7 Quick and Effective Tips for a Happy Holiday Experience for Your Family



I surveyed a few of our experts for quick and easy tips for families going into this holiday weekend and here's the list: 1) While no one is watching, pick out some preferred toys from around the house and build a "two-hours of fun" kit.  Reserve these items for when they're most needed (i.e. cooking dinner, chatting with family or even a taking quick nap after eating too much).  Use a piece of luggage and pretend it's an emergency fun kit with your child! 2) Plan out a few preferred activities for family members to enjoy with your child(ren).  These structured moments can be very rewarding and fun for both the adult and the child.  Some people, especially extended family, may be nervous about playing with your child for fear of upsetting them.  This could be the small piece of encouragement needed to spark or rekindle a great relationship. 3) Refresh and cycle your toys around the house.  This idea may not be for all children but experiencing a preferred toy in a new environment can create renewed interest in an old toy. 4) Review in advance  what will happen during the day, including who will be there, what will happen, and what your child should do if they start to feel uncomfortable (ask for a break, use a sensory tool etc.).  Try to anticipate when your child may need your help and proactively offer strategies/assistance. 5) Have your child engage in their “sensory diet activities” before asking them to sit for long periods of time (dinner, car ride etc.).  Plan breaks proactively approximately every 20 minutes.  Your child might benefit from breaks in a less active part of the house. 6) If you know your child does not like the types of food that will be at the meals, make sure you bring along something that is nutritious that you know they like and will eat proactively.  Some children are overwhelmed by the aromas of a Thanksgiving meal.  If this seems to be the case, make sure you ventilate the area as much as possible.   7) If need be, explain to others that you are working on expanding their sensory tolerances.  These are very positive ways to promote this growth. When in doubt, be silly, have fun and enjoy the day! Happy Thanksgiving! ~The Constellations Team

Constellations recently featured in Behavioral Healthcare Magazine



The leadership of Constellations Behavioral Services was recently interviewed by Behavioral Healthcare Magazine regarding best practices for behavioral healthcare facilities.  Click Here to see the full article. A special thank you goes out to RYSE Marketing & Communications and Erik Mason for facilitating the interview!

Encourage Independent Dressing with this Simple and Fun Trick



Fall is a great time to promote your child’s independence with dressing.  Quite often taking off items (coat, hat, socks and shoes) are the easiest and earliest successes.  One easy approach is to complete all the steps required for the specific task, and then ask the child to complete the final step (back chaining).  As they complete this step more easily and automatically, and one more small step.  Continue adding more steps incrementally until they are completely independent in that specific task.    An example, when taking off their coat, might require you to unzip the coat, pull their arm out of one sleeve completely, and one sleeve down to the wrist, and then request them to take off their coat. You can add more steps to the process (working backwards) as they become more successful. When it comes to putting clothing items on, a coat is often a great starting point.  One simple technique is the “one, two, flip-a-roo” method.  It may not be for everyone, but it is definitely worth a try.  The steps are as follows (and you can again work toward independence using a back chaining technique): 1.       Position the coat with the collar at the child’s feet.  2.      Prompt the child to put their arms out straight and place each arm in the prospective sleeves. 3.      Prompt the child to then stand up and lift their arms up to the ceiling and flipping their coat over their head.  Their arms should slide in to the sleeves.  If they don’t slide in initially, assist it in them doing so. The most important points for the child’s success with this technique are to positioning the coat properly and developing the motor pattern of “flipping the coat” over their head.                                                     Enjoy!    ~Deb Guarino, OTR/L