Tag Archives: Vacation

Gross motor activities to keep your kids active this summer

Gross motor activities for kids are incredibly important in the development of their gross motor skills. As school wraps up, you may find yourself with kiddos who have tremendous amounts of energy to burn this summer! These seven gross motor activities for autistic children  include activities that improve social skills while improving gross motor development. These skills are good for kids with autism but can easily be adapted to be fun for their siblings or peers!

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1. Jump on a Trampoline

Around here, the trampoline is a highly preferred activity for many of our kids with autism. Bouncing offers excellent sensory input that can be helpful in alleviating sensory overload. If you don’t have access to a trampoline at home, places like Flipzone in Plainfield and Skyzone in Fishers can be a fun day trip. If well supervised, jumping on a bed can also provide satisfaction!

2. Play Ball

Sometimes, simple activities that other kids can master easily might be very challenging for kids with autism. Catching the ball may not be realistic as a beginning step but you can work your way up that over time. Begin by rolling a ball back-and-forth with the kiddo. This simple task develops important eye tracking skills and it can encourage motor planning as the child follows the movement of the ball. Other activities include:

  • Kicking the ball
  • Learning to dribble
  • Bouncing on a ball
  • Tossing a ball into a net or target

3. Balancing

Balancing can also be very challenging for kids on the autism spectrum and many gross motor tasks require a sense of balance. Test to see if the kiddo can stand motionless with her eyes closed without losing balance to gauge how much work is necessary to develop balancing skills. You can start by using painter tape on the floor or a practice balance beam for them to follow. Balancing see-saws or playing hopscotch can also be fun for kids practicing this skill.

4. Bicycles and Tricycles

Riding bikes can help develop kiddos with balance as well as developing leg muscles. Bikes and trikes can be adapted to kiddos to make riding them easier. Indy Area Ambucs can answer questions or help find bikes appropriate for kiddos. Who doesn’t love biking on a summer afternoon? Don’t forget to outfit kids with protective helmets and other equipment 🙂

5. Pretend Play

Participating in pretend play is a considerable challenge for kiddos with autism. In some of these activities, kids can benefit from moving around while developing their imaginations. Ideas for pretend play that uses motor skills include:

  • Fly like an airplane
  • Hop like a bunny
  • Play restaurant at snack time
  • Do a crab walk
  • Do a frog jump
  • Slither like a snake
  • Gallop or trot like a horse

6. Dance

 Parents and therapists can use dancing with music to encourage imitation and it can be a great way to teach daily living skills. Dance ideas include:

  • Clean It Up
  • Freeze Dance
  • Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes
  • Wiggle the Sillies Out
  • Hokey Pokey

7. Obstacle Course

In addition to improving gross motor skills, obstacle courses can be a great way to encourage kiddos to follow directions!  The course does not have to be complex to be effective. In fact, parents and therapists can begin with a course consisting of one step and gradually introduce other steps to the activity. Simple ideas for an obstacle course include:

  • Crab walk
  • Frog jump
  • Ball toss
  • Jump rope
  • Limbo bar
  • Walk a line or paint tape design
  • Climb over objects
  • Beanbag toss
  • Crawling through a tunnel or a cardboard box
  • Roll along mats or underneath obstacles obstacle_ladderrun1_l
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Planning Ahead: Tips for Increasing Your Child’s Success when Dining out in a Restaurant

We know that sometimes as parents it can be very difficult to take a child with autism to a restaurant with you. You might be worried that people may judge you if your child misbehaves. Below are some tips on how to plan ahead before going out to help keep your child successful and your trip enjoyable!

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1.) Find places that are designated as autism friendly; that may not have as many people and are not as brightly lit or as loud.

2.) Keep your child with you at all times, this will make them feel safe knowing that you’re by them.

3.) Set the expectations ahead of time as to where you’re going and what they can or cannot do while you’re there.

4.) Let your child have a say in what you do, you can even show them pictures so they can help decide where you’re going.

5.) Use the bathroom before leaving the house so your child is comfortable.

6.) Bring an item for your child to play with that they enjoy while you wait for your food – this could be an iPad, sensory items, toys or even a snack.

7.) Look at the menu beforehand, make sure there is a food option for your child that they will eat.

8.) Make a reservation or call ahead so you don’t have to wait to be seated upon arrival.

9.) Ask for a seat in a quieter, less crowded section of the restaurant, this can be less over-stimulating for your child.

10.) Don’t be afraid to ask the server for help – if your child needs a lid for their cup, or a snack to come out quickly.

11.) Request the check as soon as your food arrives.  This way, you will not have to wait long after your child is done eating.

12.) When your child behaves desirably reinforce good behavior with a snack or preferred item to play with.  Make good behavior worthwhile so they will want to behave well in the future.

13.) Have your child keep a preferred item with them so they will be less likely to be upset if they cannot have something they want.

Post by Holli Novinger, BCaBA, Manager of our Indianapolis Area Locations

Go and Have Fun!

Summer is an exciting time filled with opportunities for fun and social opportunities. Though this is a fun time, the change in routine, unusual clothes, increased interaction, and new places may be stressful for children with an autism spectrum disorder. Bierman ABA Autism Center has provided some tips that may help ease anxiety and help with enjoyment of summer fun and travel.

Just like any vacation, the key to a great trip with a kid with autism is preparation. Here are some tips for the extra preparation your family may need to enjoy fun in the sun:

    If traveling to a new place, provide children with pictures before hand. If possible, arrange these pictures into a visual schedule. The internet is a great resource for this. While going through the pictures, tell your child what they may do, see, hear, or feel in the new place. Use words or more pictures to tell them what will happen before or after they visit the new place.

   • Sensory practice. Will your trip require sleeping in a different bed or other new sensory experiences? “Practice” these new senses at home before leaving. Switch beds with your child or have your child sleep on the couch. If headed to the beach, have your child play in a local sandbox or dip his feet in a bucket of water at home.

   • Wear new clothing or swimsuits before the trip. Try on any new or unusual clothing at home before the trip. Try them on for the first time while a child participates in one of his favorite activities.

    • Plan to take breaks. Bring some of a child’s favorite items on the trip. Think of a realistic time frame a child can participate in a vacation activity without taking a break. Use the child’s favorite items to motivate the children.

   • Earplugs. You never know what new sound may bother a child with autism. Earplugs can also be used as a “magic” barrier to help children feel safe and protected in a new environment.

    • Practice waiting in lines and other travel routines. Model the experience in your own home. The Transportation Security Association also has videos of all travel procedures available on their website.

   • Prepare an information card to give to guest services, flight attendants, or other personnel associated with your trip. Many travel and hospitality employees have special needs and disability training. This will staff know what extra considerations may help your family be successful. Image