As much as I would get joy out of keeping “the big reveal” for the end of this article in order to strongly encourage you to read through the entire thing, I will take the road less traveled and just tell you now… it’s CHIROPRACTIC CARE!
Some of you might be thinking what I was thinking before I learned more about chiropractic care and started regularly seeing a chiropractor...“I wasn’t in a car accident” or “I don’t want my bones being cracked”. But by the end of this article, my hope is that you will understand how crucial the care is and will be ready to seek out a doctor to service your entire family.
So, if you weren’t in a car accident and it’s not just about cracking bones, why is chiropractic care “the best kept secret”?
That’s a FANTASTIC question! We will start with some basic information about the nervous system and what happens to our bodies when we get adjusted.
The spinal cord is the primary highway of communication for our entire body. Its connection runs from our brain all the way down to the top/middle of our behind. Meaning, vital information like motor movement, visual perception, involuntary muscle movement like breathing and reflexes are all communicated through the spinal cord.
What happens when you sit, stand, or lay down for extended periods of time? Improper posture not only causes our muscles to feel tense and strained, but tiny shifts and subtle dislocation of the bones in our spine make daily life just a little more uncomfortable.
Relax, these incremental changes do not warrant a trip to the emergency room. However, it might call for a regular visit to the chiropractor.
What happens when our muscles feel tense or we feel uncomfortable? We get cranky!!! You might not, but I definitely do.
When you get adjusted, not only are you correcting and relocating the bones in your spine, you are also helping to open up that highway of communication for your nervous system… because it’s all connected.
A chiropractic adjustment is essentially a nervous system reset. By getting your body more aligned and joints moving in the way they are meant to, you are encouraging proper joint movement and muscle relaxation. With this reset, you are also supporting major organ function and boosting your immune system.
How is that possible?!
When we improve spinal alignment, we decrease the stress on our nervous system and increase the speed and effectiveness of our cells to pass information to the rest of the body. Thus, our hormones will be one step closer to homeostasis and our body can focus on other areas, like the immune system, rather than worrying about a misaligned spine.
Great, but how does this relate to my kid with autism and/or ADD/ADHD?
Another awesome question! Think about it. Kids fall, bump into things, sleep in strange positions, and participate in a sleuth of other activities that might compromise the integrity of the spine. This burden might cause them extreme discomfort that they may not be able to effectively communicate to you. What many chiropractors have found is their patients are in a great deal of pain on a daily basis and are unaware that their pain is due to subtle dislocations in their joints. I had no idea this could be the case until it was explained to me by a doctor.
So, if your kid has trouble sleeping, is constantly sick, has trouble digesting or moving bowels, seems anxious or inconsolable, there is a good chance that a simple realignment will make a world of a difference.
This is all fine and dandy, but my kid barely lets me touch them. Now I’m supposed to let a complete stranger bend and pop them?
I totally get it! Being twisted and pulled in different directions is new and scary, I have been there. I actually wasn’t even able to find one that worked for me right away. For the last two years, I have seen a chiropractor once or twice a week. In that time I have changed doctors about four or five times.
Why? As a former gymnast, my body was put through many muscular and skeletal stressors that still affect me today. It has been challenging to find a doctor that is both knowledgeable about bones and the muscles connected to it, but also how the body of an athlete functions and what resetting the nervous system can do to improve one’s overall health.
For starters, there are three major factors to consider when looking for a doctor. They are: how much success have they had with patients in a similar situations, in what areas have those patients improved, and how long have they been practicing as a chiropractor. When I finally found one experienced in working with top-performing athletes, I latched on.
And luckily for you precious readers, in my search for an experienced chiropractor specializing in children with disabilities, I came across Optimized Living Institute (OLI). OLI is located in Keller, Texas and provides chiropractic and wellness care from infants to grandparents. They have helped several families who have children with sleeping, digestive, and hormone issues.
Although Dr. Bekah Bruner and her husband will tell you every patient is different and don’t make any guarantees, I will tell you they are amazing and have been getting phenomenal results with their patients.
The Bruners are not just licensed chiropractors; they provide their patients with so much more. With each patient, they are looking to treat the entire person, not just their spine. Their private practice also offers more than just chiropractic adjustments, as they additionally provide knowledge on best diet practices, supplementation, exercise, and so much more.
It is hard to find a full service chiropractor that is absolutely on fire for the health and well being of their clients.
If Keller is too far, Well Within Rockwall is another great chiropractic clinic that has extensive experience in people with disabilities, autism specifically.
If Optimized Living Institute or Well Within Rockwall are too much out of the way to visit regularly, I recommend you take your child to one of these clinics first. This will expose them to chiropractic care in a warm and welcoming setting and make it easier to determine if this alternative intervention is right for your family (it most likely is). From there, ask for recommendations or search for a chiropractor closer to you so that you can get regular alignments and nerve resets!
Chiropractic care, is it for you or not? Let us know what you think in the comments below!
There comes a point in life, or many, when we question if we set the bar too high. Speaking from experience, I have reached for Pluto when the moon was more realistic. Once I realized my expectations might have been too high, I simply adjusted them to satisfy my ego. After many trials and errors, I have become more aware of my potential and the damage caused by lowering goals and expectations. As an adult, I would say I have developed enough logical reasoning to recover from the setbacks of not hitting my goals. But my question is, what happens when we lower expectations for our children after they didn’t meet their goal?
Think about a child’s mind and their development of reasoning. When a parent’s expectation is kept too high or lowered due to a lack of confidence in their child, what effect does that have on the child’s self-image as well as their confidence in reaching higher heights? Think about how the child processes their parent’s disappointment.
So, what happens when your expectations are not met? Do you change them, force them on your kid, or just give up and let whatever happens happen?
My advice: keep your expectations right where they are, but add some supports and accommodations to help your child get there.
What are those supports and accommodations? You have many options.
Before we develop an expectation for our child, a key question to ask is “Is this expectation appropriate?” For example, assuming your child who loves to draw, paint, and craft will naturally excel at and focus on math, computers, and programming might leave you disappointed and your budding Picasso hating math forever.
A more appropriate expectation might be for your child to create a drawing or craft by using shapes or programs like Adobe Animate, Adobe Illustrator CC, Photoshop, etc., which allows them to use their creative mind while incorporating mathematical and logical reasoning. This is a great way to provide unconventional options, or support, that promotes interest in non-preferred topics, rather than pushing subject matter they might not have much interest in.
If you have younger children who are not quite ready for computer programs, a great alternative to teaching math with brute force is to incorporate colorful paper, drawing numbers instead of only being shown them, or have them come up their own mathematical challenges to solve.
In cases of difficulty with reading or lack of interest in independent reading, rather than accepting the reality that your child will never read without being forced to, make reading a fun new norm, and family expectation. For example, part of daily family time now includes every member of your household reading a book of their choosing independently for 10 minutes. By developing an all-inclusive expectation, your child will feel a part of a team and might be more inclined to start reading on their own instead of treating it as another chore.
If that accommodation is not feasible, consider having your child read a book a level or two below their independent reading level. After they successfully read through three or four books, slowly increase the book difficulty. This gradual approach to independent reading provides your challenged reader with early successes in order to build their confidence and self-esteem.
You might ask “What if my child has a disability?” Whether it’s autism/Asperger’s syndrome, ADD/ADHD, Down syndrome, etc. there are several options for setting expectations for people with disabilities to achieve and become contributing members in their community.
Now, it may not be appropriate to expect your child with a disability to compete with and accomplish the academic goals of their typically developing peers. However, it is appropriate to help them get as close as you desire. For instance, one of our students with a disability avoids eye contact, is not as fluid in conversation, and occasionally yells in frustration.
However, after providing him with sentence starters, replacement behaviors, and allowing him to gradually increase eye contact during conversations, we are observing him grow more and more mature. He is more considerate towards his little brother and has even started initiating and maintaining brief, cordial conversations with friends and family.
You might be asking yourself, “what is appropriate?” and that’s a valid question. Personally, “appropriate” is subjective. Honestly, we never know what is truly “appropriate” until we give a child the opportunity to perform.
Our recommendation is to give your child the opportunity to perform. Provide an open and non-judgmental space for them to show what they can and cannot do. Frustration might result, but it does not have to persist. Push the limits, then back off and assist or accomodate where you can. If all else fails, consult with an academic, behavior, or social interventionist.
What are some expectations you have set for your children?
Let us know in the comment section below!
I recently had the privilege of participating in an ARD (Admission, Review and Dismissal) meeting for one of our students. During this ARD, the school shared their data, what they have observed, and their intentions for the future. The parents and I asked the school about the level of rigor her child, Riley (name changed for privacy), would be facing as well as the possibility of getting more inclusion minutes for her 8th grade student with Down Syndrome.
Background: Riley is a social butterfly who enjoys interacting with other people. He is currently functioning academically between a 2nd and 3rd grade level, but shows strong signs of growth. Socially, he is high-functioning and can participate in complex conversations.
When we requested inclusion time for reading, we were immediately given ambiguous answers in attempts to avoid doing so. The assistant principal (who I believe ran the meeting fairly well) and the other teachers communicated that ‘they could not assign a general education student to make sure Riley was following along with the class’. However, peer-mentoring like this is a common practice in public education schools and her initial refusal was not in compliance with accommodations in the general education setting for students with disabilities.
With this assistant principal’s (AP’s) clear lack of SpEd law knowledge, we simply circled back around and asked the school staff if they thought it would be worth trying to include him in a general education reading classroom to see how it goes. We also asked about giving him the opportunity to listen to the audio version of a book the GenEd class was studying and allow him to participate in the class discussions.
Initially, the AP was not accepting of our proposal. However, as we continued to suggest further inclusion opportunities like having him in a math class, or transitioning him to the GenEd PE class, reading inclusion appeared more and more appealing to the AP and other teachers present. By the end of this informal ARD, we all had a clearer idea of where Riley’s family wanted to direct his education and a plan to include him in the GenEd reading class.
After our meeting, I recommended that Riley’s mom send an email to his LIFE (Living In a Functional Environment) skills, self-contained, classroom teacher and summarize our expectations moving forward. The summary of our meeting included how we are anticipating more challenging goals to support faster growth and progress in his core subjects (Reading, Writing, Math). This email also served as a reminder to initiate and integrate Riley into a general education reading classroom to expose him to different text and discussions with his typically developing peers.
Now, you might be wanting to put your warrior-mom hat on and let this school staff have it about SpEd law, LRE (Least Restrictive Environment), and FAPE (Free and Appropriate Public Education), trust me I did at many points throughout the meeting. However, like with any group of people, there are disagreements, different interpretations and perspectives, and some feeling more ‘qualified’ than others to make decisions. For these reasons we, as non-confrontationally as possible, laid out our requests ranking from what the school might deem as least challenging integration to most challenging: reading class, GenEd PE, then math. After discussing all of these inclusion possibilities, we zeroed in on our “gateway” – GenEd reading inclusion.
Since this particular school staff eventually opened up to the idea of incorporating Riley with his typically developing peers, we did not see a need to push for all of our options at once.
By emphasizing the need for exposure to meaningful interactions that demand higher level thinking and conversation, we were able to passionately communicate the necessity for more inclusion minutes without seeming abrasive or discontent. We were also able to observe, through facial expression and body language, that Riley’s classroom teacher began seeing our perspective and viewpoint. Which, as many of you know, the classroom teacher is really the most important factor here.
The classroom teacher is often the catalyst and cavelier for any new minutes and accommodations requested for implementation; especially if they are informal and not included in the official IEP (Individualized Education Program).
Tell me more...
I’d love to! The classroom teacher is the keeper of our students’ schedules. They determine what they are working on, where they go, and for how long (besides uncompromising times like specials and lunch). Since we are wanting data on how well Riley performs in a general education classroom, we must support his classroom teacher as best we can.
As a former classroom teacher, I was able to offer Riley’s mom with perspective and understanding for how our requests might impact Riley’s teacher.
Now, many of you may say “well it’s his job”. You are 100% right. However, it is worth mentioning that our goal is not just for implementation and time served. We want purposeful interactions and relevant instruction to foster the best possible outcomes. If we bombard the classroom teacher without offering some kind of support and reassurance, we act as yet another burden; which in turn might create animosity towards us and our child.
This is only the beginning of Riley’s story and our journey to getting him included. Stay tuned to see how successful our approach is.
Have a better idea of how we might get more rigor or inclusion for Riley?
Let us know in the comments below.
Think you might benefit from an experienced special education teacher who can advocate for your child in a parent-teacher meeting?
Schedule an appointment today https://www.spedgrowpro.com/need-an-educational-consult
First and foremost, if you are not incorporating break time within your lessons, start doing it NOW! Structured breaks provide students (and teachers) the opportunity to alleviate mental and/or physical fatigue, re-focus and re-gain attention, and improves overall achievement.
Imagine working in an office in which you were unable to get up for water, go to the bathroom as you please, and only got a 30-minute lunch break in which you could not talk freely or as loud as you would like? That is the adult version of grade school for our students.
Homeschool your child? Think about how frequently, or infrequently, you ask him or her to attend to a task for 30 or more minutes before they begin exhibiting problematic behaviors.
By designating a stopping point or specific time for your students to take a break, you are agreeing that for 3 or 5-minutes, work will stop and “play” will begin. Personally, we like to use trial and error to gauge how long or short of a task our students have before a break. It is also helpful to give your students a choice of how many minutes they get. Simply ask “would you like 3 or 4 minutes?”, and let them have the illusion of choice.
For example, one of my students with autism might be having a rockin’ day and complete 5 tasks within a 45-minute time frame. However, on other days, he can barely make it through 3 tasks before he begins to melt down (yes, there are big crocodile tears). After working with him for so long, I am able to gauge when that is about to happen. When I notice things starting to get tense, we re-adjust our scheduled break time to get back on track.
I’ll say “I can tell you are feeling frustrated because your face is getting red. Remember I am right here to help you. Let’s finish this one task and take a break. Do you want to play with putty or build with blocks? Would you like 3 minutes or 4 minutes?”
At this point, we have established a foreseeable and achievable stopping point, allowing him to ambitiously complete his task and earn his break with a preferred item for a time amount that he chooses. This is especially crucial for children with special needs and students identified or not labeled with ADD/ADHD, learning disability, etc. because, they perform better when adequately motivated and provided an opportunity to control portions of their day.
What does a break look like?
Excellent question! A break looks different in every setting. My students absolutely love Orb Slimy Braini Putty, specifically Galaxium, which you can find at Michael’s. Not only do children (and some parents) love the texture, they also love the ability to create dragon eggs, snakes, and their own handprints.
Not interested in buying additional resources? No problem. There are several movement break options. Our favorite is Cosmic Kids Yoga. Cosmic kids is yoga geared toward a younger audience and offers a variety of activities. Sometimes we even like starting our time with yoga to help increase blood flow and “get the wiggles out.”
Another student favorite is GoNoodle. This free streaming platform provides countless videos that instruct the students to get up and move around. Whether it’s teaching them to dance or about the water cycle, GoNoodle definitely provides an outlet for our energy filled kids.
Hesitant to introduce new technology-driven activities your child can find on their iPad? We feel you!
If you are looking for a more low-tech option, we recommend filling a plastic bag or decorated jar with exercise, writing, drawing, or crafting options. Depending on your child’s ability, you can write things down like “complete 15 push-ups in 2 minutes and 15 sit-ups in another 2 minutes” or “draw a butterfly coming out of its cocoon in 3 minutes.”
Honestly, the options are endless and the way to implement breaks can be molded to fit your classroom and household to the best of your ability. There is no right or wrong way to do it, as long as it’s being done!
Do you incorporate break time into your lessons? Let us know in the comments below!
Still have questions about breaks or would like some guidance on how to work in breaks effectively? Send us a PM or email us at email@example.com.
Every school district, principal, teacher, and environment is different. I recommend you approach each challenge in a way that best fits your situation. Luckily, most of what you desire for your kids (and in everyday life) are both acquirable and achievable when you are determined and communicate effectively.
Before speaking to any district employee, make sure you have compiled evidence for what you believe your child needs and any accommodations you might be requesting. This step is the only step you really need.
If you are able to provide data and documentation, as opposed to only presenting a doctor’s note, the district employees are more likely to put your requested supports in place. When you have supporting details, it is more difficult for anyone else to come up with loopholes and excuses as to why those supports are not possible.
The excuse “we cannot afford to… [blah blah blah]” is unacceptable and should NEVER be taken as a matter of fact!
As stated in the 2004 IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act), every child has the right to a “free and appropriate public education”. If you find that your student thrives and progresses better with speech support, as shown via deficits from CREVT (comprehensive receptive and expressive vocabulary), DAB (diagnostic achievement battery) assessment, CASL (comprehensive assessment of spoken language), etc. or simple home data collection like check boxes, grids, etc., your school will be legally required to honor your request for instructional service of speech.
In the event you come to your IEP (individual education plan) or annual meeting, which I would argue is too late, with data to support the need for related services, more minutes in an instructional area, break time, etc., the district employees cannot simply shrug off your requests.
You may find that teachers and principals can be put off by the material presented, mainly because they were not prepared for any of it. Which brings me back to “it’s too late” to bring your data to the IEP meeting.
So, now you ask, “well, when do I present my information?” I recommend you request a meeting with any and every teacher who will be present for the annual meeting. This type of meeting goes by different names in various regions, but you could call it a MDT (multidisciplinary team) meeting. This would be a pre-annual meeting where all parties can discuss their intentions with the student at hand.
More than likely, this request will be granted and a meeting will be set up. This is where you can ask how your child is doing, what everyone involved has observed, and present what you have observed.
During the MDT meeting, hold onto your data until you’ve heard from everyone else first.
It gives you the upper hand if you can get them to corroborate your narrative first and prevents them from being able to discredit, discount, or dispute your facts and the position you’re taking. After you’ve heard from everyone, communicate your observations and request the appropriate teacher begin taking data or assessing your child for a particular service. Great! Now what does that look like?
Let’s say you are wanting speech instruction. You might want to try saying “I’m noticing [your child’s name] is having a difficult time communicating what he wants and creating sentences that make sense on his own. We work on making his own sentences at home, but he won’t make them without our help. What can we do to get him speech support?” (allow whomever to speak).
The teacher or principal might come back and say “Oh, we’re working on things like that in the classroom”.
My follow-up question would be “how many minutes would you say you spend a day focusing solely on sentence development or communicating wants and needs?”
Again, the teacher/principal will respond. Maybe with something along the lines of “we don’t track that exactly, but I would say 15 minutes during reading time” or “we spend about 15 minutes/day on those skills.”
My follow-up request would be “oh that’s great! I would like him to get tested for speech services to see if that could be something he would benefit from. I’m sure y’all are doing a great job, but I feel like he would greatly benefit from explicit instruction in speech.”
At this point, you have legally requested an evaluation for speech. If anyone objects or refuses this request, this would be the time to show your data. If they continue to refuse, you can request an independent evaluation. If you get an independent evaluation, make sure you meet all of the district’s criteria so that you can push for them to pay for it. Although, it’s in the school’s best interest to simply do the evaluation if they have the staff available.
If your child were to qualify for speech services, he would then be entitled to individually specialized instruction by a licensed speech-language pathologist.
This is just one example of how to effectively support your position of increasing, decreasing, or adding a service accommodation/modification to your child’s IEP. Of course, every situation varies and it is highly recommended that you seek a knowledgeable education professional, advocate, lawyer or contact your state’s education agency with questions on how to get support for your child.
Remember, your child is entitled to a free and appropriate public education and there is nothing wrong with pushing your school district to uphold this federal law.
Jasmine Habeeb is a certified special education teacher who graduated from The University of Texas - Austin with a degree in special education. She enjoys sharing her opinions, recommendations, and current events on all things education.