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Going beyond Awareness

 

img_5556I have always been torn by the idea of Autism awareness or awareness of any other label for that matter. On the one hand, healing begins with awareness but on the other it can highlight separateness, us and them. Awareness is an important first step but we can’t stop there.

By learning about Autism we remove fear, we remove segregation, we remove labels that separate us and we realize how similar we all are. At the end of the day, we all want to be loved, we all want to be accepted for who we are, we all want our place in society, we all want to feel like we belong.

I pray every day that I get to witness a huge change in humanity where we begin to see from the eyes of soul. When we look at each other we see what unites us instead of what makes us different. We see don’t see disabilities but instead different abilities. We create the space in our society for every single person to have a chance to become a productive citizen no matter how small the contribution.
Children with Autism have taught me how to look beyond what is in front of me. They are my greatest teachers about life, about love, about authenticity. Although I cannot change the world, I can change myself. I know that we all have the choice to live from lack and fear or to live from love. Today I chose to live from love. So when you cross paths with a person with Autism or any other ability, choose to see them with eyes of love. From that space we are all one.

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Hold Space for your Child

What do I mean by that? I’d like to recount a known story about Thomas Edison. (not sure if it’s a true story but it definitely drives the point home!)

As a young boy Edison came home one day and handed his mother a letter given to him by his teacher. She read it out loud to him: “Dear Mrs Edison, Your son is a genius. This school is too small for him and doesn’t have good enough teachers to train him. Please teach him yourself.” From that point on, he was home schooled by his mom. Years after she died, Edison found the letter his teacher had sent home and it actually read: “Your son is mentally deficient. We cannot let him attend our school anymore. He is expelled.” As we all know it, Thomas Edison grew up to become one of the greatest inventors of his time thanks to the space that his mom held for him!!!!

So, what do I mean by holding space for your child?! I mean envisioning your child in the highest light without setting any barriers and limitations and then holding that space for them in order to grow into the magnificent adults they are meant to become. It is also very powerful as a parent to recognize that the limitations we usually set on our children are in fact our own. By removing our own fears and limitations, we create and hold greater space for our children to flourish.

Let’s get practical:
1- Take 5 minutes of your day. Ideally when you wake up or just before going to bed to take a deep breath, close your eyes and envision your child as the most amazing version of themselves. Hold that vision and really feel how that would feel for you and for your child.

2- Awareness of our own limitations is the first step into creating and holding space for our child. Become aware of the words you say to your child. If some words you use are limiting then question the source of your own limited belief.

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Where do we go from here?

 

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These past few days my mind has been occupied by the mass shooting in Parkland, FL. Being that I live in Miami, it’s not difficult to come across someone that has been directly affected by this devastating event. I really wanted to write about this.

I can’t help but think what has our world come to? How can someone inflict so much pain? Where is our world headed to if we continue like this? What is the cause for the rise in mass shootings at schools? What can we do as a society to prevent this from happening again? What could I personally do?

This is a complex issue and no one action will solve it. Stricter gun laws is definitely one piece of the puzzle. However we must all take responsibility and do our part with ourselves, our own children and families.

When I think of this young man who shot so many classmates, I can feel compassion for a soul that has not been surrounded by love and acceptance. Please don’t misread. I am not condoning his behavior and there are no guarantees that surrounding a child with love and acceptance will prevent violent behavior but I can’t imagine that this young man was surrounded by loving parents, accepting friends, caring teachers, solid grounded examples of people in his life and then decides to shoot up a school.

As parents and caretakers our responsibility is to heal ourselves so that we can help heal our children and have more to offer them. Our responsibility is to make time for our children. We have to stay connected and keep them connected to the family and to their community. We must teach children kindness and compassion for others from a young age and lead by example. Say hello to your neighbors, bring that soup when someone is sick!

The world is very different for our children from when we grew up. As a young child I spent my time outside with the neighborhood kids. Nowadays children are more isolated because of the unsafe nature of letting them outdoors unsupervised and the increased use of electronics that not only desensitize children to violence but also keep them isolated and disconnected from others.

As care takers of children we must take the time to know all our children and their families. Know which ones have a difficult family life and how they spend their time outside of school. This is not about spying. It’s about truly caring and communicating. Our schools need to have programs for children to help them connect to each other. Communities need to create activities to give back as a neighborhood. The sense of belonging is a powerful healer.

I don’t have all the answers on such a complex issue but what I do know for sure is that love heals and when one heals we all heal. It’s time to connect and care!

 

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New Year, New Attitude (of Gratitude)

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“Become a better parent, a more patient parent.” “Raise happier more conscious children” “ Spend more quality time with my child”…Sounds familiar?…New Year resolutions 2018! The world has become so busy and chaotic that now more than ever parents feel the need to instill solid values and life skills to raise happy, healthy, mindful, grounded families.

Let’s make 2018 the year that we live from inspired action! Every month I will send out a newsletter to help you find practical ways to achieve this goal…Ready?! Together let’s get happy!

We begin with GRATITUDE. Teaching children to be grateful contributes to their overall sense of well-being and fosters happiness. Gratitude helps children connect to something greater than themselves such as nature, people or a higher power. By expressing gratitude children feel more positive emotions, appreciate experiences and build more meaningful relationships.

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As part of my own personal morning routine, I have been keeping a Gratitude List with 10 friends for the last 2 years. Every morning we email each other what we are grateful for. It is a life changing experience and attracts more things to be grateful for. Here are a few kid-friendly ways to express Gratitude.

1-Spend time in nature. Children may sometimes find it difficult to express something they are grateful. By spending time in nature they can become grateful for the warmth of the sun, for a cool breeze, for the smell of flowers etc…which is ALWAYS available to them.

2- Create a Daily Gratitude Journal. Children can keep a journal where they are encouraged to write 5 things each day that they are grateful for. For younger children, they can draw a picture. You can use this link to download a cute GRATITUDE  activity.

3-Create a Family ritual. Either at the dinner table or in bed, take the time to have children share the best part of their day.

4-Encourage them to give back by volunteering as a family. This helps raise children’s awareness to others who are less fortunate than they are. Thinking about others teaches them to be grateful for the life that they have. Ex: animal shelters, food banks, raise money for local charities by selling Lemonade.

5-Model gratitude. Become a living example to your child. Genuinely say “Thank you” to others.

6- Send “Thank You” cards. When children receive a gift from friends and family, take the time to write thank you cards to express gratitude.

7- Read books. Take the time to read books and share stories with your children about children of the world. Opening their eyes to how other children live their lives teaches them to be grateful for the ease in their lives.

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Best Trick to Teach Writing Letters

Back to School is around the corner and it’s already here for some of our kids! Miss Mancy is back to school to and ready to get back into blogging!

I love sharing tricks of the trade to teachers, therapists and care takers. Now that back to school is here, let’s focus on strategies you can implement at school and at home for your children.

When teaching writing letters, I feel that the school system teaches children handwriting at a very young age. There is a developmental sequence to follow but unfortunately it is not taught that way in many school curriculums.

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Here’s an EASY, SIMPLE and EXTREMELY EFFECTIVE trick you can use when teaching letter-writing. Ready for this?……Draw a BOX! Yes! You heard me. Draw a box where you want the child to write or copy a letter.

That simple! The box provides a frame and immediately helps children with forming (where to start, visualizing direction for diagonals etc…) and sizing!

Try it! TRUST me. You can provide a child with a blank page and ask them to write their name (or copy their name) and then provide boxes for each letter in their name and see the difference!

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First Annual uAspire Fundraiser Gala

We had such a fun time this weekend at the first Annual uAspire Fundraiser Gala. Please help me support this wonderful organization that provides college scholarships.

Knowledge is power and there is no reason why anyone should be denied an education due to lack of finances! Just imagine…the cure to many diseases, new technologies, brilliant art, political and economic solutions is out there given the opportunity for kids to get the proper education!!!!
Invest in our future!!!! (:
me
Please follow this link to donate:http://www.uaspire.org/donate

gala

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So Excited to Share…Miss Mancy Summer Classes

Summer Class at Social Mind Center Davie

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Autism Awareness Day!

For all my little ones that I love so much…Light it up BLUE! Today is Autism Awareness Day!

 

iam

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Take a Messy Art Class with Miss Mancy!!!

I am soooooo excited to announce that I have joined the Social Mind Center, in Davie Florida!

I will be giving a Miss Mancy Messy Art class every Thursday starting today!

Join us!!! http://www.socialmindcenter.com/Events-Photo-Gallery-srk/

Little Painter

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CIMO Spelling App

Here is a great winter theme App that I like to use with little ones who are learning to spell. This App provides letters in mixed up order and asked children to spell specific words using the letters.

To turn this into an OT session, I ask children to WRITE the words that they get correctly on a whiteboard. This way, I work on handwriting. Also note, I always use a stylus (with a gripper on it) during all iPad games so that children practice correct grasp on writing utensils.

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The Quiet Time Kit (retail: $89)

Children with Autism often have a difficult time keeping a balanced arousal state throughout the day. Many have difficulty with sensory processing, therefore the rich sensory environment we live in can become very challenging for them.

The Quiet Time Kit was created for one of the workshops that I gave to Brandeis Committee, “Grand-parenting Children with Autism”. I wanted to give the grandparents tools they can use to help their Autistic grandchildren find balance and comfort when they visit grandma and grandpa for the day or the weekend. This kit includes many calming tools that I have found to work best over the years with my little clients.

Items included in The Quiet Time Kit:

1.Wally the Weighted Worm: The added weight across a child’s lap or shoulders provides them with a calming sensation to their nervous system (imagine getting a hug). This is not only useful during circle time at school but also during seated and quiet work or tests when added attention is required or when you think your child needs to calm their system.

2. Ankle Weights: I love using these with children during therapy. The additional weight helps them calm and creates more body awareness.

3. Dry Body Brush: This is a wonderful addition to any routine. I use it in clinic as soon as children walk through the door. They wash their hands with “magic soap” (antibacterial liquid) and they choose if they want Bumpies or Scratchies (or both). Kids really like this. It can be calming or alerting depending on the intensity of brushing.

4. Calming Lavender Lotion: Deep pressure massage is a very nice calming activity you can do to help calm your child. You can do this every night before going to bed or massage your child’s arms and legs during the day for a nice calming sensation.

5. Putty with Items: Love love love putty. It’s always a child’s favorite. The extra resistance in combination with a goal of finding hidden items helps children calm and focus.

6. Squigglet: Great fidget toy that can be carried around easily since it can be worn as a bracelet! Fidgets are a nice way to redirect children when they are self stimming or becoming fidgety.

7. Classical Stress Release CD: Studies have shown that classical music can help children with special needs through a variety of significant improvements including reduced stress, increased IQ, and improved ability to concentrate. I love to play classical music at a low volume in the background. This is a wonderful CD with classical music specifically for Stress Release.

8. Calming  Card: This is a list of calming activities. I picked ideas that are easy to implement.

These items come in a beautiful glossy white box with a big bow and can be used for storage. The lid is magnetic easy to open. I really hope your children can enjoy it as much as my little ones do.

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Create your own Holiday Kit (request a quote)

I also want to give parents the opportunity to create their own kits. You can pick from any of the items listed on this page and send me an email at MissMancy@gmail.com I will then send you a quote for your personalized kit. It will come wrapped in a white glossy box with a magnetic lid for easy storage. All kits come included with activity cards for each of the items purchased.

If you are not sure what activities are appropriate for your child, please don’t hesitate to email me and we can figure it out together.

Create you own Kit items to choose from:

(You can email me the item number or name : )

ITEM 1 Birthday Candle Twist and Turn
1 pack of Playdoh and 1 pack of small Birthday Candles | Related Post
ITEM 2 The Lady Bug who Lost her Spots
1 pack of Playdoh and a laminated picture of a Ladybug |Related Post  
ITEM 3 Hungry Hungry Fish
6 Fish Clips and a Laminated Cutout of a Worm  |Related Post  
ITEM 4 Paper Clip Counting Cards
55 Mini Plastic Paper Clips and Laminated Cards numbers 1 to 10 |Related Post  
ITEM 5 Twist and Turn
56 Colored Beads and 1 Rainbow Colored Pill Box | Related Post 
ITEM 6 Tennis Ball Chomper
One Slitted Tennis Ball Head and 10 Bingo Coins and Magnetic Wand|Related Post
ITEM 7 The Itsy Bitsy Spider
One Foam Spider Cutout and 8 Clips| Related Post  
ITEM 8 Scoop Up the Rainbow
Felt Ice Cream Activity | Related Post  
ITEM 9 Push Pin Match up
Cork Board, 12 Large Push Pins, 5 Sample Worksheets, 8 Elastics| Related Post 
ITEM 10 Bead the Little Caterpillar
1 Pipecleaner Caterpillar and 15 Beads| Related Post  
ITEM 11 Sea Creature Clips
Laminated Starfish, Crab and Jelly Fish and 15 Mini Clothespins | Related Post  
ITEM 12 Letter Pop
I Pop Activity | Related Post  
ITEM 13 Hanging them up to Dry
Ribbon and 10 Mini Pins| Related Post 
Alien Invasion
ITEM 14 Alien Invasion
1 Laminated Alien Head and Clothespins | Related Post 
Alien Invasion
ITEM 15 Button Up my Angry Bird
Angry Bird Felt Buttoning Activity | Related Post  
Monkey See Monkey Do
ITEM 16 1 Monkey See Monkey Do
Container of Putty and 5 mini monkeys | Related Post  

 

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Predictability is Key Kit (retail: $39)

When deciding what items to create for children with Autism, I kept several things in mind. One of the most important ones being: The importance of Predictability for these children.

One of the BEST tools I have found when working with children that have sensory and/or behavioral issues is to provide them with a visual schedule. In my sessions, I usually draw for the child what we will be doing. They love when I say that it’s them in the picture and theirs a special attention that comes when they watch me draw.

I created these very helpful visual schedules that children can use as part of their daily routine. It’s usually difficult to find crafty looking visual schedules so my focus was also on making them look appealing.

These schedules are very organizing for children (especially children on the Autism spectrum) and greatly facilitates transitions from one activity to the next.  It allows children to know what is coming next (they can adjust their energy level knowing what’s in store for them) and it gives children the motivation to continue on a non preferred task knowing that something they enjoy is coming up!

Most of my children ASK me for a schedule as soon as they walk through the door!

You can personalize the boards with your child’s name or stickers of objects that they love (just don’t make it too busy…it can become visually distracting) If you send me an email with  your child’s name  and an idea of what they love ex: princess, astronaut etc…) I would be happy to personalize your gift for you!

I have also included a FIRST and THEN card that can be used with children that have difficulty transitioning. I like to use it when I do a non-preferred activity (such as homework). I place a PECS card for homework on the FIRST and a fun activity such as Playground on the THEN side of the card. I place it in front of the child as a reminder of what is to come. This allows for easier communication.

You will be amazed at how well this works with most children! I have gotten even the most behavioral children to follow routines beautifully with the help of a visual schedule!

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Fun Time Kit (retail: $99)

     My goal this Holiday Season was to create Fun kits for children with Autism. It’s usually difficult to find items that motivate children while working on important therapeutic goals. The Fun Time Kit, is a combination of the most popular activities that I have played with my young Autistic clients. I wanted things to look like magical gifts which is exactly how they turned out!

     I love these activities in the Fun Time Kit not only because they have calming properties but also because they can be incorporated easily with other therapy equipment to meet many therapeutic goals. (I have listed these on the instruction cards in your kit)

Items included in the Fun Time Kit:

1.Portable Easel: This is hands down one of my favorite tools. I have yet to meet a child who is not drawn to this easel! This specific easel is magical! Even children who do not like handwriting tasks all of a sudden become completely compliant when done on the easel! I use it for drawing, coloring, for magnetic games, as a part of an obstacle course and I place homework on the easel for correct hand positioning during writing tasks. The possibilities are endless. (Visit the following link for important information about easels: http://www.missmancy.com/easels-and-slant-boards/)

2.The Lady Bug who Lost her Spots: The resistance of the playdoh is a great calming activity. When done correctly, you can work on  finger isolation and manipulation skills. (Visit the following link for more information: http://www.missmancy.com/the-ladybug-who-lost-her-spots/)
3. Putty and Miniature Monkeys: Resistive putty is often used in therapy. Its resistance can be calming while strengthening weak fingers and hands. During my therapy sessions, I like to hide items in the putty that children have to find, prior to beginning fine motor activities. The resistance of the putty is a great way to “wake up” your child’s fingers by increasing awareness. (Visit the following link for more information: http://www.missmancy.com/monkey-see-monkey-do/)
4. Itsy Bitsy Spider Lost Her Legs: The resistive pins are great for calming and strengthening little fingers. This is a great simple task for little ones but for older children I use it in combination with therapy equipment such as swings, scooters and peanut balls. You can also work on color concepts, counting and sequencing. (Visit the following link for more information: http://www.missmancy.com/itsy-bitsy-spider-lost-her-legs/)
5. Tennis Ball Chomper and Magnetic Wand: Another fun resistive activity to strengthen little fingers and calm. Children are mesmerized by the magnetic wand. You can use the Bingo chips to work on color skills, in hand manipulation skills, bilateral coordination, counting and even letters/spelling by writing letters on the bingo chips. (Visit the following link for more information: http://www.missmancy.com/tennis-ball-chomper/)
6. Alphabet Puzzle: Most children love letters! I added this great puzzle to the kit and stuck magnets behind every letter so it can be used on your magnetic portable easel. ABC puzzles are a great adjunct to therapy. I use this puzzle in endless ways to teach letters, handwriting, spelling, sounds, or as a part of an obstacle course and on various therapy equipment. I have included many ways to use this puzzle on the information cards in the kit.
7. Scoop Up the Rainbow: I like this activity to teach young children how to manipulate buttons. Its really a motivating way to teach this skill. I also like to use the different colored scoops to work on sequencing skills. (Visit the following link for more information: http://www.missmancy.com/scoop-up-the-rainbow/)
8. Stickers: Another really fun tool that you can use in so many ways. (Visit the following link for more information: http://www.missmancy.com/the-versatility-of-stickers/)

 

These items come in a beautiful glossy white box with a big bow and can be used for storage. The lid is magnetic easy to open. My hope is that you continue to add to your collection of unique activities available on the MissMancy’s shopping page so that you can create a magical looking box that your child will enjoy time and time again!

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Autism Advice BLOG Fine Motor Activities

Spider Pick Up

I love using chopsticks to teach children the proper way to isolate the correct fingers and strengthen the correct muscles that they need for a proper grasp.

Just make sure that they hold the chopsticks with their thumb and 2 first fingers and allotter fingers are tucked in the hand. If the chopsticks are to heavy for little hands to hold, I allow them to use all other fingers however they MUST keep an open web space (i.e. the space between the thumb and index finger that forms a nice open circle when this tool is held correctly)

You can play this game several different ways:

Start by lacing Uppercase letter Stickers on the foam spider web (you can draw a web on a piece of paper)

You can play this game several different ways:

  • Ask your child to use the chopsticks to pick up spiders and place them only on the letters of their name!!!
  • You can also place lower case letter stickers on the plastic spiders and ask you child to match an upper case to its lower case letter.
  • Call out a spelling word and ask children to place spiders on the letters that spell that word.
  • Say things like: What letter does Spider start with? and ask children to put a spider on it.

This is a great Fine motor Halloween activity!

 

 

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Pack a Backpack

The American Occupational Therapy Association has published ten tips to avoid backpack-related health problems:

  1. Never let a child carry more than 15% of his or her body weight. This means a child who weighs 100 pounds shouldn’t wear a backpack heavier than 15 pounds.
  2. Load heaviest items closest to the child’s back and arrange books and materials to prevent them from sliding.
  3. Always wear both shoulder straps. Wearing only one strap can cause a child to lean to one side, curving the spine and causing pain or discomfort.
  4. Select a pack with well-padded shoulder straps. Too much pressure on shoulders and necks can cause pain and tingling.
  5. Adjust the shoulder straps so that the pack fits snugly to the child’s back. The bottom of the pack should rest in the curve of the lower back, never more than four inches below the child’s waistline.
  6. Use the waist belt, if the backpack has one, to help distribute the pack’s weight more evenly.
  7. Check what your child carries to school and brings home to make sure the items are necessary to the day’s activities.
  8. If the backpack is too heavy, consider using a book bag on wheels if your child’s school allows it.
  9. Choose the right size pack for your child’s back as well as one with enough room for necessary school items.
  10. If a student is experiencing back pain or neck soreness, consult your physician or occupational therapist.

 

 

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Spin-to-Win Spelling

You will need:

The Activity:

There are certain games that I come across as a therapist that children absolutely adore and cannot get enough of. Spin-to-Win is one of those games. Kids ask me to play with this game over and over again.

I like to use it as a motivator or as a fun way to have children learn their spelling words!

This is how we play. Pick a word from your child’s spelling list. Then spin the tops and have your child spell the word BEFORE the top stops!

Your children will love to learn their spelling words! This is GREAT for HOMEWORK!!!

I’ve also used this game when teaching the letter X but you can do this to teach any letter or shape. I ask the child to keep track of our scores on a dry erase board by marking an X for the scoring.