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New Year’s Resolutions for Parents of Children with Special Needs

Posted on: January 22nd, 2019 by Peak Potential Therapy No Comments

Hands Following Along in a Book

Resolutions to Help Make Every Day Count!

Some days are more difficult than others when you are raising a child with special needs. Every day we get to spend with our children is a blessing, but there are days when your child will test you. And, there are days when you just don’t have normal strength and energy, so you feel like you aren’t giving your best effort to be a great parent. You aren’t alone. Most parents in your shoes know just what that feels like. The good news is that there are things that you can do to help yourself and your child in 2019. Here are a few resolutions you can make for yourself that might help you be a more effective parent for your child with special needs this year:

1. This year I will stick to my decisions.
Consistency is key. Make this the year that your child knows that they can’t get away with inappropriate behavior. You get tired, and you have a behavior that pops up at an inopportune time – who knows what might happen along the way. The important thing is that you react the same way to inappropriate behaviors every day and every time they happen so that your child knows what is expected.

2. This year I will keep things simple.
Make things as simple as possible for your family in 2019. Our lives are very busy, and that works well for some personalities, but it might be overstimulating your child. Try to think of things through their eyes and realize that some of the situations you are encountering are because your child just has too much going on. Keep it simple. More is not necessarily better.

3. This year we will get some rest.
This goes for everybody! When your child is well-rested, it is a little easier to manage some of the outbursts that come with fatigue. That goes for you too! We tend to run ourselves ragged nowadays. A well-rested parent is an effective parent. Get your rest, and you will see yourself exhibiting more patience and making a bigger impact!

4. This year I will find time for me, too.
It’s easier said than done, but make yourself a priority too. If going to the gym is your release, make sure you leave time to do that. If you like to watch movies, find some spare time to sneak in a session. You have to have those releases to remember who you are when you aren’t parenting and coaching!

5. This year I will believe my child can do more.
Not that you would ever doubt your love for your child or how special they are, but this year, believe that your child can do great things. Don’t just set arbitrary goals – believe that your child can achieve them! You will see your child respond when they know that Mom and Dad anticipate success!

We are here to help! Peak Potential Therapy is here to make sure that you and your child have access to the latest and most-effective therapy techniques, but we also want to make sure that your family has access to the resources that will make 2019 your best year yet! Contact us today, and find out how we can help you reach your Peak Potential!

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4 Tips to Brighten Black Friday for Your Child with Autism

Posted on: November 20th, 2018 by Peak Potential Therapy No Comments

Mother Holding Child's Hand

Loud noises. Tight spaces. Angry mobs. Early start times on little rest. These are all things that are associated with the anti-holiday now known as Black Friday. They are also triggers that can send a child on the autism spectrum into a meltdown and create a very difficult environment for them. It’s not exactly a perfect scenario for success for your child, but sometimes you can’t help it. Your holiday budget needs the deals, so off to the store you go.

Whether you are headed to an upscale shop in Legacy Village or going to the dollar store at the end of the street, you are potentially entering a hostile environment. Thanksgiving dinner was rough enough, and now you want to take your child into the retail battlefields of American shopping establishments? It’s not ideal! So how do you brighten up Black Friday for your child on the autism spectrum? Here are 4 tips that might just offer some light at the end of your shopping cart:

1. Bring your survival kit and plan ahead.
You know your child better than anyone. You know what some of the more common triggers are for him, and you know how to counteract the oncoming meltdowns. Bring snacks. Have some bottled water ready. Bring some headphones and a pillow in case they need some quiet time. The more prep you do, the less likely it is that you will be caught off-guard!

2. Pour on the praise!
Black Friday is the proverbial “lion’s den,” but it’s also a great opportunity to reinforce good behaviors. Be patient. Catch your child in those times when they are behaving properly and reinforce that with a specific praise. Don’t just say “you’re being so good” – say “I love the way that you are keeping your hands to yourself when we walk down the aisles.” Reinforce the specific behavior that you want the child to repeat or continue to perform.

3. Set your child up for success as much as possible.
If you can avoid the 6 a.m. start, do it. If you can choose a less-crowded store, that’s a great idea. If you can limit your time in the store to a shorter visit, give it your best shot. It might be tough for you, especially if you are a marathon Black-Friday shopper every year, but if you want the day to go smoothly and you want your child to find enjoyment and a positive learning environment on that day, it makes sense to put him in an environment that is conducive for success!

4. Give an immediate reward when things go well!
Yes, they had some extra pie on Thanksgiving and ate too much stuffing, but if the shopping trip goes well, reward them with that trip to the ice cream shop that they’ve been hoping for! Maybe they want a little extra “screen time” or a special activity with just you in exchange for the shopping excursion you just took them on. Now is the time. Immediate reward for a positive trip will show your child on the spectrum how important it was to behave well and also show them that positive behaviors yield positive results.

Looking for some more advice for helping your child on the spectrum? Would you benefit from someone going with you to the store a few times to help you understand ways that you can help your child find positive behaviors to deal with what they are feeling? Peak Potential Therapy can help. We can work with your child in our facility or in the real world, and we always work on the behaviors they need to succeed. Contact us today, and we’ll help you and your child on the spectrum reach their Peak Potential!

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7 Tips for Halloween for Children With Autism and Sensory Issues

Posted on: October 9th, 2018 by Peak Potential Therapy No Comments

Halloween should be a fun time, but for children with sensory issues or autism, this isn’t always true. Decorations and fabrics on costumes can create uncomfortably sensations and approaching unfamiliar homes can be stressful. That’s why we’ve provided our tips for making a fun Halloween for children with autism and sensory issues:

• Make your own costume.
For children with sensory problems, costumes can be incredibly uncomfortable. Costumes can be made out of fabrics that your child doesn’t typically wear and that might not feel good on his or her body. Since you know your child and know what kind of materials are comfortable, consider making a homemade costume that’s comfortable for your child.

• Practice in costume.
No matter if you buy a costume or make a costume, you will want to have your child test the costume ahead of time. Do not wait until the night of Halloween to try anything out. That can be cause for the rest of the night being ruined due to an uncomfortable costume. Make sure that your child is comfortable and happy in the costume for the best chance at Halloween success.

• Create a social story.
Social stories are a great way to show your child what will be happening during Halloween and trick or treating. By combining pictures and text that showcase how the night will run, your child will become more familiar with what will happen and will be better equipped to handle the night.

• Pass out treats ahead of time.
If your child has sensory issues with certain types of food, the candy that many people will be handing out may not be something he or she can eat. If you would still like your child to participate in trick or treating and get treats, consider passing out treats that your kiddo can enjoy to homes where you’ll be trick or treating ahead of time and leave a note with it explaining why you chose to do this (if you wish to, of course), who you and your child are, and some detail that can let them know who you are when you come to the door. This is also a great way to spread awareness and potentially meet others who have children with sensory issues.

• Practice the route ahead of time.
As you know, children with autism find comfort in routine. Walking a route they don’t know while surrounded by the chaos of all that goes on on Halloween may be disastrous for your child. So, consider spending some time walking the route you will take beforehand so it becomes familiar to your child.

• Practice social skills.
If your child has never gone out for Halloween before, the experience of going up to someone’s door and asking for candy may feel strange and uncomfortable. So, see if you have a couple of neighbors who are willing to do a test run with your child so that he or she can feel more comfortable when the big night comes. If he or she has the chance to practice ringing the doorbell and then speaking with the person who comes to the door, your child can gain experience with what will be expected on Halloween.

• Make a trade.
If pounds and pounds of candy are not suitable for your child, consider making a trade with them. Offer to allow them to choose a toy at the store or pick out their favorite treat for their bag of candy in return. Or, consider offering a small amount of money, maybe a nickel or dime, for every piece of candy they have collected and then take them to their favorite store to pick out a toy with the money they have earned for trading in their candy. Then, they won’t be eating their candy, but they will still get something fun in return.

Are you ready to make this Halloween the best one yet for your child with autism or sensory issues? Try out some of our tips above! They just might make the difference between Halloween fun and Halloween horror!

Looking for more tips and resources for children with autism or sensory issues? Check out some of our other blog posts – we love sharing ideas that may help you and your child!

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5 Ways You Can Help Your Child Avoid the Flu This Winter

Posted on: October 9th, 2018 by Peak Potential Therapy No Comments

Parent With Sick Child

Ah, the dreaded season is coming back again. No, not winter (although many of us in Northeast Ohio definitely dread that). It’s actually flu season (everyone dreads that)! Nobody wants to see their child get sick – especially not with something that can be as nasty as the flu can be! So, how can you help your child avoid the flu in these coming months? There are many ways:

1. Get a Flu Shot or Nasal Spray.
You probably knew that this would be on the list, but it’s true that the flu shot and nasal spray is one way that you can help your child avoid the flu this winter. However, keep in mind that the flu shot and nasal spray is not 100% effective and that there are other means that can help prevent the flu too. The flu shot only protects against the 3-4 flu strains that scientists predict to be most common and is up to 60% effective against those strains which is why it is important to consider other preventative measures, too.

2. Take in More Vitamin D.
It doesn’t seem to be a coincidence that the time when Vitamin D levels drop due to the season corresponds with the time that the flu starts coming around. Researchers have shown that improving Vitamin D levels in people who are deficient can help people to avoid getting the flu. One of the best ways to improve Vitamin D levels is through exposure to the sun. However, this must be done sensibly as too much sun exposure can pose other risks. This may also involve taking supplements, but you should do this at the discretion of a healthcare professional.

3. Teach the Importance of Good Hygiene.
In the flu season, it is especially important to teach your children about good hygiene. Teach your children about washing their hands frequently with warm water and soap and about not sharing food with others. You can also teach them about not spreading germs by showing them how to cough into their elbow and to wash their hands after blowing their nose.

4. Avoid High-Sugar Diets.
This can be a hard one because most kids really love sugar. Sugar weakens the immune system which makes your child more susceptible to the flu. Thus, it is best to try to reduce the amount of sugar and sugar-containing food in your child’s diet to keep as healthy as possible during flu season.

5. Maintain a Balance of Sleep and Exercise.
Make sure that your child receives enough sleep every night. Your body is able to repair itself when you sleep, and not sleeping enough can compromise the immune system. To make sure that your child’s immune system is performing well, make sure that he or she is getting the proper amount of sleep for someone his or her age. This may mean getting to bed earlier or sleeping later.

Interested in learning more about how Vitamin D helps to prevent the flu? Check out these great resources for more information:

No matter which methods you employ to help prevent the flu, we wish you and your child good health in the upcoming flu season. If you have any questions, please reach out. We are always willing to talk!

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Are Social Skills Groups Beneficial to Children with Autism?

Posted on: September 18th, 2018 by Peak Potential Therapy No Comments

Group of Children in School

Parents of children with autism often want to find the best resources for their children to learn and grow successfully. Because of this, some parents have questioned the validity of social skills groups for children with autism. Are they actually effective? Should children with autism engage in social skills groups? We’re here to provide you with some information on social skills groups for children with autism.

Almost everyone has experienced a degree of discomfort in a social situation. It’s not uncommon to find yourself in a situation where you don’t quite know how to react. However, for children with autism, this can happen more often than it does for their neurotypical peers. While social skills groups can be beneficial to anyone, they can be especially beneficial to children with autism.

Boy and Girl Reading a Book Together

Social skills groups are more than just a scheduled play date, they are a place where several children come together for therapy to improve their social interactions. These groups help teach children some fundamentals for social interaction like problem solving and joint attention. However, while the children are learning these needed skills, they are also playing and having fun.

Through these groups, children gain lifelong skills that will help them to interact confidently throughout their lifetime. Of course, the skills that children are learning during their time in the group will differ based on their age. Children will learn skills like anger management, initiating conversation, understanding emotions, reading body language, and so much more.

In the short term, these groups can help children with autism interact with their peers outside of the social skills groups. And, in the long term, your child will gain the lifelong skills to be a confident socializer throughout a lifetime.

Social interactions can be difficult for children with autism, but they can be made easier by teaching them the skills that go into positive interactions.

For more information on the benefits of social skills groups and some research on social skills groups for children with autism, check out these two publications:

The Effectiveness of Social Skills Training Groups for Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder

The Efficacy of a Social Skills Group Intervention for Improving Social Behaviors in Children with High Functioning Autism Spectrum Disorders

After looking at the information provided above on social skills groups for children with autism, you may be interested in signing your child with autism up for a social skills group. If you’re interested in enrolling your child in a social skills group, consider the social skills group at Peak Potential Therapy.

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Preparing Your Child with Autism to Go Back to School

Posted on: August 10th, 2018 by Peak Potential Therapy No Comments

Girl Walking Down School Hallway

Starting a new school year can be incredibly difficult for a child with autism. Children with autism succeed with routines and can have difficulty in the transition period between routines. That’s why the shift from the routine of summer break to the new routine of the school year can present difficulties. Here are some tips for making a successful transition into the new school year:

• Start adjusting times.
Unless you have maintained the same wake-up time and bedtime from last school year, it is likely that you will have to make some adjustments to your child’s sleeping schedule to prepare them for the transition to school. Start having your child wake up and go to bed at the times they will need to for success during the school year.

• Create a social story.
Preparing a social story is a great way for your child to visualize what will be happening during the upcoming school year. Social stories incorporate text and pictures and provide brief narratives about an event. By preparing one of these social stories about school, your child may be able to better grasp the upcoming event.

• Take a tour.
If the school is open prior to the first day of class or if there is an open house, take your child to their new classroom. They can begin to get familiar with their surroundings and learn where different things are located.

• Put it on the calendar.
If using a calendar and looking at the calendar is something that provides relief for your child, make sure you put school on the calendar. You can even put the start and end times of school, lunchtime, and what they should be doing after school (like having a snack or working on homework). If they can see this sort of thing before school starts, they may begin to feel more comfortable with the upcoming transition.

• Work on the morning schedule.
Start conducting mornings how they will be conducted during the school year with your child. This will help your child start to prepare for the school year. Instead of everything being new (new wake-up time, new morning routine, new school day, and new afternoon routine) on the first day of school, start adjusting your child to the pieces that you have control of like the morning routine. Wake your child up when they will have to wake up for school. Have them eat breakfast, brush their teeth and hair, and get dressed just like they would during the school year. Make sure that they are completely ready and prepared before the time they have to leave for school in the morning when you are practicing. By practicing this before school starts, they will be more capable of doing it once school starts.

• Practice socializing.
Socializing is a significant part of what happens in school. For children with autism, this can be incredibly difficult. Luckily, there are ways for children with autism to gain socialization skills. One of these ways is through Peak Potential Therapy’s Social Skills Group. Thank you to our friends at Friendship Circle and Autism Speaks for providing some of these great tips.

Here at Peak Potential Therapy, we wish everyone the best in the back-to-school season.To get your child with autism ready to go back to school, try some of these tips. For more tips for children with sensory issues and autism, check out our other blog posts.

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Getting Your Child with Sensory Issues Ready for School

Posted on: August 10th, 2018 by Peak Potential Therapy No Comments

Adult Holding Child's Hand

Going back to school can present problems for your child with sensory issues. If your child is attending school for the first time, school presents a new environment that can be uncomfortable and overwhelming. With so many new things going on, there is a lot of stimulation that your child is experiencing. For a child that’s going back to school, these same things can happen. Although they may be familiar with the school itself, they are likely going to be in a different and unfamiliar classroom. At Peak Potential Therapy, we know that all of these things can be difficult for a child who has sensory issues. Here are our tips for back-to-school success:

• Make sure back-to-school outfits are comfortable.
You probably know what clothing in which your child with sensory problems feels most comfortable. Make sure that when the time comes to purchase new outfits for school you are taking into consideration what your child will feel comfortable in. New clothing trends may present clothing that’s different from what your child is used to. If your child wants to try these new clothes, make sure you do a test run before your child will be stuck at school all day.

• Test school supplies
Certain pencils, pens, crayons, and other writing implements may not feel good to your child when they are holding them and working with them all day. So, after you buy new school supplies, have your child test out the supplies at home to see what works for them and what does not.

• Visit the classroom.
A new and unfamiliar environment can overload your child’s senses. If your school offers an open house before school starts, take your child to it. They can start becoming familiar with the new environment that they will be situated in for the duration of the year. It will be great for them to experience it before the first day of school and they may feel better having someone they are comfortable with, like a parent, with them.

• Pack snacks and lunch.
Don’t take the risk of having your child eat school lunches if your child doesn’t like certain food textures. You know the types of food that your child likes to eat, and although it may take some extra time, send your child to school with food that you know they will like.

• Send birthday snacks.
Similar to the previous point, if your child doesn’t like certain food textures, it may be best to send them with snacks that they enjoy when there are classroom birthday celebrations. By having their own snack, your child will feel comfortable eating it and still feel included in the celebration of the rest of the class. You may want to try to find out when birthdays will be celebrated, or you can send in a non-perishable food item for the teacher to keep in the classroom for when celebrations occur.

• Check the backpack.
A heavy backpack can weigh down on your child with sensory issues. Different strap styles and fabrics that rub on his or her shoulders, neck, arms and back may feel bad on your child’s skin. So, before you send them to school, try having your child walk around with their backpack filled with different items to try to replicate the weight that they may experience in school. If the weight is too much or the fabric is uncomfortable, consider getting a backpack that rolls on the floor.

Before you send your child with sensory issues back to school, try some of these tips They just might make the back-to-school adjustment a little bit easier. Here at Peak Potential Therapy, we wish you and your child the best as you embark on a new school year. If there is anything we can do to help, please reach out. And, if you’re looking for more tips for your child with autism or sensory issues, check out our other blog posts.

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3 Activities to Add to Your Child’s Summertime Routine

Posted on: July 23rd, 2018 by Peak Potential Therapy No Comments

Father And Son ReadingFor many, summertime provides relief from the strict routine that the school year brings. For a child with autism, this same “relief” that others experience can have a negative impact on the child. For children with autism, routines provide a structure that they may find beneficial. Consider setting a summer schedule for your child to follow. In our past blog post 4 Fun Summertime Activities for Kids on the Autism Spectrum, we mentioned 4 great activities for children with autism to engage in during the summer. Now, we’re presenting 3 activities that you can build into your child’s daily routine:

1. Draw with chalk
Getting outside and drawing with sidewalk chalk allows your child to express themselves non-verbally using art. And, once your child completes his or her masterpiece, you can ask questions about it to build verbal skills. For days when the weather isn’t cooperating, they can draw with chalk on a concrete basement or garage floor or on a black piece of paper. For children who have sensory problems, chalk may bother their hands – if that’s the case, allow them to draw with a different tool on paper. There are also plastic chalk holders that the kids with tactile sensitivities can use.

2. Read a fun book series.
Reading a book with your child is a great way to engage with them. You can start a book series with your child that you can read a chapter or two of every day as part of your routine. You and your child can take turns reading aloud and discussing situations that the characters end up in. This will show your child how different people react in different situations.

3. Ride a bike or play catch.
Find an activity that your child enjoys doing outside – it could be riding a bike or playing catch. Then, set up a designated time each day for your child to do this activity. This will provide structure and also give them an activity that they look forward to doing.

Setting up an engaging and fun summer routine can be a relief for your child with autism. So, consider things that your child enjoys doing and add those to your summertime schedule. Once you have a schedule established, stick to it as best you can – it will be beneficial for your child with autism if you do. Also, consider having your child join one of our social skill groups as part of your summertime routine. Your child will build their social skills while learning to play with others. Remember that our ABA therapy sessions and speech-language therapy sessions run all year long. For more information and resources, get in touch today.

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Fourth of July Fun for Children with Sensory Issues

Posted on: June 28th, 2018 by Peak Potential Therapy No Comments

Girl And Boy With The American Flag

For children who have sensory issues, going to see fireworks on the Fourth of July can be a nightmare. The fireworks, which are already loud to people who do not have sensory issues, can be deafening for a child who has sensory issues. Sitting on the grass may also be uncomfortable. And for children who do not want to be touched, navigating through crowds of people can be incredibly difficult. Here are some of our tips for enjoying Fourth of July fireworks with your child with sensory issues:

• Bring headphones.
If your child is sensitive to sound, bring noise-blocking headphone to put on during the fireworks. They will still be able to enjoy the beautiful views, but without the accompanying noises.

• Bring a chair and blankets, and wear long clothes.
When different places put on fireworks, they are often done near an open field that people can sit in so that there’s a clear view of the fireworks. However, sitting on the grass can be troubling for a child with sensory issues. Their tactile defensiveness may kick in which can be difficult for you and them. So, if you are going to view in a place like this, make sure you bring lawn chairs and blankets to sit on so that your child doesn’t have to be exposed to the grass (or those pesky mosquitos). Also, make sure you put them in long pants and shoes rather than sandals or flip-flops.

• View from indoors.
If you think that your child may have difficulty viewing the fireworks outside, consider hosting an indoor party. You can find a video of fireworks online and keep the volume low. Your child will still be able to enjoy fireworks while remaining in the comfort of their own home. Plus, there won’t be any crowds to bother your child.

• Make your own social story.
Creating a social story together builds literacy, executive functioning, and communication skills. You can take pictures to incorporate. You can even light a few fireworks of your own – by doing so, it’s predictable and controlled for when your child is ready for a little excitement but not quite ready for a full show. Have a good time and make some memories!

At Peak Potential Therapy, we want to see your child have sensory success both on the Fourth of July and everyday. Remember that our ABA and speech-language therapy sessions run all year long. For more fun summer activities for you child, check out our camp offerings. Happy Fourth of July from Peak Potential Therapy!

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4 Fun Summertime Activities for Kids on the Autism Spectrum

Posted on: June 6th, 2018 by Peak Potential Therapy No Comments

Children Reading

Summertime is full of fun, relaxing activities and some much-needed free time for your child. But for a child on the autism spectrum, leaving the routine and consistency that school provides can be a tough transition. The best way to help your child adjust to summer is by setting a summer schedule that includes some activities that you know they will enjoy. Here are some great ideas for activities that you can incorporate into your summer routine that also provide learning and social skill-building opportunities:

  1. Create some fun water games.
    Sometimes the best way to “chill out” in the summer is with some refreshing water activities. From filling up water balloons for a toss to playing in a sprinkler, water provides some tactile stimulation while providing opportunities to socialize with other children.
  2. Go to a movie.
    When the sun is high, and the temperature is up, sometimes the cool environment that a movie theater provides is the perfect escape. Your child will have great social opportunities as well, from talking to the ticket taker to ordering a snack, there are many chances to practice verbal exercise and cue awareness.
  3. Set up an arts and crafts station.
    Whether you do it inside or outside, having an area specifically designed for creativity will give your child a chance to express non-verbally with their projects, and then verbally as they describe what they’ve made. It’s not about a specific project – just provide the supplies and see where their imagination will take them.
  4. Go on a scavenger hunt.
    Imagine the fun of going on a scavenger hunt in the park on a bright sunny day. You do all sorts of learning adaptions, from finding items in a certain shape to finding a certain number of items. There are many great ways to use this fun activity as a way to learn.

If you are looking to keep your child’s development going over the summer, remember that at Peak Potential Therapy, our ABA therapy sessions and speech-language therapy sessions run all summer long and all year long.  We’ve also got exciting summer camp opportunities to make sure that our clients are enjoying their summer and moving in the right direction developmentally.  To learn more about summer activities at Peak Potential Therapy, contact us today!

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