Today we are honored to share Diane Cassellius’ advice on holiday gifts for children with special needs! Diane is the wife of a Navy officer and the mother of 5 beautiful children. She lives in a beautiful New England town where the quality of life is second to none. She holds a graduate degree in psychology with a focus on medical health psychology. One of her children, Sam, has special needs – both medically and developmentally. Her passion is sharing their story and educating and advocating for those who are parents of chronically ill children.

Diane

  1. Sensory Overload:

Your child is subjected to sensory overload on a daily basis; this provides anxiety, frustration and distress. School can be a stressful environment for your child, where they are surrounded by a multitude of stressors such as large crowds, bright lights and excessive noise. The classroom can be an over stimulating place for them with simply too much information to process.

Sensory tools such as “chewelry,” fidget toys, and stress balls are simple and inexpensive, yet valuable tools to help your child cope with sensory overload.

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Consider these tools as great stocking stuffers so that your child will have the tools he or she needs at home. Having these items will help improve their quality of life. They will not only benefit them, keeping them calm and happy, but the entire family as well.

  1. Autistic Spectrum Disorder and other Sensation Seeking:

Contrary to what many people think, not all special needs children, especially autistic children, are over responsive to stimuli, in fact, quite the contrary. Some children are actually under responsive; they are referred to as “sensory seeking.” This is because their need for sensory stimulation actually needs to be intense.

There are certain sensory tools or toys that respond to your child’s action. These are the tools that offer feedback (sounds, lights and movement). They can help children with a sensory processing disorder focus their attention, calm themselves and decrease hyperactive or impulsive responses. Building blocks, touch and feel items, and puzzles are also great examples.

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For children who are sensory seekers, it will be important to find toys or items they can relate to and that they are interested in. Otherwise, the items will not be used for their intended ways which are to provide the sensory input the child desires.

  1. Auditory Processing Issues:

Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) is a complex issue, affecting 5% of all school aged children. Children with these issues cannot process information or hear things the same way other same-aged peers can. This not only affects the way a child hears but also the way a child speaks. For example, subtle differences between sounds and words are not recognized. Speech signals a sound that needs to be presented under optimal conditions. People with APD can miss parts of speech because it is too fast and too complex. When multiple sounds are heard, often-competing sounds can be missed. As a result, children miss or misunderstand certain parts of perceived communication.

181_1If a child plays with the right auditory toy or tool, it can help provide them with the ability to integrate sounds. My son, Sam used these all the time. The magic microphone can help a child amplify his voice, or even help a child who is non-verbal. When the child will be able to hear his voice thanks to this toy, this will provide positive reinforcement, which will encourage him to make that sound again.

Diane

http://5littlemonkeys.me/

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