SKSL 2nd “Reach for the Stars” Gala

Well, we are doing it! We are having our 2nd GALA! It’s funny, when deciding should we or shouldn’t we, the answer was given to us! We had so many people ask, “Are you having another GALA?”, “When is it?” or even say, “You have to!!”  It truly warms our hearts to see how many people support SKSL and most importantly how many people want to support our special needs families. There are so many good…no GREAT…people out there.

If you aren’t sure what the GALA is, it is an evening where we share fun, stories, entertainment, a meal, auction, etc. This provides SKSL the opportunity to raise money to go towards all of the monthly events, resources, supplies, etc that SKSL provides all year for families impacted with autism/special needs. Oh, and of course the GALA is the backbone to help us with all of the costs that allow us to keep Sensory World open in the mall!

We’ve been asked, “Why don’t you just charge for your events and for Sensory World?”…. It’s simple, having special needs children ourselves, we understand, first hand, how expensive all of the daily therapies, equipment, dietary needs, school supplies, clothing, etc. can be. Let me give you one example, my son’s weighted blanket, that he needs, was $140. Now keep in mind, with the complicated sensory needs of our kids, that blanket won’t last and will need to be replaced. That’s just one item. Does insurance cover this…NO. Now add to this, many of our special needs families take off work or are unable to work because of their child’s special needs. It is difficult! SKSL whole heartily feels that we should not charge our special needs families for ANY of our events, resources, and even Sensory World. We want to lessen the burdens for our families….including the financial burden that comes hand-in-hand with special needs. Let me give you one small snapshot of a few of the things what SKSL has provided to our special families (other than the FREE events, trainings, and Sensory World)….iPads for communication, compression clothing, weighted blankets, special school supplies, special summer camp fees, books, tracking devices, handicap swings, household safety items, sensory toys/fidgets, etc.  That is just to name a few! So is the GALA important…ABSOLUTELY!

So mark your calendars and SAVE THE DATE, January 23rd will be the 2nd “Reach for the Stars” GALA! We are going bigger and better this year! The GALA will be held at Music Man Square and the delicious plated meal will be catered by Prime N Wine. We will keep you posted on the many great happenings during the planning stages of our upcoming Reach for the Stars GALA…so bookmark this blog and keep updated to the fun we have in store!

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SKSL 2nd “Reach for the Stars” Gala

Great strides in my eyes!

As I was packing my son’s lunch today I had to smile! I was so proud that we have increased the food he will eat to 4, get that…4 DIFFERENT CHIPS! Okay, here’s the laugh, they are basically the same chip but a different form of that chip.  All tortilla chips, no extra flavors but one is rolled, one is dipper shape, one is the regular tortilla and  one is flat strips.

Most may think I am completely crazy thinking this is a great accomplishment, but it truly is. Last year for his lunch I could not waiver from one regular style tortilla chip and look, it’s 4 now! So as I pack this lunch, I do it with a huge smile and hope for the future! Who knows, next year we might even add a flavored chip!

From one mom of a VERY selective eater to those of you out there…CELEBRATE THE LITTLE STEPS! Woo Hoo!

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Great strides in my eyes!

It’s time to head back to school!! Four tips for reducing stress!

The summer can be an opportunity to recharge and break from school routines, which is why September is often viewed as a mixed blessing. Parents of children with ASD are always trying to plan and prepare ahead of time. Unfortunately, we can’t account for every detail but here are a few tips for reducing the stress associated with back to school.

Tip # 1: Say Hello to the School Again

Greetings are such a big focus of the work we all do with children on the spectrum. And yet, it is the very thing we sometimes take for granted ourselves. Make time to meet and greet the key people in your child’s school for the upcoming year. Regular communication with the school is essential, so be sure to say hello again.

Start by seeing if a school professional can help you with just the little things at first: a visit to the school before it opens, practicing the combination of the lockers, a schedule of the times that things will happen at school, or some guidance on the key things to be learned in that year. It is best to start with small requests before you ask for the big favors as the year progresses (things like helping with the school bus, setting up some peer buddies, or managing a bully).

Once you find a school professional that is a good listener then you can begin to explain the nuances of your child. Help them understand who your son or daughter is beyond what can be gleamed from an IEP.

Tip # 2: Begin the Adjustment

Try to adjust your child’s environment to resemble the back to school schedule. Start by highlighting a calendar to show your child when school starts. Then begin to adjust your bedtime and morning routines slowly so that they mimic the school schedule. This will help you avoid a September shock.

Even if your child wakes, gets dressed and then falls asleep again – the rehearsal of the morning routine should save you stress when the first day arrives. Also try to plan lunch and snack time activities similar to the school schedule. If your body physically adjusts, then it will be easier to adjust emotionally as well. Think of it as jet lag for school – you will need a few days or weeks to completely acclimate, so start now.

Also, if there is time, select some educational topics that your child might be covering this year. Whether it be the IEP goals that will be addressed or some ‘curriculum’ related topics. Exposing your child to these things ahead of time can be of great benefit. Just don’t get frustrated or upset if your child is having difficulty at first. The learning curve is the steepest upon first exposure, so just remind yourself that you are making the task easier for when he/she starts school – there is no need to master the activity in August.

Tip # 3: The Schoolyard Hook

All developmental age ranges and genders have what I call a “Social Skills Hook.” This is something or several things that other boys and girls are interested in that your child can use as a connection to others. Opportunities are everywhere but we need to maximize those windows of social connections. While most children with ASD have varying degrees of restricted interests, you can still find a way to meld their particular interest into something social – then you have the hook.

If possible, visit the playground or recess area of the school (if it is a high school then the cafeteria or commons area where young adults hang out), to practice and rehearse the hook. If you are having a hard time finding a connection to peers then ask one of the school professionals for some guidance. They can sometimes facilitate an interaction and then offer you some advice on the best ways to maintain those interactions throughout the school year.

And finally…Tip # 4: Stay Positive

Living with autism can be overwhelming; it is all too easy to think about past trials and worry about ‘another’ school year. Back to school is an adjustment for everyone in the house, especially caregivers. But you can keep up hope if you stay optimistic. Find something that your child can look forward to and become excited about in September. This might help associate change with something positive. If you look for strengths then you will see what is possible and perhaps you just might recognize something that wasn’t there before…a learned skill, a different smile, or a new friendship.

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It’s time to head back to school!! Four tips for reducing stress!

Blog Beginnings!

Hello everyone! We, SKSL, have had the opportunity to connect with so many wonderful families that share a special story…our special needs children. We also realize that time is a rare commodity with all of our special activities, so have begun this blog so we can continue to connect, share, ask questions, etc. We hope that everyone will find that they are not alone and that we, SKSL, and others like you share in your special walk….we can do this TOGETHER!

Blog Beginnings!