Helping Your Special Needs Child Through the Holidays

The holidays are a joyous time of the year. They are bursting with fun-filled activities and offer a change from the normal, everyday routine. These activities and changes are welcomed by most; but for a child with special needs, these changes can present a challenge.

Special needs children often rely on routine. Routines offer consistency, so let them know what to expect and when to expect it. During the holidays, these changes in a regular schedule, topped with activities and events that are out-of-the-ordinary, can lead to confusion and delay for children with special needs.

If you have a child with special needs, make the holiday season as joyous as possible by implementing these strategies.

Prepare:

Do you have a parade, a party or some other special event planned that is out-of-the-norm? Don’t just spring these activities on your child, as this can make it very difficult for him or her to cope. Instead, prepare your child.

Discuss the event and the change it will cause in your schedule well in advance. Tell your child when the activity will take place and how it will alter traditional routines. Talk about what your child can expect during the special activity.

Additionally, if there are going to be a lot of people, there will likely be a lot of noise and a lot of activity. Make your child aware of this and at the same time, highlight how much fun the activity will be. The more prepared your child is, the less shocked they will be.

Include Familiarity:

Special needs children often rely on the familiar in order to feel comfortable.

They like to know what to expect and when to expect it; which is why routines are so important. When it comes to holiday events, remember to include things that are familiar. Take along items that your child feels comfortable with (if he or she has a ‘lovey’, bring it along); invite people that your child is familiar and comfortable with; and try attending an event in a location that your child knows.

The more you include the familiar in your holiday activities, the better your child will accept the changes that come along with the season.

Have an Alternate Plan:

When it comes to kids, it is always wise to have some sort of back-up plan in place. You never know when things can go awry and you’ll need to make a quick exit.

This is particularly true for children with special needs. Make sure you map out the area and that you have a speedy exit plan in place should you need to leave early. In addition to having an exit plan, make sure your child knows that one exists; this will provide a sense of security knowing that there is a way for him/her to easily leave, should they need to.

Be Sensible:

As a parent, you want your child to have the best experiences possible. You might have filled up your holiday schedule with a tremendous amount of activities or want your child to be able to partake in all of the festivities available.

While it’s nice to have expectations, you should realize that having too many expectations may lead to disappointment – for you and your child. Realize that you may not be able to do everything, but that doesn’t mean that your activities weren’t a success. The key to having a good time is simply going with the flow. So, have an idea in place, but don’t set your expectations so high that they can not be fulfilled.

This holiday season will surely be a wonderful and memorable one for you and your child when you implement these tips and strategies. Happy Holidays!

Fun and Engaging Thanksgiving Activities for Special Needs Children

Activities that encourage creativity and wonder, that promote the use of the senses and that promote discovery are wonderful for all children; but they are especially beneficial for children with special needs.

These activities can help teach valuable skills in a way that children with special needs can relate to, they can stimulate the senses, promote attention building strategies and simply serve as a source of fun and excitement.

Hands-on activities that relate to the real world are a fantastic way to teach children with special needs about the world that surrounds them in a way that they can better understand. With Thanksgiving just around the corner, teach your special needs child about the traditions and customs that are associated with the holiday with these engaging and fun-filled activities.

1. Thanksgiving Smelling Station:

This holiday is filled with delightful scents. Use these scents as a teaching tool to promote a better understanding of the sense of smell by setting up a Thanksgiving Smelling Station.

How it works:

  • Fill containers with different elements that create scents that are often associated with Thanksgiving; cinnamon, pumpkin and nutmeg, for example.

  • Cover the containers with a gossamer type of fabric so that they can’t see what’s inside, but can still smell the contents of the containers

  • Let the kids see and smell the different elements in the station

  • Then, let them put the power of their noses to work by smelling the disguised containers and trying to identify what element is in each one

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2. Turkey Baster Water Transfer:

Encourage the development of fine motor skills and a little science with a turkey baster water transfer.

How it works:

  • Set out two bowls, one filled with water and one empty

  • Teach your children how to use a turkey baster and fill it with water

  • Then, have them use the baster to transfer water from one bowl to the other

The act of squeezing the tool promotes fine motor development, and you can discuss why the water is being pulled up into the baster to add a little scientific discovery into the activity.

3. Thanksgiving Matching:

Put your child’s memory to the test with a Thanksgiving matching game.

How it works:

  • Print out pictures of Thanksgiving-related images onto index cards, with two cards for each image

  • Lay the cards face down and have your children try to match the cards with the same images together

  • Lastly, discuss the names of the images to promote language development

4. Turkey Feather Counting:

Promote number recognition and one-to-one correspondence with this simple, yet fun activity.

How it works:

  • Draw images of turkeys without feathers on a sheet of paper (you don’t have to be an artist, just do the best you can)

  • On the body of each turkey, write a number

  • Ask children to identify the number on each turkey

  • Then, glue the number of feathers onto the turkey that corresponds to the number on its body

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5. Write “I’m Thankful” Letters:

Teach your children what the real meaning of Thanksgiving is by having them write “I’m Thankful” letters.

How it works:

  • Discuss the definition of the word “thankful” and talk about things that you are thankful for

  • Encourage children to think about and share things that they are thankful for

  • Have them write a letter to someone to express what they are thankful for, or help them write a letter

  • Then, they can get creative and illustrate what they are thankful for

  • And lastly, encourage them to share their letters with the family

This activity can help promote language and literacy development, and help define the meaning of thankfulness.

With these simple activities, you can foster a greater understanding of Thanksgiving and promote the development of important life skills in special needs children. Additionally, you will help to make this holiday even more memorable and meaningful for all involved.

How to Set Up a Special Needs Trust Fund

As a parent, you always worry about the safety and well-being of your children. However, if your child has special needs, your worries tend to increase. How will he or she take care of themselves in the future? Will he/she be able to financially support themselves?

If you are worried about the financial future of your special needs child, there is a way that you can ensure his or her security; by setting up a trust fund. A trust fund will allow you to set aside money for your child to ensure their financial well-being as he/she ages.

A ‘special needs trust’ is a way to provide your child with money without impeding his chances of receiving supplemental financial benefits from the government.

If you are interested in setting up a special needs trust fund for your child, here are some very valuable tips and information about the process.

Delegate a Trustee:

Begin the process by selecting a trustee.

This person will manage the money in the trust fund and will distribute it to your child in an appropriate manner. This task is exceptionally important, so you are going to want to choose someone who you trust completely. The trustee can be someone you know, or it can be a financial institution.

Find an Attorney:

You are going to need to employ an attorney who has experience working in this capacity. The attorney will determine and arrange how to properly set up the trust fund. He or she will work with you, and with the trustee, to ensure that your child will receive the proper funding.

Funding the Trust:

There are a number of ways that you can fund your child’s special needs trust. These include:

  • Government benefits

  • Life insurance

  • Military benefits

  • Property you own

  • Gifts, inheritance and other forms of financial assistance from family and friends

Cost of Creating a Special Needs Trust:

It is important to remember that there will be a cost associated with setting up this trust for your child. The specific cost will depend on where you live, how much you attorney charges and how involved the trust is. Typically, you can expect to pay a few thousand dollars in order to set up a trust fund for your child.

Ways the Fund can be Used:

There are strict rules and regulations that govern the way in which the money from this trust fund can be used. These rules and regulations help to ensure that the money is being properly used and not mismanaged.

The funds can be used in the following ways, and they can only be used for your child:

  • Education

  • Transportation

  • Home health aides

  • Special equipment that your child requires

  • Health and dental care that are not covered by the government

As a parent, one of your biggest concerns is making sure that your child is taken care of. If you are the parent of a special needs child, one of your biggest concerns may be how your child will be taken care of financially in the future.

By setting up a special needs trust fund, you can ensure that your child has the financial assistance that he or she will need for their future.

Five Things to Consider When Setting Special Education Goals For Your Child

Education can lay the foundation for the future success of individuals. This is true for all individuals, both typically developing and those who have been diagnosed with a disability.

Setting goals is an important part of ensuring that academic success is met for all, but it is particularly important for those with a disability. Children who have been diagnosed with a disability typically require specialized modifications and accommodations in order to ensure that their educational needs are met.

If you are the parent of a child with special needs, you play an integral role in this academic goal setting process. Knowing what types of goals to set and how to go about achieving those goals will help to ensure that your child receives the best possible education and that he or she is as prepared as possible for the road ahead.

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Here are five things that you should take into consideration when you are setting academic goals for your special needs child:

Ask Your Child About His or Her Goals:

Your child is the one you are setting these academic goals for, so it only makes sense that he or she should be involved in the goal setting process.

Ask your child about the types of goals that he/she wants to achieve. What does he or she want to be when they grow up? What do they want to learn? What does he/she hope to do with his/her life? Knowing your child’s personal goals will allow you to set academic goals that will enable them to work towards something they want.

Consider Your Goals:

All parents have goals for their children. What will make your child happy? What do you want your child to achieve in life? Considering the life goals that you have for your child will help you to set academic goals that will enable him or her to reach these objectives.

Model:

As a parent, you are one of the most powerful role models in your child’s life. Your child is your mirror and he or she will reflect what you do. Modeling proper ways to effectively achieve academic goals is crucial for your child’s scholastic success. Not only is it important to teach your child how to achieve those goals, but also to be your child’s biggest support.

Be your own kid’s cheerleader. Instill in them the self-confidence that he/she can do whatever they put their mind to. Be sure to celebrate success, for this will help reinforce those good behaviors that helped him or her get there.

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Overcoming Obstacles:

Life is full of obstacles. If your child has special needs, these obstacles may include jumping across academic hurdles. Think about the types of obstacles that your child may face and how he or she will be able to successfully overcome those obstacles so as to achieve desired academic success.

Handling Setbacks:

Just as obstacles are a part of life, so are setbacks. Things don’t always go according to plan; but when a setback occurs, it is how you handle the situation that will help to determine future success.

Take into consideration any setbacks that may occur and teach your child how to successfully overcome and move past them. Teach your child how to keep his or her chin up, how to reassess the situation, and how to approach it in a new way so as to achieve success.

With this food for thought, you can help your special needs child set academic goals that he/she can successfully and confidently achieve.

Your Child Should Have The Special Education Accommodations He/She Deserves

Every child is entitled to receive a free and appropriate education. In fact, it is guaranteed under the law. This covers all children; those who are typically developing and those who have special needs.

However, while all children, no matter what their ability levels are, deserve the same education, if you are a parent of a special needs child, it may seem as if you are living in a world that only accommodates the typically developing. Your child is entitled to receiving the same education as every other child, and it should be accommodated to meet his/her needs.

If it has recently been found that your child does have special needs, you may feel like a fish out of water. There is a lot that comes along with understanding the educational needs that your child requires. There are many terms that you will likely hear that you may not be familiar with, but these terms are crucial and will become a part of your everyday world.

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One word you can expect to hear a lot of is ‘accommodation’.

What does it mean? How does it apply to education? How will it affect your child?

Here is a detailed look at accommodations and what they mean in terms of special education.

Accommodation Defined: According to the National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities, an accommodation is a change, or an adjustment, to an educational practice that aims to enable a student with special needs to achieve academic success.

It is recognized that a student who has special needs may not be capable of performing in the same way that a typically developing child is able to. As such, accommodations are made to attend to these needs. The aim is to allow special needs students to learn in a manner that meets their specific needs.

Examples of Accommodations: There are several types of accommodations that can be made in order to meet the needs of special needs students. Some examples include:

  • A student who is unable to write, dictates his/her answers to an aide, who writes the responses.

  • Time extensions to complete assignments and tests for students who may take longer to process and comprehend questions and provide responses.

  • Reading aloud exams to students who have visual processing disorders.

  • Modification systems that correct and reward behaviors.

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How Accommodations are Determined: The accommodations your child requires will be based on his/her specific needs.

Under Section 504, a law that guarantees that special needs children will receive the support that they require, your child will receive an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). This plan will take your child’s needs into consideration and will be used to determine what types of accommodations will allow for ample learning. If your child has a hearing impairment, for example, he/she may be paired up with an aide who specializes in sign language or your child may be given the use of special hearing devices.

Your child has the right to the best education possible. If he/she has special needs, they are entitled to accommodations that meet their needs and provide him/her with an optimal learning experience.