Special Needs and Anti-Bullying: Part One

Special Needs and Anti-Bullying: Part One

Self-esteem, self-respect, and self-worth are important areas of development as we grow. They are also areas in which we’ve all experienced difficulty at some point in our lives. Just think of your junior-high years, and you’ll likely recognize what I mean.

Many children with special needs, however, struggle with these areas on a regular basis, not just during a few gangly pre-teen years.

Add in bullying, which occurs far more often than we usually realize, and special-needs kids and adults can end up with terrible, life-long struggles in these areas. We want to highlight the importance of anti-bullying in this two-part series because recognizing bullying behaviors and having tools to deal with those behaviors is vital for teachers, coaches, parents, friends, siblings, and special needs individuals.

What Is Bullying?

An important first step in dealing with bullying is clearly defining what bullying is, as well as what it is not. According to www.StopBullying.gov, “Bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children. It involves a real or perceived power imbalance and the behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time.” Let’s unpack that definition. First, bullying is connected with a behavior, not with a person. When discussing bullying with your special-needs child or with another adult, recognize that an individual is displaying a certain behavior but is not defined solely by that behavior (i.e., don’t refer to him/her as “the bully”). Next, the behavior is unwanted and aggressive. Conflict or disagreement between two individuals is not bullying. Conflict can become bullying when a power imbalance occurs, as when one child begins to display dominant behavior over another through name-calling, verbal or written threats, exerting physical force, and the like. He or she may think that the target is weaker (physically, mentally, or emotionally) than himself/herself. When such harassment becomes repeated behavior, or if the power imbalance is not recognized and addressed promptly to prevent it becoming repetitious, we end up with bullying situations.     

One further note: bullying in school settings, including events sponsored by schools, can be more than just a problem behavior–it can become an illegal activity called “disability harassment.” Disability harassment is defined by the U.S. Department of Education (2000) as “intimidation or abusive behavior toward a student based on disability that creates a hostile environment by interfering with or denying a student’s participation in or receipt of benefits, services, or opportunities in the institution’s program.” If you are aware of such a bullying situation in school settings, contact the school administrators immediately so that they can take proper measures.

Emotional, Physical, and Mental Results of Bullying

A natural result of being bullied is that the individual experiences sadness, frustration, and anxiety. Several other common results of bullying include depression, fear/apprehension, physical complaints (such as headaches, stomach/digestive issues, and fatigue), decreasing grades and academic struggles, and suicidal thoughts. Many children experience a combination of these emotions and struggles. Bullying that involves physical force can obviously cause bodily harm as well: bruising, swelling, cuts, etc. If you are around a child who displays one or more of these emotional, physical, or mental distresses, it’s a good idea to keep an alert eye and try to open the conversation to see if bullying may be involved.

A potential response to bullying that we can easily overlook is that the child who is on the receiving end of bullying may react strongly in an effort to feel powerful or in control, turning to bullying behaviors himself. He may not know how to approach an adult for assistance (or may be fearful of doing so). He also may have become so used to bullying behaviors taking place around him, as well as to him, that he instinctively turns to those behaviors when interacting with others. This is partly why it’s important to refer to bullying behavior instead of labeling a person as a bully. Those we view as “bullies” may well be lashing out in a nonverbal cry for help because they have been bullied in some way and don’t know how to deal with it.

Why Special-Needs Individuals Are at a Higher Risk

Many organizations have published statistics about the higher risk of bullying of special-needs individuals. Pacer.org states that “children with disabilities are two to three times more likely to be bullied than their nondisabled peers.” We know that bullying usually targets those who are different in some way. Children who have speech impediments, physical limitations, social skill challenges, mental limitations, or require physical assistance (such as a wheelchair or an oxygen tank) are much more vulnerable to harassment and bullying. Special needs individuals’ differences are part of what make these individuals beautiful and unique in their own way. Oftentimes children who are around special-needs kids have not been taught that differences are a good thing, and they have not received guidance in learning how to play with, interact with, and be friends with their special-needs peers.

At Be The Best Sport, we recognize that we all have differences. We are committed to providing safe, supportive, respectful, and fun environments for kids with special needs to thrive. Bullying is a big deal, and in part two we will address specific ways to help our kids know appropriate measures when bullying occurs. Check our schedule to learn more about the Fitness/Kickboxing/Anti-Bullying and Karate programs we are offering right now; it is designed to increase confidence and self-esteem, and they provide specific tools to deal with bullying behaviors.

Winter/Spring Schedule 2017

DaySportTimeDatesDates OffAgesMax KidsPriceLocationRegister
SaturdayMulti-Sport9:30am-10:15am2/18 - 4/22NONE4 - 710$210Click Here For InfoCall 516.453.0990
SaturdayMulti-Sport10:15am-11:00am2/18 - 4/22NONE8 - 148$210Click Here For InfoCall 516.453.0990
SaturdaySoccer10:15am-11:00am2/18 - 4/22NONE8 - 148$210Click Here For InfoCall 516.453.0990
SaturdayFitness/Kickboxing/Anti-Bullying11:15am-12:00pm2/18 - 4/22NONE12 - 2012$250Click Here For InfoCall 516.453.0990
SaturdayTrack & Field11:30am-12:15pm2/18 - 4/22NONE7 - 1510$210Click Here For InfoCall 516.453.0990
SaturdayKarate (Beginner) "Little Ninja"12:00pm-12:30pm2/18 - 4/22NONE4 - 78$160Click Here For InfoCall 516.453.0990
SaturdayAdaptive Karate12:30pm-1:15pm2/18 - 4/22NONE7 - 128$210Click Here For InfoCall 516.453.0990
SaturdayTrack & Field12:30pm-1:15pm2/18 - 4/22NONE7 - 1510$210Click Here For InfoCall 516.453.0990
SaturdayBasketball1:45pm-2:30pm2/18 - 4/22NONE7 - 1512$250Click Here For InfoCall 516.453.0990
SaturdaySpecial Needs Basketball2:30pm-3:15pm2/18 - 4/22NONE10 & Up12$250Click Here For InfoCall 516.453.0990
SundayManhasset Soccer - Adaptive Program4:00pm-5:00pm4/2-6/18April 9,16
May 14, 28
June
Pre K - 6th Gr.40$50Click Here For InfoClick Here

 

Sources:

http://www.pacer.org/bullying/resources/students-with-disabilities/

https://www.stopbullying.gov/at-risk/groups/special-needs/BullyingTipSheet.pdf

http://www.stompoutbullying.org/index.php/information-and-resources/parents-page/special-needs-kids-and-bullying/

http://www.ldonline.org/article/20001/

https://blog.ed.gov/2013/08/keeping-students-with-disabilities-safe-from-bullying/

http://www.bbc.com/news/education-27902500

https://canchild.ca/en/resources/32-bullying-risk-in-children-with-disabilities-a-review-of-the-literature

Top Ten Winter Weekend Activities for Adults and Children with Special Needs

Top Ten Winter Weekend Activities for Adults and Children with Special Needs

The weekend. This small phrase could evoke relaxing thoughts or overwhelming weariness. The upheaval of the normal schedule for two days can be tricky to navigate for families of special needs individuals, where routine often brings a sense of security and normalcy. To avoid utter boredom, frantic mayhem, or anything in between on the weekend, it’s helpful to find scheduled, supervised, engaging, and fun activities. So far, this all makes sense. But add in the factor of fluctuating (or just plain cold) wintertime weather, and the task to find fun activities can become just as overwhelming as not having any activities at all.

Don’t dread your weekends with your kids or adults who have special needs. We’ve compiled a list of ten winter weekend activity options recommended for special-needs individuals. Some activities require snow; some can be done on your back porch or in the living room.

 

Helpful Hints to Know Before Planning

First, a few suggestions to make winter weekend activities as helpful as possible:

  1. Have a calendar. Put it somewhere visible; make it as big and as fun and as normal as you can. Keeping your family’s daily norms (wake up, breakfast, lunch, bath time, nap time, etc.) the same through the weekend can help individuals with special needs realize that Saturday and Sunday are normal days too. Add in different activities in bright colors to create positive anticipation for fun events in the middle of a normal day.
  2. Schedule some quiet time. Remember that everyone needs the weekend to recharge before the next week. Make sure you allow for time for special needs individuals to have some independent play, imagination, rest, or time in an activity corner. You could put together a special weekend box of games and playthings that don’t require constant supervision, things like stuffed animals, puzzles, books, crafts, and favorite toys.
  3. Invest in a timer. Depending on the activities and events you choose to help your special needs individual participate in, it can be helpful for him or her to hear a clear sound that ends one activity and begins another. Positive endings to activities are just as key as positive activities.

 

Creative Fun to Have

Here are our top ten suggestions for fantastic winter weekend activities:

  1. Snow Play–If you live in an area with snow, then you might already be trying to get the “Do you wanna build a snowman?” song out of your head. Building a snowman, making snow angels, or going on a snowshoe hike can be fun ways to help your child or adult with special needs gain some sensory play in the winter. Make snowballs, but instead of a fight (which can be difficult for fearful or over-competitive individuals), aim to hit stationary objects and targets. Use the snow as your own family’s playground.
  2. Snow painting–For those who don’t like romping around in the snow, a great way to have fun outside and involve motor skills is snow painting. Gather squirt bottles (condiment bottles work well), fill them with water, add enough food coloring to make bright colors, and shake to mix. Children and adults both will enjoy “painting” their own artwork masterpieces by squirting the colors on the blank snow canvas.
  3. Indoor Snowman–Winter tends to revolve around snow, which can leave those of us in warmer climates feeling like we can’t find distinct winter activities. Indoor Snowmen to the rescue! (We suggest laying down an old sheet or newspaper or taking this indoor snowman to the back deck.) Gather a large box or plastic container; 2 boxes of cornstarch; 1 can of foam shaving cream; random buttons, sticks, leaves, clothespins, ribbons, or other materials from around the house. Dump the cornstarch into the box, add the shaving cream (you’ll use most of the can), and let your child mash it all together until it forms a crumbly mixture that you can shape into balls (add more shaving cream if it’s too dry to stick together). Make a snowman and decorate it with the random materials. You can re-use the “indoor snow” indefinitely if you use a box with a lid of some kind.
  4. Welcome to Fort Cozy!–With a little bit of forethought, you can put together a fort kit with old sheets, blankets, pillows, rope, cardboard, clothespins, and such. The sky is the limit with the imagination that goes into building forts. Plan to serve a snack, and make books, games, sensory bins, coloring materials, or perhaps an iPad readily available for hours of playtime fun in a cozy, soft blanket fort.
  5. Outdoor Recreation–Skiing, sledding, snowboarding, and other wintertime sports may seem inaccessible or impractical for some special-needs individuals. However, options have sprung up in recent years to allow for therapeutic recreation, which is defined as “creat[ing] adaptations so that people with disabilities have access to activities that they wouldn’t otherwise have” (www.parentmap.com). Check in your area to see if any organizations offer therapeutic or adaptive outdoor recreation options, especially if you live in snowy areas or near winter resorts. A few other suggestions: try to introduce your child to ski or snowboard areas on a weekday, when the slopes won’t be as crowded. It may help to prepare your child by reading a book about skiing or watching some videos on YouTube. If available, trying on ski or snowboard equipment ahead of time may make a first-time day at the slopes more enjoyable.
  6. Hockey–If able to ice skate, special needs individuals may enjoy and benefit from the community and team setting of ice hockey. If your child shows interest in hockey, playing some family street hockey with sticks and a ball in the driveway can give you an indication of your child’s abilities and attentiveness during play. Talk with local coaches and explain your child’s abilities and needs. Discuss any possible accommodations to make hockey a successful integrated experience for your child.
  7. S’more Fun–Build a winter bonfire in the backyard and roast s’mores. This can also be a great social interaction if you invite neighbors, hockey teammates, or other friends over to enjoy a relaxing afternoon or evening.
  8. Pool Time–Create your own sensory play time in an indoor pool! Take several pool noodles, cut them down to six-inch lengths, and fill the tub (or a plastic kiddie pool) with them. The bright colors and foam noodles will provide hours of sensory play, similar to a ball pit.
  9. Good clean…work–Wintertime chores can actually provide stimulating activity options for children and adults who have special needs. Shoveling sidewalks, scraping ice off windshields, collecting firewood, or making patterns in Jack Frost’s handiwork on windows while washing them off are all examples of chores that can become avenues for fun, physical development during the winter months.
  10. Obstacle Courses–Obstacle courses can be set up either indoors or outdoors, making them a versatile winter weekend activity. Outside, make tunnels in the snow, create paths to follow with visible markers, or set up a section of snow to shovel out of the way. Inside, connect rows of chairs for crawling under, ottomans to climb over, and “lava floors” (blankets on the floor that you can’t touch). Obstacles create opportunities to develop motor skills, translate sensory observations into resulting actions, and provide hours of learning fun.

 

Be The Best Sport offers great winter activities for children with special needs. Our Saturday sports enrichment programs are perfect to get out of the house and be active!

Please check out our program schedule, and register for a FREE Trial Class if you are interested in trying out any of our programs!

Winter/Spring Schedule 2017

DaySportTimeDatesDates OffAgesMax KidsPriceLocationRegister
SaturdayMulti-Sport9:30am-10:15am2/18 - 4/22NONE4 - 710$210Click Here For InfoCall 516.453.0990
SaturdayMulti-Sport10:15am-11:00am2/18 - 4/22NONE8 - 148$210Click Here For InfoCall 516.453.0990
SaturdaySoccer10:15am-11:00am2/18 - 4/22NONE8 - 148$210Click Here For InfoCall 516.453.0990
SaturdayFitness/Kickboxing/Anti-Bullying11:15am-12:00pm2/18 - 4/22NONE12 - 2012$250Click Here For InfoCall 516.453.0990
SaturdayTrack & Field11:30am-12:15pm2/18 - 4/22NONE7 - 1510$210Click Here For InfoCall 516.453.0990
SaturdayKarate (Beginner) "Little Ninja"12:00pm-12:30pm2/18 - 4/22NONE4 - 78$160Click Here For InfoCall 516.453.0990
SaturdayAdaptive Karate12:30pm-1:15pm2/18 - 4/22NONE7 - 128$210Click Here For InfoCall 516.453.0990
SaturdayTrack & Field12:30pm-1:15pm2/18 - 4/22NONE7 - 1510$210Click Here For InfoCall 516.453.0990
SaturdayBasketball1:45pm-2:30pm2/18 - 4/22NONE7 - 1512$250Click Here For InfoCall 516.453.0990
SaturdaySpecial Needs Basketball2:30pm-3:15pm2/18 - 4/22NONE10 & Up12$250Click Here For InfoCall 516.453.0990
SundayManhasset Soccer - Adaptive Program4:00pm-5:00pm4/2-6/18April 9,16
May 14, 28
June
Pre K - 6th Gr.40$50Click Here For InfoClick Here

 

Helping Special Needs Kids Learn Unfamiliar Things

Helping Special Needs Kids Learn Unfamiliar Things

Unfamiliar things come into everyone’s life on a daily basis. For most of us, these unfamiliar things do not cause too much confusion. However, for the special needs child, anything that is unfamiliar has the potential to become a huge challenge for them. Some will get frustrated trying. Some will look at it from every angle and try to figure it out. And some will just curl up and not even attempt to figure out what they need to do. There are several steps that you can take to help a special needs kid through the unfamiliar circumstances that they encounter.

1.     Start with the familiar.

In every situation, there is some kind of familiar factor. Start with that. Help them to see a color they know, a favorite shape, or a familiar person. They may need help becoming comfortable with the familiar in an unfamiliar setting, but it will become their rock. Be sure to point out the familiar in every unfamiliar situation to help them gain initial confidence!

 

2.     Look for the easiest adjustment.

When helping a special needs child learn unfamiliar things, it is important that you break down the situation and start with the simplest step or component. Starting with the simplest component will go a long way in helping them gain confidence and familiarity with the unfamiliar task or concept they are being asked to tackle.

 

3.     Watch for nonverbal and verbal clues.

It is so important to watch for clues when a special needs child is being asked to do something that is unfamiliar to them. As you are helping them, they are going to be constantly giving you indications that will let you see how they are adapting. Be sure to pay attention and adjust the situation as needed. If the child feels that their mode of communication is not being understood, they will get frustrated and will not be willing to move on and learn the unfamiliar that is trying to be taught.

 

4.     Be consistent.

Who doesn’t like consistency? This one factor is very important to a special needs child. As you are introducing them to an unfamiliar item or concept, be sure to be consistent with how you introduce it. Special needs children thrive on consistency, and if you try to introduce the unfamiliar in a totally different way from how you normally introduce changes, this will make the process so much harder for you and the child. Be consistent! It’s so important!

 

5.     Give praise.

Special needs children also thrive on praise. It gives them a reassurance that everything is okay, and it motivates them to move on and keep trying things. When they face an unfamiliar situation, they need that reassurance even more. It will take baby steps all along the way when it comes to introducing anything that is unfamiliar to them, but the praise that comes with every baby step will motivate them even more to achieve the ultimate goal!

 

At Be the Best Sport, our goal is to work in these ways to help your special needs child become comfortable with the unfamiliar things that they encounter in the sports arena. Each child will have their unique way of learning unfamiliar things, but with these steps, we are confident that we can help them learn each unfamiliar concept in a fun and effective way!

Winter/Spring Schedule 2017

DaySportTimeDatesDates OffAgesMax KidsPriceLocationRegister
SaturdayMulti-Sport9:30am-10:15am2/18 - 4/22NONE4 - 710$210Click Here For InfoCall 516.453.0990
SaturdayMulti-Sport10:15am-11:00am2/18 - 4/22NONE8 - 148$210Click Here For InfoCall 516.453.0990
SaturdaySoccer10:15am-11:00am2/18 - 4/22NONE8 - 148$210Click Here For InfoCall 516.453.0990
SaturdayFitness/Kickboxing/Anti-Bullying11:15am-12:00pm2/18 - 4/22NONE12 - 2012$250Click Here For InfoCall 516.453.0990
SaturdayTrack & Field11:30am-12:15pm2/18 - 4/22NONE7 - 1510$210Click Here For InfoCall 516.453.0990
SaturdayKarate (Beginner) "Little Ninja"12:00pm-12:30pm2/18 - 4/22NONE4 - 78$160Click Here For InfoCall 516.453.0990
SaturdayAdaptive Karate12:30pm-1:15pm2/18 - 4/22NONE7 - 128$210Click Here For InfoCall 516.453.0990
SaturdayTrack & Field12:30pm-1:15pm2/18 - 4/22NONE7 - 1510$210Click Here For InfoCall 516.453.0990
SaturdayBasketball1:45pm-2:30pm2/18 - 4/22NONE7 - 1512$250Click Here For InfoCall 516.453.0990
SaturdaySpecial Needs Basketball2:30pm-3:15pm2/18 - 4/22NONE10 & Up12$250Click Here For InfoCall 516.453.0990
SundayManhasset Soccer - Adaptive Program4:00pm-5:00pm4/2-6/18April 9,16
May 14, 28
June
Pre K - 6th Gr.40$50Click Here For InfoClick Here

 

 

Martial Arts and the Benefits For Children with ASD

 

Martial Arts, even though not considered a “sport”, provides many physical benefits for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. It is said that children with ASD have difficulties with social interaction and communication with peers within a social setting. Some children may also display “obsessive” repetitive words, phrases and movements. However, you may think “well Martial Arts involves repetitive sequences and movements, how is that helpful?” Martial Arts provides many benefits for children with ASD by;

  • Assisting with improvement of concentration. During Martial Arts training, children will practice paying attention to the instructor throughout the class. This helps improve concentration outside of Martial Arts.
  • Repetitive movements and sequences may help decrease “obsessive” repetitive behaviors, disruptive behaviors and harmful behaviors.
  • It also helps children release energy and tension that will help decrease disruptive behaviors.
  • Martial Arts helps teach children about body movement and control, which in returns helps with motor skills, improves core strength and decreases unhealthy weight gain.
  • Martial Arts also helps boost self-esteem and confidence in children.
Martial Arts provides therapeutic rewards for children. It helps children feel that they learn something new every class at their own pace, and that they also feel like part of a group. At Be The Best Sport, we provide a combination of Martial Arts, Fitness, Kickboxing and Anti-Bullying classes for children of all ages. We feel that Martial Arts is a great activity for children and helps in many ways. For more information about our classes click here.

 

Sources: Martial Arts Therapy, Martial Arts Benefits