Back to school checklist-what to buy and prepare for your child with special needs

School is just around the corner.  Or it has actually started in other parts of the world. 

I guess the kids have mixed feelings. 

Some maybe excited to see their teachers and classmates once again.

Others may feel a little bit sad that summer vacation will be done and they will be missing the late night sleep and sleeping in the following morning, the campings, the out of towns, the never ending video games, etc. 

For your child with special needs, they may have the same mixed feelings.

I guess they are more excited than the regular kids. I know they show more enthusiasm and elation.

They are more open to express their joy and eagerness to be back on track.

How about the first timers? Is your child with special needs starting school just this year? How does he or she feel about it?

Maybe a little bit nervous to be out there on his own? Or also excited to be with other kids his age?

Of course I’m talking about those kids who are verbal and could express themselves already.

For the non-verbal ones, I guess the parents are the ones who are either nervous or excited.

 

 

So, my dear parents, have you started buying the things that your child needs come school opening or you already have bought some essentials way back in June or July and just about to complete the list?

This post maybe a little bit late but I’m sure it’s still very helpful for that final look for school must-haves.

I have prepared a back to school checklist-what to buy and prepare for your child with special needs, so be ready to check out what you still need.

 

 

 

1. Adaptive stroller

  • If your child is still non-ambulatory or is walking but gets tired easily, this is really essential.
  • These strollers are usually what they sit on in the classroom as well, so choose properly with the help of his therapist or rehabilitation doctor.

Click here for some choices of adaptive strollers

2. School bag

  • This is very important as well. 
  • You have to consider a few things though. If your child has attended school the previous year, you might not need to buy a new one if his bag is still useful.
  •  I know kids always want something new, but if you feel his old one still looks okey, a little talk with your kid might be all you need to let him know that he doesn’t need a new one.
  • Anyway, if you’re ready to purchase a new one, keep somethings in mind before buying. How big does your child need? Big enough to put his sweater or jacket in winter?
  •  Will his lunchbag plus some school essentials like his planner and pencil case fit in comfortably?
  • How heavy will it be with all the essentials in there? Think of his back for all the time that he will be carrying his bag. Is it a long walk from his classroom to the parking lot or to the bus stop?
  • Does he need just a back pack or a school bag with wheels?

Please see some choices below. Click the image to see the price.

Unicorn backpackBatman backpack Frozen backpackCars backpack

Click here for more choices of backpacks

3. Lunch bag / kit

  • The size will depend on how many hours is your special child staying in school or the time of his class. 
  • If he is in school for just 2 hours, more or less, then he needs to bring in snacks only but if his school time is done just about lunch time maybe you need to pack lunch for him.
  • Consider packing a crunchy snack because chewing is great for reducing stress and a good concentration tool.
  • Of course during recess, your special child needs to eat something to reward him for a good day or to sustain his interest to learn his lessons.

  Look at these awesome lunch bags that your kid might love.  Click the image to see the price.

  Frozen lunchbag Pink lunchbag  

  4. Water bottle

  • A 2 glass water bottle is also an essential part of his bag. He needs to be hydrated at all times so he will not be sluggish and will continue to be receptive of the day’s lessons.
  •  After a hectic  or an active day, your special child needs to drink his juice or plain water ( the healthier option ), so be sure to fill his water bottle to the brim!
  • Make sure to buy a BPA and PVC free water bottle which has leak proof lid with cap

Here are some awesome water bottles, click the image to see the price

Paw patrol water bottleSpiderman water bottleHearts water bottle

5. Pencil case

  • Choose something that is spacious enough to fit in his pencils, markers, and sharpeners.
  • Your special child will love opening and using a pencil case with designs that he loves like animal prints or his favorite cartoon character.
  • Having a pencil case will teach your special child to organize his stuff and put them back properly to where they belong. This develops in him responsibility. 

  Here are some choices. Click the image to see the price.

Superhero pencil caseMinnie mouse pencil casePaw patrol pencil case

 

 

 

6. Pencils, markers, and crayons

  • Buy as many as you can.
  • Your special child may just be starting to scribble or just beginning  to learn how to hold a pencil, but the more choices he has, the more chances of getting him excited to do his part in learning how to write.
  • If possible, buy the big grip pencils and crayons or markers.

 Here are some choices. Click on the image to see the price.

        Emoji pencils     Crayola markersJumbo crayons

 

 

 

  • You can also buy some additives that will be useful for your special child such as these  pencil grips for perfect grip for him to be inspired to write or scribble as much as he can.
  • These are useful even if the pencil is small.

Click the image to see the price ( pencil grips and erasers )

Pencil gripsEmoji erasers

 

 

 

  • Your child’s teacher or school might have these items provided, but it is still best to buy so your child will have something to use at home for his homework or just for practice.  

7. Notebooks

  • Buy those with beautiful covers that your child with special needs would love to open time and again. Designs that would let him smile and giggle and get him inspired to write down because his favorie animal or cartoon character is in the cover.
  • Those with lines are the most essential ones so your child will learn how to write with proper alignment. If possible choose notebooks with three lines, so he will be guided how to write big and small letters properly.
  • These colorful notebooks will delight your special kids.

  Click the image to see the price.

Tiger notebook       Composition notebook        Unicorn notebook

More choices here.

8. School shoes ( and socks )

  • Find shoes that are most comfortable on his feet. You would not want your kid to be coming home limping with sore ankles because his shoes is too tight that he develops a blister after a day’s wear.
  • They should  just be the right size so your child can run or walk without difficulty while playing in the playground or doing tag with his friends and classmates.
  • Socks that will allow his feet to breathe  properly even in winter are a must. Buy socks that he can wear depending  on  the weather outside.

   Click the image to see the price for some choices of  girls’ and boys’ sneakers/ shoes.

Blue sneakers   Skechers sneakers    Reebook girl's shoesGirls' black shoes

9. Sweaters/ Pull overs

  • Always let your child wear a sweater or a pull over on top of his shirt  because it will usually be cold outside once school starts or put it in his bag if it is warm, so he can wear it if the weather changes.
  • This is really important if your special one still cannot express his feelings.
  • Again, sweaters with awesome designs will become a favorite of your kid. Also match the color of his sneakers with his sweater. 

Click the image to see the price of the awesome sweater  your special one will love to wear on the first day of school.

Yellow cardigan   3 D Floral sweaterRoblox sweater

10. Clothes and accessories

  • If there is no uniform in the school that your child goes to, you may need to buy a few set of clothes especially those that he can wear and show off on the first day or week of school. 
  • He will always be proud showing off to his teacher and classmates a blouse or shirt with his all-time favorite cartoon character  or a shirt which is his favorite color.

Click the image to see the price.

Just a girl shirt   Long sleeve boy's shirt  Pink shirtWhite shirts

Click here for more choices of clothes for your child with special needs

  • Your little girl’s hair will be pretty either tied or with an awesome bow.

Click the image to see the price.

    Goody hair tiesHair bows

 

 

 

  • A cute beannie hat ( and mitts ) for your little boy or  girl that can match his or her backpack and shirt will be useful to keep his or her  head safe from some cold or draft at the start of fall.

Click the image to see the price.

                  Starwars beannie and mittsFrozen beannie and mitts

 

 

 

Weighted vests,  ( also works like weighted blankets ), like these below would be very helpful as well if your child has a hard time focusing in school. When worn, it relaxes the child and allays his anxiety.

Weighted vests to calm an anxious kid11. Calming toy or pillow

  • Let him bring to school his favorite toy or pillow for calming effect especially if it is his first time to attend school. This will really be helpful to allay his fears and anxiety. 
  • You can allow him to bring it to school on the first day or week or the whole school year whichever he prefers. 
  • Your special child will be more focused with his school work if he has these handy.

If you are planning to buy, read some suggestions here.

  Click the image to see the price of the calming pillows

Calming pillows
“We participate in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, which provides a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. As an Amazon associate, I earn from qualifying purchases at no added cost to you. When you buy, you are able to help in the Special Education of kids with special needs in Romblon, Philippines.”

Are you ready for school?

There you go, my dear parents, have you looked into the list of school essentials that your little one needs for his first day of  school? Did I forget anything? Hope not.

Anyway, most of the time, kids want to show off to their classmates or teachers their new backpacks, new clothes, new pencil case, etc, so I suggest buy him something new , even though some are recycled from last year or the previous years or maybe hand me downs from older siblings or cousins.

 I remember when my son was in the elementary, even though we just buy his schoolbag from the thrift store, he was so excited to show off his “new” backpack to his friends and he was proud to show off how many pockets it contains, the awesome design, etc. 

I guess even our special kids would love to show off their stuff to his teachers and classmates, so as parents, let us try to be aware that this is something that our kids get excited about school.

We don’t want him to hate his school bag or lunch bag that would ruin his enthusiasm to go to school everyday.

There’s this excitement or some fears on the first day of school that something ” new ”  especially if it’s his favorite toy or marker or shoes or top or bag and if his classmate or friend also likes it, it will be a big factor for your special child to have a reason each day to get excited to come back to school everyday.

Let the start of school be something that your special one will look forward to with an AWESOME school essential.

Happy shopping!

We have an advertising relationship with the stores/ business  we link in this post. We'll earn a commission when you shop/ click  through our link with no added cost to you.

 

What is your special child’s favorite cartoon character that he wants for his backpack?  Have you bought or prepared all the essentials for his school this year?

As parents, are you excited that your special one is up to another school year of learning and discovering new things?

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Toys special needs children will love…. recommended by experts

Like normal kids, our children with special needs love to have fun.

Hearing their giggles and laughter uplifts us- parents, caregivers, and even their teachers.

Playing, aside from giving them fun, promotes the enhancement of social skills and development of their imagination and creativity, as well as improvement of their fine and gross motor skills.

More so, learning the basic concepts like colors, shapes and numbers would be benefits from the right toys.


Choosing the best toys special needs children will love and recommended by therapists, should be top in our minds-parents, caregivers, and teachers, when we plan to buy them for our kids.

Toys that promote learning

I recently read a post from a behavior analyst who said that her daily life consists of treating children with autism spectrum disorders and when she gets home, she implements similar practices with her own children. She uses the same toys for the same reasons.

She believes that all kids want to have fun while they are learning.

Thus, parents need to find developmentally appropriate toys for their kids, whether special or not, to create opportunities for learning while playing.

For our special kids though, because they have delayed mental development, we have to choose toys which are recommended below their chronological age.

We have to consider their mental development. For example, a 10-year-old child with Down syndrome with a mental age of 4-5 years, would enjoy playing a toy for a 5-year old, because a toy for a 10-year-old might be too advanced for him. Toys about numbers for a 5-year old would be identification only of the numbers, or simple counting, but toys for a 10-year-old would be involved with addition, subtraction, or easy multiplication and division.

Here are some toys that experts suggest

1.Melissa & Doug K’s Kids Match and Build Soft BLOCKS SET ( click the image to see the price )

 

Block set develops imagination and motor skills

  • These blocks are washable, soft and lightweight, thus ideal for babies, toddlers and older kids with special needs, for easy manipulation and lifting.
  • Kids will learn to identify numbers, animals, and shapes.
  • Skills that they develop include sensory, fine motor, logical, creative, linguistic, communication, and self-esteem.

 

2. PUZZLES ( click the image to see the price )

 

Big puzzles for easy grip

  • Our special kids need big puzzles which are extra thick and with large knobs for easier grip.
  • These puzzles enhance their imagination and creativity.
  • Because of delayed mental development, our special kids need to play with simple puzzles so their minds can solve easy problems of identifying shapes and images.
  • Playing with puzzles also develop their fine motor skills, socialization and hand-eye coordination.

 

3. SPEAK TO ME ( click the image to see the price )

Magic laptop promotes verbal interaction and reading and imagination.

  • For kids with autism, toys that promote interaction like this laptop, that encourages a verbal reply when they push a button, are suitable.
  • Various categories include letters, numbers, farm animals and musical instruments.
  • The games within also enhances imagination, creativity and develops intelligence.

Toys that calm anxiety and improve behavior

Children with emotional and behavioral disorders like ADHD, need to balance fun and calm their anxiety while playing or just sitting down, maybe in a doctor’s office waiting impatiently for his turn.

Usually, they thrive on holding on to something familiar to them like a favorite toy or a calming thing like a pillow.

 

1. SENSORY RING and FIDGET TOY ( Click the image to see the price )

Sensory rings bring relaxation and calmness

  • These soft, flexible rings and rubber spikes reduce stress and anxiety by providing tactile stimulation to calm a racing mind and to bring restless hands busy with something, while doing writing in school or at home.
  • If your kids have short attention span, these bracelets sensory toys bring focus, attention and relaxation, so they are more attentive in school or even at home while doing homework.

 

2. STRETCHY DINO WRAP ( Click here to see the  price )

  • This wrap gets your special child to pretend to be little T-rex roaming around the house.
  • It is perfect for play, pretend, movement, compression and sensory integration.
  • Adults need to supervise the kid to dress up and tuck their hands into the sewn in pockets to wrap themselves snugly inside the stretchy cape.
  • It helps tactile defensive kids and sensory seekers.
  • Attention is sustained for a longer time because the kids enjoy pretend play a lot.

 

3. SENSATIONAL TEXTURED CIRCLE FIDGETS ( Click here to see the price )

  • They have tactile surfaces on each side for fidgeting and sensory exploration.
  • Kids can trace their fingers over the raised circles on one side and feel the fine bristles on the other side.
  • They could also be put on the floor where kids can tickle their feet with the bumps and the bristles.

Toys that Improve Kids’ Fine and Gross Motor Skills

 

1. GYMNIC HOP BALL ( click the image to see the price )

Improvement of Motor skills plus fun=Gymnic hop balls

  • These hop balls are made of heavy-duty yet soft vinyl latex-free material for long-lasting use.
  • Inflation by a hand or foot pump needs to be done by grown-ups.
  • They are great for exercise indoors and outdoors on smooth surfaces.
  • Our special kids will develop their body coordination, balance, and lymph circulation .
  • They come with a hand grip safety handle.

 

2. MAGNETIC NUMBER MAZE ( click the image to see the price )

Maze develops fine motor skills and number identification

  • Your special child will enjoy and develop fine motor skills as he guides little red balls with a magnetic pole.
  • It develops small muscles in the child’s hand to be able to hold the pencil properly for better writing skills.
  • This is also a learning tool for numbers  and counting.
  • Hand-eye coordination is also developed as the child guides the balls.

 

3. CRASH PAD ( click the image to see the price )

Crash pad lets kids enjoy jumping and develop gross motor skills

  • It is filled with a long lasting foam with heavy duty stitching, thus a  safe place for special kids to calm down and relax by sitting or lying down.
  • Children will enjoy crashing, jumping, exploring or cuddling, thus developing their gross motor skills and balance.
  • Suitable for kids up to 150 pounds

Parents and caregivers must play with their kids

Your presence in your special child’s activities will help him a lot to improve his social and cognitive skills.

Deep trust in you will be developed as well, as you regularly play with your special child.

Likewise, while playing with him, you are able to observe your child up close on how he interacts and how fast he is learning.

Remember, playing is the best form of bonding for you and your kid.

Playtime with a partner needs to be encouraged

There are various benefits if your special child is allowed to play with you and others.

As much as possible, expose your child to a playmate to promote engagement and interaction.

Various studies recently have shown that interactive experiences actually change the physical structure of the brain.

“We now have evidence from neuro-imaging studies (e.g., MRI, PET, and SPECT scans) that new neuro-pathways are created and connections among neurons are enhanced when the brain is stimulated,” explains Dr. Ron Savage, Executive Vice President of the North American Brain Injury Society and expert on neuro-developmental disabilities.

Based on these studies, special needs products and toys are made to improve motor skills, mobility, sensory processing and communication skills.

These specialized items can help children enhance their basic abilities while also soothing their anxiety and improving behavior.

Playtime provides both fun and opportunity for learning

Play therefore, is the best stimulation for children, especially when children are enjoying their toys and games, and parents and caregivers are devoted to helping them learn.

Studies have proven that loving relationships, meaningful toys, and time engaging in play together are the best ways to open avenues for our special kids to grow up and be the best that they can be.

So my dear parents and caregivers, please choose wisely what toys your child with special needs will enjoy and learn from.

It will be remarkable to witness the joy of your child while playing and in turn, his brain is stimulated to develop with added neurons for more wisdom.

 

“We participate in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, which provides a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. As an Amazon associate, I earn from qualifying purchases at no added cost to you. When you buy, you are able to help in the Special Education of kids with special needs in Romblon, Philippines.”

 

How do you choose toys for your special child? Do you observe that your kid learns while having fun? What is his favorite toy?

 

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Help for children with learning disabilities…the role of parents and teachers

Every parent wants the best for their kids. Thus, we usually start teaching our kids at home.

Do you agree when they say ” Parents are the best teachers of their kids?”

I do! Our kids learn almost everything from us the first time around. But of course, we cannot underestimate the help that teachers do in regular school and the Special Education setting.

It is really vital that even if our kids are already in school, we parents need to follow up with them when they get home. Collaboration with their teachers play a very important role on how our kids sharpen their minds.

More so with our special kids, we need to pay more attention to them and offer lots of help for our children with learning disabilities. We cannot overemphasize the role of parents and teachers in this regard.

What are the signs of learning disability?

At a certain point in a child’s life with learning disability, his parents or the teachers notice something is not right.

It is very important that these kids need to be assessed as soon as possible so you can seek for help right away for your children.

By doing so, your child can be helped the soonest so he can overcome or improve his disability and reach his fullest potential.

Signs of learning disability are usually subtle and hard to recognize. These are mostly seen when the child starts school or as they reach school age.

Let us first define what learning disability is. In Wikipedia, it is described as a classification that includes several areas of functioning in which somebody has a difficulty learning in the usual manner.

These kids have difficulty doing specific types of skills or completing tasks if left to figure things out by themselves or with typical conventional ways of teaching them.

Thus, they have struggles to learn how to read, write, do math, solve problems, recall and organize information by themselves or if taught just like other kids of their age.

If properly assessed and classified accordingly from mild to severe, specific interventions can be planned for these special children by their teachers and psychologists, of course with the support of their parents.

What causes a learning disability?

You may ask, ” How did this happen? Why is my child struggling? I have been trying my best to teach him at home everyday, but still he seems not learning.” 

This is really important. It’s not your fault. Please keep this in mind. 

Learning disability is a neurological disorder, which means that in these children, it results from a difference on how their brains are “wired.”

They usually don’t have physical deformities and they maybe as smart or could be smarter than kids their age, but just present with difficulties in learning specific areas of acquiring knowledge.

Children with learning disabilities can be famous and successful!

My dear parents, don’t lose hope.

Do you know that some accomplished people had some forms of learning disability but still, they thrived?

Albert Einstein for example, learned how to read when he was already nine.

Take note! 

When kids have learning disability, they cannot be cured or fixed. It is a a life-long struggle for them. But not a hindrance to succeed.

Examples are  Walt Disney, General George Patton, and Vice President Nelson Rockefellerwho had difficulty reading all their lives.

Other famous people  like Alexander Graham Bell and Winston Churchill, as well,  had some forms of learning disability, but still they were able to rise above their condition.

Goldie Hawn, the famous actress, had dyslexia and some reading comprehension problems, but with the support of her parents and teachers, she was able to overcome these obstacles and become successful in the movie industry.

Be very supportive of your child with learning disability. 

Cooperate with the teachers and other caregivers and for sure, your child can dance in the rain just like their peers, or can even become more successful than them.

Some important facts

  • Learning disabilities usually run in families.
  • The most common forms are difficulties with reading and language skills, of which 80% of these kids have some forms of reading problems.
  • Children with learning disabilities usually look normal with no physical deformities, thus, they should not be confused with children who have autism, intellectual disability, deafness, blindness, and behavioral disorders.
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorders might also be present in these kids but they are two separate entities.

Positive Reinforcement

Parents need to understand that their kids with learning disability have specific strengths and weaknesses that they need to recognize so special interventions can be planned and put into place.

But first things first.

You as parents must recognize that your special child needs care, support and encouragement.

Don’t look at his disability but focus on giving him unconditional love and remember there is always help out there.

You need to cooperate with teachers and the school system for your kids to be helped.

Here are some helpful tips on how you can help your child with learning disability. 

Observe him at home and share information with his teacher. Also, ask his teacher how he learns best at school, so you can apply some specific methods at home for follow up.

Partner with your child’s teacher to help your child.

  • Look at areas where your child excels or is good at and encourage him to give more attention on that. Focus on his strengths, not on his weaknesses. Even if he has struggles with reading, but he is good in music, let him join the school band or let him join singing competitions. Be there for these activities and let him know that you appreciate his efforts. 
  • Recognize how your special child learns well. Is he a visual learner? An auditory learner , or a kinesthetic learner? Assist your child at home with schoolwork by supporting his style, so it will not be much of a struggle for him.
  • For visual learners, let him read more books, look at diagrams, use the computer, flashcards and other visual aids. Let him take detailed notes in class and offer him to read them again and again.
  • For auditory learners, read out notes loud and let him memorize stuff by speaking them. Let him record lectures so he can listen to them later. Encourage him to join study groups where they can discuss their lessons.
  • For kinesthetic learners, let him study with music in the background. Get him hands on and let him do experiments; also,  let him join field trips. Encourage role playing and model-buliding. You can also let him join study groups with small frequent breaks.

Let us meet two kids with learning disabilities

Ally is 9 years old with mild learning disability in written expression. She can cope with the activities in the general education classroom setting; her cognition, reading and comprehension are all good. Her struggles though, are putting her ideas into writing. Ms Rica, her Special Education teacher,  attends to her for 30 minutes twice a week and has been providing her with different  repetitive activities and the use of manipulative materials to help her improve.

Raven on the other hand, is 10 years old and with moderate to severe learning disability. He attended Kindergarten for 2 years. He has short retention skills, poor cognition and comprehension, and also struggles with his speech. Areas that he find difficulty in learning are reading, writing and math. Ms Rica attends to his needs half an hour daily for the 3 subjects.

Both started school at 5 years old,  where the pre-school teachers noted developmental delay. At 6 years old, they had assessments with the Developmental Pediatrician and were diagnosed with learning disability.

Ally and Raven just finished grade 2 and will be in grade 3 this coming school year. Both of them are good in drawing though and both are visual learners.

With early intervention in school, their teachers and their parents hopefully will see them able to cope with their disabilities and become  the best version of themselves someday.

Be optimistic that your child can rise above the challenges

Having a child with learning disability maybe a bit of a challenge for our dear parents but with the help of our Special Education teachers, your kids will, in no time learn the ropes of keeping up with learning the basics and can live productively and independently.

There is definitely help for children with learning disabilities.

Remember, your child has strengths that they can focus on more, while taking the time to hurdle their specific learning disabillity and with your support as loving parents and the guidance of their teachers, they will be fine and for sure, will eventually be able to see light at the end of the tunnel.

 

Does your child have a learning disability? As a parent, do you collaborate with his Special Education teacher? How do you help him at home?

If you are a Special Education teacher, please share with our readers how you help your students with learning disability.

Post your comments below.

 

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Check out these books for kids with learning disabilities, their parents and teachers

                   

Greatly recommended for Special Ed teachers

 

 

 

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How to prepare for camping with a special child- summer escapade galore!!

Now that school is almost over and summer has begun, what better way to relax but to go camping!

Plan and prepare what to bring so nothing is missed and everybody can enjoy and have fun.

But wait, can you bring your special child with the whole family?

Of course, he may have special needs but he has the right to enjoy and spend time with everybody.

This will be a special bonding time for everyone – to relax, unwind, breathe some fresh air and enjoy nature.

Let’s go and delve on how to prepare for camping with a special child in tow.

I promise you, it will be a summer escapade galore!

Where to go

Months or weeks in advance, you need to plan where the family wants to go and reserve or book the place.

I assume you did this already. Did you book a cabin or a tent area? Or are you bringing your camper? Either way, all three are fun places to stay.

Is your site somewhere close, like half an hour ride or maybe up to 2 hours is good. But some families love to go long driving, like a 3-4 hour or more travel, which might be uncomfortable though for the kids, especially your special one.

You can actually make a long trip comfy by breaking it into shorter trips. How do you do that?

Rest in between, like after an hour or two, look for a park with a picnic table or a grocery store with some benches outside where you can rest or maybe eat your snacks or lunch. Even a 30-45 minute rest would give everyone a space to relax and a time to stretch and fill the hungry tummy.

Then, off you go again for another ride. Make sure that you let Dad or whoever is driving know that you need to stop every after 1-2 hours of driving to recharge.

Plan your activities and meal preparation

Planning is key to success, comfort, and fun in camping.

If you are camping with your extended family or friends, like what we do all the time, for sure there maybe a minimum of 4-5 families or around 16-25 people.

For a big group like this, it will be surely fun and the most important thing is to decide how you will prepare your meals. For our group, we usually assign which family prepares this or that meal, so we prepare and cook only once or twice for that weekend get away. On the first day though, that is on check in day, each family brings packed lunch or dinner, so we don’t worry what to eat when we get to the site and we can focus on pitching our tents or preparing for the first night.

That said, you know what food and cooking utensils to bring when you have planned your menu for your assigned day and specific meal. For example, you don’t need to bring eggs when you are assigned to prepare dinner on a Saturday.

Swimming is an all-time favorite activity for kids including your special one. When booking for a camp, always look if the site has a swimming pool or a suitable lake. Be sure to be with your kids at all times during these activities for safety reasons.

Outdoor games like badminton, frisbee or parlor games would be fun as well for the whole family. Be sure to bring those rackets and shuttlecocks, frisbee flying disks and materials for parlor games like sacks, big hankies, empty bottles, etc.

What to bring

It is best to make a list of what to bring so you will not forget anything or at least you will be able to bring the most essential things that you need.

I remember in one of our tent campings, my husband forgot to bring our sleeping bags, it’s good that my brother’s family were in their camper with heating, so they let us use their sleeping bags.

Here is a list of what you will need:

1. Shelter and sleeping needs

  • Tent- make sure that what you have from years before is still usable and clean, otherwise, you have to buy again. Does it fit everybody or do you need an additional tent if everybody will not be accommodated? If you want to purchase new one, you can buy at AMAZON by clicking here.
  • Sleeping mattress or airbed- don’t forget to bring the pump to put some air
  • Sleeping bag – it is usually cold late at night and early morning, so this is really important; suitable for one to 3 -persons depending on the number of family members; lots of choices at AMAZON.
  • Pillows
  • Extra blankets- the regular ones that you can use at daytime when you want to have a nap or just want to lie down
  • Weighted blanket- if you have one, you might need it
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2. Cooking materials

  • Stove
  • Match or a lighter
  • Propane
  • Kettle, frying pan, rice cooker – you have to know what food are you cooking so you know what to bring
  • Laddle
  • Chopping board

3. Eating utensils

  • Disposable plates, spoons and forks, glasses
  • Serving spoons
  • Napkins

4. Clean up materials including stuff for bathing and swimming

  • Towels
  • Tissue paper
  • Boxed tissue
  • Toiletries-including soap, body wash, body scrub or sponge, shampoo, toothbrush and toothpaste, dental floss
  • Bathing suit
  • Sunblock
  • Make-up, lipstick, deodorants
  • Diapers ( click to buy ) for small kids or even for your non-toilet trained special one

5. Food and Water ( think of your assigned meal plan so you don’t miss anything )

  • Bottled water
  • Water for cooking in a large container
  • Rice
  • Cooler with ice and hot dogs, pre-cooked food
  • Fruits
  • Snacks-cookies, chips, nuts
  • Drinks, including milk for young kids and your special one
  • Coffee or chocolate for grown-ups
  • Bread
  • Travel food in a separate bag for long trips- usually cookies, nuts, including water
  • Pre-packed lunch or dinner depending on your check-in time so you can concentrate on putting up your tent upon arrival
  • Other food- meat, fish, dried food such as beans, eggs, vegetables, spices, salt, marshmallow, etc

6. Clothes

  • Sweaters, jackets, toque, scarves, mitts- Be prepared for cold nights and on early mornings
  • Jogging pants- especially because there could be mosquitoes or ticks
  • Jammies, preferably long-sleeve tops
  • Socks
  • Shorts and light-colored or white shirts for daytime use when it’s usually hot
  • Underwears
  • Caps or hats

7. Other Essentials

  • Flashlight
  • Light for the tent and for your dining table
  • Camp chairs
  • Alcohol or disinfectant
  • Sunblock
  • Insect Repellant
  • Coins- some showers need coins to function
  • Hanging ropes for wet towels and clothes
  • Books and board games – reading to your special one can still continue outside or inside your
  • Camera or phone
  • House keys
  • Travel diary if you are fond of recording your experiences
  • CD’s to entertain you while traveling for long trips
  • Slippers
  • Balls, Badminton sets, freebies
  • Small toys for your special child

What do you do during camping?

When you have small kids and a special child with you, fun activities need to be planned so they don’t get bored.

Activities that kids enjoy are swimming, outdoor sports like biking, ball games, badminton, etc.

Hiking could also be fun if your special child can walk by himself. Let him stroll at the start then maybe carry him later in your back if he gets tired. Then plan to go back to your tent at this point, otherwise your back will get sore carrying him for a very long walk.

As you progress with your hike, show your special child the plants, flowers, trees, or animals around you and this could be an educational experience for him as well.

Campfire and barbecuing or grilling hot dogs and marshmallows are things that they also love. This is a special time for families and friends to bond by sharing experiences or jokes around a campfire, or sharing music by singing in a guitar accompaniment, if your family is musically-inclined.

If possible, tell your kids to limit the use of social media ( phones, laptops, DVDs, etc ) and instead encourage them to play active games and interact with family especially siblings and cousins their age.

After the camping, what?

Be sure to ask your older kids to help you out with folding the tent and keeping all the things that you need to bring home.

Make your trip back home fun by playing music and singing while traveling. If you think your special child cannot handle the noise, put on him an earphone.

You can also play games in your car, like the ” I spy ” game where you take turns in saying something that you see around, for example, a red flower, and let the other family members guess where it is.

When you are already close to where you live, you can eat out in a restaurant so you don’t have to prepare another meal at home because by then you will be very tired.

Then, putting away stuff is another hurdle to do. Try to keep all things in their proper places so when you need them again in your next camping trip, you know where to look for them.

Inspect all your stuff and clothing to make sure that you don’t have ticks with you.

Remember, that weekend with your family including your special one is a precious event. He will always cherish those times with you. Keep memories alive through pictures and videos.

Lastly, if possible, allot a day for rest and to put all stuff in proper places before you go back to work , so productivity in your workplace is not affected.

Till next camping!

 

Do you and your family love camping? Do you always bring your child with special needs? Not that hard, right? Please share your experiences with us.

 

weighted compression vest
Weighted compression vests to calm autistic meltdown

autism sites

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The benefits of reading to your special child… making learning a fun experience

Kids will be kids. They enjoy time with their parents and caregivers. They will always feel safe when they are around with their beloved mom and dad, grandparent, aunt or uncle, or their nanny.

What a better way to spend time together with your special child than reading to them.

Exploring books together with  your special kid is one of the best form of parental-child bonding, maybe second to playing with them.

What are the benefits of reading to your special child?

Even if your special child has  delayed mental development, he will still enjoy sitting down with you or lying down in the bed with you.

He will always tend to snuggle or hug you while listening to your story-telling.

So aside from just being happy together, there are lots of positive output that reading to your child will bring:

  • A strong bond is developed between you and your special child.
  • Your child will have  a sense of security when he is  there in the bed or chair  with you.
  • You are both able to explore the world, your town, province or country.
  • He gradually forms a deep trust in you.
  • He learns to appreciate that you are trying to help him improve or overcome his incapacities.
  • Your special child will slowly increase his vocabulary.
  • He gradually improves his language skills.
  • His mental capability will be boosted.
  • You are opening your child’s awareness to his surroundings, thus he learns coping skills.
  • You are helping your child’s teacher in a way because  your kid will be more receptive with lessons in school.
  • Reading will develop your child’s imagination and creativity.
  • He will learn to relax and quiet his mind during reading sessions with you.

Make reading together a habit

We learn easily when we do things again and again. Your child with special needs will truly benefit from you when you make reading to him a habit.

Rather than make your child watch nursery rhymes on television or you tube  day after day, develop the habit of reading to him instead at bedtime or just anytime that you feel he is receptive to listen to your storytellling.

Making reading to him a daily thing will surely increase his trust in you and he will always look forward to that special time together.

Gradually, you are increasing his vocabulary and his understanding of his environment.

This special time will also make you feel that you are giving him a special part of you.

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Enjoy reading with your child

Read aloud to your child.

Act out and speak out like the characters in the book that you are reading. If you are reading a dialogue for an old lady, let your voice be slow and quivering. If you are reading a man’s dialogue, speak in a deep tone.

You can even mimick some animals’ sounds. Surely your child will giggle and enjoy hearing your story.

He will always look forward to reading with you everyday.

You yourself will feel very happy and at peace after these sessions.  Your child’s laughter will wash away all the worries or stresses that you maybe experiencing at that moment.

Incorporate the assignments from school in your reading sessions

During homework time, start by reading to your child a good story book. This will develop his enthusiasm in doing his assignment.

Answering questions or completing his tasks that his teacher sent home will be a breeze if his brain is programmed to respond positively.

Encourage him to answer his homework by himself.  Let him ask you questions as well or let him know that you can help him if he cannot answer the questions.

Guide him if you can, instead of giving him all the answers. This way, you are encouraging him to think and decide for himself what is the best answer.

His teacher will be very appreciative learning that you are there to help her encourage your child to learn each day.

Read various topics

To increase your special child’s vocabulary and develop his language skills, try to read a variety of topics from animals, cartoon characters, plants, school, home, family, food, etc.

After reading, talk about the story that you just read.

Ask him questions like, ” What part of the story did you like most? “, “Who is your favorite character? “, or ” What did you learn from the story?”

Encourage him to ask questions to you as well. This will also gauge if he understood the topic or not.

An inquisitive mind is open to more learning.

Here are some awesome books for your special one.

Click the picture to buy!

        

Keep reading time short and sweet

A special child will have limited attention span, so plan to read short stories. Their intellectual capacities are also restricted, so they lose interest easily.

You might need to speak very slowly too, so he can understand every word and appreciate the story.

Don’t be upset when your child doesn’t decipher everything that you read to him. Keep in mind that he has delayed mental capabilities, so his brain is slow to digest.

Just appreciate that he enjoys time with you and he is learning slowly. 

Plan on going to the library regularly

A trip to the library on a weekend or right after school on a certain day is something that you can develop with your special child.

This will teach him the value of reading regularly. Likewise, he will be exposed to different books and topics.

Let him choose what he wants you to read to him. This way, you will encourage him to explore.

Start with small books or short stories.

Picture books are awesome for small kids to begin with.

Introduce reading to your special child from birth

Reading to your newborn or a few months old special baby can certainly give benefits both to you and him.

You will develop a special bond right away aside from his feeding schedules.

His brain will be exposed very early to this stimulating activity and as he grows and develops, reading will aid  in forming his language skills early on.

Your voice will soothe him to let him sleep good at night.

Developing that good habit of reading everyday will surely help him overcome his mental delay sooner because his brain will be rewired early.

As your child grows older, he would be choosing  his favorite topic, author, or book.

All these because you have started to expose him early and he has developed that habit of reading ( or listening if he has not learned reading by himself ).

I hope I have inspired you, dear mom and dad to start reading to your special child if you have not started.

Wishing you and your child happy reading!

Check out my favourite AMAZON picks  for babies. Click the book to see the price.

 

 

 

 

When did you start reading to your special child?  Are you reading to him everyday?

What is his favorite book about? Please share your story with us.

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Weighted blanket review- deep touch pressure ( DTP ) calms autism meltdown

PRODUCT : Weighted blanket with neck cut out

COLORS :  Buckskin, navy, and blue waves

Putting an autistic child under a weighted blanket during a meltdown will calm his nerves.

Product  Description

Size  Weight        Dimensions          Age     Price 
XS  5 pounds 32″ x 36 “   3 yrs   $ 135.99
Small  8 pounds 36″ x 42″   3 -5 yrs   $ 159.99
Medium 12 pounds 42″ x 54″   6-10 yrs   $ 194.99
Large 16 pounds 54″ x 72″   11-15 yrs   $ 239.99
XL 25 pounds 58″ x 80″   16 yrs & up   $ 295.99
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Meltdown vs temper tantrum

Children with autism usually can either have a meltdown or temper tantrum.

They are two different things.

Parents maybe overwhelmed when their child is in distress

temper tantrum occurs when the child is denied something that he wants to have or something that he wants to do. It is a bid for attention or control. You will notice that your kid sneaks an odd glance at you or the caregiver to see if it’s working.

They may hit you, but not hurt himself. They are still in  control of what is happening. They will usually stop crying when you give in to what they want. This is not the proper way to react as a parent, of course because they will tend to repeat this time and again.

meltdown on the other hand, is secondary to overstimulation by things such as light, sound, and touch, also called ” sensory overload.

Likewise, autistic kids easily get frustrated or anxious with  unexpected turn of events, such as when there is change in their routines.

They cannot express how they feel or understand what is happening;  they have  complete loss of behavioral control, so they scream, destroy property, hurt themselves, become aggressive or become violent to others.

It is sometimes scary and dangerous when this happens. As a parent or caregiver, you need to be calm and approach your child peacefully to dissipate the attack.

Don’t put an added stress to your child by panicking. Give him time to de-stress on his own.

Just be supportive, hug him if he allows you. Give him an assurance that it will just go away.

There  are various strategies on how to  calm your autistic child during a meltdown. Of course, this can just stop or be resolved at its own pace, without giving in to something.

It’s a storm or an uncontrollable reaction to sensory overstimulation or sudden change in routine, that just needs to blow up and then go  away.

Every autistic child is different.

As a parent and caregiver, you need to discover what usually causes the meltdown. It’s a case to case basis. List down what he was doing before a meltdown.

Once you have recognized what usually triggers it, then you can guide him on how to prevent it or walk away from it. This is of course better said than done.

Examples on how to prevent a meltdown includes minimizing  noise in his bedroom or playroom or generally in your home. Avoiding loud music is another  good strategy.

A  weighted blanket to calm a meltdown

The weighted blanket calms the autistic child due to deep touch pressure ( DTP )

One of the best ways to calm your child during a meltdown is using a weighted blanket.

As the name implies, it is a blanket with some extra weight.

How does it work?  A weighted blanket  provides a deep touch pressure ( DTP ) or distributed weight across the body. 

DTP is equivalent to a hug, a squeeze, or  a massage.

DTP releases serotonin in the body, an important chemical  that brings about calmness and stable mood. It also decreases nervous system activity.

Thus, putting the child under a weighted blanket during a meltdown  will make him calm and relaxed.

Many times the child is so stressed that he does not want you to touch him, so making him slip under a  weighted blanket is the next best option.

Therefore, a weighted blanket is highly recommended  if you have an autistic child.

How heavy should a weighted blanket be?

First determine your child’s weight. Then find or buy the blanket with an average  weight of 20 percent ( range of 15-25 % ) of his weight. This is based on a study of T. Champagne, an occupational therapist on mental health.

BEST to BUY at : National Autism Resources Corp

The Sleeptight weighted blanket

Therapist designed Sleeptight weighted blanket features industrial materials and stitching for several years of use. Choice of correct size for your child depends on his age and weight. The blanket is generally recommended to weigh more or less 20 % of the child’s  body weight.  For example, a child who weighs 25 pounds should use a 5 pound blanket.

This blanket is sewn with a curved cut out at the top to fit properly the contour of the shoulders and below the chin. Thus, it provides comfortable deep pressure to chest and shoulders without crowding into  the neck.

Please do not place the blanket over the face to avoid suffocation. 

This Sleeptight weighted blanket is usually made smaller than a regular blanket so that the calming deep pressure is distributed throughout the body and not across the bed, which will not serve its purpose.

Other uses of a weighted blanket

The Sleeptight weighted blanket is also  made for other purposes aside from calming a child during stress.

It is made of soft corduroy fabric to withstand years of use and this soft tactile cover helps the child to have a calming sleep at night.

Compared with other calming products which have limited use during the day only, this Sleeptight weighted blanket can be used all throughout the night or can be removed when your child is already asleep.

It is also useful for kids or even adults who have anxiety problems, insomnia, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder ( ADHD ).

Be very cautious

This blanket provides additional warmth, so please regulate your thermostat so the room temperatures don’t become too warm, otherwise, your child might be sweating a lot after a few hours of use and be uncomfortable.

There is also a debate if a weighted blanket is safe for children. Some studies say it is safe for teens and adult, but not for kids.

There were 2 reported deaths on using a weighted blanket. Both happened outside their home. One was on a 9 year old boy with autism , who was put on the blanket for 20 minutes in the classroom and another was a 7-month old infant in the daycare.

I would advise you dear parents to please supervise the use of the weighted blanket so it is not placed over the child’s face and observe him always if he is okey. You can remove it when he is asleep already.

When your child is in daycare or in the classroom, always check if the caregivers or teachers use them during his stay and be sure that they know how to use the blanket properly.

 Greatly Recommended

Again, if your child is autistic, even if he is a grown-up already, using a weighted blanket is a sure way to calm him during a stress, such as a meltdown.

This will also be very useful when he has problems getting a sleep or being disturbed during sleep.

So, if your child is so stressed that he refuses a hug or a massage, grab his weighted blanket and offer him to relax under it.

It will surely dissipate the anxiety in no time.

 

Have you ever used a weighted blanket? Did it help your special child a lot? Please share your experiences with us.

 

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Indoor play area – where kids will romp and laugh

Pangga ta Ikaw is excited  to share with you all  that we are in the process of building an indoor play area for the special kids at the Romblon East Central School in Romblon, Philippines.

Enhancement of  motor and social skills

Aside from nurturing the mental development of special kids in the Special Education ( SPED) program it is also important that they develop wholly as individuals, such that their mentors and caregivers need to consider their psychological needs as well as advancing their social and motor skills.

Most of the kids who start school are either shy or just not used to being with other kids, thus they are anti-social or not able to interact well with other kids or even the teachers.

Of course interaction with others is also limited due to poor communication skills. They cannot develop strong friendships with other kids in the neighborhood because they cannot express themselves well.

Growing up, their parents must have focused more on their developmental milestones, like teaching them how to walk on their own or encouraging them to learn to talk, or assisting in their eating skills, but developing social skills might have been put in the background.

Do kids with special needs know how to play?

When we see children with special needs, we might even ask ourselves. Are they able to play with other kids? Are they able to follow instructions on how to go about a certain play?

Of course, just like normal kids, they know how to enjoy ; they even giggle and laugh at the simplest things like blowing bubbles or doing peek-a-boo or catching a butterfly.

Free play would let them become adventurous and creative, as well as develop their motor skills like walking, balancing and running.

I’m happy that the SPED teachers at the Romblon East Central School ( where our project is ) are so passionate in teaching their wards on how to write their names and read the ABCs and they thought of their holistic development by planning to provide them with a mini-therapy area exclusively for them.

Planning for the project

Before we started, we only had a very small amount of money from some small fundraisings for our transportation project like selling pantry products and holding small parties at home for families and friends.

This plan of putting up a mini-therapy area for our kids with special needs is a project which is something big, quite scary at first because we didn’t have enough money , so when the teachers presented their need to me, I brainstormed right away on how to raise funds.

After building the area, we plan to put up  play therapy equipments, like

A mini-trampoline that will enhance the kids’ motor skills and develop confidence and coordination.

and structures like

Sandboxes, where kids can become creative and gross and fine motor skills will be developed, as well as tactile ability, and eye-hand coordination.

and

The sensory path that will develop gross motor skills, balance and body coordination .

thus, we look forward to hours of laughter and giggles for the kids.  Aside from enjoyment, they will also enhance their exercise capabilities and improve their social skills as they learn to play with other kids.

Setting up the Go fund me page and starting the project

Check out our fundraising page-go fund me

We started with a $2000.00 goal in October 2017 and thanks to some generous donors we were able to start the project two months after.

Pangga ta Ikaw is proud to say that we have started to construct an indoor play area at the back of their resource room in December 2017.

Hauling the materials to the site
Preparation of the flooring soon began.

 

 

The stairs were built to enhance the kids’ motor abilities, balance and coordination.

 

Counting while going up and down the stairs will add to their basic math skills.

 

The future sensory area is in place.

Since  the flooring  is done,  building the  roof is next in line and more money will be involved here.

So we raised our goal to $ 5000.00.

We are just close  to the $2000.00 goal this time but I believe that we will reach our ultimate target.

Please visit the Go fund me page and consider helping. We would greatly appreciate your support.

We are slowly getting close to our dream

From a vacant lot

The SPED teachers envisioned an indoor play area for the special kids in this vacant space

to something concrete to stand on, we hope to continue and finish the project .

It was a very fulfilling visit to my hometown and to our ongoing project.

Who knows, it could take a few months to a few years.

But definitely, we will finish what we have started.

And we need your help!

We did a local fundraising in Romblon

My family went to spend the holidays in Romblon, Philippines  in December 2017. Before going, I already planned for something that the community can participate in with the objective of creating awareness of the mini-therapy area project and inspiring the parents and the whole community to support.

The BINGO SOCIAL  done on January 12, 2018  was a great success ! There were screams of joy and laughter as the games progressed. There was outpouring of support from the whole community as well.

We witnessed the willingness to help of a lot of people and we learned that if everyone chips in , something big can be achieved.

Parents, teachers and donors had a great time hoping not only to win but to give support as well.
Games with numbers and stones was a hit to help build the mini-therapy area

In this event, we even enjoyed the participation of the special kids in the program presented before the games and it was a joy seeing them showcase their talents in singing and dancing.

The special kids sang and danced before the games even began to the delight of everyone.

What’s next?

Now that the flooring is done, with some structures underway, such as the staircase and the sensory path, we will continue with the roof in the next few months.

As of today, we don’t have enough money to finish, but we believe that there are a lot of generous donors out there.

We will definitely continue what we have started to offer our special kids an area where they can be free to romp and laugh. And thus, they will develop confidence to walk and run and chase their dreams.

Help us make this vision a reality.

Kindly share your blessings to our special kids in Romblon, Philippines.

Visit our Go fund me donation page  and consider helping. We and the special kids would  be forever grateful for your support.

 

Do you agree that special kids need an indoor play area to develop their motor and social skills?

We would love  to hear your comments and suggestions.

 

 

 

 

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Down Syndrome- signs and life expectancy

When I got pregnant at the age of 43, my greatest fear was having a baby with Down syndrome.

First, because I was an old first- time mom ; second, I had a sister with Down syndrome and lastly, my husband had a brother who was also Downs but died at a young age.

So, when I had my first pelvic ultrasound at around four months, I could not contain my excitement ( coupled with fear ) and asked the doctor ( sonologist ), ” Are you able to see signs in there that my baby will be Downs or not? ” To my relief, he said, ” Yes, we do usually see a sign, and there is nothing in here. ” I could have hugged him then and there with the good news.

At around 6-7 months of pregnancy, I had another ultrasound and aside from asking about the gender of my baby, I asked again  the doctor ( my obstetrician ) about the possibility of my precious one having a defect or syndrome.

And of course, when I finally had my son, I looked at him and seeing that he looked normal, I could not believe that this beautiful human being just came out of my body. He is already a pre-teen now and in middle school.

New moms out there truly understand how it feels looking at and holding your baby for the first time.

It’s the greatest feeling on earth!

What are the signs that your baby has Down syndrome?

These are crucial questions especially for first time moms.

And would also include a mom who before birth knows that her baby would be having Down syndrome or another mom who has no knowledge but looking at her baby for the first time sees something odd about his appearance, or some moms who are not at all aware but the doctor tells them later that their baby has Down syndrome.

I believe they would feel that their world is spinning or the other way around, they would gladly accept that this baby is God-sent and whatever he is, they will take care of him and nurture him no matter what.

Here are the most common signs that you may or may not notice right away at birth:

1. Up Slanted Eyes ( Almond shaped eyes )

The outer corner of the eye will be turned up rather than down. The shape is also very similar to that of someone of Asian descent.  This is usually the most noticeable physical feature of Down syndrome as your child grows up.

Look at the upward slanting of  Nathan’s eyes, isn’t he cute!

2. Flattened Facial  Profile

Because of poor tone in the facial muscles, Down syndrome babies  will not have  much curve from the nose, cheeks or mouth. Their cheeks seem to hang on the face as well. This is noted  when you look at the baby from the front wherein there is also not much shape to the cheeks.

3. Protuberant Tongue

This is also very typical for babies with Down syndrome. New parents and families  often ask “Why does my baby stick his  tongue out?” This is either because of a small mouth, large tongue, or simply poor tone.

Mark is Nathan’s cousin ; the genes definitely run in our family.

4.  Single Palmar Crease ( Simian Crease )

This single  crease across the palm of the hand is seen in 45% of children with Down syndrome and  is a result of hypotonia as the hand was not held in a tight fist while he was growing in the mother’s womb. That means 55% of kids with Down Syndrome  do not have this, but if they have, it’s quite typical. Don’t get confused though, because some normal kids can also have  a single palmar crease.

A straight line goes from one side to the other side of the palm.

5. Decreased or Poor Muscle Tone

 

Nathan can easily sit down with legs wide open.
Look! Mark can fold his legs very cozily like a gymnast.

A baby with Down syndrome always  feels floppy or limp. When you hold him, it feels like he is  going to slip through your hands or arms and if you lay him across your hand, he will look like a wet noodle. Growing up, they are so huggable because of this. This is also the reason why they may develop motor skills later than normal kids, thus , they usually learn to turn over, sit up, or walk much later than usual.  Their limbs become so flexible as they grow up.

Pangga, my sister, had all those physical signs above, plus she had short stature    ( also typical ) as well. What was very amusing as she was growing up was that she could  pull her legs up to her face very easily even  when she was sitting down.

Growth and development- how delayed will they be compared to normal kids?

Parents of babies  with Down syndrome need to understand and accept that their angels will develop later than normal kids. They will definitely learn how to stand, walk and run but not as fast compared to other kids their age.

Different kids develop at their own pace though, so one kid might walk at 2-3 years old, while others walk at around 3-4 already. Usually, they  can walk on their own between 16 and 42 months with the average being 24 months.

Cognitive learning skills likewise , as well as  thinking,  develop late and impairment  ranges from mild to moderate.

Other common cognitive and behavioral problems may include:

  • Short attention span
  • Poor judgment
  • Impulsive behavior
  • Slow learning
  • Delayed language and speech development

Again, Pangga learned how to talk and communicate but of course, was not able to sustain good conversations. Unluckily, she did not have any interventions like therapies because she  grew up in a small town where these were not available.

But she learned how to sing ( She had a beautiful voice ! ) just by listening over the radio and watching television or just hearing songs from other people. We used to live in a house just a few steps away from a church and even if she did not attend mass regularly, she learned to sing the mass hymns just by overhearing people sing them during Sunday masses.

And boy, Pangga loved to sing that even in the middle of the night when everyone is asleep except her, she would sing at the top of her voice. When she sang and we would appreciate and clap our hands after her rendition, she would always giggle and have that captivating smile.

What a joy to behold in our family!

Congenital defects-will they have other illnesses at birth?

1. Heart defects Almost 50% of these kids have congenital heart disease which     can lead to high blood pressure in the lungs, thus the heart is unable to  effectively and efficiently pump blood, and cyanosis (blue-tinted skin caused by reduced oxygen in the blood) develops. If severe, this could be a cause of death at an early age.

2. Vision problems – More than 60% of children with Down syndrome have vision problems, including cataracts (clouding of the eye lens) that may be present at birth. Other eye problems that could occur at birth include near-sightedness, “crossed” eyes, and rapid, involuntary eye movements.

Pangga had near-sightedness and rapid, involuntary eye movements, the latter was the reason why one of her young nieces  was scared of her and did not want to come close to her aunt. They need to be seen by an eye doctor as soon as possible to prescribe either glasses or surgery.

3. Hearing loss –  About 70% to 75% of children with Down  syndrome have some hearing loss, sometimes because of   structural defect in their ears. They need to be screened at birth and have regular follow-up hearing exams.

Later in life, or as these children grow up, some other health concerns may come up, such as infection, epilepsy ( seizure disorder ), usually developing for the first two years of life, gum disease and dental problems, disrupted sleep patterns and sleep disorders ( even obstructive sleep apnea ).

Life expectancy- do they live until adulthood?

Definitely they could live until adulthood. My sister, Pangga, lived until 46 years old.  But because she reached only a mental age of around 5-6 years old, she was always considered the youngest in our family, even though she had four younger siblings.

Pangga always had her favorite toys with her

Mr Joe Sanderson  from Cleveland, who was born in 1936, and is believed to be the oldest person with Down Syndrome, just turned 80 recently. Another guy, Kenny Cridge, from Britain turned  77 last month.

Mr Sanderson recently celebrated his 80th birthday

The life span of Down syndrome children, however, depends if they have concomitant illnesses, like congenital heart disease and other factors, like development of infections and other health concerns as they grow up.

If properly trained  and supported, some people with Down syndrome can live
independently in a home or in an assisted independent arrangement, and a few even develop romantic relationships and even get married.

Many people with Down syndrome are also able to work or  volunteer, thus, able to contribute to the progress of their communities where they live. In big countries like Canada , the government usually supports people with special needs starting when they are newborns, and even provide assistance for them later so they are able to live independently and have profitable income.

A great blessing

A family who is blessed with a child or children with special needs like Down syndrome, maybe overwhelmed at first, but with full support within the family and the community as a whole especially the government, these kids can grow up and become productive citizens .

You may have learned of a couple from Australia who abandoned their baby with Down syndrome ( named Gammy ) and just got the normal baby ( they are twins ) born to a surrogate mother from Taiwan in 2013. Gammy , born with a heart condition, is now 4 years old and lives with his surrogate mother in Bangkok. The family he is now with may not be related to him by blood, but they feel so blessed to have him in their midst.

Truly, kids with special needs bring an immeasurable joy to everyone in the family and there may be lots of challenges raising them, but in the end the happiness that they bring in the household surpasses all these.

Please share your comments below if you have a kid with special needs or you know a family who have one or more and how they took care of him.

 

 

 

 

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