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A new school year is approaching and we understand that this can be exciting and frightening for children with special needs and their parents. It will be helpful to get started with a plan for getting ready to go back to school. We have listed some tips to help with a smooth transition from summer break to back to school.

  1. Organize your paperwork- There are always a lot of paperwork and meetings to keep track of in the world of special needs kids. Keeping a family calendar of school events, meetings, conferences, etc. is a great way to help you stay organized. You may also want to keep a binder or folder with all of your child’s special education documentation, meeting notes, and IEPs in sequential order in order to help you stay organized. Make sure you have plenty of copies of special documents, such as IEPs, to give to teachers or other staff if needed. Getting this completed before the school year starts will help you to start the year on the right track!
  2. Communication log- Documenting various forms of communication is imgresimportant and can be very helpful! Keep a “communication log” for yourself in a notebook or Word document that is easily accessible. Note dates, times, and natures of communications you have via phone calls, emails, notes home, meetings, etc.
  3. Reviewing your child’s current IEP- It is very important to stay up to date on your child’s current IEP. Before your child starts back to school, review his/her current IEP to make sure you have a clear understanding of it. Note when it expires and if your child is up for a re-evaluation this year. Make sure that your child’s IEP still “fits” his/her current needs. If you have any questions or concerns about your child’s IEP, contact the school about holding an IEP review meeting.
  4. Communicating with the staff- Communication is important at the beginning of the school year and throughout the school year. Communicate any concerns, changes, or questions about your child’s IEP with the staff working with your child during the school year. The staff will be better able to meet your child’s needs the more proactive you are through communication wimgresith them!
  5. Plan for a change in your routine- Discuss and plan the changes in your child’s daily routine. Make your child aware of the changes that will be made once school begins. Communication of changes is important! It may be helpful to practice the new morning and night routines with your child a week or two before school starts. Take pictures of the new routine to review and narrate with your child in a visual manner. This will help make transitions and a change of routine easier for the first day of school.
  6. Stay up to date- You can be a better advocate for your child when you stay imgresknowledgeable about your child’s IEP and disability. Try to stay current on new special education legislation, news, and events. The more you know, they better prepared you will be to successfully advocate for your child!
  7. Go to school events- Attend open house, back-to-school nights, parent-teacher conferences, etc. in order to help your child get a feel for the school and meet teachers, other staff, students, and other families. Share information about your child with the teachers who will be working with your child. Share the positives and challenges that may arise. Communicate any questions or concerns you may have regarding classroom instruction or your child’s IEP.
  8. Prepare a one page information sheet of your child- Type up or write a brief, one page document that covers your child at a glance. Report any food allergies or medical needs the school may need to know about, things that are likely to set your child off, and things that will calm him/her down, rewards your child responds well to, emergency contact information, etc.

Handprint Ice Cream Cone Craftimages

With the hot summer days here, there’s nothing better than cooling down with a sweet ice cream treat! This is a super fun and easy crafty idea!

Instructions: Paint your child’s hand and stamp it on a plain white piece of paper. If you prefer not to use paint, trace your child’s hand on a colorful piece of paper and cut it out. Let it dry and then cut around it. Cut the ice cream cones out of brown paper and glue the hand print upside down. Cut small hearts out of red paper for the “cherry” on top.

Therapy Practice: For practice with articulation skills, have your child produce a target sound, word, or sentence before completing each step. You can also have your child make up a story about ice cream in order to target carryover of sounds into spontaneous speech and to practice story telling skills in order to target expressive language. For social skills practice, role-play going to an ice cream shop and ordering ice cream. This activity is also good for working on fine motor skills with tracing, cutting straight and curved lines, and gluing.

Patriotic Star Wreath

The July is a great 5bf7e66264a36539b10be400d4eb9fbfmonth to show off your patriotism and this craft will have your door looking very patriotic!

Instructions: You will need paper plates, red and blue paper, red, white, and blue ribbon, scissors, glue, and a hole punch. Begin by cutting out the center of the paper plate. Have your child follow the line around the center. Draw or trace red and blue stars on the paper. A star cookie cutter is easy to trace. Cut out each individual star. Glue the stars to the paper plate, alternating red and blue. Once all of the stars are glued onto the plate, use the ribbon to make a bow at the top of the wreath. Attach a piece of ribbon to the back of the plate to hang the wreath.

Therapy Practice: This is a great activity for following directions! You can easily practice concepts, such as “first, second, third, next, then.” Ex.- “First, cut out a hole in the middle of the plate. Then, cut out red and blue stars from the red and blue paper. Next, glue the stars on the paper.” If you are targeting articulation skills, write target words on the stars and have your child produce the word as he/she glues each star on the wreath. If your child is practicing at the sentence level, he/she can make up a sentence using the word. For older children, research information or stories about Independence Day and read it to your child or have him/her read the information out loud and then ask comprehension questions. This activity is also great for strengthening fine motor skills by cutting out shapes, gluing, and tying.

Pom-pom CaterpillarPom-Pom-Caterpillars

This is a fun and easy activity that does not require many steps!

Instructions: You will need: 5 pom-poms, clothes pins, googly eyes, and glue. Put glue onto your clothes pin and then place the pom-poms on it. Glue your googly eyes onto the first pom-pom and wait for it to dry.

Therapy Practice: For articulation practice, have your child repeat target sounds, words, or sentences before completing each step. This is also a great activity for enhancing language skills. Talk to your child about the process of a caterpillar changing into a butterfly. This will open up many opportunities for vocabulary practice. Read the story The Hungry Caterpillar with your child and then have your child recall details of the story and retell the story to you. This activity is also great for practicing fine motor skills with grasping small pieces.

Easy Sand Cup

d7ba5f0ad0e986acbc25bb2a5d1df8f4Summer snacks can be fun and delicious!

Ingredients: Jello vanilla or chocolate pudding cup, 1 square Graham Cracker, 3 bear shaped honey graham snacks, 2 ring shaped chewy fruit snacks.

Instructions: Top the Jello pudding cup with graham cracker crumbs for the sand. Decorate with teddy graham snacks and fruit snacks. This is a great way to work on feeding with children with limited diets. You may add some non-preferred foods into the pudding cup, such as fruits. Your child can also dip non-preferred foods into the pudding cup and lick the pudding off or take a bite. Have fun and be creative with the types of food you add, making feeding fun!

Sensory and Fine Motor Gift Ideas

The holidays are approaching quickly and many parents struggle with gifts for their children. Many parents want to get gifts that are fun but also functional. Following are some gift ideas that your child will love and at the same time will help promote and foster gross and fine motor, sensory play, and visual perception. The following games/toys can be found on fatbraintoys.com, amazon.com and/or walmart/target.

  1. Teeter popper by Fat Brain

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  1. Kinetic sand and/or play dough
  2. Magnaformers

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  1. Pogo stick
  2. Snap Circuits Motion
  3. Game “Rush Hour”
  4. Scooter board
  5. Swing
  6. Bike
  7. Jump rope
  8. Game “Perfection”
  9. Squigz
  10. Therapy ball or peanut ball

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  1. Bilibo
  2. “Spot it” – there are several different “Spot it!” games depending on age of child

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  1. Fine motor craft bucket

Silly Pumpkin Putty Recipe

Author: Growingajeweledroseimages

  • Combine in a small bowl
    • 3/4 teaspoons of borax
  • 1 1/3 cups very warm water

In a second bowl combine

  • 2 cups of white school glue
  • 1 1/2 cups very warm water
  • a few drops of orange food coloring
  • Pumpkin pie spice – added until you have reached the desired scent

Once the ingredients of each bowl are well mixed, combine both bowls. As the ingredients of both bowls are mixed the pumpkin putty will begin to form


Pumpkin Moon Sand Play Recipe

 

Author: Growingajeweledrose

In a sensory bin or similar container combine all ingredients and mix well.   We started with one cup of water and added more until we had the desired consistency.  Really, it depends on what consistency you prefer your moon sand to be.  We like it a bit more moist

Storage:  Leave the moon sand in an uncovered bin.  It will dry out, but that’s ok.  Next time you are ready to play simply add more water until you have the desired consistency.


 Homemade Pumpkin Spice Playdough

Author: Real Mommaimages

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice (I used McCormick brand)
  • Orange soft gel food coloring paste (you can also use food coloring)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ cup salt
  • 2 tablespoons cream of tartar (this helps keep your play-doh from going rancid)
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil (I used vegetable oil)

Add flour, pumpkin spice, cinnamon, salt, cram of tartar, and oil into a medium sauce pan. In a bowl add the water and orange soft gel food coloring (or regular food coloring) and mix well.

In a small bowl (I used my large measuring cup) mix water with food coloring paste (or regular food coloring if that is what you are using).

Slowly add colored water into the sauce pan with the other ingredients and mix well. Cook on medium heat for 3-4 minutes. It will begin to pull away from the sides of the pan and form a ball in the center of your pan. Remove from pot and cool. Once your dough is cool knead it all up and smell!!! The aroma is wonderful…..if you want the smell stronger just add more pumpkin spice or cinnamon and knead it again.

Grab your rolling pin, cookie cutters, pie pan or anything else you can think of and sit down with your kids and have a great time playing with your own Edible pumpkin Spice Play-dough and don’t forget to sniff!!

Halloween can be a stressful time for children with hypersensitive sensory systems.  All of the extra sights, sounds, and textures may be challenging for your child and can cause children to shut down or melt down.  With careful planning and consideration, this day can be a fun day for the family instead of a stressful day.  Following are some tips to make this day a positive experience for the child with sensory challenges.halloweeen

  1. Talk to his/her teacher in advance about classroom parties and brainstorm ideas. Talk to your child about what to expect.  You could read or book or role- play.  Taking candy from a stranger may clash with established rules-discuss the difference and/or only go to neighbors’ or friends’ houses that your child knows.
  2. Make costumes safe and comfortable. Make costumes out of everyday clothing. Most store-bought costumes are made out of uncomfortable material.  Avoid wearing face paint or masks.  Masks can limit vision therefore making going up and down steps and different terrain dangerous.  Have the child try on the costume a few times before Halloween to make sure it is comfortable.
  3. Limit sugar and late bed time. Sugar can make children feel more anxious and hyperactive.  Stick to child’s normal bedtime schedule as much as possible to decrease melt downs.
  4. Give your child a schedule of events so they know what to expect. Whether it’s a written schedule or one with pictures, your child will feel less anxious and safer if they know what to expect.
  5. Take breaks. Have a code word so if your child needs a break and is feeling over-stimulated, you can go home or to a quiet spot to give the child a break.

Have a safe and happy Halloween!

1- Clothespin Spiders
Works on: pinch strength, letter/number recognition, eye/hand coordinatioclothespinn, body awareness

Materials needed: paper plate, marker, 8 clothespins, scissors, optional: googly eyes, pipe cleaners, crayons

Activity: The parent can draw either letters or numbers on each clothespin with matching letters or numbers drawn onto a paper plate. The child should then place the clothespins on the corresponding letter or number. The child may also color the plate and place eyes and mouth in the appropriate places.

2- Spider Web Plates

Works on: cutting, bilatespiderwebral coordination, eye hand coordination, hand strength

Materials needed: hole puncher, yarn, paper plate, scissors

Activity: if the child is able, have him/her hole punch holes around the edge of the plate, if not, the parent can create the holds. Then, ask the child to cut out the middle circle in the plate. Knot the yarn into one of the holes in the plate and have the child weave the yarn in and out of the holes, crossing the plate each time to create a web.


3- Cotton Ball Ghostcottonball

Works on: cutting, gluing, pincer grasp, visual motor skills, sensory

Materials needed: cotton balls, paper, black marker, scissors, glue

Activity: Draw a ghost like shape on the paper. Have the child cut it out, then use the glue to cover the shape in cotton balls. Draw eyes and a mouth on the paper. Have the child color in the circles, cut them out, then paste them on top of the cotton balls in the proper positions.

4- Halloween Sensory Bags

Works on: sensory play, finger isolation, eye hand coordination

Materials needed: colored hair gel, 2 gallon size ziplock bags, googly eyes, plastic spiders, tape

Activity: Fill one ziplock bag wigooglyeyeth hair gel, googly eyes, and spiders. Place it upside down inside of another ziplock bag and tape the top closed. Have the child move the objects around inside the back, separating the googly eyes from the spiders.

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How Can I Help My Child Make Friends?

All parents want their children to make friends.  We also want their friends to be a good influence on our children.  Some children are more introverted and others are extroverts.  Here are five ways to help your child make good friends.

  1. Set an example of how to be a good friend– Children can learn a lot by the example you set as a parent.
  • Have your child help you make cards for friends.
  • Take your child with you when you deliver a meal to a friend.
  • Invite your friends over for a visit.
  • Have your child send them a video message to tell them you were thinking of them.
  1. Talk about it-Discuss qualities that make a good friend: being friendly, being honest, being fun, being dependable, being nice, etc. Then, talk about having these qualities and looking for friends that have these qualities.
  2. Involve your children in after school activities that interest themChildren can form a bond over similar interests. Find out what your child wants to participate in (sports, dance, chess club, book club, etc.)  They are likely to make friends wimagesith others in the group based upon their similar interests.
  3. Have a play date– Invite their friends over to play. For young children, plan a few activities.  For older children, let them plan.  Many children socialize better in a one-on-one environment.  This time can allow the children to make personal connections that they   can build upon.
  4. When they have friendship troubles, help them work through it-Your child will have disagreements with friends. Help them understand their feelings about the situation.  Encourage them to work things out with their friends.  Don’t interfere and try to “fix” the problem yourself.

Developing good social skills can be difficult for some children.  If your child seems to be having a lot of trouble making friends, he or she may need extra help.  Here at JHA, we provide a number of different social groups that can teach them the skills they need.  Please contact us at JHA to find out more information.

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