Crossing the Midline

MORE Activities for Crossing the Midline

As discussed in last week’s post, crossing the midline is an essential skill that affects a person’s efficiency in many of life’s everyday tasks. By engaging your child in activities that promote this skill, you are helping her to create pathways in her developing brain that can benefit her motor abilities, learning capacity, and behavior.

10 Activities to Promote Crossing the Midline:Crossing the Midline

  1. Dance! Get your child moving to a rhythm with her entire body and you will promote coordination and crossing over midline with big body movements.
  2. Play Twister.
  3. Do karaoke or grapevine walks.
  4. Engage in bimanual activities such as stringing beads, playing Pick Up Sticks, cutting with scissors, creating crafts or other projects with stamps, stickers, glue, etc.
  5. Play clapping games such as pat-a-cake or row, row, row your boat.
  6. Create a secret handshake that involves tapping feet, knees, or elbows to that of the other person.
  7. Involve him in baking! Let him stir the ingredients into a big bowl that he will have to help stabilize with one hand in front of his body, while the other makes big circular motions with the spoon.
  8. Engage him in a sorting game and encourage him to complete rounds of sorting using only one hand at a time.
  9. Play Simon Says. You could even take this up a notch and specify right or left side.
  10. Help with chores! Have her help you wipe off tables, mirrors, dishes, etc.

General recommendations to encourage crossing the midline:

  1. Always encourage children to complete self-care tasks such as dressing, eating, and bathing to the fullest extent they are capable. So many of these everyday tasks require us to spontaneously and purposefully use both hands together and to move one hand to the other side of the body.
  2. Before hand dominance is established, always present utensils (spoons, markers, etc.) at the child’s midline. Encourage the child to complete the task with whichever hand he initiates use of that utensil. Be sure he uses the other hand as the “helper” to stabilize the bowl or paper.
  3. Discourage w-sitting! W-sitting (where a child sits with his knees bent and feet out to either side of his body so that his legs form a “W” shape) has many negative implications. One of these is that the child is unable to cross midline as easily. When engaging in an activity on the floor, help your child sit “criss cross” instead.
  4. When completing work at a table, encourage your child to keep herself in the center of her work rather than scooting herself (or what she’s working on) to the left or right.
  5. Make it fun! Working on the development of midline crossing does not need to be a tedious exercise. As you engage in the fun activities listed here, you will begin to see how easy it is to adapt games and other tasks with this skill in mind. Don’t be afraid to get creative and let us know what you come up with!

Click here for a refresher on the 1st article to promote crossing the midline.

Preschool Playdate

Let’s Play! 5 Tips for a Successful Preschool Playdate

Are you considering planning a preschool playdate for your son or daughter?  That’s great!  Peer-to-peer play helps aid children in the development of their social-emotional abilities.  They learn things like problem solving, how to communicate their ideas, and how to overcome social obstacles.

5 Tips for a Successful Preschool Playdate:Preschool Playdate

Observe closely but don’t hover– Many parents have trouble deciding how involved they should be in their children’s interactions with peers.  The answer?  It depends!  The younger your children are, the more you’ll need to participate.  Children three and four years old may not need you to participate as actively, but they still need you close by.  Observe how the children play with each other.  Who takes the lead?  How do they handle disagreements?  Does anything surprise you about their play?  Remember, children behave differently depending on whom they think is watching.  So observe closely, but don’t hover.

Set expectations- Let both children know what is expected during play.  These expectations may be different depending on where in the house they play, or if they’re spending time outside vs. inside.  Keep expectations to a minimum (2 or 3 at a time).  To ensure that the kids understand, have them repeat the expectations back to you.  Then, when an issue arises you can remind them of the expectations that have been set.

Give plenty of warning before the end of the playdate- Transitions can be tough for little ones.  Let your kids know about 20 minutes prior to the end that in 10 minutes it will be clean-up time.  If you know your child has particular difficulty transitioning from social time or his favorite activity, give him more warning.

Help the children build problem-solving skills, don’t solve the problem for them – If the children playing aren’t agreeing on which toy to play with, rather than saying, “Ok, play with this toy for X amount of minutes and then play with that toy”, say something like “So you want to play with the trucks, but you want to build with blocks.  What should we do about this?”  By putting the dilemma into words, you help them recognize that there is a conflict, and that conflicts have resolutions.  If you put the question back on them and they are unable to figure something out, or if you notice emotions rising, only then should you provide a solution.

Communicate with the other child’s caregiver- If your child is going to another person’s house, let the other parent know what your child needs to be most successful when playing with others.  For example, if your child is quick to get frustrated, let the other parent know what helps your little one calm down.  Food is often involved in preschool playdates, so be sure to inform the other parent of any food restrictions or allergies.  If you’re hosting the playdate, ask the other caregiver about her child.  You may even want to invite the other parent in for coffee while the kids play.

Click here for activities to promote reading at your preschool playdates.

Step-by-Step: Potty Training a Child with Autism

Potty training can be an overwhelming process for parents of young children. Potty training a child with autism can make the process seem even more daunting. But not to worry, with consistency and patience, children with autism can be successfully potty trained.

When to begin potty training – There is no magic age to start potty training, as it varies from child to child. Children with autism are not always developing at the same pace as their same-aged peers. However, no matter what your child’s current functioning level is, you should be able to start the potty training process around age 3.

Step-by-Step: Potty Training a Child with AutismPottyTraining

  • It is best to begin during a time when you have at least 3-4 days in a row to devote to potty training (i.e., a holiday break or a long weekend).
  • Divide potty training into two phases:
    • Phase 1 – Urination
    • Phase 2 – Bowel movements
  • Start by working on phase 1, and once your child is consistently urinating on the toilet, you can then begin working on phase 2.
    • When potty training boys, have them sit instead of stand. This will make it easier when you introduce phase 2.
  • When begin the toilet training process, begin to slowly fade out the use of diapers or Pull-Ups. If your child learns that they will go back to wearing a diaper every time they don’t go in the toilet, they will most likely wait until the diaper is on to urinate.
  • Make highly desired items (i.e., IPad, computer games, favorite treat, etc.) contingent on urinating in the toilet. Do not give your child access to these items at any other time. Restricting these items will increase their reinforcing value, making urinating in the toilet more motivating.
  • Provide natural consequences for accidents. Never yell or scream when accidents occur. Instead, have your child help with the clean-up, change themselves (to the best of their ability), and put their dirty clothes in the laundry.
  • Expect some resistance from your child when you begin toilet training. Children with autism love routines, and you are going to disrupt their normal routine as soon as you start potty training. Negative behaviors like crying and screaming are very likely in the beginning. It is important to ignore these behaviors and continue with the process. Once they learn the new potty routine, the behaviors will decrease.
  • Be consistent. Once you start potty training, stick with it! Requiring your child to use the potty one day, and then putting them back in a diaper the next can be confusing and will most likely extend the potty training process.
  • Once your child is consistently urinating in the toilet, you can move onto phase 2 and follow the same steps. It is common for phase 2 to take longer, so do not get discouraged if your child is more resistant at first.

Following these general guidelines can help with the potty training process. It is important to remember that every child is different, and what works for one child may not work for another. If you have been trying to potty train your child without any success, it is recommended that you contact a professional to assist you. Someone with knowledge and experience with potty training can write an individualized plan tailored specifically for your child.

Click here to download a printable potty chart.






How to Handle Cyberbullying

With all the various forms of social media and online communication that children have access to, how does a parent serve as a gatekeeper to keep them away from cyberbullying and ensure positive peer interactions? Just like the conversations that occur about pro-social, appropriate behaviors that occur in real-time, proactive boundaries about expected behaviors should set with the initiation of online privileges.

Tips on How to Handle Cyberbullying

cyberbullying

Cyberbullying

Let your child know that periodic checks of their account will be monitored to ensure compliance. Outline for your child what can be viewed as expected behaviors (positive/supportive commentary, asking questions about homework, making plans, etc.). It is equally imperative that you also describe to your child the behaviors that are not tolerated as acceptable, such as bullying. Bullying online might look very different than bullying in real-life since there may not be any physical threat of harm. Therefore, re-define with your child what bullying means. Bullying can mean using verbal threats to compromise the harm and safety of others, using negative commentary to make fun of another, and any behaviors that can have a negative effect on a peer’s self-esteem or feelings.

Once you have set up the parameters for expected online communication, also provide your child with the potential consequences of non-compliance such as lose of online privileges, reduced interactions with other negative peers, apology procedures for engaging in bullying behaviors (call victim and/or victim’s parents to apologize), etc.

Set your child up for success by arming them with appropriate and inappropriate behaviors and what they can face if they don’t follow family-defined protocol.

Crossing the Midline: Activities to Promote

Crossing the midline is a fundamental skill that begins to emerge in infancy and continues to develop into early childhood. It is necessary for important developmental milestones such as crawling, walking, using a spoon to eat, writing, and reading.

Simply put, crossing the midline refers to the ability to meaningfully use a hand, foot, or eye on the opposite side of the body. In order for this to happen, the two hemispheres of the brain must be able to communicate with one another. If a child has difficulty crossing his midline, it can be a greater challenge for him to engage in everyday tasks from dressing to school work to sports. If you notice your child is having difficulty developing hand dominance, gets lost or frustrated when visually tracking words or objects, or seems generally less coordinated than other children his age, his ability to cross midline may be underdeveloped.

7 Activities to Promote Crossing the Midline:CrossingtheMidline

  1. Have the child straddle a low bench or other object that keeps his feet planted on either side. Use two different bracelets, stickers, etc. to differentiate the right and left hand while you have him pick up objects near his feet from the opposite side. This could be bean bags to throw, puzzle pieces to place, or beads to string onto a craft necklace. This activity can also be done in a “criss cross” seated position on the floor but be sure the child is not turning his entire trunk to pick up items.
  2. Having the child sit or stand in one place, throw, bounce, or roll a ball off-center of their body. He will need to use two hands to catch the ball and toss it back to you.
  3. With one hand placed flat on the surface in front of the child, have him use the other hand to trace over a large infinity sign. Switch hands after 10 cycles. Ideally this should be done on a vertical surface with the feet kept in one place.
  4. Trace big shapes, letters, and numbers in the air using index fingers and big toes.
  5. March to music and try to touch hands or elbows to the opposite knee.
  6. Trace horizontal lines across a long piece of paper. Make sure the paper is placed directly in front of his body and one hand is stabilizing the paper while the other traces across.
  7. Sit back to back and practice passing a ball to each other on each side. If you have more than two people, you can sit in a circle and play hot potato!

For additional suggestions and general recommendations to promote this skill, stay tuned for next week’s blog with even MORE great activities to try!

 

Click here for more information in helping your child cross the midline.

ADHD accommodations for adults in the workplace

ADHD Accommodations for Adults In The Workplace

If you are a parent of a child with ADHD, you may be familiar with some of the classroom accommodations that are typically recommended. These may include sitting in the front of the class and getting a hard copy of the notes, for example.

These accommodations prove to be beneficial… so what about when the classroom days are over and you are supposed to rely on yourself to stay productive and organized in the workplace?

Whether you are an adult diagnosed with ADHD or think you may have ADHD, here are some workplace accommodations to consider:

  1. Take breaks: go for a walk or sit outside with some coffee or tea.ADHD accommodations for adults in the workplace
  2. Avoid working in a cubicle, if possible, to avoid distractions.
  3. If you don’t have a door to close, wear ear plugs during times you need to focus.
  4. If your boss does not set a deadline for you, set your own!
  5. Break large projects into smaller tasks.
  6. Keep a paper trail!
  7. If a co-worker requests something from you, have them send it in an email.
  8. Keep a bulletin or dry erase board nearby and write down any important dates, notes, or ideas right after you hear them and go back and add them to a calendar or notebook.
  9. When you are given an assignment, repeat it back in your own words to make sure you understand (and remember!) all parts.

These are accommodations you can implement yourself. If you think you might need something a little more concrete, you do have the choice of disclosing your ADHD diagnosis to your employer and working with them to help you be even more successful!

These awesome tips were derived from the book, 10 Simple Solutions to Adult ADHD by Stephanie Moulton Sarkis, PhD. It is a great book that has more tips and tricks to stay organized and accomplish your goals!

Bullied Kid

How To Handle A Bully

 

 

What do you do when your child comes home and reports being picked on in school? Whether the child expresses frustration with a peer who calls him names, systematically leaves him out, or even intimidates him to trade parts of his lunch, it is important to educate your child how to advocate for themselves and set up appropriate boundaries within their social environment.

  1. Bullied KidEducate your child on what is considered “bullying” so they have a frame of reference what is and is not tolerated behavior. In addition to using the classic definition of bullying which entails “aggressive behavior in which an individual intentionally or repeatedly causes another person injury or discomfort,” according to Psychology Today, it is important to discuss real-life examples of what may be considered bullying. For example, maybe a peer is not pushing or hitting the child but rather is incessantly asking for the good treats in your child’s lunch. The consistent intimidation might be enough for your child to relinquish their brownie or favorite chips to get this individual off their back. Teach your child that if handing over their treat doesn’t feel right or is not something they want to do, they should not. The child can then recognize their boundaries and from here, implement self-advocacy skills to assert their thoughts and needs.
  2. Communicate. Teaching your child to recognize their boundaries is the first part in handling a bully. Once the child recognizes that what they are confronted with is not “tolerated behavior,” the child can then implement an “I feel” statement to communicate their needs.

-I feel:

-When you:

-Because:

-In the future:

This statement allows the child to feel more objective in the communication process as they insert what it is they are thinking, feeling and needing out of the situation. This is an assertive and non-aggressive. The child in this stage communicates their feelings and puts a halt on the negative behavior or interaction. Once the child states their need, if the bully does not stop, teach your child to remove themselves from the triggering situation, engage with identified “positive peers” to avoid the bully, and access an adult if the negative behaviors continue.





Candy

How to Have a Real Conversation with Your Kids

 

 

 

Parent: “How was school today?”
Child: “Good.”
Parent: “What did you learn today?”
Child: “Stuff.”

Does the above dialogue sound familiar to you? For many parents and caregivers, finding out about your child’s day can feel like an uphill battle, often met with vague, non-descript responses. One way to make this exchange more exciting and engaging for you and your child is to turn it into a fun game. I call this game “The M&M game”, however, M&M’s can be substituted for something similar such as Skittles.

CandyMaterials Needed:

  • 1 bag of M&M’s (or Skittles)
  • 1 bag (such as a paper lunch bag or small Ziploc bag)

What to do:

The parent/caregiver will place a pre-determined amount of M&M’s in a bag, pass the bag around, and each participant will reach in and pull out a (small) handful of M&M’s. It is important to set the expectation that there must be a few M&M’s for everyone, so if a child takes too large of an amount, you can simply instruct them to pour them back in and try again. I encourage parent/s to participate in this activity too, as this serves as a great forum for families to share information with each other productively. This also provides parent/s the opportunity to model the types of behaviors and responses they would like to see their child/ren demonstrate during this game.

Once everyone has a small handful of M&M’s, they can lay them out on a plate or clean surface. It can also be helpful to group all of the same colors together, and add up how many of each color you have. Everyone will likely have different amounts of M&M’s—which is fine! (and to be expected).

Now, the parent will explain to the child/ren what each color represents:

Red– Anger
Yellow– Optimism or Happiness
Blue– Sadness
Green– Jealousy
Orange– Frustrated
Brown– “free share”

Writing these down on a piece of paper for all to view can be a helpful visual.

Someone will go first, and choose which color to start with. For example, “Yellow.” Then, you will take turns sharing specific things that made you happy and/or optimistic. Depending on the age and development of the child, feel free to provide more synonyms for each color. For younger kids, keep it as simple as possible. The number of things you share will be dependent on the number of ‘yellows’ you have. For example, if you have 3 yellow M&M’s, you will be sharing 3 different examples of things that made you happy.

You will continue through this process until every color has been addressed. If you and/or your child do not have a particular color, you can place one (no more than 3) on your child’s plate. Once everyone is finished sharing, you can eat your m&ms! The anticipation of eating this treat can help serve as a motivator for your child to remain engaged in this activity and provide genuine and more detailed responses.

Tips:

• Pre-determine how many m&ms you place in the bag, as children will likely want to take heaping handfuls knowing they will likely get to eat them—and who wouldn’t want as many m&m’s as possible!? Therefore, having a smaller, specified amount to pull from will be helpful. This way, if your child takes them all (or most), you can vocalize that there needs to be enough for everyone and his/her portion therefore must be smaller.

• Participate with your child/ren. This activity provides opportunities to work on other important pro-social skills such as turn-taking, how to decide who gets to go first, listening and patience.

• Brown is listed as “free share.” Here, you (and your child/ren) get to decide what they would like to share.






Woman reading a book

Great Summer Novels for Caregivers

 

 

 

Summer time is in full swing so in-between camps and parks and playdates, why not sneak a few minutes in for you!  Here are some great “beach” reads to indulge in wherever you are located!  As a former overnight camper, my personal favorite is # 8, The Interestings…brought back memories!

 

1)    The One and Only by Emily Giffin

Emily Giffin, the beloved author of such novels as Something Borrowed and Where We Belong, returns with an extraordinary story of love and loyalty—and an unconventional heroine struggling to reconcile both.Woman reading a book

2)    The Vacationers by Emma Straub

An irresistible, deftly observed novel about the secrets, joys, and jealousies that rise to the surface over the course of an American family’s two-week stay in Mallorca.

3)    One Plus One by Jojo Moyes

One single mom. One chaotic family. One quirky stranger. One irresistible love story.

4)    Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King

In a mega-stakes, high-suspense race against time, three of the most unlikely and winning heroes Stephen King has ever created try to stop a lone killer from blowing up thousands.

5)    The City by Dean Koontz

A young boy, a musical prodigy, discovering life’s wonders—and mortal dangers. His best friend, also a gifted musician, who will share his journey into destiny.  His remarkable family, tested by the extremes of evil and bound by the depths of love . . . on a collision course with a band of killers about to unleash anarchy.

6)    One Summer: America, 1927 by Bill Bryson

The summer of 1927 began with Charles Lindbergh crossing the Atlantic. Meanwhile, Babe Ruth was closing in on the home run record. In Newark, New Jersey, Alvin “Shipwreck” Kelly sat atop a flagpole for twelve days, and in Chicago, the gangster Al Capone was tightening his grip on bootlegging. The first true “talking picture,” Al Jolson’s The Jazz Singer, was filmed, forever changing the motion picture industry.

All this and much, much more transpired in the year Americans attempted and accomplished outsized things—and when the twentieth century truly became the American century.

7)    Friendship by Emily Gould

An immensely relatable novel about a codependent friendship in crisis. Bev and Amy are like Hannah and Marnie with an extra five years’ worth of built-up resentment

8)    The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer

Long after the summer of 1974 ends, a group of teens who bond at artsy Camp Spirit-in-the-Woods enter and exit one another’s lives in Wolitzer’s beautifully crafted, epic novel of friendship and all its joys and heartaches.






 

 

Giving kids power

Benefits of Routines for Children

Why is Routine Important?

Children benefit from routines. Routines provide structure, a sense of security and help children develop self-discipline. Like all of us, children manage change best if it is anticipated and materializes in the context of a common routine. Routines help us appropriately self-regulate and control our environments. Schedules help parents maintain consistency with expectations.

 

6 Benefits of Routines

1)      Routines eliminate power struggle: It is already outlined what happens at a certain time of day.

2)      Routines help children cooperate: Routines reduce stress with transitions.

3)      Child doing homeworkRoutines help kids learn to care for themselves: As children learn routines (for example, brushing their teeth before going to bed getting dressed, packing their backpacks) they become more independent.

4)      Children learn to look forward to activities: Routines help children learn responsibility and patience. For example, homework is always completed first, then there can be free time.

5)      Daily routines help kids to be organized and on a schedule: This promotes ease with falling asleep at night and ensuring a good night’s sleep.

6)      Routines help parents build in special time with their child: Instead of losing focus and “moving kids through the day,” build in special time in the routine. For example, reading a book every night or having breakfast together.

 

http://www.ahaparenting.com/parenting-tools/family-life/structure-routines

Dr. Laura Markham: Structure: Why Kids Need Routines