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Rearranging the Sleeping Game for the Upcoming School Year

Sound the alarms! With our kiddos heading back to school in a few weeks, comes the dreaded early mornings.

This summer you might have been enjoying an alarm free summer, but all of that is going to change very shortly. Transitioning to a school year sleep schedule is your best bet to make the first few days of school as enjoyable as possible. To help make your mornings as pain free as possible we have come up with a few helpful hints. 

  • Make slight changes to their sleep schedule. Do not try to make a drastic change in one night. Slowly rearrange their sleeping schedule by thirty minutes a night, until you are at their ideal sleep schedule by the time the first day of school arrives.  
  • Limit late night electronic use- We know how much we all love using our electronic devices. But using these devices before bed actually disrupts our body’s natural transition to sleep. By limiting the use of these devices an hour or two before bedtime, this will allow your kiddos to get to bed earlier. 
  • Be wary of sleeping in- Although we are all enjoying the last few days of summer…be cautious! You’ll want to keep their time schedule as consistent as possible. 
  • Make sure all your kiddos are getting the recommended amount of sleep- The amount of sleep needed for each child varies by age. Children ages 3-5 should be sleeping 10 to 13 hours, children ages 6-12 should be sleeping 9 to 12 hours, and teens 13-18 should be sleeping between 8 to 10 hours. By getting the right amount of sleep your kiddos will be rested and ready to learn! 
  • Breakfast! Breakfast! Breakfast! There is a reason this is called the most important meal of the day. You want to make sure that this meal is a priority each school morning. Insuring a substantial meal each morning will supply your children with enough energy to start out the school year strong.  

We’re sure you and your fam have been enjoying many leisurely mornings. Alas, it’s time to change!  Making even slight changes in the upcoming weeks will make the world of a difference come the first day of school. 

 

As always, if you have any questions contact Cayer Behavioral Group at 850-320-6555 or email support@cayerbehavioral.com for more information.   

Having a child sit down and focus on homework after a long day at school can be an uphill battle. Kids with autism often have more problems at homework time than their peers. Please, have no fear. Cayer Behavioral Group is here to help you and your child get through homework scotch-free!

Before starting, make sure the homework assignment is understood by your child. Having clear instructions outlined (in tiny steps) may make a world of difference when they are trying to understand the purpose of their homework. Also, make sure the homework is in step with your child’s Individualized Education Plan (IEP). Don’t be afraid to refer to your child’s IEP for help when communicating with the teacher and the overall immediate goal.

Next, place your child in an environment where they can succeed. Establish a designated homework-spot and time for you and your child, or even the whole family! This way, everyone in the household is aware: it is time to focus and distractions and interruptions are very limited. This way, you and your child can focus on what’s important–their success!

Last but not least, motivate and reinforce your child’s accomplishments, no matter how big or small! And, don’t be afraid of taking breaks. If a five minute task is taking ten to fifteen minutes, thank them for focusing and give them a little, well deserved, breather. Thanking them for focusing or completing a series of problems and allowing them to walk away from the task at hand will make a massive difference in your child’s motivation and mentality about homework. If your child sees their efforts are noticed and appreciated, homework time is bound to be more enjoyable!

Homework time may not always be smooth sailing, but Cayer Behavioral Group hopes these tips lighten the load! Remember, you are never alone and everyone involved wants to see your child succeed! #autismawarenesseveryday

 

Bedtime.

For some parents, it’s a seemingly harmless word that nevertheless can strike fear into hearts.

Some children seem to gain a special kind of hyper and defiant energy when told to prepare for bed. As the first day of school approaches, getting children to bed for a solid night’s sleep is critical, but the amount of sleep needed varies by age. The National Sleep Foundation recommends for preschool children (11-13 hrs), school age children (10 -11 hrs) and for adolescents (9 ¼ hrs). Daytime sleepiness can result in hyperactivity, inattentiveness and aggression. Having energy during the school day can make a monumental difference.

First things first: take a deep breath. You can do this!

For children with Autism, sleep problems are very common. The two most prevalent challenges are difficulty falling asleep and repeated awakenings throughout the night. Some medications may have a detrimental impact on a child being able to fall asleep or stay asleep. Before putting your child on any new medications, ask your doctor about possible nighttime side effects. If you are currently dealing with these issues, ask your doctor if it may be because of medication.

Start your school year off by establishing a bedtime routine both you and your child can depend on.

  1. Exercise during the day can make it easier for a child to fall asleep. Try to avoid any intensive physical activities close to bedtime, which can have the opposite effect.
  2. Avoid caffeine close to bedtime. Be aware of any beverages your child is consuming which could be harboring caffeine, including tea, soda, and chocolate.
  3. Your child’s sleep environment is critical. It should be calm, dark, and cool. Be aware of any possible toys or distractions in the environment.
  4. Create a predictable routine. Perhaps a bath, listening to music, or reading a book. The use of electronic devices immediately before bedtime can make it more difficult to fall asleep.
  5. Teach your child to fall asleep alone. For many parents, this can be the most difficult challenge, as you want to comfort a distressed child. Stay with your child before bedtime but leave before they fall asleep. If needed, only return to their room for reassurances, and leave shortly thereafter.

This bedtime routine can be a special time for you and your child to unwind, relax, and bond. It won’t always go perfectly, of course, but don’t let temporary discouragement keep you from getting back on track. Now, let’s get to sleeping!

 

References

Autism Speaks

          A strong parent-teacher relationship is always important. When you have a child with Autism, it is essential. Consistent parent-teacher communication can make a tremendous difference in your child’s learning and progress. As always, Cayer Behavioral Group is here to take a little bit of that weight of your shoulders and answer all your questions!

          To work toward a positive relationship with your child’s teacher, schedule a one-on-one appointment with them. That way you will be able to specifically talk about your child’s needs and what is expected of them.

          Before going to the meeting, have a list of questions prepared. There’s no such thing as too many questions! Some questions you can ask include:

  1. What is my child expected to learn this year?
  2. How will this be evaluated?
  3. How will my child’s progress be monitored?
  4. What is the best way for us to stay in contact?
  5. What types of tests and evaluations will my child have to take this year?
  6. Is my child participating in class activities?
  7. How are my child’s social skills?
  8. Does my child seem happy at school?
  9. Have you noticed any unusual behaviors?
  10. Do you think my child is reaching his/her potential?
  11. What can I do at home to help support his/her academic progress?

          Remember, don’t be afraid to continue to ask questions if you don’t understand something. Teachers understand that some things are hard to comprehend, and and it is their job to help.

          Throughout the meeting, be yourself! You and the teacher both want the very best for your child. After the meeting, talk with your child and give them an appropriate overview of what was discussed. Ideally, everyone involved should have a clear understanding.

          Don’t forget that you are not the first person to want specific information regarding their child’s education. Everyone involved wants to see your child succeed, and with a strong relationship with your child and their teacher, anything is possible!

 

          This weekend, August 4th-6th, 2017, is Florida’s Annual Tax Free Weekend! Knowing what to buy for your child diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) may sometimes be a tall order! Cayer Behavioral Group is here to keep it simple!

Here are a few products that you may get some great use of:

Those marked with an asterisk (*) qualify for tax-free benefits!

  1. Markers, printer paper, notebook paper, pencils, pens*
    • Great to have for crafts and having extras for kids is never too much!
  2. 7-pocket file organizers*
    • Can be used to organize all of your students’ or child’s Individualized Education Programs (IEP).
  3. Construction paper*
    • Perfect for labeling and crafts!
  4. Notebooks, drawing pads, and journals
    • Great way for kids to keep up with their own notes and drawings while teaching personal responsibility!
  5. Personal white boards and Expo markers*
    • Great for individual instruction and practicing, reusable, and easy clean-up!
  6. Contact Paper-Clear Adhesive Roll*
    • Can be used to wrap around books to help prevent tears, and water damage.
  7. iPads or personal tablets*
    • Wonderful for increased communication and can offer many apps and programs to stimulate creativity!
  8. Large dry-erase wall calendar*
    • Perfect for keeping up with your and your kid’s busy schedule and is reusable for many months and years to come!
  9. Bean bag chairs
    • Great for a spacious room to add dynamic seating and personal space for kids or yourself!
  10. Brain-Break Cards
    • Offer fantastic and varying ways to either calm, focus, or energize kids! Noise-Reducing headphones*
  11.  Noise-Reducing headphones*
    • Helps students focus on the task at hand, and reduces external distractions
  12. Soothing Sands Sand Box
    • Sand often gives kids with Autism Spectrum Disorder awesome sensory input.  And hey, who doesn’t love sand?
  13. Pencil Grips*
    • Helps kids gently place fingers in the proper position for gripping, so they can master fine motor and handwriting skills!
  14. DNA Ball
    • A great tactile, fidget, and visual toy!
  15. Chewable Pencil Toppers
    • Helps kids with oral motor sensory needs and helps them maintain focus while writing!

          Shopping for school does not have to be a hassle! Here at Cayer Behavioral Group, we want to make getting ready for the new school year as easy and fun-filled as possible for the families and communities we serve! For more information on Tax Free Weekend, visit the Florida Department of Revenue’s website. Cheers to an awesome school year. Happy shopping!

#autismawarenesseveryday #cbg

Guest Blog By Jessica Duncan, Fun4TallyKids.com

After-School Care should be something to look forward to for every child and parent, but if your child has Autism / Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), sometimes finding the best fit can be difficult. You want the best care for your child, and it can be overwhelming to search through the many after-school care programs Tallahassee has to offer.

Before enrolling your child, there are some specific things you can ask the care program’s owner to make sure staff is qualified, experienced, and open to inclusion in their after-school care programs.  

  • What is the ratio of staff to kids? You may even go further to ask if they have availability for one-to-one staff when needed. The added attention to your child can help them to feel included in activities, and to make sure any outburst or issue that may arise is handled in a positive manner. 
  • What are the qualifications of your staff and after-school counselors? Don’t take a simple “yes, they’ve been trained” as an answer; ask about the specific training that was provided, including: Applied Behavior Analyst (ABA), Autism Spectrum Disorder Specialist (ASDS), Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA), and Registered Behavior Technician (RBT).
  • Do your staff members and after-school counselors have experience with kids on the spectrum? There are some after-school care programs in Tallahassee with over 20 years of experience!  Some care programs are brand new, but their staff and counselors may have experience working at other programs or camps. Just ask.
  • Will you consider my child’s specific challenges in group situations? Many after-school care programs have forms for parents to fill out so that every need can be met when it comes to individual personalities, interests, and behaviors. 

  • Can you provide a visual schedule? Your child may have less anxiety if he/she can see pictures of what to expect at after-school care each day. If the program doesn’t regularly provide this, many of them will be more than happy to show you pictures of the activities and fun their kids have.  
  • Will my child be integrated and included?  The correct answer is “Yes.” The program’s owner should tell you that they make sure all of their campers are included in groups and activities, that they teach kids about inclusion, patience, and making friends with children on the spectrum, and staff encourages kids to help one another.  
  • Will the after-school care staff communicate with me, the parent? Your child may not be one to jump in the car after camp to tell you all about their day, so communication is very important between the staff and parents. Find out if they are willing to provide you with a written note at the end of each day letting you know how their day at camp was, or you might ask to speak to a staff member who was with your child that day when you pick them up.  
  • Will my child be safe? This is an important question and concern for a parent of any child. The bottom line is, when you know your child is safe, YOU can enjoy your day.  

In addition to finding the answers to these questions when looking for an after-school care program, be sure to choose one that you think your child will actually be interested in.  

Jessica Duncan is the owner of Fun4TallyKids.com, an online resource for families to find things to do with and for their kids. To see a comprehensive list of resources in the Tallahassee area, visit http://fun4tallykids.com/. Follow on Facebook, and subscribe to receive weekly events email at http://fun4tallykids.com/Newsletter-Signup/. She can be reached at jessica@fun4tallykids.com or (850) 877-4357.