Self-esteem is an important skill to learn, especially for teenagers and older kids to help them manage and regulate their emotions as they become adults. Helping them see themselves in a positive light will have lasting impressions on them as they get older. They will have increased confidence in their abilities and hopefully see themselves in a positive way.
Finding activities that older kids will want to participate with can be a challenge sometimes. They may not see the purpose of the activity in the moment, but these types of activities can have a long-lasting impression on their lives. That is why we found some FREE activities that you can try with older kids whether you are a parent, teacher, therapist, or professional to help you find just the right activity for your teen.
This post may contain affiliate links. Please see our disclosure statement for further details.
FREE Self-Esteem Activities for older kids
Some of these free activities are on the website Teachers Pay Teachers where you will need to create a free account to be able to download these worksheets. Click the titles of the activities below to be taken to the free download!
Your Words Matter When Talking to Children and Teens with Autism
I am always fascinated when talking with my younger brother about different social situations he has experienced. One that always stands out to me is that he apologized for the way he acted in Kindergarten when he would run out of the classroom or other behaviors he would experience as a 15 year old! He can vividly remember certain actions or behaviors he did when he was in kindergarten, but was unable to talk to us at that time to understand why he was acting a certain way.
Fast forward 10 years and now he is able to verbally tell us and explain to us why he acted a certain way or what he can vividly remember from that time in his life. I am so blown away by my brother and what he is able to accomplish. He is truly an amazing person.
I wanted to share this story with you, because sometimes I think we forget that everyone has the ability to understand what we are saying or what they are doing, but they may not have the ability to communicate that with you at that time. That does not mean they do not understand you or the situation though.
*This post may contain affiliate links. Please see our disclosure statement for further details.
Be Mindful of what you say to EVERYONE!
We need to be mindful of what we say and how we talk to EVERYONE, but especially people who are non verbal or have limited communication skills. Even though someone may have difficulty verbally communicating with you, does not mean they do not understand what you are saying to them. They can very well understand if you are calling them bad names or even using a harsh tone when you are speaking with them.
Instead of using negative language, make sure you are ALWAYS talking to them as you would any other person. Please use positive language with them and talk with them as they are your best friend. Please do not change your tone of voice or how you word something to someone with autism.
Our Thoughts can become our Actions
When working as an occupational therapist and interacting with many children and parents I have learned how powerful our thoughts can be. When we start to use negative thoughts with things, we can start to treat those things worse than if we spoke positively about them. This can be true towards people, ourselves, or situations. If we start to think bad thoughts about a person or that they are stupid we will treat them as such. The relationship can begin to become negative when we think negative thoughts about someone.
Become Aware of your Thoughts
We need to become aware of when we are using these negative thoughts in order to make change. When you are working with a child or in a situation that you are frustrated with take the time to listen to your inner thoughts. How are you thinking about the child or the situation? Are you thinking negatively or positively? My guess is that you are thinking negatively.
How can we change our thoughts?
Reframe your way of thinking…
Think about different situations with the kids or teens you are working with.
“The child is not giving me a hard time. They are having a hard time.”
Give respect to the people in your life. Speak to them in a respectful manner. If I would not say it to a group of people than I should not say it to an individual.
Sometimes we need to Vent
I understand that there are times in our lives when we are overworked and frustrated and we need to be able to vent and talk through these situations to allow us to move on. I am a new parent and a therapist that has been in different situations that I just need to talk to someone about to help me get through the situations.
Be Mindful of who you Vent to
We need to be mindful of who we vent to. Please do not vent in public places where strangers could overhear your conversations. Find a safe person who knows you and knows your kids or a co-worker if it is a job related situation. Find someone who won't judge you and can be supportive of you.
Also how you vent is important too. Do not resort to name calling when talking about a person. There is a big difference when talking negatively about a child vs. talking about the behaviors a child is showing us. When we resort to name calling we are chaining our thoughts about the child and this in turn can continue the cycle of negative ways of thinking. If we can focus on the behaviors this can help us to get productive advice and guidance about how to help change a situation for the child to help them.
When venting, please make sure the child or teen that you are talking about are not around! This can devastate a relationship if a child or teen feels that you are talking negatively about them. Always remember, if you can't say it out loud in a group of people, you should never say it to the individual. We never want to label a child, especially a negative label.
“The way we talk to our children becomes their inner voice”-Peggy O'Mara
In conclusion, what I am trying to say here is be respectful of EVERYONE, but especially children and teens on the autism spectrum. Please be mindful of how you speak to them and never assume they are not listening to you or do not understand you.
Please never talk negatively to someone and we all could work a little harder at using positive words and phrases when talking with people. Here is a list of some positive phrases you can use when working with children and teens with autism. Grab your copy below!
This is not a comprehensive list of positive phrases, but it will give you a start and some ideas of phrases to use. Please be mindful of what you say when working with children and teens with autism. Your words can have a long lasting affect on them. Your words matter when talking and working with children and teens with autism.
Today I wanted to share with you the positive aspects of autism, and how we can celebrate differences in everyone's unique abilities. While working as an occupational therapist and being a big sister of a sibling with autism, I have been able to see many positive attributes of autism.
While watching my brother grow up, it was so much fun to see him excel in certain areas of his life. Things that come easy to him are things dealing with science, computers, and anything technical. He's very interested in building things with legos, and he's very good at following step-by-step directions with concrete directions.
He is able to focus for hours on end if he wants to, on activities that he is good at. He is one of the most kind-hearted and honest people that I have been able to meet. Every person is unique, and we all have unique abilities and differences, but I feel like we need to always make sure we focus on the positives aspects of their lives.
We Can Lose Sight of the the Positives
When someone has a diagnosis, I feel like we can sometimes lose sight of the positives, and we focus on the struggles too much. The child goes through evaluations and assessments to show deficits and sometimes we focus so much on what they can't do that we forget what they CAN do! By focusing on the child's strengths and the things that come easy to them, we can help them excel in some other areas of their life as well. For example, if we can focus on what they're good at, we can incorporate that with some areas that they struggle with.
We can focus on their strengths to help them excel in other areas of their lives
If they do well with visual cues, we can add visual cues to other areas of their life that maybe they are struggling with. For example, we could provide them with a visual schedule or a visual checklist to help them accomplish tasks that don't come easy to them, or maybe they really enjoy music and auditory situations, and so we can include that with situations that are hard for them, to help make that easier and ease their mind.
How can we help them excel as they transition into adulthood?
When we think about our teenagers and young adults with autism, how are we going to be able to help them excel as they transition into adulthood? One way to help them is to help them focus on the positives in their life, and what are their strengths. What are they really good at? How can we help them find those skills that they are really good at, and keep pursuing them to find skills and abilities that they are good at?
Think about specific skills. There are specific skills that you and I are all good at, and in other areas that we do struggle at. We seek out jobs and activities that we are strong at, to help us succeed and excel. We need to help our loved ones with autism find these strengths as well, and guide them to opportunities that will help them excel in these areas.
Check out our list of positives of autism to help you find the strengths for your loved one. What are your loved ones' unique capabilities and strengths? We would love to hear about it in the comments below.
Each person is an individual
Remember each person is an individual. Not every person with autism is the same and will each have their own set of skills and strengths unique to them. No one person will identify with every feature of autism. Each person will have their own characteristics that make them who they are as a person. This is the power of neurodiversity.
*This post contains affiliate links. There is no extra cost to you, but will greatly help our family. If you would like to read more, here is our disclosure statement.
School is OUT! I remember being so so so excited for summer vacation as a child and loving every aspect of summer! I loved going to the pool and spending time more time with my mom! I will cherish these memories for a lifetime!
What are the best ways to create lasting memories that your child will remember for years to come?
Think back to your childhood, what are memories that stand out to you? Sure, I remember some of my favorite vacations with going to amusement parks and the ocean, but ones that stand out to me are going on bike rides around town, playing on the swing set in the back, having a water balloon and silly string fight in the front yard…just to name a few. What stands out to me are FUN and somewhat simple experiences!
Here are 27 Ideas to help you create your own wonderful memories with your family this summer!
Spend time OUTSIDE! Connect children to nature at least 1 hour a day where they can learn and explore.
Help your children learn different responsibilities around the house by creating a chore list and find ways to make the chores fun (such as dancing and singing while sweeping or mopping the floor or create contests while doing a chore
Ask your kids if there is a new skill they would like to learn such as how to play an instrument, a new sport, or how to cook different meals
Have your children help you with meal ideas for the week and let them help you in the kitchen
Make a mess in the kitchen with your kids and have fun while doing it!
Do Yoga poses every day together either inside or outside
I hope these ideas can help inspire you to make simple, but lasting memories with your kids that will last a lifetime with them!
I also wanted to share with you an amazing resource from And Next Comes L, where Dyan has created an ebook with a list of over 600 Everyday Sensory Play Experiences! Everyday Sensory Play lists 600+ everyday sensory activities designed to give your children the right sensory input that they want and need!
We hope that you have a wonderful fun filled summer with your children and would love to hear about the wonderful memories you are making with your children or past childhood summer memories!
*This post contains affiliate links. There is no extra cost to you, but will greatly help our family. If you would like read more here is our disclosure statement.
25 Ways to Show Support For a Family with a Child with Special Needs
This post was originally written about Mother's day, but the more I thought about it the more I realized these are actions that we should do all year round for mothers, parents, and fathers of children with special needs. These can seem like such simple acts of kindness, but they can go a long way for a family.
Mother's day can be a wonderful day where mother's feel appreciated and loved for many, but sometimes it can also bring up pain and sadness depending on what memories this day brings to you. Maybe you recently lost a mother or you are a mother who lost a child. This time a year can bring back sadness and hurt.
Maybe you are a single mother or father taking care of a child that has complex medical needs or a child that needs a lot of attention and care. Or maybe you are a family trying to find ways to help your mother have a day where she can feel appreciated and loved for everything that she does for you. Whatever avenue you are on this Mother's day, I hope that these tips can help all Mother's especially those with a child with special needs feel loved and appreciated for all of their hard work. If you are a husband, loved one, or friend to a mother with a child with special needs, we hope these ideas can spark some inspiration to help make Mother's day and every day a success!
This post is the first of many in the self-care series where we will provide you with resources and advice on how to help take care of ourselves as a parent. We need to learn to also take care of ourselves as a parent to be able to provide the best care for our children.
Help Provide Them with a Break
My mother is always wanting to do everything for her children. She is constantly putting her children and her husband first in her life and doesn't always take time for herself. Helping your mother be able to take a break from the busy schedules can help reenergize herself so that she can be the best version of herself to help her family.
Ask Them How you Can Help
This is a BIG one…and as a mother you need to be able to learn to accept help as well. Ask her what she may need done around the house, or how you can help out to make this next week a little easier for her. Is there something you could help by taking care of her children or going with her to be able to go out in the community and participate in a fun activity with the entire family? There are endless possibilities of ways she may need help, but make sure you are there for her and ask her what she needs help with.
Find out an Activity They Really Enjoy and Do That with Them
Don't be afraid to just ask her is there something you would really like to go and do? Find out from other family members what are some of her favorite activities to do and provide time for her to complete that activity with her. Now keep in mind you may have to also figure out child care for this mother if you are wanting it to be just the two of you. This may take some extra planning depending on her situation, so make sure you take that into consideration.
Listen to Their Needs (don't judge or provide feedback unless they ask)
Maybe just taking the time to listen to her and allowing her to share her feelings and opinions without feeling judged is what a mother might need. Bring her a cup of coffee or tea and allow her the opportunity to just sit and chat in a judgement free zone. You never know how much of an impact this simple act can make for someone that may feel like they are alone.
Let Them Know You are Here for Them
Let your mother know that you are here for them as a loved one or a friend and know that you are available to talk or go do an activity with them. Let them know that they can call you if they are needing help or just need some advice. It is always good to know which friends or loved ones you can always count on to help you out when you need it.
Make a Meal for Them and Their Family to Share Together
For some mothers, cooking a meal can be very tough and frustrating. It can take a long time to create a healthy meal for a family to share together. You have to find the time to go grocery shopping, prep the ingredients, and then cook the meal. That can be very time invasive, so just the kind act of making an entire meal for this mother to be able to share with her loved ones can be a huge act of kindness.
Help with the Yard Work
Yard work is another chore that can be daunting and take a lot of time, which a lot of mother's don't have enough time. Helping out with mowing the lawn, trimming bushes, or watering the flowers can be a huge help for some mother's and families.
Ask to Help Clean the House
The act of asking to help do the laundry or clean up the kitchens or bathrooms can also be a huge help around the house. This can help the mother's have more time to spend with their loved ones doing something they enjoy together. I know if this was me, I would love to have someone help clean up my house.
Help Run an Errand
Depending on their situation, just finding the time to be able to leave the house for a simple errand, can be a hard task for some mothers. Asking to help go get groceries or drop off some packages can be a huge help for some!
Provide them with a Gas Card to help with Transportation to Appointments
Gas can be expensive, especially if you are a family where you are constantly driving to appointments for your child. A gas card could go a long way for some mother's to be able to have sufficient funds to know she can get her children to their appointments on time.
Let them take a Nap or Sleep in
Sleep is one of those things that can be neglected when you are a mother to a child with lots of needs or just a very busy lifestyle. Help a mother out by offering to take care of the child for a while to allow her to sleep in or take a nap. Sleep is a necessity and can help a mother be the best version of herself with enough sleep and energy.
Provide Her with Opportunities to Listen to Books through an Audible Subscription
This one is a personal preference, as I love to listen to books on my audible app through Amazon. I am someone that doesn't take the time to sit and read, so I love being able to listen to books on tape and I am able to multi task at the same time with either doing dishes or folding laundry. I also love listening to books in the car! This has opened up so many more opportunities for me to be able to catch up on reading that I otherwise would not do.
Ask if they Would Like to Do Something as Family Where Everyone Can Join in and Participate
Is there an activity that the whole family would like to be able to do together? Help them find a way to complete that activity where everyone in the family will be able to help participate with to help create fun memories for the mother and family to be able to cherish for a lifetime.
Provide Uplifting and Encouraging Books to Read or Listen to Help them Relax
Our family loves finding books where the message is uplifting and encouraging. Maybe there are other mom's out there that also like to read encouraging books as well. Find out what your mom likes to read and provide opportunities for her to do that. My mom has loved watching and reading inspirational books by Joel Osteen.
Here are a list of possible encouraging and uplifting books
The special gifts could go on and on forever. Every person likes a special gift that comes from the heart. These are just some ideas to get you started in the gift giving process.
This post goes out to all mothers who work hard to provide for their families and work to take care of their children to the best of their abilities. I hope you can find some inspiration from the ideas listed above to show your love and support to all the mother's in your life. This list is not just about mother's but both parents or fathers who are just trying their best to raise happy healthy children. Is there something you would like me to add to this list of ideas? We would love to hear from you!
This post contains affiliate links, there is no extra cost to you, but will greatly help our family.
I believe that God has a plan for us and that we are to love everyone…Now you are probably thinking how does God fit into all of this? Well I believe that God has me here on this Earth for a bigger picture and that I am here to help others show love and acceptance to others.
Why is it so hard for us to understand something that is different from us? Why can we be so judgmental? Why is it easier to be sad or mean instead of nice or happy?
Everyone is Unique
There are a lot of why questions in life and every one of us has a unique answer to those questions. Everyone is UNIQUE. We all go through different experiences in this life that shape who we are as a person. Now you are probably wondering when is she going to start taking about Autism? First I want to paint the picture that every person has unique and different personalities. We can look different, think differently, like different things such as foods, and we all have different skills that we are either good at or bad at.
Every person is unique, just like every person with Autism is unique. No one person is alike, has different meaning for each person and if you have met one person with Autism, you have met only one person with Autism. Please do not base your opinions based on one experience you have had with someone with Autism.
These are views that I have learned along the way as a sister, a professional, and as someone who is wanting to learn more about the Autism world, so that I can learn their perspective and be able to understand their viewpoint better.
When talking to your children or loved ones about Autism come from a loving and positive viewpoint.
Here are some ways to help us understand Autism
We all see the world differently, but the world can look very different for someone with Autism. The brain is wired differently and different connections can work well or may have more difficulty working.
The senses may be wired differently as well. Sound, touch, taste, smell, or movement can feel much different for someone with Autism. We all have different sensory preferences such as the foods we like or the activities we enjoy. Respect everyone's sensory preferences and differences.
Communication may be difficult and social interactions may be very hard for someone with Autism. Find ways to include someone with Autism in an activity in a way that they can handle the situation. In order to do this, you first need to get to know the person and understand their likes and dislikes.
The special wiring in their brain can make something that we may think as easy be very hard for them, or something that we may think as being hard, can be easy to them.
Someone may develop behaviors to help them cope with stressful or chaotic feelings due to being overwhelmed with an experience due to the their senses. When the brain and senses don't communicate well the brain can become overwhelmed. These behaviors can look odd to us, but it can help them feel calm inside. The person may not be able to say out loud how they are feeling. From the outside they could look like they are fine, but on the inside they could be feeling chaos.
How we can learn to understand their point of view
Take the time to get to know the individual. Find out what they like and don't like.
Find a way to be able to communicate with them. Do they talk verbally or use a communication device?
See if there is something that you can do together that you both would like to do.
If someone is talking mean about someone with Autism, stand up for the person and say something positive about them.
I have heard many times that people with Autism just want to feel understood. In order to do this we need to take the time to learn the world from their perspective and not be quick to judge or place opinions.
I loved this quote from the video Amazing Things Happen, “People with Autism are not ill or broken, they have a unique view of the world.” If we take the time to learn and share the world from their point of view, we may be able to see the amazing things they can do.
If you are looking for a video to be able to share with your children or loved ones about Autism, I highly recommend this video from Amazing Things Happen! Amazing Things Happen is the creation of independent animation director Alex Amelines. Here is the link to the Facebook page for Amazing Things Happen.
If you found this post or video helpful please leave a comment below. I would love to hear your thoughts!
If you are looking for further resources to help you better understand Autism, here are a list of books that may be helpful!
Welcome to Voices of Special Needs Blog Hop — a monthly gathering of posts from special needs bloggers hosted by The Sensory Spectrum and The Jenny Evolution. Click on the links below to read stories from other bloggers about having a special needs kiddo — from Sensory Processing Disorder to ADHD, from Autism to Dyslexia! Want to join in on next month's Voices of Special Needs Hop? Click here!
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