Easter is now over and the next big holiday will be the 4th of July. It is a holiday that most Americans feel they will be able to truly celebrate with others, as even more vaccines have been given to bring our country back to what will always be our new normal. This, many say, could be the celebration of all celebration, with not just families getting together, but now friends feeling comfortable enough to once again have get-togethers and there may even be fireworks again. What a great time to look forward to as President Biden keeps saying for us to wait until then!
April is Autism Awareness Month and with this in mind that I will be having ideas for, now mind you, most of these activities can usually be for all kids, not just those with Autism, they are just the focus.
Thanks to a site called Harla (https://harkla.co/blogs/special-needs/therapeutic-activities-autism), I have found some very good ideas, one being *Pool Noodles, because as stated these are cheap and versatile pieces of equipment:
Cut them up into two-inch pieces to stack and build like blocks, label pieces of pool noodles with each letter of the alphabet and stack pieces of pool noodles on top of each other in alphabetical order, create boats out of pool noodles, straws, and triangles, use straws, pipe cleaners, and googly eyes to create bugs, string two-inch pieces of pool noodles using a piece of string or rope, cut them in half vertically and make pathways for water play, make obstacle courses out of pool noodles cut in half to create balance beams, make lightsabers out of pool noodles by cutting them into quarters and wrapping duct tape around the top of each quarter to make a handle.
*Create Sensory Bins (Perhaps buy some at Dollar Tree to keep costs down):
And this great hint helps so much -To prevent a huge mess, play on top of a shower curtain.
Aquarium gravel comes in awesome colors, Easter grass, straws cut up into pieces……In fact, let kids cut the straws to build fine motor skills, feathers, moon dough, tissue paper pieces, ribbon, buttons and beads, or dirt and sand.
*Keep maze books, word searches, eye spy puzzles on hand:
It’s important to work on visual skills while having fun. There are so many fun computer and electronic games, but working on paper/pencil tasks helps not only coordination of the hands, but also visual perceptual skills. The eyes learn to work together and improve skills such as problem-solving and visual scanning (looking at the entire page in order to find a solution).
* Visual Schedules – Visual schedules have been critical in both my clinic and in my own home. I depend on a calendar and schedule to keep on track. It’s been proven that many children with autism are visual learners. This means that a picture schedule outlining the steps of a task is helpful:
Even for daily tasks such as taking a shower, a schedule of the steps should be posted so that kids know exactly what to expect and what comes next. This can be incorporated into play activities. So, take pictures of a block tower and number them. Ask your child to put them in order by saying, ‘What comes first?’ and so on. One of the most helpful tools parents can use is a camera. Take step by step photos of each activity, print, and laminate them.
*Make an obstacle course – Use anything you can find. Taped lines are wonderful for ‘pretend’ balance beams. Hula hoops, bean bag tossing, jump ropes can all be included. Walking like animals is always fun and builds awesome gross motor skills. Hop like a frog, gallop like a horse, slither like a snake, crawl like a puppy, wiggle like a worm, jump like a kangaroo, walk like a crab, or prance like a unicorn.
*Sensory and Calm-Down Bottles – The addition of smaller items your child prefers, make the bottles fun and add visual appeal. For example, adding hair gel with a bit of water and glitter so that the glitter falls slowly through the bottle. Paper clips are fun to add so that kids can use a magnet to attract and move the paper clips throughout the jar. These are all the rage right now. Why? They can be customized for each child and are designed for many purposes. They can be created with water, hair gel, water beads, and other filler materials. Check out Pinterest for thousands of ideas for sensory bottles.
*Involve your child in daily decisions – Remember that children love to participate and gain parental approval. Even the most mundane of tasks can be fun when done together. For example, set a weekly menu. Look through cookbooks and the pantry to decide what items need to be added to the grocery list. Ask your child what meals he prefers and ask him to find out the required items and write them on the list. Then, shop together and work on getting familiar with the store. Finally, checking out helps with money management and budgeting. Remember that the ultimate goal is for your child to function independently and it’s never too late to start.
*Add ‘Brain breaks’ or Yoga and Movement activities: These can be incorporated throughout your child’s day. It’s critical to ensure your child is taking a break at school and preparing mentally for difficult assignments and tests. Deep breathing and calming strategies should be practiced when things are calm and not stressful so that they can be easily accessed when a child is stressed. Many breathing exercises and brain breaks can be found on the internet.
I want to put in thanks to Harkla for having these things listed so I could borrow them to share them with you and your children. Harkla started in 2015 with the goal of helping those with special needs live happy and healthy lives.
Let me know any ideas you have or what you would like to see and I’ll get right on it for you. Email me at [email protected]
Remember to be kind and love each other and continue to set a good example for our children. See you next week with new ideas and ways to help your children or ideas that may help you as you raise your children in some way.
Reach Kimberly Jenkins (740)353-3101 ext. 1928
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