skills. Symptoms such as aggression, repetitive behavior, and attention problems can be controlled with medicines.

Unarguably, early intervention (before age 3) offers the best help to ASD affected child to reach his full potential during his lifespan. Depending on your child’s age and eligibility many services are available for her through the state’s department of health. She might be entitled to a publicly funded service coordinator (who will develop an individualized plan to meets the needs of your child and family.) or for special education services. Under this, the state will put an Individualized Education Program team in place to develop an individualized educational plan for your child.

RISK FACTORS OF ASD:

        Although ASD can affect any child but here’s some for the factors, you need to consider

·         In most cases, research shows that genetics are the perpetrators.

·         This is observed that children born to older parents are at a higher risk of having autism. 

·         Since it involves genes, it is likely (2 to 18 percent chance) to have the 2nd child also affected with autism if the 1st child has ASD.

·         Studies have shown that in identical twins, one has the probability of about 36% to 95%, of having autism if the other has autism while in non-identical twins, the probability remains at 31%.

·         Certain medical conditions like Tourette syndrome, fragile X syndrome, and tuberous sclerosis increase the risk of ASD in children.

·         Babies born before 26 weeks of pregnancy may be at greater risk of having ASD.

·         Vaccines do not cause autism.

ASSOCIATED CHALLENGES:

·         About 50% of autistic children wander or bolt from safety.  

·         Over 66% of children with autism between the ages of 6 and 15 face bullying. 

·         Approx 28% of 8-year-olds with ASD have self-injurious behaviors.

·         Drowning remains a chart-topping cause of death for children with autism and approximately 90% of deaths are associated with wandering by those age 14 and younger. 

  COSTS & BENEFITS:

·         Treating autism is a costly affair. In 2015 the cost reached $268 billion and the projected cost by 2025 is $461 billion in the absence of more-effective interventions and support across the life span. 

·         Autism costs a US family approx $60 billion a year for children.    

·         Passage of 2014 Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act allows tax-preferred savings accounts for people with disabilities, including autism, to be established by states.  

·         Passage of autism insurance legislation is providing access to medical treatment and therapies in 48 states.

 ASD is a vast subject and costly affair too. With autism, it easy to focus on what your child cannot do. But it’s all about what he can do, right? Autistic children speak a different language the faster we learn the better it is for us. With correct and handy information you can better understand your child and love better. Autistic children are differently able and they worth more than billions. I will walk alongside you in your journey of discovering your child. What did you learn new about autism, today? Please let us know or share your success story if have had the privilege of raising an autistic child.

What is Autism & Some of the Signs of Autism

Only a parent can know his or her child better than anyone else. It’s a great privilege for me to be a mother. We love our children and want to nurture them and  protect them.

I remember I took my son Omar to the doctor’s office several times however the doctors could not see any problem with him other than his current  condition, which was cerebral palsy.  I knew there was something wrong with him, I suspected him to be autistic.  After rigorous 6-8 months of researching more on autism and videotaping my son’s behaviors, I took them to the doctors again. A thorough evaluation and diagnosis confirmed his autism, at that point in time he was around 9 years old. So Immediately my son started all kinds of therapy. Now my son is 18 years of age. As I look back, these years have not been easy, but they have earned me a firsthand experience and rich knowledge of Autism.

An autism diagnosis can be difficult to come to terms with. Trying to find new ways for everyone in the family to cope with a new condition and support each other  can be difficult. Many time parents get little guidance on what to do next.  Just know I am here to support you.

If you think your child could be autistic contact your healthcare provider and get your child screened. According to the Center for Disease Control, today autism affects every 1 in 59 children in the United States.

Autism or autism spectrum disorder (ASD) alludes to an intricate neurobehavioral condition characterized by impairments in social interaction and communication skills and disability in language development in combination with rigid, repetitive behaviors. It umbrellas a large spectrum of symptoms, skills, and levels of impairment. ASD ranges in severity from being disabled, who somewhat may require less support to a devastating disability requiring significant support and institutional care in their daily lives, while sometimes, people can live entirely independently. Autism is just one syndrome under the umbrella of ASD.

Autistic children have trouble communicating and relating to other people. Because of the cognitive impairment, they feel it tough, expressing themselves either with words or through gestures, facial expressions, and touch. Sometimes they might even be pained by sounds, touches, smells, or sights that seem normal to others. Each person has a distinct set of strengths and challenges. How autistic people learn, think and solve problems can range from highly skilled to severely challenged.

Several factors may contribute to the development of autism. It is often accompanied by sensory sensitivities and medical issues such as gastrointestinal (GI) disorders, seizures or sleep disorders, and mental health conditions such as anxiety, depression and attention issues.

Symptoms of autism are usually clear by age 2 or 3. Some correlated development delays can appear even earlier, and often, it can be diagnosed as early as 18 months. Some infants show signs from birth while in some it is clear at a later age. Research shows earlier the intervention, the more like it is to be effective.
Not all autistic children show all the signs. Many children, who show a few, might not have autism at all. Henceforth professional evaluation is crucial.

Monitor these “red flags “closely to find if your child is at risk for ASD. If you spot any of these within the first two years, consult your pediatrician or family doctor for evaluation immediately:

  • By 6 months no big smiles or other warm, joyful expressions.
    Limited or no eye contact.
  • By 9 months minimal or no back-and-forth sharing of sounds, smiles or other facial expressions
  • By 12 months little or no cooing or babbling
    Little or no gestures such as pointing, showing, reaching or waving
    Little or no response to name.
  • By 16 months-few or no words.
  • By 24 months-insignificant or no meaningful, two-word phrases (not including imitating or repeating)

5 Ways to Empower Your Child who is diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy

Online Connections are the Key

Bestselling Author Danielle Coulter said, “Dream It – Live It” in an interview with Carla Wynn Hall. The podcast/video interview was about Danielle’s book “Snowmass Angel”, a memoir of Danielle’s journey with cerebral palsy. See, Danielle’s birth resulted in the cord being wrapped around her neck, depriving her brain of oxygen, thus causing cerebral palsy (or CP).

If your child has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy, you may be in shock, wondering what to do. Danielle is just one of the many successful authors, entrepreneurs and leaders who have Cerebral palsy and have defeated the odds, more than once.

See, as a young child, Danielle would dream of skiing. She wanted so badly to go down the slopes of Aspen, Colorado. Danielle lived the dream when she created, with the help of her instructor “Rich”, a piece of equipment that would allow persons with CP to snowboard, with an instructor, down the slopes.

Danielle competed in the Special Olympics in Aspen last year and won 2 gold medals in her category. By shifting and changing the DNA of CP, Danielle has shown the world that if you can dream it, you can live it, no matter what. Here are 5 Useful Strategies for helping your child who has cerebral palsy.

  1. Look on Facebook with your child and find the videos of Danielle P. Coulter. Watch her snowboard down the slopes and let your child see how she is doing so good and having so much fun. This will encourage him or her to communicate with you about their own big dreams.
  2. Take a look online at videos of Challenge Aspen and allow your child to see the kids going down the slopes with support and an instructor. This just continues to enforce the theory that any child with CP can do many things.
  3. Teach your child how to use the keyboard by showing them how to play the piano. Music and the internet are great learning resources for children with cerebral palsy.
  4. Talk to your child “as if” they didn’t have cerebral palsy. Author Win Kelly Charles said “My parents never told me I had cerebral palsy until I was 8 years old”. They simply raised her as if she had no disability.
  5. Finally, allow your child to engage in video calls with family and friends. This teaches them how to communicate with others, especially if they are homebound for most of the day.

Cerebral Palsy was once looked at as a lifetime disability and those diagnosed, had little or no hope to be normal or live a normal life. Parents, teach your child nothing but the best. Take a look at ways you can just include them in everything, with no judgment and no guilt.

Cerebral Palsy’s grip is getting weaker and weaker with technology, information and education. Talk to your child’s soul. To their subconscious. Let them know they are amazing, awesome and capable.

Thank you for reading my blog.

Please leave your comments below so I can reach back out to you.

 

 

 

 

Managing Time & Energy

Managing Your Time and Energy when Mothering a Child with Special Needs

The Oxygen Mask Story

You have probably heard the phrase that you should put on your oxygen mask first, if you are in a plane that is about to crash. I wonder where this statement came from. It certainly wasn’t from a mother because we have taken on a contract to sacrifice our life if our child needs support.

In this post, I explore some simple strategies for managing time and energy as a mother to a child with special needs such as Autism, Cerebral Palsy or  Intellectual Disability and many more conditions that affect children. Being a mother is a special gift from God, all by itself. When we are given the duty of mothering a child who has special needs, we also have special needs for ourselves.

Going back to the above statement concerning the oxygen mask, when your child is born with a condition that requires 24-hour care, you often forget about the oxygen mask and all forms of support for yourself. I want to ask that you start today, carving out some time for yourself, away from your child, if just for 5 or 10 minutes each day so you can recalibrate your purpose and refresh your strength.

Managing your time and energy is putting on that oxygen mask simultaneously looking out for the welfare of your child. Check out these three simple steps.

  1. Take a bath once a week. Soaking in water with salt, helps to balance out your own physical, mineral makeup and begins the process of soul balance. Salt is a mineral that draws energy to it. When you are exhausted and need to rebalance. A hot salt bath with some prayer included, is a great way to take 10-15 minutes for just you, your body, your soul and your love.
  2. Walk outside in nature, but take a rock in your hand. When you are a mother of a child who has special needs, those needs stay in your heart and head no matter what you do, who directs or guides you, or how powerful your intentions are. A rubbing stone helps you to stay inside of your own space, while you are taking that precious time for yourself.
  3. Finally, reading a good book is the third quick step you can take to manage your time and energy. As you are reading the book, take a moment to read a passage out loud to yourself. Allow this passage to sink in and penetrate your inner consciousness. Often, we read books and the words just go in and out. A book contains valuable nuggets of soul energy that can help replenish your own energy.

Thank you for reading my blog. Please leave your comments below so we can reach back out to you. Remember, I salute you for the work you are doing to empower your children to grow up feeling good about themselves so I want to provide you with content that helps you on your journey.

 

 

Featured In Huffington Post

I’m honored to be featured in The Huffington Post as one of the 16 Global Entrepreneurs to Pay Attention to in  2018!

Read the Article at http://bit.ly/2A38zAT and make sure to purchase a copy of my new bestselling e-book “You Need It, I Got It” at http://bit.ly/igotit-Sabrina

Please connect with me and Join my Special Needs Facebook Group; Especially Loved @especiallylovedgroup and follow me on instagram @especiallylovedgroupyOU NEED IT

 

Fun things to do that invoke creativity

Most neurologist and neuroscience professionals will come to the conclusion that Autism and its many spectrums, all seem to generate the best shifts in emotional behavior when creativity and fun are involved. The colors of playdough or the fun of gluing paper together may spark your child’s interest and keep it engaged for a bit of time.

Color Therapy is a great way to engage your child who may be responsive to colors and displays of light. One thing to remember is that although your child may not be able to verbally express him or herself, there are still very basic human qualities that are the same. Trust that what you are doing is working, even if it does not seem so.

All children can learn, just not all in the same way. You, a mother, father or caregiver can use your deep intuition to tune into what your child is needing. Sign language and interpretation is a great tool that is often used for non-verbal, highly functioning autistic children and adult.

Since the condition of Autism tends to make children want to be isolated, like in an igloo or small space, creating that small space with total allowance can set your child free of trying to fit into a square hole with a round peg. Just be there for him or her.

It’s not known what the soul feels or how it reacts to any stimuli on any given day. Some days sun may cause an angry outburst, while other days the sun may seem to bring peace. Note these days, outbursts and experiences so you can start to chart an improved course for your child’s day.

You are doing fine. We are all going through the same thing at the same time as you. Join a support group and sound off with your ideas. Knowledge not only is power but it is the power to continue improving our lives through new methods of treatment and care. Take care of yourself as well. Make a day where you go away just for you, to relax and unwind.

Perhaps you and your child can do finger painting or some sort of music program. Great strides have been made in proving that music and the arts, relax Autistic children. This could mean going outside and just dancing to the music.

One final note, it’s so important that you keep up with the latest ideas and innovations regarding Autism and what is working. You can do this. We can do this.