April is Autism Awareness Month: Teach your Children about Autism

A My Brother Charlie Book Cover

Did you know 1 in 68 American children is on the autism spectrum: a ten-fold increase in prevalence in 40 years? (Source: Autism Speaks) With numbers this high, there is no doubt your son or daughter will encounter kids on the autism spectrum in school.

This year when my 1st grade daughter was Star of the Week, I decided to read the book, My Brother Charlie , written by the actress Holly Robinson Peete and her daughter Ryan Elizabeth Peete. I saw this as an opportunity to create awareness about autism for young elementary school kids. Why did Holly and her daughter  write this book? In their own words: “We offer this book as a gift to families struggling with autism and to those who have no autism in their immediate families but who have friends facing it. My Brother Charlie is a book about how special children are, and how every one of us can find value in the uniqueness of people.”

Before I started reading the book, I asked the children if they knew what autism was and I tried my best to explain it in simple words. I told them: “You can’t always tell if someone is autistic by looking at them. Children with autism usually don’t look any different than you and me so it may be hard for you to understand why they are acting in a certain way which you might think is “different”. Their brains process information differently and they may need extra help from teachers to learn and understand how to do things.” Some kids then asked questions and I clarified that everyone who is acting “differently” does not necessarily have autism. “The message is not to make fun of other kids because they are “different” and to be aware and accepting of how they are, get to know them and have patience. Everyone is special and unique just like all of you are.”

“Children are growing up in a world much more diverse than that of previous generations. If you model acceptance and understanding, not only will you raise kind, supportive individuals but they will be better prepared for their future in a world of uniquely able people.”(Source: Beyond Autism Awareness: Explaining Autism to Your Child by Jessica Watson)

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Easter, Halloween and the Dentist

An Easter Bunny

I first wrote this post when I started my blog last year and I think it is worth repeating. Easter and Halloween – one thing both of these holidays have in common is candy. There is no way to escape it – so let your kids enjoy it and then get the extra candy out of the house! One idea is to bring it to work, leave it in the pantry area and coworkers will gobble it up quickly. You know what they say: “A taste on the lips stays forever on the hips.” Not your kids’ hips – lol -:)

Helpful tip from a good friend of mine: Schedule your kids’ dentist appointments right after Easter and Halloween. Your kids have to go to the dentist twice a year so why not schedule them right after the big sugar feast?

My kids love going to the dentist ! We visit Pediatric Dentistry of Garden City. A beautiful office, a wonderful dentist ( Dr. Stacey Reynolds) and lots of fun prizes when you are done. I don’t remember ever asking my parents when I could go to the dentist again. I was just glad when the dentist visit was over. Who knew going to the dentist could be so much fun?

Megan’s Law – Empower your children by teaching them they have rights and choices.

A Megans Law GS Patch

Two weeks ago, we had the opportunity to participate in a “When You Should Tell” session organized by our Brownie troop leader and the parents for Megan’s Law and the Crime Victims Center. I am truly grateful this session was set up because it is important for children at an early age to know that everyone is not “nice” and to give them tools to protect themselves. There were lots of different role play scenarios. For example, a grown-up runs up to you and says: ” I lost my puppy, can you help me find it? What do you do?” They taught them to “Stop! Check first!”

To refresh your memory, Megan’s Law is an informal name for laws in the United States requiring law enforcement authorities to make information available to the public regarding registered sex offenders, which was created in response to the murder of Megan Kanka. Source: Wikipedia

To summarize the content in the “When You Should Tell” flyer: The focus of this workshop was to EMPOWER young children by teaching them that they have rights, choices, and can say STOP to anyone even a grown-up if that person makes them feel “yucky”. It also explores what it means to be “in charge” of your body, and that each child gets to decide about who touches or does not touch them and how.

Other skills taught include:

• Understand the difference between good and bad touches.

• The NO-GO-TELL policy of saying NO if something feels “yucky” and then going to tell a grown-up you trust.

• How to say NO if someone wants to do something or wants you to do something that you don’t like (feels “yucky”).

• Who are the grown-ups you trust?

• The 10 Rules of Safety.

A Megans Law Safety Tips Picture

• A thorough explanation of what it means to be in charge of your own body and feelings.

• What feelings are (happy, sad, mad, confused) and why OUR OWN feelings are the most important.

• Every person has BATHING SUIT/ PRIVATE AREAS and no one is allowed to touch you in your bathing suit private area unless it is to keep you clean or healthy.

• The meaning of certain words such as: friend, stranger, family, danger, safety, comfortable, uncomfortable or “yucky”.

• Understanding that it is not a child’s fault if someone bigger makes them feel uncomfortable.

For more information:

Parents for Megan’s Law and the Crime Victims Center

P.O. Box 145

Stony Brook, N.Y. 11790

(631) 689-2672

(888) ASK-PFML

www.ParentsForMeganslaw.org

www.TheCrimeVictimCenter.org

Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper.

A breakfast like a king

My daughter was running late for school the other day and said she did not have time for breakfast. So I told her: ” Well, we will have to make time for breakfast. You have to eat breakfast even if it is on the run.” So I put some dry Cheerios in a bag for her which she could eat on her way to the bus stop. I know it was not ideal, but it was better than nothing.

Developing good eating habits as a child is so important. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and should not be skipped. Unfortunately, many people skip breakfast, eat a regular meal and the biggest meal at the end of the day. There is no reason to wonder why so many people are overweight today.

I am not saying it is easy, but it is important to model these good habits: Eat breakfast like a king (more food), lunch like a prince (less food), dinner like a pauper (least amount of food). That quote is an easy way to remember how you should eat throughout the day. So if you or your child is running late in the morning, here are some healthier options for breakfast on the go: banana, Gogurt, dry cereal in a bag and peanut butter on toast.

Interesting article I thought I would share:

Breakfast like a King By Emily Loghmani, MS, RD, LDN, CDE – “The benefits of eating this way include not only more energy for work or school but also weight loss.”

 

 

Recycle small toys and raise funds for the community or a charity.

A Earthfest

I am always looking for ways to teach the girls about recycling and giving back to the community. So last week I started a new project for the kids. Let’s go through the toy closet and gather all the small toys we received in goodie bags, McDonalds Happy Meals, etc that we don’t need anymore and put them in a “treasure chest” (plastic box).

In honor of Earthfest, the girls and I sold these recycled small toy “treasures” for 25 cents a piece. All funds we raised were donated to the local bird sanctuary toward the erection of a shelter on the property. It went over really well with those who attended the event and it taught my daughters the following lessons: the importance of recycling, sales and customer service, math, fundraising and giving back to the community.

After the long winter, it was just nice to be outside again and we really had a lot of fun. We will probably do this again over the summer when we have a lemonade stand. Recycle, reduce and reuse:  just another idea I thought I would share to make recycling more fun for kids while doing something nice for the community.