Friday, October 18, 2019

The Best Mindfulness Books for Kids

Looking for mindfulness books for kids? Then you'll love this list of children's books about mindfulness, relaxation, and deep breathing.

You might be wondering how to introduce your toddlers, preschoolers, or even young school aged children to mindfulness.

And like many other topics that you want to introduce to your kids, picture books are often a great starting point.

So if you would like to teach your kids deep breathing, meditation, and mindfulness strategies, then you're in the right spot because these children's books about mindfulness are so good!

Mindfulness and relaxation books for kids

About this List of Mindfulness Picture Books for Kids

Just a couple of things to know about this list of children's books on mindfulness:

  • This list will be continually added to as I find and discover new mindfulness books for kids.
  • I have actually, physically read every single book on this list myself. I didn't just pick these books all willy nilly.

Relaxation & Mindfulness Books for Kids that Teach Meditation, Deep Breathing, & Coping Skills

Alphabreaths picture book about deep breathing and mindfulness

1. Alphabreaths: The ABCs of Mindful Breathing

By Christopher Willard and Daniel Rechtschaffen
Illustrated by Holly Clifton-Brown

I totally stumbled across this book on the Hoopla app and had to check it out. I mean deep breathing paired with ABCs?! Seems like a perfect book to show to a hyperlexic kid. And I fell in love with it instantly. It teaches 26 deep breathing techniques, one for each letter of the alphabet. Plus, the artwork is gorgeous. Highly recommend this book, especially if you have a kid with hyperlexia.

Breathe book about mindfulness for kids

2. Breathe

By Scott Magoon

The beautiful artwork paired with the simple text, make this book so soothing. It's perfect for reading as a tool to calm down and is really great for really little ones. It should honestly just be a board book, to be honest.

My Magic Breath mindfulness book for kids

3. My Magic Breath: Finding Calm Through Mindful Breathing

By Nick Ortner and Alison Taylor
Illustrated by Michelle Polizzi

This book is like the Press Here! of mindfulness children's books. It's interactive and engaging, but most importantly, it teaches kids all about how to use deep breathing. I especially like how it talks about when to use the magic breath to calm down. It's such a great book!

Breathe with Me children's book on mindfulness and deep breathing

4. Breathe With Me: Using Breath to Feel Strong, Calm, & Happy

By Mariam Gates
Illustrated by Sarah Jane Hinder

I love how this book teaches specific deep breathing techniques to kids, like rainbow breath and dandelion breath. The artwork is bright and colorful and it even shows lots of diverse characters, including a girl in a wheelchair. Yay for representation! It's a really good book and worth checking out.

5. ABC Mindful Me

By Christiane Engel

You know I love this book right away because of the ABC format. It's perfect for hyperlexic kids. The book features bright and bold images paired with mindfulness principles in alphabetical order. It has nice rhyming text too. At the end, you'll find a definition of mindfulness as well as some mindfulness activity ideas to do with your kids.

I Am Peace: A Book of Mindfulness for kids

6. I am Peace: A Book of Mindfulness

By Susan Verde
Illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds

This book is all about using mindfulness strategies to help with worries. It's very calming to read and could even be used as a guided meditation itself. I do love the colorful art, but I don't like how the child is drawn like a hippy. It's no only hippies who are into mindfulness. Just saying...

Breathe and Be picture book about mindfulness for kids

7. Breathe and Be: A Book of Mindfulness Poems

By Kate Coombs
Illustrated by Anna Emilia Laitinen

Full of short poems about grounding techniques, mindfulness, and reminders to breathe, this book is really quite beautiful. The illustrations are calm and soothing and are the perfect compliment to the text.

The Lemonade Hurricane mindfulness book for kids

8. The Lemonade Hurricane: A Story of Mindfulness and Meditation

By Licia Morelli
Illustrated by Jennifer E. Morris

Curious about teaching your kids how to meditate? Then this picture book is a good starting point. It introduces the concept of meditation to your kids and has lovely illustrations to accompany the text.

What does it mean to be present? A children's book about meditation and mindfulness

9. What Does it Mean to be Present?

By Rana DiOrio
Illustrated by Eliza Wheeler

This book focuses on teaching kids what it means to be present, just like the title suggests. It explains what being present means, making it a great introduction for kids to what mindfulness is all about.

Other Mindfulness Resources You'll Love

The Ultimate Guide to Mindfulness & Meditation for Kids

Mindfulness Activities to Try Today

Benefits of Meditation for Kids

The best mindfulness books for kids that teach relaxation, meditation, and deep breathing to kids of all ages
Read More

Thursday, October 17, 2019

7 Simple Tips for Having an Autism Friendly Halloween

Tips for how to have a sensory or autism friendly Halloween.

You know that Halloween is just around the corner and you know that your child is excited to participate.

But you also know that the itchy costumes, the sticky face paint, and the spooky imagery everywhere is enough to overwhelm your autistic child and send them into meltdown mode.

So how can you properly support or accommodate them during Halloween?

Well, you start by making Halloween more sensory friendly, which really isn't that hard to do, I promise. That's why I'm sharing 7 tips for having an autism friendly Halloween.

Autism Halloween tips: how to have a sensory friendly Halloween

How to Have an Autism Friendly Halloween

As overwhelming as Halloween can be on the senses, I'm here to remind you that yes, it's possible to turn Halloween into an autism or sensory friendly event.

You can start by making sure your child's Halloween costume is sensory friendly, for instance.

And you can help prepare your child with these free Halloween social stories.

But that's just the start. There's a lot of different ways that you can accommodate and support your autistic child during Halloween. And I'm going to show you 7 simple ways to do just that.

Ready to learn how to make Halloween more sensory friendly for your autistic child?

Okay, then join me over at CBC parents for all the tips!

Autism and Halloween: 7 tips for having a sensory or autism friendly Halloween
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Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Free Printable Language Comprehension Cards

Reinforce the structure words for Visualizing and Verbalizing kit from Lindamood Bell with this free printable supplementary set of cards.

A common challenge with hyperlexic kids is language comprehension.

So it's something that we've been working hard at, especially over the past year, using the Lindamood Bell Visualizing and Verbalizing program.

We have been seeing great improvement in comprehension already, which is awesome.

But, sometimes, I find that the materials aren't quite what we need or don't really work for what we need. So I needed to adapt or change some things to fit my son's learning style better and so that he could use the materials in other contexts, like at school.

I made these language comprehension words cards as a supplement to our kit and they have been helpful so far.

Free printable language comprehension cards

Gander Publishing provided me with a copy of the Visualizing and Verbalizing Kit to review and try with my son. All opinions are my own and 100% honest.

What is the Visualizing and Verbalizing Kit?

The Lindamood Bell Visualizing and Verbalizing kit is designed to help improve reading comprehension by building concept imagery.

Basically, it's a program designed to help kids who struggle to create pictures or movies in their minds while reading. Something most kids with hyperlexia find challenging to do.

Here are some resources to help you get familiar with the Visualizing and Verbalizing program:

You can also browse through my Instagram story highlights called V/V Program for a closer look at the kit and how it has been working for our family.

What are the Structure Words for Visualizing and Verbalizing?

A key part of the Visualizing and Verbalizing program is a list of 12 structure words. These structure words are "a list of descriptive words which provide a structure...from which to visualize, verbalize, and write." (Visualizing and Verbalizing for Language Comprehension and Thinking Teacher's Manual by Nanci Bell, p. 66).

The kit does come with 12 cards about 1" x 3", one card for each of the words, like these.

And you can also purchase illustrated structure word posters to supplement the kit.

But neither of these options are great for taking on the go and I really wanted my son to have the list of structure words handy both at school or when he's reading in bed. Something simple that he could reference without me having to pull out all of the cards and/or risk losing one.

I'm not going to go in detail about all the structure words as that is a core part of the Visualizing and Verbalizing curriculum.

Instead, I wanted to offer up these comprehension cards as an alternative and supplementary material for other families already using the program.

Free printable language comprehension words cards designed to supplement the Visualizing and Verbalizing reading comprehension kit

About these Free Printable Language Comprehension Cards

This one page printable PDF has four cards with a list of 12 comprehension words. Print, cut, and laminate for durability. Then keep a card at school, with the kit, in your child's room, or use them as bookmarks.

To get your copy of the printable, simply click the link below.


Or subscribe to the Weekly Autism Planner newsletter to gain access to hundreds of printables in the subscriber library!

Other Comprehension Resources You'll Love

Reading Comprehension Strategies & Resources

Comprehension Dice Games with Free Printables

Free Printable ABC Comprehension Prompts

Free printable language comprehension words cards designed to supplement the Visualizing and Verbalizing reading comprehension kit
Read More

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Who Should You Share Your Child's Diagnosis With?

Wondering how to tell your family and friends that your child has autism? Well, here's who really needs to know about your child's autism diagnosis.

If your child has a diagnosis, you've likely wondered who to tell.

Should your friends know?

Should your family know?

What about your child's coach or music teacher?

It's a tricky question to answer and will vary from family to family, but there are a few people who should definitely know about the diagnosis. So I'm going to dive in and explore the question, "Who should you share your child's autism diagnosis with?"

Telling friends your child has autism - who really needs to know about your child's autism diagnosis

Here's Who Needs to Know About Your Child's Autism Diagnosis

Now, obviously, since I blog about hyperlexia and autism, I'm a bit more open than most people on the topic of sharing a diagnosis. So I have to admit that I was a bit hesitant to write about this particular topic simply because I knew I was going to be called a hypocrite or be blasted for it considering I blog about it.

However, I knew sharing this information would be helpful for some people, so that trumps a few negative comments here or there any time.

Then I saw the title my editor chose for the final piece and I was like, "OMG, I'm definitely going to get backlash in their comments." because the title was just so ironic.

And seriously, the comments didn't disappoint in the first week...

But seriously, I shouldn't read the comments in the first place anyway, right?


When it comes to telling people about your child's diagnosis, there are only three people who really need to know. I'm going to share who those people are and why over on CBC Parents. Plus, I'm going to share six questions you can ask first to determine whether or not someone needs to know.

And just remember, I did not pick the final title you'll see there, but maybe you will get a good chuckle from the irony of it like my husband and I did.

Sharing an autism diagnosis - who should you share your child's diagnosis with?
Read More

Thursday, October 10, 2019

20 Awesome Tips for Making Autism and Sensory Friendly Halloween Costumes

Lots of autism Halloween tips to ensure your child wears a sensory friendly Halloween costume.

Halloween can be an extremely overwhelming holiday for many kids, especially autistic and sensory kids.

There's just so much sensory input going on during Halloween. It's like a sensory meltdown is just around the corner. There's the itchy costumes, the copious amounts of sugar that's consumed, the spooky Halloween imagery, kids shouting trick-or-treat, and the constant ringing of doorbells...

You can see how it could be overwhelming now, right?

There are lots of things you can do to make Halloween more autism and sensory friendly. Tackling any issues with the costume is the perfect first step.

Here are 20 ways to make autism friendly Halloween costumes.

Sensory friendly Halloween costumes - autism Halloween tips

Autism and Halloween: How to Make Your Child's Halloween Costumes Sensory Friendly

You can use these tips to help make any costume more sensory friendly for your autistic child, whether you are buying a costume from a store or making your own.

1. Use comfortable clothes for a base layer beneath the costume

Putting a physical barrier between your child's costume and their skin is a great starting point. You can avoid any itchy fabrics or scratchy tags this way. Plus, it will make your child feel more comfortable because they're wearing something they're already familiar with underneath.

2. Remove tags

Speaking of scratchy tags...I highly recommend removing all tags from the costume as many kids find them bothersome and annoying.

3. Choose the fabric and materials carefully

Many autistic kids have tactile sensitivities so be sure to consider the fabric of the costume. Let your child feel the fabric against their skin to determine whether they can tolerate it. Or let your child pick out their favorite fabric if you are sewing them a costume like I did for this Pikachu costume and this Squirtle costume.

4. Avoid masks and/or face paint

Kids with sensory issues find masks and face paint to be uncomfortable for a variety of reasons. For example, masks can sometimes have a weird smell or they can feel like they are pulling your hair or skin.

And face paint can feel slimy, itchy, and tight on the skin. So pick costumes that don't require a mask or face paint.

Or if your child wants to wear a mask or face paint, definitely practice wearing it prior to Halloween, which leads me to my next point...

5. Practice wearing the costume prior to Halloween

You should also have your child try on the costume before buying it or making it to ensure it is something that they will feel comfortable wearing.

6. Wash or clean the costume before wearing

If you are buying a costume, then it's a good idea to wash or clean the costume before they wear it. Many store bought costumes, especially masks, can have a weird smell to them or they might have stiff, scratchy textures. Giving them a wash before Halloween is a way to soften up the fabrics, remove funky odors, and make them more tolerable to kids with sensory issues.

FYI, we use and love Nelly's Laundry Soda. It has zero scent and has no nasty stuff in it.

7. Consider the weather

Will your child feel too warm in the costume?

Will they feel too cold?

You want a costume that will help your child feel comfortable wearing it without overheating or getting chilled. So keep that in mind!

8. Aim for costumes that are easy to get on or off by themselves

You'll want to do this for two simple reasons.

One, if your child gets overwhelmed when wearing their costume, they'll want a quick way to escape from it. So opt for costumes that can slide off or on really quick or use buttons or velcro instead of buttons or ties.

Two, many autistic kids have fine motor delays and find things like buttons challenging to do up on their own. You want the costume to be easy enough for them to put on by themselves.

9. Consider the accessories carefully

Some costumes come with things that make noise or light up. If your child is bothered by lights and sounds, then you might want to avoid those kinds of accessories. Avoid capes or bow ties if your child doesn't like to wear things around their necks. And avoid scratchy wigs or hats that might be bothersome to your child.

10. Consider the length of the costume

Since most store-bought costumes are generic sizes, they often don't fit well or are they are completely shapeless. So it's important to consider the length of the costume.

Will it be a tripping hazard?

Will it get caught on something?

Is the hood too large and ends up sliding down and covering their eyes?

You can always do a quick hem on the costume if needed, but it is definitely important to make sure the costume fits your child well.

11. Go up or down a size based on sensory preferences

If your child finds tight clothing comfortable and calming, consider buying a smaller size costume so it fits a bit snugger. Or if they hate the feel of tight clothing, then go up a size.

12. Wear a compression vest or weighted vest underneath

Similar to the point above, if you buy a larger costume size, then your child could wear a compression vest or weighted vest underneath. Many kids with autism or sensory issues find these tools helpful and can help keep kids calm.

13. Use noise reduction ear muffs as part of the costume

If your child is bothered by loud noises, incorporate ear protectors into the costume. Your child could wear them underneath the hood of a costume, for instance. Or you could turn the band of the ear muffs into cat ears or a unicorn horn. You could also cover the ear muffs with fabric to make long dog ears or cover them with elephant ears made from poster board. The possibilities are endless!

14. Provide other sensory tools like chewelry or fidgets

You can incorporate other sensory tools into your child's costume. If your child's costume has a zipper up the front, then you could attach a chewable toy to the zipper pull for your child to chew on. Or look for costumes that have pockets so your child can store their fidgets in.

15. Look for costumes that have built-in stimming or fidgeting components

If your child likes to wiggle and fidget, then consider costumes that have components that let them fidget. Some ideas to watch out for include: reversible sequin fabric (aka mermaid fabric) for your child to brush their hands on back and forth, buttons to press, necklaces, and so on.

16. Make a costume from regular clothes or incorporate their regular clothes

You can buy all sorts of onesie pajamas or even regular two piece pajamas these days that can double up as a Halloween costume. These options are usually made from soft, comfortable fabrics and make great alternatives to other costumes.

You can also just use your child's regular clothes to make a costume (e.g., black pants and a striped shirt for a quick and easy mime costume). Or make a cardboard costume that can slide on overtop of your child's regular clothes.

17. Line plastic helmets and costumes with fabric

If your child wants to be an astronaut or fire fighter, for instance, then they might want to wear a helmet. The problem is those helmets are hard and cold as they're made of plastic. You can make them more comfortable for your child by hot gluing strips of fabric inside the helmet where the helmet would rest on your child's skin.

18. Keep the weight of the costume in mind

Your child might feel more comfortable in a costume that is light weight and barely noticeable. Or maybe your child likes the deep pressure that comes from heavier costumes. Regardless, it's important to keep the weight of the costume in mind when picking the costume out with your child.

19. Have a backup plan

Kids change their minds all the time so it's good to have a backup costume just in case.

20. Skip the costume completely and opt for a fun themed t-shirt instead (aka keep it simple!)

Your child doesn't have to wear a costume to participate in the Halloween festivities. They could simply dress in orange and black, wear a Halloween themed shirt, or even wear their favorite character t-shirt.

Quick Recap of the Autism Friendly Halloween Costumes Tips

Whew, that was a lot! Here's a quick recap for the skim readers (yes, I'm looking at you):

  1. Use comfortable clothes for a base layer beneath the costume
  2. Remove tags
  3. Choose the fabric and materials carefully
  4. Avoid masks and/or face paint
  5. Practice wearing the costume prior to Halloween
  6. Wash or clean the costume before wearing
  7. Consider the weather
  8. Aim for costumes that are easy to get on or off by themselves
  9. Consider the accessories carefully
  10. Consider the length of the costume
  11. Go up or down a size based on sensory preferences
  12. Wear a compression vest or weighted vest underneath
  13. Use noise reduction ear muffs as part of the costume
  14. Provide other sensory tools like chewelry or fidgets
  15. Look for costumes that have built-in stimming or fidgeting components
  16. Make a costume from regular clothes or incorporate their regular clothes
  17. Line plastic helmets and costumes with fabric
  18. Keep the weight of the costume in mind
  19. Have a backup plan
  20. Skip the costume completely and opt for a fun themed t-shirt instead (aka keep it simple!)

Other Autism Halloween Resources You'll Love

Free Halloween Social Stories

Free Printable Trick-or-Treating Social Scripts

Halloween Activities for Kids

Autism & Halloween: tips on how to make autism and sensory friendly Halloween costumes for kids
Read More

Tuesday, October 08, 2019

Free Social Stories About Transitions

A collection of free social stories about transitioning between activities including some free printable social stories about transitions and how to handle changes in routine.

Transitions are one thing many autistic children struggle with. Moving to a new activity or a change in the routine can be difficult for them to process.

While there are lots of way to help kids who struggle with transitions, one awesome way to work on this social skill is by using social stories.

Social stories are a great way to teach kids to be flexible and that changes are okay. And trust me, it's a skill that a lot of kids need extra help with - autism or not.

However, when I was putting together this list of social stories about how to handle changes in routines, I was surprised by the lack of options available. Especially social stories that are free. It was kind of shocking to see the major lack of resources in transition social stories. Trust me, I searched and searched for free ones, but there just weren't many available.

So while this list of free social stories about moving from one activity to another isn't huge, by any means, I hope it is a great starting point to help your child.

Need a transition social story? Check out these free social stories for transitions

Free Printable Social Stories for Transitions & Change

I'm a big fan of printable social stories because you can take them with you on the go. I also always suggest laminating social stories for durability. So if your child is struggling with transitions, then you will likely find these printable transition social stories to be a great resource.

Heads up, though, some of these social stories require you to have a Teachers Pay Teachers account (don't worry, it's free to join!).

1. Free Putting Away My Blocks Transitioning Social Story from Creative Lab on Teachers Pay Teachers

2. Free Time's Up Social Story from Denise Wilson on Teachers Pay Teachers

3. Free Understanding & Handling Change Social Story from Jill Kuzma

4. Free Schedule Changes Social Story from Michelle Zaydlin on Teachers Pay Teachers

5. Free "Go With The Flow" Social Story for Middle Schoolers from Michael Begg on Teachers Pay Teachers

Video Social Stories About How to Make Transitions

Here's a video social story that discusses moving from one activity to another. I hope you find it helpful!

Other Social Story Resources You'll Love

Free social stories about transitions and change
Read More

Monday, October 07, 2019

Free Halloween Social Stories

Free Halloween social stories for kids with autism about trick or treating, wearing a costume, carving a pumpkin, and more!

Halloween can be an extremely overwhelming holiday for autistic kids and/or kids with sensory processing issues.

The thought of wearing a costume or seeing others dressed up can be enough to cause a sensory meltdown. And others may get anxious about the trick or treating aspect.

Combine that with eating copious amounts of sugar and well, it could be a disaster!

Thankfully, there are lots of free printable Halloween social stories for kids with autism that are available.

Using social stories, like the ones listed below, can help these kids learn what is expected and get used to the idea of dressing up, going trick or treating, or even handing out candy at home.

Free printable and video social stories for Halloween

Free Printable Halloween Social Stories for Kids

1. Carving a Pumpkin Social Story - A detailed account of how to carve jack-o-lanterns for Halloween.

2. Trick-or-Treating Social Story - I collaborated with my friend Renae to make this insanely thorough social story for Halloween. We tried to cover as many safety and sensory issues that may arise while trick-or-treating.

3. What to Expect on Halloween: Handing Out Candy Social Story from Positively Autism - This 11 page social story focuses on the topic of handing out candy on Halloween.

4. Halloween Trick or Treating at School Social Story from Autism Tank - If your kids will be trick or treating at school, then this one page social story will be perfect for them to learn the rules and expectations.

5. Trick or Treating Social Story from Communication Station - This social story is quite detailed and busy, but still has lots of great information about going trick or treating.

6. Trick or Treating Social Story from Chit Chat and Small Talk - A simple two page social story with visuals for each step. A bit basic, but still helpful.

7. Halloween Social Stories from The Success Box - This pack includes a six page social story about trick or treating, a one page social story about carving a pumpkin, and a few other visuals to help with Halloween.

8. Halloween Social Story from Mosswood Connections - This one page fill in the blank style social story looks great. It also includes a template for making a Halloween schedule for your kids, which could be quite handy as well!

9. Halloween Social Story: Going Trick or Treating from Twinkl - This social story is available to be edited so you can customize it. You do have to be a member of Twinkl in order to download it though.

10. All About Halloween Social Story from Twinkl - This social story looks quite detailed and has a lot of text. Again, you have to be a member of Twinkl in order to download it.

11. Halloween Social Stories Pack from Erin from Creating and Teaching - This pack includes two handy social stories and some other goodies. You will need a Teachers Pay Teachers account to download it.

12. On Halloween Night Social Story from TLC Talk Shop - This social story looks really cute! You will need a Teachers Pay Teachers account to download it.

13. Halloween Trick or Treat Social Story from Madame Jennifer - A super simple one page social story that can be cut and assembled into a little book. You will need a Teachers Pay Teachers account to download it.

14. Trick or Treat Social Story from Miss McKnight's World - This 11 page social story looks really great. You will need a Teachers Pay Teachers account to download it.

15. Trick or Treat Social Story from Transparent Me Blogging Resources - A 21 page social story that looks pretty thorough and uses black and white clipart.

Video & Slideshow Halloween Social Stories for Kids

Here's a simple, but cute social story about trick or treating on Halloween:

Here's another simple video social story. The music is a bit overwhelming and weird, so if your child has auditory processing issues, just turn the sound down or off.

Read More