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Reach out and teach parent handbook/reachbook: meeting the training needs of parents of visually and multiple handicapped young children.

REACH OUT AND TEACH PARENT HANDBOOK/ REACHBOOK: Meeting the Training Needs of Parents of Visually and Multiply Handicapped Young Children. by Kay Alicyn Ferrell, American Foundation for the Blind, 15 West 16th., New York, N.Y 10011, (202) 620-2147, (800) 232-5463. Two volumes, Parent Handbookpages/ 269 Reachbook-171 pages, [C] 1985. $30 for set.

The following excerpt from Chapter 5:

COMING ACROSS: Daily Living and Communicating Has been reprinted with permission from the publisher.


1. Be Consistent. This means eating meals at the same time every day. If mealtimes or even the number of meals varies from day to day, your child may not know what it feels like to be hungry. When meals are at the same time each day your child knows the feeling of hunger, and begins to anticipate that it is time to eat.

It is very important not to give snacks to your child all day long (unless, of course, your doctor prescribes it). If you do, you will probably not have much success at meal times. Remember that snacks also include drinks (other than water) because they, too, are very filling.

Of course, there are days when this consistency just cannot take place. That's all right - don't worry about it. But make inconsistency the exception and not the rule.

2. Eat meals in an area designed for eating, not in front of the television, on the floor, in the family room, by the telephone, or in bed. Your child needs to learn where things belong, and it is important to teach him where food comes from, how it is prepared where the dishes and utensils are kept, and how the dishes and utensils get clean again.

3. Prepare the eating area so that your child and you feel comfortable about the mess that is sure to be made. If your child is trying to spoon soup into his mouth and it runs down his arm on the floor and you get upset about it, he will stop trying to feed himself. If you are a person who cannot tolerate messes, your child may never learn to feed himself.

Before your child comes to the table, place a plastic sheet, an old rug, or some newspapers under his chair. This will make it easier to clean up any spills or dropped food.

4. Eating is a social behavior. People need to learn the rules of eating, and this is accomplished only with other people.

If your child has many feeding problems, you may choose to feed him before the rest of the family eats. But you should still include him at the table with the rest of the family during the regular meal.

5. Make your child sit upright for mealtimes. Food may slide down easier if your child is lying down, but it doesn't help him learn about swallowing and chewing.

If your child cannot sit by himself, prop him with pillows or hold him in your lap in a sitting position. The infant seats that can be adjusted to various levels are also a good way to increase your child's sitting position gradually.

6. Be sure your child is in a comfortable position in furniture that fits him. His hips, knees, and ankles should be bent; he should lean slightly forward; and his feet should touch the floor.

If your child's feet do not touch the floor, place something under the feet to support them, such as a footstool or a box. This helps him to define his space and keeps him from feeling as though he is hanging in mid-air. For multiply handicapped children this can be especially important because their feet need to be flexed to prevent them from going into extension and perhaps slipping out of the chair.

7. Avoid interruptions. Let your friends, neighbors, and relatives know when you eat meals so they do not drop in or telephone at an inconvenient time. You and your child have much to do, and interruptions in the routine will confuse your child and may not permit you to follow through on your plans. Interruptions can add to the frustration level for both of you as well.

8. Work as often as you can in a quiet setting. This helps your child to understand what you are saying and helps develop a calm atmosphere. This in turn helps to lower your frustration level.

9. Use the same words for plates, glasses, napkins, and different foods, and always place them on the table or tray in the same position. This will also help develop your child's anticipation.

We recommend this book to parents, groups, clinical groups and libraries. Copies of the book may be purchased through the EXCEPTIONAL PARENT Library, 1170 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, Mass. 02134, (617) 730-5800. See page 73 for ordering information.
COPYRIGHT 1990 EP Global Communications, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1990 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:excerpt
Author:Ferrell, Kay Alicyn
Publication:The Exceptional Parent
Date:Jul 1, 1990
Previous Article:Parenting plus: raising children with special health needs.
Next Article:Daybed turned playpen!

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