Thursday, April 18, 2019

Free Printable Grounding Technique Poster

Free printable poster to teach kids the five senses grounding technique. A great calming strategies tool to put in your coping skills toolkit!

I'm going to repeat this idea as many times as I can, but teaching your kids emotional self-regulation skills and coping strategies is so so so important.

And if you have a child who loves to engage their senses to learn, then this five senses grounding technique is a wonderful tool. You may have already grabbed a copy of the free printable coping cards version of this grounding technique, but I decided to also make a poster version.

This free printable grounding technique poster would make a great addition to a classroom, office, or your child's calm down corner and the kids can reference it when they need help regulating their bodies.

Free printable coping skills poster for kids to learn grounding techniques

About the Free Printable Coping Skills Poster That Teaches the 5 Senses Grounding Technique

This one page printable outlines a simple grounding technique for kids (or adults too if you really want!) using the five senses. It includes the following steps:

  1. Look: name 5 things you can see
  2. Feel: bame 4 things you can feel
  3. Listen: name 3 things you can hear
  4. Smell: name 2 things you can smell
  5. Taste: name 1 thing you can taste
It makes a perfect compliment to the free coping cards version and would be a great thing to add to your child's calm down corner.

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

>> CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THE FREE PRINTABLE

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

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Free printable coping skills poster for kids to learn grounding techniques
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Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Useful Resources for How to Explain Autism to Kids

Whether you are explaining autism to a sibling or explaining autism to an autistic child, it's important to explain autism to a child in simple terms that are developmentally and age appropriate. These resources will help you explain autism to a child.

At some point, either as a parent or an educator, you might encounter a question such as this:

"How do I explain autism to a child?"

Or maybe you've wondered how to explain autism to an autistic child...

I know both of my sons have had lots of questions about autism over the years and we've always had an open dialogue about autism in our house.

Below, I share some tips and resources for how to explain autism in simple terms so that you can be prepared to have these conversations in your own home or classroom.

Resources and tips for how to explain autism to a child in simple terms

How to Explain Autism to Kids: Useful Tips

When it comes to introducing autism to your kids, there are a few things to keep in mind. These tips will help you explain autism in simple terms to kids.

  • Explain autism in a way that is developmentally and age appropriate
  • Focus on the positives
  • Be specific and pragmatic when describing autism and its traits
  • Speak about autism matter-of-factly and avoid these autism myths
  • Read books about autism to your child (see suggestions below)
  • Watch a video about autism with your child (see suggestions below)
  • Answer any of the questions your child has honestly and as specifically as possible
  • Include your autistic child (if applicable) in the conversation
  • Don't pathologize autism
  • Embrace autism from a neurodiversity perspective (i.e., explain autism as part of the normal variation in the human population)
For even more ideas, I encourage you to read 5 Tips for Explaining Disabilities & Autism to Kids.

Book Lists to Help Explain Autism to Kids

One of the best ways to help kids understand autism is to read books to your children. Look for books that talk about autism, feature autistic characters, and/or highlight how being different and unique is a good thing. Here are a few book lists to help you get started.

1. List of Awesome Autism Picture Books - My favorite selections.

2. Books Featuring Autistic Characters - A few of the books on this list would be great for reading out loud in a classroom or at home, while some of the others are better suited for teens or older.

3. List of Problematic Autism Books - Not all autism books are created equal. Here are some of the autism books to avoid and why.

Videos for Explaining Autism in Simple Terms to Children

The video "Amazing Things Happen" is by far the best video to help explain autism to a child (even adults too, really). It's a nice short video that's extremely information. It is also available in a variety of languages. You can see all the available translations here. There's even one in sign language!


If you are wanting to explain autism to kids that are younger like under age five, then this video might be a better fit. It doesn't go too in depth about autism, but mentions a couple of useful tips that will help kids better understand how to interact with autistic children. It's not perfect, by any means (e.g., I wish it would say Julia is autistic vs has autism), but it is a good starting point for the younger crowd.


The video "Marvelous Max" also does a pretty good job of explaining autism in an age-appropriate manner. It's a short video too.



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Resources and tips for how to explain autism to a child in simple terms
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Free Printable Anxiety Worksheets for Kids

If your child has anxiety and worries a lot, then you'll find these free printable coping with anxiety worksheets for kids helpful!

Anxiety is a quite common in autistic children so if you have a child that worries a lot, then you're certainly not alone.

My oldest, for instance, has anxiety issues and we are doing everything we can to help him best manage it. We've worked a lot on teaching him self-regulation skills and coping strategies over the years to build his anxiety toolbox so that he can learn to manage and cope as best as he can.

Some of the resources in his toolbox include these free printable coping with anxiety worksheets for kids.

Free printable worry worksheets for kids

Manage Anxiety with these Free Printable Coping with Anxiety Worksheets for Kids

You'll love all these free printable worry worksheets for kids. They're great for keep track of worries and anxious thoughts, managing the anxiety, and/or learning to discuss those worries with others.

1. Free Worry Bully Drawing Worksheet - Draw and name what your worry looks like with this printable.

2. Free Worry Tracker Printable - A simple sheet for you to keep track of when you worried, why, how you coped, and more.

3. Free Printable Worry Monster Tracking Sheet - An adorable worksheet for tracking all of your worries.

4. Free Worry Jar Printable - Write down all of your worries and keep them safe with this worry jar printable (various colors available to pick from).

5. Free Printable Worries Worksheet - A colorful sheet to record all your worrying thoughts.

6. Free Printable Worries Journal Book from Look! We're Learning - A little booklet to help you explore your worries.

7. Free Printable Worry Tree from Kiddy Charts - Fill in the apples with your anxious thoughts and add them to the worry tree with this printable.

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Tuesday, April 16, 2019

8 Reasons Why You Should Tell Your Child That They're Autistic

If you have ever wondered, "Should I tell my kid that they have autism?", then you are in the right place. You'll learn why it's important to tell your child that they have autism and the reasons why you should tell them that they're autistic.

At some point after receiving their child's autism diagnosis, parents often ask:

"Should I tell my kid they have autism?"

To me, the answer is quite simple.

Yes, you absolutely should tell your child that they're autistic.

When and where is up to you, but I am a firm believer that you should tell them as early as you can.

Tell them now, if you haven't already.

It's important for your child to know about their diagnoses (yes, all of them) for a variety of reasons. Here's 8 reasons why you should tell your child that they have autism.

Should I tell my kid they have autism? Yes and here's why you should tell your child that they're autistic

Here's Why You Should Tell Your Child That They Are Autistic

There are plenty of reasons to tell your child that they have autism, including:

1. Your child likely already knows that they are different

Depending on how old your child is, they've likely already noticed that they are different from the other kids around them.

They may have even started to create a negative self-image based on those differences.

Maybe they've even referred to themselves as "stupid" or think that they are a bad kid because of those differences.

Knowing that they are autistic might help explain why they are different without creating that negative self-image.

2. Your child has the right to know that their differences have a name

Obviously, the name of their diagnosis doesn't define who they are, but it gives them information to help them better understand their differences.

By telling your child that they are autistic, you are giving your child a better understanding of how their brain works, why some things are difficult, why they see and interpret things differently, etc.

3. Your child learns that autism isn't something to be ashamed of

When you tell your child that they are autistic, you are teaching them that being different is a good thing and that being autistic is okay.

However, if you chose to hide the autism diagnosis from your child, then you are inadvertently telling them that autism is something to be ashamed of. Something negative.

What message would you prefer to have your child hear?

4. Your child will feel understood and respected

Telling your child about their diagnosis is the respectful thing to do. All people want to feel like they are understood and respected and children have that need as well.

When they know about their diagnosis early on, then they can learn to understand and accept who they are from a much younger age.

5. Your child will feel empowered

I've already kind of touched on this point by now, but telling your child about their autism diagnosis will help them feel more confident and become empowered. Knowing about their diagnosis can remove negative self-talk and help them better understand themselves, both of which will boost self-esteem and confidence.

6. Your child will learn to self-advocate for their needs

Learning to self-advocate is an important skill to teach your child, but if they don't know about their diagnosis, how can they adequately advocate for their needs? How can they ensure that the proper accommodations and supports are in place if they aren't even aware of their own diagnosis?

Remember, that telling your child about their diagnosis will empower them. It will help them better understand themselves.

So if you want a child that can self-advocate for themselves in the future, then tell them now that they are autistic.

7. Your child can avoid years of confusion

When your child doesn't know that they are autistic, they might feel lost or confused about why they are so different from their peers, why they don't fit in, and why they find certain things challenging. They might end up labeled as "stupid" or "bad" by themselves or others, which can lead to other issues down the road like depression, for instance.

Telling your child that they're autistic can help them better understand themselves instead of leaving them confused, angry, and/or depressed.

8. Your child might resent you for withholding the diagnosis

You might think you are protecting your child in some way when you withhold the diagnosis, but your child might end up resenting you in the future for not disclosing it sooner, especially if they grow up confused by their differences.

Think of it like keeping a secret or maintaining a lie for a long time...The longer you keep it, the bigger deal it becomes.

Besides, remember that your child has the right to know that their differences have a name.

So...Now What? When & How to Tell Your Child That They're Autistic

There's no right time or way to tell your child that they're autistic, but I do encourage you to tell your child as soon as possible.

Explain it to them in a way that is appropriate for their age (no need to dive in with a complicated and detailed speech about the brain if they are just a small child). And answer any questions that they may have.

Be specific, positive, and pragmatic. Speak about autism matter-of-factly.

I will be writing a separate post soon on how to tell your child that they're autistic, but in the meantime, I encourage you to check out the following resources:


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Should I tell my kid they have autism? Yes and here's why you should tell your child that they're autistic
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Free Printable Coping Cards for Teaching Grounding Techniques

Free printable coping cards for kids to work on the five senses grounding technique. A great calming strategies tool to put in your coping skills toolkit!

Teaching your child self-regulation skills is extremely important.

In fact, I think it might be one of the most important things you can teach your child. Hence, why I spend a lot of time blogging about emotional regulation and calming strategies for kids.

We already have tons of tools in my kids' calm down toolkit, but as my kids grow, so do their preferences and their needs.

For my oldest, J, we are working more on how to manage his anxiety and worries and building his emotional vocabulary. He's more open to trying meditation and mindfulness techniques, whereas his younger brother, K, finds them "too boring" (his exact words).

What works for one child, might not work for the other, which is why we try a lot of different coping strategies out.

One strategy that we are currently working on with both of them is teaching them this simple five senses grounding technique. It's a way to help them be more mindful and regulate their bodies by engaging the five main senses.

And since visual aids are key when you're raising an autistic and hyperlexic child, I created this set of free printable coping cards to teach grounding techniques to kids.

Free printable coping skills cards for kids to practice the 5 senses grounding technique - a great tool for practicing mindfulness

About the Free Printable Visual Coping Cards for Teaching Grounding Techniques to Kids

This one page printable contains six coping cards: one cover image and five cards to cover the five basic senses.

Simply print, cut, and laminate. Then hole punch and put on a binder ring so that you can take them on the go.

Then any time your child is feeling overwhelmed or anxious, you can encourage them to work their way through all the cards as a way to ground themselves and regulate their bodies. It's a tool to help them be mindful of what is happening right here and right now.

To use these cards, simply encourage your child to read through each card, one by one, and follow the written prompts written on the cards.

You can also find a poster version of this technique here.

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

>> CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THE FREE PRINTABLE

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

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Monday, April 15, 2019

Free Printable Worry Bully Worksheet

Looking for anxiety worksheets for kids? This free printable worry bully worksheet is a great way for kids to draw what their worry looks like.

My son has been working on his worries with a psychologist and the latest tool that she introduced him to was the worry bully.

And to be honest, I was surprised by how much he enjoyed discussing and responding to his worry bully.

Basically, he is learning to recognize his anxiety and anxious thoughts as the worry bully and he can say or do things to make that worry bully go away.

Drawing and naming the worry bully is a great way to make it even easier for him to make the worry bully go away, calming his anxiety in the process.

At his last appointment, he drew his worry bully on a whiteboard (which is like the best tool ever for a hyperlexic kid) so we weren't able to bring his drawing of the worry bully home. However, me being me, I put together a place for him to draw out his worry bully so that he can keep it handy.

The result?

This free printable worry bully anxiety worksheet for kids.

Coping with anxiety worksheets for kids: free printable worry bully sheet for kids to draw what their worry looks like

About the Free Printable Worry Bully Anxiety Worksheet for Kids

This one page printable allows your child to draw a picture of who or what their worry bully is and give it a name. It's certainly nothing fancy, but it's a great way to visualize the anxious thoughts and worries that are bothering your child so that they can tell that worry bully to go away.

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

>> CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THE FREE PRINTABLE

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

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Coping with anxiety worksheets for kids: free printable worry bully sheet for kids to draw what their worry looks like
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Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Simple & Fun Listening Games for Kids

Are you looking for fun listening activities for kids? Try one of these simple listening games out.

Some days it feels like my kids never listen to me...

I ask them to do something and I wait...and wait..and wait...

"But, mom, I didn't hear you!"

Classic kid move, right?

I mean I was guilty of saying that as a kid too!

The reality is that some kids need some extra practice when it comes to listening skills. And playing games is a great way to help your child with listening skills.

Below, you'll learn about 10 simple and fun listening activities for kids that will help sharpen those listening skills!

Fun listening games that will help your child with listening skills

How Can I Help my Child with Listening Skills? Try One of These Fun Listening Activities for Kids!

1. Simon Says

Simon Says is a great way to work on impulse control and listening skills, obviously. The leader (aka Simon) calls out a movement or action for the others to perform, but the catch is, you should only do the action if the leader says, "Simon says..." first.

Need a social story for this listening game? Grab a copy of the Simon Says social story here

2. A Simple Classic Listening Game

You probably remember playing a variation of this game as a child and I even noticed my boys playing it last week at swimming listening. Similar to Simon Says, this game is great for working on impulse control. And it's a great way to work on comprehension and following directions too.

In this game, the leader will say things like "Raise a hand if you are wearing red" or "Jump into the pool if you like spaghetti." Then you do the action if the statement applies to you.

3. Red Light, Green Light

When my son went through his traffic light phase, we played this game a lot. Red means stop and green means go in this light, just like in real life. But you have to always be listening to the leader because if he or she catches you moving after they declare red light, then you have to go back to the start.

Need a social story for this listening game? Yup, I've got a social story about playing Red Light, Green Light here.

4. Freeze Dance

A good way to work on impulse control, Freeze Dance is a classic childhood favorite. Simply turn on some tunes and start dancing, but watch out! If the music stops, then you need to stop your body too.

5. The Place Game

Growing up, my family and I used to play this game on long car rides. Basically, someone names a country, town, city, or place. The next person has to use the last letter of that place to name a new place. So for example, player one might say, "Saskatchewan." The next player then has to think of a place that starts with the letter N.

My younger brother loved geography as a young kid so he always said the most obscure place names, making the game a bit more interesting at times.

You don't have to use places. You could just use any words you'll like instead.

6. Musical Hide & Seek

Someone hides a toy that plays music and then you have to go search for it. A spin on a classic childhood game! Check out how to play musical hide and seek here.

7. Telephone

Sit in a circle with a group of friends. One person whispers a phrase or sentence into the ear of the person sitting next to them. Then that person whispers what they heard to the next person and so on. The last person then says what they heard out loud. Hopefully the original phrase makes it all the way around, but often, it doesn't!

8. What Time is it, Mr. Wolf?

Great for working on counting, What Time is it, Mr. Wolf? is another classic listening game. You have to ask the leader (aka the wolf) what time it is and then take steps towards the wolf depending on what time they say. So if they say 7 o'clock, then you need to take seven steps.

Need a social story to help? Here's a social story about how to play What Time is it, Mr. Wolf?

9. I'm Going on a Camping Trip

We used to play this game a lot on road trips growing up. It's a great way to work on listening skills, memory recall, and turn taking.
To play this game, one person starts the game by saying, "I'm going on a camping trip and I'm bringing..." then they name an object that starts with A.

The next person then says, "I'm going on a camping trip and I'm bringing (whatever the A object was) and..." and then they name an object that starts with B. You keep taking turns, working your way through the alphabet until someone messes up the order or forgets any of the objects.

Super fun, but also challenging.

10. Sound Matching Game

Fill containers up with objects and then try to match the pairs that sound the same. This game requires good concentration skills as you have to listening carefully and rely purely on the sounds you hear. You can learn more about this game here.

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Fun listening games that will help your child with listening skills
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