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Newsletter Archive - "Thrive" from A is For Apple

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  • Thrive - October 2018 Issue

    by A is For Apple, Inc. | Oct 01, 2018

    Spooky Treats

    sweet-316373_640It’s that time of year again where the holiday season is here; the last few months of the year are full of activities, family gatherings, parties, and food – especially sweets – seem to be the center of every get-together.

    Some children are especially sensitive to dyes, sugar and artificial ingredients (we should learn a lesson from these kids and adjust our diets, eliminating these things is the healthier way to go!). It can definitely feel isolating to be left out of more fun treats when you have food sensitivities, but there are alternatives that you can try that are healthier options and just as fun and festive on Halloween to eat!

    Try these Bite-Sized Eyeballs from Women’s Day Magazine Online. Don’t worry, they may look creepy, but they are just delicious cheesy pastry puffs decorated to look like eyeballs, and they only have a few ingredients: butter, flour, eggs, and cheese. You can modify or substitute ingredients if there are allergens present in ingredients. Then, make each pair come alive for Halloween with slices of cucumber and olive, and squiggles of tasty Sriracha or ketchup.

    Get Full Recipe Here

    For a ghostly dessert, try these yummy mummy banana popsicles from Well Plated. They are a great choice for a cute Halloween-themed dessert or frozen snack and they are simple enough to pass for a fun craft idea, too! The recipe is modified from dipping the bananas in white chocolate to Greek yogurt for a healthier option. This calls for drizzling the popsicles with peanut butter for that “mummy” effect, but if your kiddo has a peanut allergy, you can drizzle with dark chocolate, or another nut butter of your choice. This is such a cool idea that we thought we’d share – it would be a great snack to bring for that class Halloween party as well!

    Get Full Recipe Here

    If you are looking for some Halloween treats that are a good substitute and a healthier alternative that you don’t have to prepare, try some of the following:

    Theo Chocolate Salted Almond Butter Cups in Dark Chocolate
    This is a relatively healthy nut butter cup and a better alternative to a Reece’s cup because you can recognize and pronounce all the ingredients it’s made from. It’s Organic, soy free and palm free, and it’s made with almond butter – you can get it on Amazon.

    Seitenbacher Happy Fruits in Passionfruit
    These gummies infused with passionfruit are gluten-free, 100% vegan, contain no gelatin or refined sugar, and they are made with real fruit juice, and also a good source of fiber – definitely a healthier option but taste just as good! You can find them on Amazon.

    UNREAL Dark Chocolate Crispy Quinoa Gems
    Crispy quinoa covered in smooth dark chocolate! These miniature "gems" get their bright colors from natural ingredients like beets, turmeric, hibiscus, and cabbage – no artificial coloring here. They are also a good source of fiber. Pick them up on Amazon.

    If you have any other fun Halloween treats you’d like to share, tag us on social media! We’d love to hear your ideas. And if you try any of the recipes above, post them and let us know how they turned out.

    The Teal Pumpkin Project


    Don’t forget about the Teal Pumpkin Project this year on Halloween! This is especially important if your child has severe food allergies. Putting a teal pumpkin on your doorstep means you have non-food treats available, such as glow sticks or small toys. This simple act promotes inclusion for trick-or-treaters with food allergies or other conditions.

    Here is how you can get involved:

    • Provide non-food treats for trick-or-treaters .
    • Place a teal pumpkin in front of your home to indicate that you have non-food treats available.
    • Add your home to the Teal Pumpkin Project Map.
    • Spread the word! Share the Teal Pumpkin Project with your friends and family.

    ​Here are some ideas for non-food treats you can provide this year:

    • Glow sticks, bracelets, or necklaces
    • Pencils, pens, crayons, or markers
    • Bubbles, coins, playing cards
    • Spider rings or vampire teeth
    • Erasers, stickers, stencils, mini notepads, or bookmarks
    • Whistles, kazoos, or noisemakers
    • Finger puppets, mini slinkies, bouncy balls, or other small toys

    Here are some free resources like signs, posters and activities from to help you make the most of this year’s Teal Pumpkin Project.

    Stay Connected   It takes a village! Find community with local parents, support groups, Facebook communities, or other local organizations. Email us, or join us online: Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram - we'd love for you to connect with us!



    Local Events & Resources

    Howl-o-ween Family Sleepover (ages 5+ with an adult)

    Saturday, October 20th 6:00 PM - 10 AM Sunday, October 21st

    Happy Hollow Park & Zoo / Business Office Building
    1300 Senter Road, San Jose, CA 95112


    Enjoy the thrill of the zoo after dark. During your adventure, learn the about animals through Halloween-themed activities, games, live animal encounters, and night tours. Your adventure includes Trick-or-Treat stations, a late-night snack, and hot breakfast the next morning that includes pancakes, eggs, bacon, and more!

    Bring your own tent to tent camp in the Crooked House Meadow, or sleep indoors inside the Learning LODGE classroom. Fee is for each individual participant. All children must be accompanied by a paying adult. Please contact the Zoo Education Department if you have any questions regarding registration for this event.

    **Last day for internet registration is October 18, 2018 5pm
    Cost: $60

    Click Here For Tickets and More Information

    Spina Farms

    Hours: Sunday - Thursday, 9am - 6pm; Friday & Saturday, 9am - 7pm
    Petting zoo & pony rides available weekends only, 10am - 4pm

    Santa Teresa Boulevard at Baily Avenue, San Jose CA 95141


    This pumpkin patch is much more than that, with a train that lets you tour the whole farm before you decide on which pumpkin to take home, this farm offers plenty of options, with more than 60 styles of pumpkins available! Visit on the weekend and you can enjoy pony rides and a petting zoo. On week days there is a $10 unlimited read and ride pass, which includes story time in the pumpkin patch and unlimited hay rides, train rides, and barrel train rides. They also have a picnic area to enjoy a packed lunch. Stayed longer than you anticipated and forgot snacks? Don’t worry! There’s a snack shack with loads of treats!

    Phone: 408-763-1093
    Fees: Admission & Parking, free | Hay/barrel/train rides, $3 per ride | Unlimited read & ride pass, $10 on weekdays

    Click Here For Tickets and More Information


    Ask A is for Apple

    Have a question you would like answered? A story you would like to share? A testimony about your experience with A is For Apple? We would LOVE to hear from you! Email us with your questions, stories or suggestions and it could be featured in our next newsletter or blog topic!

  • Thrive - April 2018 Issue

    by A is For Apple, Inc. | Apr 02, 2018

    Autism Awareness Month

    autism-2377410_640Today is Autism Awareness Day and it kicks off an entire month of Autism Awareness. There are a lot of campaigns that will “Light it Up Blue” for Autism today, people will join together to wear blue for Autism, giving money, and organizing walks throughout the month. It is great to see people come together to bring awareness to one cause, but what exactly does that mean? Do you know why you’re wearing blue?

    What is Autism and why do we need to make others aware? According to The Autism Society, Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a complex developmental disability; signs typically appear during early childhood and affect a person’s ability to communicate, and interact with others. ASD is defined by a certain set of behaviors and is a “spectrum condition” that affects individuals differently and to varying degrees. There is no known single cause of autism, but increased awareness and early diagnosis/intervention and access to appropriate services/supports lead to significantly improved outcomes. Some of the behaviors associated with autism include delayed learning of language; difficulty making eye contact or holding a conversation; difficulty with executive functioning, which relates to reasoning and planning; narrow, intense interests; poor motor skills’ and sensory sensitivities. Again, a person on the spectrum might follow many of these behaviors or just a few, or many others besides. The diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder is applied based on analysis of all behaviors and their severity.

    Autism is treatable. Children do not “outgrow” autism, but studies show that early diagnosis and intervention lead to significantly improved outcomes. For more information on developmental milestones, visit the CDC’s “Know the Signs. Act Early” site.

    Why are we trying to bring awareness? World Autism Awareness Day and Autism Awareness Month shines a bright light on autism as a growing global health issue. Activities help to increase and develop world knowledge of children and adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Through people around the globe coming together in unity, we can celebrate the unique talents and skills of persons with autism and it is a time when individuals with autism are warmly welcomed and embraced in community events around the globe.

    By bringing together autism organizations all around the world, we will give a voice to the millions of individuals worldwide who are undiagnosed, misunderstood and looking for help. Please join us in our effort to inspire compassion, empowerment and hope!

    Here is how you can get involved in Autism Awareness Month:

    Autism Awareness Month may only be in April, but you can support the Autism community year-round. Use this month as a spring board to become more aware, become more accepting, become more active, and become an advocate 365 days a year!

    Stay Connected
    It takes a village! Find community with local parents, support groups, Facebook communities, or other local organizations. Email us, or join us online: Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram - we'd love for you to connect with us!

      Local Events & Resources

      Autism Spectrum Disorder: Identifying Symptoms and Understanding the Diagnostic Process

      Thursday April 5th, 6:30 - 8:00 PM

      6601 Owens Drive #100, Pleasanton, CA 94588


      The early identification of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is critical for children to access specialized services to maximize their long-term outcomes. Children who receive early intervention are significantly less likely to need long-term services and access to restrictive educational environments.

      Child care providers are often the first professionals to note discrepancies in language development, early social skills and deviations in age-appropriate behavior. Join Kristi Miller,Senior Clinical Director, Juvo Autism and Behavioral Health for an overview of the symptoms of ASD and the diagnostic process to help Child Care Providers inform families of their concerns, and offer guidance.

      Click Here For Tickets and More Information

      Autism Speaks: Annual Walk For Autism

      Saturday, April 14, 9:00 AM

      History Park, San Jose


      Autism Speaks Walk is the world’s largest autism fundraising event dedicated to improving the lives of people with autism. Powered by the love of parents, grandparents, siblings, friends, relatives, and supporters, the funds raised help ensure people of all abilities have access to the tools needed to lead ‘their best lives’.

      The commitment of individuals like you plays a critical role in raising the funding needed to fuel innovative research and lifelong supports and services. Working together, there is no limit to what we can achieve. Please register and fundraise for an Autism Speaks Walk near you.

      To learn more about autism, visit or contact our Autism Response Team at 888-288-4762 or en Español 888-772-9050, or email

      Click Here For Tickets and More Information

      Zumba For Autism

      Saturday, April 28th, 5:00 - 8:00 PM

      Seascape Golf Club
      610 Clubhouse Drive, Aptos, CA 95003


      This is an event to raise money for Autism Awareness!

      Click Here For Tickets and More Information

      3rd Annual Autism Prom Night!

      Saturday, April 28th, 6:00 - 9:00 PM

      Saint Elizabeth Catholic Church
      1817 12th Street, Sacramento, CA 95814


      The Fly Brave Foundation presents its 3rd Annual Prom Night for individuals with autism and other developmental disabilities, ages 14 and over.

      The theme this year is Celebrity Prom: You are the star of the show. You can come dressed as your favorite celebrity, in fancy prom attire or in jeans and a t-shirt. Your comfort level is our priority. Come the way you want to.

      We will have a photo booth (everyone will receive a picture), nacho bar, beverages, DJ, and karaoke.

      The cost is $15 for prom stars. Chaperones, such as family members, staff and care givers who are accompanying their star, are free of charge. Limit 3 chaperones per guest.

      We have added an option to pay at the door. Please select this option for prom stars only. $15 will be payable in cash only at the door.

      We hope you will come and enjoy the night with us.

      With love, your friends at Fly Brave

      Click Here For Tickets and More Information

      Ask A is for Apple

      Have a question you would like answered? A story you would like to share? A testimony about your experience with A is For Apple? We would LOVE to hear from you! Email us with your questions, stories or suggestions and it could be featured in our next newsletter or blog topic!

    • Thrive - March 2018 Issue

      by A is For Apple, Inc. | Mar 14, 2018

      Tips for Sensory-Friendly Easter

      easter-eggs-3165483_640Holidays can be a challenge for parents, especially for those with sensory sensitivities. It seems that every holiday is packed with activities, overloaded with expectations of greatness and especially the candy….oh the candy!! But there are ways that you can organize your holiday to make it easier for your child to enjoy the holiday and still make it memorable.

      Keep it Simple: Let’s face it, children can get overstimulated, and children with Autism and ADHD can be even more sensitive to the stimuli around them. It’s good to plan for down time. If you have one big day, plan a whole day of rest the next day. Or, plan your activities in the morning and keep your afternoon and evening free for down time. It is also ok to be flexible in your schedule – listen to your kids; if it looks like your activities are too much, dial things back and do things on a much simpler scale. You know your child and how much activity they are capable of handling at a time.

      Make A Schedule: Children thrive on a schedule and we want our children to thrive! If your kids know what is happening beforehand, the better they will be equipped to handle the activities for the day. Whatever calendar or scheduling system works for you, implement that and stick to it! Some examples of scheduling are picture planners, written planners, verbal instructions, etc. Make sure to go over it in advance and reinforce it throughout the day so they know what will be happening.

      Remember to be Flexible: All children have specific sensory needs. Don’t get too wrapped up in the holiday schedule to forget that your child may need that extra down time, or their special fidget toy, or weight blanket, etc. for a specific activity during the day. Follow your child’s lead and monitor your child and notice that if they are struggling, plans may need to be altered or cancelled altogether if they are anxious or not particularly interested.

      With Easter in particular, there are a lot of activities that may seem daunting to a child with anxiety or specific sensory needs. You can practice egg hunts at home so they know what to expect, talk about what the activities will be and read books about Easter festivities are about so they won’t be surprised or scared when Easter comes.

      Another big part of Easter in our culture is all the candy! Candy may not be an option for your child. Here are some great candy alternatives for Easter baskets and some candy alternative to stuff Easter Eggs with:

      • Goldfish crackers
      • Cuties (mini oranges)
      • Trail Mix
      • Fruit Snacks
      • Cereal
      • Grapes
      • Dollar Bills
      • Coins
      • Socks
      • Cool shoe laces
      • Magic Towels (If you haven’t seen them, these are wash cloths molded into teeny shapes. When you put them in the bathtub, they expand into full-sized wash cloths. You can find them at the dollar store.)
      • Ponytail holders
      • Bracelets
      • Rings
      • Zipper Pulls
      • Temporary Tattoos
      • Band-Aids with cool designs
      • Stickers
      • Foam Shapes
      • Shopkins
      • Toy Cars
      • Marbles
      • Bouncy Balls
      • Stress Balls/Squeeze Balls
      • Polly Pockets
      • Board Games
      • Silly Putty
      • Crayons/Coloring Books
      • Legos
      • Toy Bugs/Animals
      • Pirate Eye Patch
      • Cards
      • Yo-Yos
      • Pencils/Pencil top erasers
      • Squirt Guns
      • Seashells
      • Craft-Making Kits

      You can also read our newsletter about Christmas Sensory Overload, where we talk about scheduling downtime, bringing a "familiar kit", healthy eating and bedtime that can also be applied to any holiday gathering.

      Stay Connected
      It takes a village! Find community with local parents, support groups, Facebook communities, or other local organizations. Email us, or join us online: Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram - we'd love for you to connect with us!

        Local Events & Resources

        Easter Egg Hunt for Kids w/Autism & Special Needs & Their Families

        College of Alameda Baseball Field
        Sunday, March 25, 12:00 - 3:00 PM

        555 Ralf Appezzato, Memorial Parkway, Alameda, CA 94501

        https _cdn.evbuc.com_images_40489246_181297131111_1_original

        Join us for Our 2nd Annual EASTER EGG HUNT for Kids with AUTISM & SPECIAL NEEDS, and Their Families, where ALL can have FUN and express their UNIQUE Self!

        This is a FREE Event



        Click Here For Tickets and More Information

        Ask A is for Apple

        Have a question you would like answered? A story you would like to share? A testimony about your experience with A is For Apple? We would LOVE to hear from you! Email us with your questions, stories or suggestions and it could be featured in our next newsletter or blog topic!

      • Thrive - February 2018 Issue

        by A is For Apple, Inc. | Feb 05, 2018

        Valentine's Day Cards: Tips to Help Your Special Needs Child

        heart-762564_640Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, and for those parents that have children in school, that means you have the privilege of helping your child pick out the perfect Valentine cards for their classroom party. If you have a child with special needs, the process of picking out the cards, filling them out, and even handing them out comes with its own set of challenges. Have no fear! We have some tips to make the Valentine card process fun this year.

        Picking Out the Card: If your child would like to pick out their own card and would like to touch and feel them, go to the store when it will be quieter and there are less shoppers around. With less shoppers, there will be less noise and distractions. If you have the option, try going to a store like Hallmark instead of your local grocery store, where it is smaller and normally less crowded. Smaller stores will also have a smaller selection, making it easier to make a decision and not as overwhelming. If going to a store isn’t an option, there are an abundance of stores and printable resources available online.

        Addressing the Cards:
        This can be an overwhelming process for some children. You can get a list ahead of time from the teacher, so your child can take their time addressing the cards a couple each day. If your child would rather have help, you can do this for them and write the names on the cards. The other option is to leave the cards blank – this is OK! That way, they can simply pass out the cards without the stress of trying to figure out who’s card belongs to whom.

        Signing the Cards: This can be a fun activity for your child, and great practice for them to write their name. The important part is for it to be fun! If your child loses interest or gets frustrated, it’s OK to move on. Pick it back up another day (which is why it is key to contact the teacher and get the list early). Another fun way to address the cards would be to turn their signature into a sticker. You can print out their name on a sheet of labels and have them stick their signature to each card – another fun activity, and each card will still have your child’s name on them.

        Helpful Tips:

        • This should be fun! As mentioned above, if your child gets frustrated, loses interest, etc. take a break and come back to it. It’s OK if your child is only able to get a couple of cards done each day.
        • If your child has a hard time making decisions and doesn’t know which cards to choose, or who to give each card to, it may be best to find printable cards online and print the SAME card for everyone.
        • Buy or print more cards than you need so you have them on hand. Mistakes happen, and you’ll want to prepare for that in advance to avoid any meltdowns or frustrations.
        • You may want to consider practicing how to pass out the cards with your child at home, and go over the expectations of the day so they will understand what will take place. This will help get them prepared and will help reduce any fears, insecurities or anxiety they may have about the day!

        Stay Connected
        It takes a village! Find community with local parents, support groups, Facebook communities, or other local organizations. Email us, or join us online: Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram - we'd love for you to connect with us!

        Local Events & Resources

        AMC Saratoga 14 - Sensory Friendly Films

        Peter Rabbit, Saturday, February 10

        700 El Paseo De Saratoga, San Jose, CA  95130


        AMC is proud to partner with the Autism Society to offer unique movie showings where we turn the lights up, and turn the sound down, so you can get up, dance, walk, shout or sing! Our Sensory Friendly Film program is available on the second and fourth Saturday (family-friendly) and Tuesday evenings (mature audiences) of every month.

        Click Here For Tickets and More Information

        Valentine's Parents Night Out

        Saturday, February 10, 5:00pm - 8:00pm

        We Rock the Spectrum - Kids Gym
        1341 Blossom Hill Rd San Jose, CA 95118

        we-rock-spectrumLet us entertain your kid/s while you and your other get some much needed Valentine's Day fun (or rest). Call 408-622-8455 or book your deposit online. Space is limited.

        Cost: $40/Child; $30 for Siblings
        $20 Deposit Required

        ​ ​Click Here For Tickets and More Information

        Technology Spotlight


        One of our "Helpful Tips" was to rehearse Valentine's Day and the act of giving out cards with your child before the day of the party. What better way to do that but by using social stories? There is an iPhone app called "i Get....Valentines Day Social Skills Stories" that uses social stories to do just that; describe Valentines Day to children who may be participating in this social activity for the first time.

        From the app store description: i Get... Valentine's Day is an application providing a photo social skill story for individuals that need support in understanding the process of Valentine's Day. Twenty-seven icons with real picture images are used to illustrate the sequence of events. Each page can be individualized for the user by adding personal photos taking pictures with an Apple camera ready device, add text and audio.

        Typically developing young children participating in Valentine's Day for the first time and individuals with developmental delays, such as PDD-NOS, autism and down syndrome will benefit from this interactive application.

        "i Get..." has a variety of other social skills app available as well, you can find the Valentine's Day app and others online or in the app store in the link below.

        You can find this app on the iTunes store online here.

        Ask A is for Apple

        Have a question you would like answered? A story you would like to share? A testimony about your experience with A is For Apple? We would LOVE to hear from you! Email us with your questions, stories or suggestions and it could be featured in our next newsletter or blog topic!

      • Thrive - January 2018 Issue

        by A is For Apple, Inc. | Jan 15, 2018

        New Years Resolutions

        paper-3042645_640The new year is here and two weeks have flown by; 2018 is officially underway! There is always talk of change this time of year: new resolutions, new beginnings, new you! Those are great, but there is also something to be said for consistency, especially for parents that have children with special needs.

        Instead of resolving for change, how about instead to resolve to be more consistent in schedules, nutrition, bedtimes, self-care, and consistently reaching out for connection in 2018? It hard being a parent, we all need social connection – like it is said, “it takes a village,” and that is so true, especially for parents who have children with something in common.

        Here are some ways you can resolve to be more consistent and reach out to connect in 2018:

        Make Routines Consistent: You already have a schedule, simply strive to be consistent in your routine. If you don’t have a schedule, make it a priority to make one. Kids don’t have a lot of control in their lives, but routines can give them a sense of organization, stability, and comfort. Be consistent in 2018 in your routine – your family will thank you!

        Consistently Put Nutritious Food on the Table: This may look different for each family. Everyone has their own dietary restrictions, schedules, and needs. As long as you are feeding your family good, nutritious food, be consistent in that. Ditch that processed junk, and move forward in 2018.

        Work toward a Consistent Bedtime: This is so crucial for yourself AND for your child! Work on a bedtime routine and be consistent. Your child will thank you for that routine, and their little bodies will too. You may even love your new bedtime. Sleep is self-care and our bodies need the rest.

        Consistently Take Time for Yourself: This one can be hard, especially as parents, but even if it is a walk by yourself, an hour to reconnect after the kids are in bed, a massage to relax, or a date night here or there, it is important to make sure you are taken care of, too!

        Consistently Connect with Others: Whether it’s through text, phone call, Facebook groups, social groups, or one-on-ones, it is very important to reach out to those around you. Community is important; we were made for human interaction and we can help each other connect and grow. If you are struggling, a support group is a great way to reach out and feel connected. There are plenty of parent groups, mommy and me groups, play groups and more in local communities as well; you don’t have to feel alone! Make an effort to connect with others in 2018, love one another, and help each other.

        Consistently Give Yourself a Break: You will not get everything perfect. No one is perfect and we don’t have it all together! We are often our own worst critics; you are doing better than you think. Take deep breaths, allow yourself to make mistakes, and forgive yourself often this year.

        Stay Connected
        It takes a village! Find community with local parents, support groups, Facebook communities, or other local organizations. Email us, or join us online: Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram - we'd love for you to connect with us!


        Local Events & Resources

        The Ugly Duckling - An Autism/Sensory Friendly Performance

        Saturday, January 20, 5:00pm

        The MVCPA SecondStage - 500 Castro Street, Mountain View, CA 94041


        The timeless Hans Christian Anderson tale about finding your place in the world has been given a humorous update in this world premiere adaptation by K. Gardiner. This sensory-friendly performance offers guests and families living with autism or other special needs an opportunity to enjoy "Stories on Stage" in a safe and accepting environment. An inclusive space is created with special considerations such as scaled-down production elements (lights, sound, etc.), extra wheelchair accommodations, and a quiet zone outside the performance space.

        Free with optional donation to the Pacific Ballet Theater.

        Price: $10 General Admission

        Click Here For Tickets and More Information

        Children's Discovery Museum Play Your Way 

        Saturday, January 27, 5:30pm - 7:00pm

        Children's Discovery Museum - 180 Woz Way San Jose, CA 95110


        Play Your Way is a special event designed for children with autism, ages 2-15, and their families, including a professional resource fair. Enjoy the entire museum supervised by our trained employees and volunteers.

        This event will feature: Book signing by Jonathan Ebel, author of The Magic Pencil and The Lost Penguins from Antarctica. Also featuring The Dream Achievers Band.

        Tickets: $20/family up to 8 members

        Click Here For Tickets and More Information



        Technology Spotlight


        We've been talking about being consistent in 2018. It can be really hard to get a routine together and be consistent in that schedule. There are many apps, calendars, tools and ideas out there to help manage routines and schedules. Apple has a great visual schedule app made specifically for children with diagnosis with Autism or ADHD.

        visualscheduleThe user interface makes it easy to create a picture-based tailored daily schedule. This can be used by you or your child to independently keep track of scheduled activities and understand:

        • What is the activity you are engaged in this moment
        • How long the scheduled activity will take
        • What tasks to complete
        • How much time is left for the scheduled activity
        • When to get ready to transition
        • When the next scheduled activity will happen

        You can use it in conjunction with the apple watch as well. There is an easy to understand icon and progress bar, and the app will also display how much time has passed and when the event will end. In addition, the user can see and check the tasks related to the event. This unique feature allows individuals to stay-focused and be fully present in order to complete the task at hand.

        You can find this app on the iTunes store online here.


        Ask A is for Apple

        Have a question you would like answered? A story you would like to share? A testimony about your experience with A is For Apple? We would LOVE to hear from you! Email us with your questions, stories or suggestions and it could be featured in our next newsletter or blog topic!

      • Thrive - December 2017 Issue

        by A is For Apple, Inc. | Dec 12, 2017

        Christmas Sensory Overload

        kidsChristmas is always such a magical time. It is filled with wonder and excitement, and the holiday reaches almost every aspect of our culture - inside and outside the home. The stores are filled with Christmas displays, Christmas lights are on almost every home, Christmas trees lit up and covered in breakable ornaments, holiday music playing just about everywhere you go, and even schools are doing holiday crafts. Everywhere you go, there is something to appeal to the senses.

        For some individuals all of this excitement, late-night parties, school breaks, and spontaneous schedule changes can be fun, but for children with sensory issues or anxiety, it can be a real challenge during this time of year. Sensory overload can lead to a variety of behaviors like more frequent meltdowns, aggressive behavior, or even withdrawal from activity.

        This year during your Christmas morning or days leading up to it, here are some ways you can reduce your child’s anxiety and/or sensory overload:

        Stick to One Activity a Day. It’s easy to get overwhelmed if you are doing too many things in one day. This means if you are going to a party at the grandparents, maybe skip looking at Christmas lights on the way home and save that for another night.

        Schedule Down Time. It is important to have a day of rest after a day of activity. Schedules will already be in disarray and a little more activity will be happening than normal.

        Healthy Eating. It is even more important when schedules and senses are all out of whack that you make sure diet is in check. Make sure that you are feeding your child well-balanced healthy meals so they aren’t overloaded on sugar, too.

        Gifts. Clothing is a very popular gift at Christmas. During Christmas, your child needs familiarity and a new fabric or pattern could increase sensory overload at a very stressful time, so clothing may need to be on the “no” list for Christmas gifts.

        Bring a “Familiar Kit”. Bring your child’s favorite foods and toy items with you during Christmas gatherings. If they get overwhelmed by new items, you can bring your kit out; they will be surrounded by their favorite items and they will appreciate the familiarity and routine.

        Santa Visits. Make sure to check your local malls for “sensory Santas”. The music is low, children can move around as they like, and they modify the activity to help your child enjoy their Santa visit based on their needs.

        Bedtime. The ever-important bedtime! It is very important that if anything, make sure your child still receives a good night sleep, and if at all possible, schedule your day around their bedtime routine so that is still intact. It will help the next day!

        Stay Connected
        It takes a village! Find community with local parents, support groups, Facebook communities, or other local organizations. Email us, or join us online: Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram - we'd love for you to connect with us!

        Local Events & Resources

        Nutcracker with Peninsula Ballet Theater - Fox Theater

        Thursday, December 14, 7:00pm (time subject to change)

        2215 Broadway, Redwood City


        Peninsula Ballet invites families with autism and related disabilities to the full dress rehearsal for their spectacular performance of the classic ballet, "The Nutcracker".

        This is a sensory-friendly, "shush-proof" event!

        A very special dress rehearsal event for our special needs audience!

        Free with optional donation to the Pacific Ballet Theater.

        Click Here to Register Online

        San Francisco Ballet Sensory Friendly Family Workshop

        Sunday December 17, 1:00-2:00pm

        SF Ballet Building - 455 Franklin Street, San Francisco

        1013172-250A special opportunity specifically for families with children with autism or related disorders. Excerpts from SF Ballet's Nutcracker, plus, interactive dance component with Miss Kristi, in-studio performances, photos with dancers, free autographed posters, pre-visit social stories guide, activity room and quiet room.

        $10 Suggested Donation

        Click Here to Get Tickets Online

        Technology Spotlight


        Santa is coming! Did you know you could track where Santa is on Christmas Eve? It is super fun to track how close Santa is the night before Christmas, and even more fun to show the kids. We've found some really cool apps and a fun website where you can track his whereabouts until Christmas Day. - On December 24th, you can start tracking Santa on Google's website dedicated to telling you and your kids exactly where Santa is at all times! Better get to bed before he gets to your house!

        Santa Tracker for iPhone - The NORAD Tracks Santa App is the official mobile app of the NORAD Tracks Santa program. Watch the days countdown to Santa's flight, follow Santa's progress on December 24, play "Thin Ice" to help Santa's elves deliver presents, and learn about NORAD and its mission.

        Santa Tracker for Android - Play games with elves in jetpacks, rolling gumballs, sleighs powered by rockets and many more. Once the 24th arrives, follow Santa in his journey around the world.

        Ask A is for Apple

        Have a question you would like answered? A story you would like to share? A testimony about your experience with A is For Apple? We would LOVE to hear from you! Email us with your questions, stories or suggestions and it could be featured in our next newsletter or blog topic!

      • Thrive - November 2017 Issue

        by A is For Apple, Inc. | Nov 13, 2017

        The Season of Gratitude

        Holiday gatherings can sometimes be stressful as a parent of a special needs child. While the crowd of the family and the loud conversations can be exciting and exhilarating for some, for a child with sensory sensitivities it can be overwhelming. This can turn an otherwise happy family gathering into a stressful, unfriendly environment for your child.

        Preparing your child is something that you are used to; talking it through, role-playing, and all those fun books you have explaining the upcoming festivities are part of the routine. Having a “plan-b”, a “safe-place” for them to retreat, and if all else fails, an exit strategy are all good strategies for unfamiliar environments. You bring all their favorite soothing toys and stuffed friends, using all the tools you’ve been taught – you are a pro!

        thanksgiving-2903166_640In all the planning and strategizing, take a minute this week to breathe in the last year. Take a moment to reflect on the progress your child has made, the things you’ve learned and incorporated in your routines. Take a minute to be thankful. After all, this is exactly what this season is about – Thankfulness.

        We’ve asked a handful of parents what they are thankful for this year, some of them humorous, some not. See if any of the list matches up with what is in your heart:

        • Family
        • Friends
        • My children
        • TV
        • Books
        • God
        • Food
        • Wine
        • Toys
        • Love
        • Preschool
        • Naptime
        • Online Shopping
        • A roof over my head
        • Coffee!
        • Chocolate
        • Bedtime
        • ABA Therapy for my child!
        • The 10 minutes of quiet I get in the shower everyday
        • My job
        • The iPad
        • Yoga pants
        • My child’s speech therapists
        • A supportive spouse
        • Take-out dinners
        • Being Happy and Healthy

        In this season of gratitude, let’s not let it stop here! Call, write, message someone that you are especially thankful for, you never know who may need to hear from you!

        Stay Connected
        It takes a village! Find community with local parents, support groups, Facebook communities, or other local organizations. Email us, or join us online: Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram - we'd love for you to connect with us!


        Local Events & Resources

        AMC Saratoga 14 - Sensory Friendly Films

        CoCo, Saturday November 25

        700 El Paseo De Saratoga, San Jose, CA  95130


        AMC is proud to partner with the Autism Society to offer unique movie showings where we turn the lights up, and turn the sound down, so you can get up, dance, walk, shout or sing! Our Sensory Friendly Film program is available on the second and fourth Saturday (family-friendly) and Tuesday evenings (mature audiences) of every month.

        Learn more about this event online here


        Santa Cares - Sensory Friendly Santa

        Sunday November 26th & Sunday December 3rd

        Eastridge Center - 2200 Eastridge Loop, San Jose, CA  95122


        Santa Cares is a sensory-friendly opportunity for children with all spectrums of special needs to enjoy the time-honored tradition of the Santa Photo Experience with their family in a calming environment prior to public hours. Please RSVP in advance by reserving one ticket per group. Photo packages are available for purchase during the event.

        Learn more about this event online here



        Holiday Spotlight


        This month our technology spotlight will be directed toward Thanksgiving Family Activities! We found some great activities that you can do over the break with your kids and the whole family from

        nature-hikeNATURE HIKE WREATH CRAFT: Here's how your crew can take in some lovely local sights and end up with a take-home memento, too. Give each family member a plastic bag, then head for a pretty park or trail, where everyone can collect fallen leaves, bark, pinecones, twigs, and other nature finds as they walk. Back home, hand out wreath forms cut from cereal boxes (ours are 7 inches wide) and bottles of tacky glue for attaching the objects. Add leaf-shaped nametags cut from cardboard or card stock. For hanging, glue a large paper clip to the back of each wreath.

        coloring-book-tableclothCOLORING BOOK TABLE CLOTH: Turn the Thanksgiving table into a giant art canvas to get kids -- and grown-ups -- happily doodling. Cans from the dinner preparations, cleaned and dried, make handy holders for crayons and colored pencils.

        How it's done: Use kraft paper, art paper, or wrapping paper to cover the table; if needed, use several lengths, taping them to each other. Keep it in place with large binder clips or painter's tape (test tape on the table's underside to ensure it won't damage the finish). With black marker, draw place settings and other shapes to invite coloring.

        place-cardsGOBBLER PLACE CARDS: Sweeten up your table with these turkey pals, quickly and cleverly constructed from cupcake liners.

        How it's done: Flatten a standard-size cupcake liner, then draw eyes on a mini cupcake liner. With a glue stick, adhere a beak and snood cut from colored paper. Using a brush or cotton swab, dab white glue around the rim of the mini liner. Set it off-center on the larger liner, as shown, and let it dry. With the glue stick, attach the turkey to a folded tent card (we used decorative-edge scissors to cut ours from brown card stock). Add turkey feet and a name with marker.


        Ask A is for Apple

        Have a question you would like answered? A story you would like to share? A testimony about your experience with A is For Apple? We would LOVE to hear from you! Email us with your questions, stories or suggestions and it could be featured in our next newsletter or blog topic!

      • Thrive - October 2017 Issue

        by A is For Apple, Inc. | Oct 17, 2017

        The Teal Pumpkin Project

        Halloween is fast approaching, and that means costumes, parties, fun, and you guessed it – trick-or-treating! For some children, the treats that come with this activity can actually come with a price as they are dangerously allergic to some of the ingredients that are handed out on Halloween. There is a solution!

        teal-pumpkinFARE's Teal Pumpkin Project is a worldwide movement to create a safer, happier Halloween for all kids. Halloween can be a tricky time for families managing food allergies. Many traditional Halloween treats aren’t safe for children with life-threatening food allergies. The Teal Pumpkin Project promotes safety, inclusion and respect of individuals managing food allergies. This worldwide movement offers an alternative for kids with food allergies, as well as other children for whom candy is not an option. It keeps Halloween a fun, positive experience for all!

        The teal pumpkin project helps parents of children with allergies spot homes that are safe for their children to approach during Halloween.

        The Teal Pumpkin Project was inspired by a local awareness activity run by the Food Allergy Community of East Tennessee (FACET) and launched as a national campaign by FARE in 2014. They continue to work with partners every year to reach families across the country and around the world with the Teal Pumpkin Project’s messages of awareness, inclusion and community.

        You may be asking, “what kind of things can I hand out that are safe?” Here are some non-food ideas:

        • toysGlow sticks, bracelets, or necklaces
        • Pencils, pens, crayons or markers
        • Bubbles
        • Halloween erasers or pencil toppers
        • Mini Slinkies
        • Whistles, kazoos, or noisemakers
        • Bouncy balls
        • Finger puppets or novelty toys
        • Coins
        • Spider rings
        • Vampire fangs
        • Mini notepads
        • Playing cards
        • Bookmarks
        • Stickers
        • Stencils

        If you participate in the teal pumpkin project, you can still hand out candy, just do it safely! The point of the Teal Pumpkin Project is to make trick-or-treating as inclusive as possible. You can keep the experience safe by keeping your food treats and non-food treats in separate bowls. You can find out more about FARE’s Teal Pumpkin Project on their website’s FAQ page.

        And to make your house distinguishable to parents and children so they know you are participating on Halloween, make sure to either pain a pumpkin teal, or to print out some free posters to post on your door or another noticeable place. You can find free resources online here.

        Stay Connected
        It takes a village! Find community with local parents, support groups, Facebook communities, or other local organizations. Email us, or join us online: Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram - we'd love for you to connect with us!


        Local Events & Resources

        Fujitsu Planetarium - Deanza College

        The Moon, Saturday October 21 (and ongoing events)

        21250 Stevens Creek Boulevard, Cupertino, CA 95014


        Have you ever wondered what makes the Moon so special? Apart from the Sun, the Moon is one of the brightest objects in the sky and it's the second place, other than the Earth, that humans have set foot. Come and learn about the Moon's phases, craters and other characteristics that make the Moon a very special place. Produced and distributed by Audio Visual Imagineering.

        The Fujitsu Planetarium at De Anza College is the largest school Planetarium west of the Rocky Mountains and since our renovation, is one of the most modern in the world.

        The Planetarium is shared by the College Astronomy and Community Education Departments. When used as a classroom, it serves over 2700 college students per year. The Astronomy program at De Anza is the largest in the California State Community College System.

        About 35,000 community members, including students from pre-school through high school, attend these shows and events every year.

        Learn more about this event online here


        Holiday Spotlight


        This month our technology spotlight will be directed toward Halloween Costumes! We will be giving some brief guidelines for children with various sensory issues and some ideas on how you can build a costume around those issues. We would love to hear your suggestions as well, so feel free to email them to us and we will share your suggestions!

        MASKS/HATS: If your child is highly sensitive or doesn’t like hats or things touching their face, avoiding masks and hats altogether would be best. Masks can be restrictive, hard to breathe through, and you may be able to get your child to “try” them, or wear it for a couple of minutes, but it isn’t going to last long and the night may end in tears. If your child doesn’t like hats, they won’t suddenly love them on Halloween. Stick to costumes from the waist down.

        FABRICS: Pay attention to the material of the costume. If it is going to be too scratchy, restrictive, or anything that is going to be bothersome to your child, stay away from it! Or, plan on having them wear clothing underneath to protect their highly reactive skin.

        FIDGETS: Does your child need something to keep their hands busy? Try a prop! A wand, broom, or even have them carry a stuffed animal themed to their costume, or dressed the same. (I wouldn’t include weapons in fidgets, these are dangerous and could cause more potential issues than solutions)

        CONCERNS: Does your child have concerns with people hugging them, or getting in their personal space? This could cause some anxiety if you go to a Halloween party or trick-or-treating. Maybe choose a “cardboard box” costume that surrounds their body like a box of crayons, or juice box, or pop corn, a deck of cards, or a race car. If you google “Cardboard Box Costume” You will get loads of results. They can wear anything they’d like underneath!

        BACKUP PLAN: Always have a backup plan. If all else fails, wear pajamas! You can even find themed or costume pajamas now at some department stores. Plan on talking about your night and going you’re your evening, but things don’t always go as planned. Have a 2nd costume, another option for trick-or-treating, another party option, or even stay in for the evening.


        Ask A is for Apple

        Have a question you would like answered? A story you would like to share? A testimony about your experience with A is For Apple? We would LOVE to hear from you! Email us with your questions, stories or suggestions and it could be featured in our next newsletter or blog topic!

      • Thrive - September 2017 Issue

        by A is For Apple, Inc. | Sep 27, 2017

        The IEP Process: Step by Step

        IEP stands for "Individualized Education Plan". This plan is a document that is developed for each public school child who needs special education. The process for developing the plan can be a long road for parent, child and education provider but it doesn't always have to be difficult. Our newsletter this month is dedicated to the IEP process and the steps generally involved in that process. We hope that this guideline helps to clarify any questions or apprehensions you may have regarding this process.
        Step One: Pre-Referral

        The IEP process is initiated through a series of pre-referral interventions. The interventions implemented vary depending on the kind of problem the student is exhibiting.

        • Document and explain students' difficulties and challenges
        • Test the effectiveness of classroom accommodations and modifications
        • Assess the power of various instructional interventions
        • Monitor students' progress

        Step Two: Referral

        adult-1868003_640If pre-referral interventions are unsuccessful, an individual is referred for special education services. Referrals can come from many different sources. In these cases, referrals can come from parents, a social service agency, public health nurses, day care professionals, or a doctor.

        Typically, the referral process begins sooner for children with severe disabilities, because their disabilities are obvious at birth or during infancy. As children grow older, other signs often trigger referrals. For example, a toddler who is not walking by age two and a preschooler not talking by age three are both candidates for early referrals. As children get older, reasons for referrals change as well. Students whose academic performance is significantly behind that of their classmates or who continually misbehave and disrupt the learning environment often draw the attention of their teachers.

        Step Three: Identification

        Assessment is one foundation of the planning process. The purpose of this step in the IEP process is to determine whether a youngster has a disability, whether special education is required, and what types of services are needed.
        Step Four: Eligibility

        The information from the assessment step is used to identify students who actually have a disability and qualify for special education services.

        Step Five: Development of the IEP

        checklist-2077020_640After thorough completion of the pre-referral, referral, evaluation, and eligibility steps of the IEP process, it is time to develop the actual individualized program plan—an individualized family service plan (IFSP) for infants and toddlers or an IEP for preschoolers and schoolchildren and a transition component of the IEP for those students with disabilities who are 16 years or older.

        For those students who qualify for special education, the next step requires that parents and the IEP Team make decisions about appropriate education, services, and placement. The assessment results are used to help make these decisions.

        Step Six: Implementation of the IEP
        Once the IEP is developed, the student's services and individualized program begin

        Step Seven: Evaluation and Review

        The purpose of such measurements of progress is to guide instruction and be sure those interventions scheduled are effective.
        Stay Connected
        It takes a village! Find community with local parents, support groups, Facebook communities, or other local organizations. Email us, or join us online: Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram - we'd love for you to connect with us!

        Local Events & Resources

        Dance For All - Inclusive Dance Class!

        Saturdays, Weekly - 1:00 pm to 2:00 pm
        El Camino YMCA
        2400 Grant Road, Mountain View CA 94040


        This weekly class offers a safe and accepting environment where differences are accepted without judgment and special need participants can exercise side-by-side with their family members and other Y members. Attendees participate in a series of dances, choreographed to popular music enjoyed by youth, as well as Pilates-based exercise that exposes them to moves they would find in a number of other Y classes.

        Learn more about this event online here

        Cinelux Sensory-Friendly Films
        : The Ninjago Movie

        Saturday, September 30, 2017

        sensory-friendlyDesigned for families who have toddlers or children with special needs who cannot sit through an entire feature without moving or being a little loud. These special shows feature brighter auditorium lighting and lower audio levels in an environment where guest interaction and movement is allowed and encouraged.

          You can find more information online here

        Technology Spotlight


        Our Technology Spotlight this month is dedicated to our newest website:
        We have created this website to showcase the career opporunities at A Is For Apple, Inc. We’re always looking for talented and professional therapists to help fulfill a great need. Enjoy flexible hours, a fun and energetic work environment and the reward of making a difference in someone’s life.

        We have a work/play culture in our office so that all employees enjoy their work and have fun and we have now have a space where we can showcase that.


        Not only can you find a career on our new website, but you can instantly apply online and schedule an interview. This is pretty exciting! If you have someone you know that has a passion for working with children, and would like to work with children with special needs, share the website with them, we would love for them to explore careers with A is For Apple!

        Ask A is for Apple

        Have a question you would like answered? A story you would like to share? A testimony about your experience with A is For Apple? We would LOVE to hear from you! Email us with your questions, stories or suggestions and it could be featured in our next newsletter or blog topic!

      • Thrive - August 2017 Issue

        by A is For Apple, Inc. | Aug 18, 2017

        Back to School Tips

        backtoschoolSchool has just started for many students and the first few weeks of school are full of excitement, preparation, and a lot of “firsts”. With these new things can come some nervousness and fear of the unknown. Children with special needs can be especially unsettled during this time as they are settling into their new schedules, teachers, and schools, but there are ways of helping them ease into the new school year.
        How to Ease Back to School Jitters

        If your child is having a hard time being away from you during the day, try to stay connected with a little creativity:

        • Get a locket or a wallet with pictures. If your child feels anxious during the day, your child can look at the pictures to feel more connected to you.
        • Send a note everyday with your child in their lunchbox. This way, they know you are thinking of them. If your child isn’t a reader, you can draw a picture to show your care for them.

        Develop and Maintain Daily Routines and Schedules

        • As much as possible, maintain a structured, orderly, predictable environment at home by having regularly scheduled times for meals, bedtime, wake up, study hour, etc. This structured predictability will be comforting for the child.
        • Whiteboards and post-its are great for reminders instead of nagging
        • Maintain a monthly wall calendar for weekly activities, appointments and events - visual reminders are great!
        • Set aside a specific time and place for your child’s nightly homework assignments

        Review Your Current IEP

        The IEP is the cornerstone of your child's educational program, so it's important that you have a clear understanding of it. Note when the IEP expires and if your child is up for reevaluation this year. Most importantly, be sure that this IEP still "fits" your child's needs! If you're unsure, contact the school about holding an IEP review meeting.
        If you are unsure about your part in the IEP process or how the evaluation process works, you can read our past newsletter article about Advocating For Your Child in the IEP Process.
        Keep open communication:

        • Make sure you are talking daily with your child, ask open-ended questions, and talk about your child’s feelings. Make sure they feel heard, understood, and involved.
        • Keeping Track of all phone calls, e-mails, notes home, meetings, and conferences is important. Create a "communication log" for yourself in a notebook that is easily accessible. Be sure to note the dates, times, and nature of the communications you have.
        • It's important that communicate early and often! If there is anything (concerns, changes, questions about the IEP) that you feel is important to share with the staff working with your child before school starts, or during the year, don't hesitate to contact them! The more proactive and honest you are, the better the school staff will be able to meet your child's needs.

        Stay Organized!

        orgIn the world of special education, there are lots of meetings, paperwork, and documentation to keep track of. Try to keep a family calendar of school events, special education meetings, conferences, etc. Setting up a binder or folder to keep your child's special education documentation, meeting notices, and IEPs in sequential order can also help you stay organized.

        Attend School Events
        Take advantage of Open House, Back-to-School Night, and parent-teacher conferences to help you and your child get a feel for the school and meet the teachers, other staff, students, and families. Share the positives about working with your child, and let the teacher know about changes, events, or IEP concerns that should be considered for children in special education.
        Stay Connected
        It takes a village! Find community with local parents, support groups, Facebook communities, or other local organizations. Email us, or join us online: Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram - we'd love for you to connect with us!

        Local Events & Resources

        Sensory Friendly Hours at the Tech

        Sunday, August 20, 2017: 9:30 am to 12:00 pm
        The Tech Museum of Innovation
        201 South Market Street. 95113 San Jose , CA


        Sensory Friendly Hours are a time for families to enjoy a quieter, less-crowded visit to The Tech at a discounted rate. This opportunity may be appealing to parents of children who have mobility challenges, struggle to communicate, or become easily overwhelmed by stimuli

        Learn more about this event online here

        AMC Sensory-Friendly Films
        : The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature

        Saturday, August 26, 2017
        See Link For Participating Theaters

        nutjobAMC is proud to partner with the Autism Society to offer unique movie showings where we turn the lights up, and turn the sound down, so you can get up, dance, walk, shout or sing! Our Sensory Friendly Film program is available on the second and fourth Saturday (family-friendly) and Tuesday evenings (mature audiences) of every month.

          You can find more information online here

        Technology Spotlight


        Our Technology Spotlight this month is pretty important because with the start of school, rewards work! And what better to help keep track of rewards than an app that you can take with you.

        iRewardChart is an app that brings the traditional reward chart onto mobile device, with a customizable, interactive interface.

        iRewardChart looks to help parents keep track of their child’s good behavior, and reward them appropriately. An app that is all about reward has been rewarded by the media, press, and most importantly, our users.

        There are two versions of the app, Pro and Lite. The Lite app is free, and has a limitation of one kid and 4 tasks per week.

        Currently the app is available on iPhone/iPad, Android (Google Marketplace, Amazon AppStore, and Nook appstore), Windows Phone 7 AppHub stores. In future, we have plans to expand onto other mobile devices, web, desktop, TV and beyond.

        Certain assistive technology (AT) tools can help people who have difficulty processing and remembering spoken language. These devices can be used in many settings, and can be especially helpful in school as well!

        You can find more information about the iRewardChart in the App Store or on their website here.

        Ask A is for Apple

        Have a question you would like answered? A story you would like to share? A testimony about your experience with A is For Apple? We would LOVE to hear from you! Email us with your questions, stories or suggestions and it could be featured in our next newsletter or blog topic!

      • Thrive - July 2017 Issue

        by A is For Apple, Inc. | Jul 19, 2017

        Summer Sensory Activities

        Summer is in full effect and you may have found it hard to keep your child entertained and engaged. It is so important to limit screen time, especially for your sensory-sensitive children.
        We’ve put together a fun list of sensory-friendly summer games and activities to add to the last weeks of summer to keep it entertaining and add an element of learning to the fun!

        Colored Beans: How cool is this? A fun activity for coloring beans to use for art projects or for a fun sensory sorting activity. If you use them for a sensory bin, you get endless uses from them! Find the full activity at Mama Von Teacher.

        2-IMG_2856Rainbow Ice Tower Excavation (pictured left): Up to THREE days of play time! Science meets sensory, meets cool – this is the best idea! Who knew a block of ice could be this much fun. Check out this activity on Fun at Home with Kids.

        Slime, Slime, Slime!: There are so many slime recipes out there. Slime is fun, there are a lot of different texture slimes, color slimes, and it is just as fun to make as it is to play with. Check out this blog post that has a lot of different recipes listed in one place on The Chaos and The Clutter.  If you are looking for an alternative slime that is safe to use for younger children, or as an introductory slime to use for children who don’t like to get their hands as dirty or who have tactile challenges, this is a perfect slime to try from The Empowered Educator.

        Spider Web Walk: This is a very cool game that incorporates balance AND letter recognition all in one. You can find this game your kids will be sure to love on No Time For Flash Cards.

        Rainbow Bubble Foam: You’ll want to take this activity outside. Bonus? Your kids will be super, squeaky clean after this one! ;) Head over to Mama Papa Bubba for instructions on how to get the most out of your bubbles!

        If you need more low-key indoor sensory fun to keep your child busy, try some simple activities like:

        • children-2267971_640Finger Painting
        • Tabletop sensory boxes
          • Try things like: Dry pasta, Ice Cubes, Fabric, Cooked
            Spaghetti, Corn Kernels
        • Play Dough
        • Kinetic Sand
        • Sand Art
        • Sponge Painting
        • Tissue Paper

        **Remember to use judgement on whether or not your child is ready for any items suggested above. If your child is still mouthing objects, keep smaller items from their sensory bins that can be considered a choking hazard.

        If you have any activities you've been successful with or have any other tips you'd like to share, we’d love to hear your experience - it takes a village! Email us, or join us online: Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

        Local Events & Resources

        Azure Family Concert: Strings of Summer

        Sat, Jul 22, 2017: 11:00 am to 3:00 pm
        Rotary Play Garden
        438 Coleman Ave. 95110 San Jose , CA


        Come join us for a family day full of fun and games to welcome the summer while coming together as a Special Needs Community. There will games, entertainment, prizes, food trucks, and much more. The entire Special Needs Community, family members, and service providers are invited to attend this Summer Festival. Last year families had a great time at the festivals in Salinas and San Jose.

        Learn more about this event online here

        Summer Playcamp Ages 5-11

        Mon, Jul 24, 2017: 10:00 am to 2:00 pm
        DATES: 7/24 - 7/28.
        Kirk Community Center, Room 1
        1601 Foxworthy Ave. San Jose, CA 95118


        These days camps are designed for children with cognitive disabilities who need a higher level of staff assistance for participation including those with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). Activities will include arts and crafts, games, circle time, field trips and more. Children should bring a sack lunch to camp each day. Participants must be able to function in a 1:3 staff to child ratio and be independent with personal care needs or bring an attendant with them. Attendants will need to be fingerprinted by the City of San Jose.
        You can find contact info and get more information onlinehere

        San Jose Earthquakes and E-Soccer Adaptive Sports and Education Day

        Sat, Jul 29, 2017: 3:00 pm to 7:30 pm
        Avaya Stadium
        1123 Coleman Ave, San Jose, CA 95110

        The San Jose Earthquakes have partnered with E-Soccer (inclusive soccer program in various locations: to play at a 3pm E-Soccer Session at Avaya Training Field with E-Soccer coaches and Earthquakes Academy Staff before the 4:45 Quakes game (all kids ages 3 and up of all abilities can play. They must present their “E-Soccer Event” ticket be able to participate.

        Click here to purchase tickets and for more information


        Technology Spotlight


        School will be here before you know it and preparing your child for the first day can can both be an exciting and daunting task. There are a lot of helpful technology-based devices out there to assist kids with various assignments and activities  that  may be challenging.

        Certain assistive technology (AT) tools can help people who have difficulty processing and remembering spoken language. These devices can be used in many settings, and can be especially helpful in school as well!

        Our Technology Spotlight is focusing on the paper-based computer pen. This type of tool may benefit people who struggle with: writing, listening, memory and reading.

        This technology records and links audio to what a person writes using the pen and special paper. It enables the user to take notes while simultaneously recording someone speaking, like a teacher for instance. The user can later listen to any section of his notes by touching the pen to his corresponding handwriting or diagrams.

        The Smart Pen by Livescribe is one of many pens like this on the market. You can find out how it could be helpful for your child by going to their website, here.

        Ask A is for Apple

        Have a question you would like answered? A story you would like to share? A testimony about your experience with A is For Apple? We would LOVE to hear from you! Email us with your questions, stories or suggestions and it could be featured in our next newsletter or blog topic!

      • Thrive - June 2017 Issue

        by A is For Apple, Inc. | Jun 19, 2017

        Question From AIFA Parent:
        "Do you have tips to handle my picky eater?"

        What do you do when your child is a picky eater? This is a question we have received from one of our readers and we’d love to explore that topic a little deeper in this issue of Thrive.

        child-1566470_640Picky eating is not unheard of in young children, and even more common in children with special needs. First, let’s explore the difference between picky eating and food aversions or serious food disorders that need medical intervention. Picky eating begins to be a serious problem when kids begin to become undernourished and are not thriving. When picking eating reaches this level, your child may need clinical intervention. This may be for a number of reasons: over-stimulated senses (or under-stimulated), anxiety, OCD, other fears, etc.
        In this issue of Thrive, we are simply going to talk about your child’s picky eating as a non-clinical issue. As always, if your child is seeing a therapist or physician, before starting something at home, speak with them as to not interfere with any treatment plan they are already receiving.
        Stay Calm! – It is very frustrating when you are trying to get your child to eat and they seem to not want to eat anything. Your child is going to pick up on emotions that you are feeling and is going to get frustrated as well. If you are calm, your child is more likely to respond in kind.
        Don’t Force Foods – Forcing food on children distresses them, frustrates you and builds up negative associations with food. Every parent wants their child to eat every food group at every meal and embrace good nutrition, but forcing that on your child is going to actually result in the opposite. As long as your pediatrician says your child is growing adequately and they are healthy, pick your battles – and they don’t have to be over every green vegetable.

        It Takes Time – Eating is a developmental process, and this takes time. Working with your child in this process may not always take steps forward, they may include steps back. You may need to ask for help; they may even need intervention from a professional. Take a deep breath and realize that every child develops at their own pace.

        For those kids that prefer soft foods, try using a food processor and make creamy chicken salad or blend up vegetables and proteins to hide in dips or sauces. For children who like a crunchy texture, serve fresh raw vegetables instead of cooked vegetables or baked potato wedges instead of mashed potatoes.

        baking-1951256_640If your child is particular to a specific color when it comes to eating, try hiding foods in their preferred color-friendly sauces. Smoothies are also a great alternative and can be made to be a preferred color. You can also encourage new colors with a game using a chart to introduce new colors.
        To help introduce new foods, try involving your child in choosing what they would like to try eating and have them help with the meal preparations. Try combining a food they like with a new one. Many kids will at least try an item that they have spent time choosing and preparing themselves.
        “Food Chaining” is another great tool to adding new foods into your child’s diet. The idea of food chaining is to start with foods that your child already likes and introduce similar items into their meals. For example, if your child likes chicken nuggets, try breaded fish sticks or mozzarella sticks. If your child likes spaghetti with tomato sauce, try putting tomato sauce on shredded chicken. Some children love to dip their foods and you can present a new food like raw carrots with a familiar dip such as ranch or guacamole.

        If you have had a good experience introducing new foods to your picky eater, or have any other tips you'd like to share, we’d love to hear your experience - it takes a village! Email us, or join us online: Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

        Local Events & Resources

        MAGIC Dance Arts Partners with Primetime Martial Arts to offer Sensory-Friendly Karate/Tumbling!

        Fridays 4:30 - 5:30 pm
        Primetime Martial Arts
        6179 Santa Teresa Blvd., San Jose, CA 95123


        Kick & Roll (Karate/Tumbling):
        This class incorporates basic karate and tumbling skills. Students will participate in a warm-up routine, learn simple martial arts progressions across the floor, and become introduced to beginning tumbling skills on mats.
        Learn more Primetime Martial Art's Sensory-Friendly Class Here

        Azure Family Concert: Strings of Summer

        June 30, 2017, 4:30 pm
        Braun Music Center, Stanford University
        541 Lasuen Mall, Stanford, CA 94305

        926023-250The Azure Family Concert features the guest and student musicians of the SLSQ Chamber Music Seminar at Stanford, with host pianist Stephen Prutsman. Since many with Autism (or related challenges) cannot attend traditional music performances due to uncontrollable vocalizations or physical movements, the St. Lawrence String Quartet and long-time collaborator pianist Stephen Prutsman, felt a real need to create a musical environment whereby not only are such behaviors not frowned upon, but accepted and embraced.

        Azure concerts are approximately one hour in length. Family members and caregivers of all ages are welcome to attend.
        You can buy tickets and get more information online here

        Technology Spotlight

        Autism Track


        Autism Track is brought to you by the creators of iPrompts and is designed for parents of children with ASD to help them track data.

        "This customizable data tracking tool allows parents to easily track behaviors, interventions and symptoms in one place," says Patricia Aguayo, MD, MPH, Medical Director Autism Services, Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist at Hospital for Special Care. "Behaviors and symptoms can be rated, as well as particular medications and their doses, diet changes and therapies. Parents can also review trends in their child's data and share these data with school and medical providers to inform treatment planning. This app is especially helpful for children with challenging behaviors, psychiatric conditions or both."

        Cost: Free to $9.99, depending on the version, available for iPhone and iPad.

        See more expert-recommended apps for kids with Autism at

        Ask A is for Apple

        Have a question you would like answered? A story you would like to share? A testimony about your experience with A is For Apple? We would LOVE to hear from you! Email us with your questions, stories or suggestions and it could be featured in our next newsletter or blog topic!

      • Thrive - May 2017 Issue

        by A is For Apple, Inc. | May 22, 2017

        What are 'Fidgets', Anyway

        By now, you’ve probably heard of fidget cubes and spinners. Right now, fidget spinners are the “hot new toy” on the market and have been outselling almost every other toy on the shelves. They have been so problematic, however, that they have been banned from classrooms and schools across the country.

        fidgetHere is the issue with this…these sensory tools are not just “toys”. They have now been accepted as “cool toys” to carry around, play with, trade and learn tricks with – but now are being seen as a distraction by teachers, parents, other adults and student peers that may not understand how they can be helpful as therapy tools. What does that mean for children who use them as they are intended? It means that they may be dismissed and no longer accepted as therapy tools, coping mechanisms and helping devices, but rather seen as a fad and novelty toy.

        So, your question may be – “What are fidget devices and how can they help children with special needs?”

        stressballFidgets can be a very effective and helpful self-regulation tool! Using fidget devices and sensory balls work well for calming and alerting purposes. They can be used to promote focusing and concentration, and even decrease stress. They can be used to increase tactile awareness of fingers/hands and as a way to keep fidgeting fingers busy! Fidget toys can also provide a fun way to strengthen hands and "warm-up" fingers before handwriting activities and fine motor skill tasks. Sensory balls are one of many fidget toys that can help relieve stress!

        Not all fidget devices are the same, and not all circumstance or child is either. Here are some great resources we found that talk about the different fidget devices and some examples on how to use them on

        Does your child use fidgets and has benefited from them? We’d love to hear your experience. Email us, or join us online on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Tag us in your photos, or use hashtag #AisForApple – we’d love to hear from you!

        Local Events & Resources

        Wild: Abilities United Children's Discovery Exhibit


        Abilities United is pleased to announce Wild, its third exhibition at the Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose. The exhibition will feature works by Abilities United artists and will explore the many members of the animal kingdom. In conjunction with the exhibit, artists Philip Ma and Matthaus will lead a Meet the Artists workshop on June 11 from 10-4. Philip will teach participants to draw baby animals and Matthaus will demonstrate his skill in aluminum foil sculpture.

        You can learn more about Abilities United Here
        Click here to see more events and exhibits at the Children’s Discovery Museum

        Looking For Special Needs Child Care Services?

        Navigating childcare options for a child with special needs can be overwhelming and should be given special consideration. You can visit 4C’s website where they can help make that decision by offering:

        • A list of providers who have attended trainings on various topics including children with special needs in their programs.
        • Consultation to help parents find child care services.

        Other resources for Parents of Children who have Special Needs can be found on their website as well.

        Trying to find fun things for your special needs child to do for the summer (it’s coming up quickly!). Check out Via Services. Formerly the Crippled Children's Society, Via Services has been serving the Bay Area and beyond since 1945. They are a private, independent non-profit dedicated to helping individuals with disabilities and special needs achieve greater self-sufficiency and lead richer lives. In doing so, they ultimately support the entire family. Their diverse programs offer something for everyone. You can find them online here:

        You can also download their Summer Brochure by clicking here.

        To learn more about Via Services, you can read about them on their website here

        Technology Spotlight

        Alexis Alert Band


        Have you ever been in the situation where your child has run off? That feeling in the pit of your stomach when you turn around and they aren't right where you left them (and only two seconds ago?). As parents, that feeling is the worst. As a parent of a special needs child, sometimes this situation is more common. There are a lot of tracking devices and software out there; we were introduced to one recently that is not only local, but affordable, and uses cutting edge technology but simple to use!

        scanmeThe Alexis Alert Band, recently launched by Scanme, LLC, is the newest addition in the wearable technology industry. The device is a flexible silicone band imprinted with a unique QR code your children can comfortably wear all day. You simply scan the QR code with your phone, enter your contact information and a detailed message. The next time your child’s band is scanned, your contact information will appear and the person scanning the band will be directed to either call or email. Additionally, the scan automatically generates an email to you with a Google maps link to the location where your child’s band was scanned, so you will know their whereabouts instantly. A lost child is a possibility that we as parents fear. If that fear ever became reality, the Alexis Alert Band can immediately assist in reuniting your family.

        Ask A is for Apple

        Have a question you would like answered? A story you would like to share? A testimony about your experience with A is For Apple? We would LOVE to hear from you! Email us with your questions, stories or suggestions and it could be featured in our next newsletter or blog topic!

      • Thrive - April 2017 Issue

        by A is for Apple, Inc. | Apr 28, 2017

        The Bay Area Autism Walk Was a Success

        A is For Apple participated in the Walk for Autism last weekend. Autism Speaks Walk is the world’s largest autism fundraising event dedicated to improving the lives of people with autism. This walk is literally powered by the love of parents, grandparents, siblings, friends, relatives, and supporters. The funds raised help ensure people of all abilities have access to the tools needed to lead ‘their best lives’.

        Autism WalkThe weekend was a huge success! The Bay Area Walk was held in History Park and raised a grand total of $234,000.48 from all participants and teams! A is For Apple set a team goal of $1,500 and surpassed that goal, raising a total of $1,575. Thank you to everyone who helped us raise these funds!

        Our team had a booth at the park where we gave out water, apples, had a face painting booth, a coloring station, information on A is For Apple, and were able to meet many families in the community. It was a fun day and we were excited to connect with so many new people in the Bay Area and hear their stories on why they run.

        Autism-run-shirtOur reason for running was to have a voice with legislators, to have access to the information and resources we need, to support research and medical discovery, and to help fund local services through the mission of Autism Speaks. We believe that together, we can accomplish amazing things for people living with autism – and this is why A is For Apple walked!

        Here are stories of why others walk; read their stories and be inspired:

        Share your stories with us, we would love to hear them. Use the hashtag #AisForApple on social media!

        We Are on Instagram!

        instgramWe have expanded our social media reach and we are now on Instagram! Follow us to see what we are up to, stories from our parents, Tuesday Tips, and more.

        Spread the word and tell your friends and family to follow us at @aisforappleinc

        Tag us in your photos and share your inspirational stories! Use the hashtag #AisForApple

        Got Questions? Ask A is For Apple!

        Have a question you would like answered? A story you would like to share? a testimony about your experience with A is For Apple? We would LOVE to hear from you! Email us with your questions, stories or suggestions and it could be featured in our next newsletter or blog topic!
      • Thrive - March 2017 Issue

        by A is for Apple, Inc. | Mar 22, 2017

        World Autism Day is April 2nd!

        World Autism Day is coming up in less than two weeks! On April 2nd, every year, this day is internationally recognized as a day to raise awareness of autism on all levels of society. World Autism Day is also one of only four official health-specific United Nation Days. The day itself brings individual autism organizations together all around the world to aid in things like research, diagnoses, treatment, and overall awareness for those with autism.
        Not only is there just one day for recognizing and raising awareness, but this day springboards the entire month of April for being National Autism Awareness Day.
        Here are some ways you can participate April 2nd for World Autism Day:

        • Join the thousands of people across the world who wear blue in honor of the millions of individuals and families affected by autism. Visit Autism Speaks online to see the different ways you can "Light it up Blue" on April 2nd and to take the pledge!
        • Put on the Puzzle! The Autism Awareness Puzzle Ribbon is the most recognized symbol of the autism community in the world. Autism prevalence is now one in every 68 children in America. Show your support for people with autism by wearing the Autism Awareness Puzzle Ribbon – as a pin on your shirt, a magnet on your car, a badge on your blog, or even your Facebook profile picture – and educate those around you on the potential of people with autism! To learn more about the Autism Awareness Ribbon, click here.
        • Connect with your neighbors – many communities hold special events for the autism community; you can find many of those in our monthly newsletter. You can search nationwide for events online by clicking here.
        • Donate to a local or nation-wide autism group or research fund.

        Join us on social media and message us your questions and ideas you have for our next newsletter or blog topic. Don't forget to tag us in your Light it Up Blue pictures on April 2nd!

        In The Press

        We are proud to announce that A is for Apple, Inc. Received the Best Business of San Jose Award in the category of Occupational Therapy for the second year in a row!

        awardSan Jose, February 23, 2017 — A is for Apple, Inc has been selected for the 2016 Best Businesses of San Jose Award in the Occupational Therapy category by the Best Businesses of San Jose Award Program. This is the second time since 2014 that A is for Apple, Inc has been selected for this award. Each year, the Best Businesses of San Jose Award Program identifies companies that we believe have achieved exceptional marketing success in their local community and business category. These are local companies that enhance the positive image of small business through service to their customers and our community. These exceptional companies help make the San Jose area a great place to live, work and play.

        Various sources of information were gathered and analyzed to choose the winners in each category. The 2016 Best Businesses of San Jose Award Program focuses on quality, not quantity. Winners are determined based on the information gathered both internally by the Best Businesses of San Jose Award Program and data provided by third parties.
        Read full press release on our blog here

        Local Events

        Autism Awareness Day at the San Jose Barracuda

        barracudaWatch as the AHL Pacific Division's FIRST PLACE TEAM the Barracuda take on the Stockton Heat.

        • When:  Sunday April 9, 3 pm
        • Where: SAP Center in San Jose, 525 W Santa Clara St.
        • Details: We'll be in section 115, so get tickets there so we can hang out.  Tickets prices are reasonable! 
        • TicketsEvent Website

        Shake Your Groove Thing For Autism: Dance to help support a great cause!

        Sponsored by Autism Society San Francisco Bay Area during Autism Awareness Month, the Dance-a-thon is the bay area's first multi-beneficiary autism fundraiser. While you're dancing you will be raising money for several nonprofits that provide recreational opportunities for individuals with autism and other developmental disabilities.

        • When:  Saturday, April 15, 2017, 2:00 - 6:00 pm
        • Where: Cubberley Pavilion, 4000 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto
        • Sign Up: Click Here for Reg Link and More Info

        You can register as an individual or a team. Fundraising minimum of $125 for team or individual to participate in the event, (easy to do, just ask friends and family to sponsor you and your kiddo).  The space features a 12,000-square-foot dance floor, a live DJ, and high-energy dance music for four straight hours. All ages! All abilities! See you there!
        Register today... and shake your groove thing for autism!

      • Thrive - February 2017 Issue

        by A is for Apple, Inc. | Feb 22, 2017

        Helping Your Child Recognize Non-Verbal Cues

        Valentines day has just passed and all the talk about love and relationships may bring up questions about your child and how they interpret those emotions, especially those not communicated through words.

        Does your child have difficulty reading facial expressions and body language? Non-verbal emotional cues can be hard to decipher for children on the autism spectrum. Since communication is a combination of verbal and non-verbal cues, it can become difficult for them to communicate effectively; it’s like not having all the pieces to a puzzle. However, it is not impossible to teach your child the skills to be able to recognize, and even express the non-verbal parts of communication. The first step is to be able to recognize and interpret those non-verbal facial cues

        Here are some activities you can do with your child to help them learn how to recognize emotions from facial expressions:

        • Practice facial expressions to mimic different emotions in the mirror
        • Have your child mimic facial expressions and take pictures of them so they can see their own face interpreting those feelings
        • Create collages with pictures of different expressions found in magazines, newspapers, etc.
        • Teach your child to draw cartoon faces showing different emotions
        • Watch an educational show that you can pause; when a character on the show expresses an emotion, pause the TV and ask your child what they think the character is feeling based on their facial expression, talk about those emotions and why they might be feeling this way or a time when your child has felt this way.
        • Make flashcards with cartoon faces expressing emotion and “quiz” your child.

        Using the activities above, your child will be well on their way to being able to recognize and name the various emotions that are shown through facial expressions. Remember, repetition is key – practice will help develop these skills!

        Want to read further on similar subjects? You can find more helpful information on our blog; check back often for updated information.

        Technology Spotlight

        Robbie the Robot: Matching Emotions

        Here is another tool to help your child learn to recognize and understand non-verbal emotional cues.
        robbie-robotFrom the website: “Robbie the Robot helps children with autism to recognize emotions. The game integrates 3D animations and a real persons face, to communicate the emotion that the character is feeling. Robbie the Robot is a mechanical character on a journey to find his missing hat. Many autistic children find mechanical objects engaging and by combining this with a real human face the aim is for the child to practice identifying emotions in a non-confrontational environment that they enjoy. The game reinforces the following keywords, which can be used as a tool by parents and teachers for encouraging positive behaviors in real life situations; 'happy', 'sad', 'angry', 'surprised'.

        You can find this game online by clicking here.

        Please join us on our Facebook Page and share your favorite learning games!

        Local Events


        Music and Children with Autism: A Practical Guide for Parents and Caregivers

        Join us for an evening with music educator, Dr. Ryan Hourigan. Learn how the arts can help parents and caregivers connect and engage with their children. Artistic and non-artistic parents and caregivers will discover a variety of activities and techniques to take home and try with their children. Dr. Hourigan will be joined by Amy Hourigan (MT-BC), a licensed music therapist.

        • When:  Monday, March 6, 7:30pm
        • Where: 230 San Antonio Circle
                      Mountain View, CA 94040
        • RSVP: Click Here to RSVP
        • More Information: Event Website

        San Francisco Ballet Swan Lake Workshop

        Please join us for this incredible opportunity to have your special-needs family to engage with one of our region's most beloved cultural treasures, and with one of their most popular ballets!

        The event features a performance session, interactive movement session, hands-on activity room, quiet room, the wonderful music of Tchaikovsky's famous score, photos with Swan Lake dancers, and social stories guide about Swan Lake.

        • When:  March 12, 2:30-4pm
        • Where: 455 Franklin Street
                       San Francisco, CA
        • Cost:   $10 (proceeds to be donated to SF Ballet)

        Space is limited, so please RSVP to indicating the names of all registrants. 

        To reserve your space, please send your checks made out to AFBA to: 166 Sussex Street, San Francisco, CA 94131

      • Thrive - January 2017 Issue

        by A is for Apple, Inc. | Jan 18, 2017

        Priming: Helping Your Child Succeed in New Situations

        In the next few months there are many three-day weekends and long breaks from school. This can be potentially devastating to a child on the spectrum when they’ve just finally gotten back into the groove of therapy, school and a good home routine. In our blog post earlier this month, we talked about transitioning strategies after these breaks. In this newsletter, we are going to take a closer look at one of those strategies: Priming.

        The idea behind priming is to preview activities or information with a child before the child participates in that particular activity. The goal of priming is to help children with autism to grow more familiar and comfortable with an activity. It is important to note that priming is not teaching, correcting, or testing. Priming consists of three components:

        It is conducted prior to an activity and should use the same materials as the activity, Priming should be a low-demand situation, focusing on tasks that are easy for the child, and Priming should incorporate frequent opportunities for reinforcement.

        There are many ways to use priming at home to prepare your child for the day’s activities. These may differ from how priming is used in therapy or at school, but they follow the same principles. For example, in school, before a test, a child may be able to preview the worksheet to prepare for the test they will take. They may also be able to practice with art supplies before a new art project is presented to the class. Using the same principle at home, you can prepare your child for the events of the day by using a calendar with pictures that show them what is planned for the day. You can practice bedtime routines before they happen, you can read a book or watch a video about travel, or talk about sights, sounds and expectations before a trip to the zoo. These are all examples of “priming”.

        Priming Can Help:

        • To increase competence and independence
        • To familiarize child with the events of the day/material being learned
        • To decrease frustration/anxiety
        • Help set expectations

        Make priming part of your every day routine and it can start to help start better expectations, set consistent routines, and maybe even decrease frustration in your household - even if schedules get thrown a little off balance. We’d love to hear about how you use priming in your home – tweet us or find us on Facebook to start the conversation.

        Technology Spotlight

        Time is a hard concept to teach. We can tell our children “We will be transitioning to the next activity in 5 minutes” but five minutes can seem like an eternity since time is such an abstract concept at this young age of development.

        IMG_0704Using a visual timer can be extremely helpful at home or during therapy when children are having behavior issues, for motivation, to promote task completion, or when needing help with transitions. Counting down the numbers on a timer can still be very hard for children to decipher how much time they have left because digital clocks are still very abstract. Outloud Timer 2 is an app that is interactive, visual, and engages children all at the same time.

        If you are looking for a timer, this is one to give a try. It is easy to use and you can set it up with minutes and seconds. Once you set the timer, the penguin appears. You or your child can draw a path to the treasure chest at the end. You can make the path as complex and simple, straight or curvy as you’d like. Once you pick up your finger, the timer starts. The penguin walks along the path you’ve drawn in the time that you’ve set, ending at the treasure chest.

        What is pretty great about this timer is that your child can visualize how much time they have left based on where the penguin is. Is the penguin half-way there? How much of that path is left? This app teaches more about the concept of time, plus it is fun, with moving backgrounds, music, and virtual surprises when the timer is up.

        This is available on iTunes for the iPhone and the iPad – check it out!

        Please join us on our Facebook Page and share your experiences! 

        Local Events

        Tech Museum

        The Tech Museum Sensory Friendly Hours!

        Sensory Friendly Hours are a time for families to enjoy a quieter, less-crowded visit to The Tech at a discounted rate. This opportunity may be appealing to parents of children who have mobility challenges, struggle to communicate, or become easily overwhelmed by stimuli.

        • When:  Sunday, January 22, 9:00 AM - Noon
        • Where: 201 South Market Street
                      San Jose, CA 95113
        • Learn more at: The Tech Museum's Website
        • Phone Number: (408) 294-8324

        During Sensory Friendly Hours, guests will experience these special accommodations:

        • A smaller crowd capacity.
        • Lower audio volume on exhibits.
        • Appropriate lighting adjustments in galleries.
        • Quiet rooms available with calm-down kits.
        • Visual schedules available for download.
        • IMAX film Under the Sea" played at lower volume. (11 a.m. Free with admission; first come, first served.)
        • Welcoming and well-trained staff members.

        At noon, the museum will open to the general public. Guests who wish to continue their visit may do so, however some accommodations will no longer be available. Tickets may be purchased at the Group Admission rate in advance or at the door.

        Parent Coffee: Children With Challenging Behavior

        Do you have a preschooler or school-aged child with a developmental disability or delays who exhibits activities and actions that challenge you, sometimes beyond what you think you can handle?

        If your child is a "charger", a "head butter" and one that never seems to stop moving in unsafe ways for themselves or others, this just may be the parent group for you.

        Held during school hours, we hope that this allows you to come and gain acceptance and support with others facing similar challenges.

        Faciliated by PHP staff, this is not a therapy session but a coming together of parents who face challenges beyond the usual with regard to behavior and where others seem to fail to grasp the impact on your life.

        Not sure if it's a good fit for you? Try it once and find out

        • When:  Wed, Jan 25, 2017: 10:00 am to 11:30
        • Where: Parents Helping Parents at the Sobrato Center for Nonprofits
                         1400 Parkmoor Ave #100; San Jose, CA 95113
        • Learn more at: The Parents Helping Parents Website
        • Phone Number: (408) 727-5775
        • Email:

        Workshop: Protecting Children with Special Needs

        Protecting Children with Special Needs- presented by the U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights (OCR)

        • When:  2/13/17, 10am-12pm
        • Where: Sobrato Center for Nonprofits
                         350 Twin Dolphin Drive, Redwood City CA
        • Who: parents of children with special needs, educators and professionals who work with students with special needs
        • Cost: Free, RSVP:
        • Register and more info at: Eventbrite
        • What: OCR's mission is to ensure equal access to education and to promote educational excellence through vigorous enforcement of civil rights in our nation's schools. This workshop focuses on the important laws and regulations that protect children with special needs against discrimination in federally-funded programs, including: public school districts, institutions of higher education, and other state and local education agencies.

      • Thrive - December 2016 Issue

        by A is for Apple, Inc. | Dec 06, 2016

        Happy Holidays From A is For Apple

        'Tis the season for parties, Santa, gifts, winter break, and a lot of potential for unexpected schedule changes. Last month we talked a lot about travel and also how to prepare your child for holiday events, which is also helpful advice for this month as we draw nearer to Christmas. This month we will be discussing how to alleviate some holiday stresses that can come with Christmas like gift giving and how to keep your child busy during one of the longest breaks from school of the year: Winter Break!

        When there is a holiday or occasion where gift giving is involved, if you have a child with special needs, it may be necessary to change your expectations. Some children still developing small motor skills may even have trouble unwrapping gifts, or the wrong gift for certain children could cause a meltdown – you may need to realign plans with what your child can handle, not with what you want for them. This is also true for family members; they may have difficulty finding the right gift for your child. It could be helpful to make a wish list for family members so they feel more confident buying gifts this holiday for your kids. Here are some ideas that our staff came up with.

        Family Gift Giving Guide

        • Puzzles with large pieces - Children with Down syndrome can have difficulty with fine motor skills, puzzles with fewer or large pieces are fun and encourages these skills. Check out these Melissa and Doug puzzles at Target.
        • Cause-and-effect toys- Working on interaction and verbal replies with children on the Autism spectrum is important, and if you can make it a game, that is even better! The Vtech’s Tote and Go Laptop Plus does that perfectly. Check it out on Amazon.
        • Tunnels- For the children that don’t feel overstimulated in small areas, The tent-and-tunnel combo from Pacific Play Tents is a great option. This is also great for children who love to escape into their own world for a while, or need a safe space to read, think or be alone to play.
        • Repetition is key- For kids with autism, anything that spins and has a lot of repetition draws their attention. Learning Resources has Gears! Gears! Gears! Lights & Action Building set perfect for your child.
        • Development stages- Make sure to consider games that correlate to your child’s development stage. Think Fun has plenty of games such as Rush Hour to challenge your child without overstimulating them.
        • Playdough (without the mess!)- Sensory play is important for any child’s development. PlayFoam does just that, without sticking to hands and minimal mess. Great for stocking stuffers too! Check it out at on Amazon.

        We'd love to hear about the favorite gifts on your child's wish list this year. Share them with us on our Facebook page!

        The best part of this season is getting together with family, the food, the friends, the holiday cheer, and of course – the food! The part that is hard for most parents is the (very) long winter break. Most of the time it is two weeks long, and unlike summer, it isn’t the best weather to play outside, and it’s cold and flu season; so you are left with indoor options. What do you do with children indoor for two whole weeks? We have some suggestions for you!

        Indoor Activities For Winter Break

          1. Forts & Towers - Guide your child with making forts and towers with large boxes and blankets you can find around your home! Create a new and exciting world while bonding with your child.
          2. Cooking and Baking - What’s better than bonding with your child? Bonding with your child while making delicious Christmas cookies of course! Not only are you giving your child a sensory experience, but also your child is learning essential skills such as following directions, measuring, and developing fine motor skills.
          3. Reading - Cozy up next to the fire with blankets and a good book. Local libraries have plenty of age and developmentally appropriate books you can check out. You can also visit the USA Toy Library Association and see if your town has a toy library!
          4. Take Advantage of Your Own Backyard- Once the leaves start falling, take advantage of the huge piles of leaves you might have and have some sensory time with your child! Watch your children roll, crunch, and crumble in the piles of leaves. You can also collect the leaves and bring indoors for leaf rubbing, or a gluing craft.

        Local Events


        Special Needs Jump Sessions at Sky High Sports!

        An affordable indoor activity for the cold weather season, and great idea for the upcoming Winter Break.

        Lights are turned down, music is turned off and distractions are minimized. Kids with all kinds of special needs are welcome. Families and neuro-typical siblings enjoy the atmosphere of understanding and camaraderie.

        • Where:  Santa Clara Sky High Sports, 2880 Mead Avenue, Santa Clara, CA 95051
        • When:  Every Tuesday from 3-6pm PST
        • Cost: Special jumpers are $5 for three hours with one parent or therapist free
        • Contact: (408) 496-5867; Click Here for Website Link
        * Any jumper under the age of 18 needs an online waiver signed by a parent. (Grandparents and therapists can't sign.)

        AMC Sensory Friendly Films

        Here is another Winter indoor activity to keep you warm during the upcoming break.

        AMC is proud to partner with the Autism Society to offer unique movie showings where we turn the lights up, and turn the sound down, so you can get up, dance, walk, shout or sing! Our Sensory Friendly Film program is available on the second and fourth Saturday (family-friendly) and Tuesday evenings (mature audiences) of every month. Please check your local theatre listings for specific showtimes, and don’t forget to share your family fun with #AMCSensoryFriendly.

        Check AMC's Website by clicking here for Sensory Friendly local showings of:

        Disney's Moana: December 10th

        Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: December 13th

        Rogue One: A Star Wars Story: December 27 & 31

      • Thrive - November 2016 Issue (Part 2)

        by A is for Apple, Inc. | Nov 21, 2016

        Welcome Back! In the first part of this month’s newsletter we talked about holiday travel and gave tips on how to prepare your child for airport screening, boarding, and travel. In this issue, we are expanding on that topic and talking about how to keep busy in the car while driving to your holiday destination.

        Preparing Your Child For Travel: Part 2

        Car rides don’t have to be stressful or boring for you or for your children. You can make it fun by adding a bit of entertainment to the drive. Before the car ride, it is a great idea to have a conversation as a family to set expectations. Talk about the behaviors that as parents you want to see from your children on the trip; offer a reward if those behaviors are exhibited, like a favorite place to eat along the way, or something that will motivate children to participate in games and activities.

        Here are some games and activity ideas our staff has compiled to relive some possible stress from the upcoming holiday excursion.

        Tips for Family Survival During Long Car Rides

        • Use games, songs, mind games, guessing games, storytelling, and other easy activities to make the miles pass quickly. Here is a link to a great article with 8 fun car game ideas.
        • Have them label fun things they see along the trip
        • Play detective and learn about the different states by checking the license plates and talking about where they are from. Bring along a map of the country to find each state and add a fun geography lesson to your trip!
        • Have a kid friendly road map (or each one) so they can follow along and really know “are we there yet?”
        • If more than one child is traveling in the back seat they can play the “quiet game” and the “turn taking game” that promote social skills development and interaction between each child. (If possible an adult can sit in the back to mediate and help prompt turn taking and prevent any inappropriate behaviors that may occur between the children.)
        • Sing your way to the next stop. Get CDs (or download them on your device) of scout camp songs, campfire songs, day camp songs, and marching songs with lots of repetition so kids can join along in minutes.
        • Pencils, crayons, and markers for drawing, coloring, and fill-in activity books are always handy.
        • Have individual magnetic games, packs of playing cards, string, and “fidgets” for hands-on items.
        • If your trip is longer, have some stops along the way so everyone can stretch their legs and release some energy at a rest stop or park. Please make safety first priority when implementing these strategies and techniques to promote a friendly and fun atmosphere.

        In some cases, a child may need additional items like the iPad or a hand held game. Also make sure to provide earphones, some favorite music, or audio books for your sensitive child if the above activities are not suitable.

        Parents should keep in mind that these activities are supposed to be fun activities! Try and make the games more friendly and fun so the child will continue to participate in the games.

        ThanksgivingThanksgiving is a time where most people get together with their families that they haven’t seen all year long. The house is normally filled with lots of people, loud noises, music, laughter, football on the television, new faces, crowded spaces, and a lot of food. Sounds like an exciting time, right? While this can be an exuberant time of year for most, for the sensitive child, it can be overwhelming and they should have a plan for when they are feeling like they need some time to regroup.

        Before leaving the house, make sure you prime your child by telling them where they will be going, and show them pictures of the location if possible. For example, ask a family member or friend to take pictures with their phone and text or e-mail them ahead of time. Show your child pictures of relatives and friends that may be present at the holiday. This will make the environment and people not so "new" and unexpected and will prepare your child for what and whom they will come into contact with.

        "Motivate them with reinforcement"- Select several items your child likes prior to leaving the house and bring them with you. Once in the new environment, hold out two items at a time and see which of the two items your child reaches for. The one they reach for is the one that will be the most reinforcing for them at the time. You can learn more about how to motivate your child by using reinforces here.

        Remember to offer frequent breaks and time alone where they can go into another room where it is a less bright/noisy/busy/ environment. It may be a good idea to call ahead and set up a place beforehand to ensure there is a space available for you and your child to go and “retreat” – planning is key.

        With holiday/family gatherings there can be a lot of unfamiliar foods and if your child has dietary restrictions, not all of it will be suitable to eat. It is helpful to bring a favorite snack for your child rather than have them try a new food during meal times as well. Offer frequent social praise for sitting at the table during the mealtime, as this is especially hard in a new environment!

        It is always good to keep in mind that in a new or unfamiliar environment for your child, it could be helpful to engage in calming sensory activities such as gentle squeezes. Here are some other helpful ideas for activities you can do:  Winter Sensory Play  and Fine-Motor Skills Turkey Craft

        Local Events


        The Nutcracker Is Coming To San Jose

        Two exciting sensory-friendly events that are open to families and their special needs children are coming up just in time to start celebrating the Christmas season.

        FBAA / CAA Nutcracker Workshops

        Please join us for a Nutcracker Themed Dance Workshop run by the students of College of Adaptive Arts School of Dance. We will learn adapted pieces for: Waltz of the Flowers; Chinese Tea Dance; Russian Dance.

        All special needs families are welcome. No dance experience needed. Space in our Nutcracker Workshops is limited to 12 dancers per class. We wish to give each dancer individual attention and preserve a Sensory Friendly environment for your dancer.

        • What: An interactive dance workshop to the music of the Nutcracker! With College of Adaptive Arts School of Dance
        • Where: College of Adaptive Arts
                       1401 Parkmoor Ave #260
                        San Jose, CA 95126
        • When: Saturday 12/03/16, 2pm & 4pm; Sunday 12/04/16, 2pm & 4pm. Each workshop lasts one hour.
        • Cost: Free
        • Please RSVP by 12/01/16:
        • Questions: (408) 426-1582

        Autism Friendly Nutcracker

        A holiday classic, the Nutcracker will enchant and delight both children and adults. This season, our families are invited to two spectacular Azure shush-proof performances featuring some of the Bay Area's most talented professional dancers! (These are the companies' dress rehearsals which they have graciously opened exclusively to our DD families.)

        Thursday, December 8 -- 7:30 pm: Los Gatos Ballet
        Flint Center for the Performing Arts, 21250 Stevens Creek Blvd, Cupertino

        Thursday, December 15 -- 7:00 pm: Peninsula Ballet Theatre
        Fox Theatre, 2215 Broadway, Redwood City

        Tickets: $10: with scholarships available for families experiencing financial hardship. Space is limited. RSVP here:  RSVP

      • Thrive - November 2016 Issue (Part 1)

        by A is for Apple, Inc. | Nov 08, 2016

        Helping Your Child Prepare For Travel


        The holiday season is fast approaching and for some, this means traveling to be with extended family and friends. For families with children on the autism spectrum, what may seem like a simple trip can bring a sense of dread. Autistic kids do best with structure and routine, and a vacation or even a quick visit out of town is a break from that routine.

        Tips to Help Your Child Navigate Through the Airport

        Few of us would describe flying with kids as particularly enjoyable or stress-free. Yet for parents of kids with autism, air travel means navigating a string of intimidating experiences, from airport security procedures, moving sidewalks, and boarding tunnels to cramped seats, unfamiliar noises, and a multitude of strangers.

        If you are prepared, you can help your child know what to expect and you can minimize negative experiences. Here are some tips for making your child feel as comfortable as possible while traveling and navigating through the airport this holiday season:

        1. Start with a baby step. Make your child’s first flight is a short one, if possible, with no more than an hour or so in the air.

        2. Prepare your child.  In the weeks leading up to your trip, begin talking with your child frequently about what will happen on your trip. Go over the travel process in detail: how you’ll get to the airport, wait in line, go through security, find your departure gate, get on the plane, buckle seat belts, and spend time on board. It can be helpful to read children’s books that describe the sensations of air travel, such as The Noisy Airplane Ride by Mike Downs.

        3. Take a practice run. The best thing to do is to call the airline ahead of time and let them know your child has special needs. Many major airports (Newark, Detroit, LA and Seattle) have rehearsal programs to help autistic passengers navigate potentially stressful travel procedures, like searches at security check points. Groups such as Wings for Autism, Blue Horizons for Autism and Wings for All work together with the airlines to provide families with the opportunity to practice entering the airport, obtain boarding passes, go through security and even practice boarding a plane.

        4. Raise your hand. Let your airline know as far in advance as possible that you’ll be flying with a child with autism. Request bulkhead seats, which feel less confining and eliminate the possibility of seat-kicking.

          Transportation Security Administration (TSA) airport personnel are trained to work with autistic passengers and how to recognize and respond to families. Most will understand, especially if they know ahead of time that someone is autistic. To help even further, three days before your trip call their hotline, TSA Cares (855/787-2227; open Mon-Fri, 9am-9pm EST) which can act as an intermediary with airport customer care and help you navigate security checkpoints.

        5. Ask for priority boarding. Notify your airline in advance that you’d like to pre-board and, just to be safe, arrive at the departure gate early and make your request again. Boarding early will give you the chance to get your child settled and comfortable before the stream of passengers begins.

        6. Consider meals and snacks. If you’re taking a long flight, ask your airline if food will be served. If so, consider requesting a special meal, such as the gluten-free option. Alternatively you can bring food from home or purchase items at the airport after you pass through security.

        7. Pack essentials. Carry documentation of your child’s diagnosis in case airport or airline staff request it. Pack any item that might be soothing to your child during a rough patch. If your child is sensitive to loud sounds, bring noise-cancelling headphones. Consider multiple ways for your child to stay occupied during the flight, and come armed with extra books, toys, DVDs, and electronic recharging accessories. Pack a change of clothes in case of spills.

        8. Have a ‘Plan B’.  If all else fails and your child begins to show signs of panic, you should have a ‘Plan B’ ready just in case. 

        Remember, with the right preparation, it IS possible for your child’s airplane trip to be an exciting event for you and your autistic child, rather than a stressful or traumatizing one!

        Preparing Your Child:  Alternatives to TSA "Practice Run"

        If you are unable to take a practice run, here are some other ideas on how to pre-expose your child to the sights and sounds they will experience during their trip:

        Use picture cues – if it is the child’s first airplane trip, use pictures to introduce your child to what an airplane, airplane crew and airport look like. Familiarize your child with different things, people and equipment he or she might be seeing on the actual day. An example would be showing your child a picture of a flight attendant and informing him or her that a uniformed person like the one in the picture will be helping you with all your needs. 

        Use Video Modeling or Role Playing – you can use video modeling or role playing to explain to your child that he or she will be frisked upon entering the airport. Discussing how he or she is expected to react during the frisking and assuring your child that everything will be okay is a good way of easing your child’s tension. If you can, go to the airport and record video of the surroundings as much as you are allowed by airport security. Show one of your other children or other anonymous children going through the security system and being frisked, what the airplanes look like as they take off and land, etc. 

        Tell Social Stories – social stories are a very helpful way to prepare your child for an airplane voyage. Make sure that you repeat each story numerous times before the actual day of travel until your child feels comfortable with the story and idea. A nice example would be using a social story to tell your child about the ear sensation he or she might feel upon descent of the aircraft. Air pressure in the ears can be equalized by swallowing or chewing, so telling your child a story about the feeling and how it can go away with chewing gum will prepare him for the actual flight.

        Immersion – with regards to the large crowds in an airport, you can start by exposing your child to a small group of people. An example would be taking your child with you to a bank where a number of people are waiting in a line for their turn. Then you can eventually move to a larger group, say the mall or a big restaurant. Gradual exposure will not only prepare your child but also improve your child’s social coping skills.

        We would love to hear what tips have helped you and your child navigate air travel. Share your experiences with us on Facebook.



        ​Local Events

        Beauty and the Beast

        Broadway By The Bay presents a one-night only Autism Friendly showing of its 2016 performance of Beauty and the Beast!

        A special performance and fundraiser for Autism Speaks

        • Where:  Fox Theatre, 2221 Broadway St., Redwood City, CA 94063
        • When:  Sunday, November 20, 2016, 7:00 pm PST
        • How to Contact: (650) FOX-7770 or the Fox Theatre Website

        This show is performed in a friendly, supportive environment for an audience of families and friends with children or adults who are diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder or other sensitivity or issues. Slight adjustments to the production are made, including the reduction of any jarring sounds or strobe lights focused into the audience. There are flexible areas for those who need to leave their seats during the performance.

        This performance is also a fundraiser for Autism Speaks and BBBay! Autism Speaks is the world’s leading autism science and advocacy organization, dedicated to funding research into the causes, prevention, and treatments for autism; increasing awareness of autism spectrum disorders; and advocating for the needs of individuals with autism and their families.

        All proceeds of the evening will be shared by Autism Speaks and Broadway By the Bay.

        Look for Part 2 of “Thrive” on November 21 with more Holiday Travel Tips and Local Events!