Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Healthy Eating & Autism

** PLEASE NOTE **
This blog post is based upon my own experience, the knowledge that I have gained through experience over the use from myself within the classroom, training courses and knowledge learnt from other professionals within the sector. The same method does NOT work for every child as we all know every child with ASD is completely different. Do not rely on myself for medical facts- I am not a qualified doctor and I am unable to offer any medical advice.

Healthy eating is all around us - you can’t switch on the TV for longer than 5 minutes without some sort of advert for healthy eating/healthy living being on there. It can be so hard - what is healthy these days? We are told to watch calories, sugar, fat there is so much to watch, yet with a child diagnosed with ASD - surely we are busy enough without the extra worry?!



I’m sure at one point we've all had the “what do you mean they won’t eat fruit or veg?” Some just don’t get it - the daily struggles, the sensory issues, texture, taste, how it looks, if it’s touching something else. So to even put food on a plate at times can be hard work without having to bribe your child to eat their fruit and veg too!



So, how can you try and entice your child with ASD to eat their fruit and veg? Well first off, you’re going to have roll it all the way back and think about exactly what your child’s issues are.

First off - is there a medical issue? It can be so hard trying to figure out if your child has a medical issue. Could it be that they KNOW if they eat that they WILL get a bad stomach? Do their teeth hurt when they chew? Could there be allergies? Intolerance? Your best bet here is to find a great and understanding doctor and discuss with them.



Next, are there sensory issues involved here? Can your child cope if food is touching each other? Do you need to invest in a food separator tray? Is it the texture? Can they not eat certain textures ? Wet, dry, thick etc. I know I can’t handle eating anything thick and creamy - thick gravy, custard, cream etc. anything like that and I gag. Now I can express my issues, but your child may not be able to - so it is a lot of guess work i’m afraid!

Visuals, visuals visuals. I know you’re probably thinking, here goes another textbook hero, shouting her mouth off about visuals - but honestly, when used in the right way, they are SO beneficial! Now this is totally down to the individual child - you could use a ‘first,then’ board - first try pea then eat chicken piece etc. just make this as relevant as possible, it could be made with symbols, words, whatever you feel your child learns best with. Introduce a reward system, you may give them a sticker for each piece of fruit/veg they try, when they reach 5/10 they get a surprise! 



Introduce things slowly. For example, this could be by putting a few peas on the corner of the plate, 2 or 3 carrot chunks etc. Do not overload them - build it up slowly! If you think your child is ready to start tasting be prepared for different reactions. In a perfectly magical world, your child will pick up those vegetables/fruit and eat them, enjoying them! But we are in reality.. so you can approach this a few different ways. Can they put it to their lips? Yep first day just put that pea right up against your child’s lips. Are they repulsed? Gagging? Displaying behaviours? If so, take a break, give them their reward (if applicable) then direct them back to the food they enjoy. If they don’t mind - see if they will eat it! If they didn’t like it, the next day try to encourage them to lick it, use visuals to explain what you want or show your child by you doing it. The next day move on to putting it into their mouth and seeing if they can hold it on their tongue for count of 10. Slowly but gradually increase the time, as humans we have this automatic reaction to chew if we can feel something in our mouth for a long period of time so this could be a great trick. 

Did that work? If not prepare yourself for my next suggestion. So this is a bit of a hard one to explain. So our example dinner is sausage, mash and peas. The child in question, given the opportunity/choice will ONLY eat the sausage. So we have some bargaining to do. This may seem like a step back to you but it can work - i’ve used it myself numerous times and see nothing but positive results. Cut up the sausage into really small pieces and I mean small. Next, mash up the peas and mash so it’s all as one. Now scoop a bit of mash/peas onto the fork, then add the sausage on the end. So the child can see the sausage, to start with you may have to help guide the fork into their mouth - they may put it into their mouth to only eat the sausage, gently guide (and I mean gently, you don’t want to stab their throat!) the fork into their mouth so they eat the full amount. IF they are adamant to only eat that piece of sausage, switch it around - i’ve also done this - so pick up a bit of sausage on the fork first, then scoop some mash and peas. If they want to eat the sausage - then they have to eat the mash and peas! This has surprisingly worked really well over my 5 years of experience. But it also means less meltdowns - something that isn’t nice to witness or deal with, especially when their anxiety levels are so high from the food issue!

Another way is to make a game out of it! Do lots of cookery sessions together, introduce messy play with bits of food - pasta, rice etc. Getting them to experiment with all different textures. One that always goes down well is fruit kebabs drizzled with melted chocolate! 


Or if the weather is hot, introduce fruit in lollies! Make your own lollies! Your child probably won't even realise they are eating the fruit until it's too late and already eaten!



If your child understands/appreciates awards, at the end of every week you could have a ‘foodie certificate’ and list the names of the foods they’ve tried with pictures, present it to them and make a big deal out of it - if they are shown for it to be fabulous and a really great thing to do then they will want to repeat the experience.



Just be careful at introducing foods - remember don’t overload, introduce things slowly and have lots of time and patience. Be sure to model yourself too! You can’t expect your child to eat veg if you refuse to eat it!

But most of all, if your child is fit and healthy don’t stress too much about their diet. Liaise with School staff to find out how your child eats there, liaise for different foodie ideas etc. You are not alone in the foodie battle, you are doing your best and you are a great autism parent - don’t forget it!

Nikki 




Sunday, 28 June 2015

Weekly Summer Blog Link-Up

Here we go again!!
Time to link up with the fabulous Monica over at I Heart Grade 3!


So, this weeks topic is 'My Favourite Quote'

Favorite/Favourite - it is so hard being a UK based TpTer/Blogger. I feel compelled to write in the US language because that is where all of this is more popular, but my brain always screams at me NO NO NO NO NO!! So - sigh - please give me some little time to adjust to whatever language I end up typing in - LOL!

So, anyway, the quote that I really do love is also my quote on my TpT store.

'A dream begins with a teacher who believes in you.'

I stumbled across this by chance a few months back online, it was said by 'anonymous' which I was a little gutted about but nevertheless I still love it.

So, why do I love it? Everyday I work with children diagnosed with autism, all on different parts of the spectrum. The staff in my School go out of their way to make sure everything is differentiated, every child takes part in the same activity/work but at a level suited for them - meaning they can all achieve their goals! It is no good to hand out the same piece of work to every child, tell them to complete it when they may not be at that level or may be above it! 

Children are like little flowers, they need a lot of TLC to grow into something so extraordinary and fabulous! That little bit of belief, encouragement, motivation and support can go such a long way. I truly believe children pick up on so much from us as teaching staff we really do need to help them achieve their best.

And so, if you believe in a child, help them to grow, giving them work activities that really do benefit them, suit their ability and provide them with motivation, your little seed with bloom into the biggest, most beautiful flower there is. If you believe in every child in your class, you can be up for the most beautiful garden of flowers there is!

Thanks for listening to my little quote debrief / weekly summer blog link up. Don't forget to head over to Monica's page (here) to view everyone else posts!

Nikki 

Saturday, 27 June 2015

Spotlight Saturday

Another week over with, another day closer to our Summer holidays, another fabulous Spotlight Saturday hosted by my newest stalk-blogger Kindergarten Dragons


This week i'm being a little bit selfish and i'm going to spotlight my 2 favorite paid products from my store and my 2 favorite freebie products from my store.


Ok, the first is Animal Mystery Coloring Number Work! It is my best seller to date, it is the fastest product to sell after uploading it and since this I have made many more mystery coloring pictures in all different themes with more set to be uploaded over the coming weeks! Believe it or not they take a long time to create!!


There are 11 different animals included so far. I do have plans to try to add more to this over the Summer to it but for now 11 is sure to keep your students busy!!

It includes; bear, chicken, cow, elephant, fox, giraffe, lion, monkey, penguin, sheep and snake!!

I LOVE THE SNAKE!!


They are so much fun, students have to follow instructions on what numbers are what color to make these pictures. It is definitely a motivating activity to introduce following instructions, increasing attention to detail, number work - number recognition etc. but also great for color recognition - I think many of us are under the illusion 'of course he/she knows their colors!' but it can be a skill so easily overlooked!!


The next item i'll discuss is a freebie (i'm trying to break this up y'know?!).

Ok so this isn't my most popular freebie but it's one of my favorites, especially for this time of year!!

It's my Summer Activity Packet. I actually made this as part of a blog hop but i'm impressed how well it turned out given the quick timescale I had!


So it's 18 pages in total (1 page is answer key), it's black and white to save on ink and is loads of fun!! There are 2 options of front covers; girl or boy to color and write their name! 

Then moving on.. writing the bucket list IN A BUCKET! What couldn't be cooler?! Be sure to cross off the items on the list when/if you work your way through them!!

Then a word search!! Word searches are one of my most popular products, i'm currently trying to make sure I have a word search for EVERYTHING!! 

Next is puzzle time!! You have to try to fill in the words in the puzzle! (Comes with clues!)



Then SUDOKU! I love Sudoku! It's such fun and there are so many benefits to have from it!  Moving on we have some dot-to-dot activities, a summer hunt - children can tick off the objects that they spot throughout their trip/day/summer etc. Then there are some reflection activities day at the beach, park etc. 

                                                            

Then my favourite page. A page for your child to draw and write their favorite part of the Summer! Followed by some fine motor skills activities.



Such a fab amount of activities and COMPLETELY FREE!! You'd be crazy not to download it! Get it here!


OK, moving on. The next paid product i'm going to spotlight today is one of my autism centred resources. It is very hard to make a resource that 'fits all' in the autism community because every student is so different! 

So here is my weather book adapted for ASD students. I use this with higher level students but does come with symbols to support lower ability. It's great for concepts, life skills etc.


So it's 17 pages in total but great value for money - trust me! It's the first in the 'weather friends' series that i'm going to be creating. I want to create a whole series of 'weather friends' that can be completed over the course of the year learning all about weather. 

This pack contains a printable weather work book and also a wardrobe template if you wish to use it, so students can select clothing from the wardrobe to put onto the appropriate child in the picture - what to wear in certain weather etc.




This also comes with the option for students to be able to choose matching symbols for what the weather is like where they are today. 

I am a big fan of teaching life skills to ASD students, it can be so hard to find the right resource but the students have loved this resource and I have had a lovely piece of feedback on it on my TpT store. 

There is a little bit of cutting/laminating to be done when you first make this resource but it is SO worth it in the long run! I love to laminate/velcro resources as it usually means they last a longer time and can be stored and re-used!


SOOOO... last but not least. My 2nd freebie spotlight product. This remains as one of my most favorite freebie products, it's my 100 Follower Freebie! I made this for - you guessed it - celebrate of my TpT store reaching 100 followers, since then my followers have greatly increased as has my store - it's so wonderful and overwhelming, I can't thank my supporters enough!


I made sure to try and centre this bundle around something relevant - so I tried to centre it around '100.'

It includes some fabulous activities;
Addition worksheet
Handwriting worksheets
I have who has game
Make 100 dominos
Caterpillar missing number lines
Number grid activities
Number puzzles. 






Great fun for students to enjoy and best of all it's all totally free!!!! :)

Thank you of reaching the end of my spotlight saturday!

Nikki 

Friday, 26 June 2015

IT'S FRIDAY!!!!



No, this minion is not completely un-related... read on for more ;)

So another Friday, another Five for Friday linky with Doodle Bugs Teaching!! 

I love these linkups, I love nosing at all the other bloggers posts and seeing what they have been up to this week etc!



OK so I have been trying to think of these 5 for the past hour while preparing to write this, I think I have it sorted, here we go...


Sooo, there has been a bit of an absence in our class this week as we have a member of staff off with someone in her family unwell. Me and one of the children made this...


Anyone who knows me will tell you, art is NOT my forte. I am not an artist and so I tend not to touch ANYTHING arty!! But the pupil wanted to do something, he loves dinosaur so off we went!! I covered his hand in red paint (except for the thumb) then we pasted it on here, I added a little volcano, with some hand-over-hand support he wrote 'get well soon' then we decorated the dinosaur a little bit - it was lots of fun!!! Inside the card (i don't have a picture oops), we got a big dinosaur figure from our class toy box, dipped his feet in white paint and made him stomp around the inside of the card for dinosaur feet! He loved it - it was lots of fun! I made sure to deliver the card on my way home - I think it's going to go down a TREAT!



If you follow me on instagram (here) you will have noticed that this week in our school was our School Sports Day! It's very busy with lots on, we try to get pretty much every pupil involved, it's busy, very hot and sunny but such fun! The children love it! But boy am I worn out now!!






This week I finally got around to getting involved with the TpT Seller Challenge. I honestly didn't think I would have enough time or energy to take part in it with everything else going on, but as usual i've managed to find a little bit of motivation from somewhere and crack on with it!! Everyone taking part seems to be so lovely so I can't wait to connect with all new fabulous TpTers!! :)




Ok this is a little teeny weeny cheat but i can't help it i'm so excited!! We are off to see the minion movie tomorrow!!! I can't wait!! Me and Nath are off to have a lovely day together with food, cinema etc. just us 2. I can't wait for some quality time together our crazy schedules mean we can't do this as much as we
would like so i'm sure excited for tomorrow!!


I've saved this one for last. One, because I only found out about it literally just now but also because they always say 'save the best for last' and this is the best news I've had in such a long time. A friend of mine, who I've worked closely for the past year now in our class was diagnosed with breast cancer, it was very bad and we were all so panicky she had to have two operations and CT scan. Well today the results came back CLEAR! She's cancer free!!! I can't contain how chuffed and over the moon I am for her!!! :) This is my favorite ever ever ever thing to have happened in such a long time, I HAD to include it in my 5 for Friday!


Nikki 





Tuesday, 23 June 2015

TpT Seller Challenge: Dare to Dream!


So for the first time (although it's the second week) I am joining up for a fabulous Linky Party called the TpT Seller Challenge. Originally I didn't think I had enough time to fit in the TpT Seller Challenge with everything else I currently have going on - but I thought you know what - it's time I grabbed it with both hands and went on this crazy journey then have my summer holidays to completely relax (we don't finish school until end of July!)

So a quick recap here are my stats BEFORE I take part in the TpT Seller Challenge..


I've only just figured how to do my blog lovin account - setting it up, and linking it to my blog - I still have so much to learn it's crazy!!

Then I quickly tried to catch up by completing a make over, I decided to change the cover of my swimming awards last week, sales and wish lists have already changed so much!! What do you think?



Now for this week - phew - catch up over - I hope!! So the idea of this weeks TpT Seller Challenge blog post is about the goals and dreams we hold for our TpT store.

As most of you can tell, when I set myself a challenge, I go the full hog, none of this half-heart stuff, I go full blown and set myself nice big targets, it motivates me to no end. I overheard a boss of another company whom heard of my work - completely unknown to me telling people "She will go far, she's a very clever, intelligent girl, when she wants something, she goes out there and gets it." The other person agreed completely and continued to praise me. 

I like to think of myself as very motivated. Growing up I had a few negative nellies around me so tried to put me down. It's because of them I know push myself to the extreme to make sure I can show that I CAN achieve what I want to in this life.

So, my goals for my TpT store are;

- to help raise funds for our savings for emigrating to Canada (we hope to emigrate in the next 3 years, cue the job hunting!)
- to become full time TpT. I would LOVE to become full time on my TpT store. But I don't see that for many many many years, more when I am old and wrinkly and hopefully still very nifty at making the resources!!
- holiday home. Myself and my partner are travel freaks. For the past year all we have chatted about is buying a holiday home in Florida. We looked into it, but at the moment all our money is going towards our next two vacations (our last two big ones!) then straight into savings for our move to Canada (fingers crossed!)



What are your dreams or goals for your TpT store?!

Don't forget to pop on over to Peppy Zesty Teacherista for more links for the fabulous TpT Seller Challenge or join the Facebook group here. I can't wait to see my stats at the end of this and can't wait to collaborate with other fabulous bloggers :)

Nikki 

Tell All Tuesday


Tell All Tuesday is a linky party that I really wanted to take part in last time around but it was one of those things I forgot to put in my planner/calendar, so I completely forgot and by the time I remembered it was too late :( *sigh*

And to tell the truth... I also forgot today! Until I seen it pop up on my blogger feed over at Shoe Laces and Sweet Faces!!

So this week is all about hopes and dreams.

Mine is kind of a funny one. At the moment i'm so full of questions about myself, I don't know if I want to go on and pursue more things. I will also continue with my blog and my Tpt store. ALWAYS. They are in my heart of hearts that I think will be successful. On top of this I also do my invites business.

I have come to accept that my job just isn't well paid enough or suited for me. Myself and my partner want to emigrate to Canada within the next 3 years and I just don't think i'll be able to get a job there easily even with my experience, qualifications, training etc. so I am considering another career path. SHOCK HORROR!!!

So here are my dreams/ambitions/hopes which I am currently going through;

* Author
From a young age i've loved books. And I mean LOVED. When Harry Potter first came out I had the books for Christmas. I read the first four or five I think it was within a week. When the twilight saga came around, I read them all within a few days, same with Fifty Shades of Grey etc. I am a real book worm. I love them. I can remember growing up and saying I would write books one day. I always panic i'm not good enough, i'm not creative enough. But what if - one day, I just am? What if my doubts are fears are just that - doubts and fears? I have stumbled upon a few courses lately about becoming a children's author but I'm not sure if I would want to aim more for teen/young adult. 


* Lawyer
A few years back, while I was doing my child care diploma I had this funny time where I really wanted to be a lawyer. I was surrounded by people who made me feel I wouldn't be good enough. I wish I hadn't listened. Law was something I had my heart set on. I'm not sure if I would go back and do it all now, but I would love to give it a go.


* Accountant
This is the one I am considering the most at the moment... I think. It's something I really want to look into. It's one of the main careers for emigrating away with, I think I'd enjoy it. There's a possible opening for one for me to go to and learn all about it. 

* Fundraising Officer
So as a few of you may know, last year I really went into fundraising mode. In around 6/7 months I raised £17k. A vacancy has come up which is almost double my current wage to work in a local company that I have great interest in. I'm hoping to apply for it. I love fundraising, it's a new challenge. But again I'm unsure if it's something I can emigrate with!? Who knows!!


Don't forget to hop on over to see Tiffany at Shoe Laces and Sweet Faces to view everyone else's Tell All Tuesday!!

What are your dreams/ambitions?

Nikki 

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