Summer Activities from an Occupational Therapist

By Ali Mellin
on May 28, 2018

Please welcome Amanda Ghiloni to the EazyHold blog. She is a Pediatric COTA/L and wrote this amazing Summertime activities list for us. Make sure to visit her on Instagram @barefoot_ot
Thank you Amanda!

Summertime Activities from an Occupational Therapist

Summer is a great time to get kids outside allowing them to learn, move, develop, explore and play. Not only are these activities fun but they are also beneficial. Below are my top favorite activities to do during the summertime, not only with my own children but my clients as well.

  1. Water Play- Such a fun way to get kids involved, water play promotes bilateral coordination, fine motor coordination, and sensory input. Way to incorporate water play into your child’s day is by running through a sprinkler, splashing or swimming in a pool, scooping and pouring water at a water table, using water pistols, water balloons, or squirt bottles to squirt one another or objects.
  2. Sand Box- Another fun activity to do during the summer. Sand play promotes bilateral coordination and fine motor coordination skills. Sand play allows for children to explore for hidden treasures, scoop and pour sand into molds to create buildings or castles. Sand is also a big sensory activity that allows children to explore textures. It is versatile too, having children play with dry sand and then after a rain shower with the wet sand provides two different textures to explore and the brain to process.
  3. Jungle Gyms and Parks- Running, playing, climbing all promote gross motor coordination, bilateral coordination, and motor planning. Jungle gyms allow for children to build muscles without weight lifting or “working out.” Climbing ladders, going down slides, maneuvering through bridges and climbing walls are so much fun. Jungle Gyms can also address gravitational insecurities and promote visual processing for children as well as pretend play. Sailing the high seas, looking for pirates, hiding from bad guys all give children a sense of imagination allowing them to be creative which in turn can build their creative writing skills for school.
  4. Swinging- One of the best pieces of sensory equipment there is. Have your child explore different kinds of swings at local parks. These can range from typical children swings to tire swings, all which promote vestibular sensory input. A child swinging themselves also promotes proprioceptive sensory input and motor planning skills which can have a positive effect on a child’s self-regulation.
  5. Bubbles- Such a great way to promote oral motor skills and visual processing. This is a great activity for any age and are easy to have on hand. I always keep a container of bubbles in my car during the summer in case we decide to go to a park or my children get bored in traffic.
  6. Chalk- Promoting fine motor coordination and sensory input, chalk is a great tool for children to use. When working outside, large chalk pieces can be used to promote large muscle movements. Small pieces of chalk can be used to promote handwriting skills. Chalk provides amazing feedback to the brain when writing letters or drawing shapes. It helps solidify the motor plan for letter and shape forms faster than markers any day.



You Are His Voice

By Ali Mellin
on May 23, 2018

Please help us welcome Brandi Ringelman from Meet the Ringelman's. We've been following along with Brandi and her family's journey with sweet son, Austin, for a while now and we're so happy to have her here on our blog today.

“The siblings of special needs children are quite special. Absolutely accepting and totally loving, from birth, someone who is different mentally, and has a different way of seeing the world, is a wonderful trait. It's a trait I wish there was another way of getting, but there isn't. And it does involve a degree of not having it fantastically easy.
"- Sally Phillips

special needs siblings

When Austin was born, you’d think the thought of more kids would have never crossed my mind. Experiencing something so traumatic, with a first child could have caused anyone to never want to try again because no matter how old you are, its HARD. There is no guarantee something unexpected couldn’t happen again. After all the things I saw, all the health risks I was now aware of, babies on life support, organs outside of bodies, medicines I’ve never heard of, all the dying babies around me.. was it worth it to possibly risk experiencing that again? Could it happen to me again? This is where I realized I was going to be different. I was not going to let this keep me from living the life I planned. More kids were ALWAYS in my future, because how is that fair to me? How is that fair to AUSTIN? Not only did I want to experience motherhood to fullest, but I wanted Austin to have siblings, I wanted Austin to be loved unconditionally by as many people as possible. 


It took a few years for Jon and I to get on the same page, and Paisley came as a surprise  while I planned our wedding but she was beyond a blessing. Now I was traveling to Italy, the place I longed to be! I was getting to experience a whole new side to motherhood I never knew. I had to learn to navigate, and merge both special needs parenting and parenting a child without those extra needs. I soon realized, one day Paisley would have questions and I would have to have answers. The problem is, the same questions will get asked as she gets older, and starts to realize just how different her brother really is. And my answers will have to get better, and more in depth. 


I’ve always noticed she tends to have a thing for her friends older brothers. Could be trouble when she’s older, lol but on a serious note, she tends to cling to the boys around Austins age, and wants to play with them. This has always made me extra emotional, and is honestly really hard to watch, because it breaks my heart. I feel like she longs for that relationship, so she takes what she can get. Its something that was taken from her, before she was even born and yet, she too mourns the brother she lost. 

special needs siblings


I'd have to say, her first statement, caught me really off guard. She’s three and we have just been living life. Its our normal, and I have not really put much thought into any possible questions she could have, or things she may notice. She has made comments like, “he doesn’t talk” when people out and about ask him questions, but that's just what she knows, from what I have I said. We were at Austins hippotherapy one day and she said to me, “Mama, someone stole Austins voice” I was extremely taken back by this comment, and had no idea what to reply, so I just awkwardly smiled for a second, and said “ Yes.” Because that was the reality of it, he had a voice at one point, then because of others carelessness it was taken from him. Before we could ever hear it.. I went on, “Yes. Someone stole Austins voice, and do you know what that means?” She had no idea. Lol I said “It means, that YOU are his voice. You, mommy and daddy are Austins voice. We tell people what he needs, wants and what he likes. ” Simple, to the point and I thought it was pretty clever on a whim.


 

I'm assuming she liked this answer, because she just smiled, left it alone and went on talking about something else. She now beams with pride when she says “I am Austins voice”, but mainly because she loves being in control I think. Lol I know this is just the start to a long journey ahead, that will include lots of questions and statements. Some I can answer easily and some I'll have to think about. I'll have to explain why people stare, and who knows what the kids will say when she starts school, because we all know kids have no filter. This is where the parents come in and teach awareness, because disabilities are EVERYWHERE, but that makes for a whole different blog post. For now all I know is Paisley loves her big brother, and is well aware she is “his voice” and loves sharing what he needs, or can and cant do. I hope because of Austin, she will learn to be empathetic to others, and understand there is nothing wrong being different. Advocacy is THE biggest role, you and your family will play in your special needs children's lives, because WE are their voice. 

xoxo B - 



Thank you for this beautiful post Brandi!
Follow along with Brandi and her family on their social media outlets:
Blog-
http://bleighlovee.blogspot.com/
Instagram - @bleighlovee
Facebook
- https://www.facebook.com/brandileighh

Reaching Impossible Milestones

By Ali Mellin
on May 08, 2018
When you first learn of your child’s diagnosis, it often follows with warnings of all the milestones they will not reach, all the activities they will not be able to participate in, and a lot of broken dreams that you once had for your child

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Navigating Self Care as a Special Needs Parent

By Ali Mellin
on April 19, 2018
The never-ending role of wife, mother, and caregiver as well as the daily tasks of keeping life in general rolling can become overwhelming.  As caregivers it’s very easy to put yourself on the back burner and in turn not taking time out for yourself can become more of a routine than you realize. 

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Parenting a Rare Child

By Ali Mellin
on April 12, 2018
3 comments

Parenting a Rare Child

Raising a Rare Child by Pamela Tucker. Prior to her birth, our daughter Harley was expected to be a “normal” and healthy child. We had no indications prenatally that she would have any complications or abnormalities after birth

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What Not to Say

By Ali Mellin
on March 29, 2018

What Not to Say

Being a parent is hard work, there’s no doubt about it. We could love our kids to the end of the earth and still fall, exhausted and crying, into bed at the end of each night. Every parent is just trying to muddle through the best way they know how, each one with their child’s best interests at heart.


No matter how much effort you put into raising your child, the chances are you’ve still come across your own fair share of ‘helpful’ advice and suggestions – all unsolicited of course! We bet you’re already thinking back to that one time, right?


However, parents and carers of children with special needs not only have a heap of extra challenges on top of their usual parenting duties, but they also get a barrage of extra judgments and comments to boot. These comments can often cause far more pain, and damage the confidence of someone who is already doing the absolute best they can. Fielding these comments and opinions while out and about, all the while trying to keep your head and model the perfect response to your child, can be a challenge!


Here at Eazyhold, we’ve reached out to parents of kids with all kinds of special needs, some physical, some sensory, some visible, some not, and we asked them what were some of the worst things someone had said to them. And more importantly, we asked what they would have liked to hear instead.


We know it’s not always easy to know what to say when you’re confronted with a difficult or an unusual situation, so we’ve put together a handy guide of things not to say a parent or carer of a special needs child, and some tips on what they’d like to hear instead!
inclusion disabled

The beginning of a more accepting and understanding world starts with you!

Why not be the change they’d love to see in the world?


  • 1.“I’m so sorry.”
  • We’re not sorry, so why should you be? We love our kids in all of their differently abled and imperfectly perfect glory! We know that you’re speaking from a position of uncertainty, you don’t know what to say and you don’t know how you’d feel if it was you. We know that your intentions are kind. But when you say to us that you’re sorry, for us or for our child, what we hear is that you think our child isn’t good enough. You see nothing but struggles ahead.  Why not look instead at the possibilities and the wildly amazing things that our kids can and will do every day?


  • 2.“What’s wrong with him?”
  • This might seem like an obvious thing to ask if you see a child who looks or behaves differently. But what if the people who love them see it differently? There is nothing ‘wrong’ with our child. Our child might have to approach things differently; our child might need more support. But you know what? We probably wouldn’t change them for the world. And if we wouldn’t change them, how could they possibly be wrong?


  • 3.“At least it’s not…”
  • We know it could be worse. Trust us, we of all people know. We know so many kids that have bigger challenges than ours do, we know what so nearly could have been with our own kids. But please don’t be flippant. It’s a fine line to walk; we don’t want our kids to be put down or devalued, but neither do we want our own emotions and feelings to be brushed aside! Just because someone else is suffering more, doesn’t detract from our own worries and frustrations. Life is all relative after all and you know what, while it could be worse, it could also be a whole lot better too!


  • 4.“Don’t stare!”
  • Our kids might look or act different to yours, and we know that it’s going to make your little one curious; it might even make them stare. But curiosity isn’t a crime and instead of panicking and whisking your child away in embarrassment and horror – why not see the situation for the gift that it is. You have just been handed a wonderful learning opportunity, ready packaged and good to go! Why not come over and say hi, you might even make a friend? Why not explain, in an audible voice, to your child that everybody is different and that that’s ok? Why not point out what makes them different too: “You’re right, that little girl does have one hand. But she looks very happy! What makes you different?” Instead of sweeping differences under the rug, and teaching your child that being curious is bad, why not celebrate what makes us all unique?


  • 5.“Wow, he’s on medication? I could never drug my child!”
  • You should count yourself lucky. How lucky you are that you don’t have to make the choice between giving your child drugs or watching them suffer and cause pain and hurt to themselves and to others every day? Trust us, if we could find another way to give our child some peace of mind and some stability, we would do it. Oh, and while we’re here, please don’t judge. Please don’t tell a parent how you would do it differently. Luckily for you, you don’t have to do it differently. We’ll let you do you, and we’d love it if you could let us do us. If that doesn’t sink in, help yourself to our child’s shoes and see how far you get in them!

    6.“Just give him a smack!”  

    See above. We don’t need your parenting advice and if on the rare and unexpected day we do need it, we’ll ask! It’s sad that people can still often only see the worst in people. You see a child screaming on the floor and throwing stuff around the shop? Obviously that kid is having a tantrum because their parent never learnt to control them. Or maybe, just maybe, that child is struggling to even begin computing the myriad of terrifying noises, smells and sights bombarding them from all sides. Maybe your words could make or break that parent’s day. Do you want to be remembered as the one who made an awful situation impossible, or the one who parted the storm clouds for a moment with a smile and a little word of support?


  • 7.“Oh, my kid does that too!”
  • If a parent of a kid with a difference tells you that their child is struggling to tie their shoe laces, don’t – please don’t – tell them how much your able bodied kid is struggling too. We know that tying laces is a challenge for most kids and even for some adults. But you know what, our kid is trying to climb that same mountain that your kid is, only ours have half the equipment. If a parent or carer of a special needs child tells you about something their child is struggling with, they’re actually opening up to you about something that worries them deeply or that they may find painful. Please don’t invalidate their fears with comparisons of your own. Just listen, and offer some support if you can, but please don’t play it down as that just sends the message that they should seek support elsewhere and they might not be able to find it as readily elsewhere as they could find it in you. This is not to say at all that your worries aren’t as valid as ours, but please make sure it’s a genuine one rather than simply trying to compare it to what we're going through.


  • 8.“Oh, just let them be a kid!”
  • If we’re a little over protective, please don’t judge. We’re likely not holding them back from all the joys childhood has to offer, we’re actually trying to save their life. If we seem a little too fussy for your liking, reserve your judgement and instead of telling us how it should be done why not open up the conversation by acknowledging our parenting choices. You could even go so far as to ask us why we’re making that choice – in a genuinely curious way. We might be keeping our kids away from that spec of dirt because germs that might just give your kid a running nose might actually hospitalize or even kill ours. Parents of special needs kids are often keen to raise awareness of their child’s condition, they don’t want their child going through life being judged or misunderstood, they want as many people to know as possible. Why not be kind. Why not become yet another person they don’t have to be afraid of?

    Join the conversation!

    Are you a special needs parent or carer, or do you know someone who is?

    What other comments would you add to the list and what do you wish people would have said instead?

    **Thank you to our guest blogger Amy Roskilly from Though She Be But Little**
    thoughshebebutlittle2016.com
    http://www.facebook.com/thoughshebebutlittle2016
    twitter.com/SheBeLittle2016
    though she be but little blog

     




    Our Favorite Instruments for Music Therapy

    By Ali Mellin
    on March 10, 2018
    Piano Keys that say "Music Theray"


    Music Therapy has been proven to help individuals in the disabled and special needs community to strengthen their abilities in all areas of their lives. Whether the individuals needs are cognitive, emotional, social or physical, music therapy can provide an incredible outlet to healing and communication.

    We rounded up some of our favorite instruments to help your and your loved ones take part in music therapy at home:

    ** all of these instruments can be used with both hands for symmetrical hand coordination and are colorful for visual stimulation! Each item can also be used with 1 or 2 EazyHold's for an excellent sensory experience.**


    What other musical instruments have you used during music therapy? Leave your suggestions in the comments below!

    Don't forget you can shop all of these items through smile.amazon.com and make a donation to your favorite non profit organization.

    Left Arm Journey with the Amazing Z-Man

    By Ali Mellin
    on March 04, 2018
    Meet Zachary..
    He has spastic triplegia cerebral palsy which has affected his hand and motor function on his left side. With help from EazyHold and occupational therapy, Zachary has made huge strides in his motor functions.
    Thank you for sharing with us Z-Man!

    EazyHolds 2017-2018 Gift Guide for Children with Special Needs

    By Ali Mellin
    on November 21, 2017

    Special Needs Holiday Gift Guide 2017/ 2018

    Is it just us? Or does it seem like the holidays sneak up on us every year!  Once Halloween has turned in to Christmas and Hanukkah in retail stores, we forget about the entire month of November and start to panic about who's getting what for the gift giving occasions in December! 

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    "From My Chair to Your Stair"

    By Ali Mellin
    on October 25, 2017
    Last year, Jackie Corrado Babiarz wrote this beautiful poem to hand out to her neighbors on behalf of her daughter Cammy who has Rett Syndrome

    As a part of Rett Syndrome Awareness Month and with Halloween quickly approaching, we wanted to share this on our blog to make sure all families have access to this for an all inclusive and fun Halloween!

    special needs Halloween poem
    Thank you Jackie and Cammy for sharing this poem xo

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