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Are you familiar with this Life Lesson: Put on your own oxygen before helping others?

Even though that makes sense, as parents, we have a tendency to prioritize our children’s needs above our own. We must be mindful about attending to our individual needs. 

Here are some questions to ask (yes/no): 

Do you allow for your emotions as they arise? 

Do you model self-regulation for your children? 

Do you give yourself as much compassion as you give your children?

Social-emotional health is an interplay between our relationship with ourselves and subsequently to those around us. When gauging your personal social-emotional health, rate these questions (on a scale of 1-5): 

How is your relationship with yourself? 

How do you talk to yourself? 

Do you regularly dedicate time for yourself? 

The reason that your responses to these questions are so important is because our internal relationship with ourselves directly influences how we relate to everyone around us, from our most intimate to most formal relations. In short, how you connect with yourself is how you connect with others. It’s easy to remind ourselves of what we “should” do, but how do we do it? This is easy to talk about when we’re in a resting state, much harder to do in an aroused state. The first place to start is in a clear space of non-judgment. 

Emotions, neither good nor bad, are merely functions of the brain, related in one way or another to our survival and well-being. (Watch this video for a neural explanation of big emotions.)

Forming a habit of observing the emotions we have on a daily basis can help us take proactive steps in attending to our needs in a healthy way. Marriage and Family Therapist, Kristin Green, depicts emotions as waves: we don’t always expect them, they can knock us flat on our face, and perhaps most importantly, they are impermanent. Emotions, like other sensations we experience, ebb and flow. So what do we do when another potentially dangerous one builds?

Let’s think about this question right now, “What are your feelings telling you about your needs?” When I feel ____, what I need is ____. (For an in-depth look at communicating needs, see Marshall Rosenberg’s book on Nonviolent Communication.) This “stop and check” practice puts overwhelming emotions on pause, to look deeper into what they are trying to say. Checking in on yourself throughout the day, even when no emotions are readily present, keeps us in tune with ourselves and our intentions, and out of the “trance” of daily checklists and pressures. 

Green recommends a simple practice anyone can practice at any time or place. When you realize you’re in a state of overwhelm, have been disconnected from your body, or feel you’re “going through the motions”, connecting with your breath is a practical tool to use. For a guided practice on connecting with your breath, watch for Kristin’s full interview later this week. Click here for more reading on breathwork. 

Green reminds all of us, “When we are addressing our unmet needs. Our relationships shift because we are taking care of ourselves first.” For parents, this is doubly important because of how our children will observe our practices and internalize our responses to them and the world. “When we model what taking care of yourself looks like, they have an opportunity to do the same.” 

Click here to watch Kristin’s full video.

 

 


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Motivating desired behavior in your child may not be a cinch, but having a method is the first place to begin. You can motivate your child with consistent structure and personalized, age-appropriate motivation that is tailored to their needs. Whether it’s homework, chores, or daily self-care, children may get distracted, discouraged, or refuse to finish tasks without a system to assist them. 

BCBA, Xylene Contaoi, of Xcite Steps, outlines three tried and true systems for motivation:

 

Visual Schedule

A visual schedule shows a child what their day will consist of, when to expect which tasks, and what the expectations are. Without knowing what to expect, kids can lose focus or get discouraged. Tailor the schedule to their age and ability: for older kids or adolescents, the schedule can be a simple list with times (or they can create their own!). For youngers and/or children who cannot read, create a board with pictures that represents each task. Post the schedule within the child’s view in their workspace. 

Check out visual schedule examples here

 

Sensory Breaks

Getting enough sensory breaks is crucial for kids! Consistently leaving one’s space and getting some exercise can avoid meltdowns and/or task refusal. Let your child decide what type of break they would like to work for: dancing, hugs and squeezes, bouncing on a medicine ball, or even running/walking laps around the house or block. The most important thing is that your child finds it motivating. 

Setting boundaries for breaks may be necessary if your child struggles with transitions, or bringing their energy back to “work time”. Establish boundaries before beginning (e.g. five laps, two songs, no throwing or screaming indoors, etc.). Setting a visual timer is a good way to help children keep time limits in mind.  

Need some ideas? Here are 100 sensory break options for kids. 

 

Token Boards

Some children work fine with a visual schedule. Others may need extra motivation, such as a token board, to complete their tasks. Token boards work by showing a child what they need to earn in order to receive a reward or a break. A token board consists of tokens a child earns for completing tasks or giving responses. 

For younger kiddos who need a lot of reinforcement, a five-token board is a good place to start. When to give a token is up to the discretion of the facilitator, depending on the child’s abilities. Tokens can be given more liberally on days they need extra motivation, or more sparingly on days when a child works more independently. 

Tailor the board to the child’s interests! It can be as simple or fancy as a child likes, but created in such a way that has a positive association for the child. Read more about implementing token boards here. And, check out these pre-made token boards

These motivation systems are as dynamic as the children they serve. They can and should be created and modified according to the child’s needs. The possibilities are endless!

If you’re still not seeing the results you want, reach out for help. San Diego’s Xcite Steps Behavior and Therapy Center specializes in ABA and family therapy. Xcite’s BCBAs are trained professionals passionate about giving your child the program that works best for them. 

Watch Xylene’s full interview here.

 


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How often do you experience tantrums, meltdowns, and refusals in your home? If you’ve experienced more of them during at-home learning than before, so have most parents! The unexpected challenges kids have faced the past year contributes to behaviors, and can lead to an all-around stressful home environment. If you’re in this boat, finding proactive methods will be key in creating balance. Let’s talk about managing behaviors in your home!

What kids need most amidst the ambiguity of distance learning is exactly what they may be lacking: structure. There must  be a clear delineation between what is “school” and what is “home”. Set up a table that is for school alone. Partitions around the table can aid attention. You may even try putting tape on the ground for where school starts and home “ends”. Create this space to resemble school as much as possible. 

Visual cues can work wonders. Create a schedule for your child (visual or written, depending on their age), or use a token board to motivate them throughout their school day. Having different devices for different uses, and setting parent controls on school devices, helps a child differentiate between work and recreation. This will make work time more productive. 

Along with structure comes consistency. Without it, the structures we set won’t mean much. Establish a clear routine that a child can count on every day, as close to their previous school routine as possible. The unknown breeds anxiety, and can lead to behaviors. When a child knows what’s expected of them will help them feel calm and work with a new environment. When we give children a clear and consistent routine that they can count on, we avoid the drama that comes with lack of certainty. 

Behavior analyst, Rima Frederickson, advises parents to provide the same accommodations to children at home as they had in school (e.g. seating, fidgets, movement breaks, etc.) Children are at risk of regressing without the structure and social interaction that school provided in the past. Rima urges parents to help their child maintain the things they enjoyed doing in the past, even if it’s a modified version. Communication may look different these days, but it doesn’t have to stop! For example, instead of waiting to see a close friend, children can send letters or projects they’ve created in the mail. 

Set aside time to teach children the play skills they will need when they return to their peers. This can be practicing eye contact, conversation tactics, or social awareness. Role-playing with these activities with a parent gives your child a safe place to practice for when they will be able to apply them again. 

If you’ve established consistent structure within your home that resembles a typical social and academic setting for your child, and you still have concerns, seeking help from a professional is a healthy option! Gateway Learning Group has trained professionals who can establish a behavior plan for your child, and give you the results you’re looking for. 

Watch Rima’s full interview here.

 


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If you’re like most parents of school aged children in 2021, you understand the difficulty of helping your child pay attention, in class, on a virtual platform. Virtual classrooms may create additional problems for students, parents, and teachers. 

Triton Empowers Parents!

Triton’s Director of Programs, Katerina Violante, provides adapting strategies for you to implement at home for what may have been an uphill battle until now. Here are some key factors to consider in supporting your child’s attention. 

  • Capacity to attend

Having realistic expectations from the beginning is the first place to start. Parents must determine how long their child can reasonably pay attention to a task before setting up any systems. As a rule, an average attention span is 3-5 minutes per year of a child’s age. (If the child is 10 years old, 30-50 minutes is reasonable.) This varies depending on how enjoyable a child finds a task. If expectations are too high, this will lead to frustration in both your child and you. 

 

  • Attention barriers

Barriers vary greatly between individuals. Determining the optimal learning environment (e.g. amount of sensory stimulation in the environment, time of day, order of tasks, task preference) is a starting point. What factors have you noticed are particular barriers for your child? What modifications can you make to create an environment that will foster attention? 

 

  • Motivation

Motivation is a factor that will carry over in other areas of your child’s life beyond attention. Especially when completing a task your child dislikes or avoids, proper motivation can change drudgery that takes hours, into swiftly completed tasks. You’ll be surprised what your child can accomplish when properly motivated. (This goes for special needs kiddos, too!) 

Motivation must be positive, not a punishment. This can be difficult if we wait until our child’s behavior has gone awry. Being proactive is the best way to approach motivation. This means instituting a behavior plan from the beginning.  If you’re thinking it’s too late since your child has already been doing at-home school for months, that’s okay! Turning over a new leaf by introducing a motivator is good. What we don’t want to do is merely respond to bad behavior in the moment without having set any expectations or system. (This quickly spirals into bribery, which is counterproductive in the long run.) 

An effective motivator will establish an end goal of the child’s choosing, and provide intermittent steps to achieve that goal. An example of this is a token board. Steps are always given, never taken away, and depend upon an established accomplishment of the child (e.g. responses, or time worked). 

What your child’s motivator entails is entirely up to your child’s preferences and your personal style. Questions to consider while preparing a motivator: Will they earn tokens, tallies? Will they work for a physical prize, a preferred toy, an event? What does task completion mean? Would it be beneficial or not to show time passing? All of these factors depend on a child’s age, developmental ability, and personal preferences.

 

If you’re looking for more guidance on attention, stay tuned for our free (virtual) Parent Activities, coming soon! If you want support now, please fill out this form to speak with a Parent Representative. Find out more about what Triton offers here! Follow us on Social!


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When it comes to finding the right therapy for your child, options may feel overwhelming.. While most parents are familiar with traditional therapies, such as:  speech, occupational, or ABA therapy, there are other  alternative therapies available that prepare the brain for learning. Today we’re an alternative, for your child, that can really make a difference in their growth and development.

If paying attention is a challenge for your child, time spent in traditional therapy can lack productivity. Microcurrent therapy retrains the brain’s electrical impulses to support focus and attention, and can supplement the work that other therapies accomplish. Microcurrent is especially helpful for children with an ASD or ADHD diagnosis. 

Microcurrent is an electric-based therapy that sends gentle electrical impulses to the brain and central nervous system via electrodes. These tiny electrical signals mimic those already naturally occurring in the body, and retrains the brain to produce alpha waves. The brain ideally produces alpha waves in a state of calm wakefulness–the brain is not actively concentrating, but is experiencing relaxation. 

Experiencing a mental state of calm presence associated with alpha waves allows the brain to receive and process information for learning. 

Some behaviors in children are a result of sensory overload. Jumping, banging, squeezing, and fidgeting can be sensory-seeking behaviors in children that seek to receive satisfactory neurofeedback in their bodies. Bodily sensations such as tingling, numbness, or a feeling of floating can also have sensory-related causes. By organizing the sensory processing of the central and peripheral nervous system, a child is much better prepared to pay attention. 

Rickie Lee Ryan, founder of Microcurrent 4 Kids, advises parents to maintain concurrent therapies for their child to get the most benefits. “Microcurrent helps regulate and stabilize the central nervous system, which allows children to be calm, be present, and attend. Microcurrent doesn’t change a behavior or teach a new one, it cleans the canvas to be ready to learn.” Rickie Lee has seen her clients improve their fine motor skills, speech, attention, and even social awareness after consistent microcurrent treatments. Research also supports the efficacy of microcurrent for back pain, knee pain, and ATP generation. Watch Rickie’s video interview here

If you or parents you know are looking for alternative or supplemental intervention for your child (or yourself!), read more at Microcurrent 4 Kids

When it comes to services for your child, Triton supports parents by exploring a wide range of modalities and disciplines. A collaborative approach may help parents see new ways to incorporate learning. You’re just 8 questions away from a new discovery!

 


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January 21, 2021 About Us0

Sometimes children are quick to make friends, but building friendships through communication doesn’t come naturally for every student. If you’re a parent, you are about to discover the Top 5 Ways that YOU can help your child Develop Social Skills and build friendships that bring joy and fun to learning!

Pragmatic language is the way we understand and use language in our daily routines and interactions with others. What have you noticed lately about your child’s pragmatics? 

Parents may notice regression in their child’s pragmatic language compared with one year ago, due to Covid-19 and the effects of distance learning. Without the dynamic interactions children regularly have with their friends, teachers, caregivers, extended family, and even strangers in public, social communication has declined (regression titled #covidslide). 

Language pragmatics involve verbal and nonverbal elements. Verbal communication involves using basic skills like initiating conversation and forming appropriate questions and responses, as well as higher skills, such as: interpreting sarcasm, jokes, and metaphor, and using language to reason, negotiate or persuade. 

Difficulty with pragmatic language can look like interrupted thoughts or difficulty maintaining a topic, starting or ending conversations, or difficulty using appropriate body language. These pragmatic issues can sometimes show when a social communication disorder is present. 

There is no known cause or “cure” for a social communication disorder (SCD), but skills can be enhanced with Speech Language therapy.

Students with a SCD work on mock situations they find particularly challenging within the safety of therapy. They may practice the following: 

  •  interpreting social situations through stories
  •  identify what is “right or wrong” about a mock social situation
  •  role play
  •  be exposed to new social situations that enhance their skills

Speech Language Pathologist, Heather Ismay, gives her tips for parents looking to help their children at home.

  • Have a family game night

This should involve all members of the family and require everyone to contribute. Something as simple as playing Candyland brings everyone together and requires group effort. 

  • Plan weekly playdates

Social interaction with a peer is crucial for each individual child. These should be no less than once a week, even if a child has siblings at home. Being in a new environment allows your child to experience situations that may not come up at home.

  • Include children in visits with family members

Allowing your child to take part in visits that involve people of all ages is a great way to create a dynamic environment and many growth opportunities. 

  • Plan family outings

Changing the place of where children spend time exposes them to situations in which they need to use different skills of reasoning, as well as see different types of people. Get fun ideas for outings, recipes, games, and more at www.macaronikid.com!

  • Talk to your child about social communication

Sometimes children need explicit information to understand proper social communication. Teaching etiquette in the safety of the home will make give your child the tools they need to apply it to a real-world situation. 


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When we experience environmental stress, it is important for us to regulate the amount of arousal we experience to match the environment. This process involves sensory regulation strategies. In this blog, we want to show you how you can use these strategies to help your child. 

While adults may be generally well-adjusted in regulating their arousal to fit their desire, children cannot always do this with ease. They may not know what is causing them stress, or be able to tell us about it. Sensory dysregulation in a child can manifest as hyperactivity, lack of focus, irritability, difficulty sleeping, or acting out. These non-preferred behaviors are stressful for parents, but they may be a sign of something beyond “kids being kids”. They may be a sign of some type of sensory dysregulation. Dr. Kevin Johnson, a pediatric and family chiropractor of the Center for Human Potential, enlightens causes of dysregulation and what parents can do about it. 

Causes

The top of the spine controls the autonomic nervous system. Dysregulation can be caused by misalignment of vertebrae at top of neck, causing an interference with the nervous system. This interference, called a subluxation, is caused by stress, whether it’s physical, chemical, or mental. 

Once a subluxation occurs, the body lives in a constant state of stress response. A prolonged state of stress response is taxing on the body, and can lead to long-term problems. Proper alignment of the spine removes the interference, allowing for free flowing sensory regulation. Getting an adjustment to the upper neck can return our body to its natural resting, healing state it can function in long-term. Some children display a decrease in hyperactivity and greater ability to focus after a vertebral alignment. 

Sensory overload

Sensory dysregulation can lead to overstimulation and eventually overwhelm. Prolonged overstimulation is stressful even for adults, whereas it can be especially troubling for children who do not know how to communicate their needs or advocate for themselves. 

Overstimulation leads to many problematic behaviors and conditions: anxiety, irritability, difficulty sleeping or focusing, hypersensitivity to the neck and head, and/or hypersensitivity to noise. Have you noticed any of these issues in your child.

Accommodations 

If you’re a parent, it’s important to keep in mind realistic expectations for your child. Between school and the therapies they need, some children have maxed out schedules. The busier your child is, the more important predictability is: create a visual schedule for your child so they know what to expect out of their day. Reduce physical strain on the eyes by breaking up reading into short periods, and limiting blue light exposure, particularly after zoom calls and before bed. 

Sensory overload is even more imminent during distance learning. Maintaining calm and well-being takes a parent’s intuition of what their child is capable of given the expectations placed on them. 

Watch Dr. Kevin’s full video interview here!

For more information about Dr. Kevin’s work, please visit The Center for Health and Human Potential.

 


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Is back talking and arguing behavior WEARING YOU DOWN? The Triton Team is here to offer help.

While it’s easy to label a behavior as “bad”, an undesirable behavior can be an adaptive response to a situation too challenging for a child to manage. All individuals, no matter their age, display any number of adaptive behaviors to cope with their environmental situations. A child’s strategy for adaptation can stress parents, but identifying the cause is the first step to helping a child through challenges.  

Think about your child’s most recurring problematic behaviors. Do these sound familiar? Which ones do you notice most? 

-tantrums                                               -aggression

-emotional meltdowns                           -food aversions

-refusal or defiance                               -impulsive actions

-difficulty with transitions                       -bedtime avoidance

-whining                                                 -disrespect

It’s natural for parents to take disciplinary action right away when an undesirable behavior has occurred. However, what’s most important is a parent’s state of mind at the time of response. The best time to approach a child’s behavior is when both parties are ready to listen, learn, and understand. If that’s too difficult initially, communicate with your child that you will return to the issue when you are in a calm state of mind. 

New behaviors can be taught with consistency. BCBA, Ericka Smith, gives parents three key components for beginning behavior modification:

  • Expect your child to question rules 

There is so much information that children don’t understand while they are trying to navigate their world. Often they may not be questioning you, but trying to understand unfamiliar information. Children are also searching for certainty. They are looking to you to give them consistent answers that align with your behavior and the rules set forth. Children will test their support system to know how it works, and how stable it is. 

  • Start with small successes

Anyone, no matter their age, is motivated to keep trying when they feel successful. By allowing children to feel successful, they will be more likely to attempt challenging tasks. To motivate a new behavior, begin by giving your child a task they’ve already mastered or is fun for them. This will start the momentum and give them the confidence to attempt a task that is more challenging. 

  • Expect mistakes

Failure and big emotions are part of the growth process. When an adult can allow a child to struggle and continue to be on the child’s side as a motivator, the child can learn to recover more quickly. This builds trust between the adult and the child. 

If you need expert guidance to get the results you want for your child, visit this link to register for Ericka’s FREE interactive workshop!

 


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December 28, 2020 About Us0

 

What are multidisciplinary evaluations? Today, we are going to answer this question, including: what to expect through the process, what does it offer for parents and teachers, and how does it help education, ongoing?

Triton Support Services multidisciplinary evaluations establish a baseline of your child’s current abilities education with regard to “compensatory services”, including: academic learning, Speech & Language, and Occupational Therapy (sensory regulation). Triton’s team works together to evaluate your child using standardized tests to assess how they are functioning in relation to national norms. Incorporating parent concerns, evaluations may include any number of skills including but not limited to: reading fluency, language and vocabulary, articulation and phonology, motor skills, sensory processing, and social emotional awareness. 

The complete, multidisciplinary evaluation only takes about three hours to complete. 

Parents meet with our Director of Programs, through an online or in clinic consultation, after the evaluation to go over their child’s performance. This consultation offers a thorough  recommendation for instruction. Every recommendation is unique, as every child is unique and will perform differently. Some students will benefit the most from daily therapy, whereas others may need only once a week. Our students vary in their age, needs and abilities, and therefore need our individualized instruction that is tailored specifically to them. 

Students can attend their instruction sessions either in person, at our center in Rancho Bernardo, or online. 

In addition to providing multidisciplinary therapies to our students, we incorporate parents as an integral part of our process. Providers meet with parents biweekly in Parent Coaching sessions to discuss a child’s instructional goals and response to instruction. Parents receive a written report detailing their child’s current progress, and learn about implementing these objectives at home when necessary. 

If you are ready to get started, or would like more information about Triton’s Multidisciplinary Evaluations, please fill out this form to contact our Parent Representative.


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December 21, 2020 About Us0

 

Parents, have you been looking for opportunities for your child during the winter break? Give the Gift of Writing Fun at Triton’s Writer’s Workshop!

Triton Support Services is offering a two-in-one package this month: Attend a Writer’s Workshop for FREE with a multidisciplinary evaluation! 

Our multidisciplinary evaluations include Educational, Occupational, and Speech & Language assessments. 

Your child will get a writing boost over break to prepare for the next school season. 

When it comes to writing, many children are cautious or even anxious. Approaching a blank page or getting thoughts down leaves many feeling apprehensive, which can make homework more of a battle than it needs to be. Triton’s Writer’s Workshop is an engaging and stress-free course, led by therapists who know the importance of making writing a game, not a chore. 

Students will work together, with friends, to ease into writing with games and exercises that inspire creativity, not just “following the rules”. 

Triton’s Writer’s Workshop takes a holistic approach to writing, including the occupational aspect (e.g. pencil grip, pressure, letter formation) as well as sentence structure and content. This is a real collaborative approach to learning!

Students will learn about:

  • Letter formation
  • Letter Sizing
  • Line orientation
  • Margins
  • Punctuation
  • Parts of speech
  • Content creation

Triton’s Writer’s Workshop will give your child the confidence they need, while illuminating writing as a positive experience. Your child will love this special opportunity to explore writing with friends!

There are two dates available. 

-December 23rd, 9-12

-December 30th, 9-12. 

Click here for details and fill out the form to connect with Triton’s Parent Representative! See you there!


MISSION STATEMENT

Our mission is to provide a multisensory educational care platform for students, while providing support and coaching for their families. We use a team approach to provide efficient and effective services, helping special needs children to thrive.

Free *must-have* resource for parents

The Silence Game:
6 Steps to End Boredom

Learn a new technique to tackle your child's boredom
(+ discover an easy way to have your child slow down in a fun, engaging way!)

Imagine the next time your child says “I’m bored”, they are able to look within themselves and work through their thoughts rather than getting upset. Dreamy right?

Parents: this is the perfect starting point even if your child is young or can generally comfort themselves. Grab The Silence Game workbook to get started!