AMC Sensory Friendly Movies

Happy Winter Break!

Mrs. Evans & I wanted to let you know about some expanded offerings for sensory-friendly movies from AMC Barton Creek Theater. They have several upcoming showing of Star Wars The Force Awakens.

SW-THE-FORCE-AWAKENS

If the sensory component of movies is difficult for your child, you might want to consider this alternative. More information can be found by clicking this link.

Dealing with Holiday Stress & Transitions

This time of year is exciting while we wait for Santa and his reindeer and all the rest of the holiday fun. Unfortunately, along with all the fun can come anxiety!

Anxiety in your child can look like worrying and crying, but it can also look like an increase in rigid thinking, noncompliance, sleep disturbance, and altered appetite.

Here are a few techniques to help with holiday transitions and help keep this a joyful time for all:

  • One of the most effective techniques for dealing with transitions during the holidays is using a visual calendar to indicate the differences between days. You can click here to download and print a simple calendar for the holiday break. 

My encouragement to you is even if you think your child is going to be fine, sit down with him and mark the days that things will be “different”. This can include relatives coming over, playdates, travel dates, days at mom’s house or dad’s house, Trail of Lights visit, and when we return to school, etc. Hang it on your fridge or in your child’s bedroom and refer to it often. If the plan changes, make a quick note on the calendar. Allowing your child to see what is coming next automatically decreases their underlying anxiety.

    Some children need a more detailed plan for the day. It is not always necessary to have a formal visual schedule. Often, a quickly jotted list on a post-it note is sufficient. You can make the “plan” for the day with your child the night before at bedtime or at breakfast. It might look something like this…


    If your child is a time-conscious kid, just add ballpark times, but emphasize that they can change. If
    they do change, make the change in WRITING!

    Carefully choose the amount of information you want to share with your child about upcoming events. Children on the Autism spectrum function better with factual information about what to expect, but don’t give too much information too soon. That can actually backfire and create the anxiety you were trying to avoid in the first place! It is okay to “drip-feed” information as it is needed.

      Preview the “expected” behavior before social events or new experiences. You can discuss what they can expect to see, hear, and do and what others expect to see them do. Discuss any “hidden rules” of different environments. Hidden rules are those things that no one explicitly spells out for us, but we are supposed to just “know”. A few holiday examples might be: if you get a gift that you don’t like or already have, you smile, say thanks, and take it anyway or if you are served food that is not your favorite, you either take a little on your plate or politely say “no thank you” and choose something else – you do not announce to the group that it is disgusting!

      Hidden rules are a giant minefield for our kiddos. The more you can think through the hidden rules of a situation and clue your child in before the event (or even during if necessary) the more competent they will feel, the calmer you will feel, and the more fun everyone will have.

      Finally, remind your child that if the noise, crowds, excitement, and new experiences start to feel not fun, it is okay to say “I need a break”.

        Always respect your child’s need to take a short break away from all the “fun” stuff. Talk about ways your child can take a break in “expected” ways (go in the bathroom for a few minutes, ask to take a walk with a family member, take headphones to block out noise if your child is especially sensitive to sound). If your child does start to have a meltdown, make sure to reassure him that it is okay and that he can use his calming plan next time.

        Remember, the focus is on growing skills to be more flexible in different circumstances, improving perspective taking skills by recognizing the thoughts and feelings in others, and celebrating the use of coping strategies to stay calm and get needs met appropriately! Improvement in those areas is the best present of all!
        I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Thank you for sharing your children with me every day. I am the luckiest teacher at Baldwin! With love, Mrs. Hively

        Social Thinking Group Updates ~ September 2013!

        We’ve had a great time in our first four weeks of Social Thinking group this year. The kids have done a fantastic job welcoming new members to the groups and continuing to build upon skills learned last year.

        Here is what we’ve been up to…

        Kinder Social Thinkers – We’ve begun using the Incredible Flexible Me curriculum to learn about what thoughts and feelings are. We’ve learned that what we look at is what we are thinking about. We’ve practiced keeping particular topics in our “thought bubbles”. We have used play to practice taking turns and sharing. We’ve practiced identifying basic emotions in ourselves and in others through static pictures.

        1st grade Social Thinkers – We’ve reviewed concepts from last year using the Incredible Flexible Me curriculum including what are thoughts and feelings. We’ve begun working on recognizing our feelings in the context of “Zones”. The kids have practiced identifying scenarios that create feelings in the various zones and have modeled those feelings through photos/video. You can see an example of the Zones of Regulation visual below. We’ve begun to work on finding “tools” in our environment that can help us change our “zone”.

        We have also worked to plan and install our Speech-Social Communication Learning Garden! Our 3rd grade social thinkers were responsible for the actual building of the garden. Our 1st grade social thinkers were in charge of adding soil to the garden and planting two different types of broccoli and cauliflower.

        Here are some photos from our garden planting day:

        Working together to spread the soil


        Planting cauliflower

        Planting broccoli

        More broccoli!


        Taking turns with the watering cans



        2nd and 3rd grade Social Thinkers – We’ve spent a good amount of time building community with new group members and beginning our Zones work. The kids have learned to identify their own physical and emotional state, represent it on our Learning Zone chart, and are now beginning to practice using various “tools” to change their feelings. We will continue to work on this over the next couple of weeks. You can view an example of a Zones of Regulation visual below. In addition, these marvelous students have used our Get Ready – Do – Done strategy to plan and build our Learning Garden. Mrs. D and I were so impressed with the amazing teamwork, group planning, and sharing that occurred during this process. We have some amazing social thinkers in these groups!

        Check out our photos from garden building day:

        Reading the Garden Kit Instructions

        Construction time!

        Teamwork!

        Action shot with the rubber mallet!







        Planting Buttercrunch lettuce


        More lettuce!



        Planting Fire Power Lettuce! Wowzers!



        Watering our newly planted Circus Carrot seeds!

        Finally, I have some exciting news. As you know, Dr. Peña and Ms. Kane are both great supporters of the SCORES and Speech/Language Programs. They have allowed us to expand our sensory break space into another room that is being shared with after-school groups. We’ve been able to build three center areas including a Fine Motor Center, Gross Motor Center, and Calm Body Center. The students are able to use this area for planned body breaks as well as those on-the-spot needed body breaks when they are having difficulty keeping their body or brain in the group. If you’d like to check out photos of the space, you can visit the collaborative blog that I write with Mrs. De Los Santos that is geared for other speech therapists and special education teachers. You can view the post by clicking here.

        Thanks for your support!
        Mrs. H