Sharing about Sensory and Sensitivities in September!

I’m trying to use as much alliteration as possible to gain you attention about some exciting local events and offerings I’ve learned about recently!

After attending an event to raise awareness about Autism, I learned about some cool events that can be helpful to kids, teens, and adults who have sensory-processing issues, anxiety, special needs, or can just feel overwhelmed when there’s too much going on at one time.

So here they are, in case you’re interested! (In chronological order for your calendars!)

·         Orlando Science Center: Sensory Sundays: Sept. 27, 2015 9-11am

“This sensory friendly experience will allow visitors a chance to experience the exhibit halls at quieter volume settings. Visitors will also be able to enjoy the movie with softer volume and more ambient light in our theater.’ Free to Science Center Members or enter with General Admission.

·         Fancy Nancy, Musical at The Rep: Sensory-Friendly Performance: Sept. 27th at 5:30pm

Special modifications include adjustments made to the show’s lighting, and sound effects, designated quiet areas should patrons need to take a sensory break, and a Social Story available for download ahead of time so patrons can get a feel for the theater experience before the show.

Tickets start at $14. 407-896.7365.

·         2015 Central Florida-Walk Now for Autism Speaks: Nov. 14, 2015

I will be with my team supporting this cause! Come visit us at our tent and table! Hope to see you there! Proceeds go to funding treatment and research for those with Autism Spectrum Disorders. If you’d like to donate to Autism Speaks, ask me how!

·         Blue Man Group: Autism Friendly Performance: Saturday, Dec. 5, 2015, 6pm

·         Tampa Bay Rays: Autism Awareness Game: Late Spring 2016

·         FREE Autism Screenings with Nemours, CARD & Autism Speaks:

This free screening is for children up to 6 years old and take about 20 minutes. You’ll be able to discuss screening and next steps with a Nemours Specialist afterwards.

Locations & Dates of screenings:

1.      Nemour’s Kid Track Lobby:13535 Nemours Parkway, Orlando, FL 32827

1:00-4:30pm on the following dates: 9/20/15; 9/28/15; 11/16/15; 1/11/16; 3/21/16; 5/9/16

2.      The Children’s Center: 5650 S. Washington Ave., Titusville, FL 32780

1:00-5:00pm on October 12, 2015

3.      Locations to be announced for the following dates in surrounding counties:

12/14/15 in Seminole County; 2/5/16 in Volusia County; 4/11/16 in Lake County

6/20/15 in Polk County

As always, feel free to share these events with family and friends who may benefit. Let me know if you have any concerns or questions about what Autism, Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), Sensory Processing Disorder, other developmental disorders, or anxiety disorders or symptoms might look like or how to best cope, and even thrive! 

The Back-To-School Transition: Setting Your Family Up For Success!

Here we go again! It’s back to school for the kiddos. And while there is much to look forward to with a new school year, many kids (and parents) have a difficult time getting back into the swing of things. Transitions can be especially difficult for children. Think of all the ways they are affected by this transition back to school: bedtime, wake time, limited time to eat breakfast, dress, and transport to school, increased structure of all daily activities, starting sports and clubs again, new school, new grade, new teacher, new peers. Whew. They are even exposed to your own parental angst about these changes.

 Kids can be apprehensive, even anxious, about going back to school. Things like meeting new peers, going to a new grade or new school can be scary due to fear of the unknown and lack of familiarity. Maybe some specific situation occurred last year that a child fears repeating, like being bullied, falling behind academically, or being embarrassed in class. It’s important to recognize and hear a child’s concerns about returning to school. However, a parent can challenge their concerns by reminding them of their strengths and resiliency in surviving previous school years.  In addition, redirect them to focus on the positives; help them see this transition as an opportunity not an obstacle.

Here are some ideas for decreasing back-to-school jitters (for parents too), and increasing adjustment to the new school year:

1. Go to your school’s open house. Check your calendar. It could be this week! If you’ve missed it, see if you can drop by the school anyway with your child and meet his teacher. This is an important step in familiarizing with the teachers, classroom, and school grounds - even where the bathroom is! It also gives your child a chance to get a head start on meeting other classmates who may be there, and for you to meet parents of classmates. Mom and Dad, do yourself a favor and go ahead and get some contact information from the other parents as well. You may find yourself needing help with ideas for spirit week or clarification on Billy’s field trip agenda.

2. Get a head start on your routine, including bedtime and wake time, long before school starts. As much as your child wants to get in as many late night sleepovers as possible before school starts, it will make adjusting to school nights and days much more difficult. Include your bedtime rituals (i.e. reading a book before lights out). If you don’t have one of these rituals, start one. As it’s included into the bedtime routine, your child develops a connotation that it’s time to wind down.

3. Involve your child. Provide choice to your child, within reason. For example, if it’s in your budget to buy a new lunch box this year, let her pick it out from a few choices within your budget. This can serve your child by empowering them, giving them some control in an uncontrollable transition back to school, as well as excite them about school, and provide a form of self-expression. Who knows? Your child’s Ninja Turtle lunch box could be a conversation starter with a classmate who also shares an affinity for the crime-fighting reptiles! Making friends made easy (or easier at least).

See Psychology Today Blogs for more information:

‘It's Time to Fall Back Into the School Schedule: Implement a Plan to Reset Children and Adolescents’ Sleep Patterns’ –Joseph Buckhalt, Ph.D.

‘Back-to-School Worries: Recognize common worries kids have about returning to school’- Barbara Markway, Ph.D.