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Summer and Beyond: How to Get Your Special Needs Child To Read

Many schools have started assigning Summer Reading to keep kids in good habits and also to avoid the dreaded summer brain drain, where they lose some of the skills learned during the academic year due to lack of practice. Sometimes the reading assignment can be fun, like a competition to see who reads the most pages or books or minutes. Sometimes it can be a straight assignment like a project or a report. But even if your school doesn’t specifically assign any reading, it’s a good idea to encourage your kids to keep reading all summer long.

I know many kids with special needs or learning challenges absolutely hate reading. It is truly unpleasant for them, so who can blame them? For now there are other ways to make books appealing. When my kids were little we used them to play games like The Floor is Lava and Dominoes. Then I read the books to them after play time. Reading to your child is important even if you think they are “too old” for it – they are not. Something as simple as “Hey, this is interesting, listen…” may get them motivated to explore (or listen) further.

Ideas to keep kids reading – or get them reading

  • Let them read whatever they want – manga, movie novelizations, comic books all count. I even let my daughter read a toy catalogue once because it was the only thing that motivated her.
  • Let your child be your tour guide. This works on vacation or locally. Let them do research on a location that interests them and pick out some place to visit. This also works with restaurants and reading menus.
  • Take them to the library. Check your local locations for puppet shows, clubs or events…and hey, look, there are lots of books, too! Maybe one will catch their eye. Again, let them choose. You may not want to read a novel with a gory zombie on the cover but if it gets them interested, so be it.
  • Bring books to places where you will be waiting, like doctors and dentists appointments. Put baskets of them in the bathroom.
  • Audio books can also help kids with visual processing and other challenges. Many are free online through your local library or other sites – just do a quick search.
  • Who are your child’s heroes? There are biographies on every historical figure, sports star and celebrity.
  • Yes, it’s okay to let them reread Harry Potter again – as long as you get them thinking about what they noticed this time that they never did before.

Another way to get kids with special needs or challenges interested in a book is if the story is about a kid with challenges. Students will recognize their own struggles and situations and pick up some new strategies. Feel free to read the books yourself – grownups may learn some of the clever ways these kids avoid work and play their teachers.

Here are some reading suggestions about children with special needs for teens. Ask a bookstore employee, teacher or librarian for other suggestions.

  • Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper features a girl with cerebral palsy
  • Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt follows a girl and her older brother as they discover they have dyslexia
  • El Deafo by Cece Bell, a graphic novel about a girl with a clunky hearing aid

Have you or your child read a great book lately? Let us know about it!

 

Ant-Man and The Wasp are Sensory Friendly 2x This Week at AMC

AMC Entertainment (AMC) has expanded their Sensory Friendly Films program in partnership with the Autism Society. This Tuesday evening and Saturday morning, families affected by autism or other special needs have the opportunity to view a sensory friendly screening of Ant-Man and The Wasp, a film that may appeal to both older and younger 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 Ant-Man and The Wasp as a sensory friendly feature film tomorrow, Tuesday, July 10th at 7pm and Saturday, July 14th at 10am (local time). Tickets can be as low as $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).

Still to Come in JulyMama Mia! Here We Go Again (Tues. 7/24);  Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation (Sat. 7/28)

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Editor’s note:  Although Ant-Man and the Wasp has been chosen by AMC and the Autism Society for a Sensory Friendly screening, parents should be advised that it is rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association of America for some sci-fi action violence.  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.

Tues. at AMC, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is Sensory Friendly

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 Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, 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 Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom as a sensory friendly feature film tomorrow, Tuesday, June 26th at 7pm (local time). Tickets can be as low as $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:  Ant-Man and The Wasp (Tues. 7/10 & Sat. 7/14); Mama Mia! Here We Go Again (Tues. 7/24); Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation (Sat. 7/28)

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Editor’s note: Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom has been chosen by AMC and the Autism Society for a Tuesday Sensory Friendly “Mature Audience” screening. Parents should be advised that it is rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association of America for intense sequences of science-fiction violence and peril.  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, AMC Has a Sensory Friendly Screening of Incredibles 2

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. Tomorrow, Incredibles 2 is Sensory Friendly at AMC.

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 Incredibles 2 on Saturday, June 23rd at 10am (local time). Tickets are typically $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).

Still to Come in June: Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (Tues 5/26)

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Editor’s note: Although Incredibles 2 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 sequences and some brief mild language.  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.

SOLO: A Star Wars Story is Sensory Friendly 2x This Month 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. Tomorrow, Solo: A Star Wars Story is Sensory Friendly at AMC.

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  Solo: A Star Wars Story on Saturday, June 9th at 10am and Tuesday, June 12th at 7pm (local time). Tickets are typically $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).

Also coming in June: The Incredibles 2 (Sat 5/23); Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (Tues 5/26)

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Editor’s note: Although Solo: A Star Wars Story 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 sequences of sci-fi action/violence .  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.

Would You Buy Your Special Needs Child a Dog Chew Toy?

That was where my sleep-deprived, over-stressed mind went in an aisle of the pet store while I was there to buy cat food. I was tired of finding holes in my child’s shirts and also terrified she would chew off a button and then choke on it. I had tried teething toys for toddlers, but they were made for adorable little jaws and tiny teeth that were just peeking through the gum line. I had tried teething toys for older children with special needs, but she ripped right thought those in a few hours. Even the upgraded medical grade versions were torn in a few days…and I would obsess about whether the bits she was chewing off were large enough for her to choke on it. I didn’t buy the dog chew toy because I figured it had probably been made of or coated in a ton of chemicals and had also probably not been safety tested for humans. But another thing crossed my mind – what would people think?

We are responsible for teaching our children so many things – social skills, academic skills, life skills, vocational skills – but in this case I think kids can teach us. When a toddler is frustrated about not getting a cookie they don’t care whose eardrums they pierce with their shrieks. When a child on the spectrum is flapping their hands in excitement they don’t care who is watching or what anyone else thinks about their actions.

Of course we grownups in civilized society HAVE to follow certain rules or we might be arrested, committed or evicted – not necessarily in that order. But isn’t there more room for deeply feeling an emotion like frustration or joy, or to truly experience something like the grass or the music?

Children with special needs growing up today have the advantages of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the inclusion movement and the many special needs events that are happening nationwide (and worldwide). Also, check out the This Is My Child campaign for more tips on dealing with ignorant strangers and family members.

At the end of the day though…when you realize all the other critics are silent, how then do you answer the question and be at peace with yourself?

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