Teaching Music And Art To Kids With Special Needs

 

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Teaching kids with special needs require more than just time and effort. It’s twice that and a lot of patience. The teacher must also be creative in planning the activities for the kids, making sure that the manner of teaching is appropriate for the learning capabilities of the students.

Learning through just reading and writing can be dull at times. Even kids without special needs have a hard time enjoying activities that require reading and writing skills along. It may cause the students to become uninterested and unfocused.

Teachers should be able to come up with more exciting ways for students with special needs to learn such as teaching music and art. These methods do not replace the education curriculum for kids with special needs. Instead, they serve as complementary methods to help children cope up better.

Music and art are therapies used to help students address several mental health issues involving feelings and emotions by assisting them to acknowledge their feelings and healthily express them. They will experience creating music and art, and at the same time, they will feel relaxed and at peace which is essential in addressing mental issues such as anxiety and depression.

 

Music

“While music has long been recognized as an effective form of therapy to provide an outlet for emotions, the notion of using song, sound frequencies and rhythm to treat physical ailments is a relatively new domain.” says Daniel J. Levitin, PhD. Music therapy is beneficial as a complementary tool to aid with the educational curriculum of students with special needs. It is a therapy used to address physical and psychological issues, but anyone who knows music cannot just implement it. The therapist must obtain the necessary certifications and licenses to be able to administer music therapy and must be able to finish a degree in an accredited school and accomplish several hours of clinical training.

 

Music Therapy Consists Of Activities Surrounding Music Such As:

 

  • Listening To Music

The teacher or the therapist will prepare certain types of music in which the students will listen. They will then be asked to determine the characteristics of each music and how it can affect them. Through music, they will be able to appreciate the elements of all the sounds combined to create something good for the mind. “It seems as though – I wouldn’t say music has special properties – but, it has the ability to distract or engage in ways that other stimuli don’t.” Neuropsychologist Daniel Levitin, PhD explains.

 

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  • Dancing

It will require connectivity of the hearing and the physical being but at the same time involves the psychological aspect of the students. They will be able to move their body using music as an instrument. They will learn to be attentive and responsive to several kinds of sounds.

 

  • Playing Musical Instruments

The students will learn how musical instruments work. They will master the art of creating music through the use of their physical, mental, and emotional being and the musical instrument. They will learn to be one with a concrete tool for expressing their feelings and emotions.

 

Art

“Art therapy can be effective for most ages or populations. In fact, art is one of my favorite things to bring to family therapy, as it has the ability to level the playing field.”  Melissa J Weaver, LMHC, ATR explains. Art therapy is also a tool used to aid in the education of students with special needs. It is a method used to help them express themselves better. They will be able to communicate with the therapists and all the people around them through their art. Sometimes, communication is a challenge for students with special needs. Art is a way to communicate with their parents, teachers, classmates, and other people around them. It is a way for them to be able to focus on something and divert all their thoughts and energy.

 

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Art Therapy Consists Of Activities Such As:

  • Drawing

It is an activity where students use pencils, coloring pens, crayons, ink, and charcoal to draw images they see in their mind.

 

  • Painting

It involves using paintbrushes and different colors of paint to create an image or pattern.

 

  • Collage making

It is an art technique where students will use different parts of art materials like colored papers, magazines, newspapers or anything they can put together to a whole.

 

  • Sculpting

It is a method where students will mold or form shape using clay, wood or anything that takes a form.

 

  • Crafting

It involves creating handicrafts which can be used such as puppets, decorations, and other things that will require their hand skills and self-expression.

 

The condition of students with special needs is ranging from mild to a severe mental health disorder. As long as the student can develop social and listening skills, they will be able to benefit from the educational curriculum and music and art therapies.

 

Conditions Of Students With Special Needs Which Can Benefit From Music And Art:

  • Anxiety disorders
  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Autism spectrum disorder (ASD)
  • Eating disorders
  • Schizophrenia
  • Bipolar disorder

 

Music and art therapy can aid in the learning process of students in several ways. They learn to express themselves and acknowledge every emotion and turn it into something beautiful like music and art. Students also learn the importance of organization, orderliness, and cleanliness by maintaining the materials and instruments they use in learning.

Teaching kids with limited capabilities can be a real challenge in a manner that the teacher is responsible for bringing out the greatness in each child. We will then learn that there are no limitations to what they can achieve. It’s just a matter of time and approach to learning.

 

 

Ways To Teach Children With Special Needs More Efficiently  

 

Parents, teachers, and all people involved in the care of a child with special needs want the best for each student, and although it can be challenging, there are several ways in which learning can be more efficient. We have to keep in mind that students with special needs will require extra time, effort and attention. Teachers should always remember the simple ways to make a child learn faster and better.

 

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What Can A Teacher Do To Make The Learning Of Children With Special Needs More Efficient?

  • Organize the classroom in a way that the students will be able to learn efficiently. Teachers should avoid too many clutter and organize teaching materials, books, tables, etc., making sure that the students can learn with the simple organization of things like the segregation of colors, use, shape, and size of learning materials in the classroom. Sherrie Bourg Carter Psy.D  once said, “Clutter distracts us by drawing our attention away from what our focus should be on.”

 

Just by arranging the books alphabetically or by size, students will be able to learn the importance of orderliness and cleanliness because they promote a pattern that can make the mind work faster and better. They will learn that the organization can create a sense of peace and relaxation.

 

  • Limit distractions by making sure the doors are always closed, free from noises and sights which can disturb the class. If students can see the people passing by, they can lose focus on what’s happening inside the classroom. They will be inattentive to the person speaking in class which will hinder their learning.

 

  • Teachers can familiarize students with the meaning of specific sounds through music and inflection of speech through the tone of voice. They will be able to distinguish the representation of what they hear and how they are going to respond.

 

They can use particular music (soft and loud) to represent a task or an activity, like playing a specific tune to mean they are supposed to organize their desks and all the stuff they have used throughout the day. “Just to clarify, music therapy is the evidence-based use of music in clinical situations that help people reach desired health outcomes.” Neuropsychologist Daniel Levitin, PhD explains.

 

Teachers can also use tones, tenses, and infections which can help the students identify the message. Remember that students with special needs often have difficulty communicating, that’s why the verbal emphasis is essential in successfully relaying a message.

 

  • Teachers should avoid using long and complicated words in giving out instructions. As much as possible, they should give directions that are easy to understand, or they can use symbols or signs to mean an action like an arrow to point at something or a stop sign meaning time is up.

 

  • Teachers should also make tasks manageable. They should never give long and exhausting activities. As much as possible, create some variety but simplify each task, like instructing students to draw their favorite food or draw and use colors freely according to how they feel. They can ask the students to organize learning materials according to their shapes, colors, and sizes or as simple as arranging the chairs properly.

 

These are simple yet efficient ways teachers should implement in a classroom of children with special needs. Their environment should be able to match and nurture their abilities.

 

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What Can The Teachers Do Ensure The Best For The Students?

  • Teachers should be able to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the students to be able to come up with the most reliable approach that will help in ensuring the best for their students. It is their responsibility to know and nourish the skills of the students.

 

By being able to identify the students’ strengths and being able to help them, the teacher is giving them an equal opportunity at life. Students with special needs will feel the sense of achievement that they will develop self-love and self-esteem.

 

  • Teachers should promote a positive influence on the students. They should be motivation and inspiration. As much as possible, they should never display any negative attitude and should always remain calm in any given situation. They should reflect on what the students should act and behave. Even the way they dress and the way they take care of their things can provide a significant impact on how the students will view the people and things around them.

 

  • “Technology conditions the brain to pay attention to information very differently than reading.” That is according to Jim Taylor Ph.D. Use technology for learning like letting them watch fables and stories that will teach them moral lessons. There are also various educational videos which can aid in developing the mind of the students. It could stimulate their comprehension. They will also learn to distinguish right from wrong and have an idea of how to handle particular situations.

 

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Teaching students with special needs take a lot of effort and patience. There are many factors and considerations to make which will contribute to the students’ learning process. It is vital that the environment, activities, and moods are fit to their strengths and weaknesses. It will ensure that every child has an equal opportunity to be the best that he can be.

What Experts Say About The GFCF Diet For Children With Autism

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If you have a child who is diagnosed to have autism, it is only natural for you to do everything you can to be able to see him improve or be alleviated from the symptoms that he is always suffering from. This will include getting him into a specialized diet. Experts have formulated many diets specific for children and adolescents with autism, but one that is particularly more popular is the gluten-free, casein-free diet or the GFCG diet.

Autism And Its Link To Gluten And Casein
According to Vicki Kobliner, a dietitian at Holcare Nutrition and also a consultant for GFCF.com, the diet comprises of a series of trials that involve the removal of casein and gluten and the assessment of these trials in connection with autism. These two proteins are among the substances that autistic children have been known to be very sensitive to. Thus, eliminating them from their diets will most probably benefit them.

Additionally, she says that gluten and casein are hard for these children to digest, which may be the reason why they are prone to more stomach and other digestive problems. What’s worse is that Kobliner believes the components of these two proteins are similar to morphine, and if it passes through the blood and goes to the brain.

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Research Outcomes
Although a lot of parents have vouched on the efficacy of the GFCF diet, there are only a few research outcomes so far, and researchers are still currently working on corroborating the parents’ testimonials.

One clinical study published in the Pediatrics Journal concluded that there needs to be more evidence needed to officially state the benefits of the GFCG diet in children with autism. Another study consisting of two small trials also looked into the effects the diet has on autistic children, and one study found that it did decrease the children’s autistic characteristics while the other study failed to do so. Researchers hope to unravel more benefits that the diet can offer to children with autism.

Testing The GFCG Diet
If you want to try implementing the diet to your child, then you must remove all foods that contain gluten and casein for at least six months. Here are some things to remember when trying out the GFCF diet.
• Work With A Dietitian. This is an important initial step, as some children who are into the diet can lack specific nutrients and may cause them to constipate. Consult a dietitian to ensure that your child’s diet is well balanced.
• Do A Gradual Transition. Do not eliminate foods that contain gluten and casein all at one time, as this may cause major changes in the child’s body and may even become more harmful than beneficial. Replace one food with a GFCF food at a time, perhaps for a few days, and then make it two.
• Learn To Check Labels. When you go grocery shopping, make it a habit to read the labels at the back of the products that you buy. Choose those without gluten and casein, although anticipate that the prices would be much higher.
• Always Be Ready With A Plan. You know you should watch what your child eats, but you also want him to be able to enjoy activities like parties and school events. So if he’s attending one, bring along food from the GFCF diet that your child can eat in case there aren’t any available in the event.

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Doing the GFCF diet appropriately may just prove trying it to be worth your time and effort. It may be what your child needs to make him feel healthy and at his best.

 

 

 

 

Guidelines For Caregivers And Families With Autistic Kids

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As a mother of a teenage daughter with autism, I have gotten used to searching answers from the web about Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), especially when it comes to the ways in which I can be able to take care of her and help her live a life that is as normal as she possibly can. It hasn’t been easy for her and the family as well. We’ve been seeing minor and major changes year after year, and I would say that there are things we must do with more effort if we want our children with ASD to learn progressively despite the condition and the accompanying complications.

“Early adolescents (ages 12-14), middle adolescents (ages 15-17), and late adolescents (ages 18-20) all have different needs from their caregivers based on where they are at developmentally.” Sandi Lindgren PCC, LICSW explains. If you are a mother like me, or a family member, or a guardian of a child with autism, here are some important guidelines you can follow to help make the child’s life easier, more productive, and as meaningful as it can be.

Early Intervention Is The Key
Once your child is diagnosed with ASD, the first thing you do is to visit his doctor and have him coordinate with his healthcare team for your child’s treatment plan. Studies have proven time and again that intervention before a child is 3 years old has a tremendously positive impact than doing it when the child turns 5. There are various services in almost every state in America that are geared towards helping autistic children develop skills and adjust to their disabilities as they are growing up.

Community programs that help with emotional, physical, and mental delays of kids with autism are also available, and if your child qualifies, she can have scheduled occupational and speech therapy and other treatments that help her deal with her psychological issues. “Children meet developmental milestones when they are ready. There are ranges of what is considered appropriate and what may be considered delayed.” Francyne Zeltser, Psy.D. expresses.

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Teach Her Lessons At Home

Most children with ASD are enrolled in schools with special education classes. Aside from these classes, you can teach her some activities at home to reinforce learning and help her improve her skills. Read to her before she sleeps and if she has been reading in school, progress with letting her read a few lines before she heads to bed. Let her join you in the kitchen while you’re cooking and show her some kitchen utensils while teaching her what they are. Boosting her lessons will hasten her learning verbally, socially, and practically.

Be More Visual

Doctors will often advise you to ‘speak your child’s language.’ This means that you need to make the adjustments for learning to be progressive. Part of the definition of autism is difficulty communicating. Autistic kids don’t do well if you just ask them to write or spell. They’ll get impatient, frustrated, and will eventually throw a tantrum. Avoid this by being more visual. They work best with a combination of verbal and visual techniques. You can demonstrate an activity that you want your child to follow, and you can let her follow. You can also provide her with paper and colorful pens so she gets interested and will be more enthusiastic to engage in activities.

Social Skills Will Help Them Adjust To The World

“When a child is diagnosed with mental illness, it can overwhelm the family. On the one hand, many parents feel that they finally have answers for behaviors that are confusing and often scary.” says Katie Hurley, LCSW. Therefore, it is vital to teach your child how to talk with other people, starting with family members, friends, and significant others. Then as he adjusts to the outside world, encourage her to mingle with schoolmates and join school activities, so she has the opportunity to converse socially and be comfortable with other people. This way, she can also learn to stop and listen when someone is talking or observe facial expressions and body gestures.

Plan For The Future Now

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When you have an autistic child, your life can be so hectic just with taking care of her while working and taking care of yourself as well. But my husband and I decided that we must plan for our daughter’s future now, like what we must do when she grows older, the things we need to change at home so she can adjust, or what life we can leave her when we are old and unable to take care of her. Planning makes us feel better and more in control.

 

 

 

Keeping Your Home Safe For Your Autistic Child

For a family, a home that’s cozy though messy, spacious despite the lack of light, and fun in the middle of the noise from television and the kids running around is a near-perfect home. But for a family where there is a child diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, it may not be so fun and happy. It is crucial to make the home as safe and stress-free as possible for the child and the family to thrive and overcome the challenges of the life they are living every day. Continue reading “Keeping Your Home Safe For Your Autistic Child”

Signs And Symptoms Of Older Adult Autism

 

Not many people know that there are older adults who have Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) yet remain undiagnosed. Why? Because they only learned about ASD when they reached adulthood. Currently, the awareness of the condition has increased, leading to more older adults with autism to come forward and be appropriately evaluated. Further, those who are high functioning are not very easy to identify even by their loved ones, as they have symptoms that are not clear and identifiable to autism alone. Continue reading “Signs And Symptoms Of Older Adult Autism”

How To Discipline A Child With Autism

Having a child with special needs can be challenging because you need to be mindful of a lot of things. First of all, you will always have second thoughts on what to do with your child because you know that you have a peculiar situation. Because of this, there is a high tendency that you will feel a lot of stress and anxiety. Whenever you begin to notice that your current situation is making you a different person that you no longer recognize, be sure that you get in touch with an expert therapist.

Going back to rearing your child, we also understand that you are experiencing difficulty in how to discipline him. Of course, you want your child with an autism spectrum disorder to know the difference between right and wrong. For this reason, you want him to be disciplined at all times. The problem now is how you can make it happen if you are unsure with the situation? What are the right things that are allowed and those that are prohibited? Up to what extent can you become tough to your kid? These are some of the questions that we aim to answer in our article.

“Kids with trauma (and the more trauma, the more true this is) are very vulnerable when they are disciplined, so you want to discipline very carefully. Try to be as gentle as you can while still holding reasonable and safe guidelines.” Cynthia Ridgway, MA, LMHC, NCC, DCC said. Make sure that you read the entire post so that you can get the complete list of tips and tricks that will guide you in leading your child to the right path. Remember that it is still highly possible to discipline your kid well even though he has a medical condition. What is essential is that you have set your mind to make it happen. As long as you believe that it is a possibility and that you trust yourself, everything is going to be okay. Here are some of the strategies to remember when it comes to disciplining your beloved autistic child: 

Be Familiarize With His Condition

The basic and initial step that you must complete as soon as possible is to learn everything you must know about your son’s medical condition. Do not be ashamed to ask several questions to his doctor or physician so that you will be informed. Keep in mind that there are signs and symptoms for autism spectrum disorder that you need to become a master of. Learn what triggers your child’s tantrums so that it will be easier on your part to control it. Aside from this, you can also try reading online journals or publications created by top psychologists and therapists who have dedicated their lives in the study of autism.

Focus On Rewards And Consequences

Barton Goldsmith, Ph.D., LMFT used to say, “Rather than focusing on weaknesses, find ways to assist your child in developing to his or her full potential. When encouraged, children will acquire talents to compensate for any deficiencies.” Train your child to act the way you want them to be by incorporating rewards and consequences in your day-to-day interaction. Be vocal in recognizing the good deeds that they have done for the given day. Aside from this, be sure that you give them some rewards for it so that they will be motivated to continue improving their attitude. The more they receive prizes, the more they can associate it with good behavior. On the other hand, if your child commits wrongdoing, do not hesitate to give a consequence for it. Take note that you need to find the balance between providing rewards and consequences to ensure that your child will not grow up as a spoiled brat. Teach him all the best life lessons while he is still young and continue to remind him about it.

Establish A Clear Routine

Children with autism spectrum disorder find it difficult to follow instructions and remember things. One of the downsides of this condition is that your child can have a poor memory. As such, you cannot expect him to remember what he did in the past or the words that you tell him. Because of this, you must become more patient and understanding in establishing a clear routine that he can follow. All you have to do is to create a schedule for the day and make it consistent so that he can make it part of his system. The key to succeeding in this aspect is to keep on repeating the process until he masters it. You can also use charts that can guide your kid on what he needs to do for a given time. “I think the parents who do best are the ones who can celebrate each achievement and developmental gain as it occurs, and who aren’t focused on an ultimate outcome of where the child needs to end up. These parents practice being ‘in the moment’ versus measuring progress against some ideal outcome.” That is according to Amy Keefer PhD, a clinical psychologist at Kennedy Krieger Institute’s Center for Autism and Related Disorders.

Conclusion

Make sure to recognize all your efforts in raising a child with autism. Remember that you deserve nothing but the best in this world. You are an amazing person who is ready to take on the challenge of raising a kid with special needs. All your efforts will be worth it in the end.

How Can You Help A Child With Autism?

Every parent has different challenges and struggles when it comes to raising her children. According to psychology, the common denominator about all parents in this world is that they want nothing but the best for their kids. Just like them, you also want your child to become a better individual as he starts to grow up. However, there are a lot of things that are not under your control. No matter how much you make an effort to make everything perfect, there will always come a time when you will be bombarded with hardships.

 

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For today’s articles, the primary topic that we are going to discuss is how one can become a better parent to a child with autism. Finding out about your child’s condition can be difficult, especially if you have no idea where he got his autism spectrum disorder. Do not fret because you are not the only one who is going through this situation. The best part of all is that there are now effective ways on how you can treat this condition. Below is a list of tips that you need to remember if you want to help a child with autism:

 

Consult An Expert

 

Make sure to avoid making a diagnosis on your own, without consulting an expert about your child’s problems. “There are sensory issues to consider, educational decisions to be made, medical interventions, safety concerns, and therapeutic decisions, to name just a few.”  A reminder from Janeen Herskovitz, MA, LMHC. The moment you start to notice that there is something peculiar in the behavior or personality of your child, do not hesitate to get in touch with a medical doctor immediately. Look for a psychiatrist that you can trust so that you can bring your child to him. There will be a series of tests that can help determine the actual or real medical condition of your child. Be sure to listen to what the doctor has to say. The said professional is going to provide you with the do’s and don’ts’s in dealing with a child positive with autism.

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Spend More Quality Time

 

Do not forget the significance of spending quality time with your child as it can help a lot in his development. You need to see to it that he is your number one priority, regardless of how busy you are at work. “what’s more important than the quantity of time you spend with your kids is the quality of the time you do have together.”  Francyne Zeltser, Psy.D. said. Keep in mind that the more you spend playtime and special moments with your child, the closer your relationship would become. If this continues to happen, he will start to feel comfortable in talking to you and letting you know what goes through his mind. Always remember that you need to make an effort in finding out what he is thinking every now and then so that you can immediately correct him if there is something wrong.

 

Accept Everything About Him

 

Never treat your child’s condition as a defect or damage. Take note that your love for him must not diminish just because he has an autism spectrum disorder. Your child needs your all-out support, love, care, and understanding. Learn how to accept his quirks and peculiarities. At the same time, you have to act normal when dealing with him. Never make him feel that he is different because of his autistic tendencies. Instead, explain to him what his condition means but continue to act like a regular person when dealing with him. “Another potential stress reducer is practicing acceptance,” Dr. Keefer said. “Parents who accept where their child is today seem to do better.” That is according to Amy Keefer PhD, a clinical psychologist at Kennedy Krieger Institute’s Center for Autism and Related Disorders.

 

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Use Positive Reinforcement

 

One of the effective ways to train your child to become better is to use the method of positive reinforcement. All you need to do is to reward him whenever he does something great. As such, it is crucial that you watch out for his behavior on a day-to-day basis. Make sure to point out to him his good deeds and let him know how proud you are with the progress that he is making. The more you give him rewards for good deeds, the more he will become motivated and inspired to continue showing excellent behavior not only for you but also to others.

 

Create A Treatment Plan

 

Another thing that you have to consider is to focus on creating a treatment plan for your child’s condition. Keep in mind that it is best to start treatment while he is still young. In so doing, there is a better chance that your child can easily catch up with the treatment. As much as possible, think of your child’s welfare when you create a treatment plan. Remember that he must feel comfortable with whatever procedure or process you have designed. It is recommended to set a stable or predictable schedule to make things easier for him.

 

Be a great mother to your child by following the tips mentioned above.