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Autism

Why Inclusive Play is Important – Landscape Structures Inclusive Playgrounds

This post was sponsored by Landscape Structures as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central and all opinions expressed in my post are my own.

Boys Climbing in Inclusive Playground

Why Inclusive Play Is Important

I remember the painful thoughts that ran through my mind when Aidan was diagnosed with Autism, and then again when Lilly’s diagnosis and weak muscle strength began.  Would they be able to make friends and participate in play?  Would they be able to ride a bike?  Would they be able to play with other kids?  These are questions I never imagined thinking about with my oldest son, but they are the never-ending thoughts a parent of children with disabilities has.  When Anthony was a preschooler, I didn’t think twice about spending an afternoon at the playground or think twice about the play equipment, however, when the twins were that age I suddenly needed to think about play structures in an entirely new way.  Which is what makes Landscape Structures Inclusive playgrounds so special to my heart.

Girl at Inclusive Playground

Landscape Structures Inclusive Playgrounds

Kids learn so many life skills on the playground and the foundation of those skills begins at an early age so it is extremely important for children of all abilities to participate in an inclusive play space. Inclusive Play is not just focusing on accessibility,  it brings age, developmental appropriateness, and sensory-stimulating activity into the equation which results in social equity and increasingly diverse social communities.

Lilly’s muscle tone has improved after years of hard work and physical therapy and Aidan’s Autism is high functioning, however I truly believe that the social skills they have now has a lot to do with the inclusive play that they had available throughout the years and now we continue to spend out playground time at Inclusive Playgrounds because I want them to always understand that everyone is made different and beautiful and deserves to be included.

Boy at Inclusive Play Space

3 Important Life Lessons Children Learn on the Playground 

Kids learn how to make friendships by working together and helping one another.

The first place my children made friends, outside of the family, was on the playground. There is something heartwarming about a child being able to run onto the playground and within the blink of an eye, they are jumping around with a group of kids. They help each other and encourage each other to cross the monkey bars or face their fears and go down the high slide. Children learn that working together will make the see-saw work and build sandbox villages faster. They learn that climbing as high as you can is a lot more fun with someone to enjoy the view with.

Kids learn to use their imaginations and collaborate with each other.

The play structure becomes a pirate ship and the slide is a plank into the alligator waters. The climbing dome is a princess castle that is protected by magic. They learn to use their imaginations together and create some amazing play time as each child adds a different aspect to the story.

Kids learn to be leaders and make decisions while celebrating each other.

As they play children learn to make decisions for themselves, which leads them to become leaders and builds their confidence. From deciding who is going to be the captain of the ship to figuring out who is going down the slides together, decisions are made and leaders are built.

Children at inclusive playground

Children learn so much on the playground!  Landscape Structures believes that through inclusive play, kids learn life lessons such as leadership, persistence, support, and empathy.  Which I also believe wholeheartedly making Inclusive Playgrounds so important.

Playground for inclusive play

Find an Inclusive Playground Near You

October is Sensory Awareness Month!  So why not head to a great Inclusive Playground today?  One of our favorite Landscape Structures Inclusive playgrounds is Sims Park in New Port Richey when we are close to home.  We also love to stop at Common Ground Park in Lakeland as a car break on our drives over to Orlando.  Want to find an Inclusive Playground close to you?  Visit the Landscape Structures site and search for the playground that fits your needs!

Inclusive Playground Structure

5 Tips for New Autism Parents

Tips for new autism parents

5 Tips for New Autism Parents

Finding out that your child is on the autism spectrum isn’t easy for any parent. You may find that you’re confused, full of questions and curious what type of future this means your child will have. While you may feel a mix of emotions right now, don’t worry, life with autism is not like it used to be. There are many parents who are raising a child on the autism spectrum who are here to help. If you want to know what the top 5 tips for new autism parents are, based on research of what other parents have said, then please continue reading to learn what you should know.

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ABLEnow is Helping People with Disabilities gain Greater Financial Independence!

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I vividly remember all the feelings and thoughts that went through my head when Aidan was diagnosed with Autism.  I remember worrying about the “right now” problems as I sat in the doctor’s office, how do I get him the right classroom, are medications the right options, how much are his therapies going to cost, why him?  After I left the doctors armed with a folder jam packed with referrals and reading pantalets, I drove home with a sleeping toddler in the backseat and that’s when the future started to really play games with my head.  What if he couldn’t get through school, what if he couldn’t work, what ifs were swirling through my brain so fast that I hardly had time to imagine an outcome.  The biggest what if was, what if we don’t have the financial resources to help him prosper and be self-sufficient.  We have been through a lot of ups and downs since that day 6 years ago, and I have learned a lot along the way and I’m still learning.  I only recently learned about the ABLEnow program, and I was honored when they asked to partner with me on this sponsored post.

The cost of a disability like autism is incredibly overwhelming, between medications, therapies, specialists, exc. and many don’t understand that even with private health insurances the copayments alone are enough to put families in debt.  Luckily, we live in a country that offers public benefits for people with disabilities based on their income.  However, for far too long people with disabilities could not save for the future without the possibility of losing their public benefits.

When Aidan was first diagnosed, he had already been expelled from 2 daycare programs and his lack of safety awareness became such a source of anxiety that I could no longer leave him with anyone besides immediate family who were educated about his needs.  I had to leave my job, my husband was working full time, but his job did not offer benefits, and times got tough.  We ended up being able to get Aidan on Supplemental Security Income and Medicaid, which helped tremendously, however we could not have over a certain amount in savings and assets to remain eligible. 

At the time I was hopeful we would only need these services for a short time.  However, the idea that he would need these services as an adult to be able to achieve a more independent life has always been a strong possibility.  The thought that he would not be able to save for the future and be able to achieve some of the same financial dreams that his non-disabled peers out of fear of losing these much needed benefits, was heart breaking.  Luckily advocates fought hard to change this, resulting in the federal ABLE Act and the new ABLEnow program.

ABLEnow gives people with disabilities the power to achieve a greater independence, financial security and a quality of life that was not possible before.

For the first time, eligible individuals can save and invest in a simple, affordable and tax-advantaged ABLEnow account without jeopardizing their eligibility for certain benefits that are critical to their health and well-being, such as Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).  This is gives people with disabilities and their caregivers peace of mind that we did not think was achievable prior to ABLEnow. 

An ABLEnow account can pay for a variety of qualified expenses related to maintaining health, independence and quality of life, such as housing and living expenses.
It gives individuals a greater sense of financial independence and a reliable tool to build the best life possible.

Are you disabled?  Or are you caring for someone with a disability?  Opening and managing an ABLEnow account can be done online and are free to start, Learn more today!

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of ABLEnow.

Holiday Gift Guide 2014 ~ Sensory Processing and Autism Gift Ideas

1. *ChewiGem Chewable Jewelry
 
2. Disc ‘o’ Sit Jr Child’s Inflatable Sensory Chair Cushion
 
3. Abilitations Integrations Weighted Lap Animal
 
4. Tangle Relax Therapy
 
5. Moon Sand
 
6. Wooden Puzzle Fidget
 
7. Sassy Developmental Sensory Ball Set
Buy It
 
8. Children’s Exploration Pop-Up Tunnel
 
9. Diggin JumpSmart Trampoline

 
http://www.eastcoastmama.com/p/gift-guide-2014.html
 
 
(Items with * had samples submitted for consideration all opinions and inclusion are based 100% on my opinion)
 


ChewiGem for the Need to Chew! Fashionable Sensory Chewable Jewelry ~ Review and Giveaway

*Thank you to ChewiGem for Sponsoring this post and giveaway*
 As a mom of children with sensory processing issues who are also on the autism spectrum I’ve been dealing with my kids mouthing objects for a long time.  The collar of the shirt gets chewed on, the toy they were playing with ends up with teeth marks, or the top of a pencil, everything ends up in their mouth!  I remember the day I talked to Aidan’s therapist about the chewing and her handing me a white rubber toothbrush looking chew toy.  My mind immediately went to, “this is a dog toy”  and I honestly never gave it to Aidan or Lilly. 
The thing with mouthing and chewing items is that you don’t really realize how much of it is sensory until a child is outgrowing their toddler years.  When a child is two or even three and he puts a toy in his mouth, you assume its part of being a toddler.  However when a four or five year old, is still putting toys in their mouth you know there’s an issue.  Unfortunately this is also an age that kids are venturing out, kids are starting preschool or kindergarten, kids are making friends and realizing what is the social norm and what isn’t. 
As an autism mom I want to raise my children as main stream as possible, and to me sending my five year old off to school with a piece of rubber that I could totally mistake for a toy I’d throw at my puppy just didn’t seem right. 
I recently learned about ChewiGem through this review and I am very excited.  I know as my children progress through school the needs of their sensory processing disorder will become an issue that they will need to self regulate and instead of chewing on clothes, hair, or pencils, having ChewiGem as an option will be a great relief.  The jewelry is fun and funky in design so that no one would guess that it is a therapy item and my kids are excited to wear them, however they are durable and safe enough that these items are very usable.

 Details:
products are made of FDA approved silicone and are lead, latex, BPA, PVC and phthalate free
 
When a child or adult with additional needs is better able to focus and self soothe, their confidence level increases while their anxiety level decreases
 
Prices Range from $14.95-$19.95 depending on Design Choice
 Enter to win a ChewiGem Necklace or Bracelet
Giveaway Ends: October 14th, 2014 
 
 
Connect with ChewiGem and Learn More:
Twitter
 *Thank you to ChewiGem for Sponsoring this post and giveaway*
 

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