Picture of child in the snow making a snow angel

7 Tips for Snow Day Fun

While no one can argue with the fun of traditional activities such as building snowmen or snow angels; keeping your kiddo occupied throughout an entire snow day while confined to your house might require a few more tricks up your sleeve.

Consider the unique opportunities the snow can provide for you and your kiddo to explore different language concepts, social skills, academic tasks, and leisure activities. Think about bringing what winter has to offer indoors where it is warm for a unique way to learn and play together.

Just to get you started, grab a few safe bowls (think plastic Tupperware), some pots, a muffin tin, and a few spoons of different sizes. Fill one bowl with cold water, and another with hot water. Throw a big beach towel out on the floor and grab up some of that white, powdery stuff!

  1. Let your child explore, figure out what he likes about the activity, and add to what he finds fun. If he is watching you and waiting for what you are going to do next, you’ve got it right!
  2. In the beginning, don’t demand, just show him some fun ideas you might have of how to play with the snow and “kitchen junk” and talk about what is happening, “Wow you smashed the snow!” “Did you see it melt in the hot water?” “You got more snow!” “Stir, stir, stir, good job stirring!”
  3. Language Concepts: Once you’ve gotten the activity going, use the snow to start talking about fun, related language concepts like hot/cold, wet/dry, melting/frozen.
  4. Social Skills: Take turns with the spoons, stirring, and playing. Encourage and model commenting about the activity and what you or your child enjoy. “Watch it melt!”, “Wow that is cold!”, “I like playing in the snow!”.
  5. Academic Tasks: Discuss weather, precipitation, seasons, and states of matter (solid, liquid, gas). Use your muffin tin and practice counting as you fill each cup.
  6. Leisure Skills: Feel free to step away from the activity and let your child dig in on his own. Sustaining a play activity and incorporating newly learned play skills modeled by an adult plays a crucial role in learning.
  7. Be sure to set boundaries about where the snow must stay. We suggest prompting all snow activity back to the area of the beach towel.

Most importantly, have fun and enjoy this new experience!

Autism 2015: 365 days to make progress

Autism is in the news, social media, and even old fashioned print more than ever. The increasing awareness is great. The influx of research and funding options is even better! The heartwarming stories are nice, the success stories are inspiring. Still, misinformation and slanted headlines annoyingly abound. Such is this strange, complicated, passionate and ultimately very special autism community. We’re glad to be a part of it, and will do our best to honor and respect the many contributing voices. As a community we are making progress in many ways and continue to have optimism that together and individually we can make great strides. But we have no doubt, the most important person to each and every parent, day-in and day-out is your child with autism.

So what will this year’s 365 days mean for you? We suggest this simple but powerful idea: Progress. When your past the notion that there may be a quick fix and come to terms that the pursuit of cure won’t help you with today’s challenges, progress is the name of the game. Forget quantum leaps, each milestone met will offer its own reward. Know there will be set backs and rough patches, and keep moving forward.

BE PRESENT: There are lots of amazing therapists, doctors and teachers in the world. These are brilliant folks that have advice about child development and parenting. But you are the one that is with your child every day and for real progress to take place, you gotta be in the game. And don’t forget to take time to just BE with your child, to appreciate all the beautiful, unique ways he expresses himself and what he enjoys.

BE CONSISTENT: What is the 12 step motto…”the more you work it, the more it works”? Working consistently with your child’s team to implement strategies and teach him…even when it is hard or inconvenient, propels the process.

BE A FRIEND/SPOUSE/PERSON: You can’t focus on autism 24 hours a day. You just can’t. Make time for yourself, your friends and your family. When you do, life just makes more sense, has more balance and you will likely have more stamina for the work ahead.

BE GRATEFUL: Count those blessings, celebrate the wins and enjoy every single bit of progress. This is the real juice of life that makes it all worth it. No one else will feel the joy quite the way you will. It’s awesome.

Of course we will keep reading the headlines, keeping up to date is valuable and research is exciting. In 2015 we will continue to be moved, enlightened and sometimes annoyed by it all. Stick to the plan that works for you and your family and know that come December 31, 2015 you will be able to look at another year passed and call it good.

Fall Festival Open House

A successful Fall Festival Open House with over 100 in attendance was just the “housewarming” that Trellis needed for their Sparks location that still feels new to some. Every area of the 30,000 sq. ft. Trellis Learning Center had activities for clients, potential clients and their families on Saturday, November 15, 2014.

The facility, located on York Road, is home to The Trellis School, an afterschool program for Baltimore County, and all of Trellis’ clinic-based programs for children with autism spectrum disorders and other language and communication disorders. The facility includes six classrooms, a new fully equipped sensory gym, an outside playground and thousands of square feet of natural learning environment space.

The excitement from the staff and members of the community was palpable. Suzanne Heid, M.S., Trellis’ Associate Executive Director, commented, “The biggest thing that stood out for me was the sense of pride that our staff felt in showcasing our facility to the community!” The Fall Fest themed Open House, showcased Trellis Services to existing and new clients. When asked about the goal of the event Suzanne stated, “Our goal for the school and the clinic is to highlight our high quality programming with a focus on verbal behavior as part of the core curriculum for students and clients. We are continuously assessing our learners on a daily basis to determine how they acquire skills and progress.”

We are a place families can depend on once their child becomes a part of the Trellis community. This event allowed us to show the community who we are and what we believe in.”

Open House activities were held in each of the classrooms, and all of Trellis’ services were highlighted in some way. There were arts and crafts activities and carnival style games in the open areas, the hallways were flooded with children and all of the gyms were filled to capacity. The enthusiasm and engagement of the day were similar to what an attendee would see during a typical school day. Melissa Horrigan, Occupational Therapist, had this to say about the day,” I am so thankful for the amazing community we have here at Trellis! It was such a privilege to connect with our families outside of therapy. I had so much fun playing with my students alongside their family members. My husband volunteered during the day and he had such a blast meeting our families and seeing the amazing place where I get to work. We had so many families stop by the new OT gym. I was proud to provide a space that our students were excited to show their parents! How many kids can say that they would willingly go to school on a Saturday?” The large gym located in the back of Trellis, offers an abundance of space to run our Autism Waiver Therapeutic Integration After School Program. This program is designed to focus on recreation and leisure skills, while improving the student’s social skills, group participation, and reciprocal play.

“Our Fall Festival Open House was so much fun! It was incredibly rewarding to actually see so many of the families in our community we get to serve, “exclaimed Darcy Kline, Trellis School Autism Intervention Instructor. The event featured an auction with artwork created by current Trellis School students and learners in the Learn 2 Love (L2L) Program with the help of our Social Skills Specialist, Kate Cheek.

This event will be the first of many held in support of Trellis community and the families we serve. For more information about our services click here.