Collaborative Learning Services, LLC

Helping Families of Children with Special Needs

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Halloween Sensory Counting

Boy do we have a fun activity for you and your kids!

You can modify this activity easily based on your child’s abilities.

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You’ll need…

  • Number cards (we printed them from here 
  • Pipe cleaners
  • Hole puncher
  • Beads
  • Scissors


Step 1. Print your desired number cards and cut them out.

Step 2. Make a hole using the hole punch on the side of the card.

Step 3. Attached the pipe cleaner to the card by threading it through the hole and winding it   around.

Step 4. Show your child how to do the activity, do another number together, and then let your child try one on their own.




  • Print out cards that have the number written on it
  • Print out plus, minus, and equal signs so your child can use the beads to show the answer
  • Print out cards that have dots on it corresponding to the number
  • Get bigger or small beads
  • Use a different object


I hope you’ll find this as fun as we did!


Happy Halloween,


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The DOs and DON’Ts of Giving Your Child Choices

We all know it’s good to give our children choices, but it’s not always appropriate for every situation. Here are our guidelines to giving your child choices.



DO…Offer choices you are willing to accept. You wouldn’t offer your child cake for dinner if you really don’t want them to have cake, hoping that they’ll choose chicken.

DO…Empower your child with 2 choices.

DO…Give a moment for your child to consider each option.

DO…Follow through with the choice at that moment.


DON’T …Give choices you are not willing to accept.

DON’T …Give more than 2 choices. It’s just too many options.

DON’T …Go back on your choices or not follow through with it because of a behavior.

Example: John chose to play with trains, but he wanted a specific train and became upset because he couldn’t find it. Do not take the choice of trains away because your child has become upset. Instead, try to figure out what your child specifically wants. If that’s not possible, give them a choice of trains they would like to use and promise to look for the other one later.

DON’T …Give choices when your child is upset.

Example: Julia wants to go get ice cream, but cannot have some and has a fit. Instead of asking her if she wants ice cream or chocolate to calm her down do not offer her anything. You do not want to reinforce this tantrum behavior with a treat. (We will cover this topic more in another article. Stay tuned!)

Choices are not appropriate for every situation. Sometimes there is no choice and we need to teach our children to accept this appropriately. It doesn’t mean that you can’t let them do something fun afterwards. (Example: You have to go to the grocery store with your child and they don’t want to. You can say, “I’m sorry you don’t want to go to the grocery store, but we need to get some food. Otherwise we can’t make a delicious dinner tonight. After we come back from the store why don’t we play a game or color, your choice.”

That last example can be more complicated than we wrote. What if my child has a tantrum in the grocery store, etc? Our next article will talk about how to avoid and handle tantrums in public.

What are your DOs and DON’Ts of giving choices?

Be well,


For more information on this and other topics visit our website

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Indoor Activities for Inclement Weather Days!

If your towns are anything like ours you know that school cancellations are inevitable, especially in the winter time. These days are great for spending time with your kids, but after a while everyone gets a little bit of cabin fever. Here are some fun and inexpensive activities to do at home with your kids while working on fine and gross motor skills!


Fine Motor Activities

Color Button Sorting







Cereal Necklace – take a piece of yarn or pipe cleaner (for a bracelet) with your child’s favorite ring shaped cereal and have them string it through. Fun and delicious!

Pipe Cleaner Bottles – take an empty water bottle and give your child pipe cleaners to put in through the hole in the top.


Gross Motor Activities

Tape Obstacle Course – Take painters tape and make an obstacle course on your floor for your child. You can even make hopscotch too!









Paper Plate Ring Toss Game

Bowling Game – Take empty soda or water bottles, set them up, and find an appropriately sized ball to roll and knock over the bottles. For fun, you can decorate the bottles ahead of time. Be as creative as you want!


We hope some of these ideas work for you and your child!




For more information on Mary or Collaborative Learning Services call us at 203-286-3990. LIKE us on Facebook or Follow us on Twitter!



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Having a Truly HAPPY Birthday!


I’m starting to plan my son’s birthday, so I have birthday parties on the brain! Children’s birthday parties can be overwhelming for all children especially, children with special needs. Here are some tips on how to have a HAPPY birthday.

  1. Place – Have the party at a place your child is familiar. This will help them to feel comfortable and know what to expect. If possible, ask the venue for certain staff members your child likes.
  2. Guests – Invite adults and children your child knows and is comfortable around. Keep the guest list small, as to not overwhelm your child. If appropriate, ask your child who they would like to invite.
  3. Length – Keep the party to just 1 or 2 hours. Make it clear to the guests when the party starts and ends.
  4. Cake and Presents – If your child is uncomfortable with being the center of attention leave the presents to be opened at home at your child’s leisure and skip singing happy birthday, just go straight for the cake!
  5. Talk – Discuss the party beforehand with your child. Let them ask questions about it to ease their anxiety. Assure them that you will be there to help them if they start to feel uncomfortable.

Remember this is your child’s celebration. If they don’t want to have a party at all honor their request. You can make it your child’s special day at home with family.

If you want more information about how to plan a birthday party for your child with special needs contact us via email at or call us at 203-286-3990.





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Technical Difficulties…

Hi Friends!

We are having some technical difficulties with our website, so we will be posting here until further notice. You can also contact us through the following avenues.


Phone: (203) 286-3990




Stay tuned for more helpful blog posts!


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We’re Moving!



Thank you for following our blog on this site. We have moved to a new site making it easier for you to access all of our information! Visit us at  and sign up to follow our blog.  Don’t forget to Like us on Facebook and Follow us on Twitter!


Have a great day!


Founder, Collaborative Learning Services



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Home Organization – The Command Center

More on our series on organization!

Every family needs a central location for communication and organization. That’s where the Command Center comes in! This is so great and can really be used for any family. Here’s an example of what I’m talking about.


Now I’m sure every family has something like this whether it’s just a calendar on the fridge and important notes along side or meticulously organized with folders and labels on everything. The most important thing is that you choose a method that works for you and your family. The command center is important for all families because it helps keep everyone in the loop and helps children know what is expected of them.


Some key components of any Command Center…


Calendar – Wipe off or paper, sticky notes, or pencil. It’s important to keep an organized calendar for all of your events of that month. You can use different color pens or sticky notes for each kid or color coordinate activities, whatever makes sense to you.


Schedule – This is a way for kids to know what is expected of them on that day or week, depending on your child. You can make a daily schedule using words or pictures. There are cute ideas with magnetic schedules, but this could get hairy if your child switches it or removes it. There are always Velcro schedules too. Again, whatever works for your child. Within the schedules make sure there’s a way for your child to show the task has been completed. Whether they take the picture or word off of the paper and put it into a “finished” envelope or cross the word out or check the box off. You want them to see the things they have accomplished and where they are in the schedule.

Folder/Binder – A folder is important for each child, with their name on it. This is a place to put important papers and notes from service providers or teachers. Also, hopefully you read our last post about the binder. This would also be a good place to keep your child’s binder with their current information, see our last blog post.


Emergency Information – You want your kids (or the adults working with them) to know where the important information is in case of emergency, a list of names and numbers of people to contact, the house address and phone number.



You can make this as simple or complex as you like. Organization is the key!


I hope that was helpful. What are ways you organize your home?


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Home Command Center Ideas