Tips for Celebrating a Safe Halloween

Don’t be scared to celebrate Halloween. As with most events taking place in 2020, Halloween can happen in-person or in a more virtual setting.

How you choose to celebrate likely depends on your individual circumstances, your town’s regulations and your overall comfort level.

Here are a few suggestions to help make it a more enjoyable experience!

In-Person Trick-or-Treating Tips: 

  • Wear a mask, if you are venturing out.
  • Plan ahead, and travel the routes or houses you plan to visit ahead of time.
  • Make a simple “map” of your route to help serve as a visual reminder and set expectations.
  • Be mindful of Halloween decorations that make noises or have visuals effects that may be triggering to your child’s sensory issues.
  • Highlight the importance of continuing to keep hands clean and maintain social distance from others when out in the neighborhood.

Virtual Celebration Ideas:

  • Hold a virtual Halloween party with a family and friends with everyone in costumes.
  • Go “trick-or-treating” in your own house; move from room to room with candy and treats at each doorway.
  • Plan to watch Halloween movies, and let each family member pick a favorite film. 
  • Pile into the car, and go for a tour of nearby homes that are decorated for Halloween.

Ho-Ho-Kus School Social Worker Cynthia Chaanine & Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA)  Matthew Kuzdral

Learn more at www.eclcofnj.org.

Keeping Active in the August Break

Our school’s Extended School Year (ESY) is over, and keeping children busy during the month of August is no easy task. But, add in a pandemic, and we have even fewer ways to keep children entertained. 

Below are some fun and safe ways to keep children active, during these difficult times:

  • Online fitness for families and a list of sports programs. 
  • Kids entering pre-Kindergarten through 8th grade can explore animals, science and nature through the online Bronx Zoo Wildlife Camp 
  • Camp Sunshine is a structured program developed for young people between the ages of six to 21, with moderate to severe autism spectrum disorder or other special needs. Their multidisciplinary team of professionals oversees a creative and fun boy-843484_1920camp program designed to help each child reach his or her highest potential. 
  • Visit a petting farm from the comfort of your car or walk through it at Brookhollow’s Barnyard in Boonton. 
  • It is important to continue reading books for pleasure; visit Scholastic for ideas.
  • Epic offers access to hundreds of free books.
  • The SAG-AFTRA Foundation’s Daytime Emmy®-nominated and award-winning children’s literacy website, Storyline Online®, streams videos featuring celebrated actors reading children’s books, alongside creatively produced illustrations. Readers include Oprah Winfrey, Chris Pine, Kristen Bell, Rita Moreno, Viola Davis, Jaime Camil, Kevin Costner, Lily Tomlin, Sarah Silverman, Betty White, Wanda Sykes and dozens more.
  • Pinterest offers a ton of fun arts and crafts activities.

Getting Ahead of Back-to-School 

Lastly, try to spend a little time preparing your child for a return to school in September. Whether attending in-person or virtually, a review of expectations and changes will help them feel more at ease with the transition.

Practice and highlight the importance of wearing a mask, keeping a safe distance from their friends and teachers and washing their hands consistently.

Stay safe and healthy from the ECLC of New Jersey Ho-Ho-Kus school Staff!

By Cynthia Chaanine, LCSW, & Matthew Kuzdral, M.S., BCBA

 

Giving Our Parents Extra Support During the Pandemic

Help with Staying at Home

For many years, our Ho-Ho-Kus school has hosted monthly, in-person Parent Support Group meetings. They have been very successful in drawing a small, intimate group of parents to meet for learning, sharing information and support.

But, in the past six weeks, we felt it was more important than ever to offer our families support and an opportunity to meet with each other. The interest level has been so high, we now meet every week with our incredible families! Sometimes, the meetings are so helpful, our parents don’t want it to end. 

Parent Support Group Facebook (1)

Here is a brief overview of some of the topics and strategies we have discussed:

Self-Care for Parents and Creating a Routine (3/26/20)

  • Make sure you have accurate information and set limits.
  • Reach out to others and support people around you.
  • Talking to your children about COVID-19 and the changes that are occurring.
  • Create a routine using school as the framework.

Creating Consistency at Home (4/2/20)

  • Incorporate visual schedules to stay on-track with the day’s activities.
  • Stick to normal wake-up, grooming, eating and bed-time schedules.
  • Clearly outline and reinforce expected behaviors.
  • Build in regular sensory and movement breaks.

Helping Your Children Deal with Disappointments (4/9/20)

  • Celebrating holidays virtually.
  • Starting new traditions.
  • How to help others in the community.
  • Make a “Some Day Soon” jar.

Making the Most of Downtime (4/16/20)

  • Continue use of schedules, even on days without virtual learning.
  • Plan virtual “trips” to museums, zoo’s, concerts and parks.
  • Take advantage of time outside: Set-up a simple obstacle course in the yard or do a “scavenger hunt,” while walking through the neighborhood.
  • Promote independent leisure skills; extra electronics time is okay.

Supporting Your Child through Virtual Learning with Peggy Walsh, Learning Disabilities Teaching Consultant (4/30/20)

  • Prepare ahead of time: Have a designated learning space with all daily materials ready.
  • Provide less verbal and more non-verbal prompts during instruction times (pointing, gesturing, modeling).
  • Give your child adequate time to process and respond to questions.
  • Sit to the side and slightly behind your child to help ensure their focus is on the teacher.

We will be continuing these Parent Support Group meetings throughout the school year to provide ongoing support and advice to our parents. Upcoming meetings will feature other staff members as “guest speakers,” highlighting relevant topics.

Stay safe and healthy!

By Cynthia Chaanine, LCSW, and Matthew Kuzdral M.S., BCBA

How to Successfully Cope in Our New Virtual World

Greetings from our new virtual world! Hi, everyone, wherever you may be during the COVID-19 outbreak. This is an important time for us to stay in touch and connected. It’s a time for social distancing, not social isolation.

All of us feel the stress of change and anxieties about the unknown –- and the known! We are all going through the same trying situation, and doing the best we can. Let’s not judge ourselves too harshly or create unrealistic goals for ourselves.

It may feel like we are on the deck of the Titanic sometimes, but, instead, let’s imagine we are all in lifeboats and heading together for a safer harbor. And, waving from six feet away!

There are a number of worries we could discuss, but let’s focus on one at a time, which is a good coping strategy.   

children-593313_1920

Distance Learning

Our ECLC  students are not in the school building for now, and we are all coming together to keep our classes and student contacts as consistent and normal as possible. We all miss one another. But, it has been great to sign on to “Zoom” and see our students!

I have heard some students are shy or uncomfortable using Zoom or being seen on camera.  Don’t force them! Have them listen and answer questions a little off camera for the time being. Practice using Zoom or FaceTime, etc., with friends and family to increase comfort.

Talking About Government Stay-at-Home Orders

  • In general, the (modified) truth is best. They will not be able to take in all that we are hearing. It is anxiety-provoking for us to hear! Plain, short, calm explanations are best, focusing on why we need to stay safe. It is okay to let them know that the situation worries you, too, but set limits on how much frightening information you share.
  • Limit news viewing (for all of us, really!). 
  • Assure them that you have a plan; that you will stick together and deal with it as a family.
  • Explain that everyone is going through this, and that it is very new and uncomfortable and will come to end.
  • A very good explanation of the coronavirus situation is: A Curious Guide for Courageous Kids developed by the Children’s Museum in Verona, Italy. Download the English version. 

Ideas for Staying Happy at Home

Hold a Family Meeting – Have a family meeting, and decide what works for the family. Don’t forget what you and other adults need during the day. Everyone’s situation is different, but it is important to try to preserve time for you and something that makes you feel relaxed or happy. This can be reading time, fitness time, connecting with your friends/family, or simply rest time.

Routines and Schedule – Using an erasable board or a daily calendar is helpful. If your child has a daily schedule of wash, breakfast, school, you should keep to it. Don’t worry if you have to flex the times; it’s staying with a schedule that’s helpful. Do what works for you! 

Stay Active – Make time for activities, such as fitness, crafts or games, outside time, media/TV, study, etc., into the day. This will help prevent the easy slide into sleeping away the day or unlimited social media time. It takes time for our students to get into a positive school-readiness routine –- we don’t want to lose that now. Keeping to a regular bedtime is also helpful.

Telecommuting – If you are working from home, set boundaries about when you are available, and when there is a break time. Create a “chill out” space, with a few floor pillows or a chair, headphones/games/books, in a quiet area, where anyone can go who needs a quiet break.

Social Media – In the past, we been concerned about social media and the online world, but it is a mainstay right now.  And, thankfully we have those means! Keep in touch with friends and supports. For family activities, there are many free resources available. You can tour a museum, play interactive games, watch wildlife cams or do yoga or fitness classes. Teens can connect on FaceTime or Zoom, play interactive games or just chat. (As before, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on what is being done or watched online). It is now our way to “see” one another and keep our social communities strong. 

Health Plans – We’ve all heard the basic requirements about keeping safe during  the coronavirus (hand washing,  social distancing, etc.). Follow them all, and be a good role model for others. Build physical activity into your family’s plans — go to the park or work on the yard. Try some relaxation videos, yoga classes or meditation. Reach out to a trusted friend or family member, if things are getting you down. We at ECLC are also available daily through e-mail.

Articles and Resources:

Take care, everyone!

Allison Weideman,

ECLC of New Jersey Chatham School Psychologist

Eagle Scout Project Helps Students with Special Needs Learn Social Skills

Making connections with the community is an important component of our schools and adult programs. One of our longest running connections is with local Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. They are known for being helpful, and for many years, they have been generous and supportive to ECLC of New Jersey!

Scouts have volunteered at our annual walkathons and other events and completed projects at our schools in Chatham and Ho-Ho-Kus for students with special needs, as part of working toward Gold Awards and Eagle Scout.

Jackson Koury of Troop 121 in Chatham is the latest Scout to lend us a helping hand and build bridges to connect with our students.

Koury built a mobile Lego Therapy station as his Eagle Scout project, which will help our students improve their communication, creativity, collaboration and social skills.

Lego Therapy is a lot more than just playtime. It was developed by a clinical neuro-psychologist and used in classrooms, in Occupational Therapy and in social skills groups at our Chatham school, which enrolls about 170 students with special needs, ages 5 -21.

Eagle Scout.jpgStudents select a kit and take on one of three roles: supplier, builder or engineer. After choosing a kit, the supplier finds the Lego pieces. The builder puts it together, and the engineer makes sure everything is correct. The small groups and clearly defined roles, help students with special needs work as a team, collaborate and talk. It has been a big hit with students and teachers.

“The Lego cart is always moving from room to room. It is constantly in use. Our students really love it, and we can see how it helps develop their social skills,” said Assistant Principal Allison Clemens. “We are very thankful to Jackson for his work!”

Koury decided to complete his Eagle Scout project at ECLC after joining the Play Unified Club at Chatham High School. In Play Unified, several hundred students from both schools enjoy social, academic and athletic activities in the evening at the ECLC school.

He has been a Scout for 10 years, starting as a Cub Scout at age 6. “My favorite thing about scouting is the personal development and growth that comes from camping and hiking,” said Koury, who is a sophomore at Chatham High School.

While student enjoy the Legos, Koury is busy finalizing his Eagle requirements in anticipation of a Court of Honor sometime next year. We are grateful to Scouts like Koury for building connections with our students.

How to Get Outside for Spring!

We have all been looking forward to warmer weather and getting outside more. Here are some easy, fun and free things to do in the Spring!Flowers

Take a Hike! – There are many parks and trails throughout New Jersey, with trails suitable for families or beginners.  Check out a listing of New Jersey parks.

Free Concerts – Many communities,  county parks  and libraries offer free concerts in the warmer months.  Review a listing of free events throughout New Jersey.

Museums – There are a variety of museums to be visited, whether they are all about art, history, or science.

Garden – Don’t have space for your own plot? Some towns have community gardens where you can plant and harvest your own! It’s always so rewarding to grow and then eat vegetables or admire flowers that you grow yourself. Gardening is also a great way to teach children about nutrition. Greenhouses and garden centers are fun to explore, too.

Visit a New Place – Take a ride to Frenchtown or other towns along the Delaware River. Take a drive to the Jersey Shore before the summer frenzy starts or explore northern areas, such as the New Jersey State Botanical Garden at Skylands.

Farms & Petting Zoos – If your family is comfortable with animals (and not allergic!),  farms are fabulous place to visit, pet small animals and check out Spring crops. Get some ideas at Mommy Poppins and Fun New Jersey.

Outdoor Craft Shows & Flea Markets – These  are plentiful in the Spring and Summer and fun to explore. Look for local listings or social media posts to find out where they are happening.

How About Traveling? – As always in travel,  preparation is the key. These days, many of us bring tablets,  phones and music to fill time and energy on the road. Train Travel

Doing research and preparation about your destination, before you hop into the car or catch a flight with your child, will help make or break a trip. 

If you are going to a city or a beach,  know what the sites are and plan an agenda in advance. Help your child learn organizational and research skills, by sharing this advance planning with them.

Likewise, if you are going to visit family,  planning activities that you would like to do with them is also a good preparation. Of course, agendas are not always fulfilled, but it helps to set expectations for the trip and may ease anxiety about traveling away from home and breaking up daily routines.

Here are suggestions for making the travel time fly by:

  • Audiobooks
  • Downloaded guided meditation (assists with entertainment, relaxation and sleeping)
  • Coloring books, clipboards, pencils and travel-ready art supplies
  • Travel journal to write, draw or paste in photos or other items of interest from places are seeing
  • Get ideas for how to keep children occupied while traveling. 

Have a Happy Spring!!

by Allison Weideman, PsyD, Chatham School Psychologist

 

Feeling Gratitude during the Hectic Holidays

The holidays are upon us! We  look forward to the extended time off,  busy holidays, and being thankful for time with family and friends – or most of it anyway.  

Shopping,  cooking,  company,  family, and more! The holidays present activities and expectations that can create stress or even guilt. We are not all going to have a Hallmark Moment Holiday!  

How can we find ways to have  quiet time and gratitude  for all  we do have? christmas-cookies-2918172_1920

Gratitude is a deliberate and active practice for any time, but especially when times are busy and stressful due to family/personal difficulties,  hectic  holidays,   or troubling world news.   It is easy to feel overwhelmed and forget the good things that will endure. 

I only have to view a news program to remind myself to be grateful for a place to live, food to eat,  and people to be with,  because so many people are tragically going without those basic comforts.  We can’t control all that is chaotic in the world, but we can take steps to make our worlds a little calmer and more appreciated.

Some positive activities and thoughts for  the holidays:

  • As a family,  donate some items that you no longer use.  Organizations are always looking for clothes, household items, etc.  This also helps children understand what to be grateful for that others are not always as fortunate as we are.   Charitable organizations  are always grateful for donations of time or food  if you are able.
  • Remember those who are alone for the holiday. Send a card to someone you miss.  Call family who are far away.  Bring dessert to a neighbor.
  • Take a break. Go outside and play football with the family or take a walk.   You will all remember playing and looking at nature as much as the wonderful meals.
  • Count your blessings — and not just the big ones! Make this a practice for every day.  Oprah Winfrey often suggested thinking of three things a day to be grateful for.  Some people like to write them down.  Being able to get out of bed, walk, speak, and eat are things we take for granted most of the time. Be mindful of them during these distracting times. Name the people who care about you.  Don’t forget small things like getting a hug, making someone smile, walking your dog, accomplishing a routine task.
  • What about big, family dinners? Take charge of things you worry will be problematic.  Plan ahead for seating.  Decide who will do best sitting with whom.  Have children make place cards for guests.  Find ways for children to be included – then set them free.  Holiday meals can be a long stretch for kids.  Plan something fun for them to do when the adults are lingering at the table, after the meal.   Have a simple craft project set up or a familiar movie for them to watch.  Ask willing teens or adults to take a turn supervising or playing with the younger ones.  Sharing the load is something to be grateful for, too!
  • Have a guest who likes to be a food critic? Ask them to bring a special dish to share. Too busy or tired to bake? Take a breath and pick up some prepared desserts.  Everyone will be just as happy. Guide the conversation topics, and steer away from hot topics like politics. Turn off the world and the television.   Have everyone name something they are grateful for.  Although it may seem corny, it is interesting and uplifting to hear what others name, and it reminds us what to add to our own list.

Studies have shown that cultivating gratitude in daily life contributes to a more positive mood and a greater sense of emotional contentment.  If it can help us in daily life, imagine the benefits for busy holiday times!

By Allison Weideman, Chatham school psychologist

Pets & Children with Special Needs

Thinking about a pet for your family?  Pets can be a wonderful addition to a family for many reasons and have a positive benefit, especially for children with special needs. 

Girl with dogResearch involving children with autism has found that having a family pet from a young age tended to improve social behaviors, such as introducing themselves, asking for information or responding to people’s questions.

The fact that animals are non-verbal can be a positive and soothing factor for children with sensory or communication issues As we pet owners know, there are many lessons a child can learn through pet ownership and care. 

The benefits of pets include:

  • Relief from anxiety and stress.
  • Learning about compassion and emotions.
  • Greater emotional knowledge about companionship, building a bond and making a friend.
  • Encouraging socialization and development of related social skills.
  • Understanding rules and chores in a concrete way.

Before you jump into adopting a pet, recognize that owning a pet is a lifetime commitment. Like any long-term decision, advance thought and preparation is key!

Also, consider adopting a rescue animal, but carefully evaluate if this choice is  suitable for your child. There are many wonderful dogs and cats patiently waiting for a “forever” home at your local animal shelter or pet adoption agency. 

Choosing the Right Pet

Dogs and cats are popular pets for good reason. Dogs come in all sizes and personalities. They provide unconditional love and acceptance; enjoy being touched; can play with the family, and can go places with you.

Dogs do require a high level of care, such as regular walking, brushing, and training. It is important to research breeds that are child-friendly and suitable for your home and lifestyle. Consider whether barking or dog play behavior might frighten your child.

You may be surprised to learn that there are more pet cats than dogs across the county. Cats are the top choice in part because they require much less daily care and are less expensive to own than dogs. They also live longer, on average, because they are smaller than most dogs. 

CatIf you are considering a cat, just as with dogs, it is important to find the right match. Cats tend to have distinct personalities and don’t exhibit the same type of behavior as dogs. As cat lovers know, cats are affectionate, friendly and will bond with you. They enjoy closeness and petting and play.

However, cats do not roughhouse like dogs. Cats tend to be more quiet and sensitive than canine companions. For those reason, cats can be a good choice for a sensory -sensitive child who might be frightened by loud barking, jumping and lively dog behavior.

Not all children, or adults, are comfortable with animals. This can create a very stressful situation for both people and pets! If you are in doubt about your child’s comfort level with any animal, it is not the time to bring home a pet.

If you would like to have some type of pet experience in your home, fish may be the answer. Fish are low maintenance pets, and watching water movements has been found to be soothing. No guessing why they are the No. 1 pet in America!

fish-bowl-846060_1920Fish, require maintenance and good, consistent care. Learning responsibility is important, but as the parent, you will always need to monitor and supervise the care and ensure the safety of both your child and your pet. Small, furry pets such as guinea pigs and hamsters are often appealing. However, they have to be handled very gently and care must be taken to have their cages always locked, so escape or unwanted attention from other pets does not occur.

No matter what you decide, a good suggestion is to expose your child to the pets you are considering before you bring one home. Here are some ways to check out pets:

  • Spend some time with friends who have pets, visit a rescue group or foster a dog before adopting.
  • Prepare your child by reading some books about pets together.
  • Create a checklist, social story, or visual images of what to expect and how to behave with your pet.

Additional articles on this topic:

By Allison Weideman, ECLC Chatham School Psychologist

Audiobooks Can Turn a New Chapter in Reading for Your Child with Special Needs

With summer approaching, it is the time for summer booklists and dreamy thoughts of poolside or beachside reading.  It is also time to help children prepare for their summer reading fun.  I encourage all families to make use of a free and widely available tool to increase language and literacy abilities in students: Audiobooks!

Web girl-1176165_1920If you are an audiobook enthusiast, you already know how much there is to learn from this powerful and addicting resource.  If considering using audiobooks for the first time with your child, don’t hesitate!   Summer is the perfect time to explore the world of audiobooks and relax somewhere special, while the written word is brought to life.

Audiobooks increase accessibility to and independence with written material. Many students with special needs often have different relationships to reading material than other people; there are often large barriers between our students and the content contained in print. Our students deserve equal access to literature.  Audiobooks help to breakdown hidden barriers contained in print and level the playing field.   With the press of a button, your child is in business.

There are many difficulties people with special needs may encounter when trying to access text, including:

  • Decoding for some children and adolescents can be difficult work and very labor intensive, which impedes comprehension of the material.
  • Longer or thicker books may be intimidating to students causing anxiety, avoidance and diminished self-confidence.
  • They may have difficulty turning pages and/or visually scanning text.
  • Students may decode well but may have difficulty with inferential thinking (ability to read between the lines)
  • Families may have less time to do so because their child may require more care in other areas, such as with eating, bathing, getting dressed or dealing with behavioral challenges.

Audiobooks increase comprehension by 76 percent!   Did you know your child’s reading level may not be her comprehension level?  Your child may be like many people and able to comprehend two levels beyond her own reading level!    Why not embrace opportunities for your child to listen to audiobooks and learn information he is developmentally ready for?  Audiobooks provide context that supports understanding of more challenging words and ideas.  Audiobooks are typically read by esteemed actors whose voices imbue text with meaning.  Different voices are often acted out making it clear who is speaking and helping the child follow along with the plot.

Boost language skills and content knowledge! The words, sentence structures and ideas used in books differ greatly from the functional language and ideas we communicate every day.  Literacy experiences through audiobooks provide children the gift of gaining exposure to rich vocabulary and novel, creative ways of saying things.  Children acquire background knowledge that allows them to think about and converse about broader, more worldly topics and helps them make connections more easily to the curriculum at school.  When enjoyed with a parent or sibling, audiobooks provide great springboards for family discussions.

Combining print and audio increases recall significantly over reading print alone! Audiobooks can be listened to as a person reads along with the text.  Using two modalities as opposed to one has been shown to help students remember the text better and also score higher on tests.  For more advanced readers who may not have the stamina or confidence for a longer book, part of the book can be read and part can be listened to.  Alternating chapters is an option, as is reading the first few chapters and listening to the last few.

Multiple formats to choose from make finding an audiobook easy. Choose from CDs or downloadable digital books (e.g., Audible, Google Play, Overdrive) In my experience, students newer to audiobooks may benefit from the CD format, as tablets and smartphones are often discriminated stimuli for other forms of entertainment or are distracting because of their other features.  Also, CDs are acceptable for a student to listen to in bed, whereas tablets and smartphones should not be in a child’s room at night.  Most audiobooks are available from the library, as libraries share their inventories.  It is possible and convenient to reserve audiobooks from your library’s Website then pick them up at the front desk.  Keep in mind that apps such as OverDrive allow for modifications that may be helpful to some students, such as listening at half speed.

Explore the wide world of audiobooks. Just like when choosing a book, certain audiobooks are a better fit than others. Consider your child’s interests.  If an audiobook is not a great match, please don’t give up trying.  Try different selections until your child is interested.

How to Get Audiobooks

Your local library is a wonderful source of audiobooks on CDs and downloadable audiobooks.  If you do not have a library card, add a trip to the library to your summer plans!

Another easy option for getting audiobooks is using Audible or Google Play.  You can purchase audiobooks through their Websites or apps.

Audible’s Website offers a free one-month trial.  After that, a subscription fee of $14.95 applies monthly.  For that price, you get one audiobook, which can be accessed through your multiple devices.

Google Play is something you may already use.

  1. If you have not used Google Play before, run a search for Google Play.
  2. From the Website, use the menu on the left side of the screen to select Books.
  3. From the new menu on the left, select Audiobooks.
  4. Run a search or browse selections.
  5. Purchase the desired item.

Written by Laura Koch, Chatham School Speech Language Pathologist

Let’s Go Bike Riding!

Spring is here, and bike riding is the ultimate warm-weather activity! Parents always ask, “How can I teach my child to ride a bike?” There are a number of ways to teach your child to pedal and balance on a bike. bike-775799_1920First, a brief word about safety. Always practice in a protected area with a minimal amount of distractions and obstacles. It takes a lot of attention and focus for children to spot an obstacle, process the information and react quickly enough to avoid it. Parents will need to give their children hands-on support and constant cuing for safety awareness. And, of course, always wear a helmet!

Begin by teaching the child to ride a regular upright scooter. This is a great way for kids to learn how to get their feet up off the ground and how to balance. BikeIt is especially useful for children with gravitational insecurity. While gliding on the scooter, the children are also practicing steering, avoiding obstacles, getting on/off and braking.

 

 

Another way to practice balancing on a bike is by using a glider. GliderA glider is a bicycle without pedals. Have your child sit on the glider with both feet on the ground and begin pushing forward with their legs, propelling the bike forward for short distances. The goal is to get both feet off the ground for a few seconds, while the bike is moving, to learn the sensation of balance. Aim for gliding for 8-10 feet.

 

 

For children who need practice with pedaling, there are many over-sized tricycles available on the market. At ECLC of New Jersey, we use this large tricycle, which is available at Walmart and Target. Our students LOVE it! Children can also practice pedaling on a stationary bike to learn to pedal smoothly and continuously.Trike

 

 

 

There are a number of bike riding ‘camps’ available specifically geared to the special needs population. iCan Bike uses adapted bicycles, a specialized instructional program, and trained staff to enable individuals with disabilities to learn to ride a conventional two-wheeler. According to their Website, approximately 80% of the people who participate in the iCan Bike program learn to ride a bicycle independently (at least 75 feet with no assistance). iCan is a five-day program, with students riding for only 75 minutes each day! For more information, see their Website.

Written by Chatham School Physical Therapy Staff