In or Out of a School Building??

yellow school bus toy

To attend or not go to school/get help for your family through home-based services. What are the ethics?? Who should decide and what to do when you consider options? To me, it’s not a one size fits all answer. I feel for some families where remote schooling would be potentially harmful to their health and the consequences that the decision may have. Each possible scenario has pluses and minutes with the Delta variant amidst us, The potential impact on language is something that we may be dealing with for quite some time Potential Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Communication and Language Skills in Children – PubMed (nih.gov)

Regardless of the research, I am concerned about this ethically. Should states allow parents to have the option of in-home schooling available to them? There are considerations.

One parent told me that she would rather have her son (who has ADHD) have services in speech therapy unmasked virtually vs. masked and in person. Interesting statement to ponder. Those with a social communication disorder or an autism spectrum disorder in which social interaction difficulties, problems in verbal and nonverbal communication may be prevalent. Sensory challenges may also play a role with these people and some will undoubtedly have trouble wearing masks. How do you deal with that? There are children who have never been in school – “started”; but never in a school building!

I’m not envious of those needing to make this decision now. There is a lot to think about.

Resource: Impact of Online Education on Families | Maryville Online

The 5K Step Rule!

Schools are closed and there is still a pandemic brewing in our midst. Some remain unvaccinated and the question of what will come next has arrived. Technology will most likely be on the minds of students who now have more free time and ideas for developing routines and rules around it abound. However, I have another one for you and it came out of the blue in a discussion within the past two weeks.

I asked a parent, as a part of an evaluation that I was conducting about how much screen time their eight-year-old has. The answer was an awesome idea to consider.. the 5K rule “For every 5,000 steps she moves she get a half hour. The most she can get is one hour of time using her tablet”.

You are probably thinking.. how is this measured? That was my question.. and the parent had a marvelous idea. An exercise tracker. They are very easy to get, so click on the green link!

How life has changed!

I recall struggling with the one-hour rule of television unless there was a special program on or one that we had to watch for school. What did my brothers and I think of doing???? Perhaps I can share some ideas with your family. I was raised before computers and summertimes were different, to say the least. It gives me an opportunity to share another way to have fun! We had a different way of talking one another and still do – bringing new experiences to the next generation.

Mom was a librarian …there were always trips to the library. My dad taught us to work in the backyard and we weeded the area where he was growing vegetables. I even had my own area for marigolds. It is heartwarming to me to know that in my own home city of NY that there are Community gardens in New York City (dailykos.com) so that these skills can be learned. Check with the parks department in your area I learned that cat food cans filled with beer attracted slugs and collected a lot of them that way because slugs would ruin the crop. We went to the park and raced after the Good Humour truck to get an ice cream pop down the street as the bell of the truck was heard when we finished dinner. You can have a lemonade stand at a city park in NYC, perhaps in other areas as well. We went to the local pool, drew pictures, and I kept a diary. Playing in the park or backyard was always an idea. The very fondest memories were those that last a lifetime… family vacations. To this very day, we talk about our childhood trips. We still have them and share our memories with a new generation of family members. I hope that they will have the same experience as we did…

Oh! Please don’t forget to take pictures and perhaps write a story about the details so that you can continue with new traditions and remember the old. It will give you more about which to talk and even share virtually during that half or whole hour 🙂

https://bestoflifemag.com/activities-for-kids-before-electronics-printable-checklist/

COVID19 and ASD

Why is Autism called Autism Spectrum Disorder? - The Carmen B. Pingree  Autism Center of Learning
https://carmenbpingree.com/blog/what-is-autism-spectrum-disorder/

We have all been preoccupied with the coronavirus pandemic, but how can we not be. Good news is that this year, one since this post was originally written, we have a vaccine! I’ve re-written it with reflection in mind and the fact that there is concern. April is also Autism Awareness month and April 2nd is World Autism Day. In that spirit, I wanted to start this month off with a post along that theme.

Many have resorted to using more and more technology with their children. The paper, “Association of Early-Life Social and Digital Media Experiences With Development of Autism Spectrum Disorder–Like Symptoms,” was published online in JAMA Pediatrics and is available at this link. Don’t be alarmed, in response to comments about this article, it is noted that there is more need for research.https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapediatrics/article-abstract/2772821?resultClick=1. Look at how the spectrum of online relationships has changed us. How does this impact your family and how does it impact development of relationships in which communication is already a challenge?

Social Media Monitoring and the Spectrum of online relationships

The impact of COVID19 on development of social skills has not yet been measured yet. This is a significant area of concern for those who live on the autism spectrum. As a result, continued monitoring milestones of your child is imperative, Parents can do so using a screening tool that I have referenced below. There are also resources for adults.

ROUTINES:

Especially during a pandemic and increased social isolations there are challenges to disrupted routines. Yet, this is so important, especially for a child or adult struggling with the symptoms of a spectrum disorder. So many have told me that it is just too hard to schedule appointments, or that they are overwhelmed and having trouble working. Temple Grandin https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Temple_Grandin has some thoughts that I still think might help others. Take a look: https://parade.com/1019088/debrawallace/temple-grandin-tips-children-with-autism-coronavirus-quarantine/?fbclid=IwAR1L8M8petdXfGQyZdPhyx51viLP1usEaEOzhHHVEgWOH-o6rqu9SOKvtnA.

Back to School???

In a matter of speaking … yes! Wow!!!   Blended learning students in grades 9-12 return to buildings beginning 03/22 (at least in NYC). Speech-language pathologists help others with organizational skills so in that spirit here are some reminders

Get back into that routine now! Resume the routine bedtime, preparing lunch the night before, laying out clothing etc. Whatever the routine – especially with students who are special needs, that will be important. Since we are talking about older students returning, maybe a chart as below with their routine would be helpful to write out now.. 

Self-care daily routine schedule for tweens. Gentle reminder for your tween  to establish a good daily routin… | Daily routine schedule, Daily routine,  Night routine

Once your son or daughter is back – in-person.. 

  • Please communicate face to face if possible – not through facetime; but in-person and it will be important to show up with your son or daughter’s paperwork in hand.  I’d suggest that you hand it to the special education supervisor as soon as your high school student enters the door.  They may be pulling away during their adolescent years; which we’d typically expect. However, they won’t tell you – you are needed!  Just like at the beginning in September – here is a checklist:
  • Set up a meeting or call your child’s lead teacher and introduce yourself. If possible go to school in person as it is the parent who makes themselves known that gets the help!  
  • Make sure that your child’s therapy schedule is in place as times may change ..???  perhaps…  
  • If your son or daughter needs any adaptive equipment – communication boards or FM systems and these are typically at school – make sure they are there and also any eyeglasses!

***If your son or daughter can help with the very last item above it may be wonderful so that you guide them in self advocacy skills!

Remember that it is not just your child who needs the help.  Your child's teacher needs the support from the school therapist so that they know how to support him or her and they need you too as the "team leader". Your son or daughter needs guidance too!


Resources: The impact that changes in kids since the pandemic necessitated social distancing cannot be understated.

Summer Tech Use?

On Facebook recently, I read the following question from a parent and had some ideas about what might be helpful:

“Anyone had success in detaching their kids from the electronic world? I have a huge concern about what this is doing to my 2 boys with multiple letters in their diagnosis…I am afraid our summer is a battle and competition with it.😑”

There is cause for concern, battles aside. According to How Technology Hinders People with ADHD: “Technology use requires balance and self-monitoring. It can be beneficial to utilize the available software to help increase productivity, but also to help decrease distraction and hyper-focus”.

The American Academy of Pediatrics provides guidelines for the use of technology that might be worthwhile to consider.

Create a Family Media Plan.

Create three rules:

RULE ONE

“Pick One Piece of Technology to Use Today for .. (time limit) ) Pick one i.e. kindle, i-pad, computer, etc,

You might want to define clearly on a color coded wipe off board or schedule such as this for each child:

Monday =Kindle Fire;

Tuesday = iPad etc. I might want to rotate every day of the week. Monday may be kindle day, Tuesday could be i-pad day etc.

RULE TWO

Plan Media Viewing: Here is a list of acceptable programs or … decide together what will be watched (you as a parent are responsible for how technology is used and viewed at home)

RULE THREE

Talk about what you have watched with mom/dad

Technology Can Facilitate Social Interaction Graphic

**The research shows that children of different ages understand ond process what they view on computers or other electronic devices best if you as an adult watch it with them and then discuss what is being viewed.

The Ready to Learn Television Program

The Ready to Learn Program: 2010-2015 Policy Brief, published in March 2016, summarized ED’s Ready to Learn Television program research on the effectiveness of three educational television production organizations.53 The brief reported on 15 effectiveness/summative research studies with children aged 3-8 using media in informal learning settings (such as after school or child care programs); 7 of the studies focused on learning at home. From the 7 studies that focused on learning at home, positive associations were found between at-home engagement and children’s math learning with children whose parents received interventions such as content guides and suggestions for supplemental activities. The studies also found that parents’ awareness of children’s math learning increased their likeliness to engage in activities and strategies to help their children learn math.

On a personal Note:

On this Father’s Day, I remember the house rule in my family. Each of the three of us siblings was allowed to watch television for one hour per day. The rule was so ingrained into my daily life that I can even recall the names of the shows I watched and the time of day. It was always for an hour in the morning before school. It was a relaxing way to start the day. Of course, the time of day changed with advancing childhood years.

There were exceptions to that rule: My parents allowed us additional time if we had to watch something on television for school OR if there was a special program – for example watching “The Wizard of Oz” as a family was a big deal for us. It was, after all, a simpler time. Another such special additional viewing that stands out is the night that Neil Armstrong landed on the moon. The LM landed on the Moon at 20:17:39 GMT (16:17:39 EDT) on 20 July 1969. That was special!… so special that we went to the neighbor’s house to watch together. We went there because they had a color television set and I imagine my parents wanted to share the occasion with other adults. For some reason, one of those memories as a little girl was that of dad carrying me home really comfortable in his arms, because I fell asleep right after the landing.

The beauty of this rule is a child was that I was forced to develop other interests and had to learn what else I could do in my free time. Mom was a librarian so we spent a lot of time picking out books and reading. I’d read two or three books at a time. I set up lemonade stands, rode my bike, learned how to draw, and write poetry. During the summer, we went to the pool. We traveled as a family, as we got older and actually may do so even now, periodically as adults. It builds bonds by sharing face time. The challenge comes when you sit down to eat and the phone has to go in a basket, away from everyone and the game is who can stay away from their phone for the longest! Technology can really be addictive!

Finally – for additional thought on the topic of how we use the brain and how it develops take note of this article and perhaps build reading time into your family’s regular routine:

https://medium.com/@alltopstartups/the-reading-brain-why-your-brain-needs-you-to-read-every-day-f5307c50d979#:~:text=Our%20brains%20change%20and%20develop%20in%20some%20fascinating%20ways%20when%20we%20read.&text=Reading%20involves%20several%20brain%20functions,something%20as%20by%20experiencing%20it.

Back to School?

What a challenging prospect in times of a pandemic.  It’s a tough decision in terms of how to educate your child whenever schools open up. Both kids and parents will have feelings. Nobody seems to be considering that, in my opinion.  There are novel CDC guidelines. In case you missed them, here is a link CDC Guidelines   Other thoughts are outlined by the  American Academy of Pediatrics. 

For starters:  How do you explain coronavirus?  In very simple terms

Your child is entitled to additional services in terms of having lost much therapy time if they have an Individualized Education Plan (IEP)? Check with the school special education supervisor and/or the principal.

and finally, how do you deal with the emotions that kids may experience when potentially planning for the first day back if that is your decision?  There are some ideas below:

Resources:

Know Your Rights for a Special Needs Child https://www.familyequality.org/2020/03/30/special-education-rights-during-covid-19-pandemic/

Dealing With Anxiety-Helping Kids Cope:

Give toddlers tools to ease anxieties and worries and feel better again. It’s normal for toddlers to worry and feel anxious—they have enough …
 
For older children
 
 

Memory and Autism

photo of girl sitting near christmas tree
Photo by Jonathan Borba on Pexels.com

For those who see that all in their child with Autism is bleak – please see a light of strength that they may possess.  The challenge to consider is how to use this productively:

“Visual memory for some types of material has been found to be an area of strength for children with autism but complexity of the stimuli appears to affect memory function in this modality as well. Interestingly, the right hemisphere may compensate for Visual memory for some types of material that has been found to be an area of strength for children with autism but the complexity of the stimuli appears to affect memory function”  (Prior & Chen, 1976).

With this knowledge – take a look at the text and alphabet letters that were duplicated from memory by an autistic individual who had viewed this page in the book Chicka Chicka Boom https://www.amazon.com/Chicka-Boom-Board-Book/dp/1442450703 Book/dp/1442450703    Hayden Gonzales posted this to Facebook on December 26, 2019. Thank you for bringing this to light!

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom is an easy story whose words are marvelous for teaching young children the alphabet. In fact, the following link provides some information about how the book can be used to elicit language development http://doodlebugshomeschool.blogspot.com/2011/08/chicka-chicka-boom-boom-with-l

No photo description available.No photo description available.

 

https://www.apa.org/pubs/journals/releases/neu-20121.pdf   “memory in autism appears to be organized differently than in normal individuals — reflecting differences in the development of brain connections with the frontal cortex”.

The post brought to mind my first cousin. Jerry was diagnosed with autism at a very young age and at a point when not much was known about the disorder.  He would memorize calendars and could tell you what day of the week you were born on, for example, four or even five years ago.  How remarkable, I thought. I wondered why – perhaps research now is answering that question.

What Is Declarative Memory? This is an area of strength in those who are autistic.  \

Your ability to recall addresses, locations of parking garages, intersection names, phone numbers, and an experience that you had at a restaurant are all a part of declarative memory. Declarative memory, also referred to as explicit memory, is the memory of facts, data, and events. For example, let’s say that you know that your favorite restaurant is only open until 6 PM on Sundays. The time that the restaurant closes is stored as a declarative memory. We can consciously recall declarative memory. Declarative memory is a type of long-term memory.  Here is a functional strategy that may be useful for daily activities that require this:

http://autism.sesamestreet.org/daily-routine-cards/?fbclid=IwAR0VKcWb_ZAHzheWdgT7ekqhwG_NuW8JLOMtCHZyT4PnolRXeyq6oeXxLSw

Declarative memory seems to help individuals with autism compensate for social deficits by memorizing scripts for navigating social situations. It supports the learning of strategies to overcome language or reading difficulties not only in autism, but also in SLI and dyslexia. And it appears to help people with OCD or Tourette syndrome learn to control compulsions and tics.

black and white blackboard business chalkboard
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

References:

https://study.com/academy/lesson/declarative-memory-definition-examples-quiz.html

https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2006/01/autism

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autism_and_memory

Read the journal article

Prior MR, Chen CS. Short-term and serial memory in autistic, retarded, and normal children. Journal of Autism and Childhood Schizophrenia. 1976;6:121–131. [PubMed[]

http://www.judyendow.com/sensory-solutions/autism-and-the-sensory-system-part-6-of-8/

 
 
 

  Lindsay Strachan Fofana Thank you for this! My almost 4 year old son is receptive and expressive language delayed but loves to learn and seemingly has photographic memory. Yesterday he spelled his name backwards. I explained to him what he had done and he was tickled! It’s very promising and always exciting.

Halloween with a Special Needs Child

Halloween is tomorrow! Are you ready??

Typically families with young children may be approaching them with excitement. In my experience, families with children who have disabilities may have apprehensions. How can you proactively approach Halloween? How can your family prepare for dealing with stimulating settings and create a more meaningful/less stressful day in this Halloween week? Here are some resources that may be of help. Firstly:

Here is a wonderful blog post with suggestions for reducing stimulation, creating costumes and preparing for the big day www.familyeducation.com .

Do you want to have a party indoors with snacks and decorations. Perhaps kids movies www.halloweenmoviesforkid would be a nice activity

Literacy is an area of interest to those of us in the area of speech-language pathology. Here is a link to some books with the Halloween theme https://www.google.com/search?q=halloween+books&rlz=1C1CAFA_enUS777US777&oq=halloween+books&aqs=chrome..69i57j0l5.2855j0j7&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

The best of all may be arts and crafts that are thematic for the holiday so that you can spend face time with eachother and be creative. Here is a link for some quick and easy activities to give you some ideas https://crazylittleprojects.com/halloween-crafts-for-kids/

Have fun!

Preparation for Schooling After EI, If not Done Already

Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

Parents tell me that in one moment the services are all in your home and you have a coordinator keeping very close touch with you who will organize everything. Parents are being required to research schools that may be available to children when they prepare to research appropriate programs for their child. Now it is all up to you and it is “so overwhelming. This appears to be the biggest cooncern during the transition period. I’l hear from parents that “I am so stressed about this right now…how will I ever find a school?”

GET INVOLVED: CONCERNING HEALTH ISSUES

Some parents have found schools but now the laws – at least in NY State and I believe others have changed. You are being required to have your child vaccinated; but are choosing not to do so – for any of a number of reasons. Here is what the law indicates https://www.cdc.gov/phlp/publications/topic/vaccinations.html

http://www.p12.nysed.gov/specialed/preschool/program-list-nyc-region.html

As a result of not vaccinating your child and for those in the NYC area this is a youtube video that may help you understand how to get home schooling for your child. I found it on youtube – searching for home schooling in my city and you may be able to find this for your locale.

.

Maybe your child is starting or has started already. They HAVE been vaccinated.

Here are sometips .

Please do not rely on the school system to have uploaded all of the information about your child into their computer system. NYS Education Department has its own requirements and must be both FERPA (Family Education and Rights Privacy Act) and IDEA (Individuals With Disabilities Act) for their maintenance. Familiarize yourself with what they should have on file, but keep a record of them on your own at home. It is in your interests to have these on file from the very beginning of your child’s education and transition to CPSE or Kindergarten

http://www.acces.nysed.gov/bpss/schools/requirements-organization-student-records-provided-department

  • Go to school and introduce yourself, bringing the IEP in person and any of the other paperwork that they should have there, based on what you read from the above link.
  • Connect and get to know your special education supervisor, your child’s teacher and related service providers. In my experience – those who do so are those whose children get the most out of the school experience.
  • You may be given a packet of information- a welcome letter on that first day. Recognize that there are ways to get involved and stay connected with the educational team, as well as the administrative staff.
  • Joining a parents group at school is a great idea.
  • Home activities are a great thing to get ahold of from each professional as you can support yor child’s work and perhaps even praise them for their school accomplishments. Request them!
  • If your schedule allows for it you may want to volunteer to act as a chaperone for school trips.

Enjoy the experience! Recognize that you are now your child’s advocate! It’s great to become their cheerleader now.

Finally – just a fun idea: A colleague posted this and I could not resist sharing it with you. You may want to consider sending this snac k to school, especially on day one: They look great! https://www.romper.com/p/rice-krispies-sensory-love-notes-is-making-love-more-accessible-brb-i-need-tissues-18648897