Unless you’ve been under a rock, you’ve probably heard about the latest craze hitting the schoolyard – fidget spinners. I’m going to take an unpopular stand here and say that they’re more toy than tool for most kids. There are definitely some kids that are helped by them but they can distract others and some brands of them are noisy enough to upset some kids on the spectrum. I’m not going to say never get your kid a fidget spinner, because if it works for your kid then it works for your kid, however I’ve seen more kids who are MORE distracted when using a spinner than if they had no fidget to use which is the opposite of the intended purpose. If you are getting one for your child with special needs, look for ones with the bearings enclosed, try it out first to see how the noise affects them (some are really quiet, others emit a low frequency hum that is quite annoying over time), and stay away from gimmicks such as LED lights and bluetooth speakers in the spinners. For the kids who spinners aren’t working for, there are other fidget toys that may be a better fit and aren’t banned in classrooms. Today I’m going to go through my fidget toy collection and post my top 5 recommended fidget toys for use in classrooms and at home.
As someone who works with kids on the spectrum, I’ve witnessed my fair share of meltdowns. As I said in my sensory 101 post, a meltdown is not a tantrum. A tantrum happens when a child wants something (a toy, candy, attention) and is not getting it. In contrast, a meltdown occurs when a child is overstimulated and cannot handle all of the stimuli in their environment. A child throwing a tantrum is attempting to change your behaviour, a child in the midst of a meltdown cannot change his. It’s all well and good to have this distinction in mind when things are going (relatively) smoothly, but when your child is the one having a meltdown it can be hard to remember they’re not trying to manipulate you. Here are some tips to help you survive your kid having a meltdown.
One of the hardest things for many parents to understand about their child with Autism is their sensory issues. I’m writing from my experience, which is with kids who have ASD. Sensory issues can come on their own, as part of Sensory Processing Disorder, or with another condition such as ADHD.
If you don’t have a sensory issue, it can be very hard to understand why you child is refusing to put on the shirt grandma gave him for Christmas because it “doesn’t feel right”. Often, parents chalk these tantrums up to behaviour or defiance, but as I explained in an earlier post, behaviour is how some children with ASD communicate that there is a problem. [Read more…]