Studies show that both children and adults with developmental disabilities are vulnerable to incidents of abuse and injuries. Personal safety includes learning about being safe and dangerous environments. The following articles focus on teaching tips in both the community and in the home.
Januay is considered the coldest month of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. The following are January observances, celebrations, events, and holidays that can be used as ideas for your Day Habilitation Program.
You can download the PDF format here:January Day Habilitation Activity Ideas
Keep in mind the following when planning activities:
- People with intellectual/developmental disabilities are more likely to learn when using a multi-sensory approach which includes engaging people on all levels where they are able to use some of their senses. For example a cooking activity should include, allowing individuals to see what they are doing, taste, smell, and touch, etc.
- Make sure each activity is broken into small steps
- Use continuous probing
- Provide prompting strategies such as independence, verbal, gestural, hand over hand and physical prompting.
- Allow extra time to complete the task
- Give immediate feedback including praise.
Feeding problems are common in people with an intellectual/developmental disability. For example, it is reported that 37% of individuals with diplegia or hemiplegia and 86% of individuals with quadriplegia experience GERD. It is very common in people with cerebral palsy and can show up as anemia, failure to thrive and reoccurring infections.
It is usually missed by people who have been feeding and serving food to individuals with disability due to its subtle signs.
What is Gastroesophageal Reflux? (GERD)
GERD occurs when the muscle connecting to the esophagus is weak and opens under pressure, allowing the stomach contents to flow back into the esophagus. It is the acid from the stomach to the esophagus. this will irritate the lining of the esophagus and causes heartburn. Without treatment, GERD can cause complications.
What causes GERD?
GERD is usually caused by inflammation from the exposure of the esophagus to the stomach acid. The following can cause GERD:
- diet such as fatty foods, coffee, peppermint and chocolate
- decreased muscle tone
- backup in blockage of the intestinal tract.
There are many reasons for the high incidence of GERD in individuals with intellectual disability including immobility and positioning, abnormal postures, medication use and excessive drooling.
What is a developmental disability?
A developmental disability is described as an assortment of chronic conditions that are due to mental or physical impairments or both. For example, you may have a child or an adult with an intellectual disability or perhaps a person diagnosed with cerebral palsy and an intellectual disability. It is also considered a severe and chronic disability that can occur up to the age of 22, hence the word developmental. A developmental disability can occur before birth such as genetic disorders (i.e. cri du chat, fragile x syndrome,) or chromosomes ( i.e. Down syndrome, Edwards syndrome); during birth (lack of oxygen) or after birth up to the age of 22 (i.e. head injuries, child abuse or accidents).
For people with limited communication, the following are possible signs of gastroesophageal reflux:
If you suspect GERD, make arrangements for the person to be evaluated by a physician.
Some might be surprised to learn that there are several types of learning disabilities. Dysgraphia is describes as a learning disability that affects writing, spelling and fine motor skills. Dysgraphia is a neurodevelopmental disorder that can occur as a stand alone disorder or part of a co-occurring disorder with other disabilities such as ADHD, Autism, and Dyslexia. Typically it is diagnosed or discovered in the early years when children are beginning to learn how to write. Most adults often remain undiagnosed.
Early Signs of Dysgraphia
Signs and symptoms of dysgraphia generally begin to show up when children began to lean how to write. Early signs of Dysgraphia include:
- Inconsistent spacing between letters
- Poor spatial planning
- Poor spelling
- Unable to read own handwriting
- Poor fine motor skills
- Omitted words
- Writes slow
- Pain in hand from writing
- Messy unorganized papers
- Difficulty organizing thoughts on paper
- Illegible printing and cursive letter formation
- Slopping handwriting
- Tight, cramped pencil grip
- Tires quickly when writing
- mixes upper and lower case or irregular sizes and shapes of letters.
Signs and Symptoms in the Workplace
A early signs that rarely disappears is having a “sloppy” handwriting. The person when writing leaves out letters at the end of a sentence, difficulty reading own handwriting after meetings, trouble with filling out routine forms, displays unorganized papers on the desk, difficulty thinking and writing at the same time and tends to mixes upper and lower case letters when writing. The person will also avoid writing when possible and show a preference to using a computer or texting neatness, line spacing, staying inside margins and capitalization rules.
Strategies to Use in the Workplace
- If you have a smart phone, you can use the device to record meetings, interviews or instructions that are given to you.
- Assitive technology such as tablets, computers and Apps are also useful in transcribing information
- Take the time to organize your desk before you leave work in the evening. Prioritize your workflow and create a plan for the next day.
- Pre-write. Before you take on the task of writing, create an outline on paper.
Children and adults with developmental disabilities often face challenges with eating, drinking and swallowing disorders than the general population. It is estimated that adults with intellectual disabilities require support from caregivers during mealtime. It is common among people who have a diagnosis of cerebral palsy, intellectual disability, physical disability and muscular dystrophy.
Dysphasia is a medical term used to describe any person having difficulty swallowing foods and liquids taking more energy and time to move food from the mouth to the stomach. Signs of dysphasia may include:
- Food or liquid remaining in the oral cavity after swallowing
- Complaints of pain when swallowing
- Coughing during or right after eating or drinking
- Extra time needed to chew or swallow
- Reflux of food
Dysphasia can lead to aspiration. Aspiration is defined when food, fluid, or other foreign material gets into the trachea or lungs instead of going down the esophagus and into the stomach. when this occurs, the person is able to cough to get the food or fluid out of their lungs, in some cases especially with children and adults with disabilities may not be able to cough. This is known as Silent Aspiration.
A complication of aspiration is Pneumonia which is defined as inhaling food, saliva, and liquids into the lungs
According to the Office of People with Developmental Disabilities Health and safety Alert, factors that place people at risk for aspiration include:
- Being fed by others
- Weak or absent coughing, and/or gag reflexes, commonly seen in people with cerebral palsy.
- food stuffing and rapid eating/drinking
- Poor chewing or swallowing pills
- GERD- the return of partially digested food or stomach contents to the esophagus
- Providing liquids or food consistencies the person is not able to tolerate such as eating whole foods.
- Seizures that may occur during eating and/or drinking.
How to recognize signs and symptoms of Aspiration:
- Choking or coughing while eating or just after eating
- Drooling while eating or just after eating
- Eyes start to water
- Shortness of breath
- Fever 30 minutes after eating
Intervene immediate if there are signs of aspiration:
- Stop feeding immediately
- Keep the person in an upright position
- Call 911 if the person has difficulty or stops breathing and no pulse
- Start rescue breathing
Minimize aspiration from occurring by serving the appropriate food texture and liquid consistency. If you are not sure of the right consistency, check with your health care provider. The following are pictures of food consistencies.
Whole. Food is served as it is normally prepared; no changes are needed in
preparation or consistency
1 ” Pieces cut to size. Food is served as prepared and cut into 1-inch pieces
(about the width of a fork).
1/4 Pieces Cut to Size. Food is cut with a knife or a pizza cutter or placed in a food
processor and cut into ¼ -inch pieces (about the width of a #2 pencil)
Ground. Food must be prepared using a food processor or comparable equipment
until MOIST, COHESIVE AND NO LARGER THAN A GRAIN OF RICE, or relish
like pieces, similar to pickle relish. Ground food must always be moist. Ground meat
is moistened with a liquid either before or after being prepared in the food processor
and is ALWAYS served with a moistener such as broth, low fat sauce, gravy or
appropriate condiment. Hard, dry ground particles are easy to inhale and must be
Pureed. Food must be prepared using a food processor or comparable equipment.
All foods are moistened and processed until smooth, achieving an applesauce-like or
pudding consistency. A spoon should NOT stand up in the food, but the consistency
should not be runny. Each food item is to be pureed separately, unless foods are
prepared in a mixture such as a soup, stew, casserole, or salad.
- Make sure the person eats slowly and takes small bites of food
- Ensure the person takes small sips of liquids
- Focus on the person’s swallowing
- Make sure the person remains upright for a minimum of thirty minutes after eating
June 14th is the designated day to celebrate the American flag. The purpose of Flag Day is to reflect on the foundations of the Nation’s freedom. The following activities can be used to improve fine motor skills for both children and adults with disabilities. From cutting to coloring , the activities also use a multi-sensory approach to learning.
Arts and Crafts
DLTK Flag Day– Flag day crafts including coloring pages and tracing.
Education World– Flag day lesson plan activities
Enchanted Learning– Allows you to click on any of the crafts to get to the instructions.
Flag Day Crafts– Includes creating a togetherness flag, star cookie cutter and a craft stick American Flag
No Time for Flash Cards- Create an American flag sticky window collage
Flag Day Inspired Recipes
Food Network– 6 Star spangled red, white, and blue recipes made for flag day.
Saralee Bread- Flag day food art recipe
Taste of Home- Top 12 flag-shaped recipes
Tasty Kitchen– Recipe for cakes and cupcakes in the shape of the American flag.
Flag Day Coloring
Summer will be here before you know it. If you want your student/ child or individual to continue practicing math skills, I have provided below 4 money sheets that you can printout and make several copies. The money sheets allows the child to work on both IEP and ISP goals including:
- Identifying coins
- Matching coins
- Visual discrimination
- Transition skills
- Visual learners
Burger King.Worksheet. This is a fun activity especially for children, students and adults that enjoy going to Burger King. The individual will choose the picture and subject the cost of the item from $10.00. This activity people with dysgraphia, increase money skills, attention skills, task initiation skills and works well as a pre-trip to Burger King. focusing on transition skills.
Matching Dimes Worksheet– The matching dime activity is great for goals on counting and identifying a time. it is useful for children adults that are visual learners and provides hands on materials. The students learning ability will increase with the use of actual dimes.
Circle Nickle Worksheet – This worksheet give the individual an opportunity to work on counting, identify various coins as well as explaining the value of the coin. The worksheet also provides additional support and increases visual discrimination skills.
Dime Counting – helps the child, student or adult with special needs practice counting skills and visual memory.
My plan for the rest of the year is to provide you with more resources that are more functional and allows you to download information.
Memorial Day is an American holiday observed to honor the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. Military. It originated following the Civil War and became an official holiday in 1971.
Memorial Day is also an opportunity to work on fun Memorial Day activities. Children and adults with special needs lean best when using a multi-sensory approach. This helps to stimulate learning and engage individuals on various levels of learning.
The activities and lessons that I have chosen focus on visual and tactile stimulation and includes both math and reading activities. The craft activities work to improve fine motor skills.
American flag on a pencil craft- Printable templates
Craft stick flag– U.S. flag made from craft sticks
Free Memorial Day packs- packets includes clip cards, word problems, fill in and missing numbers
Patriotic Pinwheel– Craft easy to make pinwheel
USA Wreath– Simple red, white and blue wreath made out of construction paper.
According to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, cystic fibrosis is a progressive, genetic disease that causes persistent lung infections and limits the ability to breathe overtime. It is a life-threatening disorder that damages the lungs and digestive system. A thick mucus can block the lungs and the pancreas.
In the United States, about 30,000 people are affected by the disease. It is estimated that more than 70,000 people worldwide are living with cystic fibrosis. 1 in every 20 Americans is an unaffected carrier of an abnormal CE gene.
Common symptoms of cystic fibrosis include:
- Salty-tasting skin
- Persistent coughing
- Shortness of breath
- Poor weight gain in spite of excessive appetite
- Greasy, bulky stools
- Repeated lung infections
- Muscle and joint pain
- Sinus infections.
Cystic Fibrosis does not affect any cognitive or learning abilities. However, the student may need modifications and supports due to the disease. Teachers with students with cystic fibrosis should be knowledgeable about the disease.
May Observances, Celebrations, Events and Holidays To Use As Ideas For Your Day Habilitation Program.
You can download the PDF format here: May Day Habilitation Activities