Category Archives: Autism

Body Sox, Odd Looking, But Fun and Self-Regulating

Body Sox is an yoga experience like no other. Children love to stretch in it as many ways as possible. There are multiple ways to use the Body Sox from games to relaxation.

WHAT IS IT?

Body Sox are fun, therapeutic sacks constructed from four-way stretch lycra.  Body Sox teach both adults and children about gross motor control by providing proprioceptive feedback that leads to a new awareness of the body.

BODY SOX BENEFITS

  • Allows children to kinesthetically feel their body
  • Coordinates movement
  • Enhances creativity and imagination
  • Provides heavy work/deep pressure, which is calming and organizing
  • Provides tactile input

WHAT DOES THIS HAVE TO DO WITH YOGA?

Children can play  Yogi Says,  which is just like  Simon Says, but with yoga poses.   Better yet, let them create their own Body Sox pose, crawl, walk, or slither in it.

Body Sox can also be used in relaxation as a calming sensory escape. Put on relaxing music and/or weighted materials to enhance the experience.

What are you waiting for?  Sign-up for a class and try one out!

Simple Stuff to Help Children Self-Regulate

Children gym fitness kid girl with small dumbbells vector. Fitness kid small dumbbells and sport girl. Little fitness kid girl and cartoon fitness kid girl. Sport dumbbells healthy lifestyle fitness.

Heavy Work = Self-Regulate

Proprioceptive receptors are located in the muscles, tendons, and joints.  These receptors respond to active movement and gravity.  Proprioceptive exercises involve deep pressure.  These exercises are a powerful tool to help children self-regulate.  Here are five simple exercises that can be incorporated into their school day.

  1. Wall Push-Ups. Place palms on the wall, bend elbows, and plant feet firmly on the floor.  Push against the wall for ten second.  Wall push-ups provide proprioceptive input into the arms, hands, and legs.
  2. Seated Push-Ups. Sit on the floor (with legs crossed) or chair (with feet flat). Push on the floor or chair with flat palms trying to slightly lift up the bottom.  Hold for ten seconds.
  3. Palm Push. Press palms together and hold for ten seconds.  Palm push provides proprioceptive input to the hands and helps balance the brain.
  4. Squeezes. Cross wrists and squeeze up from the wrists to your shoulders then squeeze down the arms again from the shoulders to the wrists.  Go up and down the arms ten times.  Squeezes improve attention, develop the brain, and provide proprioceptive input.
  5. Down Dog. Begin on hand and knees.  Spread the fingers wide and press the hands firmly into the mat.  Tuck the toes and bring the hips high while trying to push the heels toward the floor. Keep a slight bend in the knees and relax the head. Make it fun by wagging your tail.  Down Dog requires heavy work, which is movement that provides resistance to the muscles and joints. Heavy work develops the brain and helps children self-regulate.

Lavender Cloud Dough

Winneconne, WI - 19 February 2015: Bottle of Young Living Lavender essential oil supplement.

What is lavender cloud dough?

A sensory activity to reduce anxiety and stress in children.  It is therapeutic and super simple to make and store.

What does the research tell us?

Lavender is used to treat neurological disorders such as stress, anxiety, and depression.  Research has shown that lavender aromatherapy decreased depression by 32.7% in individuals suffering from PTSD (Uehleke et al. 2012).   Another study found that lavender essential oil reduced anxiety, sleep disturbance and depression when taken as a supplement (Kasper, 2013).

How do I make it?

8 cups plain flour (all purpose)

1 cup vegetable/ olive or baby oil (avoid baby oil if your child likes to taste things)

2 tablespoons purple powder paint

5 drops lavender essential oil from Young Living

Encourage your child to mix the ingredients with their hands. Once it has a wet sand consistency the dough is ready to be molded.  Let the fun begin!

References

Kasper S. (2013) An orally administered lavandula oil preparation (Silexan) for anxiety disorder and related conditions: an evidence based review. Int J Psychiatry Clin Pract; 17 Suppl 1:15-22.

Uehleke, B., et al. (2012) Phase II trial on the effects of Silexan in patients with neurasthenia, post-traumatic stress disorder or somatization disorder. Phytomedicine; 19(8-9):665-71.

 

Special Education Tips for Parents

Group Of Children Playing In Park

Is your child struggling academically, but the school has refused to evaluate for special services? Ummm….They can’t do that! The school system is not always forthright in letting parents know their parental rights when it comes to their child’s education.  Below are a few basic tips to help your child obtain the evaluation or services they need as quickly as possible.

  • Put everything in writing. When attending intervention meetings make sure all requests and concerns are added to the meeting notes.   When requesting an evaluation put the request in writing to the principal and make sure to date the letter.
  • Ask for and read the parent’s rights booklet. Everything a parent needs to know is listed in this booklet.
  • Ask for a draft of the plan a week in advance of the meeting. Review the plan, revise, and list concerns with the plan before meeting with the school team.
  • Do not sign anything at the meeting. If a draft of an intervention plan or Individualized Education Plan (IEP) is proposed at a meeting take the draft home and really look at it to make sure you agree with all that is stated. Do not let the school team pressure you into signing something at the meeting you are unsure. This is your child’s education!
  • Hire an advocate. If you feel as if you are being bullied by the school system by all means hire an advocate as soon as possible. Advocates are well versed in special education law and love litigious meetings. Reduce your stress by letting them negotiate for you.

If the educational jargon in the parent’s rights booklet is difficult to decode or you need an advocate call us at 913-660-8219. We love attending meetings and revising IEPs. Mindful Child Aerial Yoga offers one free consult. Also, the team at Mindful Child Aerial Yoga just so happens to specialize in advocacy services and special education assessments.

Magical Discipline Strategies for ADHD

Magician's hands holding a magic wand and waving it over a magical top hat

Okay, I exaggerated it’s not magical, but these strategies are so simple, quick, and effective, they feel like magic. I have used the 1-2-3 Magic system for 17-years, both as a psychologist and as an early childhood coordinator. If implemented correctly it works just like magician casting a spell.

For now we are only going to discuss stop behaviors. Stop behaviors include: aggression, yelling, pouting, whining, and arguing. Basically any behavior you want your child to stop doing.

Using a counting system to stop unwanted behaviors in children with special needs requires modifications. Children with ADHD and autism typically have problems processing information given through auditory directions. Therefore, add visual supports or your child will look at you as if you’ve lost your mind!

Visual Supports Needed

  • Social Story. Children need the discipline procedure read to them with pictures of the time-out space, the timer, etc. The story needs to be very simple with only one to two sentences to a page.
  • Time Timer. The Time Timer is a timer that has a red disk that disappears as time elapses. The best part is no irritating ticking, distractions, or setup. Click here to watch a video on the Time Timer. http://www.timetimer.com

HOW TO WORK MAGIC

First, read the social story. Second, read the story often. Repetition is the key. Now comes the tricky part, implementation. When you see “Johnny” doing something he is not suppose to be doing say, “That’s 1.” If he doesn’t stop say, “That’s 2.” If he still doesn’t stop, say, “That’s 3.” Then walk him to his time-out place. This can consist of a square on the floor made of duct tape (thinking square), his room, or whatever place you deem the time-out spot. Once he calms down start the timer.   When the red is gone, time is up and Johnny is free. Sounds simple right? That’s because it is, but there are a few key components.

KEY COMPONENTS

  • Reduce talking too much. Only count.
  • Stay level headed. Show no emotion.

Still need help? Call the Mindful Child Aerial Yoga team at 913-660-8219 or sign up for one of our behavior management workshops.

The ABC’s of Yoga

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The ABC’s of Yoga for Kids is one of my favorite yoga books to use with children, including children with special needs such as ADHD and autism.  Children with special needs require simplicity and visual support.  This book has both.  Each letter of the alphabet is a different yoga pose.  Children are not only learning yoga, but their letters as well. The children love the colorful pictures and rhymes that describe how to get into each pose.  It takes approximately an hour to read the book if each pose is practiced.  I break it up into three sessions. It’s best to find proper alignment and hold the pose instead of rushing through them.

The benefits of yoga for children include:  balance, flexibility, coordination, and strength.  Additionally,  yoga promotes calmness and relieves stress. This books offers a multitude of wellness and mental health benefits and best of all it’s fun!

The ABCs of Yoga for Kids can be ordered online through Amazon.  Ready? Find your center, breathe, and soar.

Reference

Power, T. A., & Rietz, K. (2009). The ABCs of yoga for kids. Pacific Palisades, CA: Stafford House.

Gut and Psychology Syndrome

Intestines Sketch with Words

 “The art of medicine consists in amusing the patient while nature cures the disease.”

-Voltaire

The human body has an amazing ability to heal itself, given the right help.  The downside is nature is super slow.  Correcting nutritional deficits can take months if not years. Dr. Campbell-McBride has developed a nutritional treatment for psychological disorders based on the assumption that the association between physical and mental health, nutrient intake, and the condition of our digestive system is conclusive. This means that by fixing the child’s diet, hence the gut, cognitive and social impairments can be significantly improved.

WHAT IS GUT AND PSYCHOLOGY SYNDROME (GAPS)?

Antibiotic use has a serious damaging effect on the good bacteria in the gut.  This coupled with a diet filled with processed and fast foods give nourishment to pathogens or bad bacteria, which then grow into big colonies and take over areas of the digestive tract.  Yuck!

Gut flora is needed for appropriate digestion and absorption of food.  If the child’s gut flora is not balanced then the child will not digest or absorb foods appropriately, which will result in nutritional deficiencies.  Since gut flora is needed for a good immune system a cycle of infections and antibiotics follow resulting in further damage to the child’s digestive and immune systems. This results in allergies, asthma, and eczema. Additionally, without the good bacteria balancing out the bad bacteria the bad microbes begin to digest food in their own way making vast amounts of toxic substances, which are absorbed into the blood stream, carried across the blood-brain barrier, and into the brain.  Thus, the child’s digestive system becomes a source of toxicity.  This toxicity establishes a link between the gut and the brain forming the Gut and Psychology Syndrome.

HOW IS GAPS TREATED?

Dr. Campbell-McBride holds degrees in medicine and post-graduate degrees in both neurology and nutrition.  Dr. Campbell-McBride has a developed a diet to heal the digestive system.  She stresses eating foods in the form that nature made them.  No processed foods, please! Many of the chemicals in processed foods contribute to hyperactivity, learning disabilities, and psychological disorders.  The appropriate diet for GAP syndrome is one that avoids sugar, lactose, processed foods, grains and starchy vegetables.  In her book, Gut and Psychology Syndrome, Dr. Campbell-McBride goes into great detail about diet and provides wonderful recipes. This book is a little technical, but a fantastic resource for parents.

Campbell-McBride, N. (2004). Gut and Psychology Syndrome. Natural Treatment for autism, ADHD/ADD, dyslexia, dyspraxia, depression, and schizophrenia. York, Pennsylvania; Maple Press.

 

Research Participants Needed

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WHY PARTICIPATE?

Mental health disorders are rising in children and being referred to as an epidemic. Numerous studies have shown micronutrient deficiencies and poor diet quality are suspected of playing a contributory role in the escalation of certain disorders such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and autism.   Conventional treatment for social emotional disorders in children typically involves medication, including stimulant medication and antidepressants. Medications only treat the symptoms of the disorder and not the cause. Parents are increasingly turning to complementary and alternative medicine to treat their children with a method that is individualized and holistic. Thus, the relationship between diet and mental health has become of increasing interest in recent years.

WHAT DOES THE STUDY ENTAIL?

I’m conducting research on the link between social emotional functioning and nutrient intake in children ages three to five-years-old. The information gained will offer an alternative or supplemental treatment modality to psychotropic drugs. Participants will be asked to complete a personality test and 3-day diet record.  If you are interested in being part of this study and learning more about your child’s nutrient intake and social emotional functioning please contact me as soon as possible at Tracy@mindfulchildwellness.com.

Child’s Pose Press

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Child’s Pose Press is one of my favorite yoga techniques. It is very calming and helps to center children when they are having a bad day. Best of all it can be done anywhere.

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS?

  • Calms the nervous system
  • Relieves stress
  • Eases back strain
  • Centers the child
  • Reduces excess energy

HOW DOES IT WORK?

At the base of the spine just above the sacrum, there is an area where several nerve endings come together. When you apply gentle pressure to this area it has a calming affect on the nervous system.

HOW DO YOU DO IT?

Have the child go into child’s pose. Sit behind him and firmly run your hands up and down his back from top to bottom. This will stretch and open up the vertebrae in the spine. Rest your hands one on top of the other at the base of his back. Breathe in together and as you exhale press into this area with your hands. As you apply pressure, also pull back energetically. Breathe with him for five breathes. If the child is upset this can be extended. While breathing visualize calm positive energy coming out of your hands. Draw the hands firmly up and down the back one more time then release them from the child’s back. Resume your yoga routine. This can be done several times if the child is having a bad day or displays excess energy.  If you are not trained in yoga it is best to seek a yoga professional and receive hands-on training before attempting this at home.  Namaste.

Teaching fun, therapeutic, aerial yoga and mindfulness to children