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.

Do We Hear??

Listen, Listen To, Listeners, Therapist

World Hearing Day was March 3rd and I wonder-do we really hear each other???

Well… as a speech language pathologist this topic is near and dear to me. In fact, it is an occupational hazard… Pragmatics refers to the way in which people use language within social situations. Consider that you may use language to greet others, inform people about events, make demand, give directions or make requests. If you find that you are not able to do so and in fact may not have the focus to interact verbally with someone else and really hear, here are some ideas. After all – it is our verbal communication that separates humans from other animals

Movement or vestibular input will help your brain to calm down (this goes for adults too). For adults – think about how calm and energized or focused you may be after a work-out. For kids, consider the fact that movement can promote the use of sound. In the video below, by using a teddy bear or similar item this can be facilitated in young children. This activity promotes counting (in the video) but you can adapt it such that i.e. you sing “twinkle twinkle little star”, reciting ABCs or spelling words. For older people you can adapt a more age-appropriate strategy of using a wiggle seat cushion or exercise ball chairs gives more vestibular stimulation and promotes core strength.

*p.s. this also strengthens the muscles that we use to speak!

https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/oJTLZoWkp-Y?start=14

A nice shared exercise activity for families

If you feel that you need more help in being able to focus attention, concentrate and communicate in a meaningful way, feel free to give me a call or reach out by email.

**Occupational Therapists also provide assistance in addressing these issues

Reading Suggestion:

https://www.abebooks.co.uk/9780874244373/Sensory-Integration-Child-Ayres-Jean-0874244374/plph

https://www.understood.org/en/friends-feelings/managing-feelings/stress-anxiety/self-care-for-kids-6-ways-to-self-regulate?utm_medium=email&utm_source=newsletter-en&utm_campaign=evergreen-mar21-fm&utm_content=send

Holiday Kid Cooks and COVID19

Thanksgiving is coming; but how do you keep safe traditions now in a socially distanced world. Cooking has always been something central to our family. I would think that this is to others as well. In my family, we sometimes share a recipe. Everyone brings something to dinner and one family member makes a main course. This year will be different. We will all be separated. Perhaps we will come together on Zoom, Facetime or someone yum y uy ittyuyuu other form of technological means to mark a few minutes of the holiday together.

You are most likely going to be cooking anyway, so why not make it into a family happening. The speech-language pathologist in me suggests to you that there is so much that can be blended into this type of activity. For example, if you choose to make a fruit or vegetable salad together you can talk about the colors and categories of fruits or vegetables, with older kids – what makes a fruit a fruit and a vegetable a vegetable, cut with math concepts of quarters, a half or eighths. You could talk about action such as cutting, with shaped fruit/vegetable cutters and fruit picks slicing, spatial concepts such as putting in, taking out, having one next to or in between. Whatever you do, there are guidelines that were developed to keep cooking as a safe activity. According to the CDC, the following guidelines for holidays are noted.

“Currently, there is no evidence to suggest that handling food or eating is associated with directly spreading COVID-19. It is possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object, including food, food packaging, or utensils that have the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes. However, this is not thought to be the main way that the virus is spread. Remember, it is always important to follow good hygiene to reduce the risk of illness from common foodborne germs”.

  • Make sure everyone washes their hands with soap and water for 20 seconds before and after preparing, serving, and eating food. Use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
  • Instead of potluck-style gatherings, encourage guests to bring food and drinks for themselves and for members of their own household only.
  • Limit people going in and out of the areas where food is being prepared or handled, such as in the kitchen or around the grill, if possible.
  • Wear a mask while preparing or serving food to others who don’t live in your household.
  • If serving any food, consider having one person serve all the food so that multiple people are not handling the serving utensils.
  • Use single-use options or identify one person to serve sharable items, like salad dressings, food containers, plates and utensils, and condiments.
  • Avoid any self-serve food or drink options, such as buffets or buffet-style potlucks, salad bars, and condiment or drink stations. Use grab-and-go meal options, if available.
  • If you choose to use any items that are reusable (e.g., seating covers, tablecloths, linen napkins), wash and disinfect them after the event.
  • Look for healthy food and beverage options, such as fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, and low or no-calorie beverages, at holiday gatherings to help maintain good health.

In terms of our fruit and vegetable – here are some reasons to make this – by color~

My personal favorite addition to the below is to add some sort of seeds for crunch – pomegranate seeds or pepitas; but regardless ……

Here is a list of fruits by color:

Purple fruit: raisins, blackberries, blueberries, purple grapes, dried and non-dried plums

Green Fruits: kiwi, green apples, honey dew, grapes. limes, avocado

Orange Fruits: mango, papaya,cantalope and oranges

Tan/Brown Fruits: dates, the skins of pears and the speckles of the skin of ripe bananas

Here is a list of vegetable by color:

Purple Vegetables: eggplant, purple cabbage and peppers

Green vegetables: cabbage, cucumber, asparagras, broccoli, spinach, green beans

Orange Vegetables: butternut squash, sweet potatoes and baby carrots

Tan/Brown Vegetables: potators, black eyed peas, pinto beans, garbanzo beans or chick peas

Keep safe! Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Pandemic Halloween?

pumpkin halloween covid

The traditional trick or treating as we did growing up brings to mind the neighbor who gave out handfuls of peanuts and chocolates. As kids, my parents would search through the bags that my brothers and I brought home to make sure that what we had gathered was safe – unwrapped candy for example. I also recall carving out a pumpkin, drying out seeds and then roasting them. Cupcakes with icing was another thing that we enjoyed eating. As we got older and when I was raising a family there was the house next door that had a fabulous display and my son running out the doorway, coming back to the door saying that there were “customers mommy!!!”. This was in a suburban area of NY and now in an urban setting the “customers” are limited to buildings not so much those on the street OR those in schools who dress up and walk from class to class.

Those are fun memories, but this year things will look a lot different. Going trick or treating by yourself isn’t much fun. What will the memories be of this year’s generation of trick or treaters? Will there be any in an age of social distancing??? How can we be safe and how can it become a memorable one. All is not lost. Here are a few resources that I pulled together.

Halloween Guidance

picture_as_pdfDownload Guidance

En Español

COSTUMES

Masks are certainly in vogue… that will most likely remain in place for those non-sensory challenged people. Costumes and masks can perhaps be homemade.this year so that you don’t have to be shopping for them if you are or are not in a “hot spot”. see how these are. In searching for some ideas to share I came across CDC Guidelines that are for use at Halloween and also include those that will be applicable for the upcoming holiday season. Keep them nearby as you consider celebrations with family and friends.

GAMES

Games to be played?? Google online and you will find a number of them. For older kids or adults

School-aged kids https://redtri.com/halloween-activities-and-ideas-for-kids/slide/3 and https://kizi.com/games/halloween-bingo

Preschool through early elementary grades https://www.totschooling.net/2017/09/free-halloween-printables-for-kids.html?utm_source=ActiveCampaign&utm_medium=email&utm_content=%F0%9F%91%BB%F0%9F%8E%83%F0%9F%95%B7%EF%B8%8F+Halloween+Theme+Learning+Printables&utm_campaign=Halloween+2020

Risks of Drinking

Since the onset of the COVID19 pandemic, there is an increase in drinking. The impact of this on pregnancy is an issue of importance that need not be overlooked at this time. My guest blogger Patrick Baily (bio listed below) provides us with insight into its impact.

photo for wordpress

FAQS about FADS   

Women who are considering having a baby but who also enjoy the occasional drink (or more) should look at more info about fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs) and how they can affect their offspring.

Here are some important answers to FAQs about FASDs.

What is a Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder?

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIH), FASDs are not a single condition but rather an umbrella term that includes several disorders caused by prenatal alcohol exposure.

The Institute of Medicine of the National Academies (IOM) recognizes four diagnostic categories that collectively are labeled FASD. They are:

  • Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS)
  • Partial FAS (pFAS)
  • Alcohol-Related Birth Defects (ARBD)
  • Alcohol-Related Neurodevelopmental Disorder (ARND)
  • Neurobehavioral disorder linked with prenatal alcohol exposure (ND-PAE)

What Causes FASDs?

When a woman drinks during pregnancy, alcohol in her blood passes through the umbilical cord to her baby. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises that no amount of alcohol consumption is safe during pregnancy. This includes all types of alcohol, including beer and wines.

For the safety of the developing fetus, it’s recommended that women who are or who may be pregnant, that they avoid alcohol. In part this is because a woman may not be aware she is pregnant for four to six weeks. 

The good news is that it’s never too late to stop drinking during pregnancy. An unborn infant’s brain continues to grow, but the earlier a woman stops drinking the less likely her infant is to sustain FASD later in life.

What Symptoms Can a Person with an FASD Have?

Though no two cases are alike, people suffering from FASD often have difficulties in:

  • Learning and remembering
  • Understanding and following directions
  • Maintaining attention
  • Controlling impulsivity and emotions
  • Communicating and socializing
  • Doing daily life skills such as bathing, feeding, telling time, counting money, and watching personal safety
  • Low body weight
  • Poor coordination
  • Poor memory
  • Language and speech delays
  • Low IQ or intellectual disability
  • Poor judgment and reasoning skills
  • Sucking and sleep problems as a baby
  • Hearing and/or vision problems
  • Problems with the kidneys, heart, or bones
  • Shorter-than-average height
  • Small head size
  • Abnormal facial features, such as a smooth ridge between the upper lip and nose (called the philtrum).

People with FASD are also more likely to exhibit mental disorders such as:

  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD
  • Anxiety and/or depression
  • Problems with impulse control, hyperactivity, and conduct
  • Increased prevalence of substance use disorders

Are Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Common?

It is difficult to determine the exact number of children who have an FASD, but experts estimate at least 40,000 children are born with an FASD each year in the United States. Based on studies of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), up to 8,000 babies may be born with FASDs each year.

Can FASDs Be Treated?

Yes. However, there is no cure. Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders last a lifetime, though early intervention treatments often improve a child’s cognitive and physical development.

Protective factors are:

  • Early diagnosis before six years of age. When children are diagnosed at an early age, they can be placed in suitable educational classes and receive the social services needed to help both them and their families.
  • A nurturing, loving, and stable home environment throughout the school years. Children with FASDs tend to be more sensitive than other children to changes in routines or lifestyle and damaging relationships. Family and community support can work together to prevent secondary conditions, incomplete education, unemployment, and criminal behavior.
  • Absence of violence. A stable, non-abusive household that encourages children to avoid youth violence is essential to positive development. Children who have FASDs require being taught other ways of demonstrating their frustration and/or anger.
  • Involvement in social services and special education. Children are more likely to reach their full potential when placed in special education that is geared towards their specific needs and learning style. There is a large range of learning needs in children with FASDs, and education closely geared to their particular symptoms is essential.

What Types of Treatments are Needed for Those with FASDs?

Children and adults who suffer from an FASD have the same medical and health needs as anyone else. They need early well-baby care, good nutrition, hygiene, vaccinations, and exercise. In addition, they should be monitored for concerns specific to their condition.

Some needed medical specialists might include:

  • Primary care provider
  • Pediatrician
  • Nutritionist
  • Audiologist
  • Physical therapist
  • Neurologist
  • Mental health professionals such as a child psychologist and psychiatrist, and behavior management specialist.
  • Ophthalmologist
  • Gastroenterologist
  • Immunologist
  • Endocrinologist
  • Speech-language pathologist

Medications that are often prescribed for those with FASDs include stimulants, antidepressants, neuroleptics, and anti-anxiety drugs.

Behavior and education therapies tend to be most effective. Some of those are:

  • Good Buddies
  • Families Moving Forward (FMF)
  • Math Interactive Learning Experience (MILE)
  • Parents and Children Together (PACT)

Author Bio: Patrick Bailey is a professional writer mainly in the fields of mental health, addiction, and living in recovery. He attempts to stay on top of the latest news in the addiction and the mental health world and enjoy writing about these topics to break the stigma associated with them. 

FAQS about FADS  

Women who are considering having a baby but who also enjoy the occasional drink (or more) should look at more info about fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs) and how they can affect their offspring.

Here are some important answers to FAQs about FASDs.

What is a Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder?

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIH), FASDs are not a single condition but rather an umbrella term that includes several disorders caused by prenatal alcohol exposure.

The Institute of Medicine of the National Academies (IOM) recognizes four diagnostic categories that collectively are labeled FASD. They are:

  • Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS)
  • Partial FAS (pFAS)
  • Alcohol-Related Birth Defects (ARBD)
  • Alcohol-Related Neurodevelopmental Disorder (ARND)
  • Neurobehavioral disorder linked with prenatal alcohol exposure (ND-PAE)

What Causes FASDs?

When a woman drinks during pregnancy, alcohol in her blood passes through the umbilical cord to her baby. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises that no amount of alcohol consumption is safe during pregnancy. This includes all types of alcohol, including beer and wines.

For the safety of the developing fetus, it’s recommended that women who are or who may be pregnant, that they avoid alcohol. In part this is because a woman may not be aware she is pregnant for four to six weeks.

The good news is that it’s never too late to stop drinking during pregnancy. An unborn infant’s brain continues to grow, but the earlier a woman stops drinking the less likely her infant is to sustain FASD later in life.

What Symptoms Can a Person with an FASD Have?

Though no two cases are alike, people suffering from FASD often have difficulties in:

  • Learning and remembering
  • Understanding and following directions
  • Maintaining attention
  • Controlling impulsivity and emotions
  • Communicating and socializing
  • Doing daily life skills such as bathing, feeding, telling time, counting money, and watching personal safety
  • Low body weight
  • Poor coordination
  • Poor memory
  • Language and speech delays
  • Low IQ or intellectual disability
  • Poor judgment and reasoning skills
  • Sucking and sleep problems as a baby
  • Hearing and/or vision problems
  • Problems with the kidneys, heart, or bones
  • Shorter-than-average height
  • Small head size
  • Abnormal facial features, such as a smooth ridge between the upper lip and nose (called the philtrum).

People with FASD are also more likely to exhibit mental disorders such as:

  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD
  • Anxiety and/or depression
  • Problems with impulse control, hyperactivity, and conduct
  • Increased prevalence of substance use disorders

Are Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Common?

It is difficult to determine the exact number of children who have an FASD, but experts estimate at least 40,000 children are born with an FASD each year in the United States. Based on studies of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), up to 8,000 babies may be born with FASDs each year.

Can FASDs Be Treated?

Yes. However, there is no cure. Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders last a lifetime, though early intervention treatments often improve a child’s cognitive and physical development.

Protective factors are:

  • Early diagnosis before six years of age. When children are diagnosed at an early age, they can be placed in suitable educational classes and receive the social services needed to help both them and their families.
  • A nurturing, loving, and stable home environment throughout the school years. Children with FASDs tend to be more sensitive than other children to changes in routines or lifestyle and damaging relationships. Family and community support can work together to prevent secondary conditions, incomplete education, unemployment, and criminal behavior.
  • Absence of violence. A stable, non-abusive household that encourages children to avoid youth violence is essential to positive development. Children who have FASDs require being taught other ways of demonstrating their frustration and/or anger.
  • Involvement in social services and special education. Children are more likely to reach their full potential when placed in special education that is geared towards their specific needs and learning style. There is a large range of learning needs in children with FASDs, and education closely geared to their particular symptoms is essential.

What Types of Treatments are Needed for Those with FASDs?

Children and adults who suffer from an FASD have the same medical and health needs as anyone else. They need early well-baby care, good nutrition, hygiene, vaccinations, and exercise. In addition, they should be monitored for concerns specific to their condition.

Some needed medical specialists might include:

  • Primary care provider
  • Pediatrician
  • Nutritionist
  • Audiologist
  • Physical therapist
  • Neurologist
  • Mental health professionals such as a child psychologist and psychiatrist, and behavior management specialist.
  • Ophthalmologist
  • Gastroenterologist
  • Immunologist
  • Endocrinologist
  • Speech-language pathologist

Medications that are often prescribed for those with FASDs include stimulants, antidepressants, neuroleptics, and anti-anxiety drugs.

Behavior and education therapies tend to be most effective. Some of those are:

  • Good Buddies
  • Families Moving Forward (FMF)
  • Math Interactive Learning Experience (MILE)
  • Parents and Children Together (PACT)

Author Bio: Patrick Bailey is a professional writer mainly in the fields of mental health, addiction, and living in recovery. He attempts to stay on top of the latest news in the addiction and the mental health world and enjoy writing about these topics to break the stigma associated with them.

Benefits of Clear Masks

Those with hearing challenges may need to be able to lip-read and for that reason, a different type of mask is available to them. It is called a mask with a “mouth expression shield”. As a speech-language pathologist, I see real benefits for the use of this mask when children are in school be they diagnosed with learning challenges, intellectual differences, with diagnoses as being on the autism spectrum or just neuro-typical. It’s also a wonderful tool in the age of COVID19 when you are an adult with communication challenges.

If your child is in school-a teacher would be more likely to interpret the reaction of a student to the information being presented and visa-versa

A parent may be able to bond more effectively with an infant and visa versa.

An adult with compromised communication function may be able to communicate more effectively with a significant another person, a caregiver, friend, or family member.

A person with cognitive deficits who may not be able to recognize others may be scared if they see a part of the face that is blocked; but unable to express this and become emotional – thinking they are alone. They may perseverate on a remark such as “where is…..?”

A newborn may more easilly bond with you if you are visible to them.

Image result for clear masks for adults
For Adults https://www.popsugar.com/smart-living/best-clear-face-masks-47602563

9 Reusable Clear Face Masks That’ll Let Everyone See Your Smile

  • Transparent Vinyl Protecting Mask. …
  • Anti-Fog Adults/Kids Clear Mask. …
  • Anti-Fog-Transparent Mask. …
  • Transparent Face Mask. …
  • Handmade Smile Lip Reading Communicator Mask. …
  • Adult Sized Non Woven Fabric Masks with Clear Viewing Window. …
  • Clear Vinyl Protected Mask.

More items…•Jul 8, 2020

For Kids: https://people.com/style/clear-face-masks/

Additional Reviews of Masks: https://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/reviewedcom/2020/07/22/benefits-clear-face-masks-and-where-buy-them/5489635002/

Are your kids scared of wearing masks??? Here are two links to books that may be helpful: https://www.bing.com/news/search?q=Sesame+Street+Masks+For+Coronavirus&qpvt=sesame+street+maskks+for+coronavirus&FORM=EWR

https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/sourcebooks-and-sesame-workshop-to-publish-heroes-wear-masks-to-support-families-through-back-to-school-season-301110110.html

What Does it Mean?

 

crowd of protesters holding signs
Photo by Life Matters on Pexels.com

The need for discussions about the Black Lives Matter movement and racism is a very real and saddening sign of our times. How do you start this discussion? How do you discuss if remarks are racist or not? In the presence of higher-level language deficits in those with a non-verbal language disorder or social communication disorder, there may be a need for consideration. Helping them to differentiate if remarks are or are not will be important.

Middle school-aged youngsters through college-aged years will need special help for their own protection and well being. because of the fact that from a neurological standpoint. higher-level reasoning, problem-solving, and self-regulation of your own behavior is developing at this time. The baseline functioning of those with nonverbal language disorders (NVLD) or Social Communication Disorder (SCD) will already be below what is typical.

If you are talking about the movement and concept of racism with an individual who has been diagnosed with They may not perceive what has actually occurred if they feel that they have been a victim of racist remarks and behavior. Maybe it was and maybe not. I say this because, those diagnosed with NVLD display problems in understanding communication that is not verbal which includes body language, tone of voice, and facial expression.

For example, I recently had a discussion with a college-aged male adult of Mexican-American descent who felt he had been a victim of racism in an interaction with a healthcare professional. He was accused of being a “drug seeker” when asking for a narcotic that had previously been prescribed and found effective for him in alleviating pain on a short term basis. The stakes were higher now and he felt that he would need the same medication over a three or four week period to tolerate pain from a post-operative dental procedure. He had been told that it would heal within that time frame, but could not tolerate the pain. He could not work, sleep, and was in pain when eating, drinking, or breathing because of this. The healthcare provider hung on him, after hearing his request for the drug. He was left in a situation with no solution for pain relief. This may not have been an ideal way in which to end a discussion with a patient; but, there were lessons when actions spoke volumes. This man felt that his feelings were not validated, he had taken a risk in talking with the doctor – needed help and felt very badly that there was no satisfactory answer or solution to his problem at that time.

In processing this interaction through discussion, great insight was obtained. Regardless of his racial or ethnic background, he had not perceived why this professional may have expressed himself by referring to him as a “drug seeker”. The followings issues arose:

The fact that a narcotic taken over a month-long period could be highly addictive needed to be discussed.

Talking about the need to consider other options was not at that moment on his mind, but was really necessary.

We processed together how the tone of voice and behavior may have had a negative impact on the outcome of this discussion. After all – he had wanted only one thing, saying nothing else would work and essentially made a demand.

At the time that the surgical procedure had been performed was there another factor visually in terms of his appearance when he initially went for treatment. It made him stop and think. His hair was mid-back length, uncombed and he had old clothes on that were very worn out when he initially had met the doctor.

Wonderful that in our discussion, he was able to share really being shaken up by the fact that someone had perceived him and put a label on it “drug seeking”. He said in response, “That’s really bad..being a drug addict is a label that sticks with you and it is not a good thing”. He said that he “just want to feel better so I can sleep, eat and work without pain”.

The discussion was closed by asking him if he now thought that his initial interpretation of the doctor’s remark was truly racist. Something to think about….

 

 

 

 

 

Language Development and COVID19

The “new norm” of saying “Hello” and “Good-bye”

Language impaired children often have trouble interpreting facial expressions. Increasing numbers of states may be required that everyone except for those under the age of two wear masks. How will this affect social skills? Reading the emotions of others is so important to be able to communicate with each other

Language is changing in terms of interpretation of facial expressions – after all we are wearing masks hopefully more often than not at this time. Teaching emotions and interpreting them will change so please click on this link to learn some tips. A literal visual picture will be worth a thousand words! https://challengingbehavior.cbcs.usf.edu/docs/Wearing-Masks_Story.pdf

Learn about how to help your children interpret emotions underneath those masks

Helping Children Understand Emotions When Wearing Masks
Young children look for emotional cues from caregivers to help interpret the environment and rely on their caregiver’s facial expressions, tone of voice, and body posture to identify and understand emotions. Here are tips and ideas for helping children identify emotions when your face, your most expressive feature, is covered by a mask. Use these strategies to let children know that behind the mask, a kind and warm expression is still there!

  1. Practice emotional expressions with a mask on in front of a mirror. Pay attention to facial cues that can be seen, body movements, and hand gestures.
  2. Incorporate ASL when teaching emotions
    (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=91foGHKuwL0).
  3. Direct children to look at your eyebrows, eyes, body movements, and gestures when talking about emotions. For example, “Look, I am happy.
    You can’t see my mouth smile, but my cheeks lift up, my eyes crinkle, and my shoulders and arms look like this.”
  4. Increase the use of gestures throughout the day and when talking
    about emotions (e.g., shoulders shrugged for sad, arms out to indicate
    a happy mood).
  5. Talk about your feelings as much as possible (e.g., “I am feeling happy that it is almost time to go outside and play.”; “I am feeling sad that it is raining right now.”; “I am feeling excited that we have a new toy in centers today.”).
  6. If using an emotion check-in, encourage all adults in the classroom to participate and check-in when the children do (https://challengingbehavior.cbcs.usf.edu/docs/FeelingFaces_chart_template.pdf).
  7. When talking about emotions, hold up the corresponding emotion card or visual near your face. Consider wearing a lanyard with a visual of an emotion expressions (e.g., tired, happy, excited, sad, angry, mad, nervous).
  8. Be sure to face children and remain nearby when talking to them while wearing a mask. Wearing a mask muffles the speaker’s speech, which can make it more difficult to understand what is said.
  9. Provide an activity for children to practice wearing a mask and making different faces while looking in a mirror or at each other. Point out how their face looks (e.g., eyes, eyebrows).
  10. Allow children to use masks during play with stuffed animals to help familiarize them with seeing masks in their environment.
  11. Reference: National Center for Pyramid Model Innovations | ChallengingBehavior.org
    The reproduction of this document is encouraged. Permission to copy is not required. If modified or used in another format, please cite original source. This is a product of the National Center for Pyramid Model Innovations and was made possible by Cooperative Agreement #H326B170003 which is funded by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs. However, those contents do not necessarily represent the policy of the Department of Education, and you should not assume endorsement by the Federal Government.
    Pub: 06/26/20

Please keep the conversation going and post how you an your children are changing how you are interacting with others. How is language changing for your family???

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
 
 
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