11 Resources on Teaching Personal Safety Skills To Special Needs Children and Adults

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.

5 tips on teaching safety skills to children with autism

A guide to personal safety

Community safety skills

How to help individuals with disabilities be safe in the community

Personal safety programs for children with intellectual disabilities

Safety First: Teaching safety skills to children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Teaching people with intellectual disabilities about fire emergencies

Teaching safety awareness skills to children with autism

Teaching stranger safety skills to children and adults with disabilities

Safety Activities

Activities that teach safety

Safety worksheets from Teacher Vision

January Day Habilitation Activity Ideas

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.

What You Should Know About GERD and Developmental Disabilities

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
  • overweight
  • 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.

Aspiration Precautions

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:

  • Drooling
  • 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.

Courtesy of OPWDD

Courtesy of OPWDD

Whole. Food is served as it is normally prepared; no changes are needed in
preparation or consistency

Courtesy of OPWDD

1 ” Pieces cut to size. Food is served as prepared and cut into 1-inch pieces
(about the width of a fork).

Courtesy of OPWDD

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)

Courtesy of OPWDD

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
avoided.

 

Courtesy of OPWDD

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.

Aspiration Precautions

  • 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

Fine Motor-Flag Day Activities

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

Color me good

Crayola

DLTK

Doodle Art Alley

Get Coloring Pages

Supercoloring

The color.com

Thoughtco

USA Printables

Woojr.

Free Printable Money WorkSheets

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:

  1. Identifying coins
  2. Matching coins
  3. Visual discrimination
  4. Counting
  5. Transition skills
  6. 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 Sensory Activities

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.

 

 

Cystic Fibrosis Awareness Month

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.

Wikipedia

Common symptoms of cystic fibrosis include:

  • Salty-tasting skin
  • Persistent coughing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Wheezing
  • 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.

Williams Syndrome- Facts and Statistics

Click here to download PDF article

May is Williams Syndrome Awareness Month. It is a rare genetic condition that affects over 1 in 10,000 people worldwide. If you teach in a special needs classroom or work in an adult day habilitation program, it is likely you have experienced working and teaching a student or individual diagnosed with Williams Syndrome. Below you will find some interesting facts and statistics on the disorder:

  • It is a genetic condition that is present a birth.
  • It is a developmental disorder
  • Tend to have a mild or moderate intellectual disability.
  • It is also known as Beuren Syndrome and Williams-Beuren Syndrome.
  • The symptoms were first described by John C.P. Williams in 1961.
  • A year later, German Physician, A.J. Beuren described three new incidents of patients with similar facial features.
  • It is caused by the spontaneous deletion of 26-28 genes on Chromosome #7
  • The deletion is caused by either the sperm or the egg.
  • The deletion is present at the time of conception
  • The most common symptoms of Williams Syndrome includes unusual facial features and heart defects.
  • The diagnosis is typically confirmed after identifying facial features and genetic testing.
  • An individual with Williams Syndrome has a 50% chance of passing the disorder on to their children.
  • Williams Syndrome affects 1 in 10,000 people worldwide.
  • An estimated 20,000 to 30,000 people in the United States are affected.
  • It occurs in both males and females equally
  • It is found in every culture
  • Individuals with Williams Syndrome tend to be overly friendly.
  • People with Williams Syndrome often have difficulty with visual-spatial tasks
  • Congenital heart defects (CHD) occur in approximately 75 percent of children
  • By the age of 30, the majority of individuals with Williams Syndrome have pre-diabetes or diabetes.

 

 

References

Genetics Home Reference

National Organizations for Rare Diseases

William Syndrome Association