Janice Yeung

Top Five Ways to Encourage a Special Needs Parent

January 9, 2014 in All Blogs, Education and Parenting, Our Blog

If you are a special needs parent, you know what I am talking about. While you love your child dearly, accommodating to their one-of-a-kind manners in functioning, learning and playing can be a challenge. While trying to figure out your child’s diagnosis and special needs in parental care, you might be frustrated with the lack of social support mechanisms and groups.

Not just that, friends and family members sometimes let you down. They might be scared to babysit your child when you want a night out; at a gathering they might be fearful because they do not know how best to interact with your child; they might even stop inviting you to occasions because the event does not provide accessibility services. We know how you feel and we are determined to make a change. Here is a list of the top 5 ways to encourage a special needs parent in your extraordinary journey. Be encouraged!

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 1. Understand the condition first.

Before you make assumptions, stop and listen to the parent explain what his/her child’s diagnosis is. You could also do your own research and educate yourself about the conditions of dyslexia, ADHD, autism, Down’s Syndrome and so on. The parent will appreciate you taking the time to understand what his/her child is challenged with.

 2. Be positive!

It is no exaggeration to say that a happy soul injects sunshine into the life of parents with special needs children. With a warm smile on your face, a batch of freshly baked cookies in your hands, you just might make their day. Be affirmative; give words of support and a warm bear hug when needed.

 3. Be accepting.

Even though a lot of children with recognizable challenges are shunned by society and face discrimination, you do not have to see them as less capable than other children. Play with special needs children just like how you would with other children! Run around, frolic, have fun! Other than giving the children opportunities to develop healthy social interactions with others, you would also be showing the parents that there are people out there who see their children as more than their diagnoses.

 4. Walk together!

An African proverb says, “If you want to walk fast, walk alone; but if you want to walk far, walk together.” It is so worth it to educate your family, friends, co-workers whenever you can of the importance of accepting those with intellectual or physical challenges. Challenge them to stop using derogatory language. Inform them that it is wrong to single out people who are more awkward or clumsy. Teach them that they should embrace values of love and equality. Generate a tidal wave of attitude and cultural change!

 5. Be the rep!

There can never be enough advocates for special needs children and their parents! Show your love for people with special needs by being their voice. Join support groups and call out schools, media and state legislators to ask for changes that you want to see in your neighbourhood. This cause is worth the fight! Show the world that children with special needs are not burdens, but rather, they bring unique gifts to the world!

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Show special needs parents that they are not alone in this fight. Let them know they are included in the community and that you are walking with them in this extraordinary journey. Be a life-changer today!

 

Like this article? SHARE it so more people will read it and be encouraged! Do you have any opinions on whether these tips are helpful or not? COMMENT below to let us know! You can also pitch articles to us if you would like to see them posted here! Simply email janice@healthrehab.ca

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The Impact of Toys on the Learning Process

December 17, 2012 in All Blogs, Education and Parenting, Guest Posts, Our Blog

block buildingVarious toys can be used to support the learning and developmental process of infants, toddlers and young children. Choosing toys that are suitable for a child’s age and cognitive abilities will support the child’s development. One of the most important aspects in the development of infants is their ability to explore their environment, and therefore, toys that promote exploration are very beneficial to young children. As infants become toddlers and preschoolers, they develop social skills, which help them play and learn with other children. However, before the child becomes a preschooler, parents and caregivers must engage in play activities with infants to help promote further exploration.

Early Exploration

Babies experience the world and learn new things through the structure of play. Young babies explore their environments by physically manipulating age-appropriate toys. Rattles, teething toys and other colorful toys grab the babies’ attention immediately. As babies develop and approach the age of one, their developmental skills are more sophisticated, and thus, many babies at the age of one have the ability to manipulate more advanced-level toys. Throughout this learning process, as infants acquire new cognitive abilities, early learning skills begin to integrate with new developmental skills.

Creating Sound

Toys that use sound teach the idea of cause and effect. As babies manipulate musical toys, they develop their cognitive and emotional skills. Musical toys can be created from simple household items, such as bottles, cooking pans and cardboard boxes similar to store-bought toys. Age-appropriate musical toys become more advanced as babies get older.

Imagination and Interest

Toys help babies and young children develop imaginative skills through pretend play. Toys that represent a child’s interests, family and environment help to facilitate an environment of pretend play. Toddlers around the age of 2 and 3 years old begin to assert their independence and choose to play with toys that are more engaging to them. For instance, a toddler may prefer to play with dinosaurs rather than cars and vice versa. Promoting a child’s imagination and creative skills are effective when the child has a profound interest in the toy. Different personality traits in children influence their interests in selecting toys. Also, the child’s gender plays a huge factor in a child’s interest in selecting toys. However, in most instances, parents tend to encourage their children to select toys that conform to their gender. For example, parents may be more inclined to encourage a boy to play with cars or dinosaurs, whereas many parents tend to encourage girls to play with dolls or tea cups.

Educational Toys

Age-appropriate educational toys help babies and young children develop the ability to process information, develop problem-solving skills and symbolic thinking. Stacking blocks and creating towers with blocks are very effective methods to help young children develop problem-solving and spatial visualization skills, as well as improve hand-eye coordination. Playing with play dough increases a child’s ability to use their imagination and make shapes. Other educational store-bought toys, such as toys designed to repeat sounds of letters help babies, toddlers and preschoolers imitate the sounds and connect pictures with letter sounds and words. Puppets are also educational toys, and children use puppets to tell stories and listen to stories being told by teachers, parents, and other children. Puppet play develops a child’s imagination and helps the children bring pretend characters to life. Puzzles are great educational toys as they aid in the cognitive development of young children through matching shapes with spaces and conceptualizing an overall picture.

For more info:

http://ir.lib.nhcue.edu.tw/ir/bitstream/392440000Q/4234/1/129388391584117824.pdf
http://vault.hanover.edu/~altermattw/social/assets/w08papers/Minett_Shah_Sutherland.pdf

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Natan

A Parent’s Role in the Development of a Child

December 3, 2012 in All Blogs, Brain Injury, Cerebral Palsy, Conditions, Developmental Delay, Education and Parenting, Guest Posts, Health & Medical, Living, Our Blog, Stroke

Parents with a special needs child are always wondering if they are doing enough to help their child grow and develop.

By taking an active role in tracking the 9 important developmental milestones for your child, identifying developmental delay and finding a therapist for your special needs child, parents are well on their way to helping your child meet developmental milestones.

The next steps after choosing a therapeutic treatment program is to be present during therapy and learn the techniques being taught in order to continue treatment at home.

Here are a few things to consider when attending treatment sessions with your child.

A special needs parent’s role

A child’s development depends immensely on the joint efforts of the child, parents and therapists. While therapists are a crucial part of therapy, parents also play an integral role as they inspire, motivate, and incorporate functions taught in therapy with daily life.

When parents learn the techniques taught in therapy and practice them with their child, it aids in a child’s overall improvement. When a parent is not involved in the child’s therapy, it might take much longer for the child to improve. Family involvement is an important aspect in any child’s development.

A physiological look into things 

A child’s brain is most malleable and formative during the early years of his life. With the appropriate methods and stimulation, neuroplasticity will allow the brain to repair or reroute damaged pathways so a child can learn or re-learn to use functions.

It is then possible to develop your child and help him become more independent. If the brain receives little stimulation, the synapses will not develop and the brain will make fewer connections. In order to create new functional pathways, a child must constantly stimulate his brain with repetitive practice.

Incorporating functions in daily life

So how can this be done? Simply attending therapy sessions for a few hours per week isn’t enough to help your child meet developmental milestones. By continuing treatment at home, you will be integrating daily functions taught in therapy with the child’s daily life.

This will have great impact on your child’s improvement as functions become automatic and the child learns that these functions are something that are required through the day as opposed to simply 2-3 hours per week. For example, if a child wants to grab a toy, instead of simply getting him the toy, use the steps taught in therapy and encourage your child to obtain it himself. That way, your child will know to use the steps learned in therapy at home.

The benefits

By continuing treatment outside of the clinic, you will help break down the barrier between the therapy room and home, allowing newly learned functions to become part of the child’s everyday life. When it has become integrated in the child’s life, he will then begin to meet his developmental milestones.

It’s important to keep in mind that the therapist acts as a coach and continuing to work at home will lead to the best results. By grasping what is taught in therapy and repeating it, your child will learn, grow, and develop.

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Natan

Finding a therapist for your special needs child

August 13, 2012 in All Blogs, Autism, Brain Injury, Cerebral Palsy, Conditions, Developmental Delay, Down Syndrome, Education and Parenting, Health & Medical, Living, News, Our Blog, Stroke

Check out our blog, finding a therapist for your special needs child, on Friendship Circle! Find it here!

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Natan

Improving your child’s sleep-wake cycle

August 2, 2012 in All Blogs, Autism, Brain Injury, Cerebral Palsy, Conditions, Developmental Delay, Down Syndrome, Education and Parenting, Food and Nutrition, Health & Medical, Living, Our Blog, Stroke


Sleep is a crucial factor in a child’s development, health, and lifestyle. It’s important to understand your child and notice how he functions through the day, what activities he engages in, and his daily sleep patterns. This becomes especially important when looking at a child that has a serious condition such as epilepsy. In doing so, you can help him eliminate activities which can affect his sleep, and thus decrease the likelihood of him experiencing seizures or other serious health problems.

A biological look into things

In order to recognize why making these changes are necessary we first must look at how the body functions. All our bodily processes follow a certain schedule (circadian rhythm).The body’s circadian rhythm responds to the lightness and darkness of an individual’s environment. It affects our sleep-wake cycles, hormone release, body temperature and other bodily functions. If a child doesn’t get enough rest, it may disrupt his sleep-wake cycle and cause seizures to occur.

A bit of fresh air goes a long way

To avoid this issue, a child should have a regimen that is set in stone, from his sleeping and eating habits to his playtime schedule. This should include exposure to sunlight and as much fresh air as possible. When a child is exposed to light the brain begins to perform functions such as increasing body temperature, releasing stimulating hormones, and other processes which cause him to feel sleepy or awake. It is for these reasons that a child should follow a routine that includes playtime outdoors and sleeping at a reasonable hour.

Avoid over-stimulating the senses

As the day passes and the sun begins to set, it is also important to avoid anything that over-stimulates the senses before bedtime, such as lights that flash brightly, watching television, playing video or computer games, or working on a computer. Playing interactive video games significantly increases a child’s heart rate, blood pressure and respiratory rate. These effects will hinder him from following his sleep schedule, as he will take longer to fall asleep and thus will disturb his sleep-wake cycle. If a child engages in activities that over-stimulate the senses, it is best for it to occur earlier in the day in order for his heart rate, blood pressure and respiratory rate to have enough time to return to normal.

Mealtime is key

Finally, another important aspect to pay attention to is a child’s mealtime. His eating habits and routine greatly impact sleep cycles. In order for a child to properly digest food, the largest meal of the day should be consumed in the morning and the lightest should occur 4 hours before going to sleep. Try to avoid heavy meals late at night and stayaway from junk foods. This will ensure that your child will not experience indigestion, restlessness, and problems sleeping.

As we mentioned before, getting enough sleep is a big key point in any child’s life. For a child who has seizures, it is even more crucial; therefore, it’s important to understand your child and explore what impacts his individual sleep-wake cycle. By understanding your child’s needs, you will be able to accommodate him whether by getting him into bed no later than 9 pm and getting him up in the normal hours of the morning, reading a book to relax him, or even removing a dim nightlight that may be preventing him from sleeping. In this way, you will be able to improve his health, happiness and overall well-being.

If you have any questions, comments or experiences to share about your child and his sleep-wake cycle, leave me a comment down below or join our forum discussion. Thanks everyone!

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Natan

Quote #6 – Bringing your child into the world

July 23, 2012 in Quotes


From the blog Bringing your child into the world by Natan Gendelman

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