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4th Annual Autism Involves Me Fun Walk and 5K

FYI

The 4th Annual Autism Involves Me (AIM) Fun Walk and 5K will take place Saturday, April 20,2013. Money raised will be used to provide education and training for Northwest Arkansas to become more autism-friendly and aware. Get involved today by signing up to walk, run or volunteer at the event. If you or your business would like to sponsor or donate to the cause please contact paula@aimwalk.org , 479-381-5570  OR traci@aimwalk.org , 479-925-4044.

Hope to see you there!

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Rhea Lana’s

We will be at Rea Lana’s this weekend.  Follow the link from our facebook account for more information.  Hope to see you there!

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Weather 2/21

We will open at 10 am on Thursday, February 21, due to the inclement weather.

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Happy New Year! Consider Healthy Eating for the WHOLE Family

Its the New Year!  Many of you parents may be creating New Year’s resolutions to eat healthier and exercise more for yourself, but what about your kids?  This is a perfect time for the WHOLE family to work on these goals to help promote family health and to improve the chances of success for everyone.  The following are a few healthy eating strategies for children (and adults):

1.  Eat 5 serving of fruits/vegetables every day. We all know this, we need to just plan ahead and do it!  Keep a bowl of fruit on the kitchen table for easy access and promote these items as snacks rather than “junk food”.

2.  Make sure to mix protein with complex carbohydrates at all snacks/meals.  This prevents blood sugar swings and either crankiness or hunger later.  Examples of this includes peanut butter toast, apple with a cheese stick, low fat milk with graham crackers, celery with peanut butter or cheese, trail mix with dried fruit/nuts, low fat yogurt with granola and/or fruit, whole grain cereal with milk, turkey sandwich on whole wheat bread, etc.

4.  Only drink water or low fat milk.  Eliminate sodas, and limit juice to splashes of 100% juices added to a full glass of water.  It may take a while to change your child’s need to drink sugary drinks, so just gradually add more and more water to their drinks.

5.  Breakfast is the most important meal of the day!  Again, make sure it is a healthy meal consisting of a complex carbohydrate and protein.  NO SIMPLE SWEETS!  For example, less desirable choices include toaster pastries, muffins, sugary cereal, and donuts.  Better ideas of quick breakfasts include whole grain cereal and milk, yogurt with granola/fruit, a cheese stick with a piece of fresh fruit, peanut butter toast, sausage biscuit, etc.  Most of these items can even be grabbed while heading out the door and eaten in the car!

6.  MOVE YOUR BODY!  Yes, the weather is cold outside, but it is still important for the family to move together.  Reduce the TV/video game time and MOVE!  Consider imagining you are animals (bear walking, crab walking, crawling like puppies, etc), pillow fights, in door obstacle courses, or moving-your-body video games.  You can simply turn on some music and just dance!

For more information on creating healthy families, please visit myplate.gov

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Halloween Tips for Kids with Autism

Halloween can be a fun time for all children.  However, kids with Autism Spectrum Disorders can have particular difficulty enjoying this crazy day.  Here are a few tips to help your child with ASD make the most of Halloween:

1)  Skip the fancy store-bought costume!  They are usually very expensive and made of cheap, ill-fitting, scratchy material.  Just about any costume, from princesses, to dinosaurs, to superheros can be created with a little hand stitching and some fabric paint.  Simply start with the comfy base of a sweat suit or t-shirt and  leggings and let your imagination run wild!  Also, skip the masks and face paint.  Most children with ASD (and many other children) are very tactile defensive toward these accessories.  If you really want a head accessory, try a bow for girls or a decorated baseball hat for boys.  However, even these may not be tolerated.

2) Practice!  There are a lot of social demands associated with trick-or-treating. Allow the child to “practice” with family members, going from bedroom to bedroom, knocking on the door, and saying “trick-or-treat” and “thank you”.  For children who are non-verbal or especially shy, you can also make a special Halloween sign that says “trick or treat” on the front, and “thank you” on the back.  Also, consider going to just a few friendly, well-known neighbors and possibly repeating these houses over and over.  This will help decrease social anxiety.  As always, social stories and reading various books on what it is like to go trick-or-treating can help decrease social anxiety, and help children to know what to expect.

3)  Prepare for dietary issues!  If your child is on a special diet, consider providing stickers, pencils, etc to the houses which you know you will be trick-or-treating so that your child will have an appropriate treat.  If you don’t want the candy in the house, some dentists’ offices will buy the candy back and send it to the troops serving overseas.  Just search the Internet for a program such as this near you.  If your child is allowed to eat candy, only allow 1-2 peices on Halloween night to prevent a sugar rush with the hyperactivity and crash that is sure to follow!

4)  Keep it short!  Trick-or-treating occurs at the end of the day, around bedtime for most children.  Understand that your child may be too tired at the end of the day and unable to endure a trick-or-treating maraton.  This, combined with a sugar rush is a certain recipe for a meltdown!  As much as possible, try to keep a normal bedtime routine on Halloween night and don’t delay bedtime by more than an 30 minutes to an hour.  This will make everyone’s life more enjoyable.

And as always, know your child and set resonable expectations!

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Polo in the Ozarks

Wendy Jarvis and I (Melissa), along with Becky Bassett from Wendy Cassady Speech Pathology all went to the Polo in the Ozarks Match last Saturday.  This was a fundraiser for Life Styles Inc, a local organization which supports adults with a variety of mental and physical disabilities.  What fun!  Beautiful horses, delicious food, great music, dancing… not to mention the BEAUTIFUL weather!  I strongly encourage everyone to go next year.  Great fun for a great cause!

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Tips for Little Football Fans

As the weather is (finally) starting to get a bit cooler, it is a simple reminder that football season in upon us.  Whether your little fan is going to watch big brother play in the pee-wee league, or joining the family for all-day tail-gating for the Razorbacks, here are a few simple tips to help make the experience a fun one.

1.  BRING SNACKS!  This will prevent you and your child from crawling through a bleacher full of fans to the concession stands.  Include a variety of healthy snacks which will help provide calming sensory input (think sour, cinnamon, mint, biting, crunching) as well as a water bottle for additional oral input.   Avoid too much sugar which will make your child restless.  Keeping ahead of a rumbly tummy will also help to keep tantrums at bay.

2.  Use a hoodie pulled over his head, bring ear plugs, or use head phones.  Many of our children are defensive toward sounds and this can help prevent the sudden “fight or flight” response which may occur when the crowd suddenly cheers as your team scores a touchdown!

3.  Take frequent walking breaks every 15-20 minutes.  This will provide  necessary proprioceptive and vestibular input and will help prevent “ants in the pants”.  It is a good idea to use these breaks to walk to the bathroom to prevent accidents.

4.  Bring other activities.  Yes, the game is exciting, but not every child has a 2-4 hour attention span for these things.  Bring books, hand held games, or download enticing APPS to your phone.

5.  Create a specific space for your child.  Seat cushions are a wonderful way to be very concrete in saying “Johnny, keep your bottom HERE”.  It also provides a safety net for children with tactile sensitivities so that they will know that no one will be invading THEIR space.  In addition, the squishiness of the cushion will allow your child to get his wiggles out while continuing to sit in one space.

REMEMBER…SET REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS FOR YOUR CHILD AND HAVE AN EXIT PLAN!  WPS!!!

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Not Babies Anymore!

This summer, several of our babies have really taken off…

 

In the PT department, our therapists love helping babies and toddlers get caught up on their gross motor skills and developmental milestones.  We work with children having many different diagnoses including Down Syndrome, prematurity, developmental delays, cerebral palsy, visual impairments, etc. It is so exciting to see our little ones gain strength and confidence with each step that they take.

 

Stay tuned…those first independent steps coming to a blog near you!

 

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Facebook is here!

Our new Facebook page is going strong!  “Find us on Facebook” to see all of the latest and greatest daily photos of our fabulous, hard-working kiddos!  Don’t worry, if you are not on Facebook, we will continue to keep posting new photos of the kids here on our website as well.

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It’s Water Week again!!

It’s water week again!  During the summer months we take the kids outside every other week for fun in the sun.  It’s an excellent way to provide extra sensory input in an enjoyable outside environment.  We complete obstacle courses, play on a slip-n-slide, toss water balloons, and use tongs to pick up animals out of the pool.  This year we added a blow-up water park equipped with sprinklers, climbing wall, basketball goal, soccer/water polo nets, volleyball, and a water slide!  It was a huge hit with the kids and is great for gross motor, eye-hand coordination, and sensory processing!

Obstacle courses are great to do year-round  at home to work on auditory processing and gross motor skills.  You can use just about anything for your steps (hurdles, wheelbarrow walking, log rolling, balance tasks, etc.) so be creative and make it fun!  Next just tell your child which steps to perform and see how many steps they can follow.

 

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