Halloween is a fun holiday favorite for many kids, but for kids with sensory issues and special needs, it could be a night filled with discomfort, anxiety and fear. I learned over the years with Richie that it was okay to get him to try new things on Halloween, but I would never push him to go beyond his comfort level. My son has autism and with it comes many sensory related issues. This includes changes in routines, fear of sounds, uncomfortable clothing and more. I found these tips to work well with us, hopefully they’ll work for you too!
The word is out! This year, ABLE United started a program that allows individuals with disabilities and their families to plan for the future by saving money and building assets without losing their benefits. You might remember my previous post highlighting the launch of this beneficial program and how you and your family can start saving like we did!
Many of us have been anxiously waiting for the premier of the pilot episode for “Speechless.” The show debuted last night and I have to write that it didn’t disappoint. In fact, it was on-point! Speechless is about an American family of five that includes a teen with special needs. The story line is centered around their incredibly, resilient and humorous ability to cope with the many challenges faced by special needs families today. As parents of children with disabilities, we can all relate to Minnie Driver’s character, “Maya,” who is a relentless and fierce mother who will stop at nothing to protect her son JJ (played by Micah Fowler).
The LATISM (Latinos in Tech Innovation and Social Media) movement has served as an instrumental vehicle for the advancement of Latinos across the nation in education, health, business, technology, and advocacy.
Some time ago, I wrote a workshop about the history of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). It captured many of the events that led to how special education laws came to pass. It was a journey that unveiled intricate pieces of our disability history. It was also a very emotional experience for me, since I learned a great deal of what it might have been like for Richie had we been around in the early eighteen hundreds.
My family and I have gone to many sensory friendly films over the past ten years. Many times, my son Richie would be bored of the movie and either play with his iPod, or want to leave the theater all together. This is important to mention, because my family and I are big Star Wars fans, and for me to have to leave in the middle of it – as the great Yoda might have stated – been a disappointment so great, would have, Hmmmmmmm.
The holiday season reminds us to be grateful for the things we have, and cherish the ones we love. It’s the time of year that makes us want to express our love with gifts that are thoughtful and represent how much we care. For children and adults with autism, gift giving can be difficult. It’s always during the holiday season that I am often approached by family and friends about what to buy my thirteen year-old son, Richie. I don’t mind the inquiry really, it makes sense, as Richie’s preferences and interests change just like anyone else. Please note that I don’t always know what to buy Richie either! The truth is, there is no true guide to the perfect gift for a child or adult with autism. I have to pay attention to the things that interest him and sometimes, it is truly just a guessing game. Some gifts are hits and some, not so much (especially for children and adults who have difficulty with communicating their desires or who aren't speaking yet). It happens to many of us, so please don’t feel bad if your gift doesn’t make the all-time favorites list.
You’re planning to celebrate Thanksgiving, but parents of children with special needs know better than anyone that celebrations like these require a little extra planning for those unexpected, or shall I write – expected tantrums! Let’s focus on preparing for, and avoiding those challenging behaviors. Let’s try to replace them with new traditions and fun activities.
The director is the artist and the screen is their canvass for featuring their interpretation of iconic historic events, fascinating scientific discoveries, or unexplained miracles. Hollywood’s big screen can serve as one of the most powerful and influential tools for educating, inspiring, and enlightening. There have been so many movies that have successfully raised awareness of issues in the disability community, but more importantly, they illustrate the power of hope and perseverance. It would be too long a post to name them all! As an avid movie lover who enjoys deep, heart-felt messages learned through movies, I share my top ten best inspirational, disability-related movies of all time!
For many years, I had to deal with the stares, the snide remarks, the cruel comments, and the unbelievable acts of ignorance towards my sweet son– alone. It was awful. I remember having to be on the defensive all the time, asking people to excuse my son’s behavior, or apologizing for his confusing or seemingly frightening movements. It was so important to me that Richie was involved in community activities, and that he was accepted and always included in family activities. Still, it was challenging, because I could always count on the insensitivity and cruelty from many people, which was always ripe and plentiful.
It’s natural for children with special needs to only want to engage in preferred activities. Who wants to exercise when they can relax and play with their phone or iPad? It may take a little creativity and positive reinforcement, but we have to try to include a healthy balance of exercise, good nutrition, and community engagement. I know it's easier said than done, believe me. I started taking small steps to help our family with developing better eating habits and adding more exercise to our daily routines. Even the smallest changes can make a huge difference. We replaced high sugar drinks with water, added more fruits, vegetables and salads to our meals, and we try not to snack late at night.
President Barack Obama proclaimed September 15th through October 15th of 2015, as National Hispanic Heritage Month. In celebration of National Hispanic Heritage Month, we honor the cultures and contributions of the many Hispanic families and Americans with Hispanic lineage.
We all live in the fast world of advancing technology, political propaganda, professional ambitions, and of course, time is never kind to us. Every once in a while you come across a story that touches your heart and reminds you of the things that truly matter in life.
My family and I have always been active members of our community. When people in the community see Richie with us, we’re often asked about how to approach him, professionals often ask for tips on how to work with kids like him. I appreciate the willingness of others reaching out to make a connection with my son. I most certainly welcome the interest in learning by asking questions, over staring and silence. For me personally, the blatant stare is so much more intrusive than just asking a question (take a look at my article on 10 things you shouldn’t say to parents of children with special needs).
Having a child with special needs isn’t the gloom and doom that some might imagine it to be. Yes, there was the initial shock, sadness, fear, and overwhelming stress that consumed me when I first learned of Richie’s life-long challenges, but there is also an unspeakable love and happiness that I don’t share with anyone else on this planet. My son and I have a unique language of our own, I understand him and he knows he can count on me.
In today’s modern world of technology and jam-packed schedules, families are spending increasingly less quality time together. One of the best opportunities to bond with your child is through cooking. Not only is it important for children to learn their way around the kitchen, but an introduction to culinary arts can promote learning and increasing critical thinking skills. All children with varying abilities can be given a variety of cooking tasks to complete successfully, while having fun in the kitchen.
Many families with more than one child, has at least one who doesn’t want to eat. It’s a family phenomenon that has been driving moms and dads everywhere mad for decades. Unless you lace every food item with chocolate icing (and even then, your child will just lick off the chocolate and leave the real food in- tact), they’re not hungry. For children, mealtime is intrusive of their playtime, so of course, they don’t need to eat! Get ready for the heavy sighs and angry faces if what’s on the menu doesn’t entice your children’s world record setting small appetites!
If you have a friend or family member with a disability, or they have a child with disability, you may have noticed their absence at many of your planned events or parties. Hopefully, you understand their absence isn’t because of you personally or the company you keep. It’s sometimes difficult for individuals or parents of children with disabilities to attend most gatherings, because most social settings are not always disability friendly. However, you can create an inclusive gathering that can be a fun experience for all.
Who doesn't love to dine at different restaurants? The opportunities to explore different foods, learn of different cultures, or simply remain loyal to your all-time favorites, are ones we should all experience. Going to restaurants with children can be difficult, there’s boredom which leads to whining, crying, and all sorts of undesirable behaviors. It’s even harder for families of children with disabilities, therefore, dining out is often avoided.
Author: Christine Goulbourne