HOPELights™ Holiday Top Five Tips for Children With Special Needs

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Studies show there are over 10 million families in the U.S. that have children with special needs who experience some form sensory processing dysfunction, making all children special this holiday season. HopeLights Holiday Tips help families have a smooth and memorable holiday season.

HOPELights Activity Magazine for Special Needs Children

"Helping children through the holiday hustle and bustle ensures a healthy and loving interaction with friends and family. Holidays should be cherished and foster positive memories that last a lifetime,"said Dawn Grosvenor, founder of HOPELight Media.

Holidays are a busy time of year, full of activity from people to places that can easily over stimulate children, especially those with special needs. A survey by the Health Resources and Services Administration, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, found 10.2 million U.S. children in the have special healthcare needs, or 14 percent of all U.S. children. More than one-fifth of U.S. households with children have at least one child with special needs. HOPELights holiday tips are designed to aid the families that love and support special needs children—having guidance on high-sensory events like the upcoming holidays are critical.

According to the Center for Disease Control, Autism Spectrum Disorder dials in at an average of 1 in 110 children, while Down Syndrome occurs 1 in every 800 births. See related data at: http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/data.html and http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/bd/ds.htm. Many other children experience a variety of issues from Mental Retardation to Developmental Delays, Down Syndrome to Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Anxiety to Fragile X, ADHD and so on.

Even typical needs children go into over-drive. For example, one study (Ahn, Miller, Milberger, McIntosh, 2004) shows that at least 1 in 20 children (with or without any other diagnosis) are affected by SPD, a term that refers to the way the nervous system receives messages from the senses and turns them into appropriate motor and behavioral responses.

“This means millions of children in the United States have some sort of challenge with things like loud noises, environmental or event transitions, crowds, sensitivities to taste or touch just to name a few,” said Dawn Grosvenor, founder of HOPELight Media. “Which is why putting special emphasis on how to help children and their families through the holiday hustle and bustle is critical in ensuring they have a positive, healthy and loving interaction with friends and family. Holidays should be cherished and foster positive memories that last a lifetime.”

HopeLights Holiday Top Five Tips for Children With Special Needs:

1. Make a Visual Schedule – Many children are used to routine, structure and consistency, but much of this is lost during the holidays. If your child can see it coming for days, hours and minutes before it happens, transitions from place to place or even events in your own home will be more welcoming to your child.

2. Identify “Anchor” or Transition Items – Most children have an attachment to a favorite blanket, stuffed animal, toy or other item. Make sure your child has his or her favorites nearby especially if you are traveling. Let them carry a special bag of their favorite goodies. It is a little piece of home and helps them feel grounded and secure.

3. Establish Warm Up Times and Personal Space Parameters – Holidays bring in visitors or not-so-familiar faces that your child only sees once or twice a year. It is important these visitors give your child time to warm up and re-establish a connection. Great Aunt Betty may not be familiar right away, but she will be rewarded with a warm interaction 20 minutes or so into her visit if Aunt Betty and your child are prepared for the event.

4. Create and Communicate Code Words – Special needs or not, every child hits a melting point. Too many people, too many presents, skipping or moving a nap time can lead to the uncomfortable fit. As a parent, we can sometimes see these coming or at the very least we can intervene at the beginning. Talk with your family members before everyone gets together and establish a “Code Word” and ask them to help when you say this word or phrase. It can be as simple as “Houston, we have a problem.” By establishing code words with friends and relatives, this lets them know when you and your child need a private moment. You will be amazed how well they understand and cooperate without hurt feelings and it takes the pressure off of you.

5. Set Your Own Expectations in Advance – As parents we sometimes expect too much of ourselves, and put even more expectations on the “perfect” holiday. Remember you are only one person with only one goal, to love your children and ensure they are safe and happy this holiday season. Create your own To-Do lists and schedule plenty of time between events and preparation of visitors so you are not rushing through the holiday, but savoring each moment.

In honor of this holiday season, for every new annual HOPELights Children’s Activity Magazine subscription for children with special needs purchased in December 2010, a new subscription will be donated to a child in pediatric hospice for the coming 2011 calendar year. See related announcement at: http://tinyurl.com/25a2wgm.

HOPELights magazine is available in three subscription options starting as low as $6.70 an issue with an annual subscription. To order a subscription for your child or give to a child you know this holiday season, go to http://www.hopelightmedia.com.

About HopeLight Media
HOPELight Media, LLC was founded by Dawn Grosvenor, mother of a daughter who was diagnosed with autism. HOPELights serves the purpose of developing materials and activities for special needs children that motivate and educate through positive, holistic stimuli. The materials are well suited across the range of special needs and provides support to many levels of Autism, Down syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, MR, Spinal Bifida, Muscular Dystrophy and any child experiencing sensory or cognitive delays.

The HOPELights magazine is the first of its kind targeted specifically to support the sensory needs of “differently-abled” youth. The company strives to support the unique population of parents, families, and children with an uncompromising, sustained effort of inclusion and joy.

For more information, visit http://www.hopelightmedia.com or email hope@hopelightmedia.com

© 2010 HOPELights Media. All rights reserved.


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