The world’s favorite season is the spring.
All things seem possible in May.
— Edwin Way Teale
It’s finally Spring — a time when all things seem possible. It’s a time to shed those winter doldrums and refocus energies on finding new ways to improve the overall health of our families. As dedicated parents, we spend a significant amount of time trying to fulfill our children’s needs on a daily basis. We strive to provide nutritious foods they will eat along with adequate clothing they will wear. And we work hard to provide the best medical care, therapies as well as individualized educational plans. While these elements are all essential to a child’s well-being, there’s another aspect of overall health that can easily be overlooked — emotional health. When children are able to participate at some level in physical activity and experience pleasure, they are said to be more likely to develop new skills and feel good about themselves. That’s why we have dedicated this issue to finding ways to help our children on the spectrum find new ways to grow. Let’s get moving and stay healthy!
First, we are thrilled to introduce you to board-certified psychotherapist, speaker and author Jennifer Giustra-Kozek who has more than 15 years of clinical experience specializing in ADHD, ASD, depression, anxiety and trauma resolution. In her piece, Tips on How to Improve the Health and Happiness of Our Children on the Spectrum, Jennifer shares her expert advice on the importance of nutrition and taking a systems biology approach when treating children on the spectrum. She also includes her experience as a mother of a child diagnosed as having ADHD, pervasive developmental disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and apraxia and offers her personal advice on how to naturally improve the wellness of children on the spectrum.
We are also happy to feature the advice of to Shawnee Thornton Hardy, a certified yoga teacher/therapist who has worked with children with autism and special needs for more than 16 years. In her article, Creating Inner Peace — The Benefits of Yoga for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, Shawnee explains the positive benefits of yoga for autistic children to include increased focus and body awareness while reducing anxiety. Shawnee also includes some excellent tips for teaching yoga to children in a home or school setting.
We also are excited to share a specialized Autism Kickboxing Therapy Program developed by Fighting for Autism in our piece called Fighting for Autism Creates Everlasting Bonds. The rewards of this kind of program are endless as parents and children on the spectrum forge a bond while they improve overall fitness and provide neurodevelopmental and behavioral therapy.
Be sure to check out an inspirational story written by Alice Kay, the mother of young man who struggled to fit in until he discovered scuba diving when he was nine years old. Learn about how quickly he found comfort in the water and how his life dramatically changed in Scuba Diving: A Soothing Adventure. Today, this 17-year-old with Asperger’s is planning to be a Master Diver and has a job cleaning a 16,000 gallon fish tank at a local store. His parents firmly believe people shouldn’t try to change children to fit into society, rather give them opportunities and skills that will help them excel in life being who they are.
With summer right around the corner, graduate student Chelsea Bogino has provided us with a comprehensive article on the importance of recreation programs. In her piece, Top 10 Benefits of Organized Recreation Programs for Children with Autism, Chelsea explains how kids can achieve the skills that are beneficial to everyday life through organized play.
When we talk about overall health and making children feel good about themselves we need to include mental health. It’s alarming to think teenagers with Asperger’s syndrome are believed to be at a 40 to 50% higher risk of completing suicide than their neurotypical (NT) counterparts. Certified Autism Specialist and Licensed Christian Counselor Stephanie C. Holmes expresses her concerns in her article, The Risk of Suicide – Navigating the Tumultuous Times of Adolescence with an Aspie, saying that teens, especially those with Asperger’s, need to connect with a counselor and explore various issues before possible problems arise.
Every month, we try to provide our families with some helpful information that will help in everyday life. Be sure to read 5 Tips Keeping Our Children With Autism Safe From Household Chemicals and/or Medication as Applied Behavior Analyst Sarah Kupferschmidt provides her advice on keeping children on the spectrum safe. Her piece includes advice on the dangers of common household products as well as ways to help children behave if they encounter them.
We are also pleased to provide expert financial advice from Ryan F. Platt, the founder of A Special Needs Plan who specializes in serving families with children with special needs. In this month’s issue, Ryan provides financial planning tips concerning tax breaks for families. We hope his advice on eligible medical expenses and deductions will make a difference in planning for your household.
Wishing our readers a wonderful Spring full of new beginnings and happy times.
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Amy KD Tobik
Issue 33 Features
- Creating Inner Peace -The Benefits of Yoga for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder by Shawnee Thornton Hardy
- Children Making the Difference by Lisa Fish Smith
- Top 10 Benefits of Organized Recreation Programs for Children with Autism by Chelsea Bogino
- A Father’s View of Autism — The Very Opposite of Disability by Dave Farrell
- Kickboxing Therapy Creates Everlasting Bonds by Amy KD Tobik
- The Best Five Seconds by Steven Josias
- Scuba Diving: A Soothing Adventure by Alice Kay
- Tips on How to Improve the Health and Happiness of Our Children on the Spectrum by Jennifer Giustra-Kozek, LPC, HpN
- The Risk of Suicide – Navigating the Tumultuous Times of Adolescence with an Aspie by Stephanie C. Holmes, MA, BCCC
- A Helping Paw —How Assistance Dogs Can Help A Child with Autism -Press Release
- Amber’s Alert: A Short Story by Don Sweeney
- 5 Tips for Keeping Our Children With Autism Safe From Household Chemicals and/or Medication by Sarah Kupferschmidt, MA, BCBA
- Interacting With Autism at the University of Southern California by Danielle Giudici Wallis
- Special Needs Tax Breaks to Consider by Ryan F. Platt, MBA, ChFC, ChSNC
- Funding Boosts Music Education Department Programs for People on the Spectrum -News Release
- Citrus Chicken Stir Fry by Elouise Robinson, Autism Food Club