Posts filed under: Holidays

  • Favorite Valentine's Day BooksFavorite Valentine's Day Books

Caroline Jayne Church Books

 

Caroline Jayne Church

“I love you like the moon loves each shining star.

I love all that you will be, and everything you are.”

*This post contains affiliate links for Chapters Indigo.
Please see my full disclosure.

When I read these words I knew I just had to by the book How Do I Love You? This phrase expresses everything I feel for my boys. Since I bought this first book illustrated by Caroline Jayne Church, I became a super fan! I feel like her collection of books about love connect me and my children during story time. More importantly, Cookie and Chocolate Chip both love these sweet simple stories and beautiful illustrations! I think they are perfect Valentine’s Day books!

“I love my fingers. I love my toes. I love my eyes. I love my nose. I love my arms and belly, too.
But most of all, I love you.”

I Love You Book by Caroline Jayne Church

Check out this gift set that includes another one of our favorites:

I Love You Through and Through

Jayne Church books

Caroline Jayne Church Books

We are slowly building our collection, some books in French and some books in English. They are the perfect books to read to your toddlers or preschooler. And from experience, I can vouch that these books are also perfect for special needs children! The books might not be Valentine’s Day themed but they are adorable ways to say I love you to your children.  🙂

Sweet Child Of Mine

“I love you in the crisp white snow that quietly fills the sky,
I love you in the stormy air when strong dark clouds pass by.”

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  • Valentine's Day Sorting

Valentine's Day Sorting

 

My boys don’t know what Valentine’s Day is all about. Yes, they have autism. Are they incapable to show love and affection? Not at all. I would say that probably most autistic children do not fit this autism stereotype. My boys are very sweet and loving. They might not say the words “I love you mommy” but they show me how much they love me in their own special way.

 

Using a Valentine’s Day theme in their homeschooling activities, exposes them to everything related to that holiday and helps them associate. So that eventually just like the rest of us, when they see a red heart, they will think of Valentine’s Day.

 

Pinterest is a great source of inspiration when trying to find activities to do with the kids. I particularly liked this Valentine’s Day mail sorting activity from Teach Preschool.

 

Valentine's Mailboxes

 

Since I couldn’t find these metal mailboxes, I decided to make some myself. I wasn’t certain how exactly I would do that but while having my morning coffee, I realized: These coffee boxes would make the perfect Valentine’s Day mailboxes! I love being able to reuse household items for activities, especially when the activity is one that we might not use very often or the kid’s will grow out of quickly.

 

Valentine's Mailboxes

 

Here is what I did …

  1. I covered the coffee boxes with left over Christmas wrapping paper.
  2. I made tiny envelopes with colored paper. I didn’t use a template but there is a super cute mini envelope template and tutorial over at Clementine Creative.
  3. In order to make the activity more appealing to Cookie, I printed these Valentine’s Day Sesame Street characters. You can find images of your child’s favorite characters on Google images.
  4. I imported the Sesame Street images into Open Office Draw so I could add numbered hearts. Since Cookie knows how to count to fifty, I wanted to introduce the concept of counting by ten.
  5. I also made numbered hearts for the envelopes. You can download my free printable Count by Ten Numbered Hearts in pink and red here: Count by Ten hearts

The little ones really enjoyed this activity. I think without the characters, I would probably have lost their attention quickly.

PS: To make this activity easier use the same image on the envelope as you do on the mailboxes.

 

Valentine's Day Sorting

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  • Personalized Plates

If you’ve been here before you know I am a super fan of personalized products. Well, here I go again …

*This post contains affiliate links. All opinions are my own. Please see my full disclosure.

Birthday Express Personalized Plates

These personalized party plates are a new products from Birthday Express. You can upload any photo and design a unique party plate. How fantastic is it to be able to add a personal touch to your party without having to settle for what’s in stores? Your guest will be pleasantly surprised since there is no decor more original than one customized by you! Perfect for all occasions, from birthdays to graduations and from anniversaries to retirement parties. Imagine the possibilities!

We have a birthday coming up in the spring so I am glad to have found this idea well in advance. A set of 8 plates is just $9.99. So they are not only fun but affordable too! Check out the personalized plates I created of my son Chocolate Chip.

Personalized Party Plates
When I find a new product, I always think of what benefit it can bring to my kids. Chocolate Chip could be called an extremely picky eater but the truth is, children with autism spectrum disorder often have feeding problems. I worry about his health and I welcome anything that might motivate him to eat more!

Any child would be impressed by being featured on a plate just like their favorite character. For a small party, you could even get plates made of each child attending. There would not be any confusion as to which plate belongs to who. What a nice way to make each guest feel special and the left over plates could be part of their loot bag!

You might not have thought of a plate taking your party from good to great but this one just might! Don’t forget to check out other personalized party supplies like party banners, centerpieces, and invitations at BirthdayExpress.com!

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  • First Christmas

First Christmas

Every year I think, this is it! This is the year we will be like that family on the TV commercial. You know, the one where the kids smile from ear to ear as they wake up Mom and Dad on Christmas morning. The parents look so comfortable and relaxed in their pajamas. The house is cozy and beautifully decorated. Everyone laughs while drinking hot chocolate and you can practically smell the gingerbread cookies through the screen. The kids are happy and so excited about the gifts under the tree. There is a feeling of total peace and joy!

 

I can’t remember what product the commercial is for but I remember the feeling I get from watching it. That feeling is what we often call the magic of the holidays. That magic is what I remember feeling as a child. Of course, it’s normal to lose a bit of the holiday magic as we grow older. But, then we have children and get the opportunity to revisit those feelings through them.

 

Pretty decorations, a mountain of presents under the tree and all the cookies I can bake won’t give me what I want. It’s not about decorations or cookies or a gift wrapped with a pretty bow. It’s about their smile, the sparkle in their eyes, making them feel happy, special and loved. What I want is to give my children a feeling and that is not available in stores. It is the gift that can’t be bought.

Sensory issues at Christmas

As a child I remember going to mass and feeling so close to God. Everyone in the church wishing each other a Merry Christmas gave me such a strong sense of community. Then getting together with family which made me feel so loved. All I want for my children is that same feeling. The truth is that my children don’t know what Christmas is. The past seven years with Cookie, Christmas has taken on a whole new meaning. I have begun to associate the holidays with anxiety, stress, tears and disappointment.

Family Gatherings and sensory issues

Because of his sensory issues, Cookie could not tolerate ripping or touching wrapping paper. A new toy would bring on anxiety instead of joy because he did not know how to use it. Dressing in a button-up shirt was accepted one year and completely out of the question the next. Family gatherings always ended with a major meltdown because it meant breaking our daily routine, too many people and too much noise. The most disappointing to me was to see Cookie so unhappy.

Sensory issues with clothes

I have since made many adjustments to make Cookie less irritable, more comfortable and happier. I have also gone on a mission to teach him about Christmas.A few years ago, I made a tot book to introduce him to Christmas words like: Jesus, angel, star, snowflake, snowman, candy cane and gingerbread man.

Christmas Tot BookChristmas Tot Book Fun

Sensory bins and sensory activities desensitized him to the texture of paper. His tactile sensory issues have gotten better but I have noticed that he goes through phases when he is more sensitive.

Sensory issues

Cookie sent his first letter to Santa last year. His letter to Santa also served as a picture list of all the gifts he would receive so he would not be surprised. My goal was for Cookie to make the connection between sending the letter to Santa and receiving the gifts he asked for. I read him a social story about Santa. And, after Christmas I showed him all the gifts and we matched them to the pictures on his list.

Picture letter to Santa

When we put up the Christmas tree this week-end, Cookie was happy. But before we could decorate it, he was saying: “fini, fini” (finished in French) and  bringing me the box so we could pack it back up. Thankfully we realized that he was upset because we didn’t put it in its usual spot. So once we moved the tree, he stopped insisting for us to get rid of it. Although Cookie has a difficult time with all the noise and we have to devise an elaborate plan so that he does not wait in line. We have visited Santa successfully the last few years. I am very proud of the progress he has made over the years and I will continue to teach both my boys everything that I can about Christmas. But what I keep asking myself is: How do you teach someone a feeling?

Autism rigidity issues

All I can do is surround my boys with love and do what I can to make the holidays enjoyable for them. That’s all any special needs parent can do. Whether it’s not wrapping gifts, not having gifts, not staying long at family gatherings or not going at all. What does it comes down to? What is best for your child? It’s important to try because our little ones can surprise us. But sometimes we have to let go of preconceived ideas of what the holidays should look like. There’s no right way to celebrate and there’s not just one way to celebrate. However you celebrate the holiday. My family and I wish you nothing but health and happiness!

Chantale is the mother of two handsome boys with autism. Although she is homeschooling them, she is constantly learning from her children. She shares activities that are adapted for special needs on www.virtuallyateacher.com

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  • A Non Verbal Christmas Carol

A Non Verbal Christmas Carol
There’s nothing like Christmas carols to put people in the Christmas spirit! Even a non verbal Christmas carol! Music can be inspiring or motivating. It can also bring back memories or bring out emotions. Music has always been my companion. So much so that I feel like I have a soundtrack to my life. I used to memorize lyrics and sing along to the radio all day long. But, I didn’t know then how important music would be in my life now. The funny thing is I don’t listen to it very often anymore.

 

Cookie has autism and is non verbal. This means that although he can say some words, he does not use them to communicate. The reason music is so important to me is because it is form of communication between me and my son. When he avoided eye contact or ignored me calling his name, it used to be the only way I could get his attention. Having a child with autism can feel like we are watching our children from behind a window. We can see them but they don’t seem to see us. Even knocking doesn’t to get their attention and they go on with whatever they are doing without even turning their head. Singing was like a key to the window that was locked.
Music expresses what cannot be said
So I sang, and sang, and sang! Singing helped us develop a strong connection. Of course I am his mom and that our relationship. What I am referring to is a bond built on sharing interests and having fun together. This is so important when trying to reach your child with autism!

 

Cookie has auditory neuropathy. Not to get technical, it basically means he has a moderately severe hearing impairment. He was in speech therapy since he was six months old. This was certainly a blessing knowing now that he also had autism. At age 2 he said his first word “mama”. So imagine my surprise when he also started singing using the only word he knew.

 

Because of Cookie’s sensory issues, I stopped turning on the radio at home but I still hear beautiful music!

 

Chantale is the mother of two handsome boys with autism. Although she is homeschooling them, she is constantly learning from her children. She shares activities that are adapted for special needs on www.virtuallyateacher.com

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