Written by Sean Heerey, ND

As both a naturopathic doctor and speech-language pathologist, I have seen so much improvement with my young patients following some basic guidelines. These are guidelines that parents can easily bring in to daily life:

10. Read to your children. Parents may choose to read the words on the page or they may comment on the pictures. Depending on what you do, you can read the same story each time or it can be a different story based on what you say about the pictures.

9. Toys! Some of the best toys are ones WITHOUT batteries, e.g., cars, dolls, blocks, cooking set, doctor kit, bubbles. Such toys encourage imagination.

8. Limit time spent looking at a screen. This incudes, TV, laptop, iPhone, iPad, smartphone and tablets. If screen time is necessary use lot of words to talk about what you are actually doing and what is happening on the screen.

7. Include children in routines, e.g., during food preparation they can sprinkle spices and add foods to the mixing bowl.

6. Prepare children for transitions. Kids need a heads-up so they are not surprised. Even if your child does not understand the concept of time prepare them by saying we are leaving in 5 minutes, then 4 minutes and then 2 minutes, etc.

 5. Pick the right movement. Observe your child and figure out what type of activity they like most. Some children like active, movement-based contexts, while others may like more stationary, detailed oriented play.

4. Challenge children. Once you have an idea what your child likes, change up the game by adding in something new and fun. If a child likes to feed only dolls, introduce stuffed animals or action figures to add a new element to their play.

3. Helpful Direction. When praising or scolding be sure to reference the behavior. If the child is throwing sand at the beach then say “no more throwing” rather than “bad boy/girl”. The issue is the behavior and not the child so please use your words to indicate that.

2. Be Present and PLAY! Turn off all electronic devices and screens. Limit distractions and just play.

1. Feed kids real, whole foods. Instead of a fruit snack eat real fruit. With new foods, children may need to try a food at least 20 times (not all in the same day) to know whether or not they like it. The first time a child tries an avocado they may reject but keep on trying. In addition to taste, presentation of food and the attitude toward food is important. If an adult does not like a food or makes a face when presenting a food to a child how can we expect them to eat it!

Dr. Heerey is a 2007 graduate of the National College of Natural Medicine (NCNM) in Portland, Oregon where he received his Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine. He received a Master’s Degree in Speech-Language Pathology in 1995 from Queens College, City University of New York. He is a board member of the New York Association of Naturopathic Physicians (NYANP). IN addition to helping children on the autistic spectrum he supports children and adults with chronic health issues.  He brings 20 years of experience working with children with language and learning disorders including Autistic Spectrum Disorder, to his Naturopathic practice. Dr. Heerey uses dietary interventions, homeopathic remedies/CEASE Therapy and flower essences to support the health of his patients.  www.drseanheerey.com

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