Easing Thanksgiving Stress
Holidays can be a real challenge for any child, particularly a child with special needs. Thanksgiving, while a wonderful time to spend with family, can be an upsetting change to the normal routine that can cause your child to have anxiety, stress, or an unexpected meltdown. There are things you can do that will not only will help him feel involved, but may also help ease the anxiety or stress he feels. Here are a few ideas:
CREATE SOME PREDICTABILITY:
Write a social story that tells your child what to expect on Thanksgiving day and days leading up to it. Much of your child's anxiety can come from not understanding why the routine is disrupted. Include things your child can do if he becomes overwhelmed. Knowing what the options are ahead of time will help make better choices in the moment.
PLANNING AND PREP:
Let your child help you plan the menu for Thanksgiving. Ask him for his favorite dish, and add it to the menu. Even if it isn't a traditional Thanksgiving fare, his pride in seeing the dish he chose on the table may just be enough to overwhelm any other feelings about the change in routine. Involve him in the preparations, from bringing you veggi
es, packing them in storage containers, reading off a grocery list, and even grocery shopping if he is up for that!
Put up the decorations your child made at school and let him decide where they go. He can make some at home too. Create the traditional hand print turkey by tracing your child's hand. Use the thumbs as the head, draw two legs use the fingers as turkey feathers and color for a festive turkey decoration.
PLACE CARDS AND NAPKINS:
Teach your child how to fold the napkins and set the table. Give him a list of guests attending and a stack of place cards, or paper to write names on. Decorate and place on the table.
PUT HIM IN CHARGE:
If your child is incredibly organized or has a tendency to be controlling, put him in charge of something. Capitalize on his strengths and let him keep track of things such as read to you the list of ingredients for a recipe.
GIVE HIM HOSTING DUTIES:
Sometimes shyness or other issues can interfere with social interactions. Giving your child something specific to do can prevent that. Whether he answers the door, offers guests a drink, or is in charge of babysitting a younger sibling or cousin, having a specific job to do can focus his attention and help ease social anxieties.
KEEP HIS BEDROOM OFF LIMITS TO GUESTS:
Knowing that he has a safe place to retreat to if he feels whelmed can go a long way toward helping your child deal with unexpected stresses. Keep his bedroom off limits to guests, especially other children. Make sure he knows he can retreat to his room whenever he feels it necessary, and if he chooses to do so, don't make a big deal of it. If a guests asks, simply tell them your child needs a few minutes alone and he will be back.
CREATE A TRADITION:
Create a new Thanksgiving tradition that becomes your yearly routine. Watch a movie together, pull out family photos, play a game of tag football, or read a book that is a family favorite. Make it a yearly tradition that your child can come to depend on. It will give a sense of routine to a day that typically disrupts that routine and help create some predictability.
Thanksgiving can be a wonderful day spent with family and friends or it can be a whirlwind that leaves you and your child, overwhelmed and stressed. If you take the time to try to involve your child to the best of his abilities, and ensure that he feels safe and secure, you both can enjoy the day and each other!
(content adapted from examiner.com)
Help your kids create a centerpiece filled with Thanksgiving gratitute. To make the turkey, cut out a circle for the head and an oval for the body. Glue the pieces together as shown. cut out a small diamond for the beak and fold it in half. Cut out 2 small wattles. Glue beak, wattles and 2 small googly eyes to the head, see photo for guide. Glue your turkey to a large pinecone. Cut out feathers, crease lengthwise and snip fringe edges. Encourage your child (and grown-up guests, too) to write their blessings on a tail feather. Tuck each feather into the pi
necone body to create the turkey's colorful tail.
Response to last month's nutrition workshop has been very positive. Allison gave us helpful information on how to create a less stressful family experience around the dinner table.
Simple Tips To Become A More Mindful Eater
Provided by Allison Topilow
Eat Unplugged. Avoid watching TV, surfing the net, reading the paper, etc. while eating. When you eat, just eat.
Take time to focus on the sensations of the food. The smell, taste, and texture of the food. Try eating in silence (this may not always be possible, but experiment with it when you have a chance). Turn off external noises and when you eat, just eat.
Practice. Your current eating habits did not develop overnight, therefore neither will becoming a mindful eater. It will take practice and patience. Learn to re-eat and taste foods. Set aside time each week to practice mindful eating. Slow down, taste the food, set no boundaries on what can and cannot be eaten, pay attention to what you really enjoy eating compared to foods you eat "just because."
Re-assess your favorites. We all have "favorite foods" but often times these so called "favorites" are really just habitual "favorites." Meaning in the hustle and bustle of life, we have stopped asking ourselves "do I still really enjoy chocolate cake, or do I enjoy the memories and feelings that are associated with chocolate cake." You will surprise yourself to learn what foods you really do love, compared to foods you eat because of habit or the feelings that are associated with it.
Re-connect with food. Plant a garden, cook, visit a local farm, make bread or pasta from scratch. Taking the time to re-connect with food and seeing where it comes from can give you a whole new appreciation of the nourishment you feed your body.
How To Recognize Poor Body Awareness In Your Child
Body awareness is important because it allows us to move our bodies and perform even the simplest of fine or gross motor tasks without thinking about how our bodies are going to move. Information about body position travels through the spinal cord and into parts of our subconscious brain. This allows us to use our conscious brain for other activity. As you read this article, you are most likely not aware of your body position, you are able to filter out background noise such as the TV or your children playing, and yet, you aren't falling off your chair. As children grow and move, performing tasks for the first time, they are gaining a sense of their bodies, they are gaining body awareness.
A child with poor body awareess may be exhausted from alwaying having to focus on even the smallest tasks.
Your child might have a problem with body awareness if you are noticing the following:
- moves awkwardly
- avoids physical activity
- chews on objects
- observes their own movements (ie:looking down at their feet while stepping)
- can not imitate movements
- has difficulty learning new movements
- can not move when vision is blocked or in the dark
- prefers small tight spaces
- gives strong hugs
- is constantly knocking things over
As therapists, we can provide your child with tools to improve body awareness.
Developing Touch Typing Skills
Computers are all around us in everyday life. In recognition of the need for greater access for all children, particularly those with graphomotor, fine motor, organizational or attention difficulties, a child's potential can be maximized utilizing a multi-sensory approach. Programs used at our center include visual, auditory and muscle memory components leading to more rapid mastery of correct keyboarding. Students frequently achieve a strong foundation, with correct fingering within a remarkable, and less frustrating time frame.Advantages of learning touch typing skills are speed, accuracy, time, fatigue, posture, focus, and editing.
Touch typing is one of the most valuable skills you can learn. It may take a little more time initially, especially if you have to unlearn bad habits, but in the end, it will pay off.
Our instructor is a certified teacher, with sensitivity to the physical, emotional and attention difficulties of our students.
Contact us at the office if you are interested in learning more about this program.
Chocolate Avocado Pudding Pops
Debbie Janoff, CINHC, AADP
of Wholey Fit Nutrition
2 Tbs cocoa powder
1/4 cup nondairy milk
1Tbs coconut oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt
Add all ingredients to a blender or food processor. Mix until smooth. Pour into popsicle mold and freeze until firm.
Adventure Theme Park
Diggerland USA is a construction themed adventure park where children and their families can ride and operate actual machinery. It is located in West Berlin, NJ.
The Thankful Book
by: Todd Parr
Ages: 3-6 yrs.
Todd Parr's bestselling books have often taught kids about unconditional love, respecting the earth, facing fears, and more, all with his signature blend of playfulness and sensitivity. Now, The Thankful Book celebrates all the little things children can give thanks for. From everyday activit
ies like reading and bathtime to big family meals together and special alone time between parent and child, Todd inspires readers to remember all of life's special moments. The perfect book to treasure and share, around the holidays and throughout the year.
Available for $11.99 from Amazon.com
Happy Salmon Game
A cute, fast-paced card game where players call out the action shown on their top card and when two players have a match, they perform the action. These include high-5 and pound it! Age 6 and up, 3-6 players. The kit comes with 72 cards and a rulebook. This is a great toy for traveling.
$14.99 at Amazon
RECOMMENDED BABY GIFTS:
Ages: Newborn - 18 mths.
A comfy way to play - two different ways.
The Fisher-Price Comfort Vibe Play Wedge helps stimulate baby's sense of hearing and touch as they listen to the music and feel the vibrations. Fine motor skills are exercised as baby reaches for and grasps the clackers. And as baby pushes up for tummy time, gross motor skills are being fostered, too! The soft, crescent-shaped wedge provides baby with support during tummy time, or while sitting and playing. The wedge puts fun toys within baby's reach, including other lin
kable toys you add yourself. To clean, just remove the electronics, throw the wedge in the washer, and baby's ready to play again and again.
Available for $19.99 and up
Age: 5 yrs to adult
Originally from Japan, this newest toy craze features small, soft foam toys. They are the newest version of the stress ball, yet softer and cuter. Some are scented, m
aking this a multi sensory experience. They are tactile and fun and look so delicious. They come in a variety of sizes and prices.
Fruit Jumbo Squishy is super slow rising and comes as 4 pack. Jumbos vary in size from 4 - 7 inches each. Materials are made of environmental friendly PolyUrethane foam, Non toxic and saf
e for children.
Variety of prices depending on quantity bundles range from $19.99 - up
Available in local stores or at Amazon.com
RECOMMENDED HOLIDAY GIFTS:
Click below to see our
Holiday Gift Guides,
where our therapists have recommended age appropriate toys and products that are geared to specific skills (like promoting fine motor or visual play).
Most toys in the Guides can be found in your local stores or online.
Some of our favorite websites include:
(Equipment to promote Vestibular Motor/Mov't)
(Science Lab Kits in various themes)
(Puzzles, Games, Building sets)