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Saturday, Spider-Man: Homecoming is Sensory Friendly at AMC

New sensory friendly logoSince 2007, AMC Entertainment (AMC) and the Autism Society have teamed up to bring families affected by autism and other special needs “Sensory Friendly Films” every month – a wonderful opportunity to enjoy fun new films in a safe and accepting environment.

The movie auditoriums will have their lights turned up and the sound turned down. Families will be able to bring in snacks to match their child’s dietary needs (i.e. gluten-free, casein-free, etc.), there are no advertisements or previews before the movie and it’s totally acceptable to get up and dance, walk, shout, talk to each other…and even sing – in other words, AMC’s “Silence is Golden®” policy will not be enforced during movie screenings unless the safety of the audience is questioned.

Does it make a difference? Absolutely! Imagine …no need to shhhhh your child. No angry stares from other movie goers. Many parents think twice before bringing a child to a movie theater. Add to that your child’s special needs and it can easily become cause for parental panic. But on this one day a month, for this one screening, everyone is there to relax and have a good time, everyone expects to be surrounded by kids – with and without special needs – and the movie theater policy becomes “Tolerance is Golden“.

Families affected by autism or other special needs can view a sensory friendly screening of Spider-Man: Homecoming on Saturday, July 22nd at 10am (local time). Tickets are $4 to $6 depending on the location. To find a theatre near you, here is a list of AMC theatres nationwide participating in this fabulous program (note: to access full list, please scroll to the bottom of the page).

Coming in July:  War for the Planet of the Apes (Tues 7/25)

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Editor’s note: Although Spider-Man: Homecoming has been chosen by the AMC and the Autism Society as this month’s Sensory Friendly Film, we do want parents to know that it is rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association of America for sci-fi action violence, some language and brief suggestive comments.  As always, please check the IMDB Parents Guide for a more detailed description of this film to determine if it is right for you and your family.

Sensory Friendly Screening of THE HOUSE, Tuesday Night at AMC

AMC Entertainment (AMC) has expanded their Sensory Friendly Films program in partnership with the Autism Society. This Tuesday evening, families affected by autism or other special needs have the opportunity to view a sensory friendly screening of The House, a film that may appeal to older audiences on the autism spectrum.

As always, the movie auditoriums will have their lights turned up and the sound turned down. Families will be able to bring in snacks to match their child’s dietary needs (i.e. gluten-free, casein-free, etc.), there are no advertisements or previews before the movie and it’s totally acceptable to get up and dance, walk, shout, talk to each other…and even sing – in other words, AMC’s “Silence is Golden®” policy will not be enforced during movie screenings unless the safety of the audience is questioned.

Does it make a difference? Absolutely! Imagine …no need to shhhhh your child. No angry stares from other movie goers. Many parents think twice before bringing a child to a movie theater. Add to that your child’s special needs and it can easily become cause for parental panic. But on this one day a month, for this one screening, everyone is there to relax and have a good time, everyone expects to be surrounded by kids – with and without special needs – and the movie theater policy becomes “Tolerance is Golden“.

AMC and the Autism Society will be showing The House, sensory friendly tomorrow, Tuesday, July 11th at 7pm (local time). Tickets are $4 to $6 depending on the location. To find a theatre near you, here is a list of AMC theatres nationwide participating in this fabulous program (note: to access full list, please scroll to the bottom of the page).

Coming In July:  Spiderman Homecoming (Sat, 7/22); War for the Planet of the Apes (Tues, 7/25);

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Editor’s note: Although The House has been chosen by AMC and the Autism Society for a Tuesday Sensory Friendly screening, we do want parents to know that it is rated R by the Motion Picture Association of America for language throughout, sexual references, drug use, some violence and brief nudity.  As always, please check the IMDB Parents Guide for a more detailed description of this film to determine if it is right for you and your family.

Saturday July 8th, DESPICABLE ME 3 is Sensory Friendly at AMC

New sensory friendly logoSince 2007, AMC Entertainment (AMC) and the Autism Society have teamed up to bring families affected by autism and other special needs “Sensory Friendly Films” every month – a wonderful opportunity to enjoy fun new films in a safe and accepting environment.

The movie auditoriums will have their lights turned up and the sound turned down. Families will be able to bring in snacks to match their child’s dietary needs (i.e. gluten-free, casein-free, etc.), there are no advertisements or previews before the movie and it’s totally acceptable to get up and dance, walk, shout, talk to each other…and even sing – in other words, AMC’s “Silence is Golden®” policy will not be enforced during movie screenings unless the safety of the audience is questioned.

Does it make a difference? Absolutely! Imagine …no need to shhhhh your child. No angry stares from other movie goers. Many parents think twice before bringing a child to a movie theater. Add to that your child’s special needs and it can easily become cause for parental panic. But on this one day a month, for this one screening, everyone is there to relax and have a good time, everyone expects to be surrounded by kids – with and without special needs – and the movie theater policy becomes “Tolerance is Golden“.

Families affected by autism or other special needs can view a sensory friendly screening of Despicable Me 3 on Saturday, July 8th at 10am (local time). Tickets are $4 to $6 depending on the location. To find a theatre near you, here is a list of AMC theatres nationwide participating in this fabulous program (note: to access full list, please scroll to the bottom of the page).

Coming in July:  The House (Tues, 7/11); Spiderman Homecoming (Sat, 7/22); War for the Planet of the Apes (Tues 7/25)

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Editor’s note: Although Despicable Me 3 has been chosen by the AMC and the Autism Society as this month’s Sensory Friendly Film, we do want parents to know that it is rated PG by the Motion Picture Association of America for action and rude humor.  As always, please check the IMDB Parents Guide for a more detailed description of this film to determine if it is right for you and your family.

6 Parenting Behaviors That Hurt Kids: How to Recognize & Fix Them

THE REALITY CHECK: 

  • Referees giving parents lollipops at youth hockey games to stop them from yelling at their kids.
  • Teachers taking out insurance policies to defend themselves against parental lawsuits (“She gave my kid a B+ and ruined his Harvard chance!”)
  • Moms socially engineering kid “cliques to feature only the ‘best’ and leaving out other Moms.”

No kidding! These are the stories I’ve been collecting and have shared on the TODAY show. And these are real issues that are affecting our children’s character. Here’s what to do. ENOUGH!

Parents behaving badly is a timeless problem, but there’s a modern-day category of ill-behaving Moms and Dads who could easily earn membership in the Parents Wall of Shame. Their actions are insensitive, manipulative and callous, but also impact kids. Make no mistake, uncivil adult behaviors affect children’s moral development. After all, kids learn values like compassion, honesty, sportsmanship, civility, and respect from example. And oh how today’s kids desperately need good role models! But grownup insensitivity also affects other parents who should be around supportive, civil-minded adults! Here are six bad parenting behaviors that are affecting our kids’ character …and solutions.

#1. The Braggart

New Child and Parent Motto: “Share and take turns.”

Whether it’s bragging about our kid’s grades, talent, or athletic feats, parents love to boast! One survey found that the average mom posts a whooping 1,000 photos of their child online before he turns five. Of course we are proud of our kids, but always bragging, constantly comparing, or continually dismissing other children’s accomplishments also lower the other parent’s confidence. Parental boasting and bragging may be one reason today’s teen narcissism increased 58 percent in 30 years. Watch out! Kids copy what they see and hear and it’s not always pretty and polite.

Solution: Parental pride is natural, so when a parent who rarely boasts finally does, she deserves our sincere “Congrats.” If bragging is usually one-sided and rarely considers your child’s accolades, try: “Isn’t it wonderful how well our kids are doing? Mine just…” (and then describe your pride).

But what if the parent continues her exclusive “My kid is so special” routine and you want to maintain your relationship? Speak up and explain your side: “You always brag about your child and never ask about mine. I feel you don’t care about my family.” If that doesn’t work, find another friend! Pride about our kids should always be a two-way club.  

#2. The Bad Sport

New Child and Parent Motto: “Be a good sport or you can’t play.”

A Reuters News poll found that 60 percent of American adults who’d been to youth sporting events said they’d witnessed parents “become verbally or physically abusive towards the coaches or officials.” But there’s also parents screaming at their kids’ performance and booing the opposing team. No wonder nearly 75 percent of kids who play organized sports quit by age 13!

Yes, parents make huge investments in sports in hopes of scholarships and college entries, but bad behavior teaches poor sportsmanship and also undermine kids’ love for the game. Enough!

Solution: Unacceptable adult behavior can’t be ignored, but …

Confronting offensive parents can be a potential fireball. Better to move your seat, and approach cooled-down troublemakers later to share your concerns. Beware!

Many leagues and schools require parents to sign pre-season sportsmanship pledges and attend mandatory “ethics” courses or their kids can’t play. Spectators can then report inappropriate parental behavior to officials who can notify the offenders that uncivil behavior can mean banishment from games.

Meanwhile can we please be positive and remember to cheer the whole team, entire class, the other kid, not just our child? Please!

#3. The Gossip

New Child and Parent Motto: “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say it!”

Think Queen Bees were confined to the middle school hive? Many adults never outgrew their mean childhood antics and now gossip about other parents. Those sordid details also show up on social media with no way for parents to defend themselves. While gossiping can be a way to connect with others and find reassurance about your parenting, cattiness is toxic. It’s easy to get caught in the gossip mill and spread hurtful rumors. Beware: kids pick up our behavior and mimic us. It’s a big reason the Mean Girl Tween Scene is flourishing.

Solution: Make a vow not to gossip. If you do hear cattiness, speak up: ‘It isn’t fair to talk about her when she isn’t here to defend herself.” And never give out information that a catty parent can use against you or others or assume that she won’t spread untruths about you. Meanwhile, find like-minded parents and join forces. Together, you can change norms.

#4. The Excluder

New Child and Parent Motto: “How would you feel if that happened to you?”

Deliberately leaving others out is called social exclusion, and is a form of bullying that causes deep distress. It peaks in middle school, but the tactic is all-too common with moms these days (“She’s cool and can join us.” “Don’t let Shelley come!”) But the excluded aren’t only women, but also their kids. One report described one mom who saved eight bus seats for 11-year girls. (She literally jumped on the bus and roped off the seats!) When a new girl asked if she could join “those girls,” the child was told “Sorry, but those seats are reserved.” Adults who socially engineering the “in” and “out” cliques for  kids, are being plain cruel.

Solution:

Just plain refuse to join grownup Queen Bees. The best way to cultivate empathy is for parents to demand that kids treat others with dignity, and then show that you are inclusive.

To other Moms: “Let’s invite her! She just moved here.” Do the same with your child: “Invite all the boys: you don’t leave one out.” “Ask Abby to come!” How would you feel as a new kid?”

You might not be BFFs with every mom, but you will set a great example for your child. And that’s what matters!

#5. The Non-Disciplinarian

New Child and Parent Motto: “Be nice, or you can’t play.”

“I don’t discipline because I don’t want to damage my child’s self-esteem,” I hear from countless parents. While wanting to be a “Pal Not a Parent” is a hot trend, correcting misbehavior is part of raising good people. So how do you discipline when a misbehaving child is in your care?

Solution: While you don’t want to counter a parent’s child-rearing philosophy, if behavior is dangerous, harmful to others (like hitting, biting, bullying) or counters your values, you can’t ignore it.

You can review your rules: “In our house we don’t swear,” and separate kids from each other, but spanking, grounding, or yelling the “other child” are off-limits.

If the parent is present, disciplining their child is also a no-no. If misbehavior continues, call the parent: “I’m sure you would want to know so this is what our kids were up to.” Her child will give his interpretation, so better it come from you. Just don’t expect the parent to take your side. Do beware parental litigations are rising. Manhattan play groups ask parents to sign four-page waivers so they won’t be sued when supervising the other parents’ kids! It’s a very different world to raise kids!

#6. The Bully

New Child and Parent Motto: “Expect respect!”

Bullying is hurtful whatever the age, and it is always intentional-delivered cruelty. Nightmare stories continually surface about parents verbally abusing other moms and dads-both online and off. Bullying is learned and can be unlearned. The sooner we show kids how to stand up for themselves, the less likely they’ll be targeted.

Solution: Use my CALM Strategy for handling a bully of any age.

C – Stay calm. (Bullies love reactions).

A – Assert yourself with a strong (never insulting) comeback back: “Cut it out.” Or: “Stop it!”

L – Look bully in the eye.

M – Mean it! Deliver the line with a firm, confident, serious voice.

Practicing CALM with your child will help reduce peer cruelty.

Raising good people starts with adults modeling good character, and many grown-ups are in need of serious behavior makeovers.

Meanwhile, let’s take our own Reality Check and ask ourselves: “If my kid watched only my behavior, what would he have caught today?” That answer will say volumes about your child’s character development.

What are your worst nightmare stories that involve parents? How did you handle them?

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UnSelfie 140x210Teens today are 40 percent less empathetic than they were thirty years ago. Why is a lack of empathy—along with the self-absorption epidemic Dr. Michele Borba calls the Selfie Syndrome—so dangerous? First, it hurts kids’ academic performance and leads to bullying behaviors. Also, it correlates with more cheating and less resilience. And once children grow up, it hampers their ability to collaborate, innovate and problem-solve—all must-have skills for the global economy. The good news? Empathy is a trait that can be taught and nurtured.  UnSelfie is a blueprint for parents and educators who want activate our children’s hearts and shift their focus from I, me, and mine… to we, us, and ours.  It’s time to include “empathy” in our parenting and teaching!  UnSelfie is AVAILABLE NOW at amazon.com.

3 Ways Music Improves Kids’ Learning, Relationships & Confidence

When we think of music, often what comes to mind is song. We may think of Broadway musicals, Bach or Justin Timberlake. In our minds, we might imagine orchestras or pianists.

Music has been central to civilization for thousands of years. In fact, before we had language we used musical tones and sounds to communicate. The tone of a grunt signaled a message in our prehistoric ancestors, while the beat of a drum brought village people together in unity far and wide. What we think of a little less often is what music is made of and how it impacts our learning, behavior and social relationships.

Music is all around us as we hear the subway cling and clatter, the pitter-patter of our children’s footsteps and the ambient noise inherent in life. Music engages our sensory, motor and auditory pathways in the brain fostering engagement and synchronicity (Patel & Iverson, 2014).

Curiously, the ability to synchronize with a beat is associated with learning language and grammar (Corriveau & Goswami, 2009; Gordon et al., 2015). At its core music is made of beats and rhythms that create sound, melody and even movement. These beats and rhythms are meaningful scaffolds we can use in school, at home and in life to enhance foundational aspects of our learning, behavior and character.

Here are three ways to incorporate music into your family life to foster growth in learning, behavior, confidence, social relationships and character.

TRUST Engaging in music with your children, classmates and workmates can enhance a sense of cohesion, emotional safety and trust. Our brains and bodies love to entrain, that is, join together in synchrony with others. Moving, tapping and singing in synchrony provide us with a felt-sense of togetherness, safety and trust. Consider for a moment, the smile on an infant’s face as he plays clapping games with his mother. Think about your own emotions as you walk by a classroom of students harmonizing in song.

“Musical engagement provides opportunities to improve social cohesion, psychological safety and trust in our relationships.”

What can you do? Sing more with others. Whether acapella, with the radio or as you complete your tasks of daily living, turn up the music and sing along. Choose songs that are known to all and enjoy the feeling of camaraderie and togetherness as you sing out that tune, together.

LEARNING – Even if you aren’t a musical performer, songs, chants, poems and raps are a wonderful way to learn academic knowledge. Music provides a rhythmic foundation on which to layer information in order to encode it and make it learned knowledge.  Further, consistent beats, specifically in 4/4 time, stimulate the brain’s natural interest, comfort and familiarity with patterns and sequences. Help your children learn their math facts, historical knowledge, literature and foreign language saying simple repetitive words with rhythm for better encoding and retrieval of learned knowledge.

“We are musical beings, even our neurons fire like an orchestra.”

MOVE IT – Clapping, tapping, stepping, marching and bouncing to a beat provide a firm scaffold on which to layer learning. Start by clapping or stepping to a simple quarter note at 85-120 beats per minute and increase tempo as the children become familiar with the beat.

On the downbeat add the content to be learned, for example, C-A-T CAT.  You can also say the words syllabically, HO – USE HOUSE with a double clap on the fourth beat. Imagine learning your history facts to a beat, “Abraham Lincoln, our 16th president, created Thanksgiving Day, he championed for freedom, as the children played.” Mix and match beats with rhythm, movements, sounds and words for an engaging social experience. The words can rhyme, but they don’t have to.

Music is magical. It has the ability to help us calm or energize, connect and reflect, enhancing our thinking skills, learning and character by engaging us as musical and prosocial beings.

Enjoy building confidence, character, and social connections as you chant, sing, move, and create to the sounds of music.

For more musical learning ideas see Musical Thinking and 70 Play Activities for Better Thinking, Self-Regulation, Learning and Behavior.

References:

  • Corriveau K, Goswami U. (2009). Rhythmic motor entrainment in children with speech and language impairments: tapping to the beat. Cortex, 45: 119–130.
  • Gordon R, Shivers C, Wieland E, Kotz S, Yoder P, McAuley J. (2015). Musical rhythm discrimination explains individual differences in grammar skills in children. Developmental Science, 18: 635–644.
  • Patel, A. D., & Iversen, J. R. (2014). The evolutionary neuroscience of musical beat perception: the Action Simulation for Auditory Prediction (ASAP) hypothesis. Frontiers in Systems Neuroscience, 8, 57.

Helpful websites:

www.letsplaymusicsite.com

http://thekiboomers.com

https://meludia.com/en/

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70-play-hi-res-150x197Written for teachers, educators, and clinicians whose work involves playing, talking or teaching children who would benefit from better executive function and social-emotional learning skills, 70 Play Activities incorporates over 100 research studies into printable worksheets, handouts, and guided scripts with step-by-step directions, to empower children to learn and behave better. “With 70 Play Activities we aim to improve the trajectory of children’s learning by integrating the newest neuroscience with activities children love!” With over 70 activities designed to improve thinking, self-regulation, learning and behavior, your tool-kit will be full and your creative brain will be inspired to craft your own meaningful exercises. 70 Play Activities is available at amazon.com

 

Transformers: The Last Knight is Sensory Friendly Tuesday at AMC

AMC Entertainment (AMC) has expanded their Sensory Friendly Films program in partnership with the Autism Society. This Tuesday evening, families affected by autism or other special needs have the opportunity to view a sensory friendly screening of Transformers: The Last Knight, a film that may appeal to older audiences on the autism spectrum.

As always, the movie auditoriums will have their lights turned up and the sound turned down. Families will be able to bring in snacks to match their child’s dietary needs (i.e. gluten-free, casein-free, etc.), there are no advertisements or previews before the movie and it’s totally acceptable to get up and dance, walk, shout, talk to each other…and even sing – in other words, AMC’s “Silence is Golden®” policy will not be enforced during movie screenings unless the safety of the audience is questioned.

Does it make a difference? Absolutely! Imagine …no need to shhhhh your child. No angry stares from other movie goers. Many parents think twice before bringing a child to a movie theater. Add to that your child’s special needs and it can easily become cause for parental panic. But on this one day a month, for this one screening, everyone is there to relax and have a good time, everyone expects to be surrounded by kids – with and without special needs – and the movie theater policy becomes “Tolerance is Golden“.

AMC and the Autism Society will be showing Transformers: The Last Knightsensory friendly tomorrow, Tuesday, June 27th at 7pm (local time). Tickets are $4 to $6 depending on the location. To find a theatre near you, here is a list of AMC theatres nationwide participating in this fabulous program (note: to access full list, please scroll to the bottom of the page).

Coming In July:  Despicable Me 3 (Sat, 7/8); The House (Tues, 7/11); Spiderman Homecoming (Sat, 7/22); War for the Planet of the Apes (Tues, 7/25);

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Editor’s note: Although Transformers: The Last Knight has been chosen by AMC and the Autism Society for a Tuesday Sensory Friendly screening, we do want parents to know that it is rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association of America for violence and intense sequences of sci-fi action, language, and some innuendo. As always, please check the IMDB Parents Guide for a more detailed description of this film to determine if it is right for you and your family.

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