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BIOGRAPHY: Estrellita AlaffaFeatured

My name is Estrellita Alaffa, I was born in Tamaulipas, Mexico, on February 19th, 1982. I graduated with a technical degree in business administration, I worked in Mexico as a secretary in a law firm for three years, then I got married and emigrated to the United States in 2003.

I am a mother of four children, two of them have autism and although it has not been easy, my resilience has helped me reinvent myself as a mother and at the same time work wise. In 2012, I took a course to obtain my CNA license in the state of Texas and worked for almost four years in a nursing home, where I put into practice all the ove, patience and empathy that my children taught me as they grew up.

But at the same time, my children’s needs were requiring more and more of my time, so I decided to leave my job and dedicate full time to my children.

In 2018, we emigrated again to the state of Wisconsin, looking for new opportunities and although I was home for several years, I always had the desire to do something else besides that.

So in 2020, I joined the group of health leaders as a volunteer, from the Sixteenth Street Clinic, where I participated as a health promoter and received training in community advocacy. This great experience was a great tool to develop me professionally, because in 2023, i started working with UW-Madison Extension, as a bilingual nutrition educator, and at the end of this same year i was nominated to be part of the board of directors at the Sixteenth Street Clinic and for me it is and honor to be part of this board of directors.

Therefore, every day I strengthen my commitment to my family and my community, my resilience drives me to cultivate myself as an individual, I live to be useful in the lives of the people who know me and I feel the moral commitment to serve and intercede for those voices that are not heard.

Although being a mother of two autistic children has not been easy, since there are many challenges that we face every day, there are also many gratifying moments that we experience every day and that is the most important thing.

What we enjoy the most as a family is doing outdoor activities. I am pleased to see their smiles, their innocence and the unconditional love of each one of my children.

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in ACTIVITIES, RESOURCES

Plan and implement: Lesson plan and activities plansFeatured

Among the primary responsibilities of early childhood educators is the responsibility to plan and implement intentional and developmentally appropriate learning experiences that promote social and emotional development, physical development and health, cognitive development, and general learning skills of each of the children that attends.

It’s important to plan activities based on the ages of the children and the objective we want to achieve. The study plans and teaching methods are built from each child’s resources by connecting their experiences in school or educational environment with their home or community environment.

What is a lesson plan?

A lesson plan for toddlers is a teacher-structured document that describes the sequence of activities and learning experiences designed to teach a specific concept to children at an early age, usually ages 3 to 5. These plans are designed to be interactive, fun and adapted to the needs and development levels of young children. Here are some key elements you could include in a lesson plan for toddlers:

Lesson objective: Clearly defines what children should learn at the end of the lesson

Materials: List all the materials needed for the lesson, such as books, toys, art supplies, etc.

Introduction: Include a starter activity to capture children’s attention and prepare them for the lesson topic

Development: Divide the lesson into sequential steps or activities that help children understand the concept. Use interactive and hands-on methods, as children learn best through experience.

Evaluation: Include strategies to assess children’s understanding, such as questions, observations, and follow up activities.

Adaptations: Consider possible adaptations to meet the different needs and learning styles of the children in the group.

Time: Set a time estimate for each activity to ensure the lesson fits into the available time frame.

Closure: Conclude the lesson effectively, summarizing what children have learned and provide opportunities to ask questions or make comments.

It is important to remember that young children have limited attention spans, so lessons should be short, stimulating and full of variety to keep their interest. Additionally, flexibility is key, as you may need to adjust the lesson based on the children’s responses and level of engagement during the teaching process.

A lesson plan can be done weekly with a single topic or with different topics weekly. For children between 3 years old it can include gross motor activities, fine motor activities, art projects, crafts, sensory activities, outdoor activities, learning and experimentation games.

Example of a lesson plan for a week:

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in RESOURCES

AUTISMFeatured

Nowadays, there are a lot of resources where communities can educate themselves about the disabilities that a lot of our children around us suffer from.

A lot of kids have special disabilities, in most cases a disability can affect their health and their development in all areas.

Let’s talk about Autism in particular.

Is Autism a disability? If it’s not a disability, what is it? Is it a disorder? Or is it simply a way of responding to people and the world around us?

These are some of the questions that most parents ask, just like people from the spectrum themselves. Unfortunately, the answers are far from being simple.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), autism spectrum disorder is defined as a “developmental disability”, while the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) states that ASD is a “developmental disorder”.

Meanwhile, the Individuals with disabilities education Act law (IDEA), has 13 categories for the disabilities, and autism spectrum disorder is number three on the list, calling it a developmental disability that affects “social and communication skills”, but it can also have an “impact on behavior”.

(LONGO, 2021)

Currently, experts recognize 3 levels depending on the particularities of each patient. For many people, the concept of autism, also called autism spectrum disorder (ASD), can be confusing.

The brazilian journal of Psychiatry, authored by the American psychologist Ami Klin, from Emory University (United States) and the brazilian psychiatrist Marcos Tomanik Mercadante, from the Federal University of São Paulo (Unifesp), defines ASD as a family of socialization disorders that affect personal relationships, communication, the learning and adaptability of individuals to different environments.

For its part, the brazilian ministry of health highlights among the signs of autism difficulties in communicating and socializing, poor understanding of language, and the adoption of restrictive behaviors (for example, eating only one type of food and rejecting the others) and repetitive (such as moving a part of the body without stopping).

What are the types of autism?

According to revision 11th of the international classification of diseases (ICD-11) from the world health organization (WHO), currently, autism divides into 3 different levels depending on the needs that each person presents.

Level 1 (considered milder)

  • ASD without intellectual disability and with slight or no functional language impairment;
  • ASD with intellectual disabilities and mild or no functional language impairment

Level 2 (Moderated)

  • ASD without intellectual disability and absence of functional language
  • ASD with intellectual disability and absence of functional language

Level 3 (considered more severe)

  • ASD without intellectual disability and absence of functional language
  • ASD with intellectual disability and absence of functional language

What is Asperger’s syndrome and why is the term no longer used?

During a long time, health authorities understood Aspenger’s syndrome as a high-functioning “form of autism.” This means that the carriers presented similar difficulties to other autistic people, but at a very reduced level.

However, the ICD-11 grouped all autism related disorders into a single diagnosis: ASD.

According to WHO, the change was made to avoid errors, simplify coding and facilitate the diagnosis. There is also a movement, among the medical community itself and people with autism, to abolish the use of the term “Aspenger”.

All children with autism deserve the opportunity to have a happy and independent life. Looking for resources where they can help families with children with autism where parents can educate themselves with everything related to autism, where they can learn how to connect to the world, in hand with professionals is the first step that families can begin with.

(nationalgeographicla.com, 2024)

Courtesy of: Caravel Autism Health

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Purple CryingFeatured

Do you know about purple crying?

The term “purple cry” is used by some professionals to describe a normal phase in the growth of babies. It is important to keep in mind that most parents experience this type of crying at some point and staying calm is essential to provide the best care for the baby.

The characteristics of purple crying are summarized by the acronym PURPLE:

  • P (peak of crying): crying intensifies each week, peaking around two months of age, then tapering off
  • U (Unexpected): both its start and end are completely unpredictable
  • R (resist soothing): unlike other types of crying, the baby does not calm down easily
  • P (pain-like face): it may look like they are in pain, even when they are not
  • L (long lasting): crying may continue for extended periods
  • E (evening): it is common for the baby to cry more in the afternoon and at night, especially between 5pm and 9pm.

Courtesy of Precious Moment Child Care

The PURPLE crying period is a normal phase that begins around 2 weeks of age and lasts until 3 or 4 months of age. Despite the word purple, it does not mean that the baby actually gets that color.

To calm the purple crying, it is essential to stay calm and be patient, as the baby is fine. Different strategies can be used with the baby such as holding in your arms, carrying, maintaining skin-to-skin contact, performing relaxing activities such as massages, baths or singing to the baby.

As for the cause of purple crying, it is considered the period of greatest crying in healthy babies without an identified medical cause. Although some experts suggest that it is a form of adaptation to the new environment, there is no certainty as to why crying increases during this time. It is worth mentioning that humans are not the only ones who go through this stage.

Cries that indicate signs of illness often sound like weak, tired moans, with high pitches and low intensity, sometimes accompanied by long pauses between crying sessions.

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in RESOURCES

Understanding of the transformations in the development process of a childFeatured

The first 365 days of a child’s life are an amazing period of growth and learning. Child development encompasses the changes or evolutions that a child experiences from birth to adolescence. Understanding this development is crucial for parents and educators to prepare to guide and encourage learning, thus establishing a solid foundation in physical areas.

Developmental change is an inherent reality of human existence. There are universally accepted assumptions or principles about human development, recognizing that each child is unique in their physical, cognitive, social and emotional growth patterns. Additionally, they vary in the way they interact and respond to their environment, as well as the impact of play and other factors. Somo children may always seem happy and energetic, while others may not show the same liking in physical development.

Physical development involves changes in size, weight and motor skills, as well as personality. Some children are more active, while others tend to be quieter. Management of these behaviors may vary, as some children are easier to manage than others.

As for physical development, this encompasses changes in the body, including changes in bones, size, weight, gross motor skills, vision and hearing development. Gross motor skills refer to movements that involve the use of large muscle groups and the coordination of large movements, such as walking, running, jumping, crawling, and climbing. An appropriate development of these skills is essential for the growth and autonomy of young children.

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in RESOURCES

7 key reasons why to evaluate young childrenFeatured

Why is it important to evaluate young children?

The evaluation of young children is important for several reasons, as it provides valuable information about their development and well-being. Here are some key reasons:

Early detection of developmental problems: early evaluation can identify potential developmental, learning, or health problems early. The sooner these problems are identified, the sooner you can address and treat them, which can significantly improve long-term prognosis.

Early intervention: evaluation helps identify areas where a child may need additional support. Early intervention in these areas can help overcome difficulties and promote healthy development. The sooner the challenges are addressed, the greater the chances of success in the intervention.

Personalization of teaching: the evaluation provides detailed information about a child’s individual strengths and weaknesses. This information can be used by educators and professionals to adapt the educational approach and provide more personalized and effective learning.

Progress monitoring: regular evaluations allow you to track the child’s progress overtime. This is essential to evaluate the effectiveness of interventions and adjust strategies as necessary.

Information for parents: the evaluations provide parents with objective information about their child’s development. This allows them to understand their children’s strengths and challenges, facilitating effective collaboration with educators and health professionals.

Eases transition to school: early childhood screening can help prepare children for the transition to school. It provides useful information for educators about children’s individual abilities and needs, which can facilitate a smoother and more successful transition.

Talent identification: in addition to identifying potential challenges, evaluations can also reveal exceptional talents and abilities in children. This can guide the direction of their education and extracurricular activities.

Progress monitoring: regular evaluations allow you to track the child’s progress overtime. This is essential to evaluate the effectiveness of interventions and adjust strategies as necessary.

Information for parents: the evaluations provide parents with objective information about their child’s development. This allows them to understand their children’s strengths and challenges, facilitating effective collaboration with educators and health professionals.

Eases transition to school: early childhood screening can help prepare children for the transition to school. It provides useful information for educators about children’s individual abilities and needs, which can facilitate a smoother and more successful transition.

Talent identification: in addition to identifying potential challenges, evaluations can also reveal exceptional talents and abilities in children. This can guide the direction of their education and extracurricular activities.

In summary, evaluations in young children is a valuable tool for understanding their development, identifying areas for improvement, and providing the intervention necessary to maximize their potential.

Contribution of: Precious Moments Childcare

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Crucial tips for selecting books that encourage social-emotional learning in childrenFeatured

When choosing books intended to support social-emotional learning in the educational environment, it is imperative to keep in mind several key elements.

The selected stories must have the following attributes:

Relatable characters: choose books that feature characters that children can easily identify with, which will encourage a deeper emotional connection.

Appropriate content and reading level: it is essential that both the content and the reading level are adjusted to the age of the children, thus guaranteeing adequate understanding and effective learning.

Familiar language: select books that use accessible and familiar language for children, thus facilitating the understanding and absorption of socio-emotional concepts.

Identifiable stories: look for narratives that reflect identifiable situations for children, which will allow them to relate to the experiences presented in the book.

Cultural and ethnic diversity: prioritize books that promote cultural and ethnic diversity, offering a varied representation of experiences and perspectives.

Practical and realistic solutions: ensure that stories present practical and realistic solutions to social-emotional problems, giving children effective tools to deal with similar situations.

When selecting a book, it is crucial to evaluate the quality of the writing, the target audience, the cultural accuracy, and the authenticity of both the text and the illustrations. Additionally, it is beneficial to consider the possible conversations the book could generate among children and with educators.

Next, there are some suggested titles being provided that meet these criteria:

Self-identity/self-esteem

  • You matter (Christian Robinson)
  • All the ways to be smart (Davina Bell)
  • Alma and how she got her name (Juana Martinez-Neal)
  • Where are you from? (Yamile Saied Méndez)

Kindness and respect

  • Kindness is my superpower (Alicia Ortego)
  • The invisible child (Trudy Ludwig)
  • Last stop on market street (Matt de la Peña)
  • I walk with vanessa (Kerascoeet)

Emotions and self-regulation

  • Why do we cry? (Fran Pintadera)
  • The colored monster: a story about emotions (Anna Llenas)
  • The boy with big, big feelings (Britney Winn Lee)
  • Crabby Pants (Julie Gassman)

Conflicted resolution

  • Poe will not go (Kelly DiPucchio and Zachariah OHora)
  • The Fort (Laura Perdew)
  • The peace rose (parent child press)
  • The recess queen (Alexis O’Neill)

Embrace diversity

  • Just ask! (Sonia Sotomayor)
  • All are welcome (Alexandra Penfold y Suzanne Kaufman)
  • What if we were all the same! (C.M. Harris)
  • All because you matter (Tami Charles)

Building friendships

  • Otto and Pio (Marianne Dubuc)
  • Strictly no elephants (Lisa Mantchev)
  • How to lose all your friends (Nancy Carlson)
  • Stick and stone (Beth Ferry)
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in RESOURCES

Mental HealthFeatured

During childhood, maintaining an adequate mental health involves achieving indicators of development and emotional well-being, as well as acquiring healthy social skills and strategies to face challenges.

Mentally healthy children enjoy a positive quality of life and can function effectively at home, school and in the community.

It is crucial to understand that mental health is not limited to the absence of mental disorders. Even among children without diagnosis, the differences in their well-being are notable.

Considering mental health as a continuous process, in addition to identifying specific disorders, gives us a more complete understanding of children’s well-being.

Mental health struggles are our reality:

Secondary traumatic stress, compassion fatigue, anxiety, and depression are common among early childhood workers. The world health organization reports that less than 50% of people with depression worldwide receive treatment.

This disorder affects individuals of all origins and ages, regardless of their socioeconomic level. The COVID-19 pandemic has altered our reality, generating changes in behavior and communication due to social restrictions and health concerns. The key question is whether these changes are permanent.

Families and workers request more support on mental health issues after the pandemic.

Suggested actions:

For parents: you know your child better than anyone. If you have concerns about your child’s behavior at home, school, or with friends, talk to your child’s health care professional.

For young people: taking care of mental health is as essential as physical health. Don’t hesitate to express your feelings if you are angry, worried or sad. Seek support from friends or trusted adults.

For health professionals: early diagnosis and treatment based on updated guidelines are essential. Resources are available to diagnose and treat mental disorders in children.

For teachers/school administrators: Identifying problems early is key to providing the necessary help. Work with families and health professionals if you have concerns about a child’s mental health at school.

Courtesy of Precious Moment Child Care

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