Social Skills Resources for Parents and Special Education Teachers

For some autistic children, social situations can be overwhelming and cause a great amount of anxiety. One of the characteristics of having an autism spectrum disorder is social interaction. Dr. Lorna Wing described social interaction as:

  1. not paying attention to others
  2. being aloof, distant and uninterested
  3. being alone and withdrawal
  4. difficulty in making and sustaining relationships
  5. a lack of social skills

social-skills

Social skills vary from conversation to friendship skills. The following links provides social skills resources on a variety of topics:

5 tips for running a social skills group ages 7-11. This site provides tips on increasing social skills via working in a group.

12 activities to help your child with social skills. This article by the Friendship Circle describes 12 ways to help improve social skills

101 ways to teach children social skills. Written by Lawrence Shapiro, this ready-to-use reproducible activity book (pdf) contains information on communication, being part of a group, caring about yourself, and problem solving.

Building social skills through activities. Danny Pettry created an e-book that focuses on various activities that will increase social skills for children.

Kind words sensory lesson friendship activity. This article includes information on why kind word are important through sensory play.

More tools for teaching social skills in school. Examples of role-plays, worksheets and student behavior.

Social skills activities. Free printable activity sheets on developing and practicing social skills.

Social skills lesson activities. Developed by special educator Angela Cardenos, this website includes various lessons on social skills and friendship

Social skills lessons on friends. A lesson plan and activity on identifying the qualities of a friend and naming behaviors that a friend may exhibit.

Social Skills Worksheets. This site includes printables for social skills designed to develop appropriate social skills.

15 Great Fidget Sensory Gifts For The Holidays

With the holidays approaching, finding the right gift for someone with sensory issues can be challenging. Fidget toys are great gifts for both children and adults, especially for children diagnosed with autism and ADHD. Fidget toys provides sensory input in a less distracting way. They can help improve concentration and attention to task and also help children and adults focus and remain calm as well as decreases stress and anxiety.Below are links to a variety of fidgets including texture, tactile and visual.

fidgetgifts

 

 Texture Fidgets

Tangle Creations Jr.- amazon.com
Metallic Texture-amazon.com
Brain Noodle-Therapy Shoppe
Tangle Hairy-Office Playground
Bumpy Gel Sensory Ball- Children’s Therapy Store
Palm Size Massage Balls- Therapy Shoppe

Stretch Fidgets

Stretching String-Therapy Shoppe
Stretchy Happy Face-Office Playground
Spaghetti Stress Ball- Office Playground
Pull and Stretch Bounce Balls-Amazon

Squeeze Fidgets

Poppin Peeters- Jet.com
Bug-Out Bob-especial needs

Chewy Fidgets

Oval Chewy Necklaces-Therapy Shoppe
Scented Textured Chew Stixx- Therapy Shoppe
Chewable Gem Beads Necklace-Stimtastic

 

Parent-Led Intervention May Reduce Autism Severity

Deanna Ballard helps her son Zachary, who has autism, while his sister, Makenna, looks on. New research suggests that parent-led intervention can make a big difference for children with the developmental disorder. (Renee C. Byer/The Sacramento Bee/TNS)
Source: Disability Scoop

For the first time, researchers say they have evidence that parent-led intervention for young kids with autism continues to yield gains several years later.

Children who participated in an intervention between the ages of 2 and 4 displayed less severe symptoms six years later, exhibiting fewer repetitive behaviors and better social communication, according to findings published this week in the journal The Lancet. Click here to read the rest of the story.

My ADHD Story and What You Can Do


Source: The Bender Bunch

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, known as ADHD is a behavioral condition that affects nearly 11% of our student population. These children are typically very impulsive, hyper, and struggle to pay attention and remain on task.

You may say, “Well that’s me.” Many of us have difficulties paying attention when something doesn’t interest us, or sometimes we may feel hyper. I do! But children with ADHD struggle so much with these behaviors that it often takes over and affects every aspect of their life; home, school, and their social life. Click here for the rest of the story.

Transition Planning Timeline

One of the goals of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act is to include transition planning services for all special education students at age 16. Transition planning is mandated through IDEA 2004 which serves to help students begin the process of preparing for post-school activities including, postsecondary education, vocational education, integrated employment and adult services. A timeline will help you stay focused on achieving each step.

The law states transition planning should begin no later than 16 years old or before. It is recommended transition planning should begin by age 14 since services are different in the adult services world including long waiting list depending on where you live and what services are available.

14 Years Old
  • Transition planning should begin no later than when your child is 14.4- It is the law in most states.
  • Begin to research agencies who provide services for individuals with disabilities
  • IEP meeting should focus on the student’s needs, interest in preparation for adulthood
  • Research various aspects of transition services
  • Begin to explore recreation activities
15 Years Old
  • Develop a vision statement
  • Transition goals should be part of the IEP
  • Begin to discuss home services
  • Attend information fairs that offer information on future planning including residential, guardianship and employment
  • Start planning an independence plan at home where possible
16 Years Old
  • Transition goals at the IEP meetings should be updated.
  • Confirm how long students will attend high school- 4 years or until age 21
  • Start the process of getting referrals to your state agency
  • Begin researching adult services and programs. Some waitlist can last for years
  • Initiate application to adult service agencies
17 Years Old
  • Confirm a graduation date
  • Update transition goals in the IEP
  • Begin to invite adult service providers to IEP
  • Begin to investigate guardianship information and the process
18 Years Old
  • Adult eligibility should be completed
  • Apply for SSI (Supplemental Security Income) and Medicaid.
  • Visit adult providers programs
  • Attend job fairs if appropriate
  • Establish legal guardianship if necessary
  • Explore future planning
18-21 Years Old
  • Refine vision statement
  • Revise and update IEP goals
  • Invite transition coordinator your child’s IEP meeting
  • Explore and obtain necessary funding for adult programs
  • Ensure there is a plan for medical/health coverage
  • Confirm all support services are in place.

Below is a free transition printable planning checklist. Feel free to download the PDF.

transition-planning

transition-planning-checklist

Developmental Disability Acronyms You Should Know

Similar to special education, adult programs are full of acronyms that are used during meetings and in general conversation. Whether you are new to the field or a parent or caregiver with a child entering adult services, you will find this page useful as you navigate your way through adult services and programs.

acronyms

 

Active Treatment (AT). A continuous, aggressive, and consistent implementation of a program of specialized training, treatment and related services that helps people function as independent as possible.

American Disabilities Act (ADA)- A civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life.

Assessment– A way of diagnosing and planning treatment for individuals with disabilities as part of their individual plan of service.

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)- A group of development disorders that can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges.

Cerebral Palsy– A disorder that affects muscle tone, movement and motor skills.

Commission on the Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF)- An independent, non-profit accreditor of health and human service organizations.

Council on Developmental Disabilities-State Councils on Developmental Disabilities (Councils) are federally funded, self-governing organizations charged with identifying the most pressing needs of people with developmental disabilities in their state or territory. Councils are committed to advancing public policy and systems change that help these individuals gain more control over their lives.

Day Program– A day program to assist individuals in acquiring, retaining, and improving skills necessary to successfully reside in a community setting. Services may include assistance with acquisition, retention, or improvement in self-help, socialization, and adaptive skills; provision of social, recreational, and therapeutic activities to maintain physical, recreational, personal care, and community integration skills; and development of non-job task-oriented prevocational skills such as compliance, attendance, task completion, problem solving, and safety; and supervision for health and safety.

Developmental Disability– A group of conditions due to an impairment in physical, learning, language or behavior areas.

Developmental Center– residential facility serving individuals with developmental disabilities owned and operated by the State.

Habilitation– Service that help you keep, learn, or improve skills and functioning for daily living.

Human and Community Based Services (HCBS Waive)- Provides opportunities beneficiaries  for Medicaid beneficiaries to receive services  in their own home or community.

Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) – Protects individuals records and other personal information.

Intermediate Care Facilities (ICF/ID)- Medicaid benefit that enables states to provide comprehensive and individualized healthcare and rehabilitation services to individuals to promote their independence.

Independent Living Center (ILC)- Community-based resource, advocacy and training center dedicated to improving the quality of life for people with disabilities.

Individualized Service Plan (ISP)- Written details of the supports, activities and resources required for the individual to achieve personal goals.

Individual supported employment-  Competitive employment in the community in integrated business settings for comparable wages.  Paid support staff provides training on the job site as well as follow along services and supports to the individual and business as needed.
Job Coach– An individual employed to help people with disabilities learn, accommodate and perform their work duties including interpersonal skills.

Individualized Supported Living Arrangement (ISLA) – This residential service is provided to people with developmental disabilities and/or intellectual disabilities in their own homes or apartments.  The level of support provided is individualized to the person’s need for training and assistance with personal care, laundry, money management, etc.  Individuals who receive ISLA typically need a higher level of support than people in a Supported Living Arrangement (SLA).

Intellectual Disability–  a disability characterized by significant limitations both in intellectual functioning (reasoning, learning, problem solving) and in adaptive behavior, which covers a range of everyday social and practical skills. This disability originates before the age of 18.

Least Restrictive Environment (LRE)- Individuals with disabilities should live in the community of their choice and receive the necessary services that will help them maintain their independence.

Level of Care- ICF eligibility determination

Person Centered Planning (PCP)- A set of approaches designed to assist someone to plan their life and supports. Used as an ongoing problem-solving process uses to help people with disabilities plan for their future.

Plan of Care– A document developed after the assessment that identifies the nursing diagnoses to be addressed in the hospital or clinic. The plan of care includes the objectives, nursing interventions and time frame for accomplishments and evaluation.

Provider-Typically private non-profit community organizations that provide vocational (and other types) of services to adults with disabilities.  These services are usually paid by state agencies.

Qualified Intellectual Disability Professional (QIDP) -Ensures individuals with Developmental and Intellectual disabilities receive continuous active treatment in accordance with Individual Support Plans (ISPs). Provide counseling, case management, and structured behavior programming to people with disabilities receiving Residential Services.  Responsible for the implementation of rules and regulations as required by licensing entities. Qualified Developmental Disability Professional (QDDP): Individual qualified to work as an expert with persons with developmental disabilities. The QDDP has a four-year college degree in an area related to developmental disabilities and a minimum of one-year experience working in that field.

Quality Assurance/Improvement (QA/QI)- Facilitate quality improvement activities to ensure compliance with accreditation standards regulations, funding source requirements, agency standards and assurance that all required manuals and procedures are maintained and implemented

Residential Care – Services provided in a facility in which at least five unrelated adults reside, and in which personal care, therapeutic, social, and recreational programming are provided in conjunction with shelter.  This service includes 24-hour on-site response staff to meet scheduled and unpredictable needs and to provide supervision, safety, and security.

Respite Care – Temporary relief to a primary caregiver for a specified period of time.  The  caregiver is relieved of the stress and demands associated with continuous daily care.
Self-Advocacy: an individual with disabilities speaking up and making their own decisions.

Self-Determination- Individuals have control over those aspects of life that are important to them, such as the services they receive, their career choices and goals, where they live, and which community activities they are involved in.

Service Coordination- Assists individuals with developmental disabilities and their families in gaining access to services and supports appropriate to their needs.

Supported Employment- Community based employment for individuals with disabilities in integrated work settings with ongoing training and support typically provided by paid job coaches.
Supported

Transition Services – Services provided to assist students with disabilities as they move from school to adult services and/or employment.

Special Needs Expo

specialneeds.expo_nj

If you are in the New Jersey area, The Special Needs Expos will be hosting an event in New Jersey on September 18th, 2016 from 11:00am to 4:00pm. The expo will be held at Teaneck Marriott at Glenpointe.

The free event is geared towards delivering information to parents, caregivers, professionals and children. Resources and information include special needs schools, camps, recreational sports, respite programs and social service groups. Additional exhibitors include non-profit organizations, special needs trust information and non-traditional therapist.

For further information, click here

10 Speech Therapy Blogs You Should Be Reading

Speech therapy is a key component in the life of a child with a disability. When it comes to speech therapy, there are so many blogs that provide an abundance of resources for other speech therapist, teachers and parents. Finding the right ones however can be a challenge.

speechblog2

The following blogs provide tons of information, resources and tips on speech language topics. Here are 10 speech therapy blogs worth checking out (in no particular order).

Beautiful Speech Life– Creates and develops therapy materials for fellow SLP’s and teachers. This website provides freebies, language materials and quick therapy tips.

Nicole Allison Speech Peeps– This website offers speech language resources on a variety of topics and an evidence-based intervention series.

PediaStaff– A resourceful blog providing informative news information and article blogs from speech language websites.

Simply Speech– A site with freebies and great blog ideas and activities

Speech 2 U- Provides resources, freebies and therapy topics on communication, social language, social language, organization, plus more!

Speechy Musing– Provides speech therapy resources on a variety of topics. Age range includes, birth to 3, elementary school and middle school on the subject of articulation, language and AAC; The site also includes a blog for fellow speech therapist.

Sublime Speech– Provides therapy to children with severe and profound disabilities. Website includes information on apps, articulation, language, materials and social skills

Teach Speech 365. Includes freebies, giveaways and therapy topics.

The Dabbling Speechie– A website for speech and language pathologist and parents offering a variety of resources on articulation, language and social skills.

The Speech Room News– Specializing in pediatric speech and language therapy, Jenna’s site provides resources for speech language pathologists and educators. The website includes free resources, and treatment topics on articulation, social language, preschool and more.

 

Abilities Expo

Abilities Expo will be coming to Boston, MA, from September 16th thru the 18th. The mission of the expo is to bring necessary products and services together under one roof for the community of people with disabilities, caregivers and healthcare professionals.

abilities expologo

Workshops include, Living with Chronic Pain, Wheelchair Accessible Travel, Emergency Preparedness for People with Disabilities plus more. Events include, Acupressure for Stress Release, Adaptive Gaming Pavilion and an Assistive Technology Showcase.

Registration is free and will be held at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, Hall C.

Dates and Times

September, 16th- Friday- 11am -5pm
September 17th- Saturday- 11am-5pm
September 18th- Sunday- 11am-4pm

For detailed information, Click Here

Autism Moms and Chronic Stress

No huge surprise that mothers of children with autism experience stress similar to combat soldiers. Combat stress is defines as mental, emotional or physical distress, resulting from exposure to combat-related conditions including a heighten awareness of potential threats.

autism.mom.4ways

Researchers followed a group of mothers of children diagnosed with autism and found the moms displayed higher levels of chronic stress. And no wonder, a 2011 study conducted by the Interactive Autism Network found that nearly half of the children with autism attempted to bolt from a safe, supervised place with more than half wandering into dangerous situations. Also, more than a third of the children with autism who wandered/elope are rarely able to communicate their personal information and two out of three parents reported a close call with a possible drowning.
Signs similar to combat soldiers include, re-experiencing events or flashbacks, memory loss, unusual or excessive fear or worry, unexplained sadness, feeling overwhelmed, feeling isolated and withdrawal and avoiding others.
Signs and symptoms may include physical signs including trembling, jumpiness, cold sweats, heart palpitations, unable to sleep, fatigue and a “thousand yard” stare. Emotional signs may include, re-experiencing events of flashbacks, memory loss, unusual excessive fear, unexplained sadness, feeling overwhelmed, and feeling isolated. Chronic stress is often caused by hypervigilance, a feeling of always being on guard and anticipating any types of threat.  This type of stress can lead to chronic stress. Ongoing chronic stress could lead to possible health problems including, heart disease, weakening of the immune system, ulcers, respiratory issues and depression.
This all occurs when our bodies perceive a threat and moves into action. When a stressful event occurs, the body prepares to meet the stress by increasing the heart rate, respiration, and blood pressure. Once the perceived threat is over, our bodies return to a relaxed state. But what happens when you are always in a state of preparing for a stressful event?  The body reacts by staying in this preparedness state thus weakening the heart and the immune system.
While it is almost impossible to allow yourself to relax completely, here are five ways that will help relieve symptoms of chronic stress:
  1. Deep Breathing. Breathing techniques will put you in a relax state which helps to reduce the stress levels. This will help to change the physical and emotional responses to stress including helping to decrease any muscle tension and the heart rate. Deep breathing also increases the oxygen supply to your brain and will help to reduce anxiety and stress.
  2. Meditation. This also helps to reduce worry anxiety and impulsivity. Meditation also helps to improve your mood and lower your heart rate. It helps to start small. Even if you are able to sit still for five minutes, you will begin to see a difference.
  3. Support System. Countless of studies show that having a support group make a huge difference. It helps to talk to someone with a shared experience. Family members mean well, but may not understand.  The truth is that we need layers of support.There are countless of support groups online you can join through social media, community forums, organizations and blogs. Know that you are not alone. Building a support group may also include spiritual mentors, parents from school and mentors.
  4. Self-Compassion. I love this one. the word compassion itself means “sympathy and concern for the suffering of others”. But how much compassion do you give to yourself? Self-compassion helps to lower symptoms of depression and paying close attention to what you say to yourself. Replace the negative self-talk with positive words of encouragement. Other steps you may take include writing a letter to yourself and making a daily gratitude list. Remind yourself that you are doing the best that you can at this moment. Below is  free printable self-compassion checklist.

    self-compassion checklist

self.compassion checklist

What ways have you found useful in combating stress?