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Newsletter Archive - "Thrive" from A is For Apple

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  • 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

    peter-rabbit

    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

    i-get
     

    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

    mvcpa

    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

    boy-and-father-cornhusk

    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

    A-Visual-Schedule
     

    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

    1013180-250

    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
     

    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.

    SantaTracker.com - 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

    coco-amc

    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

    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

    thanksgiving-1801987_640
     

    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 Parents.com.


    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

    planetarium

    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

    halloween-costumes
     

    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

    dance-for-all

    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

    aifa-works
     

    Our Technology Spotlight this month is dedicated to our newest website: AisForAppleWorks.com
    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.

    careers

    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

    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

    ireward 

    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


    festival

    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: e-sports.org) 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

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    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

    full_magiclogo_color_darkpurple

    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

    AutismTrack_carousel2

    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 Parenting.com




    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 understood.com

    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

    abilitiesunited


    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: http://www.viaservices.org

    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

    full_image_0

    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: https://www.autismspeaks.org/wordpress-tags/why-i-walk

    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


    9487885_sta
    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

    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 afbarsvp@gmail.com 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: info@php.com


    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: openingdoorspta@yahoo.com
    • 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

    sky-high

    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

    Nutcracker-Ballet

    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: Janet@collegeofadaptivearts.org
    • 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


    Airplane-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.


    ===============================================

    Beauty-Beast

    ​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!

  • Thrive - October 2016 Issue (Part 2)

    by A is for Apple, Inc. | Oct 20, 2016

    Autism Tips: Tips on Successful Manding

     

    oct2016tips

    “Manding” is the behavior your child should perform when they want something.  Encouraging good manding helps a child grow their language skills.

    Parents usually want two things with manding:  the child to use their words, and to make complete requests.  For example, Susy says, “I want an apple please” and then waits for the apple.  Instead of Susy shouting, “Apple!” and grabbing for one.

    We work on manding in our sessions, showing the parent and the child proper manding technique.  To help you reinforce proper manding at home, here are some tips.

    1. Keep it Short and Sweet.  If the child can only make one-word requests for now—Susy saying “Apple”—then honor those requests.  But as you give them what they want, prompt your child with a longer example.  You can say, “Can I have an apple?” to them, or maybe “want apple.” This builds up the child’s vocabulary, and associates the words with their request.
    2. Keep a mand separate from an echoic.  An “echoic” is when the child simply repeats what you say.  You: “Apple.”  Your child: “Apple.” That’s good, but they should also learn to use manding independently.  With Susy’s example, you could hold up the apple and ask, “Is this what you want?”  Then Susy has to give a mand (“I want the apple”) or she may just reach for it. If she reaches for the apple without manding, then prompt her with the word “apple.”  She repeats the word, you praise her, and then ask her again. “What do you want?”  When she makes her request in the form of a response, not just repeating what you say, you have a successful manding.
    3. Repeat, repeat, repeat.  To practice manding, you can give your child a small piece of what they want when they mand successfully.  One apple slice, for instance.  Then have the child repeat the mand (“More apple”) and give them another piece.

    The coming holidays will give many chances to practice manding.  Think of it this way—a KitKat candy bar has four sticks.  That’s four chances for your child to practice manding.

    If you’d like more ideas for manding practice, please ask your A is for Apple supervisor.

    Please join us on our Facebook Page and share your manding successes!  https://www.facebook.com/AisforAppleInc/

    ===============================================

    Ask A is for Apple

    Making Halloween Treats with Your Child

     

    oct2016askAIFA


    “Dear A is for Apple,

    What kind of Halloween treats could we make at home?”

    Some of our parents asked about making treats for Halloween parties.  Would it make sense to have their child participate?

    It certainly would!  In fact, making things in the kitchen is a great learning opportunity as well as a good sensory activity.  Your child can even gain confidence from making something and sharing it with others.

    Here’s how to make some Halloween cookies with your child.  Along with steps in the process where your child can help out.

    Prepare to Bake Safely

    First, gather the ingredients and supplies you'll need.

    • Sugar cookie batter
    • Milk or non-dairy substitute
    • Baking sheet
    • Cookie cutters
    • Wax paper& foil
    • Sprinkles or colored sugar
    • Frosting (Vanilla, Chocolate or Orange)

    Then, clean and sanitize the cooking area.  Wipe down the counter.  Move any items that could become an obstacle.

    Finally, put a picture of the finished cookies someplace easily seen.  This helps motivate your child.  Organize the ingredients and supplies nearby.

    Where Your Child Helps Out

    Your child can help out at any point in the cookie-making process.  These are all the things he or she can do:

    1. Measure out ingredients.  If they can measure, have them measure out each ingredient.  If not, have them watch you do it.  Label the steps for the child’s learning.
    2. Cracking the eggs.
    3. Pouring ingredients into the bowl.
    4. 4.Mixing.  Either have them mix with a spoon, or ask them to push the mixer’s Start & Stop buttons.
    5. Put foil on baking sheet.  Some kids love the tactile sensation of aluminum foil.  If your child doesn’t like sudden noises though, careful with the foil.
    6. Knead the dough.  Use a heavy-bottom bowl so your child won’t accidentally tip it over.
    7. Roll the dough using a rolling pin.
    8. Use cookie cutters.
    9. Place cookies on the baking sheet.
    10. Spread icing.  Supervise the child on this; even the most skilled child can accidentally fling a blob of icing!
    11. Add sprinkles.  Place a little pile of sprinkles on a plate.  Have your child pick up a pinch, and sprinkle them on each cookie.  Great for working their fine motor skills.

    Choose however many tasks you think your child can handle.  You can increase this amount over time, as they grow and learn more.

    When they’re done, celebrate the cookies as a Halloween treat for everyone!  Your child will love the sense of accomplishment.

    Looking for a non-sugary option?  Try making Halloween Chips or a Pumpkin Veggie Plate.

    Share your Halloween pictures on our Facebook page

    ===============================================

    oct2016event2

    Local Events

    More Places to Go for Halloween

    Halloween’s getting closer.  Here are two more Halloween events you can bring your child to.  One is on Friday, October 28, and the other is on Halloween (during the day).

    Halloween Monster Bash in Mountain View

    • Where:  Mountain View Community Center/Rengstorff Park. 201 South Rengstorff Avenue, Mountain View
    • When:  Friday, October 28, 2016 from 4:00 pm to 8:00 pm 
    • How to Contact:  (650) 903-6331 or the Monster Bash - City of Mountain View Website

    Every year, the City of Mountain View puts on a Halloween “Monster Bash!”  The Monster Bash has games, music, and an outdoor movie.  This year, the featured movie is “Hotel Transylvania 2.”

     Willow Glen Trick-or-Treating Event

    • Where:  Lincoln Avenue between Minnesota and Willow, Downtown Willow Glen
    • When:  Monday, October 31, 2016
      • Session 1 (for toddlers, preschoolers, and kids in strollers) from 11:00 am to 12:30 pm
      • Session 2 (for school-aged kids) from 3:00 pm to 4:30 pm

    Downtown Willow Glen holds a Trick or Treat event on October 31.  Lincoln Avenue is closed to traffic for the Trick or Treat.  Families walk from shop to shop and have a nice, safe trick-or-treating experience.

    Check for the Trick or Treat pumpkin sign to see which shops are participating.  This is a great Halloween event for parents with young children, or those who live in San Jose and who would prefer staying local.

  • Thrive - October 2016 Issue (Part 1)

    by A is for Apple, Inc. | Oct 04, 2016

    Getting Your Child Ready for Halloween

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    Last October we published an “Ask A is for Apple” piece about preparing for Halloween if your child has sensory issues.

    This year we’d like to revisit the topic again, in greater detail.  We want all our kids (and parents!) to have a great time this Halloween.

    Getting Your Child Used to the Halloween Season

    October is full of spooky decoration, colorful costuming, and fun.  But it can still be scary for children with special needs, if they’re not familiar with it.  Use these ideas to help your child get comfortable with Halloween.

    1. Create a visual story of what your child can expect on Halloween.  Use pictures or drawings to show trick-or-treating, costumes, etc.  This will help your child prepare for the activities.
       
    2. Pumpkin Carving:  This can be a messy activity.  If your child does not like getting their hands dirty, try decorating a pumpkin without carving it.  Pumpkin Masters sells kits that don’t require carving.
       
    3. Try on costumes before Halloween.  The costume should fit well (otherwise it may distress the child and ruin their fun), and not cause any sensory problems.
       
    4. Don’t force your child to “pick their own costume.”  Some children may not understand Halloween, or they might have trouble making decisions.  If so, choose a costume for them and include it in the visual story.
       
    5. Consider a Halloween costume that fits over your child’s regular clothes, such as butterfly wings or capes.  It’s easier to wear and less to get used to.
       
    6. If your child doesn’t like their costume, don’t make them wear it.  Talk about it with your child.  Look for the reason they don’t like it.   Talking with your child may help them get used to the costume.
       
    7. Have your child wear their costume for short periods of time.  Increase the interval over time.
       
    8. Practice trick-or-treating beforehand**.  Go to a neighbor’s door, have the child ring the bell or knock, and have them thank the neighbor when receiving candy.

    **Remember:  The normal procedure when knocking on someone’s door is to enter after it’s opened.  It’s different on Halloween—then, we knock on doors but stay outside.

    This is outside of your child’s normal routine.  Practice will help them understand the difference, and avoid any awkward moments.

    In fact, that leads into talking about safety on Halloween.

    Halloween Safety:  How to Keep Everyone Safe While Having Fun

    It’s important to remember that the rules we set as parents – don’t talk to strangers, don’t run in the street – do not apply on Halloween.  Kids may get confused, especially if they’re the type who prefer rules never change.

    To help make the day both safer and more enjoyable, we recommend the following steps.  These will both help you prepare for Halloween beforehand, and guide your child while out celebrating.

    Choose a Halloween activity your child will enjoy.  If they like going trick-or-treating, partner up with other families in the neighborhood your child already knows.

    Is your child is afraid of going out at night?  Plan an indoor or daytime Halloween activity.  We have some of these under “Local Events” below!

    Staying in to give out candy?  Have your child practice giving out candy, piece by piece.  Ask a neighbor to bring their child over early for practicing.  (Their child will love getting extra candy just for helping!)

    The following tips come from Shelly Allred, Director of Safety Programs at Pathfinders for Autism. She has some great ideas on keeping children with autism safe on Halloween.

    Stick to homes you know.  The familiarity will make your child more comfortable with walking up and asking for treats.

    Give cars every opportunity to see your child.  Try light-up sneakers, glow-in-the-dark bracelets, and flashlights.

    Use the buddy system.  Pair your child with a neurotypical child they know.  That way your child can see the trick-or-treating process by watching them.  And it’s another set of eyes on your child.

    Take photos of your child in their costume.  This is great for showing the child next October, but it also has a practical use.  If the child does elope, show the photo to neighbors so they can help you find them.

    Go for soft rubber weapons.  If your child’s costume uses a weapon, make sure it’s made of flexible rubber.  Some children will “take on” a character when wearing a costume, and start swinging a weapon around.  Even fake weapons can hurt if there’s enough force!

    Parent Tips: Halloween Safety – Pathfinders for Autism

    A Little Time & Practice, and Your Child is Ready for Halloween Fun!

    Since it’s early October, you have plenty of time to get your child used to wearing a costume, and to practice trick-or-treating. How often you practice depends on your child’s comfort level.

    If your child really doesn’t like costumes (or is scared of the dark), the Local Events mentioned below are a great alternative. From everyone here at A is for Apple, have a safe and happy Halloween!

    Look for Part 2 of “Thrive” later this month. We’ll have more content and more local events to enjoy.

    See you next month!
    Marilyn Ann Roland
    Founder & CEO
    A is for Apple, Inc.





    oct2016event

    Local Events

    Places to Go for Halloween

    October is full of fun events for kids and families.  Here’s one such event, coming up every weekend this month.

    Spina Farms Pumpkin Patch (Every October Weekend)

    • Where:  Spina Farms Pumpkin Patch, Santa Teresa Boulevard at Bailey Avenue, San Jose
    • When:  Every weekend in October
    • How to Contact:  (408) 763-1093 or the Spina Farms Pumpkin Patch Website

    Spina Farms is located between San Jose and Morgan Hill.  The Pumpkin Patch is open during October.  Hours are Sunday to Thursday 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., and Friday to Saturday 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.

    Spina Farms has a hay ride, train rides, a petting zoo, and of course a big pumpkin patch!  Parking and admission are free.  It’s open weekdays, but the Petting Zoo and Pony Rides are only available on the weekends.


    Look for Part 2 of “Thrive” on October 20 with more Halloween events!

  • Thrive - September 2016 Issue

    by A is for Apple, Inc. | Aug 31, 2016

    Advocating for Your Child in the IEP Process

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    Last February in our “Ask A is for Apple” section, we talked about advocating for your child in setting up an IEP.

    But what about after that?

    You can (and should) continue to advocate for your child while the IEP is underway, and when it’s reviewed. That’s the topic of this month’s “Thrive.”

    How to Keep Track of IEP Progress

    IEPs are re-evaluated once per year. In a re-evaluation, the IEP’s current goals are discussed, and reviewed for progress. If your child needs new goals, they’re proposed here.

    IEPs are also reviewed once every 3 years. During these reviews, your child’s service providers (speech/OT therapists, teachers, ABA therapists, psychologists) give your child a full reassessment. These reviews may set a whole new group of goals.

    This is an important point: An IEP has goals built into it. We always say, “Goals drive services.”

    The goals in your child’s IEP determine which services your child gets. They also determine how your child’s progress is measured.

    In an IEP report, goals are matched to skills deficits. Skills deficits are areas where your child is developmentally delayed or disabled. (For example, speech impairment.)

    Each goal should have a Time Period assigned to it, as well as Benchmarks to mark progress. For example, let’s say your child has the following goal: In 1 year, their skill level in Skill X is at 80%.

    We’d set the benchmarks at 10% every 3 months—first 50%, then 60% in 3 months, then 70% in 3 months, and finally 80% at 1 year. This way you can track your child’s progress over time, from the feedback school officials write into the IEP report.

    In an IEP review or re-evaluation, you must check these benchmarks. Make sure they are written in, and addressed during the meeting. Make sure numbers are included in the feedback. You’ll need these numbers to measure how well your child is (or is not) doing.

    What You Need to Do

    1. BEFORE THE REVIEW/RE-EVALUATION MEETING: Request an up-to-date copy of the IEP report from the school. Look for the goals’ benchmarks. Do skill deficits have a goal attached? How much time is allocated to each goal? Is it enough?

      If this is a Reassessment Year, ask for a copy of each service provider’s assessment at least 1 week before the meeting date. That way you’ll have plenty of time to read through them carefully.

      (You may get “kickback” here; some service providers don’t want to complete assessment reports early. But it is within your rights to ask for them, to better prepare yourself for the Reassessment meeting.)

      Note any questions, concerns, or confusion you have. You can (and should) quote the IEP when asking for clarification on these points.
    2. ATTEND: Attend the reassessments and re-evaluation meetings. You are there as your child’s voice, and to receive feedback from school officials.
    3. ASK QUESTIONS: Bring questions with you. You want to ask about your child’s progress, how good a job the IEP is doing for him/her, and if changes are needed.

    Here’s a checklist of topics to check, and questions you can ask based on them. We’ll use Speech Therapy as an example service here, but you can substitute whatever services your child needs.

    • “Can you explain why the time period for Speech Therapy (ex. 4 hours/week) is sufficient to help my child’s speech impairment/intellectual disability?”
    • “Do all my child’s skill deficits have a goal attached?”
      • Does the goal include a time period?
        • If not, why not?
    • [If there’s a number in a goal] “Is there a number assigned to the progress my child has made on this goal?”
      • Is it accurate?
        • Can you explain why?
    • Can I see my child’s work?
    • When a service provider discusses the child’s ability level (usually referring to a benchmark), you can say, “Show me the data.”
      • This means you want to see the scores or data generated from your child’s progress.
        • This may follow your request to see your child’s work.
    • You can also ask to see the data when someone recommends that a current service be reduced or denied.
      • You should receive a concrete reason why, with evidence.
        • If you don’t see a reason in the report, or evidence, insist on seeing the data.
    • “Can you explain why you feel Goal X is met?”

    What to Do If the IEP Goals Are Not Met

    If you find out before or during the meeting that one or more of the IEP’s goals are not met, you have options to choose from.

    Re-Evaluation. Request a Re-Evaluation (in writing). Like we discussed in February, you can request a re-evaluation of your child if you disagree with the IEP’s placements.

    Bring an Advocate. Have an independent advocate come in with you and push for more focus on the child. They can be a specialist, a friend, an AIFA supervisor, even a pro bono attorney.

    Don’t Sign IEP. If you don’t agree with the IEP…don't sign it! An IEP cannot go into effect if you, the parent, do not agree to it.

    (You or the school district may initiate a mediated meeting – called a “due process proceeding” –to resolve the issue.)

    Sign with Exceptions. If you choose to sign, but you don’t agree with everything in the IEP report? You can sign with exceptions. Essentially you sign the parts of the IEP you agree with, which are implemented. The parts you don’t sign are not implemented.

    For signing with exceptions, this document from DisabilityRightsCA.org will help you. It contains details on how to sign with exceptions, as well as elements within IEP reports and what you can do concerning each one.
    Special Education Rights and Responsibilities: Information on IEP Process (PDF)

    Advocating for Your Child Helps Them Continue to Grow & Thrive

    An IEP review or reassessment is not meant as a difficult process. Sometimes it can be though, and it’s best to be prepared. Just in case. We hope this information helps you continue to advocate for your child’s needs.

    If you need help with the IEP process, please talk with your A is for Apple supervisor.

    See you next month!
    Marilyn Ann Roland
    Founder & CEO
    A is for Apple, Inc.





    Local Events

    IEP Workshop on Sept. 10, and a Safety Fair on Sept. 17

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    As if Back to School isn’t busy enough, September is a big month for events too!

    FIRST:  Do you want to become a strong advocate for your child in the IEP process?  Support for Families is hosting a workshop in San Francisco on Saturday, Sept. 10. 

    Titled, “IEP Development & Dynamics: Make Sure Your Voice is Heard,” the workshop will help you learn more about your IEP rights and procedures.

    There is no cost to attend.  If you register before Sept. 3, free childcare and interpretation services are provided.  

    NEXT:  Autism Speaks is holding a Safety Fair!  Come out and meet the people and services available to keep you & your child safe.

    The Safety Fair will have local First Responders and Service Providers.  You can get a Safety Tool Kit for your home, meet other parents’ groups, and even talk with the San Andreas Regional Center.






    Autism Tips

    How To Get Your Child To Sleep

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    For many parents, sleep can sometimes feel like a luxury!  But sleep is critical to everyone’s health and quality of life.  In fact, it’s the primary activity of the brain during early development.  

    For kids in particular, sleep factors heavily into their ability to develop and function mentally, psychologically, socially, and physically.  A long-term lack of sleep can cause difficulties in learning, shorten attention spans, and even lead to increased aggression or depression. Basically, everyone is at their best after a good night’s sleep.

    At A is for Apple, we recommend behavior-based training to parents wanting to get their child to sleep regularly and soundly.  These include Behavior Extinction and Increased Behavior Extinction.

    • Behavior Extinction – This means placing a child in bed at a specific time, and ignoring any and all crying throughout the night.
      • Effectiveness – Positive results in 3-5 nights, with long-term treatment gains
    • Increased Behavior Extinction – This means placing a child in bed at a specific time and 'checking-in' on a schedule that systematically increases over time. For example:
      • Step 1: the child is 'checked-in' in every 10 minutes for the first 3 nights
      • Step 2: then every 20 minutes for the next 3 nights
      • Step 3: then every 30 minutes for the next 2 nights, etc.

    Helpful Tips

    Foods
    • Avoid giving your child anything with caffeine within 6 hours of bed (e.g., chocolate, soda).
    • Avoid feeding your child a big meal right before bed.
      • If your child has a snack before bed, be sure it contains tryptophan. Sources of tryptophan include cottage cheese, yogurt, bananas, eggs, turkey, seeds, and nuts.

    Environment

    • Make the child’s bedroom conducive to sleep.
      • Set the temperature at a comfortable level (not too hot, not too cold).
      • Draw blinds or curtains to create a darker room.  A small night light can be used, also.
    • In the mornings, expose the child to natural sunlight soon after awakening.  This helps set their circadian rhythm.

    Stimulation

    • Limit overstimulation like television, video-games, or reading an especially exciting book before bed.
    • Avoid naps during the day, unless it is developmentally appropriate.

    Waking

    • If the child exits their bedroom, redirect them back to their bed without making any comment or eye contact with the child.  Parents should simply guide the child back to bed with the reminder, "It’s bedtime."

    The A is for Apple team wants you and your child to have a good night’s sleep.  Check in with your program supervisor and/or Clinical Director for additional support and recommendations. 




    Ask A is for Apple

    Digital Tools for Learning: Too Noisy

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    “Dear A is for Apple,

    Do you know of any apps that could help my child learn when to keep their voice down?”

    One app many educators use is Too Noisy Pro from Walsall Academy. The app uses your phone’s/tablet’s microphone to monitor noise levels in classrooms, at home, and most settings. By visually tracking a specific time frame you set, the app rewards children with stars for keeping the noise level down.

    The star rewards appear along the top of the screen.  At the bottom, a timer with an active needle monitors the noise level.  The teacher or parent can set the noise level and the duration of time between each star reward (anywhere from 1 to 15 minutes). This will allow the user to increase time frames as children get better.

    The app allows you to pick from nine vibrant and fun backgrounds, and even control sensitivity levels based on four settings (Silent, Quiet, Group, and Class).

    Want more personalization?  You can also:

    • Select different dial themes
    • Change time settings between each star award, from 1 minute to 15 minutes; allowing you to increase duration of lower noise levels
    • Choose from preloaded alarm sounds or record your very own
    • Add sounds when stars are rewarded and trigger an alarm when stars are removed
      • One star is removed when noise level goes above the set criteria.
    • Enable a screen cracking effect with alarm noise when noise levels are too high

    Too Noisy Pro costs $3.99, is available in the iTunes App Store and Google Play for Android.  Try it out!

What Our Clients Say

QuoteWhen we suspected our son having autism about 4 months ago, we were lost and quite stressed out. After receiving services from A Is For Apple Inc., our perspective has changed. The team was so patient and playful with our son.
-Nicole