By: Stacey Rubin
Children thrive when they play. Playing is an integral part of development and it helps promote the emotional, cognitive, physical and social well-being of kids.
If you have a child with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), playtime is also incredibly important, but how children on the spectrum play may look a little different.
ASD may affect a child’s ability to copy the actions of others, explore their environment, and imagine the thoughts and feelings of others.
Children with ASD can learn those skills needed to play and ultimately thrive later in life, but it may require some facilitation from parents. One way to encourage healthy play is to create a dedicated playroom or space.
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By: Dr. Liz Matheis
We are all guilty of sometimes feeling as though we are not mentally present with our children even though we may be physically. Dinner, garbage, homework, laundry, your work responsibilities. The list is truly endless. As a mom of a teenager, budding teenager, and a 6-year-old, I am constantly being pulled in multiple directions. But I am a mom first and I am making a vow to be more present. Make the vow with me.
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By: Dr. Liz Matheis
Once you’ve recovered from going through the process of identifying, evaluating and classifying your child, you can now rest for three years. Even though you will review your child’s Individualized Education Plan annually, your child will not being formally assessed for eligibility for another three years.
Read the full article to learn more about what re-evalution is and if it is right for you and your child.
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By: Heidi Borst
Before diving head-first into burnout, let’s consider this: the higher our reach, the more likely our failure. In fact, most of us will abandon our resolutions before we’ve undressed the Christmas tree. But don’t despair—it’s possible to set achievable goals.
Read on for ideas to turn fling-like resolutions into long-term commitments.
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By: Dr. Liz Matheis
It's not about the power struggle.
I hear this often from parents who are frustrated with their child’s behaviors and the difficulty of making their child accede to their demands. But is parenting really a phase in your and your child’s life that’s about control—a power struggle?
From birth to age 18 is a time during which you are supporting and growing your child; it's not a tug of war of wills. When it becomes one, I ask parents to think about whose needs are being frustrated—are they yours or your child’s?
Any relationship that becomes a constant struggle is no longer enjoyable, but when it’s with your child, you don’t have the option of ending the relationship. Your relationship with your child shouldn’t be so difficult all the time. If it is, it’s time to take a look at what your relationship with your child is and is not.
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Calling all Fashion Designers!
Students will recreate the Monarch Silhouette. Start with choosing your fabric, designing, and sketching your design. Then learn to cute, pin, & sew your design together.
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By: Dr. Liz Matheis
Your child is bright, creative, and clearly has many areas of skills. In theory, that should make it so that relating to peers is easy, given that he has so many areas of interest to talk and relate about, right? Well, not exactly. Our children with ADHD or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) are passionate people who love what they love very much, but sharing that information or knowledge with a peer may look like your child is talking at instead of talking with them.
Your child may also become easily frustrated because other children are not as interested in certain topics, games, or other children don’t want to talk about that topic for very long. Possibly, your child may not notice the body language and facial expressions of a peer who has lost interest, and ultimately walks away. When your child feels rejected, but doesn’t know why – they may become very angry, yell or become aggressive towards the children whose behavior or actions aren’t understood. The other children don’t understand your child’s internal experience and begin to label him as angry or weird. To a parent, that’s heartbreaking.
Unfortunately, you can’t go to school with your child and mediate these peer interactions (even though you’ve thought about it!), but you can use a few strategies to help build your child’s social awareness in an effort to make social relationships a little bit easier.
To help your child understand what a disinterested peer looks like, act it out, or be exaggerative in your response to him when he tells you a story at home that is now going on for a long period of time with no end in sight. Your tolerance is higher and your patience may be greater because, after all, this is your baby. However, friends are not that patient.
See if your child asks you what’s wrong or why you’re making that face or slouching in your seat. Use this as a time to tell your child that his story is too long. You may feel like a ‘bad’ parent for saying something like this, but if you don’t, his peers will – and they likely won’t be as nice about it!
You can also role play other signs of disinterest, such as looking around the room, starting a conversation with another person, or walking away. Let your child know that it’s time to end a story or conversation and do something else. For example, she can ask her peer a question to keep the conversation going, “What did you do this weekend? What’s your favorite cartoon?” or “Do you want to play tag with me?”
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Are you looking for a fun activity for your young ones to get involved with? Check out the Shining Stars Sports League in Livingston!
The Shining Stars Sports League is a wonderful developmental opportunity for your special needs individual. League activities focus on gross motor skills, fundamentals of each sport, and socialization.
Participants will enjoy both clinic-style instruction and games in each season. The league uses modified equipment, game play and rules to enhance the learning and play experience.
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By: Kealia Reynolds
Mindfulness helps improve concentration, reduces ruminative thinking that contributes to high levels of stress, helps us understand our emotions in healthy ways, and even bolsters our immune systems. By creating a mindful space in the home, we can keep stress and anxiety levels down and live an overall healthier life. Here are eight tips to help you create a mindful space in the home.
1. Set an intention
Before creating a mindful space, one of the first things you should do is set an intention. If you make mindfulness a goal instead of an intention, you create a rift between what you’re experiencing in the current moment and what you would like to happen. With an intention, there’s no required result and no pressure to achieve a goal. Intending to practice awareness or focusing on your breathing are two intentions that you can set for yourself.
2. Go big (or small) with your space
You don’t need to dedicate an entire room to mindfulness—maybe you choose a sunny corner in your living room or a small table in your kitchen. “You could devote an entire room to meditation or just a corner of a room,” says Joy Rains, author of Meditation Illuminated: Simple Ways to Manage Your Busy Mind. Rains offers the following examples as ways to achieve mindfulness in your existing space:
3. Declutter and organize
According to researchers at UCLA’s Center on Everyday Lives and Families (CLEF), cluttered environments are tied to higher levels of stress. Annie Draddy, co-founder of Henry & Higby, a professional organization company, has seen first-hand the positive impact that the process of decluttering and organizing spaces has had on her clients. “Finding ‘homes’ for things so that they are no longer cluttering up surfaces helps to create a clean and clear space which in turn makes the home more tranquil.”
Declutter your space by organizing your stuff into three piles: one for keeping, one for donating, and one for throwing away. Get rid of things you haven’t used in a year and store small items like notepads and pencils in bins or boxes to reduce the look of clutter.
4. Eliminate distractions
If you live in a noisy area, add a white noise machine to your space to block out unwanted sounds or consider soundproofing your apartment with a plush rug or draft blocker. “While we should all be able to meditate with ambient noise, for newbies, the less noise the better,” says Sage. Pare down on technology, especially items like laptops, tablets, and cell phones that can ruin energy flow and bring work and stress into your space. According to Kita Williams, CEO and lead designer at KMW Interiors, a California-based home staging and interior design company, TV should be limited to one place in the home, like the family or living room.
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By: Kyra Heenan
Cell phones are more ubiquitous than ever. You’d be hard-pressed to find an American adult who leaves their home without their cell phone in their pocket or purse, even if just for a quick errand. With the rise of smartphones, we have access to anything we want—communication, games, information, navigation—with a few taps of a finger.
On top of that, with the influx of social media use, seemingly everyone is connected at all hours of the day, and most of us rarely choose to turn off our phones and disconnect from it all for a bit.
Naturally, while this connectedness allows for a more globalized world, it also comes with its downsides, especially when it comes to mental health.
The Studies on Cell Phone Use and Mental Health
As cell phones have become more commonplace, researchers have increasingly studied their effects on our mental wellbeing.
In a review of 23 peer-reviewed articles on the topic, researchers found ample evidence that exhibits a link between smartphone use and anxiety, as well as depression and increased stress levels. With higher levels of smartphone use came reported higher levels of these disorders.
One study found that participants who had high levels of regular cell phone use experienced separation anxiety from being apart from their phones. On the other hand, participants who had lower levels of cell phone use did not experience those high levels of anxiety when separated from their phones.
Another study even found that some highly cell phone dependent participants experienced the same symptoms of addicts experiencing withdrawal. When we get a notification, we experience a hit of dopamine—and it can become addictive.
How You Can Mitigate the Negative Effects of Cell Phone Use on Your Mental Health
Our phones have practically become an extension of ourselves. For many of us, when we take a hard look at our phone habits, we realize just how attached we have become to our devices.
Since we have concrete evidence on the link between cell phones and anxiety, it is smart to break down bad cell phone habits. These are a few practices you can implement to keep yourself from mindlessly staring at your screen and scrolling through social media apps.
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By: Heidi Borst
Earlier this week, I admitted to a friend how utterly exhausted I was, not physically, but mentally. I felt overextended, at the end of my rope. I confessed that some days I fantasized about sitting alone in pure silence. I needed some space. I’m an introvert; I desperately need time alone to recharge my batteries. When I don’t get it, I feel drained. Lately, at the end of the day, I couldn’t summon the energy to listen and engage with my son as much as I knew I should… Instead, I’d tune out the noise and imagine myself in a quiet room, no one asking me questions or needing my help, until another “Mom!” would abruptly break me out of my spell.
Sound awful? It did to me, and mom-guilt was ever present, weighing heavily on my heart. I felt contrary to everything I believed I, as a mother, was supposed to be. I should want to listen attentively to every sweet word that came from my child’s mouth, yet instead, I was selfishly letting him down.
Graciously, rather than responding from a place of judgement, my friend kindly smiled and nodded, gently observing that my son was a LOT of work; more work, in fact, than her two children combined- how did I do it? Surprised by my friend’s reaction, I relaxed, fully appreciative of her understanding and support. With a few kind words, she had reassured me, validated me, and my self-doubt melted away.
It is true, my son is a lot; non-stop activity is all I have ever known (trust me, I’m beyond grateful he’s healthy and active)., and most days, I can keep up. But when I don’t have even a minute to decompress, especially over the course of several days, the weariness catches up with me.
You see, unlike me, my son is an extrovert; he feeds off of human interaction as much as I need a break from it. He needs to talk and engage as much as I need silence & “me” time. We do our best to meet in the middle, but it’s a delicate dance, a balancing act on a tightrope. But when I became a mother, isn’t this is what I promised to do, even welcomed with open arms? To be there for my child, to support and nurture him, and to do everything possible to keep him healthy, safe, unjudged, and loved.
Like most mamas, I try my hardest to put my own needs in the background until they simmer up to the surface, demanding my attention. Every day, I try to focus instead on the amazing human my son is becoming. His sweet smile can turn the worst day around; his profound wisdom can catch me off-guard (how is it possible for a 6-year old to know SO much?). His enormous heart is pure gold. The world needs more people like him, and I’m privileged to witness his growth.
And yet. Some days I am humbled by the demands on my time and attention. Those days, I’m on autopilot. I feel like I’m failing, letting myself and my child down. But I just keep going, because what other choice is there? I signed up for this! And somehow, every single time, some saving grace comes along to float me toward shore, getting me through.
Every day, I try to remember to reflect with appreciation and gratitude on what a blessing it is to be his mommy. Despite the challenges and the endless tests to my patience (not a virtue of mine), I would not change one single thing. I’ve been granted the responsibility, no, the privilege, of helping guide this beautiful person through life. He is a gift, a bright star, a caring, thoughtful, sensitive soul. I GET to be his safe place in this crazy world, a soft cushion for him to land on. That’s my job.
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Dr. Liz Matheis
Dr Liz Matheis and her team specialize in assisting children and their families with Anxiety, Autism, AD/HD, Learning Disabilities and Behavioral Struggles