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Feeding FUNdamentals

Did you know that approximately 25% of children are reported to present with some form of a Pediatric Feeding Disorder? The number increases to 80% for children with developmental delays. Often times parents are told, “Don’t worry they will eat eventually” or “They won’t starve themselves”. Well, this is false. Children with a pediatric feeding disorder will not just eat eventually and yes, unfortunately, they can starve themselves. This is why it is so important to understand the difference between picky eaters and problem feeders as well as when and how to refer a child that may have a pediatric feeding disorder.  

Parents, caregivers, teachers, therapeutic and medical providers will need to work as a team in order to provide a treatment plan that best fits the child. The Infant and Child Feeding Questionnaire (ICFQ©) is an age specific tool consisting of 6 questions designed to identify potential feeding concerns and facilitate discussion with all members of the child’s healthcare team. They are:

  • Does your baby/child let you know when he is hungry?
  • Does it take less than 5 minutes or more than 30 minutes to feed your child?
  • Do you have to do anything special to help your baby/child eat?
  • Does your baby/child let you know when he is full?
  • Does your child gag, choke, or vomit before, during, or after meals?

If you answered YES to two or more of these questions, you should discuss these concerns with your child’s pediatrician.

Melissa Brown M.A., CCC-SLP, TSSLD
Speech-Language Pathologist


Baking Holiday Cookies

The holidays are a great time of year to bake with your children.  Not only are we spending quality time with our children, but we can incorporate numerous therapeutic exercises while baking.  First choose your family cookie recipe, buy your ingredients, and get to work!!!

Enhancing Specific Learning Objectives: 

Area Targeted:  
Physical Therapy Animal walks to get ingredients that are scattered throughout the kitchen Squatting to pick up ingredients from low shelves/floor and putting it on countertops Sit or stand on pillow while mixing
Occupational Therapy Roll the dough between two hands or use a rolling pin Hold the bowl while mixing, using measuring cups to scoop out ingredients Pinch sprinkles to decorate Use two hands to push down on cookie cutters
Speech Therapy Emphasize sequencing terms such as first we mix the flour and sugar, then we add the eggsBaking is great for learning action words (such as mixing, cracking, stirring, pouring, etc.) and objects (such as mixing bowl, mixer, spatula, cookie sheet, cookie cutter, sprinkles, etc.)Reviewing the steps helps children learn to answer questions as well (Did we add the eggs yet?, What did we do first? Did we pour the milk into the bowl or mix the flour and sugar?, etc.)
Educational GoalsCount the number of ingredientsTalk about the colors of the ingredients and decorations (eggs are white outside and yellow inside, blue icing or green sprinkles?)Pick out different cookie cutter shapes (i.e., circles, diamonds) and sizes (i.e., a big circle, a small square)

Thanksgiving Turkey Craft

Thanksgiving Turkey Craft

Materials Needed:

  1. Paint, Markers or Crayons
  2. Paper plates
  3. Glue
  4. Tape or Stapler
  5. Scissors
  6. Colored Tissue Paper

How to Make Your Turkey:

  1. Paint paper plates brown and set aside to dry (if you do not have 2 different sized plates, you can cut one to be smaller).
  2. Trace or have your child trace the oval template on to different colored paper.  Cut out Ovals for the feathers or have child cut out Ovals on colored paper.  If you do not have colored paper on hand, you can color the paper with markers, crayons, or paint.  **Helpful Hint: It will be easier to color the paper before it is cut out**
  3. Trace or have your child trace the triangle for the beak (on yellow paper or color paper yellow), large circle for the eyes (white paper), heart for the wattle (red paper or color paper red), and scallop-shape for feet (orange paper or color paper orange).  Use black marker to make circles on white paper for eyes.
  4. To add texture to the feathers, cut or tear tissue paper into small pieces.  Let your child roll paper into a ball and match the tissue paper to the oval-shaped feathers. Glue to paper with liquid glue or glue stick to one half of the oval shape.
  5. To assemble your turkey: glue small plate to larger plate, placing the smaller plate off center.  Flip plates over and glue or tape feathers to the back of the plate.  Glue eyes on small plate.  Glue heart-shaped wattle upside down and glue triangle beak on top.  Finally, glue scalloped- feet to the back of plates.

Enhancing Specific Learning Objectives:

Area Targeted:
Physical Therapy1. Before assembling the turkey (step 5), place each piece of the turkey at the top of the stairs and have child retrieve each piece and assemble as they come back down.2. Create a “Turkey Hunt” by hiding pieces of the turkey around the house so that your child can lift up objects, crawl under furniture, or walk through narrow spaces without touching walls.3. Practice “Turkey Walking” by having your child imitate you as you move your head back and forward like a turkey!  Tuck your hands into your under arm and stick out elbows to make “wings” and take slow steps 1 at a time!
Occupational Therapy1. Use cut up sponges or cotton balls to paint the paper plates 2. Have your child complete the above outlined steps to create a turkey while laying on the floor on their stomach 3. Make your own turkey while your child makes theirs.  Model how to put together the turkey and have your child make their turkey look just like yours to work on visual perception skills
Speech Therapy1. Follow one-step directions by telling the child what to do before providing a visual model (ex: “Glue the small plate on the big plate”) 2. Identify the colors and name another item or several items that are that color (ex: “What color is this feather?” -Red, “Can you name 2 other things that are red?”) 3. Talk about all the parts of the turkey.  Once you go through the different parts of a turkey compare what a turkey has that we don’t have and what we do have.  “A turkey has feathers, do you have feathers?”)
Social Emotional1. Teach your child to identify one coping strategy they can use when they are upset for each feather they place on the turkey. 2. Discuss certain situations that make your child upset 3. Print out or draw a picture of your child or a cartoon character engaging in the coping strategy that they identified on each feather.  Examples of strategies include, listen to music, exercise, squeeze a stress ball, ask for help, etc.

Using Visual Schedules

A visual schedule is a series of pictures, words or symbols that indicate a series of events or steps on how to complete daily activities (i.e., hand washing). This is something your child can follow throughout the day. A visual schedule works by breaking down tasks into more manageable steps. 

Visual schedules can help your child:
Follow a routine
Transition between activities
Develop new skills
Reduce dependence on caretakers when completing an activity
Increase on-task behavior
Decrease tantrums
Reduce anxiety

Pick a routine that you would like to address.
Start small using 2 or 3 simple steps in the routine.
Use pictures, words or symbols that your child understands and can interpret independently.
Place the schedule in a location that is easily accessible to you and your child, such as on the refrigerator, in the family room, on a closet door, or dresser drawer. 
Prior to using the visual schedule, make sure your child understands how to use it. Review the schedule and steps in the schedule with your child.
When your child begins to use the schedule, he/she may need verbal prompts on what to do. Try to minimize the verbal prompts as much as possible, as this will help foster independence.

Resources to help you create a visual schedule:

Christina Mullady, M.S.Ed, BCBA


Early Services Benefit Special Needs Children On Long Island

Originally Published Thursday, Apr 1, 2021, at 4:00 pm on

The early years are the critical years for our children, especially when a child is diagnosed with a disability that can make it difficult to reach their full potential without support. Research shows that the earlier children get the support they need, the more time they have to build the foundational skills for a life of achievement.

At Family of Kidz, we have the opportunity to work with learners of all ages. Progress for children of all ages is our goal; however, time and time again we see that therapy in the early years jump-starts our children’s ability to learn and succeed both in and out of the educational setting. Services with Family of Kidz can begin as early as 18 months and grow with your child through the school years into adulthood.

April is World Autism Awareness Month and as it approaches it is important to learn how getting services started at an early age can improve your child’s quality of life overall. Applied Behavior Analysis is a methodology of teaching that using evidence-based and scientific processes for educating children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. When working with young learners, our team uses a combination of ABA principles and natural environment teaching to work on a broad spectrum of skills. Kidz ABA is a program that utilizes Licensed Behavior Analysts and Registered Behavior Technicians to work on individualized programming in the home or community setting. ABA teams work diligently to find programming that is the most beneficial for the child’s day-to-day life and works closely with families to generalize newly learned skills. The comprehensive model of ABA can be from 15- 40 hours of services a week. This Kidz ABA team works personally with the families to create a schedule that is effective for the child and family.

Kidz ABA can benefit children from early diagnosis through adulthood. As we approach World Autism Awareness Month, let us remember the benefits that starting services at a young age can have. Our team at Kidz ABA can teach communication skills, activities of daily living skills, academics, leisure, and social skills that will set a strong foundation for a child’s success over their critical years of development. With the correct support, our little learners have the chance to have big opportunities

Keri Strejlau, M.S.Ed, BCBA, LBA


Using Positive Reinforcement to Improve Your Child’s Behavior

Is Little Jimmy being loud when you are on the phone? Lilly didn’t clean up her toys when you asked? Does homework time equal argument time? Does it take countless reminders to get your child to do their chores? Using positive reinforcement techniques will motivate positive, prosocial, appropriate behaviors within your children during all of these situations.

We have all heard of that age old phrase “You get more flies with honey than with vinegar.” Your grandmother probably told you that when you were growing up. Your grandmother was correct! You do get better results when you are positive and giving praise, then when you are negative and punishing.

Positive reinforcement has been scientifically proven to increase the behavior that you want to see more often. Positive reinforcement is used in a multitude of ways throughout our everyday life, not just in Applied Behavior Analysis. For example, for adults, receiving a paycheck is positive reinforcement to continue to go to work.

Just as positive reinforcement works effectively with adults, it works equally as well with children. This is also true when they are behaving in a way that – on the surface – does not appear to deserve a reward.

Positive reinforcement doesn’t mean that your child needs to receive a special reward for everything they do. There are many different forms of positive reinforcement. Depending on your child and how motivating the reinforcer is, you can use a variety of positive reinforcers for multiple behaviors in the home. These reinforcers can also be doled out right away or staggered out over time, depending upon the behavior or “lesson” you are trying to teach.

For example, you might say “good job” or “thank you” to your child when they follow your directions the first time you say it. When they complete their homework without a fight, they earn 15 minutes of iPad time. However, if your child completes their chore chart for 5 days in a row, they may earn something “bigger”. This may mean a tangible, more motivating prize, such as a toy from a prize box or a movie night with the family.

Use positive reinforcement with your child every time you see something “good” happen. Focusing on the positive will help ensure that these desired behaviors occur more often. The change won’t happen overnight, but you will see results. Remember – “practice makes perfect”! The more you positively reinforce desirable behavior – the better your results you will be!


It’s a New Year! Time to Get Moving!

The New Year is here! It’s a great time to create healthy habits and make sure your child with autism is getting enough exercise – even during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Why Is Exercise Important to Your Child With Autism?

Our brains need physical activity to remain healthy!!  

Without enough exercise, you may notice that your child demonstrates increased irritability.  You may also notice a decrease in concentration and focus.  Moderate exercise for at least 20 minutes has been shown to increase the ability to focus and learn in the few hours after.

Exercise promotes better sleep!!  

All children need to sleep well.  During these challenging times, schedules may be off.  People are stressed.  Coping skills  may not be  as sharp.  Exercise helps with both falling asleep and staying asleep.

Here are some tips for encouraging exercise at home:

Make physical exercise a part of the daily routine!!

Dedicate blocks of time in the morning and afternoon for exercise.  If you don’t plan it – it probably won’t happen!

Let your child choose the activity!!

Give your child choices for exercise, both of which would be acceptable.  Example: “We are going for a walk.  Would you like to walk in the park or in our neighborhood?”  

Make it fun!!

Create a list of physical activities that your child enjoys so that exercise never feels like a chore. Tailor the activity list to your child’s interests

Start slowly and build up!!

For children who are not accustomed to regular physical exercise, aim for 20 minutes daily and gradually increase to 60 minute blocks of time – preferably outdoors.

Limit screen time!

While tablets, computers and television are useful for learning opportunities or as rewards, too much screen time can take away from time spent in active play.

Walk the walk!!

Kids are more likely to exercise when they see their caregivers being active. That doesn’t mean you have to do the same activities as your child, but modeling physical activity is an important motivator for kids. Instead of thinking of exercise as an extra thing you have to do, it can help to think of movement as one of the coping skills we can use to overcome difficulties.

Forget perfect!!

Any exercise is better than none, so don’t worry if your child doesn’t achieve the recommended 60 minutes a day.  Be realistic, do your best and have fun!


What’s App?! Apps to Entertain and Educate

Are you looking for a way to entertain and educate your children during the upcoming holiday vacation?

Here is a list of some great apps for kids and adults with developmental difficulties, including autism. These apps can help with communication, social skills and even problem solving.

Autism iHelp – Sounds

Category: Educational

Integrates auditory and visual stimuli and emphasizes connecting images with their accompanying sound.

Autism Read & Write Pro

Categories: Educational, Speech

Provides assistance for your child to identify things found at home, at school, and in other places. Helps children understand what they read, write, and learn in their own space and time.

Proloquo2Go – Symbol-Based AAC

Categories: Social Skills, Speech

Provides assistance to nonverbal children with autism featuring natural-sounding voice and speech which can be generated by simply tapping buttons with symbols or typing a word.

i Create… Social Skills Stories…-social-skills/id513666306?mt=8

Categories: Educational, Functional Skills, Behavioral Intervention, Social Skills

Designed for young children and individuals with developmental delays. It has a social story sample that serves as a guide. You can organize photos and pages in the book. This app helps children recall the events  of a story and enhances their social skills.

ABA Flash Cards & Games – Emotions

Categories: Educational, Social Skills

Provides children with a simple and fun way to recognize 100 emotions. Users are taught how to understand and respond to these emotions once they have been identified.

Daniel Tiger for Parents

Categories: Functional Skills, Entertainment, Educational

Helps children with autism learn life skills, such as sharing, trying new foods and working with emotions. 

I’m On It: Focus Timer for ADHD & ASD

Categories: Functional Skills, Behavioral Intervention

Timer app helps anyone who struggles with staying focused on tasks, particularly those with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD, or ADD) as well as people working through the unique challenges of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

Sensory Light Box

Categories: Games, Entertainment

Free app that allows users to touch the screen to trigger a particle effect, spawn new particles, and have up to 10 touch points active simultaneously. It’s a great app that is made specifically for children on the autism spectrum.

First Then Visual Schedule

Categories: Behavioral Intervention, Health Manager

This app can help your child increase his/her independence and reduce anxiety through the use of visual schedules. Allows the user to add images, record voice and organize a schedule. 

Endless Reader

Promotes early reading habits in your child. The cute Endless monsters teach your child sight words and their usage in a fun filled environment.

Dino Tim

Exciting voiceovers help children learn shapes, colors, and numbers,  enhancing motor coordination and visual perceptions of colors & objects in motion.

Otsimo | Special Education AAC

Uses techniques designed around applied behavior analysis (ABA) and alternative and augmentative communication (AAC) to help children reach speech development milestones as well as achieve desired lifestyle skills, behaviors, and much more. With over 50 games that can be personalized to a child’s specific needs,  it provides progress reports along the way that show how far they’ve come since using the app.


It’s Cold Outside!

Tips to Help Your Child Dress for Cold Weather

Children diagnosed with ASD often need help preparing for any big change in their lives, and that includes a change in the weather.

Here are some quick tips to help make the seasonal transition more successful:

Put the Summer Clothes Away! 

Minimize the clothing options in your child’s drawers and closet.  Only allow access to the clothing you want them to wear.

Be a Good Role Model!

Modeling is so important!  Your child is always watching you and learning from what you do. Are you expecting your child to wear a hat, gloves and scarf? Then you need to  be wearing them too!

Have Fun With It!

Try making a game out of putting on all those clothes needed to go outside.  Singing a silly song can help. Use the song “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes,” as a checklist for gathering and putting on winter gear.  Sing together while identifying the items you need to keep warm: head (hat); shoulders (coat); knees (snow pants); toes (boots); eyes — looking at hands (gloves); ears (earmuffs); mouth and nose (scarf).

Identify a Reward That Motivates Your Child!

Use positive reinforcement when helping your child transition to cold weather clothing. We are all motivated differently.  Ideally, the reward  is delivered immediately after your child puts on that dreaded piece of clothing, so they learn that “when I put my jacket on, I get my favorite toy”. Informing your child first is also helpful (“first put your jacket on, then you can watch your video”).

Use Visuals! 

This may seem unnecessary if your child is already getting dressed independently, but using a visual task analysis (an ordered breakdown of each item they need to put on)  can help your child transition smoothly into a new season and new articles of clothing.

Pick Your Battles!

Try  not to make leaving the house in cold weather an all out struggle. Decide which clothing items are the most essential and move on. Does your child  really need mittens to get out the door, or is that something you can take with you, or store in your pocket for later?

Offer Choices!

Giving your child a sense of control over what they want to wear, by providing some choices, can really help avoid frustration. Mittens or gloves? Hood or hat? Turtleneck shirt or scarf?  Allowing your child to choose can result in positive results!

Keep Trying Until You Find What Works!

Every child is different and as parents, we learn what generates a positive or negative response from  our child.  Do your best to create routines that benefit your family. When it comes to winter clothing – experiment with fabrics, a variety of clothing sizes and styles. Your child will eventually let you know what works for them!


Tips for Helping Your Child with Autism Handle School Breaks

Transitioning Through School Breaks

It is the time of year for seasonal holidays and long breaks from school. The multiple days off from school can have a negative impact on students, especially those students with autism. To prevent regression during this time, here are a few tips to use at home over the holidays.

Maintain a Sleep Routine:

It can be difficult to stick to a bedtime schedule, but this is very important for your child. Setting an alarm daily as a reminder to start the nighttime routine will help ensure that your child is getting in bed at an appropriate and consistent time every evening. This will also prevent your child from having a difficult time adjusting to getting up early and going to bed on time when returning to school. Begin this strategy a few days before returning to school after the holidays.

Use Visual Schedules:

The use of a visual schedule, for the morning and bedtime routines, will not only help to ensure that your child remains on a consistent sleep and meal schedule, but will also promote a regular routine of engaging in academic activities and decreasing leisure screen time. Daily schedules help children maintain positive behavioral skills, such as sitting at a desk and completing academic tasks.

Maintenance Binder:

Some teachers will provide or will assist with developing a maintenance binder or a packet for the students to work on daily over the holiday break. The binder should include fun activities, as well goals and skills for maintenance. This will help to maintain academic skills and competencies to prevent regression in any of the goals learned so far this year. 

Designated Work Area:

Set a specific place where your child can focus and complete academic work without distraction. The work area should be clear from electronics, toys and other items that may distract your child.  The goal is to promote focus on the academic material. The work space  should be organized so that  academic materials can be safely stored and put away.

Use a Reward System:

Sticker charts and token boards are a great way to promote positive behavior while at home. Be specific about  the behavior you desire  – for example:  “follow daily schedule,” “be nice to siblings,” “help taking out the garbage”.  Provide small daily rewards, such as stickers, when your child engages in the behaviors you have targeted. It is important to remember that the reward should be something motivating to the child and not something they have free access to.

Encourage Children to Be Involved with Prep and Cleanup:

Small family gatherings provide great opportunities for your child to help with cleaning, cooking, and wrapping gifts.  When using a visual schedule, include time in the schedule for “helping mom or dad.” This is a fun way to share family time,  teach a new skill and reinforce positive behavior. 

Use Social Stories:

Social stories are an effective tool to use to explain the change in routines during the holidays.  Use social stories to explain who may be visiting for the holidays,  or plans for family travel.  Changes that we are all facing may best be explained through a social story.

Attached is a list of resources to use:

Social Stories websites and Apps

Social Stories for Kids With Autism – The Ultimate Guide

12 Computer Programs, Websites And Apps For Making Social Stories

Visual schedule Apps

Token Board Apps

Megan Killeen MS, BCBA, LBA is a Clinical Supervisor at Family of Kidz.

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