Friday, December 29, 2017

Tips for Traveling with Disabled Children During the Holidays

Travel tips for disabled children
They need your help.

The work of a parent never stops. Every time they go out of their house with their children they need to keep absolutely everything in check. Did they take the toys, the food, the extra clothes, the snacks, the favorite stuffed animal? Did they forget something? Of course, that extra sweater in case the weather gets chilly! How could they forget? And would you look at the time? They’ll lose the flight; they’ll be late to the party; they won’t make it to the play! One could say that being a parent is like practicing an extreme sport sometimes.

Now imagine what it’s like for parents of children with special needs. They don’t only need to be sure that all former things are taken care of, they also have to watch out for all their medical needs. The syringes, the medicines that they must take several times a day, the wheelchair. One could say that being a parent of a child with special needs is like practicing an extreme sport at all times. At least, traveling definitely is. Here are a few tips to make your life easier if you’re one of them!

Start small

One thing you should take into account is that your kid probably isn’t used to all the movement, changes and noises that involve traveling long distances. If you make a long trip the first time around, you and your family are probably bound to hate it or spend the whole time stressed beyond belief.  Travel close to your home, start with little trips so your child can get used to what traveling means and what it involves. Try peaceful destinations at first, such as the beach or the mountains, and start escalating from there.

Make a plan

The more you plan, the less likely it is for things to go south. Make a list two weeks before the trip and start gathering all that your child will need; you can also add any extra items that you find necessary before traveling. Map out your trip and talk to your kid about it, get him or her used to the idea, show them pictures, so they know what to expect once you get there. If you’re staying in a hotel, ask for their accessibility to children with special needs.

Consult with your child’s physician

If you have any doubts about the things your child could need when you’re out of town, be sure to contact his or her physician so they can help you figure out the best way to pull this through. Have him write you a medical letter. This way, if your kid needs any type of assistance, every medical services provider will know his or her medical history thanks to it. You can also ask the doctor what things could be harmful to your child and what could you do with them without any risk. Try finding numbers or references of pediatricians in the area you’ll be visiting.

Find transportation to meet specific needs

If you’re going to fly, pick the airline wisely. Some of them do better than others when it comes to accommodating individuals with special needs. Prepare your kid for the experience of flying or traveling by any other mean. Show them pictures or videos and read about it with them. The TSA has launched a brand new helpline for individuals with special needs, called TSA Cares Travellers, may call 1-855-787-2227 before traveling with questions about screening policies, procedures and what to expect at the security checkpoint.

Finally, remember that it’s a family trip that’s supposed to be fun. It might not be on the first attempt, but don’t give up just yet. Try to anticipate any possible scenario that could upset your child and prepare beforehand. Give yourself a day to rest once you’re at the destination, kids get tired pretty quickly, and they might need the extra rest to recover some of their energy. If you’re traveling these holidays, we hope you have an awesome time! See you in January at Autism Soccer with more of our content.

Traveling with children
You can have so much fun!

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Thursday, December 28, 2017

How to Deal with Strangers When Raising Children with Special Needs

Raising children
Always try to be a bigger person.

Once you’ve started to live your life with a child with special needs, many prejudices and misconceptions, that you possibly had, simply go away. You learn all there is to know about their condition, and you understand that there are things in life that are more important than simple “normalcy.” But not everyone is like you. Somehow, you’ll have to learn to live with the curious glances of strangers, as well as uncomfortable questions and remarks.

However, one thing that comes with raising a child with special needs is strength. You learn that while you’re not able to control every circumstance around you or have a say in what people do or talk, you do have the power to decide how you react to external factors in your life. This means that, somewhere along the way, you also understand how to deal the best with strangers or people who don’t know what your life is really like.

One of the things that you need to remember is that most of the time people don’t have bad intentions. Every case is different, of course, but they usually are just curious and want to ask or learn about the subject. Sure, they might make ignorant comments or treat you with pity, as if something extremely terrible had happened to you, but meetings like this could end up being a great opportunity to raise awareness and destroy some prejudices.

It’s not your job to educate people, and it’s okay if you don’t want to talk about it or put yourself under that pressure. Some parents find that explaining their child’s condition to strangers makes it easy for themselves to stop seeing it as something different or weird. It can also help kids get the feeling that it’s okay to talk about who they are and that they shouldn’t feel embarrassed for it.

You’re not under any obligation to share your kid’s medical diagnosis with anyone. People shouldn’t expect you to do it either, but there isn’t much one can do about that. It’s okay to say no or politely redirect the conversation somewhere else, and you’ll find it’s actually liberating to do what you feel like doing without caring for what strangers might think. Because that’s the thing: they’re strangers. They probably don’t want to know that much, and you most likely won’t be seeing them ever again.

You might get frustrated with society’s views on people who are different and sometimes you’ll feel fed up of everyone gawking or staring at your child as if he or she wasn’t an individual with feelings and thoughts of their own. It’s okay to feel like that, and it’s okay to vent. We’re still fighting for a more inclusive and accepting society, but sadly, many times our legislation is ahead of our own culture. No one has the power to determine your own happiness and peace of mind though. At the end of the day, you’ll have a beautiful presence by your side that’s ready to love, be loved and from which you can get all the positive energy you need to carry on.
Having children with disabilities
Don't let their words affect you.

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Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Exercises to Reduce Anxiety You Can Try with Your Kids

Anxiety attacks in children
Be there to give them your support.

Raising a child with an intellectual disability can always prove to be a real challenge. It’s also an experience full of love and self-knowledge. You’ll study psychology without even realizing it, and you’ll explore parts of the human psyche that might not even have interested you if the circumstances were different. Most of the time, you’ll have to help your son or daughter to overcome their anxiety, if they suffer from it. It might be worrisome, but you need to remember that anxiety is a natural mechanism and that we all feel it from time to time.

However, children under the autism spectrum disorder are likely to experience it more intensely than other kids, to the point that it can interfere with their development. The world might seem like a very confusing and overwhelming place for children on the spectrum, and this can easily trigger their anxiety. On top of that, they usually have problems understanding social cues, so interactions with others can result in unpredictable scenarios that could also be added to the confusion.

How to tell if your child is suffering from anxiety?

Autistic children have problems communicating what they’re feeling, so learning if they’re feeling anxious, might not be as easy as asking them. Some clues might tell you just what you need to know though. If he or she is anxious, they might:

  • Insist even more on routine and sameness.
  • Have more trouble sleeping.
  • Have meltdowns or temper tantrums.
  • Avoid or withdraw from social situations.
  • Rely more on obsessions and rituals, like lining up or spinning objects.
  • Stim by rocking, spinning or flapping hands.
  • Do things to hurt him or herself, like head-banging, scratching skin or hand-biting.

How can you help your child?

Getting rid of the things that cause us anxiety, whether we suffer from an intellectual impairment or not, is impossible. Life is full of things that can stress us out. What we can do is learn how to deal with our emotions in a healthier way. That’s precisely what you want for your kids as well. That’s what your goal should be when you try to help them.

However, one of the first things you can do is understand what’s causing their anxiety. If you know what types of situation can trigger a negative response in your child, you can prepare for them and rehearse them before they happen in a safe environment, so they can start coping properly. Some of these techniques can also prove to be useful:

  • Counting slowly to 10.
  • Taking five deep breaths.
  • Running around the yard five times.
  • Doing 50 jumps on the trampoline.
  • Looking at a collection of favorite or special things.
  • Reading a favorite book.
  • Closing eyes for a few moments.
  • Going to a quiet part of the house.

You should always rely on your child’s therapist to find the best techniques and strategies to deal with your child’s anxiety. Some will work better than others, and every kid is different, so don’t be discouraged if things don’t appear to be working the first time. Remember, with patience and love, even the biggest of challenges aren’t so intimidating.

Anxiety in kids
Try these tips.

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Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Benefits of Soccer on Children with Disabilities

Soccer camps in Florida
These are all the ways Autism Soccer can help children!

When our CEO, Oscar Amuz, started Autism Soccer, he did it because he was a soccer player himself and he wanted to give something back to his community. That way, this project was born. Five years have passed since then, and we’ve been blessed to see with our own eyes how our plans and activities make children happy and improve their lives. Who knew soccer could have such power?

No child is the same, whatever their condition is. However, autism spectrum disorder covers a range of common characteristics and behaviors, such as repetitive movements, failure to respond to one’s name, obsessive attachment to objects, difficulty in speaking or socializing and motor impediments. We wanted to create an environment in which children could improve their skills and overcome some of their challenges. We’ve grown, and now we help kids with a wide variety of disabilities.

How does soccer help them?

Soccer is a team sport. It’s supposed to be fun! Through social interaction and a team spirit, we help kids improve their social skills and boost their confidence. They enter a space in which they can be themselves, laugh and enjoy a great time with their friends. Being physically active raises dopamine levels as well, so it can also be great to get in a better mood.

Families can also benefit from these activities because they can rejoy on seeing their children grow up healthy and happy. It helps parents or guardians have a better relationship with them and get involved in the sports their kids enjoy. They can practice at home and spend time with them.

It’s great for motor skills!

Kids with autism spectrum disorder and many other physical or mental affections often suffer from motor challenges. They can affect their agility, balance, strength, and dexterity. A sport like soccer is perfect for improving these skills, as they have to focus on an object (the ball) and concentrate while keeping control of their bodies and movements.

All this while having a cooperation mindset, to win, children need to work together and understand their strengths. Defensive players support the midfield and offensive positions during attacks on the opponents’ goal. Offensive positions must return to their own goal to help the defensive positions when they are under pressure from the other team.  To pass the ball, they need constant communication among each other. It’s great for learning about themselves and the capabilities of their bodies!

They behave better

Sports like soccer encourage kids to learn team values, sportsmanship, and patience. They learn that winning is not everything, they learn to wait for their turn and tolerate others. Children with autism spectrum disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and other types of affection often have behavioral issues, and soccer is ideal to help mitigate some of those effects.

If you want to help our kids or enroll your child in one of our activities, find out more about Autism Soccer by entering our website or following us on social media! We’re a non-profit organization working every day for our kids in Florida. Give us a call and join our movement!

Soccer and children
Always give them the opportunity to spend time doing what they love.

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Monday, December 25, 2017

Make Kids Happy This Christmas with Autism Soccer in Just One Click

children charity in florida
Learn more about how you can help.

For many of us, Christmas is a time of love and companionship. It’s a period when we think about how lucky we are for all the people we have in our lives, and we celebrate for the new year that is to come. For Autism Soccer, it’s also a time to remember that not all of us are the same and that our circumstances can sometimes make it harder to find joy during the festivities.

The holidays are especially wonderful for children. It’s an opportunity to dream, to believe in magic and to realize that all things are possible if there’s love in your life. Not one child should spend this season without having someone who cares for them and who shares this beautiful day with them. No matter their background, circumstances, or if they have any type of disability, all children are and deserve exactly the same. They deserve happiness and joy. They deserve hope.

We take this job seriously. Every day we wake up thinking about how we can make children happier, how we can help them dream of a better future. That’s what inspires us and motivates us all year long. Christmas isn’t different. This season we’ve given around 1,500 gifts and toys to children in Florida, and we know that we can always do more! However, we need your help.

If you want to join us and make out of Christmas something more than just nice decorations, then we’re more than happy to welcome you! We’ve worked with children for over five years now, and we can tell for sure that, in life, there are very few things that are more rewarding than seeing them smile, dream, have fun and simply be kids. Live the experience with us and learn what is like to give a special meaning to these festivities!

All you have to do is click on our website, and contact us to give donations or to help in any way you find possible. You can donate toys, money or resources. It’ll all be destined to make our kids happy and guarantee that this 2018 there will be more good things to come: more sports, more soccer, more fun! Find out more about us and follow us on our social media to stay updated on our activities.
charity in florida
You can help children all year long with Autism Soccer!

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Friday, December 15, 2017

Siblings and Children with Disabilities: How To Keep Balance at Home

Raising kids with disabilities can be a challenge. Learn how to overcome every difficulty that comes your way!

When there’s a child with special needs in the family, he or she quickly becomes the daily protagonist of their parents’ routine. It’s not hard to imagine why, children with disabilities often tend to take a lot of our time, efforts and thoughts. We always want to give them the best life possible. Their condition will always affect every member of the family differently and one of the individuals most vulnerable, and often neglected by scientific research, are siblings.

As parents, we’ll always want to give equal attention to all of our children, but when one of them depends so much on us, it easily becomes very hard to keep balance. Most of us probably didn’t grow up with siblings that needed special cares, so it can be hard to understand what they’re truly going through. How do they feel about their sibling’s situation? How do they see themselves related to the family? And what kind of responsibilities are put on their shoulders? It’s incredibly important for us to help them have a healthy childhood along with their siblings. It’s up to us to strengthen their bond and cultivate values that will endure for an entire lifetime.

Understand their need for attention

From a very early age, typically developed children will notice the amount of attention we’re paying to the sibling with disabilities. We know it’s hard, but you need to try to spend some quality time alone with them. Play with them, let them help you in the kitchen or simply have a conversation with them. Let them know that it’s perfectly fine to express their feelings. They’ll get jealous and frustrated (especially when they’re too young to understand), so don’t make them feel guilty for emotions that are perfectly normal for their age.

Explain to them why their sibling is different, with simple words. Don’t use euphemisms. Make yourself as clear as you can; you don’t want them to think that their sibling’s condition could be contagious or that it could be simply cured as if it were a broken arm or a scratch. Remind them that fair is not always equal, so even if you can’t spend as much time with them as they wanted, it’s not because you’re being unfair to them. Delegating the work between the father and the mother can be useful, but make sure that you’re also spending time with each one of your kids. They need both of you, not the one who got the role of taking care of them.

Take their feelings seriously

In contrast to their sibling’s special needs, a typically developed child’s problems can seem pretty meaningless. Many kids with siblings with disabilities feel like their issues are not important, so they end up repressing many emotions. They simply don’t want to be a burden. We might even be grateful for their consideration, but the reality is that it could affect their emotional development.

Their goals, dreams, and frustrations are valid. Be sure to let them know that. They can be angry at their siblings, and they can be sad for their situation. Let them express and say what they have in their minds and hearts. Sometimes, they’ll also feel like they have to be perfect for you because they’re the kid who “got lucky,” the one who shouldn’t complain, the one who shouldn’t give their parents any problems, they know they already have many as it is. But they’re just kids. Remind them that you’re not expecting anything extraordinary out of them, you just want them to be their own person and find happiness.

Be careful of the burden on their shoulders

Siblings will often feel like it’s they must look after their sibling with disabilities, and while you can always ask for help, you shouldn’t make them feel like it’s an obligation to do so. They’re probably too young to take care of another person, and it could easily end up being too much of a responsibility for their age.

Even when they’re already teens, they still need to go out and have their own life. Make sure you’re letting them make their own decisions in this regard. Having grown up with a sibling with special needs, they’ll probably have a higher sense of responsibility and empathy, which is really good. But they’ll also feel like they had to grow up faster than everyone else. Perhaps there’s nothing we can do to avoid that, the reality is something we can’t just escape, but we can help them see that they can have fun and that they’re allowed to be tired or say no.

Help them face society and don’t let them get resentful

Let’s face it. Society is hard for those who are different. Children with disabilities will quickly learn this, but so will their siblings. Socializing can get hard when they have to explain that their family is “different,” and they can easily be the target of bullying or mockery. They’ll also find out that their siblings won’t be able to do many of the things they can, not because of the lack of ability, but because the world hasn’t thought about making those activities available for them.

It’s easy to get resentful or even skeptic about the world once they’ve faced how cruel or indifferent people can be. Talk to them about these issues and create situations in which they can prepare an answer beforehand if they ever hear other children making mean comments about their sibling.

Ultimately, communication is the key. Children don’t know that there’s a reason why we’re not paying enough attention to them. If they act as babysitters their entire lives, it will inevitably have an impact on who they are as individuals. Be there for them, it’ll be hard many times, but all they need to know is that they’re not alone and that they’ll always find in you someone they can speak their minds to. Step by step, the road will become easier over time.

Love will always be the answer.

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