Children Who Can’t Trust

When an infant has a need (such as the need for nourishment) which is not met, there is a big emotional response. That’s because the stakes are so great. If the child isn’t nourished, he will die. So he makes his needs known rather dramatically, crying and thrashing about. If this emotional response eventually brings him the sustenance he needs, he begins learning to trust. He discovers that when he is vulnerable, someone in his life will respond lovingly. As the child grows and develops, trust continues to build as the cycle repeats over and over again. For example, the … Continue reading

Theory of Mind – Does Your Child Grasp it?

In order for a child to have meaningful interactions with other human beings, to empathize, to relate, and to share, he or she must have a working “theory of mind.” When a child has “theory of mind” difficulties, he or she is likely to have severe deficits in communication both verbally and non-verbally. I believe it is important for parents to understand this concept as they help their children improve communication and socialization skills. What is “Theory of Mind?” The basic principles of theory of mind are these: I have a mind that thinks, forms opinions, and has feelings. Unlike … Continue reading

FLOOR TIME: Promoting Logical Thinking

This is the fifth and last blog in my 5-part floor time series. (“Floor Time” refers to getting down on the floor with your special needs child, and becoming his or her personal play therapist.) There is so much you can do as a parent to help your special needs child develop communication, motor, and social skills—and you only need to play with your child using a few particular techniques! If you’d like to start at the beginning of my five-part series, click here. At this point in your floor-time sessions, your child should be tolerating your presence, taking turns … Continue reading

The Ladder of Cognitive Skills for Special Needs Kids

It’s often useful to keep in mind the kinds of skills we should be helping our special kids master as they grow and develop. The following steps are general guidelines you can use as you direct your child through floor time play at home, special education in the classroom, and social interactions with friends and family. As you read the following list, try to determine which steps your child has mastered and which ones need additional focus. Often times the child has a mixture of abilities and challenges on every rung of the ladder. And remember that in order for … Continue reading

Parents, YOU are the Experts

You’ve got a toddler who is the light of your life. He’s rosy-cheeked, bright-eyed, and curious. But something just seems a little. . . off. You can’t quite place it. Maybe you express your concerns to a few close relatives or friends, and they assure you that your worries are unfounded. But still, you’re troubled. When A Child’s Play Seems Unusual One of the most common things that parents notice when they feel something isn’t quite right with their child is that his or her play is unusual. “She doesn’t use toys the way other children do.” “He doesn’t want … Continue reading

Why Does My Child Keep Overreacting?

It’s always a good idea to remind ourselves that our children with special needs have brains that interpret and assimilate information differently. In a previous blog I wrote about “brain wiring” with respect to people with autism. A neurologist who was evaluating my son’s behaviors said, “It’s the way his brain is wired.” I’ve certainly observed that my son sees and comprehends the world around him in his own unique way. This is especially true for children with sensory integration dysfunction, who receive all kinds of confused signals as their brains process sensory input. These kids have curious, peculiar behaviors … Continue reading

“Why is My Child Clumsy?” The Symptoms of Dyspraxia

I’ve gotten rather used to driving my huge 12-passenger van around town. The size of my family requires it. However, I remember a while back when my sister loaned me her average-sized car. As I drove it down the highway, I felt like my rear end was scraping on the ground. It definitely required some getting used to. Everything was in a different location and I felt strange sitting in it. A child with dyspraxia feels this way in his own body. Although eventually I became acclimated to the smaller car, the child with dyspraxia continues to do things as … Continue reading

8 Difficult Autistic Behaviors (And Why They Happen)

Children with autism have numerous challenging behaviors for parents to deal with. Sometimes the behaviors seem to make no sense whatsoever. The child might seem unreachable, temperamental, and impossible to deal with. However, when we take a look at the underlying deficits that contribute to the problems, we can gain a better understanding. And with a little understanding, we are better equipped to find ways to help. The following is a list of eight typical behaviors of an autistic child, and their likely causes. This is not an exhaustive list of all autism symptoms, and some autistic children will only … Continue reading

“Will I Ever Play Like That?”

This past holiday week I’ve been enjoying my oldest son Garrett’s piano playing. He has become quite accomplished, and it’s a delight for me to listen to him. I remember when he was just a little kid starting his piano lessons. He had a big clunky book with huge notes and his feet swung from the bench. We attended his first piano recital together and he plunked out a simple little tune, his wobbly fingers tapping on each key. At the end of the recital, a young adolescent girl with long flowing hair sat down to the piano. She began … Continue reading

Does Your Preschooler Have a Developmental Delay? Answer These 20 Questions

The following checklist should be used as a guideline to help you determine whether your son or daughter should be evaluated for a developmental delay. This is only a first step in helping you sort out your child’s symptoms and behaviors, using your daily observations. It’s important to remember that all children develop at different rates and they all display problem behaviors at times. What you should look for is an overall picture, or consistent pattern of behaviors or struggles. These questions apply to a child between the ages of approximately two and four. For each one, you’ll need to … Continue reading