Today, I really wanted to get further along on my walk than 59th street and 5th avenue. Ten blocks more and I would have been able to see the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center. However, I looked downtown from my view in Grand Army Plaza (at 59th street and 5th Avenue) in New York City. It was just too crowded. I turned around and headed home. Before doing so, I took this photo and sent it to family members with whom I was planning to spend the evening. Sadly, we could not be together because of the pandemic.
Well, maybe taking a photo and sending it is not an idea way to say hello, especially on a holiday such as this; but, it was a way to share a moment and perhaps mark the day.
What Can You Do To Connect?
It’s dark out now, so maybe you wont be sharing that walk like I did a few hours ago; but perhaps you have the same board game at each other’s home and can play together virtually -just like you might in a multiplayer video game. Have a bit to eat together- hot cocoa and gingerbread cookies perhaps. If turning on the switch to nighttime lights around your holiday tree at home are a part of a shared tradition do so…. together. If you have a loved one who may not be with you this year, perhaps add a special ornament – a picture of them and put that on the tree or nearby. How would they have wanted you to observe the day and upcoming week? Talk about that.
It may be a different type of observance this year; but one thing is the same… it is a holiday season of sorts and even virtually we can connect and wish each other a healthier and happy new year! I hope you have one…
Will children who are three years old on December 31st enter pre-kindergarten programs?
The rule in Early Intervention is that children are about to age out. Given that COVID19 is here and that the “aged-out” age group of toddlers have no current vaccine of which to take advantage at the writing of this blog post, there are some parents who will be opting to keep them home. They will not have their children in school and remote treatment options may not be available. If you are a parent of a disabled child who may be in this position there is something that you can and should be doing, Research shows that 90% of the brain develops in the first five years of life.
What Can Be Done????
The whole basis of the early intervention, no matter where you are located is that activities can be embedded into daily routines. Hopefully, if your child was enrolled in the program you came to understand that you as an adult are your child’s first teacher. You have learned the “tools” for how to teach language within the context of daily routines.
Toys! These are the tools for children to learn from so if you have blocks, balls, boxes, unisex doll houses, mini brooms and dusters, babies or action figures, teach your children how to use them in imaginative ways.
I personally loved blocks, as a child. You can learn so much from them (and don’t forget the wooden family figures too!!) Tinker Toys, Lincoln Logs and blocks teach children counting, balancing, colors, size concepts, prepositions so they know where things are in space
Board games can teach basic concepts
Guess Who teaches children to use descriptive terms and answer/ask questions. It facilitates problem solving and reasoning.
Hi Ho Cheerio teaches preschoolers (three years and up) turn taking, counting, following directions.
Chutes and Ladders: When playing this game, your child is working on counting, prepositions, turn-taking, social skills, and following directions.
Reading Skills – preschool aged children learn phonics. Phonics is essential for children to become successful readers and spellers/writers in the early years of schooling and beyond. Introductions to phonics through engaging learning experiences can start fromthe ages of 3 and 4.
I hope that these suggestions are helpful. The situation we are faced with due to the pandemic is nobody’s fault; but it has its consequences. I hope that this blog will empower you and leave you with knowledge of some ideas for helping your child grow. If you have any questions or additional ideas that may be helpful to share, please leave them in the comments section below. Stay well!
Thinking back on my own life experiences with passive or classic toys was different because for the most part, until we were older they did not typically include batteries. Toys were passive and it was my job to activate them. I had to make them move and use my voice to create sounds. One particular example that I recall is my significant collection of dolls, as a little girl and the tea parties I would share with them, in pretend play. I have no recollection of what we said; but as a child it felt like I was a part of that party.
One Day the Batteries Were There:
Then the Batteries were not:
True story – one day I asked a parent to take all of the batteries out of the toys and see what her triplets would do. They all were delayed in language development. The toys had to move. A train could not just move on a a train track when a button was pushed; but the boys used their bodies to push the train on the track. They had to pick up the train, figure out how to put it on a train track so that it balanced, They had to focus ondirecting the train to go somewhere and figure out how to get it there. When you asked what the train sound said. They had to use their voice to tell me and did!. They created a sequence of events. They problem solved and reasoned out how their game should proceed.
You probably are quite familiar with battery operated toys so let’s think about suggestions of passive or classic toys for the holiday, or not.
Toys can teach the gross motor skills like walking running or throwing like you might learn in sports. The game Twister is a nice one as the weather gets colder and the mesh tunnels that you can crawl through. If you have a “crawler” aged toddler – even add to the game by blowing bubbles and have them “pop” these. If you have a toddler age child play One Little Finger song melody and instead of “tap-at-tap” substitute “pop-pop-pop point your finger up, point you’re finger down and then ask for “more bubbles””. Some of the mesh toys have basketball hoops. Others have at one end a house which for a sensory – highly stimulated child who needs to calm will be helpful.
Toys can teach higher level language skills: reasoning can be learned with games such as Risk, Guess Who and Charades. These help with problem solving focusing attention recall of attributes that have been described.
Blocks, dollhouses, farm houses, cooking centers for pretend play, dolls or action figures with spoons, cups, forks, knives, plates, wash clothes etc. for pretend play. Actions games like twister, balls, bats, basketball hoops, the mesh tunnels that you can crawl through (and for those with small apartments the ability to squash these up and push them under your furniture or behind a sofa for storage. Turn taking games like “Hi Ho Cheerio”. If you have time Monopoly is good as well as Risk for higher level reasoning and for phonic awareness: either Scrabble or Scrabble Junior.
Literacy Skills – Don’t forget the old fashioned book!
Reading can literally expand your brain function and help it develop. There is an actually there is a “. When we sit with a tangible book with non electronic pages we typically can do so at a slower rate. At least, it is easier to do so then with an e-book where you skim quite quickly. Here is a “ that talks about it and may help you consider buying one for someone as a holiday gift this year
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?
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.
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..
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.
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”.
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.
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)
Talk about what you have watched with mom/dad
**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:
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:
The frustration of not able to communicate or express their wants can have a negative effect on individuals with autism. They may tend to stay aloof, throw tantrum and indulge in negative behavior For autism, assistive technology can benefit individuals (of all age groups) in promoting communication and social interactions. Assistive technology refers to hand-held gadgets such […]
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).
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:
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.
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.