Managing Circle Time at School

Is your child having a hard time with circle time at preschool? How about sitting on the floor at kindergarten during story hour? (We did!) Here are some ideas on how to manage these difficulties for your child.

Managing Circle Time at School

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How to Parent Your Anxious Toddler

How to Parent Your Anxious Toddler

How to Parent Your Anxious Toddler

Why does your toddler get upset when his or her routine is disrupted? Why do they follow you from room to room and refuse to play on their own? Why are daily routines such as mealtimes, bath time, and bed time such a struggle?

This accessible guide demystifies the difficult behaviors of anxious toddlers, offering tried-and-tested practical solutions to common parenting dilemmas. Each chapter begins with a real life example, clearly illustrating the behavior from the parent’s and the toddler’s perspective. Once the toddler’s anxious behavior has been demystified and explained, new and effective parenting approaches are introduced to help parents tackle everyday difficulties and build up their child’s resilience, independence, and coping mechanisms. Common difficulties with bath time, toileting, sleep, eating, transitions, social anxiety, separation anxiety, and sensory issues are solved, along with specific fears and phobias, and more extreme behaviors such as skin picking and hair pulling.

A must-read for all parents of anxious toddlers, as well as for the professionals involved in supporting them.

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About the Author: Natasha Daniels is a child therapist and toddler mental health specialist. She obtained her post-graduate training at The Harris Institute for Infant Mental Health, but her three children have taught her the most valuable lessons! Natasha splits her time between her private practice and her writing.

After fifteen years in private practice, Natasha has found passion in sharing her insights, approaches and humor. She writes about how to parent toddlers – with a special focus on the anxious toddler. Her first book, How to Parent an Anxious Toddler, was taken directly from her experience working with anxious toddlers and their families. She has consolidated years of advice she has offered families in her practice – into an easy to digest book. She demystifies toddler behavior and gives concrete parental approaches. She is also the creator of

Sensory Processing Disorder: Ambiguous But Real

At a time when medical professionals have voted that SPD is not a “real” diagnosis, it’s refreshing to find a medical group that believes and understands that it is. The University of Virginia Health System recently put out this piece to address the misunderstanding of SPD.

Sensory Processing Disorder: Ambiguous But Real

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My Favorite Time of the Day With My Autistic Son

So often, autism is portrayed in the media as individuals who are cold and unresponsive. Many people think of autism as children and adults who recoil from touch and pull away from people, even those who love them the most. Not true!

Today on Voices of SPD we are joined by Heather of Changed for Good Autism, who shares the touching moments she shares with her Autistic son.


My Favorite Time of the Day With My Autistic Son

Myth: Autistic people cannot show affection.

The truth is this.

We all have different sensitivities towards touch, whether we have autism or not.

Many of us are bothered by light touch. Light touch is often alerting. It gets our attention and can make our skin crawl. Think of how it feels when a spider web touches your arm when you are walking through the woods. Chances are you can still feel the tingling sensation long after it’s been brushed away. You might even be feeling it as you think about the memory now.

Most of us respond well to deep pressure. Deep pressure is calming and organizing. There is a lot of research on the benefits of deep pressure. Many children wear weighted or compression vests at school, and it helps them to stay more calm, alert, and focused on the task at hand. Deep pressure can have a calming effect and is often used by occupational therapists during sensory integration therapy. Some autistic adults have reported that they like deep, tights hugs only.

It is true that there are some people who cannot handle touch. They are often called sensory avoiders. Temple Grandin, a famous scientist and autistic writer, invented a “hug machine” for herself based on a squeezing apparatus used to keep cattle calm. The hug machine works for her since she has difficulty with human touch.

Myth: Autistic people cannot show affection. Click To Tweet

And then there are those who cannot handle touch of any kind at all.

There are a few, known as sensory defensive, who literally feel at battle with the sensory world.

That’s not my child.

My child is a sensory seeker.

It would break my heart if Ben didn’t let me hug him and hold him close. I really don’t know how the moms of sensory avoiders do it. It must be so much harder to communicate love to your child without the language of touch.

Since my son has always been physically affectionate, it was easy for me to dismiss the idea that he had autism for the first few years of his life.

At first, I didn’t recognize that his love of cuddling and touch was, in fact, a real sensory need that had to be met in order to keep him calm and regulated.

Ben loves holding hands, almost to a fault. Even though he’s now in elementary school, he’s still not embarrassed by holding hands with his mom. He hasn’t yet reached that stage where he refuses my hand because he wants to be independent. Instead, hand-holding is his anchor, especially out in the bustling, chaotic world. If things start to get too overwhelming, he’ll yelp, “Hold my hand!” and, even if I’m juggling several boxes and bags, I’ll strive to comply.

I use the power of touch to help stabilize Ben throughout the day.

When he becomes upset, a deep hug can often calm him down.

When he gets over-excited, I instinctively provide a steady hand on his shoulders.

Ben has responded to my touch ever since he was a tiny baby. We developed a close bond during those long, sleepless nights of swaddling, rocking, and cuddling close.

And now, five years later, he has started kindergarten.

My Favorite Time of Day with My Autistic Son

I am so proud of the strong, independent boy he is becoming.

My days are long, and so are his. There are some days when I drop him off at school and I don’t see him again until after dinner.

On those days, especially the ones when we only have a precious few minutes together in the evening before it’s time for books and bed, we have our nightly ritual.

As soon as Ben sees me getting comfortable in my leather recliner, he will announce, “Snuggle time!”

In a flash, he squeezes his body next to mine as we angle the chair backwards. Even in August, we burrow under our fuzzy blanket, turn the lights low, and I wrap my arms around him and squeeze tightly. He grabs his favorite stuffed animal, affectionately nicknamed Stinky. He loves Stinky’s smell and holds the furry paw close to his nose with one hand. At the same time, he slips his two index fingers in his mouth, something he’s done since he was a baby. During the day, we are working to break him of this habit of finger sucking, but, during snuggle time, I don’t hassle him about it.

During the day, he has to work hard in kindergarten. This year, for the first time, he’s had to leave his Stinky at home while he has gone off to school. But during snuggle time, Stinky has his place of honor next to us as we nuzzle close.

I don’t criticize Ben because he’s not acting his age.

I simply enjoy our special time together.

Because, let’s be honest, I need snuggle time at the end of the day as much as he does.

While we cuddle close, and I squeeze him tight, we often relax while he watches a Disney movie and I work on my laptop. Sometimes we’ll play computer games together, or sometimes we’ll read a book. And then there are nights like tonight when I put my laptop away, turn off the television, and we sit and enjoy the close company of one another.

It is often during those special quiet times when his words start to flow.

Tonight as we snuggle, Ben seeks comfort in his number patterns, as he recites them for memory. Mathematical equations are soothing to him. The answer is the same every time, and he knows this script by heart.

“2 and 2 make 4.”

“4 and 4 make 8.”

“8 and 8 make 16…”

And then begin the questions that always come.

“What does 16 and 16 make?” he asks.

“32,” I respond.

“What does 32 and 32 make?”

“64,” I reply without thinking.

And on we go…

Somewhere in the midst of our back and forth, I realize that I used to enjoy this same number pattern when I was a child. I suddenly flash back to elementary school, when I would run the numbers through my head over and over, doubling them higher and higher in my brain. This memory takes me by surprise, because I never think of myself as a math person. Words have always come easier to me.

And, as I turn this memory over in my mind, Ben fills the quiet room with the three words I cherish most of all.

“I love you,” he says.

Unprompted, unscripted…
It has only been a year since the first time he said those words.

“I love you”

You never, ever, get tired of hearing those words.

And I realize, as we cuddle close, that it’s during snuggle time when I hear those words the most.

This post originally appeared on Changed for Good Autism. You can read more from Heather there.

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