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GOOD HEALTH NEWS

GOOD HEALTH

GOOD HEALTH NEWS December 2014 Volume 7 No. 2 IN THIS ISSUE Pg. 1 Improving Communication Between You and Your Special Needs Child Pg. 2 How to Recognize If Your Child Has Physical Development Delay Pg. 3 3 Teas that Help Reduce Anxiety Naturally Pg. 4 Health Holiday Recipe Pg. 5 Our Brand New VitaPlus Program IMPROVING COMMUNICATION BETWEEN YOU AND YOUR SPECIAL NEEDS CHILD Health in Motion director Natan Gendelman talks about improving the communication between you and your special needs child. I do not make any distinctions between children who are special needs and those that we call regular children. All kids are special; the only difference is that those who undergo normal development explore their environment on their own. Parents will teach them not to do certain things (i.e. touching a hot stove, playing with an electrical socket, etc.), but for the most part, these children will discover the world by themselves. However, this is not the same for children who are developmentally delayed. Every special needs child is different, and the degree to which they are limited cognitively and physically will vary. But in general, these kids may have trouble discovering and interacting with the world and people around them. As a result, they may have a hard time communicating with others. So how can you begin to foster good communication and encourage your child to be independent in interacting with their environment? I tell the parents of my patients at the LIFE program that communication always starts with eye contact. Always ask your child to look at you while you are talking. Use simple instructions like, “Turn to me. Look at me.” This is where independence starts. Begin to develop a vocabulary with your child by asking simple questions. “Do you want to wear the red shirt or blue shirt today?” And show them which color belongs to which shirt. By giving choices and asking questions, you start to develop communication between you and your child. Start with simple questions and then move on to more complicated ones. By doing this, you can start to develop an understanding of what your child wants and why. It is through the small and seemingly unimportant directions like, “Look at me,” that communication is built up. When I teach my special needs patients how to roll for the first time, I always ask, “Where am I?” And proceed to tell them where I am. For example, “I’m on your left side.” They don’t understand orientation yet, so you must spend an enormous amount of time showing them through repetition. Your directions should be very simple, explicit, and consistent. Lastly, it is important to tell them why you are asking them to move. In the clinic it would be something like, “Please roll to the left side, because we are learning how to roll.” At home, “Please roll to the table because we’re going to eat now.” Fostering good communication between yourself and your special needs child early on is so important. Not only will they be able to express what they want, but they will also be encouraged to try things on their own and be more independent. 1

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