Category Archives: sensory processing

When Soap Hurts

california-baby-shampoo-bodywash-calming-largeLike all of us, Baxter has his own unique sensory processing profile.  Part of that has always included a certain amount of tactile defensiveness.  He likes a firm touch and deep pressure, and has always sought that out through gross motor activities.  As he’s gotten older, his strategies to get this for himself have become more socially appropriate and he no longer stands out in a crowd the way he did when he was younger.  Matt and I were amused recently to watch an old home movie in which Baxter lay on a crash pad on our family room floor and begged his 1-year old brother to fall on him over and over.  “Fall on me, baby Lyle!” he implored in his high 4-year old voice.

However, we still have mild struggles and the problem that has yet to fade into something that looks more typical has been his complete disgust of lotions, creams, and soaps.  He just cannot bear to touch them.  At age 8, we are still putting his sunscreen on for him (while his 4 year old brother sits next to him, slathering on his own) because although the feeling of lotion on his body creeps him out it’s nothing compared with having it on his own hands.

Fast forward to this morning.  We insisted that the boys take a shower this morning because, well, it had been a while since they’d bathed, to be honest, and we were going to church and then to a friend’s house later.  Matt usually does their showers but this morning I agreed to do it.  When I realized that Baxter – this very big kid! – was still not helping to wash himself at all, other than holding the shower head, I pushed him to do it.  I only asked him to do his own arms for today and gave him a choice of bar soap or liquid soap, but it didn’t matter.  I suggested he chew gum, which his OT had said helps kids tolerate sensory discomfort.  He would have none of it, and just stood there having a fit.  As we all know, once that old anxiety starts to rise, it’s a little hard to negotiate – for mother and child.

You would think – or at least I would – that a mother who understands this stuff, who has always recognized it in her son and helped him adapt and be tolerant of sensory experiences, wouldn’t be so obnoxious with her child.  But I was.  I got really, extremely, aggravated with him.  I used the word “ridiculous” at least 10 times and I’m not proud to say I used the old, “Are you going to go off to college not able to wash yourself with soap?”  Yes, I did.  (And his answer?  “My friends will help me!”)  To not try any of the strategies, to just stand there and cry, refusing to budge, really drove me nuts.  I finally did one of his arms myself using a soft scrub puff and he was willing to wash the other arm.  But honestly?  A 10 minute fit?

It’s so hard to know sometimes where to draw the line.  What is truly unbearable for him and what is an old habit that needs to be broken?  He expects we’ll wash him, just as he expected that we would always get up and pour him some more milk or put his homework away for him.  Now he gets up and gets himself more milk and puts his homework away all the time, and he’s proud of himself for doing things on his own.  Is this just one more thing, or is it really that uncomfortable?  I suspect it’s a combination of the two.

Later, Baxter admitted that it was more comfortable to wash himself with the scrubber than to do it with his own hands, and agreed to try that again next time.  We also apologized to each other and he loved it when I shared with him that we are both very stubborn and so when we get into an argument, no one budges.  This is only funny after the fact, for the record.

I know lots of you go through situations like this all the time and that there are no easy answers.  But if you have any strategies for helping the sensitivity to lotions improve, I’m all ears.

Sunscreen season is coming around again, after all.

Repost: Surviving the Holidays with Sensitive Kids

About a year ago, I wrote a post here called “Surviving the Holidays with Sensitive Kids” and it was a popular one.  I heard from readers throughout the year that they were going back and reading those particular suggestions often.  So I thought I’d put it up again – a little late, as there are only a couple of days before Christmas, after which the excitement starts to abate, but maybe it’ll help anyway.

I will note that, a year later, many of these strategies are not as necessary for Lyle to get through the holiday season, but I do complete a calendar for him during any periods with lots of celebrations, days off, and transitions (e.g., November, December, and June, when school ends). He uses this tool a lot, going to the refrigerator to check the date and announcing what is going on today, tomorrow, and next week.  I have noted an interesting side effect, which is that he has a better understanding of time concepts because of it, as well.  The calendar is very regulating for him, and I keep it posted on the fridge at 4-year old eye level.

Here’s the piece, originally posted here on December 14, 2007:

Both of my boys are sensitive guys. I believe that, in the long-term, this is a good quality in the males of our species, I really do. In the short-term it can be a bit tough, however. Among other things, it means that Baxter cries easily and was afraid of segments on Sesame Street until he was about 6 years old. I mean, truly, there is never any doubt about how that boy is feeling and it’s been relatively easy to help him learn to manage his emotions.

But Lyle, though probably even more sensitive and finely-tuned than his big brother, has been much harder to read. Rather than crying when he’s scared or his feelings have been hurt, he is likely to feel confused and hide behind what I think of as his “wacky” behaviors: moodiness, hitting, sudden shrieking, twirling in circles, and jumping on top of his brother.

I see children through an uncommon lens, because of my training. I’m sure this has pros and cons for my family. In my book, children’s behavior is highly meaningful – they are communicating something with their actions, and our job is to watch, listen, and interpret the message in order to respond appropriately.

So when Lyle’s “wacky” behaviors began to escalate in the past week, I took it very seriously and watched carefully. In addition to the usuals – which were significantly heightened – he began to bite his shirt collar or jacket a lot – and a couple of times even bit his own hand earlier this week.

Now, listen up: if you are my child and you want me to go into Full Alert Mode, just start biting your hand. I’m all yours.

I watched. I listened. I talked to Matt. I thought about it a lot.

Let’s see, what’s going on for this shy little guy…Christmas is coming (exciting)…Santa is coming (scary and exciting)…he was invited to his first school friend’s birthday party (scary and exciting)…my work party is this Saturday, complete with a live Santa (scary and exciting)…Mommy was a stress case the last two weeks (scary)…there are new decorations all over the house – and everywhere else, for that matter (exciting but different from the norm)…we’ll be going to California in less than two weeks (exciting). And on and on. No wonder the child is completely dysregulated. That’s a lot for a small boy to handle.

So here’s what I’ve done.

First of all, I quickly gave him a substitute to bite. Because think about it – oral input is the most primitive source of comfort and self-regulation we’ve got. Consider breast-feeding, sucking on a pacifier or a thumb. Many adults use food or cigarettes to satisfy that need. If we say, “Stop biting” but give the child nothing to substitute with, we are probably causing him more discomfort and then what’s going to happen? Probably more biting.

I have a collection of oral motor tools that are safe and durable, and I offered Lyle an assortment. He took to one of them. I encouraged him to get all the oral input he wanted with that – while we read stories, when he watched a video, or when he was starting to experience heightened emotions. It helped. Forty-eight hours later he isn’t biting anything else and isn’t even using the tool much.

Second, I worked extra hard with him to identify what he was feeling. When he began to bite his shirt or shout, I slowed him down and asked, “What are you feeling right now?”, helping him to differentiate between excitement and nervousness so that we could identify other ways to deal with those feelings. This worked very well. Tuesday afternoon I took the boys over to Starbucks for hot cocoa in the afternoon. Lyle was starting to get really wired, and I raised my voice to get his attention before he bumped into someone. He immediately bit his shirt – but then stopped and said to me, “I was surprised because you spoke sharply to me.” He then climbed on my lap and allowed me to comfort him and explain why I spoke sharply. This self-awareness led to an immediate decrease in the undesirable behaviors in that environment.

Third, I slowed down his world as much as I could. I started to speak slower and more quietly to him, and kept our schedule as calm as possible. I made an extra effort to sit down and focus on pretend playing with him more often, which always gives us more opportunities to connect emotionally and play out difficult situations.

Fourth, I made life more predictable. I drew a calendar of the next few weeks for the kids. On each day, I drew simple pictures to identify Lyle’s school days, days with the nanny, when exactly the parties are, when we go to California, etc. When life is busy and routines change all of a sudden, many kids (and probably adults) need some extra predictability and external organization. Both of the boys are checking their calendar multiple times a day; it’s posted on the refrigerator.

This is an exciting time of year. That’s as it should be. It’s fun to dance in the kitchen to Frosty the Snowman, treat the kids to some holiday fun, and enjoy the season.

But for kids who are not so sure yet about how to express their feelings, ’tis also the season for some extra support.

Dysregulation: Summer Edition

Okay, so I love having lots to talk about that’s not kid-related, such as going to see Tweedy Obama tonight (whoo hoo!) and my fancy iPhone.  But can we talk about dysregulation again, and the fact that my 3-year old’s emotional regulation tends to be finely tuned and is rather off-kilter right now?  Cool. Thanks.

One thing I love about parenting is how, season after season, these babies grow into toddlers and then into small people who ultimately reveal themselves, allowing us to figure out their likes and dislikes, their habits, the joys that light up their eyes, and their unique challenges. It can take a while to see these things as actual patterns when children are so small and we can chalk many things up to a passing phase or a fluke. It is only later, when we see certain behaviors and reactions appear again that we realize there might be more to it.

What I am seeing oh-so-clearly right now is Lyle’s rockiness around transitions.  Remember what he was like at Christmas, Wonderfriends? That was a post many of you appreciated, and it helped me today to go back and read it again.  For one thing, it was a good reminder that things could be worse right now but also to start thinking about those strategies again.

Summer is the polar opposite of Christmastime for us in terms of the pace of life, the availability of the great outdoors to burn off energy, and the excitement level.  At the same time, we are out of our usual routines, and even though that feels really, really good to me, it’s important to remember that it can leave a child feeling  unmoored.  At times it’s dispiriting to realize that these down times, which are so important for parents, can have a very different impact on children who are more finely tuned.

When I think about it this way, I know that, after 10 months of school-year stability in his schedule, Lyle experienced one change after another in rapid-fire succession: his preschool ended one week, Baxter’s school ended the next week, his beloved nanny went on vacation for a week, swimming classes started, swimming classes ended, we went to Michigan, we came back, day camp started, and next week we’ll leave for California for two weeks.

It really doesn’t matter that he has a great many hours of unstructured play every day, whether he’s in swimming, day camp at preschool, or on vacation, although of course that’s wonderful and important.  He, like many 3-year olds, gets very thrown off by change, and that’s what he responds to first and foremost.  As a result, he has a hard time settling down to sleep and cries for me to sleep next to him (which I do when I can right now).  He is also shrieking loudly a LOT, both when he’s happy and angry, which I find particularly hard to deal with.  His volume is set to “ear-splitting”.  In short, he is off.  (I should add that this is only at home, where he feels comfortable letting it all out.  There is no sign of difficulty in any other setting.)

I did see this coming to a certain extent, and so I made the boys a visual calendar for the refrigerator at the end of school.  The calendar shows them each day and what will be happening (a car on the day we go to Michigan, fireworks on the 4th of July, and their camp schedules).  That gets referenced a LOT, and Lyle likes to go back and review things: “That’s the day we had our train adventure with Daddy…that’s the day we went to Michigan…that was a swimming day…” and look ahead to know what’s coming.  His frequent visits to this calendar are helping him stay more organized and handle the changes.

It’s yet another reminder for me: when a child is “acting up” a lot, stop and look for the reason.  And that even though I am relaxed, at home playing more, and having a great summer, the smallest family member might be experiencing things very differently.

Slap-happy

As you probably already know, Baxter’s always been physical. He’s been on the high end of normal when it comes to his need for proprioceptive input, and sometimes I think he would’ve been diagnosed with a mild sensory processing disorder had I not intervened very early, consulting with OT colleagues at various junctures.

We were pleasantly surprised by his ability to sustain attention and self-control in kindergarten; in part, I suspect this was due to the three recesses they got in his full-day kindergarten.  Still, we were impressed.

There are always minor comments from his teachers about these things, but it’s never too big a deal.  Considering he gets 10 minutes of movement a day, I’m amazed at how well he does.

But I think all that holding it together at school comes with its price.  The price is a lot of need for movement and input the rest of the time.  I can understand this and sympathize with it.  It’s why we go to playgrounds after school rather than many after school clubs, and why we value his twice weekly soccer experience so highly.  And it’s why we have a gym mat and sensory equipment in our playroom that come out on cold or rainy days, or when he has friends over.  He is so happy when he’s had lots of movement time that he catalogs each event for me before bed some nights, grinning. It’s important for him.

I feel like his need for movement and input is over the top right now.  Significantly.  He’s excited about summer vacation and I know that all of the endings and schedule changes that occur at this time of year can really throw kids off.  But at some point he does have to learn better impulse control.  If I see him walk up to one more friend and flick the kid’s hat off his head or slam into him sideways, I’m going to lose it.  I try to watch the other boys, to see where the norm is, and to watch their reactions: some of them are getting downright irritated.

One lesson Matt and I learned this year has been that, quite often, if you just find a way to let Baxter know how important something is (say, writing down all of those homework assignments or listening to all of the steps in his teacher’s directions), he rarely needs another reminder. But I feel like I’ve talked about this with him enough times in the past week without any results.  I know he’s impulsive, I know he can’t always help it, but it’s time for him to start trying and my intuition is, he is ready to start helping it.  I believe in my heart that he can control himself more than he used to, some of it has just become a habit.

I tried to decide what to use for this particular parenting job, and finally chose a strategy that goes against my normal aversion to negative feedback.   Baxter will be given two dollars in quarters at the beginning of each week.  Every time we see him being physical in an out-of-bounds way (which has been – and will continue to be – defined clearly for him), he loses a quarter.  Whatever money is left at the end of the week is his to keep.

I asked him about this idea after dinner tonight.  He loves it, mainly because he’s imagining that in just a few weeks he’ll be out shopping for Pokemon cards or a new Webkinz pet.  I warned him, however, that this won’t be easy.  I told him that he probably won’t end his first week with $2.00 in quarters, much as I’d like him to.   But I also said that I know he can do it, and a week will come when he will have his $2.00 and it will add up for him.  Of course this won’t go on indefinitely, but I find with these things that once the child has met the goal and “cashed out” (literally, in this case), it’s easy to drop the motivator. And if he proves me wrong and starts controlling those poking, hat-slapping hands and constantly moving feet right away and begins robbing us blind?  More power to him.  His friends and his brother will thank me.

And if I’m wrong?  Then we go to Plan B.  Which you will be required to help me with.

Navigating Negative Emotions (Part One)

Come on over to The Family Room, where I’ve got a new post up tonight about why some children with autistic spectrum disorders have such a difficult time accepting and understanding negative emotions in themselves and others.

(And after you’ve read it, keep reading, because if you haven’t read Susan’s blog yet, you’re missing out!)

The More People He Meets

My son Baxter has a rather unique personality. He is what his father and I think of as uber-social, and has been since birth. Baxter was the 18-month old who walked into day care with a big grin and greeted each other toddler by name and with a hug (which usually knocked them to the floor, one by one – there were those sensory issues coming into play!). He was the preschooler who didn’t just start playing in the sandbox at the park, he first went from unfamiliar child to unfamiliar child, greeting them with a big smile and a hello. My friends used to refer to him as “Mayor of the Playground”.

Recently, Matt and I had an odd realization: it occurred to us that we couldn’t think of a single person Baxter had ever disliked. No complaint about another child at school, no adult who wasn’t his cup of tea. In his book, it seemed, everyone was fantastic. In fact, to this day if you ask him how his day was, he invariably answers, “GREAT!” each time with completely earnest enthusiasm. My father told me last year that he loved this quality in Baxter so much he had started responding that way himself at work just to see how other people reacted. My mother said recently that Baxter’s attitude towards life is “refreshing”. I agree.

While I was making Christmas cookies with Baxter a few weeks ago, we had a lovely conversation, as we often do when we’re together. I brought up this question of whether he’d ever met someone he didn’t like. He thought about it, and agreed that we were right – he had not. “In fact,” he said, “the more people I meet, the more people I like!” This was followed by, “Hey, that should be my motto!” Delighted, I agreed. He was given the t-shirt shown in the photo above by my highly amused cousin in San Francisco, complete with his new motto printed on the front.

Last week we visited a childhood friend of mine who lives in Santa Cruz. Soon after we adults had settled ourselves at the beach side cafe with our coffee cups and gigantic muffins, Baxter headed into the sand with a Frisbee. About five minutes later, my friend asked, “So, what’s Baxter like?” I pointed over beyond the volleyball nets – “Well, did you read his t-shirt?” He said that he had, grinning. “And do you see him over there?” My friend turned and realized that Baxter had singlehandedly organized an impromptu game of Frisbee on the beach with a mixed group of kids and adults, within five minutes. He was happily taking pointers from someone’s dad about his throw. A while later the game switched to football and he was tackling unfamiliar children in the sand, children he would’ve knocked over 6 years ago had they been in day care together.

Thus it came as some surprise tonight at dinner when we were looking at Lyle’s map place mat and I idly asked, “Where do you boys think you’ll live someday?” (secretly hoping the answer would be “next door”). Baxter’s voice shook a bit with emotion as he replied, “Anywhere, as long as Adam P. doesn’t live there!”

Whoa.

It all spilled out. Adam P. (one must use last name initials at all times in second grade!) has been calling him names (primarily “Dexter”, which is just kind of lame, if you ask me) and generally being a little stinkpot to Baxter. Bax sat on my lap, curled up with long thin limbs that were unsure of where they fit anymore, and told us all about it. I think we handled it well enough, talking a lot about how he felt, why Adam P. might be doing that, and what Baxter does about it. A discussion about the power of ignoring ensued, and after a while he brightened up and it was clear that this load he’d been carrying had been lifted from his sturdy 7-year old shoulders. He even laughed when Lyle then climbed on my lap, saying, “And Mommy? The boys at preschool are saying rude things to me, too!” and then made up all kinds of crazy things that have definitely never happened. All for a little cuddle and attention. So we had a big family love-in on the couch for a while and then went on with our evening.

It had to happen sometime, didn’t it? I mean, someone had to get his attention with nasty behavior enough times to bring him to the point of dislike. It sounded like it had been going on for months, so I think he’s been quite tolerant about it for a while now.

In the end, I know that even the Mayor of the Playground is going to have a few enemies. But I have a feeling that’s not going to slow him down for long. I’m pretty sure of it.

Murky Waters

My three year old exclaimed joyfully over the gift he received from Santa at my clinic’s holiday party today. As he pulled out one Cars character and then another, a father watched with interest from across the table. He happened to be one of the few parents I’d never met, because his child only comes on a day when I’m not working. Turns out, his young son, also intently watching Lyle open “Lizzie” and “Boost”, is a big Cars fan. Very few people – even among the fans – know a lesser-known character like “Boost”, who shows up in the film for about one minute.

“Oh, we know our Cars!” the dad emphasized, giving me a knowing look. It suddenly occurred to me that I was getting the “our kids share this obsession” look from a parent who most likely thought that I was the parent of a child with special needs, not one of the hosting therapists.

This doesn’t bother me, but it is always an interesting exercise for me to see my kids through the eyes of other parents who assume – because of the context, where we are – that one or both of my boys has special needs.

I remember the first time this happened, which was when Baxter was almost three and we were waiting to sign in for the Cure Autism Now: Walk Now event in San Francisco in 2003. There were precious few families around us who had only neurotypical kids. I realized this and looked over at Baxter, curious to know if he was wondering about any of the out-of-the-ordinary behaviors that barely register with me anymore – only to find him toe walking and twirling, and watching as he crashed into his father on purpose to stop himself. I giggled over the irony at the time, but also found it fascinating to realize that, put in the context of kids with sensory processing and communication disorders, my neurotypical child fit right in, by all appearances.

It’s true. Baxter toe-walked his way through life until he was about 4 1/2 years old; only when he was excited but, truth be told, he was pretty much excited all the time. He was also under-responsive to touch, needing a lot of proprioceptive input to his body. He could spend hours jumping and crashing non-stop, and to this day (to a much lesser extent) seeks that out. When Baxter was four years old, I suffered through some very long Music Together sessions where he ran in circles around the room (which encouraged other kids to follow him, of course) and eventually crashed so that there was a huge pile of preschoolers on top of him. (Remember that, Stacy?) This while the rest of the class sat tamely banging two red sticks together to “Little Red Wagon”. Thankfully – and to Music Together’s credit (I love that program!) – the teacher had enough training to know that developmentally that’s how some kids process music, and it was fine. (For the record, I’d be very uncomfortable with any music class for young children that insisted they sit to participate. Don’t laugh – they’re out there.) With my introduction of a modified ALERT program, Baxter learned to calm himself and participate more conventionally. Eventually.

At the same time, he was over-responsive around his face (i.e., tactile defensiveness) and literally gagged when we put on sunscreen. He still can’t stand any lotion on his face and barely tolerates the application of it all summer.

And while to me all of this raises huge red flags for sensory processing disorder, and I treated each of these symptoms as I would in a client (with input from OT colleagues), he is a typically developing child.

Then there’s Lyle. Lyle, who is three now himself, demonstrates none of those same characteristics but, as I’ve recently discussed, has his own set of challenges.

I’m not sharing this because I think that as a parent I am in the exact same boat as my clients’ parents. I do not believe that my experience is entirely the same.

I am sharing it because I truly understand when the mom of a newly-diagnosed child with autism says, “I guess I thought all kids did those things,” or a dad tells me, “We thought he was just quirky.” But the most difficult of all is, “How do I know if this issue is a typical part of development, or related to his special needs?”

It is murky. Downright murky, indeed.

Surviving the Holidays with Sensitive Kids

Both of my boys are sensitive guys. I believe that, in the long-term, this is a good quality in the males of our species, I really do. In the short-term it can be a bit tough, however. Among other things, it means that Baxter cries easily and was afraid of segments on Sesame Street until he was about 6 years old. I mean, truly, there is never any doubt about how that boy is feeling and it’s been relatively easy to help him learn to manage his emotions.

But Lyle, though probably even more sensitive and finely-tuned than his big brother, has been much harder to read. Rather than crying when he’s scared or his feelings have been hurt, he is likely to feel confused and hide behind what I think of as his “wacky” behaviors: moodiness, hitting, sudden shrieking, twirling in circles, and jumping on top of his brother.

I see children through an uncommon lens, because of my training. I’m sure this has pros and cons for my family. In my book, children’s behavior is highly meaningful – they are communicating something with their actions, and our job is to watch, listen, and interpret the message in order to respond appropriately.

So when Lyle’s “wacky” behaviors began to escalate in the past week, I took it very seriously and watched carefully. In addition to the usuals – which were significantly heightened – he began to bite his shirt collar or jacket a lot – and a couple of times even bit his own hand earlier this week.

Now, listen up: if you are my child and you want me to go into Full Alert Mode, just start biting your hand. I’m all yours.

I watched. I listened. I talked to Matt. I thought about it a lot.

Let’s see, what’s going on for this shy little guy…Christmas is coming (exciting)…Santa is coming (scary and exciting)…he was invited to his first school friend’s birthday party (scary and exciting)…my work party is this Saturday, complete with a live Santa (scary and exciting)…Mommy was a stress case the last two weeks (scary)…there are new decorations all over the house – and everywhere else, for that matter (exciting but different from the norm)…we’ll be going to California in less than two weeks (exciting). And on and on. No wonder the child is completely dysregulated. That’s a lot for a small boy to handle.

So here’s what I’ve done.

First of all, I quickly gave him a substitute to bite. Because think about it – oral input is the most primitive source of comfort and self-regulation we’ve got. Consider breast-feeding, sucking on a pacifier or a thumb. Many adults use food or cigarettes to satisfy that need. If we say, “Stop biting” but give the child nothing to substitute with, we are probably causing him more discomfort and then what’s going to happen? Probably more biting.

I have a collection of oral motor tools that are safe and durable, and I offered Lyle an assortment. He took to one of them. I encouraged him to get all the oral input he wanted with that – while we read stories, when he watched a video, or when he was starting to experience heightened emotions. It helped. Forty-eight hours later he isn’t biting anything else and isn’t even using the tool much.

Second, I worked extra hard with him to identify what he was feeling. When he began to bite his shirt or shout, I slowed him down and asked, “What are you feeling right now?”, helping him to differentiate between excitement and nervousness so that we could identify other ways to deal with those feelings. This worked very well. Tuesday afternoon I took the boys over to Starbucks for hot cocoa in the afternoon. Lyle was starting to get really wired, and I raised my voice to get his attention before he bumped into someone. He immediately bit his shirt – but then stopped and said to me, “I was surprised because you spoke sharply to me.” He then climbed on my lap and allowed me to comfort him and explain why I spoke sharply. This self-awareness led to an immediate decrease in the undesirable behaviors in that environment.

Third, I slowed down his world as much as I could. I started to speak slower and more quietly to him, and kept our schedule as calm as possible. I made an extra effort to sit down and focus on pretend playing with him more often, which always gives us more opportunities to connect emotionally and play out difficult situations.

Fourth, I made life more predictable. I drew a calendar of the next few weeks for the kids. On each day, I drew simple pictures to identify Lyle’s school days, days with the nanny, when exactly the parties are, when we go to California, etc. When life is busy and routines change all of a sudden, many kids (and probably adults) need some extra predictability and external organization. Both of the boys are checking their calendar multiple times a day; it’s posted on the refrigerator.

This is an exciting time of year. That’s as it should be. It’s fun to dance in the kitchen to Frosty the Snowman, treat the kids to some holiday fun, and enjoy the season.

But for kids who are not so sure yet about how to express their feelings, ’tis also the season for some extra support.