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What Are 'Special Needs'?

Portrait of a Boy With Down Syndrome

"Special needs" is an umbrella term that covers a wide range of issues, from medical problems to developmental differences, learning difficulties to food allergies. If your child benefits from accommodations, modifications, sensitivity and understanding, chances are you'll find useful information and support here

Children With Special Needs Spotlight10

Easter Games, Bouncing Balls, and More Fun Things to Do

Saturday April 19, 2014

Stop by here every Saturday for a family activity, a site for the kids, a shopping site, a site offering humor or inspiration about parenting children with special needs, and a site that's just silly or fun, all designed to get you through your weekend with kids amused and spirits intact. Today's list:

  1. Activity: Easter Fun and Games
  2. Kids' Site: Bouncy Balls
  3. Shopping: ArtLifting
  4. Humor: Family Gathering Survival Kit
  5. Just for Fun: "If Our Media Reported The Thing That Just Happened On 'Game Of Thrones'"

Wishing for Church Inclusion, on Easter Especially

Friday April 18, 2014

Child in ChurchThis Sunday, Easter Sunday, is one of those occasions where parents may feel most acutely the lack of inclusion and fellowship with their worship community. Families who stay home frequently to avoid disturbing their fellow parishioners may come back for Easter and be reminded all over again what a bad idea that seems to be. Noticing that there's a children's choir and young altar servers and a Sunday school infrastructure and a whole passel of programs that your child and your family have never been welcomed into can sting again on a big church holiday. Even if things go relatively well, it's hard not to feel on the outside looking in. And if you wind up with your wiggly loud child in a cry room or a bench in the narthex or maybe even out in your car, you may end up having a distinctly non-spiritual experience.

So this felt like a good day to be talking to Amy Fenton Lee of The Inclusive Church on The Inclusive Class podcast. My co-host Nicole Eredics and I usually talk about school inclusion, but churches also have a job to do in including children of all abilities and educating them in the ways of their faith. Those who claim there's no need to do that because no kids with special needs are in the congregation need to check the statistics, Lee suggests, and take a hard look at how they've managed to drive those families away. Lee's book Leading a Special Needs Ministry gives churches some practical ideas on how to be more welcoming, and in the article "Five Ways to Make Your Church More Inclusive" she suggests some quick ways to get started. If your biggest concern right now is how you're going to get through that lengthy service on Sunday, my article "Church and the Child With Special Needs" has some pointers. Do you have some good tricks of your own? Share them on the Readers Respond page.

Also in the special-needs news today:

+ This week's Parenting Special Needs newsletter offers tips for finding the pediatrician that's right for you and then working collaboratively by asking the right questions and getting the knowledge you need. You can read the newsletter online, but why not subscribe to get future issues right in your inbox?

+ The U.S. Paralympics blog has an interview with Declan Farmer, the high-school sophomore who was one of the top scorers for the sled hockey team that won the gold in the 2014 Paralympic Winter Games in Sochi.

+ The Arc has released a response to offensive comments and use of the R-word by Gavin McInnes, a guest on the Fox News's The Sean Hannity Show.

For more special-needs news, check the dailyweekly, and topic folders.

Photo by Greg Ceo/Getty Images

Podcast Examines Parents' Pet Peeves About Pediatricians

Thursday April 17, 2014

Parenting RoundAboutOn yesterday's Parenting RoundAbout podcast, I swapped bad pediatrician stories with my fellow About.com parenting experts Catherine Holecko (Family Fitness), Laureen Brunelli (Work-at-Home Moms), and Amanda Morin (Kids' Learning Activities). We chatted about impossible wait times, too-big practices where you always see a stranger, doctors who scoff at a parent's opinion, and other reasons why you might want to fire your pediatrician. You can listen to our conversation on BlogTalk Radio, Stitcher, or iTunes, and if you're on your own new-pediatrician search right now, read my article "Before You Pick a Pediatrician" for some guidelines.

Next Wednesday's podcast topic considers "How Soon Is Too Soon to Start School?" If you've have some experiences and opinions regarding early intervention and preschool, sound off in the comments here or on the Parenting RoundAbout Facebook page, and maybe we'll mention it on the air.

Also in the special-needs news today:

+ Jen Lee Reeves, whose online community Born Just Right was a 2013 Readers' Choice Award finalist, blogged about "The Magic of Amy Purdy" and the significance of the Paralympian's performances on Dancing With the Stars to kids with limb differences.

+ Disability Scoop reports on a new ranking of the "Best States for Disability Services." At the top is Arizona, and Mississippi comes in last. You can find the full ranking on the United Cerebral Palsy site.

+ The blog Pediatric Occupational Therapy Tips has a quick idea for making visual schedules to "help children with changes in routine." For more techniques for getting through rough behavior spots, read my articles on "The ABCs of Behavior Management" and "Ten Ways to Improve Your Child's Behavior."

For more special-needs news, check the dailyweekly, and topic folders.

Helping Your Child With Special Needs Enjoy Easter

Tuesday April 15, 2014

Easter BasketEaster is coming this Sunday, ending the string of candy-overload holidays that started with Halloween and ran through Christmas and Valentine's Day. If you have a child for whom treats can be trouble -- whether due to allergies, medical conditions, behavioral overreactions to sugar, or any other disaster waiting to happen -- the baskets and egg hunts and goody bags that hop into your house this time of year can be a challenge. The holiday can be tricky for other reasons, too, as anyone who's tried to get a wiggly kid to sit still during long church services, get a sensory-sensitive child to put on fancy Easter duds, or get through a family gathering without wanting to stuff a giant chocolate bunny down someone's throat can attest. For some holiday-handling advice, read my Easter Survival Guide and prepare for a "whatever works" kind of a day.

Also in the special-needs news today:

+ If you missed paralympian Amy Purdy on Dancing With the Stars last night, the video of her waltz with partner Derek Hough is up on YouTube. You can cast votes through Tuesday.

+ Around About.com, autism expert Lisa Jo Rudy offers "Five Reasons to Celebrate Our Autistic Children's Small Victories," Down syndrome expert Eliana Tardio writes about "The Challenges of Being a Working Mom of a Child with Down Syndrome," and celiac disease expert Jane Anderson has information on gluten-free Easter candy.

+ Mashable shares the story of a young cancer survivor who developed a video game to help kids with cancer feel better, have fun, and find fellowship.

For more special-needs news, check the dailyweekly, and topic folders.

Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

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