Four Ways to find Activities for your Child with Autism

BY: - 24 Jun '14 | Parenting

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Facing Autism on BMWK

Summer is finally here.  And for the first time in years, my husband and I are glad that we found recreational activities that work for our six-year old son, Angel. He is enrolled in a great baseball challenger league and at a sports gym program for children with special needs. We also try to take advantage of the various access and sensory-friendly programs in our area.

Angel is an only child, so we make an extra effort to expose him to activities that can help him learn how to socialize and interact with his peers. He receives extended school year services (ESY), so this means he attends summer school. His schedule limits our ability to do fun activities with him during the week, but we try to keep him busy during weekends.

It has been a long journey for us as we tried to find appropriate activities for Angel. First, we needed to accept that activities meant for typically-developing children were not a right fit for our son. Inclusion can work for some children with autism, but Angel is just not there yet. Another lesson we learned is that all special needs activities are not appropriate for all special needs children.

So how can you find an activity for your child with autism? Honestly, there is no magic answer. All children on the spectrum are different and like anyone else, their interests may vary. Still, there are some general ideas that can be applied to all of us autism parents.

  1. Network: When you expand your social circle online or in your community, you can become exposed to ideas from other parents who have been there. One thing about us, as parents, is we love to share a good thing when we hear about it. Do not be afraid to ask questions. I have learned about many great recreational programs from other parents. Remember your network is priceless.
  2. Research: It can be difficult for some of our children to participate in mainstream activities. However, I want to encourage you to research organizations in your area that provide activities that may interest your child. Subscribe to publications that target special needs parents. Look into programs that target children with special needs. Be prepared to provide 1:1 support for your children, if you decide to enroll them in a mainstream activity. Some mainstream programs may not have staff members who are trained to work with our kids.
  3. Know your Child: As parents, we have to tune into our kids’ interests and maximize their opportunities to get exposed to them. If there is an activity that can enhance your child’s ability to work on a skill, then go for it. Still we should not force our kids to continue to participate in an activity if week after week they are having a miserable time. As they say “everything ain’t for everybody.” Some of our kids are nonverbal so they may not be able to tell us if they like an activity, but they will certainly show us. We have to be willing to listen and observe.
  4. Trials are Good: Free trials are great way to find out if your child will do well in an activity. Sometimes it may take two trials to figure that out. If a recreational program is willing to make this accommodation for you, then it is definitely one worth checking out. Remember that if you try something out now and it does not work you can always give it a rest and try again later.

Like everything else for our kids, finding appropriate activities for them is a process. All we can do is stick it out until we find something that works. Our children will definitely benefit now and in the long run.

BMWK: Is your child enrolled in an activity this summer? Share in the comments and this could help another parent find something in their area.

About the author

Kpana Kpoto wrote 38 articles on this blog.

Kpana Kpoto, also known as Miz Kp, is a special needs advocate and blogger. She provides resources and support for autism parents through her blog, Sailing Autistic Seas and her support group, Bronx Parents Autism Support Circle. Kpana lives in New York City with her husband and only child, six-year old "Angel" who is conquering autism one milestone at a time.

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Motherhood & Success: You Don’t Have to Choose

BY: - 25 Jun '14 | Parenting

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This past weekend, I got to celebrate my daughter’s third birthday. When I think back three years ago to what success as a mother meant to me then versus now, it’s actually evolved over time. Some people don’t believe that motherhood and success can go hand-in-hand. Some may argue that once you become a mom, you have to put all of your dreams and goals on hold, or worse, forget about them altogether. And because children learn by what they see, what is that teaching them?

According to Webster, success is defined as a “favorable or desired outcome, or the attainment of wealth, favor, or eminence”.  In Dictionary’s words, its defined as “the attainment of wealth, position, honors or the like”: two different sources, but the same meaning.  However, I’m sure that if I asked a few of my fellow moms, how they defined success for themselves, I’d get a multitude of answers according to that particular person. Some can easily define success as it relates to motherhood, and others can easily define success as it relates to their careers and/or business. But for many, it’s not easy to see how the two can work together.

I often say that balance is overrated because to find true balance, means that everything is aligned and getting the exact same focus, attention and energy (both in life and in business). I don’t know about you, but that’s never the case with me. For me, it resembles most closely to that of a juggling act. If you’re juggling five balls (which represent your priorities), each of them will take a turn at the very top of the rotation. If you keep them all in your hands or try to throw them all up at the same time, either nothing happens, or they will all come crashing down. But when you give specific focus and attention at different intervals to each of the balls, then it will allow for a much more seamless time in keeping everything in tact. And that’s how I veiw motherhood and success: a juggling act.

One thing I always say is that as mothers, we can do it all. We just can’t do it all alone. Nor do I ever pretend to do so. Anyone who asks me how I do it all will definitely get the same answer: “I don’t”. I’ve had to learn how to set boundaries. I’ve had to learn that “no” is a complete sentence (no explanation necessary). And I’ve had to learn to simply ask for the help that I need (instead of assuming that people should know).

My success today is being able to keep my sanity on a daily basis after the potty runs, broken lamps, temper tantrums, food fights, and busted lips (not by me of course).  Managing clients and the workload that comes with entrepreneurship is a success. Being able to do laundry, wash dishes and cook dinner in the midst of all of this is definitely a huge success! But it takes some steady juggling. If I’m performing really high in one area, chances are, there are other areas that aren’t getting the same attention. And for my own sanity, I’ve learned to be okay with that.

I want my children to see a mother who is happy and fulfilled. I want them to see a mother who is walking in her purpose. I want to demonstrate to my children that motherhood and success go hand in hand. And I want other moms to know that they don’t have to choose one over the other.

BMWK: So how do you juggle success and motherhood?   

About the author

Christine St. Vil wrote 153 articles on this blog.

Christine St.Vil is co-author of the Whose Shoes Are Your Wearing: 12 Steps to Uncovering the Woman You Really Want to Be. A happy wife to an amazing hubby of 8 years, and homeschooling mother of three, she teaches moms how to FLY (First Love Yourself). She uses her corporate background to work with women who are ready to start a new business, accelerate their career growth & design a life they love. She's on a mission to help moms to battle the mom guilt epidemic, so they can begin to put themselves first on their never-ending list of priorities.

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