Category Archives: Special Needs

Ways to Help Kids With Special Needs in the Classroom

Why is play so important in early childhood development? Not only does play encourage creativity and imagination but it also facilitates language development, decision making abilities, social skills, fine and gross motor development and problem solving skills that help develop the physical, social and emotional well-being of children. For a child with disabilities, pretend play is even more crucial.

Subject: Quinn, a boy with autism, and the lin...

Subject: Quinn, a boy with autism, and the line of toys he made before falling asleep See more about Quinn at: Date: Circa 2003 Place: Walnut Creek, California Photographer: Andwhatsnext Original digital photograph (cropped and resized) Credit: Copyright (c) 2003 by Nancy J Price (aka Mom) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sensory processing can be difficult for these children and sensory toys are specially designed to help kids with disabilities learn problem-solving skills and gain a measure of control over their environment. More and more teachers and parents of children with disabilities are learning the important role sensory toys play in the life of a child with special needs and are incorporating them into their classrooms and homes.

Sensory toys are not necessarily geared towards a specific age group but rather a developmental level and skill set. A child’s age should not determine which toys are appropriate. Older children with autism, for example, can derive great benefit from toys that are designed for a younger child, such as blocks or a ball. Sensory toys for autism education are particularly important.

Many children with autism have difficulty with various textures and toys like sand and water tables, textured balls and other tactile objects can help a child overcome their difficulties with texture and touch. They can help a child with autism learn to interact with the world around them. In addition, sensory toys can help a child focus and aid in cognitive processing. Studies have shown that children who play with sensory toys during lessons retain more information then when they do not. Also, using sensory aids like a wiggle seat can help students to focus.

Some other helpful hints for the classroom:

  • Provide a fidget toy and/or wiggle seat, cushion or weighted stuffed animal during circle/seated work time.
  • Have a child do something physical in the morning or before any long period of seated time. For example, jump on a trampoline, complete an obstacle course, crash into pillows, push or pull heavy objects or do jumping jacks.
  • Position an easily distracted child away from doors, windows, fans, lights or anything that may be overly stimulating or noisy.
  • Develop consistent routines and picture schedules to help children develop good habits. Children with disabilities often crave routines as it gives them a sense of control. Make sure to try and prepare kids for any changes in routine ahead of time.
  • Once routines are established for a significant period of time, begin changing them slowly to help kids develop coping skills and build their tolerance to change.
  • Always provide positive reinforcement.

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By Allen Yesilevich

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Finding A Dentist For Special Needs Children

Special needs children require a dentist who is trained and educated to deal with them. Many of these patients have other dental concerns that may actually take precedence over the basic line of care that dental professionals extend to children on a regular basis. In spite of this, it is also vital that even the basics are upheld when it comes to caring for the oral cavities of kids with special needs.

– Basic Structure

The basic structure of the oral cavity is something that can be compromised when it comes to special kids. Their own dentists should look to maintain the basic structure of their oral cavities in order for them to be able to function well in this aspect. Many of the children have issues with regards to how they eat, what they eat and what they put in their mouths. Keeping their mouths and teeth in good shape will help to reduce the risk of other conditions that can be very common for children who need extra care and medical attention. The maintenance of good hygiene of the oral cavity is something that will help prevent further complication in this area. Children with harelips and other oral problems will benefit from the right maintenance and hygiene, while they are being evaluated and assessed by other medical professionals for other medical reasons.

– Routines

A dentist can also encourage the kids to get used to the routines that are needed to maintain good oral health. Many special children are not open to other people putting anything into their mouths, so as infants they should get used to the idea of their parents cleaning their teeth and oral cavities for them. Establishing an early routine, such as cleaning the teeth after meals, can help them feel more stable and in control of themselves. As younger children, they will be used to the cleaning routine and may even look forward to it or become adept at doing it themselves. A visit to the dentist as early as infancy can help parents to establish routines and other ways to help their children maintain oral health. It takes patience and understanding to do the cleaning and to teach the child to do it on his or her own.

Another routine that special needs kids must be open to is to floss in between teeth. No matter the state of the oral cavity, when a child eats, some bits and pieces are likely to be stuck in between the each tooth. Flossing can help minimize the risk of decay appearing in between each tooth if it is done regularly. Parents can do this when their children are still too young to handle the floss or may not be able to handle it at all. Rinsing the oral cavity after eating and drinking vitamins and medicines is also something that these children should be able to do. The dentist highly encourages parents to try to get their children to at least rinse their mouths regularly after consuming meals and after taking in sugary medicines, supplements or drinks.

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By Antoinette Ayana

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Your Baby Ferret Needs Extra Special Care


infant (Photo credit: soupboy)

Have you ever seen a baby ferret? When they are first born, they have no hair and their eyes are tightly closed. They are just about the cutest things you could ever see, but it’s not until they are about 6 weeks old that you will be able to separate them from their mothers and bring your new “kit” home. They will need extra care from you at this stage, so it is important to know what you will need to do before the adoption time.

The mother is very protective of her babies when they are small. It is especially important that you not handle the babies when they are first born. Ferrets may be little, but they can have a nasty temper if provoked and, believe me, you do not want to be the recipient of the wrath of an angry ferret mama. She will wean them when she sees fit, and then you can handle them all you want.

Most litters range from six to eight babies at a time. Much like human babies, they spend their first weeks of infancy just eating, sleeping and starting to grow. Once they reach about 3 weeks, their hair starts to grow in and then their eyes pop open. That is really a sight to see. Cute, cute, cute.

Then at six weeks they are ready for adoption, and this is when you will really need to be ready. They need to see a vet at about seven weeks for their first shots and you might want to discuss spaying/neutering and de-scenting with your vet at that time. Also ask him or her if they have a preferred diet for the baby ferrets. Also ask your breeder what food the babies were given, and decide if you want to feed them something different. If you do, you will want to slowly introduce the new food over a period of time to ward off any indigestion. Also, when feeding baby ferrets, soak the dry food in water for at least 5 minutes to ensure that they can chew it.

Whatever you decide to feed your baby ferret, make sure to check the label for at least 20% fat and 35% protein. Also high quality fats such as chicken fat contain the essential amino acids that are so critical for your baby’s development. Good clean water is just as important as good food. Make sure your baby has a fresh supply of clean water at all times and they will love you for it.

Before you baby comes home, you need to do your homework and find a suitable “home” for your little one. It is best to purchase a cage that is designed specifically for ferrets. These take into account your baby’s tiny little feet and makes sure they can’t squeeze through any openings. They didn’t come up with the term “ferret your way out of something” for no reason. Ferret cages are usually quite large to give your growing baby lots of room to zoom, zoom, zoom and still be safe.

Make sure your baby has some special places to curl up for long naps. After zooming around, sleeping is your ferret’s next favorite activity. Check his bedding often to see if he might be gnawing on his bed. They love to chew and this can cause some unpleasant problems if they chew up the wrong things. Just keep a close eye on him, especially when you let them out of the cage for a romp.

This will be a special bonding time for you and your new baby. He or she will repay you for all of your love and attention with many years of adorable and hilarious antics. Whatever your efforts, the love they give back will be more than worth it. Enjoy your new baby!

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By Tonya Bond

What To Do For a Special Needs Guest At a Baby Shower

Baby shower truffles.

Baby shower truffles. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A baby shower brings with it many details that need to be thought of. Along with planning the guest list, the baby shower hostess has to think about details, such as if any of the guests for the baby shower have any special needs. The baby shower will be a happy occasion, and everyone will want to feel included to be able to partake in the festivities, and share in the joy. However, when it comes to certain guests, there will be considerations.

For example, there might be guests that are physically or otherwise disabled. This fact will have a huge impact on them, and possibly others. The hostess will have to think of leeway, and space for this guest if for example they have a wheelchair. If the disabled guest has a condition where they can’t stand, or get tired easily, the hostess will need to make sure that there are chairs, or some type of seating especially for this guest. If the disabled guest needs to use the restroom frequently, the hostess needs to not only place this guest very close to the restroom, they might want to let the other guests know to be aware of their time in the restroom. Or, there might be a second restroom that the hostess could set aside just for this disabled guest.

Another consideration that the baby shower hostess needs to think of is any dietary needs or request of the guest. At the very least, there will be cake and punch at the baby shower. Most of the time, a selection of appetizers will be served. It’s common for pot luck to occur, and then the guests will bring various dishes of food. Some of the guests might not be able to eat the ingredients in the food dishes. There could be vegetarians coming, and they need to be accommodated. Worse, some of the guest might have specific food allergies. Allergies to tomatoes, nuts, eggs, and milk are very common, and can turn the baby shower into a trip to the emergency room. The hostess should be sure to ask beforehand if anyone has food allergies. The hostess should ask anyway, because there might be some guest with gluten allergies. If a cake is served, most likely it will contain wheat and or other gluten products. Another huge food allergy to be mindful of is seafood/shellfish allergies. It’s common for some form of tuna fish, or a shellfish dish to be served, such as tuna salad, or crab salads with cocktail shrimp in them. Again, the hostess should get clearance before allowing these dishes to be served.

Last, although this might be a sensitive topic, the hostess should know if there are guests who have recovery issues. It wouldn’t be out of the question for alcohol to be served at an adult only baby shower. This might make some of the guests struggle. It’s a good idea that if there are any guests in recovery, then alcohol shouldn’t be served, or added as an ingredient in the food. At the very least, the hostess should give advance warning that there will be alcohol present.

These are some considerations that will ensure that the baby shower is an inclusive, and joyful experience for everyone involved.

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By Edie Mindell

Baby Sign Language for Children with Special Needs

Child sign language can be used as a critical language development tool for children with special needs. Children who have developed in the typical fashion have learned to speak by 3 years old. Of course some children have physical, emotional or mental problems that delay language development.

These problems may include deafness or some level of loss of hearing, developmental disabilities or oral skills difficulties due to a variety of reasons. But children with deafness or developmental disabilities need to learn how to communicate just like any other child. These babies and children have needs and wants and desires just like other children. Baby Sign Language can provide the means to open the world of communication.

The use of American Sign Language with children who are Deaf is well known. Sign language gives them a way to express themselves. Normally, parents begin teaching child sign language before their child is 3 years old if their child is Deaf. But if the deafness occurs after the child is 2 years old, child sign language can still be taught at any age.

When a child has developmental disabilities, sign language can become a primary language. Even for children who develop learning skills later in life, sign language could most likely be prominently used throughout life.

Children with Downs Syndrome typically develop speaking skills at a later time than other children. Sign language has the benefit of making gestures that often look like what is being represented. This is a major factor in its effectiveness with children who have developmental disabilities.

American Sign Language is useful for babies, toddlers, (and children over 3 years old) who have learning disorders of many kinds. Baby Signs and Child Sign Language not only provide a means of communication, it offers structured focus. Children with short attention spans or recall problems can benefit from being taught sign language.

Child Sign Language is also wonderful for developing language skills in children with autism or speech impaired children. Children who have throat surgery or problems during the time they would normally be learning to speak can be taught child sign language.

One of the greatest advantages sign language can provide children, over 3 who have language difficulties for whatever reason, is the ability to teach descriptive differences between objects. For example, a child with Down Syndrome can be taught the difference between a real bird, a bird statue or a toy bird. This is often a very difficult concept to teach!

There are also parents who discover baby sign language after a child is already talking; and yet decide to augment their child’s language further by teaching sign language. Children who require more time to learn can benefit after 3 years old by learning various significant helpful signs. The same intellectual benefits that extend to younger children often apply.

Sign language improves literacy skills in preschoolers as much as it does in infants. This special language can be used to build confidence in a shy child. Mastering a skill improves self-esteem in children (under and) over 3 years old.

No matter what reason you have for teaching a child sign language (past his or her toddler years), parents will discover that their child reaps many benefits. Children over 3 years old can use sign language to develop both motor and verbal skills. Children with developmental disabilities can use sign language as an avenue for mastering difficult language concepts. Try sign language today and experience the beautiful benefits from the increased communication abilities!

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By MJ Williams

The Importance of Play for Special Needs Babies

Cover of "What's Inside? (Snapshot Lift-t...

Cover via Amazon

It’s never too early to begin playing with a baby because play is the way children learn best. Playing is how babies learn. They learn through everything they see, hear, touch, feel, and experience. So parents can have fun choosing a selection of toys to keep their baby happy and entertained. Introducing play components into the life of a special needs baby can start with a selection of toys and play products chosen for the individual needs of the child.

Parents should seek to find toys that connect with a child’s unique special needs.

So what should a parent look for when beginning to fill the toy box? Well, here are some product categories that parents should focus on because they are just what a special needs baby can benefit from.

Seven Great Categories to start a special needs baby with

1. Activity Panels-This is a great starter toy for children because it helps them learn cause and effect, hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills. Examples — walkers or adjustable gyms.

2. Cuddle Toys-Sometimes a child needs a good friend, something to hold for confidence, or a playmate to take to the park. Cuddle toys help a child express their emotions, explore social realms and provide a whole lot of comfort. They will become a friend your special needs baby will love and cherish.

3. Musical Elements-Musical toys do a great job of soothing a child, or waking them up (depending on the beat). Research shows music helps brain development and aids in promoting movement and communication.

4. Blocks-Block for block, these simple play items deliver big times for kids. Some of the top benefits they serve up are problem solving, spatial aptitude, logical and mathematical skills and learning to plan.

5. Shape-Sorters-Every baby’s toy box should have a shape-sorter toy because they are a great way for child to learn hand-eye coordination and problem-solving skills.

6. Recognition Promoters-These play products stimulate children’s memories by showing them new and familiar objects, people and places. This is an important element in helping kids recognize, prepare and remember.

7. Memory & Recall Developers-Toys are a great tool to stimulate and strengthen a child’s memory and recall abilities. Products like What’s Inside? Toy Box are a great way to get a kid started in building these important skills.

So start building your baby’s toy chest with these seven great categories of play products. Toys can help little ones learn how to fuel fun and build a whole lot of skills that serve babies and beyond.

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By Raiko Mendoza