Memory Jar: Ideas for Parents and Teachers

I’ve seen this idea posted on social media sites as the new year approached and I really like it! If you’re not familiar with it, the idea is to have a jar at home and when you have a good memory, you jot it down on a note and drop it in the jar. Then, at the end of the year as you are bringing in the new year, you read all the notes in the jar to reflect on the memories your family created. When I saw this, I thought it was a porject worthy of trying, but then I thought about how parents could use a variation of this idea for their children, especially if they are struggling learners.

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Down Syndrome Awareness Month

October is Down Syndrome Awareness month. Over the years, I have had the pleasure to work with many individuals with Down Syndrome and I have learned so much from them. Among the most important things is the fact that they are more like us than not. One young lady, Rachel, has found a special place in my heart. She and her mother are advocates of inclusion for individuals with Down Syndrome. Check out this video that Rachel was in:

Also, be sure to check out Rachel’s mom’s blog, The Sassy Southern Gal.

Thanks for reading!

~Rebecca

Learning Disabilities Awareness Month

October is Learning Disabilities Awareness Month. Perhaps your life has been touched in some way by a learning disability. If so, there are some amazing resources for you, whether a parent, a student, or educator. LD Online is one of them, which provides guides for educators and parents. One I would like to highlight is an article outlining very useful information for parents of students with learning disabilities and how to help them experience success. It is based on longitudinal research and identifies 6 success attributes that really make a difference and are more important than IQ and grades: Continue reading

Special Olympics Celebrations!

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of watching competitors at the Special Olympics state competitions. Despite the horrendous heat, the competitors gave it their all!

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The event was paddle boarding and it requires a lot of strength and stamina. A good time was had by athletes and spectators alike. The highlight of the day for me, though, was getting to see this precious young lady compete. She has been dear to my heart since I met her in 2nd grade and she became best friends with my daughter.

Here are some pics of her paddling her heart out

By the way….thank you, Tropical Storm Erika, for slowing down so these awesome athletes could experience some victories and make memories! This little lady ended the day with a gold medal!! We were so proud! And look at that smile!

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If you would like to learn more about how you and/or your child can become involved, check out Special Olympics for yourself.

Thanks for reading!

~Rebecca

School Phobia, Part 1: My Journey from School Phobic to School Psychologist

August: the month that brings anxiety for some. Many students of all ages are anxious about going back to school in the next few weeks. This is natural, especially as students are facing transitions from one level to the next. But for others, the thought of going back to school can stir up more than butterflies in the stomach. In the next few posts, I’d like to touch on the topic of school phobia. First, I’d like to share my own experience with school phobia and how I moved from being fearful of everything to helping others overcome fear. In subsequent posts, I’ll share some strategies that others have found beneficial.

My Journey 
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Summer Fun for Kids

Kids look forward to summer break! For many kids, this can mean little or no structure or routine. This can be good for a few days, but most kids–and especially those with special needs–need to continue with a schedule of some sort. Structure is essential not only for a happy and enjoyable summer but also for a successful transition back to school in the fall. Here are a few tips for helping parents to provide a structure while having fun too!

  1. Set specific times for waking up, eating, playing, and sleeping. Keeping a daily structure and schedule throughout the summer is very important. A visual schedule is helpful for a lot of kids, especially those with ADHD or Autism.
  2. Add some responsibilities to the day. While it’s important not to overwhelm kids during the school year, summer provides opportunity to add some chores or responsibilities. This can strengthen your child’s self-esteem, strengthen his or her sense of responsibility, and build skills. One summer when my kids were young, we were planning a vacation near the end of the summer that would last for 3 weeks. To begin the summer, they had their daily chores for which they could earn points to “cash in” for money to use on the vacation to buy souvenirs. They also needed to improve their reading skills over the summer so I gave them extra points when they would read a book and were able to answer some questions about what they read. This helped to continue with structure through the summer, gave them an incentive for “cash” for vacation, and it helped them improve on their reading. They loved the weekly visits to the library, too, that we made part of our summer schedule!
  3. Designate certain activities for certain days of the week. For example, Monday movies at the local park or library; Tuesday is outing day; Wednesday is working in the garden or yard; Thursday is swimming; and Friday is free day where the kids get to choose from a list of preferred activities.
  4. For outdoor activities, try a nature scavenger hunt at a park or an obstacle course in the back yard.
  5. For rainy days, make a fort out of sheets, laundry baskets, and chairs–or just use the dining room table. You can have a movie day with popcorn and then have the kids color, paint or draw a picture about their favorite part. Doing crafts is also a great way to develop/improve fine motor skills and to inspire creativity!

Here’s to a great summer!

Thanks for reading!

~Rebecca

Autism and Wandering: Helpful Resources for Parents

In recognition of Autism Awareness Month, I thought I would post about a topic that brings fear to many parents: wandering. If your child has Autism and is in danger of wandering, please check out these resources. Autism Speaks has several resources for parents, educators, and first responders to prevent, educate, and address wandering. Also, check out the National Autism Association’s caregiver toolkit. There are also products such as Be safe the movie, which teaches appropriate ways to interact with law enforcement; Alert Me Bands, customizable emergency alert bands; and angel sense, a GPS device with voice monitoring. I have only mentioned a few here. but you can find more resources on their websites. I hope this will bring some peace of mind to you!

Thanks for reading!

~Rebecca