How to help special needs children- loving them is the key!

Today I’m so excited to introduce to you a new-found friend at Wealthy Affiliate who works with special needs children for a long time and is so passionate about it.

Her name is Angela but the kids usually call her Mrs N ( N being the first letter of her last name, which the kids apparently have a hard time saying it. It’s kind of a tongue-twister, you know! )

We have an advertising relationship with the stores or affiliate sites we link in this post. We get a commission when you click and buy products or services with them. Your fees are not affected at all.

How did I find her ? 

The Wealthy Affiliate community has this  “helping each other succeed” attitude and one day, she posted a comment in one of my blogs where she said she is a Special Needs Educational Assistant, so I emailed and asked her if she wanted to share her experiences in her job.

She was very nice to reply and said yes! 

 So here goes her story on how to help special needs children, which basically starts with loving all kinds of kids.

BTW, she is also the founder of Your Aromatherapy Store, so please check her out on her website https://youraromatherapystore.com

Being a Special Educational Assistant is a calling.

How many years have you been a Special Needs Educational Assistant ( SNEA )? Please elaborate on what you do.

“I have spent the last 19 years working as a SNEA in specialized diagnostic classrooms located in a rehabilitation hospital. This hospital has a contract with the local school board to provide educational services to the students while they are in program in the hospital.

The program I work with uses a team approach to assess the children. Our team consists of a teacher, an assistant ( me ), a nurse, physiotherapist, physiotherapist assistant, speech and language pathologist, speech and language assistant, a pediatrician, and a neurologist.

The classroom I work in services children in grades 1-3. The students who attend our classroom have been referred by physicians. They come as day patients for six weeks. Some reasons for referral can include: learning difficulties, social issues, speech and language concerns, neurological queries, physical issues and medication trials. Numerous testing and evaluations are completed during their stay.

After six weeks with us, the students may return to their previous schools or another more appropriate classroom in the community that better suits their needs.”

What groups of special kids are you handling?

“The groups of students that I work with changes five times throughout the school year. Every group is unique. Some are quite easy to work with and some are quite challenging depending on their needs.”

What motivated you to become a Special Needs Educational Assistant?

” Many years ago, I was employed in a group home that was providing service to some children from out of province. 

During that time, it was decided that these children needed to be in school. The school board created a classroom to support their needs. 

The classroom needed an assistant and since I knew the children well, I decided to apply for the job. When these particular children left the province and returned to their homes, I continued my employment with the school board and began working in the diagnostic program in the rehabilitation hospital.

That was almost 20 years ago now. Time sure flies! “

How do you work with the Special Education teacher on a typical day?

” Every morning I greet the children and parents from their buses. If medications are needed, we stop to see the nurse before heading outside for some fresh air before school begins. At the end of recess, we go to our classroom and begin the day.

I lead circle time, using the smartboard, while the Special Education teacher works with the children one on one to assess their reading skills.

( During the six week stay, the students are taken out of the classroom regularly for assessments and tests by our team members. )

When it is time for recess, I take the children out to the public playground ( on the hospital premises ).

 I also spend lunch time with them. At times, some of our students have eating issues that need to be monitored and any problems reported to the healthcare professionals on our team.

Much of my day is spent assisting the teacher and professionals that work in our classroom. My duties can change depending on what the children need.

At the end of the day, I make sure the students meet up with their parents or get on their proper buses to go home.”

Do you have any struggles or big challenges on being a Special Needs Educational Assistant?

” The only challenge or struggle that I can think of is building a relationship with children in a six week time frame. It often feels like I am just getting to really know them and then it is time for them to leave our program. There is nothing I can do about this, as it is just the nature of the way things work in our classroom.

Other than that, I don’t have any BIG challenges or struggles. I am so blessed to work with a team of people who are always there and ready to lend a hand when needed.”

How do you handle a very difficult child?

Sometimes, I find I need to change my expectations. If a child is unable to sit still, be quiet, finish work, walk in line down the hallway, etc., it’s okay. Some children are just not capable of doing these things. They don’t mean to be disobedient and they are not always intentionally trying to disobey the rules.

I try to show them understanding and love.

There have been times that I cannot change my expectations for safety reasons. The student must listen and obey. For example, if at the end of recess and a student refuses to leave the playground with the group, I will kindly explain to them the reasons why they can’t stay on their own and if need be, they will be helped back to the classroom. I do this in a patient way and they will usually comply. 

In our classroom, we have a time out chair. When we are introducing the children to the classroom, we NEVER present it to them as such. We call it a Calming Chair and we invite them to use it on their own whenever they are feeling upset or just need a break.

When it is positively presented this way, instead of in a negative way, I find many children will just go there on their own before any escalation begins.

It’s so neat to see kids make use of this Calming Chair on their own.”

How are the parents involved in the progress of their kids? Do you take an active role in talking to the parents about this or any concern at all?

” There are numerous meetings with parents throughout the six week term.

There is an intake meeting with the team prior to program starting.

There are two meetings at the end of the term where the team meets with parents and then with the parents and the school to present the findings of all the diagnostic testing and assessments.

During the term, the team and parents communicate via a book that is sent back and forth between home and school.

If the parents would like, they are also invited to do an observation visit. This means they are welcome to watch the program through a one way mirror and if they have questions during observation, they have access to a medical professional whom they can ask.

I am not involved in the meeting per se. I will often communicate with parents in an informal manner at bus times. If important questions or concerns arise, I will pass them on to the appropriate person on the team.”

How do you feel at the end of a school day?

 There are days that I go home mentally exhausted and some days I am just fine. It all depends on the particular group of kids that we have in the program at that time. “

What makes you happy or fulfilled on a certain day?

Just being around kids makes me happy.

My job is generally fulfilling, in that, it is great to see kids getting the help they need.

When they leave our program, they usually leave with their school or parents having a better understanding about how to help them.

Perhaps they will leave with a diagnosis that will provide them with extra resources that might make life easier, maybe a medication to make them feel better.

Honestly, most days are quite fulfilling and I love that part of my job. “

Any advise/s on those who want to pursue a career as a Special Needs Educational Assistant?

 You have to love kids, all kinds of kids to do this job. 

To be honest, you need to be okey with a little excitement, too.

There are days when the children are in bad mood, they might try to hit, kick, punch, etc. You need to be aware of your personal space and know who and what to watch for.

I learned the hard way many years ago. I was trying to help a child who was very upset. I ended up with two black eyes, I should have not been in the child’s space. I could have helped him from a little further back and not had the injury.

That only happened once, that is all it took, I learned about personal space and body positioning, ha ha!

Despite the potential for things to go bad, and they do, there are many, many moments that make all  so worth it.

I guess, I am saying if a person wants to pursue this kind of career, it is best that they have tough skin, so to speak. “

How do you de-stress after a difficult day?

 There are usually a few minutes of time left at work after the students leave, if there has been some difficulty, we usually de-brief as a team to discuss it. I find this helpful.

When I get home, I like to do some mindful meditation or yoga, to de-stress as well. “

There’s a point in our career that we realize we have made a difference in someone’s life, in your case a special child’s life. Please share with our readers.

” I have been fortunate enough to be involved in the process of changing many children’s lives. It might be a diagnosis, a medication, or strategies.

Most children we see in our program leave with some help that will benefit them for a lifetime. I love this part of the job.

Sometimes, the kids come back and visit us years later. It is so rewarding to see the progress they have made and to know that we were a little part of it. “

What is the best lesson that you have learned from a special child/ren?

” I have met many children during my career, it is hard to pinpoint just one child and one lesson that I learned.

I have learned much in the last two decades. I suppose the biggest and most important thing I have learned from children is this, “ It is possible to be happy and enjoy life, despite all obstacles. “

I have seen so many kids with so much going against them and somehow they still go on and make the best of it. “

 

Working with kids has been bringing joy and still is to Angela, our dear Special Needs Educational Assistant. She has started her career with the greatest lesson in life, “Love the kids, all kinds of kids.”

And then every working day is a miracle unfold.

Thanks so much Ms N for sharing your experiences. You are an inspiration to others who would like to embark on the same career as yours.

 

Would you like to know Angela better and find out her other passions? Please follow her and visit her website youraromatherapystore.com.

 

Is your child with special needs bonding really well with her Special Needs Educational Assistant? Share your story with us.

"We participate in the Amazon Services LLC Associates program, which provides a means for us to earn a commission when you click our link and you purchase from Amazon.com. Buying with no additional cost means helping the Special Education of kids in Romblon, Philippines."

 

School is almost here! Are you done buying and preparing the school essentials for your special child? Click here to read the checklist and learn some tips on what to buy.

.Check out your back to school checklist if you have missed anything.


 

 

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.
Getting ready for school, in adaptive stroller
Ready for first day of school
The school bus is here!
Riding the school bus is a breeze with the adaptive stroller with a transit  tie-down.
  • 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 some things 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 Cars 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              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.

Adidas sweatshirtPink sweater for your little girl

 

Click the image above to see more choices

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.

11. 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!

 

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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?

Did you know that I created this website with the help of Wealthy Affiliate? Look for yourself how awesome this platform is.

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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.

“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.”

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.

 

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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Parenting a special child- surviving the challenges

Parenting a special child
Parenting a special child is a lifetime career.

As a parent, you have most probably bonded with your child even before he was born.

You have started to talk to him while he was in your tummy.

You have planned the look of his nursery and you have marked  where to place his crib and his closet.

Maybe you have visualized his first birthday party, the theme and even the giveaways.

But then on his delivery, you learn that your child is special, then you will be in shock and devastated.

Especially if you were not ready emotionally of his arrival and you had no idea that he is  “special,” at all.

Or maybe, your baby is having awesome development on his first few months to his second year or 18 months and gradually declines or show signs of regression, it’s also very depressing.

Sometimes, new moms feel ” guilty ” delivering a special child.

It’s not your fault. Nobody wants her kid to have special needs.

Nevertheless, he is your child, you waited for him for nine months, and he needs you.

Always remember that he is an angel, a source of joy for your family.

There will be challenges in taking care of him, but with the support of your family and relatives, you will be okay.

Don’t feel guilty, don’t be embarrassed, accept your child ” as he is.”

We know that parenting a special child involves a lot of struggles, but just be open and offer him unconditional love and surviving the challenges will come naturally.

After all, a mother’s love is all it takes to nurture your special kid.

A gift from God

He was given to you because you have the capacity to take care of him, to love him, and to help him develop to his fullest potential.

Celebrate the birth of your son or daughter, including his or her inadequacies.

Don’t focus on his disability. Be happy with his milestones, even though they are slow.

Here are some tips on parenting a special child, your child, and in the end, surviving the challenges.

Remember you are an awesome mom or dad, and you are the primary caregiver of your baby. You owe him your care and concern and your whole self.

Love your child unconditionally

  • If you are the mom, be proud that you have carried this baby yourself. You have nurtured him even before he was born, so just continue to be there for him, no matter what.
  • If you are the dad, pour out your love to your kid and be hands on in taking care of him. Support your wife and take turns in taking care of your special child. He needs you more than ever.

Educate yourself

  • Ask your doctor and therapists if you have questions or doubts.
  • Read books or journals about your child. The more you know about his condition, the more you will understand how he behaves.
  • Connect with other parents who have the same child as yours. Share information with one another. Join social media groups if you can.

This post contains affiliate links. Please read fully the Affiliate disclosure for more information.

Here are some books that you can check out at Amazon ( click on the image to see the price)

My child has autism
What is autism?
Down Syndrome- parent's guide
Learn about Down Syndrome
The lucky few
A family’s experience with special kids
Kids in the syndrome mix
Kids in the syndrome mix

Bond with your child

  • Involve yourself as much as possible in his activities especially in his playtime.
  • Find time to include playing and reading with your child as part of  your daily schedule, even for just half an hour. The longer, the better.
  • Daily time with him is really important for your child to develop deep trust in you.
  • He will feel that he is important and that you really care for him.
  • You will have firsthand observation on his progress.
  • Playtime and reading are some of the greatest bonding activities that you will have with him. You will share with his fun and joy as he learns to explore things.

Connect with your family and friends

Family support to make caring for your special child easier
A family’s support makes caring for your special child easier.
  • Don’t isolate yourself.
  • Make regular dates with your partner.
  • Continue to attend family gatherings.
  • Share with your family the progress and milestones of your child.
  • Communicate regularly with your family, especially with your spouse, parents and siblings. They could always support you emotionally as well as help you with baby-sitting from time to time.
  • Schedule playtime for your child with his cousins, to develop rapport and acceptance.

Take care of yourself

  • Have lots of sleep and rest. Eat nutritious food. You need to be healthy and not get sick.
  • Exercise regularly. Daily walks will enable you to have time to think and recharge.
  • Go out and find time to relax with your friends and other adult members of your family.
  • Be proud that you are able to take care of your special child. Don’t dwell on self-pity.

Find and join support groups

  • Know that there are lots of parents and families out there who are in the same boat as you are.
  • Learning from other parents will help you how to be always ready for your kid if problems arise.
  • Knowing that you’re not the only one having struggles will make your load light.
  • Schedule playtime with other kids with the same special needs as your child.
  • Celebrate milestones of your kids with other parents.

Collaborate with his teachers, caregivers and health advocates

  • Attend meetings and consultations when the teacher and therapist schedule them. Be open to their suggestions.
  • Ask questions and follow up the progress of your child.
  • Suggest to his teacher and therapist if you think something needs to be done or addressed with about your kid’s behavior. After all, you are always with him and you are able to observe him close enough and somehow, you know how he copes up with challenges.
  • When your child arrives from school, look at his backpack for homework and help him do it.
  • Acknowledge the support that his teacher and therapist gives him.

Celebrate your child’s progress and milestones

  • Keep a record of his milestones and progress in his baby book.
  • Capture his first walk, first word, etc in pictures or videos.
  • Share his progress with your friends and family.
  • Reward him with a toy or food for something that he has accomplished, like toilet training or being able to write the alphabet or his name.
  • Let him join the class concert or program and be there for him.

Ask for help

  • Inquire from your child’s doctor and therapist about any problem or struggle that arises and seek advise on how to deal with it.
  • Support from family, even from grandparents are really important. Babysitting , turns in caring if child is sick or in the hospital, or company for you to the doctor or therapist visits are all important.
  • There is always help and support if you feel overwhelmed. I’m sure even neighbors and friends can pitch in help if you ask them.

You and your child are partners

Parenting a child with special needs maybe overwhelming and tiring, but seeking the help of others, accepting your child as he is, focusing on his strengths, milestones and progress and taking care of yourself are all very important so you can thrive and your child likewise will develop to his fullest potential.

Being a parent of a child with special needs is indeed very challenging but your rewards will come from your kid himself when he shows you his progress, even though they are slow.

When  he calls you ” Mom,” or ” Dad, ” for the first time at 3-5 years old or even if he’s older, then you will jump with joy. You know that from there, everything will just fall into place.

You are capable of becoming the best mom or the best dad to your child with special needs and be proud of that.

After all, caring for your child, loving him for what he is and celebrating his milestones will always bring immense joy in you and your whole family.

As a parent, how do you take care of your special child? How do you bond with him or her? Do you find time for yourself and ask help from other family members as well? Please share your experiences with us.

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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 Rockefeller,  who 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 disability 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.

This post contains affiliate links. Please read the full affiliate disclosure here.

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

Click the image to see the price.
.        How I Learn A kid's guide to Learning Disablility                
The 6 Success Factors for children with learning disabilities

Greatly recommended for Special Ed teachers

 

 

 

Special education teaching-facing challenges and feeling fulfilled

I met her and attended to her medical needs when she was still a baby. Then she grew up and I lost track of her.

Until recently, with the power of the internet, I virtually met her again. I think I befriended her sometime on facebook, so I get to read her stories in messenger.

One day, she wrote that she is a Special Education teacher. I engaged with her right then and there and asked her if she would be up for an interview about her career.

And she agreed!

So here goes Ms Rica’s story on Special Education teaching and how she faces challenges, thus becoming better at her job each day, and feeling fulfilled with her career.

 

A special education teacher

 

How long have you been teaching?

“I have been in the field for six years and counting.”

Have you been teaching special kids all these years?

“Yes, I am currently a certified Special Education (SPED ) teacher here in the US since August 2016 and I handle students with moderate to severe Emotional Behavior Disorder (EBD), Specific Learning Disability and Developmental Delay. 

In the Philippines, I taught for three years students diagnosed with mild to severe Autism Spectrum Disorder, Down Syndrome, Developmental Delay, Mental Retardation, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder ( ADHD ), and Attention Deficit Disorder ( ADD ). “

Who motivated you to become a Special Education teacher?

“My mother is an elementary school teacher and even as a kid, I already envisioned myself to follow her footsteps. I would play as a “teacher ” with kid neighbors and relatives as my “pupils”. I loved teaching these small kids and it was always a happy time for us.

But it was my Aunt Mariza, my dad’s sister, who encouraged me to become a Special Education mentor. She said it is a fulfilling career.

My aunt’s influence, coupled with my childhood dream, the example that I saw in my mom, and my reflections on my future all contributed to what I am today. I believe my love for children, be they normal or special also inspired me to follow this path.”

What is your typical day like?

“Everyday ( from 8:00 AM to 3:00 PM ) I teach all 24 of my children with special needs with ages ranging from 5-13. With the help of six teacher assistants, I handle the kids from 30 minutes to one and a half hour long depending on their disability, some in groups of 2-4, but I also do “one on one” if with severe impairment.

From 3:00 to 4:00 PM, I do paperwork and meetings. These include checking of worksheets, Individualized Education Program ( IEP ) meetings and helping my teacher assistants do their service logs.

After school, I try to connect online with my family and friends back home. On weekends, I explore beautiful places with local friends.”

Any struggles or big challenges on being a SPED teacher?

“Yes of course, and there’s a lot. Every day has its own story, such as adjusting to your students’ mood swings, pacifying different kind of outbursts and temper tantrums, etc. “

How do you handle a very difficult child?

” There are three major factors that I consider in dealing with a difficult child.

First, is building a connection with the child. I really have to let them feel that I care and want to help them .

Second is identifying the best calming technique that is suitable for that difficult child. Would it be a massage therapy, art therapy, play therapy, the use of behavior charts, chunking method of providing the activities, etc.

Third is to always make sure that you are firm and consistent in implementing the rules or agreement you have with the child because this difficult child may just be testing your patience limit.

Once I have established the good connection and authority as a teacher towards him or her, then I can eventually de-escalate the behavior problem and divert the situation into something positive. “

Do you involve the parents in teaching their kids?

” Yes, this is really important and should not be overlooked.

I am dedicated to helping my students improve their academic and behavioral performances, but when the parents are not doing their part in implementing the suggested IEP goals that I have created for their child, for most instances, there is no progress.

On the contrary, when the parents are doing their part, it is very evident that there is improvement in their child’s overall performance.

Having a strong parent and teacher partnership is essential in the special children’s progress. “

How do you feel at the end of a school-day?

” Like a typical teacher, I feel exhausted after school. However, I really feel happy when I am able to control my students’ daily outbursts and help them make a difference in their lives despite their disabilities.”

What makes you happy or fulfilled on a certain day?

” Seeing my students enjoy the tasks given to them and witnessing their progress are the things that truly make my day happy. No amount of money can satisfy that kind of feeling. “

Any advice/s on those who plan to pursue a career as a Special Education teacher?

” Being a SPED teacher is a challenging but a fulfilling job. You need to have more patience, 100% dedication and a big heart for children with special needs.

You must be ready to experience the worst case scenarios. I have been bitten, slapped, spat on, punched and kicked.

I learned my lesson by being alert all the time.

As long as you are truly passionate with your career, it will feel as if you are just doing your “purpose” and not being paid to do a “job”.

How do you de-stress after a difficult day?

” I always communicate with my family especially with my mother and my sister.

I also try to socialize with my friends after work and on weekends.

I make sure I leave work on time and schedule things that I love doing, like hiking, baking, and trying new food and restaurants. “

There’s a point in our career that we realize we made a difference in someone’s life, in your case a special child’s life. Please share your story with our readers.

” When I receive flattering comments from the parents, that’s when I know, I am doing my purpose.

I will never forget that time when one of the parents of my students in the Philippines told me that she wanted to adopt me as her daughter because she really likes my attitude and dedication in my chosen career.

In addition to this, a lot of the parents of my former students, and even my tutees in the Philippines were encouraging me to build my own school in the future.

With God’s grace, timing and requirements, I can probably do that, but of course, I need to consider a lot of things and pursue further studies.

Hopefully I will build my own school in the future because it is my dream.

I would really feel exultant and be the happiest person in the whole universe once I achieve that goal. “

Special education teaching is a passion for Ms Rica.

 

Lucky for Ms Rica because she has studied something that she loves doing leading to enjoyment in her career, thus she is now so passionate in teaching her students with special needs.

This only goes to show that if we love what we do, struggles become challenges and we can overcome these with acceptance in our hearts that this is just part of the package.

We also welcome these challenges because through them, we learn and become better in our craft.

We hope we can be triumphant with you Ms Rica when that time comes that you will become directress of your very own school for special children.

We wish you all the luck in your future endeavors.

 

This post contains affiliate links. We might earn a commission when you purchase or sign up to something. Your fees are not at all affected.

 

How does your special child thrive in school? Does he enjoy going to school everyday? Does he talk about how his teacher is so kind and helpful? We love to hear your comments. Please post them below.

Fun and function toys

 

Are you a Special Education teacher? Do you feel that you have touched a special child’s heart and have contributed to his or her development or improvement of his disability? Please share your story with us by commenting below.

 

Check out these awesome stuff for your child with special needs. Click on the image to see the price.

mushy smushy bean chairs
These mushy smushy bean bag chairs provide tactile stimulation to kids who love to wiggle.
Pressure foam roller
This pressure foam roller provides deep pressure massage therapy for relaxation.

 

 

 

 

 

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.

“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.”

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 here. 

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.

Weighted blanket review- for high functioning autism meltdowns

PRODUCT : Weighted blanket with neck cut out

COLORS :  Buckskin, navy, and blue waves

Weighted blanket to calm high functioning autism meltdowns
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   $ 165.99
Medium 12 pounds 42″ x 54″   6-10 yrs   $ 195.99
Large 16 pounds 54″ x 72″   11-15 yrs   $ 239.99
XL 25 pounds 58″ x 80″   16 yrs & up   $ 295.99
We have an advertising relationship with the stores or affiliate sites  we link in this post. We get a commission when you click and buy products or services with them. Your fees are not affected at all.

Before going to the weighted blanket review, let’s talk about these two important topics for clarification.

Meltdown vs temper tantrum

Children with autism, be they high functioning or notusually can either have a meltdown or temper tantrum.

They are two different things.

Autism meltdowns can be very frustrating and stressful for the parents.
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, which includes a high functioning autism meltdown, 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 provided deep touch pressure for calming effect.
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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Special needs stroller: choosing the best for need and comfort

Traveling is part of everyday life, especially if you have a special child who needs to go to doctor’s appointments, physiotherapist visits, special school attendance, and even family gatherings or just to go to the park or go with you to the mall.

I have even seen some parents jog with their kids in their stroller. What an awesome sight!

Thus, a special needs stroller, or an adaptive stroller, is a most essential companion for parents and caregivers for easy mobility.

 

 

When planning to buy, what do you have to keep in mind? Is it the price? Durability, comfort, beauty?

Lots of reasons perhaps. So, what is the best special needs stroller out there? How do you choose one for your child?

Reasons for buying a stroller

1. Need–          Do you have frequent visits to doctors and therapists, or does your child go to school at least 3 times a week?

2. Comfort-    Is it the right fit for your kid for him to be comfy for long hours of sitting or lying down?

3. Price –          Do you want something that is not so pricey, anyway your child will outgrow the stroller soon or is it okay with you to pay more now, anyway he can use it for years to come?

4. Durability – Is your child on the heavy side or is older that something which will not wear out soon needs to be bought for him?

5. Disability–   Is your child unable to walk at all or have stiff joints that prevent him to be moved easily to fit in the stroller?

"We have an advertising relationship with the stores we link in this post. We get a commission when you click a link and purchase in their site. There's no added cost to you."

When to buy

Foremost, you have to consider the need to decide when to purchase your stroller. Definitely, you will need one when you go out every week or even just twice a month for those appointments for your child.

You also have to consider that your kid will have mobility issues for some years because he will have delayed developments of some motor capabilities, like in children with Down syndrome, so deciding when to buy is critical.

Plan on the long term use so you can decide well on what to buy. Be open to the idea that your child will walk later than normal kids and when he learns to walk, it will take a while for him to have full balance.

If your child has disabilities that need to be addressed, consult your physiotherapist or rehabilitation doctor for proper advice on what type of adaptive stroller to buy.

Depending on where you live, some government health insurance may pay for these devices for your special child. Your private health insurance might be able to help as well. You just have to inquire, who knows you don’t need your pocket at all or you might pay only partial of the whole amount.

 

Click here to look at varieties of adaptive strollers

Related post: How to travel with a stroller: ten best lightweight strollers for children with special needs

I am introducing 3 adaptive strollers for you to choose from. Of course, there are lots of choices out there but these 3, based on my research, are very useful for the kids with special needs. This review will somehow give you ideas when you are ready to buy one for your child.

Reviews on 3 strollers

1. MacLaren Major Elite Transport Chair

Mac Laren elite transport chair
Price: CDN$ 551.00; USD $499.00
  • Its basic weight  is  7.7kg/16.9lb
  • It is ideal for children age 6 months and weighs up to 50kg/110lb.
  • When open, it measures:      L x W x H  92 x 53.5 x 108 cm; 36 x 21 x 42.5 in
  • If folded, it measures : L x W x H 115 x 27.5 x 22.5 cm ; 45 x 11 x 9 in

 

  • It has high-performance aluminum frame, ergonomically optimized
    handles, full swiveling front wheel and brakes on each rear wheel
  • This is available in AMAZON

PROS:

  • This transport chair is ideal for both small and even big kids who are too heavy but unable to walk by themselves.
  • It is lightweight, sturdy, easy to open, and fits in the back of the car.
  • It runs smoothly on rough surfaces and is very easy to handle.
  • It is very comfortable and a kid will enjoy sitting in it.
  • The seat is wide and allows room to grow for a special needs child.
  • It is perfect for traveling, easy to fold and set, and super light to carry.
  • The swiveling front wheels make the stroller maneuverable in tight spaces.

CONS:

  • The foot rest has to be removed to close, thus, a hassle when traveling buy bus or train.
  • It has squeaky, loud wheels.
  • The front wheels don’t spin easily on very smooth surfaces, like tiles in a mall.
  • The seat depth is a little too shallow, so little kids have a tendency to slide down.
  • One buyer’s experience: The left steer wheel became very stiff and the stroller cannot be turned, and the wheel came off totally when he straightened it.
  • Amazon return policy is 4 months and MacLaren is 2 months, after which, they don’t accept returns if they get broken.
  • Hood and lateral supports have to be bought separately.
“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.”

2. Trotter Lightweight Adaptable Stroller

adaptive stroller with transit tie-downs

Price: USD $ 1,810.00

  • The dimension in its smallest size : 53 x 12.8 x 17.8 inches
  • The smallest size has a basic weight of 19 lbs ( 24 lbs with front rigging )
  • It is ideal for simple transportation because it has a lightweight folding frame with closure straps
  • The range of weight capacity is  75 to 250 lbs ( available in 4 sizes )
  • It comes with optional transit or school bus tie-downs, which is really good for school transport
  • Click here to buy

PROS:

  • It has swing- away or removable foot rests for easy getting in and out.
  • It comes with 5-point harness to keep child safe and comfy.
  • Simple adjustments allow to grow with your child.
  • It has adjustable seat depth, depending on the size of your child.
  • It provides easy curbside navigation with tipping assist lever.
  • Free shipping if you buy here

CONS:

    • There is a wide wheel base so when turning to left or right, the front wheel seems to get caught.
    • The chair is on the tall side, thus, not ideal for short kids.
    • It is quite bulky and heavy.
    • It is difficult to fold and unfold at first- you need a certain time to get used to it.
    • It is not easy to control on an uneven surface.
    • It has limited two year warranty

3. Special Tomato Special Needs Jogging Stroller

Price: USD $ 799.00

  • This is ideal for children up to 110 lbs
  • The lightweight aluminum frame allows it to be folded easily
  • When open, it measures  :     L x W x H 42″ x 26″ x 43″
  • If folded, it measures : L x W x H 33″ x 21″ x 16″
  • It is durable, thus ideal for long use
  • It has a reclining seat ( recline range 100 to 140 degrees ).
  • The stroller weighs -27 lbs
  • Click here to buy

PROS

  • With 5-point harness to keep child safe and comfy
  • It is very comfortable for long trips.
  • The stroller for a jogging parent
  • It rolls really well ; the 12″ pneumatic tires works well both on smooth streets and rugged terrain
  • The front wheel can lock in place during jogging.
  • Free shipping if you buy here

CONS

  • Basket under the stroller has to be bought separately
  • Takes a bit of space when folded up

Related post: How to travel with a stroller: ten best lightweight strollers for children with special needs

Is it time to buy?

Special needs strollers or the adaptive strollers are definitely a necessity for our special kids with mobility issues.

Your kids are able to walk probably at this point, but then they get tired easily with long walks.

For those with wheelchairs, you might still consider buying an adaptive stroller for them because wheelchairs are usually bulky and heavy.

My final word

Remember to always  consult your child’s physiotherapist or rehabilitation doctor for advice as to what specific adaptive stroller will fit your child to address his mobility and disability needs.

After all, your child’s comfort is foremost in your mind, as well as your need to consider your budget because these strollers are not on the cheap side.

Lastly, put inquiry to your health insurance, private or government,  if they will pay your mobility device.

 

Click here to find more options for your adaptive strollers and devices

 

Have you used several adaptive strollers through the years? Did your child prefer one over the other? Please let us know your experiences in the comments below.

 

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Teaching kids with special needs….took the chance and loving it

She became a Special Education ( SPED ) teacher by chance.

Wanting to raise her  family far from the hustle and  bustle of the city , Teacher FAM  planned on  moving to a new school in the province.

The school that took her in had a spot for a Special Education teacher due to increased enrolment of  kids with special needs. Pretty soon, she delved on scholarship training to become certified as a SPED teacher .

For the past three years, she felt that teaching kids with special needs is her calling. Definitely, she took the chance, and loving it.

Teacher FAM  maybe new in this special field, even in the teaching profession in general, having served for six years only, but deep inside, her heart tells her that this is for her and probably for keeps.

What a nice revelation!

 

Teacher FAM

Q: What group of special kids are you handling?

I teach kids with emotional and behavioural disorder, as well as those with  intellectual and learning disability and Down syndrome.”

Q: Why did you  become a SPED teacher?

“I did not plan on becoming a Special Education teacher. I just took an offer when I moved to a new school. When I began to deal  with my special pupils, I realized my purpose and self-worth.

Gradually, I fell in love with my new pursuit and my passion and love to my pupils grew each day. I became more patient with them and more determined to make a difference in their lives.

I believe GOD gave me this opportunity so I can understand well my niece who is diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.”

Q: Can you describe your typical day?

“I teach my pupils,  2 at a time for 3 hours . We usually start our class with a prayer, greets to one another and songs. Before we begin the lesson for the day, I ask simple questions like how they are, what they ate for breakfast and what they did before coming to school.

Then, I let them do the daily living skills like mopping the floor, dusting the desks and tables, watering the plants, washing the glasses and plates and washing some handtowels. Letting them do these household chores will develop in them the values of independence  and responsibility.

Our lessons are usually from Monday to Thursday only. On Fridays, they all come together at the same time for play, crafts, zumba class, educational cartoon movies and sometimes, they cook a full meal for themselves, which includes simple dishes like rice, egg and meatloaf.”

 

Regulation Putty™Regulation Putty™Regulation Putty™

Regulation putty to encourage stress reduction and develop fine and gross motor capabilities

Q: I know you have  struggles and challenges in teaching special kids? How do you face them?

“Thinking of strategies to motivate the kids to learn the lessons and remember them is a big challenge for me. Many times, I feel it’s  a struggle for me to see that because of the  kids’ intellectual disabilities, they find it hard to retain what I teach them, thus they forget the lessons easily, so I have to look on their capabilities and conceptualize the proper approach for them to respond positively.

I always have to be patient and repeat the lessons all over again. I believe constant repetition do improve their learning abilities..

Practice makes perfect,  so the saying goes.”

Q: Any strategies in handling a very difficult child?

“This is not an issue for me because I love what I’m doing. I learned in my training how to handle these kids and through the years I have developed passion and devotion  to my career.

It makes me feel fulfilled  and  rewarded to realize that I’m making a big difference in the lives of these children with special needs. It may take long for them to acquire knowledge, but with patience and perseverance, they will eventually learn something and I feel great knowing that I did my best in motivating them to improve their intellectual disabilities.”

 

Wiggle CushionWiggle Cushion

Wiggle cushion encourages weight shifting and movement to improve focus

Q: Do you involve the parents in teaching their children?

” Involving parents and guardians in teaching their kids is very important. They play a big role in implementing home instructions . I encourage them to observe their kids at home if they follow my suggestions because this gauges  improvement of their children.

My pupils have a journal where  I write down my observations, recommendations and home instructions. I emphasize to the parents that teaching their children is a collaborative effort. They have to read the journals for them to see what assignments their kids need to submit and they should assist them.”

This post contains affiliate links. We might earn a commission when you purchase or sign up to something. Your fees are not at all affected.

Q: How do you feel at the end of a school day?

” I feel great and happy because I know that everyday I impart knowledge to my special kids to prepare them to become productive members of society.

There is a sense of fulfillment seeing them become independent. Also, I’m hopeful that by helping them improve their academic skills, I  am preparing them to be mainstreamed in regular school  to graduate someday.”

Q: Any advise/s to those who want to pursue a career as a Special Education teacher?

Teaching Special Education is not an easy job. It takes a lot of effort and patience to understand children with special needs. You have to always look first at the student’s interest and gain their trust and confidence, so you will get their attention.

It is vital to provide motivation everyday in whatever level of curriculum they are in. No two students are alike. They have their own level of capability when they start with you.

Assess each child thoroughly, so you will discover their unique abilities and needs, and from there, you conceptualize your individual approach for a particular kid .

Most importantly, love them with all your heart and be compassionate.

At the end of the day, you will always feel loved back and it’s very heartwarming. Then you can say, this is really my calling.”

 

 

There you go, even if we don’t plan on our careers, we can always be the best on any endeavor as long as we learn to embrace the opportunities presented to us. 

Teacher FAM maybe a new  mentor in the  field of teaching kids with special needs, but because she has been open to the challenges that she faces everyday, she has learned to LOVE her demanding career.

We salute you teacher FAM for wholeheartedly accepting the challenge.

May your tribe increase!

 

An awesome teacher appreciation gift

 

True story of 6 special kids and

their amazing teacher who embraced them

“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.”

 

Do you know an awesome Special Education teacher? Please share us his/her story. We would love to hear from you. 

If you are a SPED teacher, thank you for all the work that you do. Please connect with us so we can let our readers know about how passionate you are with your craft.

Please post your comments below.

 

Therapist picks for your special kids. Click on the image to see the price.

Ball pit balls develop visual and tactile skills
Ball Pit Balls allow kids to toss, roll and juggle to develop visual and tactile skills.
Transformer sensory sack for relaxation
Transformer sensory sack to help special kids relax
Balance blocks enhance gross motor and visual processing skills
Balance blocks improves gross motor and visual processing skills

 

 

 

 

 

 

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