Not all children know how to play. While neurotypical kiddos often learn about turn-taking, role-playing, and losing well, children on the Autism Spectrum or those with Nonverbal learning disorders often struggle with these ideas. On this first part of a series on Teaching kids how to play, our OT Wendy Waterval points to a flyer from the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) that breaks key points such as school recess and balanced nutrition into school years. While children with special needs may not always have the ability to learn these skills only from their peers, appropriate exposure to them in school and social settings brings awareness to the forefront. Further teaching, through aba therapy or social skills training depending on each child’s needs, can help children learn how to play with their peers and create social relationships more easily. Check out our Current Class Offerings to see what social skills classes are available and might be appropriate for your child at Cogwheel Clinic.
Nutrition is an often overlooked, but vital part in the care of Autism, as many children with autism tend to demonstrate increased digestive issues, food sensitivities, and an imbalance in gut flora. While many foods can worsen autistic symptoms, research indicates that the most common symptom-increasing foods are:
– Citrus Fruits
– Tomatoes, eggplant, potatoes, and peppers.
– Preservatives, colors, food additives, insecticides, pesticides and heavy metals
These foods can cause intestinal cramping and severe pain, which can often stop even the most motivated child from being successful at more traditional therapies such as ABA. In addition to taking out offending foods, there are many digestive aids that can help children who suffer from digestive issues. Ginger and Pepper have long been know to help digestive issues and to promote absorption of nutrients.
Children on the Autism Spectrum often suffer from many food sensitivities due to weakened digestive systems, which then causes improper digestion of food and malabsorption of essential nutrients. If food is not properly digested, partially digested food can move into the bloodstream, causing an autoimmune attack and a response similar to an allergic reaction. One of the children in our clinic used to have stomach pain and severe sinus congestion coming out of his nose as if he had a horrible long-standing cold or virus. The nutritionists suggested trying a gluten-free diet, and his sinus and stomach problems disappeared. The family tried going back on gluten several times, but the difference in this child’s health and behavior was so stark that he has been on a gluten-free diet ever since. No longer in pain and fighting through congestion, he has had much more success in working on emotional and impulse control.
One of our favorite recommendations for Autism nutrition is the use of Probiotics, it makes a huge difference in so many kids! Join us next week on the blog for a discussion of Probiotics, and how they work.
Curious about what may work for your child? Come and meet with out nutritionists Haleh Olsen for a free introductory session! We are offering several open house sessions where you can meet with our in-house nutritionist to ask questions about neurodevelopment nutrition and how it can change your child’s functioning. Sign up for a free 15 minute slot for a private one-on-one session!
- Thursday July 9th
- Monday July 13th
- Wednesday July 15th
Inspired by her background in human biology and her passion for cooking, Haleh offers a refreshing connection between gut health and brain/mental development health using the healing power of whole foods, especially in early childhood. Known for her warmth and nutritional expertise, Haleh believes that every individual is unique and she tailors her nutritional approach to each client’s personal goals and comfort level.
Equipped with her Master’s degree in research and her involved work in nutritional counseling related to autoimmune disorders over the past several years, Haleh has the skill set to create a stress-free and realistic plan to help families embark upon a path to a manageable diet. She believes that in order for a nutrition therapy plan to be successful, it should be suitable to the whole family.
Haleh received her Master’s of Science from Bastyr University and is a Certified Nutritionist in the State of Washington. She is bilingual and speaks both English and Farsi. When she is not working with clients, Haleh splits her time in the kitchen preparing gourmet Iranian food and fresh pastries for her family, teaching tricks to her dog, traveling the world and gathering the best recipes.