Archives for category: Autism

True Colors, Cyndi Lauper

I have been speaking with parents and educators of adolescents and teenagers.  And the consistent word I keep hearing is “control.”  Who IS in control?  Are the parents who pay the bills in control of their children?  I agree.  Are the children in control of their choices?  I agree.  The answer that is completely absolute and a fact is, we are all only in control of ourselves, (and even then we are not always.)  There are millions of variables that happen all the time, every second and minute of the day, which prove we are only in control of our own choices and actions.

The younger children I work and babies  make obvious choices and we are constantly concerned with what they want, and because they don’t speak, we verbally give them choices, and really respect their answers.  As children get older and start to use their own words, many parents back off.  They may take note of what their child is doing, but not talk about it.  Teenagers have real physiological hormone action going on that makes them a little nutty:) Lets remember our own experiences….  As a teen these days, there is amazing amounts of pressure on where to fit in, what material items you have and if you are cool enough… Remember now? Having flashbacks?  This is why we must be the super consistent ones.  Know that an adolescent and teenager will not help your self-esteem, and will not cater to your ego.  In fact they will do the exactly the opposite. This is why we (educators alike) must help ourselves and include mandatory feel good times for ourselves.  Here are some simple ways to show love to yourself…

  • Take a bubble bath
  • Write in a journal
  • Take a yoga class
  • Meditate/meditation class
  • Hang a love mantra in your home
  • Take a dance class
  • Attend a workshop about loving yourself/ or a satsang
  • Use crayons and color in a book
  • Read a book

You get the idea….

The positive effect that will happen is your child will see that you trust them to be alone or alone with another adult,  shows them you respect yourself so they should too,  lowers your blood pressure, gives your child a positive role model,  has your child  realize they are not the most important person, and most of all it gives you recharge time, so you can deal.

You may be the only one who sees your child’s true colors, support them in their time of need, even when they don’t want to admit they need you.

Find a way to enjoy everything…

Shalom friends,

Lately I have been working with children who have extensive verbal abilities.  All at once my new little clients, as well as children I’ve been working with, are coming to me with only “behavior issues.”  As I constantly address self-esteem issues as a root of many problems, what I see the most problems with is “problem solving.”

Problem solving is a skill that many adults also have issues with.  It’s the reason the news is depressing,  our country is at war, couples get divorced, women and men are unfaithful to each other, and child abuse exists.  Children need to be able to make their own mistakes so they will be prepared to be independent thinkers and be able to feel good about themselves regardless of the outcome.  Once a child is off to school, (and that may be as young as….. well 6 weeks, if a parent has no childcare) but let’s say 2 for discussion sake.  A two year old child, neuro-typical or a child with special needs  leave the house and it is guaranteed  they  will not get everything they want, for example, as soon as they get on the bus, they may not get the window seat.  While at home I see parents catering to their child’s every need.   I also hear parents giving constant warnings of what not to do or ____ will happen.   Of course I am not saying let your child touch fire or run in the traffic.  Safety first, but lets say your child is looking to  jump in a dirty rain puddle.   What will happen?  As adults we might not like the mud on our legs, but imagine you let your child   jump?   Afterwords Your child will look at you with adoring eyes, and the parents all around will give you dirty looks.  Who do you care about more?  Who do you want to bond with?  Who do you want to earn trust from?

If a child is free to make their own choices, regardless of the outcome, they will be stronger adults, who will handle situations with a calm mind.  If they are constantly being told whats right and wrong, they are not being taught to use their own mind and make sound choices.  They will always wait for someone else to tell them what to do, or they will be the annoying child who always tells other children what to do. This is when impressionable children get messed up from peer pressure.  Earning trust from your child does not come naturally and vise versa.  Setting up situations that lead your child to make his/her own decision is key.  Any child with with any special need (including non-verbal) can be taught to make choices as well.  Show them two choices of what to choose for lunch, show them two of their favorite toys, or two different color bowls etc.  Have them point to their preference.

*Pick your battles   *Don’t sweat the small stuff

We’ve read and heard those lines before, but as a reminder make those phrases into signs to hang in your home.  Make them look beautiful, paint them with your child.  Buy cheap canvas and use glitter.  Let these words remind you to have fun and be happy with your child.  Allow them to experience life and learn on their own.  Admit your mistakes and problem solving process outloud. They learn when you think they’re not watching.  *They watch and imitate how you talk on the phone  *They imitate the tone of your voice and your hand motions *They put their hands on their hips to show authority.

Letting your child know you are not perfect and admitting you make mistakes  is a perfect teachable moment, and a lesson that will last forever, and contribute to them being a successful adult.

Today I was working with a 5 year old boy,  he is intelligent mature and independent, he does have an issue with body awareness and dealing with his emotions. We were playing trains. For the last two days we set up the track in a circle with another track leading to the station.  I felt bored with this track, so I began attempting to make two circles with one leading to the station.  So many amazing things happened.   First, my little friend got angry at me for messing with is already satisfactory track.  Then I saw it was nearly impossible to make my idea  happen because of the amount of pieces we had.  I kept changing pieces all around.  He reacted with frustration at first, and wanted me to leave the track alone.  I was on a mission and attending  to my own true nature, I couldn’t give up my idea.  After throwing a train across the room (which I ignored)  and kept on working.  He sat back and watched me, then he crawled under his bed and found an extra piece.  I attached it, but still my idea didn’t work.  I showed him I was disappointed.  He then got mad at the fact he didn’t  have enough pieces, and announced “these trains are not working.”  He pushed his body away from the trains, crossed his arms and nearly began to cry. We shared a moment of being let down. “Wait! let’s try this!”  I moved a bunch of pieces around excitedly, and he got excited too!  All the while I shared with him important words; “I really wish I could make my idea work,  I wish I had more pieces, but since I don’t I will do the best I can, and keep working hard, I know! I’ll come up with a new idea!  A new plan!”  Eventually we worked hard together and made an awesome train track with one circle and  a long extended curvy track leading to the station.

Without even explaining how many important life skills were leaned here, hopefully you can see how  me and this child bonded and that he will take the experience and use it with other children.

Find 15 minutes to play with your child on their terms, and stay true to yourself, find your inner child.  You’ll be happy you did;)

Hugs and kisses to all you hard working parents…..


P.S. Share your stories as a comment, I would love to hear how you help your child make a mistake!

Hola Amigos!

It is BBQ season here in the East coast, time to go to the beach and parks.  It is time to let the DVD players and TV sets stay off.  After reading a really great blog, I laughed about the fact that we, as a culture bring so many plastic toys to the beach and park.  When taking my Brain gym class, the teacher explained that if children watch too much TV or stare at the computer, they lose their natural instinct to look  peripheral vision.  I think it’s the same when children play with toys at the beach, they might “forget” to check out how much sand their hands can hold…

I played with many 2-4 year neuro-typical old children this past weekend, at a BBQ.  All of a sudden I found myself  in the suburbs, where the one word that constantly came to mind was “abundance.”  I had so much fun talking and playing with the children at this party. Yes were sitting in a giant bouncer, but with no toys or stuff to use,  we had fun, we told stories, we told jokes and we made up songs.  This does not we had smooth sailing, there were problems and issues that arose.  But they were solved so easily with just words.  All the children were so attentive and engaged.

Because I work with children with special needs, with whom  playing and talking does not come naturally, I forget how neuro-typical children operate.  While it is a lot of work (ehem, like any child) I found myself watching how Mothers and Father’s handled their children’s behavior situations.  I do not judge, just observe.   In my experiences, parents that respect their child’s words and requests, have children that were open minded and wonderful self-esteem.

When I returned from playing with the children, almost every adult commented that I must be exhausted.  In fact as soon as I tell people I work with children with special needs, people always say “you must have SO much patience.”   My reply is always the same, “I need more patience to work with adults.”  All adults, even ones without children.

The purpose of my radio show, this blog, what I talk about at workshops is simple.  Respect yourself, respect your child.

Leave the plastic toys home, let your child figure out how to move the clouds. Take the DVD player out of the car, make up a song about traffic, share your feelings stories with your children.  Be honest, let them know that sometimes you get angry at people.  Stop telling them what to do, and do it yourself, “model” how you want them to be.  Be a teacher not a servant, embrace their individuality and let them be independent.

Love your beautiful child with no reservations, kinda like they love you.

Aloha beautiful friends!

I am eager to share some ways  of chilling-out that you can incorporate in your life.  Your  child, regardless of their special need is constantly learning from what you do, so show them how to chill out!

Shoulder bounces – sit up tall in your seat, relax your shoulders so they are even.  Lift your shoulders slowly up to your ears and let them drop back down. Gradually pick up the speed of our bounces, until you have a comfortable rhythm.  The benefits loosen up the chronically tight shoulder/neck area,  teaches your child that movement doesn’t have to be structured or complicated to have an effect on your state of mind.

Tighten and Release Take one or two breaths, start at the top of your body and work your way down.  Inhale and squeeze your face as tight as you can, and then release all that effort with an exhale. Draw your shoulders up, hold them up for a beat, then exhale and let them drop back down.  Pull in your belly button as strongly as you can, hold for a moment, then let  go.  Clench your bum, thighs, calves, and your feet hold for a beat – and let go.  Once you’ve swept your whole body, repeat the process another time or two. Each time you do, you’ll root out more stress and tension. The benefits target the entire body and systematically release tension from every corner.  Helps you refrain from escalating the situation, and helps you actually do something instead of  just thinking or saying “I need to relax.”

Count Your Breath This is a great stress re-leaver when your running late.  When running late, which I am all too familiar with,  is the perfect time to let your self-importance to run out of control as well as beating yourself up.  Neither contribute to health.  Breathing in for 4 seconds and out for 8 will help to keep you grounded and avoid paying attention to the minutes as they go by on your watch or the dashboard.  This will re-direct your mind. The benefits of this exercise will get new oxygen into your lungs, recharge your brain with more oxygen and lower your blood pressure, which is probably sky high at that point.

Swim In Your Own Sea of Tranquility Locate the indentation between your breasts, about three fingers from the bottom of your breastbone. Bring attention to that area with slight pressure.  If your in public, pretend its an itch. Aim to take twenty breaths while pressing. Release gradually. The benefits open the chest and invites your breath to deepen which triggers the bodies relaxation response, helps regulate your heart beat, and calms the mind.

Seated Spinal Twist Keep both feet on the floor, take a deep breath, sit up tall and twist your torso, each exhale try to twist more. I like this exercise  while waiting in an airplane. You can place your child on your lap, or physically help them twist. The benefits of this are wringing tension of the muscles that support your spine, helping to prevent back pain. It stimulates the abdominal organs responsible for digestion and detoxification so you don’t get an upset stomach that will usually accompany stress.

Mini Loving Kindness Meditation So you’ve never meditated before?  Here is a great way to begin…. A screaming baby/child — screaming back only makes it worse.  Come up with a short sentence, or you can use; May the baby be happy, may the baby be free from suffering. Say this in a quiet and relaxed voice.   Find a rhythm you are comfortable with.  Use this with anyone, your Mother, your boss etc. Say it out loud or in your head. The benefits allow you to feel compassion, instead of hating the moment (or the baby) send him/her some love, you will also feel connected to the child/baby, and not just sit and suffer.

Elephant Swing is a way to beat feeling lethargic.  It’s fun and your children will enjoy the body movement. While standing about 2 feet apart swing your arms and twist your body, the key is to let your arms be loose as possible. Only your toes should point forward, otherwise let it all hang loose, and swing slow in a twist.  Elephants do this when they are nervous. The benefits are tremendous and loosens things up so the energy in your body can travel more freely around your nervous system.

Focus Pocus will calm your mind and relax your monkey mind;) Press between the eyes firmly. This is an amazing technique to show your child how to do. Depending on the age of your child, he/she can do this while taking a test in school. Closing your eyes and deep breathing will add to the experience. The benefits calm the mind, reduce anxiety and confusion and promote clearer, calmer thinking.  This is also used in acupressure to relieve headaches, insomnia and sinus congestion.

Legs Up The Wall Lay with your bum against a wall, and your legs up the wall, your body is at a 90 degree angle.  This will relieve stress and that “heavy leg” feeling. Breathe and relax here for up to ten minutes. The benefits are relaxing and energizing, your legs being higher than your heart creates a relief for your circulatory system and all the hard work it does.  Usually the circulatory system has to work hard to get blood from your heart to your feet, and now you will be helping this system run better! Your body will be thanking you. This is also reversing the effects of gravity, which is what causes wrinkles and varicose veins.

So start a practice of incorporating these steps.  Draw a beautiful sign of reminders to put in your car or in your house.  It’s not easy to start a new regimen, but if you remember how your body will thank you, and what an amazing role model you will be for your child, chilling-out will be common sense.

Aloha and thanks for reading!

Aloha on this beautiful NYC day!

Attached you will find several workshops that you should look in to and attend.

Besides just posting these, I would like to discuss why it’s important  to attend any conferences as a parent.  I pass on all the information to the families I work with and I can say about 90% of the time, they do not attend.  Besides the obvious reasons of great information being passed on here are some  other reasons to attend workshops/talks and conferences.

  • Inspiration to work with your child
  • New parent friends, who feel like you do/networking
  • Learn positive parenting strategies
  • Brainstorm old ideas into new ones
  • Freebies
  • Recharging with time away from home
  • Bonding with your mate
  • Bring a family member/friend=educate them about your child

A well known question that comes up is “who watches my child while I’m at a meeting?”  This is a great opportunity to introduce your child to a family member that is up for the challenge.  I recommend as many trials as your child needs to stay with another person.  Depending on the development and behavior of your child, begin slow.  Leave the house with the beloved family member or trusted friend for 5 minutes, go mail a letter, get something from the car etc. Upon your return tell praise your child.  By adding more and more time away from home, you are preparing your child towards independence.

It is an important lesson your child learn that Mom and Dad have time away, this will alleviate any spoiled child from always getting what they want, special needs and typical alike.  As I always say regardless of physical, developmental or mental disabilities, a child is always a child first.

Your child has an IEP, Now what?!/event.php?eid=115351888492473

Sensory Integration Talk!/event.php?eid=115212021840232

Aloha from NYC,

I’m not exactly sure what the statute of limitations is on using Aloha….but it sounds a lot more exciting then just hello;) Either way, GOOD MORNING! I am excited and a tad overwhelmed that my radio career begins today!  Just returning home from my stay in Hawaii, I have unpacked, organized, welcomed Cooper (my baby dog) back into my life, and things are back to usual…. except,  I was wide awake all night, I stopped looking at the clock at 4am. Ugh.  Today’s radio show set me off into thinking of a million things I need to follow up on, do, and remember, oh and I had to move my car this morning. I am usually a good sleeper so needless to say I’m a bit wound up this am.

As adults, most of us are lucky enough to be able to work these issues out, we can write lists, sleep with blinders, meditate, practice yoga etc.  Most children are not taught how to manage stress. Without realizing many parents keep their managing stress a secret, they want their children to have continuous smooth sailing.  I see children get the raw end of the deal when parents have a day that isn’t working and they are the ones who are forced to feel that negative energy.  Whether your child is verbal or non-verbal speak with them.  It actually hurts me when I am out and about and I hear children being spoken at.  In their little lives they learn by actions.  Ask yourself ,or someone you love (who won’t bite your head off) to think about what positive learning experience is a child l receiving when an adults stressful day ends up in their lap.

If a child knows what is going on the night or morning  before (depending on the child) they can learn so much. Communication, daily expectations, and managing time, are three major lessons.  Keep a notebook or a list on the refrigerator, of a schedule or to do list.  This will help your day tremendously, but also will lay out a plan for your child to understand, whether you think they do or not, it’s good communication process. It may take a long time to begin this process, but like any good habit, it takes a bit to make a regular practice.  I like to make three sections, and keep it simple. I use stars, in order of importance. You should include all daily activities and tasks, even ones while your child is in school. At the end of the day there is nothing better then looking at a crossed off  list, share this with your child! Dance in celebration, sing a “I did it” song!

We all have special needs, luckily we have tools to help us through our tangled days.  A child with special needs is sometimes referred to as “being in their own world,” well who isn’t in their own wold? Try driving down Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn, the majority of people are in their own worlds.  My overall advise for drivers of Flatbush and parents? SLowwwwwww down….

Love and light to you all,

P.S. I’ll meet you on the radio later!

Many children both typical and special needs have a problem moving on from one task to the next…..  As this new year begins and we (including myself) have all these wonderful ideas and resolutions that will be introduced into our lives in 2010.  We must also accept transitioning as a process.  Here is my example,  “In 2010, I would like to attend at least 3 yoga classes a week.”  I do have the time to set this into place, I actually have a very flexible schedule to make this happen.  Today January 13, I have attended 5 total.  I had been really hard on myself, not waking up early (to leave my super warm and comfy bed!) or too tired and I’d already found an amazing parking spot at night.  Both excuses help me fail my goal and no one wins……..  As I realized that going to yoga randomly- to- going to yoga to going three times a week, left me no transition time, this goal is not realistic.  So on on a sidebar, if your goal is to stop smoking, eat healthy, go to the gym more etc. realize that transitioning is a part of reaching your goal, if you don’t accomplish your goal immediately and you “mess up”  start again! Start slow!  Relax!  Give yourself a realistic time frame to  accomplish your goal. Why not by next New Years Eve!

Children are not familiar and will not understand why they cannot reach their goals, they don’t even know what the goals are most of the time.  Once we realize that they need to learn how to transition, just as we do, they will be able to use their tools to get to the next step.  Many times clean-up presents behavior such as tantrum or a meltdown.  We can ease this by using a egg timer.  Set the timer WITH your child.  Depending on the child, start with a 30 second time frame, let them hear the bell. Tell them what you expect of them when the bell rings.  For the short time frame of 30 seconds, choose something that is  very simple for the child.    As the child gets accustomed to cleaning up at the bell, the time periods should be longer.  Set realistic time frames for different playtimes.  Use the bell for yourself, show and tell  the child that you too are upset that this time period is over.  “Oh! I wish I had more minutes, next time I will make sure I do______.”  Give your child the language you want them to use, by USING IT YOURSELF.  I can’t stress the importance of this.  The main purpose of the bell is to show your child you are on the same team, its the bell that’s saying time is up, not you the caregiver, alleviating the parent is the enemy syndrome.

Good Luck and Happy Cleaning!

Aloha friends  and Happy New Year!

I am glad that I have begun this blog adventure….The purpose of this blog is to be helpful to parents and caregivers alike in how to make your life and your child’s life happy and “good.”

The word RELAX—–ahhhhhhh. Sounds easy,  I have constant challenges with this myself.  I am aware of how relaxing benefits my well-being, my work, how I spend time with loved ones basically everything.  I observe how NOT being relaxed creates tension in all daily situations.  This leads to my goal:

Learning to make relaxing easy, fun and simple.

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