Autism FAQs

Since April is Autism Awareness Month, SmartKnitKIDS wants to help bring awareness to Autism and Autism Spectrum Disorders.princewilliamcountypublicschools

from princewilliamcountypublicschools.com

 

What are Autism Spectrum Disorders and Autism?

Autism Spectrum Disorders are a range of brain disorders that are characterized by restricted patterns of behavior and impairments in social communication and interactions.  Symptoms can vary drastically from individual to individual in both number and severity, but typically share similar features and origins.

speech211

from speechbudy.com

 

What is autistic disorder?

Autistic disorder is the most common Autism Spectrum Disorder and is commonly referred to as autism.  Autism severely impairs a child’s social interaction and ability to communicate.

What is Asperger’s Syndrome?

Asperger’s Syndrome is a milder form of autism and is the second most common ASD.  Children with Asperger’s Syndrome exhibit a higher language development than children with autism.  Many of them will have normal intellectual ability, but have a disinterest in social communication.

What are the other Autism Spectrum Disorders?

Although Autism and Asperger’s are more known, there are other named disorders on the spectrum.  One is Pervasive Development Disorder Not Otherwise Specified or PDDNOS. Children with PDDNOS demonstrate some of the symptoms similar to autism disorder, but do not meet all the criteria of autism.  Another more rare disorder is Childhood Disintegrative Disorder (CDD). This one affects more boys than girls. Children with this disorder develop normally for approximately two years and then regress in most areas and continue to regress beginning around age 3 or 4.  They experience a pronounced loss in motor, language, social and intellectual skills, as well as loss of bowel and bladder control. They may also experience seizures. Rett syndrome is a genetic disorder in which autistic symptoms begin to develop between 6 and 18 months of age, after early normal development.  Rett syndrome affects females almost exclusively. Those with Rett syndrome typically begin to shun social contact, cease talking, have unique motor behaviors and regress in skills.  The cause of Rett syndrome has been identified as a single gene mutation.

What are the symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorders?

Symptoms can range from mild to severe.  They can appear gradually or suddenly. Most symptoms will become noticeable by the age of 3, but can be observed as early as birth.  Symptoms can include:

  •  Social Deficits – Social interactions are difficult for children with autism.  They may avoid eye contact. They may avoid interactions with people.  They often have difficulty reading social cues. They may have difficulty controlling emotions, can be disruptive or aggressive.  They may lose control easily when frustrated or uncomfortable.
  •  Communication Difficulties – Communication difficulties vary from child to child.  Some children with autism may have very good language skills, but have difficulty in initiating or sustaining conversations.  Other children may have language delays or regression in language development. Other children may be mute, while others still will have unusual use of language, such as repeating a phrase or parroting.  Children with autism may also have difficulty with body language. Their facial expressions, tone and gestures may not match the verbal content or emotions.
  •  Repetitive Behavior – Many children with autism, or even adults for that matter, insist on consistency.  They will have difficulty with any change, however minor, with their routines. They may exhibit repetitive motions like arm-flapping, freezing, rocking back and forth or walking on their toes.  They may become intensely preoccupied with any certain topic. Or can spend long periods of time arranging toys rather than playing with them.
  •  Sensory Difficulties – Although, children may exhibit Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) without being on the spectrum, many children on the spectrum do exhibit Sensory Processing Disorder.  This is when the brain is unable to balance the senses appropriately. Children with this disorder can be hyper-sensitive or hypo-sensitive to sounds, textures, tastes or smells.  Children may have difficulty with crowds due to the over-stimulus of noise. Many children with SPD and autism have difficulty with tags or seams in their clothes. What may not be noticed at all or even a minor annoyance to some, will feel extremely uncomfortable to children with SPD.  SmartKnitKIDS seamless socks and undergarments can help many of these children.
  •  Unusual Abilities – Some children with ASD can display truly remarkable abilities.  These can include artistic talents, musical abilities without training, or the ability to memorize difficult lists of information.

Who develops autism spectrum disorders?

Autism Spectrum Disorders are three to four times more common in boys than in girls.  However, girls with an ASD tend to have more severe symptoms. Autism touches people of all racial, ethnic and socioeconomic groups,

What are the causes of Autism Spectrum Disorders?

Most researchers believe that it is a combination of genetic, biological and environmental factors that cause ASD.  They are exploring genes which they believe contribute to the development of ASD. Abnormal brain development during the first months of life is being studied.  Researchers hope to determine if structural abnormalities may be caused by genetic and/or environmental factors.

How Did My Child Develop Autism?

Researchers are learning more about autism every day, but we still have a lot to learn.  Research does suggest that the development of autism happens in the very early brain development.  Researchers have identified several genes that can cause autism, but these genes only account for 15% of autism cases.  They have also identified more than 100 different genes or gene mutations that can increase a child’s risk of developing autism. But, most researchers believe it is not genes alone that can cause a child to develop autism.  Many scientists believe that it is a combination of genetics and environment, or non-genetic factors. Some environmental factors that increase the likelihood of autism include: advanced parental age at time of conception; prematurity with very low birth weight; maternal diabetes; infection during pregnancy; and certain birth complications, including those that may involve oxygen deprivation to a baby’s brain.  Although researchers are closer than ever to understanding why a child develops autism, this is still a medical frontier. The organization Autism Speaks funds a multitude of studies working towards discovering the causes of autism.

Are Vaccines the Cause?

Researchers have spent two decades extensively looking for any link between childhood vaccinations and autism.  They have had very clear results. Vaccines do not cause autism.

How are Autism Spectrum Disorders diagnosed?

Currently, there is no diagnostic test to detect autism.  But, scientists are hopeful that with more research a diagnostic test may be available in the future.  For now, diagnosis comes from various screening instruments, as well as parental input. These tools are able to measure the prevalence of symptoms of autism.  A child may display symptoms right away or it can occur after several months of normal development. Some of the things to look for in children between 18 months and 3 years include:

  •         Limited pretend play
  •         Lack of pointing to demonstrate interest
  •         Reduced gaze following
  •         Less frequent demonstration of repetitive, stereotypic behaviors
  •         In children with autism between 2 years and 3 years of age, the following features may be observed:  
  •         Communication difficulties
  •         Socialization deficits with caregivers
  •         Perceptual sensitivity
  •         Other difficult behaviors

How are Autism Spectrum Disorders typically treated?

Every person with autism or an autism spectrum disorder is different.  Because of that, there is no exact treatment for it. However, the best outcomes come from the earliest interventions. There are many different methods that might be used depending on each individual.  They can include medications, behavioral therapy, psycho-education, family support groups, educational interventions, speech and language therapy, occupational therapy and specialized training.

How Common is Autism?

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) identify that 1 in every 68 American children has an Autism Spectrum Disorder.  While this is a 10-fold increase over the last 40 years, much of the increase is due to improved diagnosis and awareness. ASD affects more than 2 million people in the US and tens of millions worlwide.

What Should I Do if I Suspect Something is Wrong with My Child?

Early intervention has been shown to provide children with autism the best chance for improving function and maximizing progress.  Talk to your child’s doctor right away. Also, you can contact your state’s Early Intervention Services to have your child screened.

How Do I Get My Child the Help He or She Needs?

A great resource for finding the right professionals is the Autism Treatment Network from Autism Speaks.  The ATN is a network of hospitals, physicians, researchers and families at 17 locations across the US and Canada.  The clinicians at ATN work together to develop the most effective approach to medical care for children and adolescents affected by autism.

What if I Suspect that I Have Autism?

This is possible.  Researchers are learning more and more about autism, but there is so much that is still unknown.  A greater knowledge in identifying autism has lead to a greater prevalence in diagnosis. But, many adults that have Asperger’s Syndrome or other high-functioning forms of autism never received a diagnosis as a child. They only come to a diagnosis when they seek help for problems they have at work or in their social lives.  If you suspect that you may have an Autism Spectrum Disorder, a licensed clinical psychologist, neurologist or psychiatrist can evaluate you and make a diagnosis.

How Do I Deal with this Diagnosis?

When a parent receives a diagnosis that their child has an Autism Spectrum Disorder it can be confusing and emotional.  But, the very best way to move forward for you and your child is to educate yourself. Early intervention has had really great results, and it is important to find out all you can to make sure you take advantage of all the resources available to your child.  Take advantage of resources yourself, too. There are many great online communities or local organizations to obtain advice from other parents.

Will My Child Be Able to Attend School?

Of course!  It is your child’s right to attend school according to the Individuals with Disabilities Act of 1990.  The Act says that every child deserves access to a “free and appropriate” education funded by the government, whether is is in a mainstream classroom or special education.

asanv.org

from asanv.org

 
** Sources for the content of this blog include The Brain & Behavior Research Foundation and Autism Speaks.

Autism Awareness Promos

Welcome to April SmartKnitKIDS families!! April is National Autism Awareness Month and your friends at SmartKnitKIDS have a barrel full of goodies to share.

Bugsley Bucks Return

First, up, Bugsley Bucks! For the third year running and back by popular demand are our SmartKnitKIDS Bugsley Bucks.  Here’s how they’ll work.  During the month of April, you’ll get a $10 Bugsley Bucks card for every order that includes any SmartKnitKIDS or Big Kids with a subtotal of $25 to under $55.  Bugsley Bucks cards can be used as a gift card on smartknit.com orders between May 15 and June 18, 2018.  Likewise, you’ll get a $20 Bugsley Bucks card for orders between $55 and under $100 OR a $30 Bugsley Bucks card for orders over $100.  Only one Bugsley Bucks card per order.

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Free Gifts

Each order to smartknit.com during the month of April that includes at least one SmartKnitKIDS or Big Kids item will also get two great free gifts – an Autism Awareness Car Decal AND Tangler Puzzle.  Of course, they are while supplies last, so be sure to get your orders in early.

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Mermaid Pillows and $20 SmartKnit.com Gift Cards

Have you seen these amazing and soothing Mermaid Pillows?  We’re all kind of gaga over them here at SmartKnitKIDS.  So, we’re giving away 5 of them during Autism Awareness Month!  Each Monday in April, we’ll be giving away 1 Mermaid Pillow, and pairing it with a $20 gift card to smartknit.com.

ENTER HERE

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Surprise Sales

Oh my!  There’s more.  Be sure to be part of our mailing list to find out about some surprise sales that might be sprinkled throughout the month!

We’re very excited about all of our great goodies for our SmartKnitKIDS families and we hope you are, too!

Springing into Spring with a Sensory Sensitive Child

Spring is in the air and to many people, that is welcome news!  But parents of children with Sensory Processing Disorder, that is not always the case.  There are a lot of reasons that make spring a little difficult for these children.

Allergies

Oh yes, allergies.  While nasal congestion, sneezing and itchy, watery eyes can be annoying to most people that suffer from them, for a child with Sensory Processing Disorder, allergies are even worse.  When a child is hypersensitive to sensory input, a body’s reaction to allergens can be intolerable.

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Photo courtesy of fda.org

Many people think there is precious little you can do to prevent allergies, but there are actually a lot of things that can be done to help any allergy sufferer.  If your sensory sensitive child has a difficult time managing seasonal allergies you may want to try HEPA air filters, as well as a HEPA vacuum cleaner.  A HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filter, can trap pollens, dander and other allergens.  Another way to keep allergens out of the house is to wash window screens, or better yet, resist the urge to open them up.  An allergy sufferer should also wash their hair and body at the end of each day to wash away the pollens before going to bed.  Wash clothing items that are typically not washed as often (like shoes or jackets) more often.  Finally, if you child will tolerate it, use a saline rinse to clear nasal passages of allergens.

Weather

The changes in weather and temperature from cold, dry winter to a warm/cool, wet and budding spring can really affect the senses.  The scents of grass and trees budding and the cleansing rain washing away the winter might be a great sensation to most of us, but the change can be overwhelming to the sensory sensitive kid.

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Photo courtesy of farmersalmanac.com

There isn’t a whole lot that can be done to change the weather.  The spring weather is coming sooner or later.  You can help your child to “warm up” to the weather changes by talking about them ahead of time.  “I’m looking forward to the sweet smell of the trees and flowers budding,” you might try.  Or, “the spring rain is nature’s way of giving the earth a bath.  It will feel so good.”

Clothing

I don’t know about you, but changing out the winter wardrobe can feel a little strange at first.  Lighter fabrics, shorter sleeves, shoes without socks, and frankly lighter weight clothes all around all can feel so different after the long winter of bundling up.  It can take a little time transitioning, especially for someone that has sensory challenges.

The easiest thing you can do to help your child transition to spring clothes is to make sure and wash them all beforehand.  New things may be scratchy and older things may need to be freshened up after sitting in the closet all winter.  Make sure everything fits properly.  If your kiddo has grown enough, old things may be a little tight, which might be uncomfortable to your child.  Make sure to avoid clothing with scratchy tags, elastic waistbands or cuffs and annoying seams.  SmartKnitKIDS seamless undies and socks feel great against the skin.

Daylight Savings Time

Many children thrive on routine and when that routine is disrupted just a little bit (looking at you, Daylight Savings Time), it can wreck havoc on the whole family.  A sensory sensitive kid may have a tough time coping with the change, especially the spring change when everything gets a little earlier.

Well, we’re a little late to the game on this year’s Daylight Savings Time prep, but it never hurts lay out a good plan for future.  The easiest way to prepare a child for Daylight Savings Time change is to gradually move bedtime back by several minutes each day by several days in advance.  The gradual change will be less taxing on the child’s internal clock making the time change easier.

With a little bit of preparation, even your most sensory sensitive child can successfully navigate their way into spring.

Pets for Kids with Autism

February 20 is National Love Your Pet Day! Pets can be an amazing thing for children with autism, sensory disorders or any number of other special needs.  Animal therapy has increased in recent years to treat a multitude of health conditions, such as cancer, epilepsy, heart disease, emotional and behavioral disorders and chronic pain.  It seems only logical that someone would study the effects of animal therapy on children with autism.

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In 2014, the University of Missouri, College of Veterinary Medicine did just that.  MU’s Research Center for Human-Animal Interaction found that autistic kids who have a family pet at home have more advanced social skills and are more assertive and communicative than autistic kids without pets.

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Dr. Gretchen Carlisle, the lead author, and her team, studied 70 families who have children that are patients at the MU Thompson Center for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders.  While most of the families had dogs, several had a variety of other animals including fish, farm animals, rabbits, reptiles, birds and even a spider.

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Dr. Carlisle’s data showed that children who live in homes that include pets were more likely to introduce themselves, ask questions and respond to other people’s questions – all things that can be difficult for children with autism.  The researchers felt that the pets helped to provide an opportunity for the children to interact with others without realizing they were doing it.

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But, Dr. Carlisle cautions that finding the right animal is key and is also different for each autistic child.  Dogs typically are the most common pets, especially for children, due to their energy, affection and playfulness.  But, for a child with a sensitivity to noise, a barking dog may not be the best option.  Cats can be great for a child like this – or rabbits, gerbils, etc.  It’s important to match your child’s needs and personality to a pet that he or she can really bond with.  There are a number of animals that can make really great pets: guinea pigs, iguanas, farm animals (as long as you live in the proper environment for them.)  Remember, someone in this study actually had a spider!

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There are several other studies that conclude that owning a pet can really be beneficial to most people.  Bonding with a pet has been shown to encourage empathy towards other humans.  Pets have been shown to help reduce stress and anxiety, blood pressure and heart rate and can even help children and adults to gain independence that they wouldn’t otherwise have.

There are so many reasons to love your pets and the benefits that they have for autistic kids are just a few of those reasons.  Give your furry friends some extra love this Tuesday . . . or maybe some of their favorite treats!

The information for this blog post came from the following articles.  Read more at the links below:

https://www.autismspeaks.org/science/science-news/autism-and-pets-more-evidence-social-benefits
https://www.cbsnews.com/news/pets-help-autistic-kids-advance-social-skills/

https://munews.missouri.edu/news-releases/2014/1230-children-with-autism-who-live-with-pets-are-more-assertive/

https://blog.brainbalancecenters.com/2014/09/benefits-pet-ownership-children-special-needs

** Photos are from bhmpics.com; copperpointresort.com; dailymail.co.uk and foodexposed.co.za

 

 

Surviving Winter with an SPD Kid

Winter!  It’s a tough season for all of us, but especially parents of sensory sensitive kids.  Your concern for your kids shifts back and forth between keeping them warm and managing their sensitivities.  Every kid is different, but following a few tips will help you navigate the winter more successfully with your sensitive child.

Wash Everything

At the start of a new season, most parents are pulling out a few old things from last season, but also doing a lot of buying of new things to wear.  Run the old clothes that have been sitting in the back of a closet through the wash to help freshen them up.  But, go ahead and wash all your kid’s new things, too.  Washing new things before wearing them can help loosen and soften them.

Remove Tags

Every sensory parent knows that’s the first thing to do, of course.  Some tags are worse than others and new things may need to be tried and inspected for any extra discomforts.  Don’t forget coats, scarves, hats, gloves, etc.  These are easy to overlook since they go over other clothes, but you never know how something will rub or irritate.

Keep Skin Moisturized

Sometimes sensitive kids can experience even more difficulty when it comes to dry skin.  Be sure to lotion them up every day and use a good chap stick.  It will also help if they’re well hydrated, so make sure they’re drinking plenty of water, too.  Water – not juice or soda!

Prepare them Before the Season

Test your kiddo ahead of time to see what items will bother them.  Bundle them up with anything you would on their coldest day – coat, hat, scarf, gloves.  You’ll have time to find a solution for anything that is irritating.

Hand Warmers

Some children will find gloves uncomfortable and refuse to wear them.  And since SmartKnitKids doesn’t make gloves at present, you’ll need to find something that works to keep their hands warm.  A hand warmer in each pocket may do the trick.

Dress in Layers

Since some kids, try as you might, just will not wear a winter coat, you may have to resort to multiple layers.  You can find several shirts, sweatshirts, hoodies, etc. and add several layers to your kiddo.  Thermal shirts like ones made by athletic gear companies may help, too, since they’re thin and designed to keep you warm.

Keep Extra Clothes at School/Daycare

This extends the idea of dressing in layers.  If you keep an extra layer or two at school, it’s fewer things to keep track of when leaving the house, but can provide a little extra warmth if the child didn’t arrive at school with enough.

Experiment with Different Fabrics

Some children might like the super softness of fleece and others may feel it’s too bulky.  Some might like the sleekness of a thermal shirt, but others may not.  Give you child a choice between certain fabrics that you approve of to create extra warmth.

Socks

Don’t forget our SmartKnitKIDS socks.  Keeping feet warm during the winter is important.  SmartKnitKIDS socks will be more comfortable for sensitive kids because of our super soft, stretchy fabric and no seams.  They also help keep feet dry, which in turn keeps them warmer during the winter.  I like to stick some over my baby’s hands, too, instead of mittens.  They stay on better than baby mittens and they’re nice and comfortable. 😉

Stay positive, moms and dads.  Although it may not feel like it, the warm weather isn’t toooo far off.

Warm Winter Kid-Friendly Comfort Foods

As I drove into the office this morning, the thermostat on my car read -1°.  Like much of the country, Kansas City is currently under a deep freeze.  The best thing about temps this low is warm and delicious comfort foods.  But, some of my favorites are not exactly favorites of kids.  “This chili is too spicy!”  “I don’t like potato soup!”  Grrrr!  What I need are some good kid-friendly recipes that still warm the body during these super chilly winter days.  In my hunt for recipes to match these qualifications, I came across a couple that I can’t wait to try!

The recipe below is a chili recipe that is easy on the spice, which will hopefully get fewer complaints from the kiddos – my little weirdos don’t like spice!

Crock Pot Kid-Friendly Turkey Chili
from www.skinnytaste.com

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Ingredients:
1.3 lbs 99% lean ground turkey
1 teaspoon oil
1 medium onion, minced
1 red bell pepper, finely diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 ½ cups frozen corn kernels
10 oz. can Rotel Mild Tomatoes
8 oz. can plain tomato sauce
¼ cup low sodium chicken broth
1 teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon chili powder
½ teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon salt
1 bay leaf

Directions:

  1. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat, add the turkey. Season with salt and break up with a spatula while cooking.  Cook until no longer pink and add to slow cooker.
  2. Add oil to skillet and sauté the onion, garlic and pepper over medium heat for 4 to 5 minutes.
  3. Add onion, garlic and pepper to the slow cooker and stir in corn and tomatoes, tomato sauce, cumin, chili powder, paprika and salt and mix until well blended.
  4. Pour chicken broth into slow cooker and add bay leaf.
  5. Cover and cook on High for 4 hours or Low for 6 hours.
  6. Serve with desired toppings.

*** We like using frito corn chips and cheese as toppings, but any toppings you typically use will work.

 

Kids love Tater Tot Casserole, right?!  Even moms and dads will appreciate this warm and toasty recipe on a cold day.

Tater Tot Casserole
from www.fromthepod.com

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Ingredients:
1 pound of ground beef
1 can of cream of chicken soup
1 can of diced tomatoes
1 package of frozen tater tots
2 packages of shredded cheese
½ Tbsp salt
2 tsp garlic salt
½ Tbsp pepper

Directions:

  1. In a skillet, add ground beef. Sprinkle salt, pepper, and garlic salt.  Brown until slightly crispy and then add to slow cooker.
  2. Add cream of chicken soup and diced tomatoes and mix.
  3. Arrange tater tots on top.
  4. Cover and cook on Low for 3 hours.
  5. Sprinkle cheese on top and cook for another 30 minutes.

 

Good ole Mac and Cheese is another kid favorite, but I despise the kind in the box with the powder cheese.  I have a couple of tasty and delicious Mac and Cheese recipes that I pull out at home, but they’re more suited to a grown-up taste, so my kiddos turn their noses up to them. (Seriously, these kids are picky.)  But, this recipe is good for everyone – it’s not out of a box, but works well with a child’s palate.

Kid-Friendly Homemade Mac and Cheese
from www.livingwellmom.com

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Ingredients:
16 oz. box elbow macaroni noodles
10 Tbsp butter, divided
1/3 cup flour
3 cups milk
12 oz. cheese
¾ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
4 Tbsp dry bread crumbs

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375°.
  2. Cook macaroni noodles and drain.
  3. In a separate saucepan, melt 1 stick (8 Tbsp) butter over medium heat. Stir in flour and slowly add milk, stirring.
  4. Bring to a boil and stir for 2 minutes. Turn off the burner and add cheese, salt and pepper, stirring until the cheese is melted.
  5. Add the macaroni noodles and mix well.
  6. Pour everything into a 2 quart casserole dish.
  7. Melt the additional 2 Tbsp of butter and mix with bread crumbs and a dash of pepper. Sprinkle mixture over the mac and cheese.
  8. Bake for 30 minutes.

 

Corn dogs are another food kids love.  The recipe below is a healthier option – and honestly much tastier than the frozen corn dogs out of a box! J

Baked Corn Dogs
from www.delish.com

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Ingredients:
1 ½ cups flour
2/3 cup yellow cornmeal
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp sugar
Coarse salt and ground pepper
2/3 cup milk
2 large eggs
2 tsp vegetable oil
4 precooked smoked chicken sausages
Popsicle sticks

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cornmeal, baking powder, sugar, ½ tsp salt, ¼ tsp pepper. Make a well in the center and add milk, eggs and oil.  Mix just until combined.
  3. Insert a popsicle stick into one end of each sausage leaving enough for a handle. Dust the sausages with flour and tap off excess. Using the handle, rotate each sausage over the bowl as you spoon batter over it to evenly coat.
  4. Place each “corndog” on the baking sheet and bake for 5 minutes.
  5. Remove from oven. Use a spatula to reapply batter that has slipped onto sheet.  Return from oven and bake until golden, about 20 minutes.
  6. Serve with desired toppings.

 

This last recipe is one from my own kitchen.  I love it because kids can make them almost by themselves, which is great because it gives them something to do.  It also allows them to make something to their own liking.

Biscuit Mini Pizzas

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Ingredients:
1 package of canned biscuit dough
1 jar of pizza sauce
1 package of shredded cheese
mini pepperonis or any other pizza toppings you enjoy

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°.
  2. Flatten out each of the biscuits expanding them slightly to form the pizza crust and place them on an ungreased cookie sheet.
  3. Spread each “crust” with pizza sauce.
  4. Sprinkle with cheese and add toppings.
  5. Bake until biscuits are golden and cheese is melted – about 8 minutes.

 

Here’s hoping the temperature rises soon.  But, in the meantime, you and your kiddos can stay warm and toasty with these delicious comfort food recipes!

Holiday Travel Tips . . . with Kids!

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Does it feel like this year is flying by?  For me, it does.  I can’t believe it’s already time to start thinking about Thanksgiving travel.   Traveling with children can be a challenge, but seriously people do it every year!  Thanksgiving weekend is known for being THE busiest travel weekend of the whole year.  According to AAA, 48.7 million American travelers are expected this year and you can bet that many of those travelers are children.  So, if the thought of traveling with your young family in just a few short weeks gives you the anxiety that it is giving me right now, you might want to check out the tips below before you go.  They’ll help make your trip a little less stressful.

  1. Plan Ahead– Make a detailed itinerary and make sure your children understand each leg of the journey. Rehearse parts of the trip that may give your children moments of anxiety. Take your child on short, practice runs for car trips, or visit the airport ahead of time. Walk through the airport and point out things to your child and watch some planes take off and land. When travel day arrives, the travel expectations will feel more familiar and comfortable.
  2. Arrive Early for Flights– Planning to arrive at the airport early will ensure that you’ll have time to make adjustments for any travel “roadblocks”. Be sure to bring enough activities to keep your children entertained for any waits or delays that may occur
  3. Create Realistic Expectations– Know what your children can handle and what they will not be able to handle. You may need to add extra stops into your itinerary or perhaps travel over multiple days.
  4. Charge Your Devices– Ensure that all your devices are charged and that you’ve brought extra chargers. You won’t want to be in a jam if the children have used up all the battery playing games just when you need your map app to get you to your next stop.
  5. Pack Plenty of Snacks– Pack plenty of healthy, low-sugar snacks that your children are familiar with and enjoy. You never know when a flight will be delayed or if the next restaurant is not for another 100 miles down the road.  Healthy snacks will help keep kids from getting cranky due to hunger.
  6. Pack Your Sense of Humor– Make the trip fun for you and your kids. Laugh with your kids and tell jokes.  Make up road trip games to play with your kids along the way.  It will make the trip more fun, enjoyable and memorable for you and them.
  7. Bring or Buy Special Needs Foods– If your child has special dietary restrictions, be sure to bring things you know they can eat. Special needs foods may be harder to find if you don’t know the area as well as home.
  8. Discuss the House Rules– Make sure your children know what will be expected of them at all locations – how to behave on a plane or in a hotel or even what special rules Grandma has at her house. Knowing what is expected up front will help them to follow along with your expectations.
  9. Do a Safety Check– Pack a first aid kit. Make sure each child has a proper car seat.  Bring all medications your children are on.
  10. Pack Insurance Cards– Just in case you need to visit a doctor while out of town, be sure to carry your insurance cards with you. It will make the process much easier and you’ll be able to save your concerns for your sick child.
  11. Visit a Local Playground– Help your kids create a memory of their adventure. Visiting a playground while on the road or in Grandma’s hometown will not only give them something fun to remember during your travels, but will also give your kids a chance to burn up some of the energy they’ve accumulated while playing 50 State License Plate Bingo in the backseat.
  12. Keep Your Cool!– There will always be things that happen, whether it be a speeding ticket from the highway patrol or a missed connection during a layover. Take a deep breath and go with the flow.  If you don’t stress things that happen outside of your control, you’ll better enjoy your trip and so will your kids.

Remember at the end of the road is Grandma’s special turkey and dressing or pumpkin pie that you’ve been craving for months – as well as hugs and smiles and family memories.  Happy Thanksgiving!