Reading with Your Toddler

At the bottom of this blog post we list recommended books to read with toddlers who have ASD

Reading to our children is a time-honored parenting tradition. Experts in education and child development are continuously touting the benefits.

These research based benefits include*:

  • increased communication skills,
  • a larger vocabulary
  • stronger child-parent bonds
  • enhanced imagination

Although they are eager to share this bonding experience, parents of children with autism can often be at a loss when it comes time to engaging their children during story-time. Here are a few of
the techniques we have found to be successful with many or our earliest learners and most resistant little readers:

Begin by:

  • Limiting distractions
  • Sitting face to face
  • Reading while your child is seated in a confined space such as a high chair or child-sized desk
  • Read developmentally appropriate picture books – Children with ASD tend to be very visual and vibrant pictures may be needed to capture their attention
  • Touch and feel books are great for making reading a multi-sensory experience
  • Make sound effects when narrating the story – Remember we all learn best when we are having fun!

Additional Tips:

  • Pull-tabs and books with flaps can be a great way to keep a little one engaged with a story while working on fine motor skills
  • If you are working on eye contact and your child is highly engaged in the story, pause when it’s time to turn the page and wait to see if they will make eye contact as a request for you to continue
  • This is a great time to work on following a point as you gesture to interesting images on the pages

Recommended Children’s Books with Toddlers with ASD:

Quiet Loud by Leslie Patricelli
Big Little by Leslie Patricelli
Happy Baby Words by Roger Priddy
My First Colors Board Book

This list of children’s books is courtesy of the text “An Early Start for Your Child with Autism“.

*Sources:

https://www.raisesmartkid.com/all-ages/1-articles/14-the-benefits-of-reading-to-your-

5 Sensory Summer at Home Activities for Kiddos with Autism

Summer days can be sunny and magical, but they can also leave parents wondering how to keep their kids from climbing the walls. 

That’s why having a few go-to warm weather activities can make an otherwise stir crazy stay-at-home afternoon a little more enjoyable. We have found that using daily visual schedules helps ease our kids’ anxiety.

This specific schedule is available here

This type of home schedule can help maintain routine and predictability for your child.

There are endless possibilities for at home activities, but these are some of our household favorites!

1. At Home Obstacle Course

There are endless options when creating your own obstacle course. Consider activities you already have, that your child finds exciting, and add a few new items to keep it entertaining.

Components of an at home course:

Take advantage of any stable trees in your backyard and add a few pieces of 4×4 or wall climbing pieces to make climbing steps along the trunk of it, or attach a rope to a branch that can be used to climb up the base as well!

Easy climbing grips for a wall or tree!
You can make a tree climb as complex or simple as you want! Kiddos will still enjoy conquering a mammoth tree 🙂

Take a portable slide that you might already have and add it to the “course.” Considering it’s summer weather, putting the slide into a kiddie pool makes a fun splash!

Our go-to slide here

Another fun component of an obstacle course would be something to crawl through! A tunnel would be a fun addition.

Consider the toys you already have around the house, write out the sequence of events in the course, and get racing!

2. Sensory Sandbox

Creating a sensory box can be an indoor or outdoor experience! If you are interested in a traditional sandbox outdoors, here are some fun additions to keep it exciting:

Available Here
Melissa & Doug Sand Toys
Sandbox vehicles

If you are interested in a mess-free indoor sensory box, fellow blogger 3 Dinosaurs offers a great water bead alternative!

Add water beads of any colors and toys of your interest!

For instance, add dump truck toys or shovels for scooping!

Consider Playmobile toys and houses as other creative additions to an otherwise typical house-play!

3. Self Made Water Park

If available, corner off a section of your yard and deem it the “Waterpark”! Everything sounds better with an alluring name 😉

Items to consider including:

a slip n slide:

https://amzn.to/2WmmaNZ
Available here

a sprinkler of your choosing!

a water table with boats, mermaids, and torpedos!

squirt guns!

a kiddie pool with slide!

4. Chef In Training!

Create a summer recipe book with your child’s favorite meals or baked goods, consisting of at least 5 items that include pictures of the dish and the ingredients!

Have your child brain storm the meals and help with compiling the images into the recipe book/scrap book with you. That way, when you need an interactive activity together, they can pick out their favorite summer snacks/meals and help make them with you!

Fellow blogger Thirty Hand Made Days has some great images and details of ones she has created!

This activity helps teach valuable skills such as following multiple step instructions and team work!

5. Make A Home Garden

The wonders of new life mystify all of us, and it is especially exciting to witness it in the eyes of children!

There are many ways to begin a home garden with your kiddos. Some fun and mostly fool proof items to plant in a garden are herbs and potted plants! Some go-to favorites of ours are the following:

  • Tomato plants- they are exorbitantly fruitful and often produce en masse! So you won’t have to worry about “nothing showing up”! Make it a weekly outing to the garden to pick a basket full for the week’s meals!
  • Basil- A generally easy plant to maintain in the home or outside! The magnificent smell provides a sensory experience your child won’t want to miss! They also produce quicker the more they are plucked, so don’t hesitate to have your child pick a few leaves off each week!
  • Bromelaide Plant- the Bromelaide plant has many varieties, and is a simple indoor plant that can survive even unattended conditions (even though we don’t recommend that! We just know it might be easy to forget them 😉 ). Usually only needing watering about twice per week, this can be a source of beauty, nurturing, and responsibility for your child.

There are limitless options with plants and herbs for your young one to water and nurture, both indoor and outdoor! Learning about nature and adoring its resilience and beauty is fun usually for kids aged pre-school and up! Feel free to comment below with any plants your youngster loves to care for, or other go-to summer activities!

Employee Spotlight: Emily Taylor

This month we are spotlighting a wonderful team member at Spectrum Autism Services!

Emily Taylor has always had a passion for working with children and helping them reach their potential. In 2016, she received her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from James Madison University. She then began her career in the field of Autism in the school setting by providing both classroom-based and one-on-one services at a Special Education, Applied Behavior Analysis based school in Maryland.

In 2018, she moved to Fredericksburg where she became a part of the Spectrum family as a Registered Behavior Technician.

It wasn’t until joining Spectrum that Emily truly realized her calling for working in the field of ABA. She is currently enrolled at The University of Southern Maine in pursuit of a Master’s in Educational Psychology and Applied Behavior Analysis.

Emily is extremely excited to continue her education and to inspire others to find passion in working in the field of Autism! We are so lucky to have her on our staff.

Thank you for all that you do, Emily!

The Importance of Pairing

Pairing is an ongoing process during which behavior technicians familiarize themselves with your child and discover what he or she enjoys. Just as you or I would not want to follow instructions from a stranger, your child is not likely to respond to demands placed by a technician without a positive relationship first being established.

IMG_0078

The First Month of ABA Therapy

Behavior technicians will be collecting baseline data for problem behaviors, language, skills, and most importantly– pairing!

The Pairing Process

The process of pairing is important because it allows the technician to become associated with fun activities and highlight preferred items. In this way, your child will be motivated to build a relationship with the technician. This relationship will be the foundation for building “instructional control.” Instructional control simply means that when the technician instructs your child to do something, he or she will do it. Pairing also helps the technician learn about your child’s preferences and gives the worker an idea of what may motivate your child when work tasks begin.

It Looks Like Playing– Is this Useful?

Playing with your child is exactly what pairing should look like! Technicians should be engaging with your child and letting him or her direct the play entirely for the first few sessions. This helps teach your child that the technician is fun and allows the presence of the technician to become reinforcing. Building the relationship between your child and the technician as a fun person (with fun stuff!) before the technician will be able to successfully place demands.

IMG_0063 2

How You Can Tell That Pairing is Working

Pairing is working when your child looks forward to his or her technician coming to your home. While the technician is there, the child enjoys and seeks out engagement with him or her. When they have to leave, the child may become disappointed or ask when he or she will return.

One of the goals of pairing is that your child engages in more “coming toward” behaviors with the technician, rather than “running away” behaviors.

Does Pairing End After the First Month of Therapy?

Nope, pairing is a continual process! Behavior technicians will continue to pair with your child at the beginning of session and during breaks. Continued pairing helps maintain the relationship your child has with his or her technician and strengthen the instructional control the technician has established.

We hope you find this information on ABA therapy and pairing insightful. Feel free to comment with any additional questions!

The Early Signs of Autism Spectrum Disorder

Awareness is key.

 

If you aren’t sure about the signs of Autism in children, you can watch our video from our Youtube channel above. We hope you find this informative.

The M-CHAT mentioned towards the end of our video stands for The Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers. It is a psychological questionnaire that evaluates risk for autism spectrum disorder in children ages 16–30 months.

To take the questionnaire, visit M-CHAT.org

 

 

Coding for Kids

In relation to our previous post about why more Cybersecurity centers should hire people with Autism Spectrum Disorder, we wanted to inform you of some great kids resources in our local Virginia area.

Ninja Warriors

In Fairfax, Virginia, Ninja Warriors is an up and coming resource for the community! Upon opening, Code Ninjas Camps will offer an immersive environment for kids to explore and develop new skills to become potential digital gurus as well as have fun with friends. They will soon offer after-school programs as well as summer camps! For more info click here.

Generation Code

Generation Code’s mission is to transform kids into digital leaders, and they serve individuals through Lab and summer camps. They also serve schools and communities using innovative curriculum and professional development.

Each Generation Code camp is hands-on to help kids’ coding skills. Campers learn crucial coding skills and in-demand languages, like HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and Java while building their critical thinking and collaborative skills. Every day of camp, students learn from each other and express their creativity through code.

Their programs include Mobile App Development (11+), Ozo Robotics, Scratch animation and Game design, Intro to Java Script, and more!

For more information on after-school courses and summer programs visit https://www.generationcode.com/products/2018

contactGenCode: Facebook & Twitter

(Featured photo from: https://www.generationcode.com/pages/about)

Not Near You?

If neither of these is near you, it could still be a great resource to consider looking into. Considering the need in the IT and Cybersecurity profession, this could be a great activity for your child to attempt.

The Tech world has the potential to be a great professional endeavor for someone with Autism Spectrum Disorder. We hope you find these ideas helpful.

 

 

Kids with ASD and Interacting with Law Enforcement

A study published in February 2017 showed that nearly 20 percent of young people on the Autism spectrum have had a run-in with police by age 21, and about half of those by age 15. Some traits of people with ASD, from social anxiety, stimming, difficulty communicating and making eye contact, can resemble a police officer’s standard profile of a suspicious person. Add in the flashing lights, a loud siren or bullhorn, and it can be paralyzing for someone with autism, who may have extreme sensitivity to light, sound or touch.

Considering the behavioral misinterpretations of people who have ASD, we have a few recommendations for preparing your loved one with ASD for any possible future encounters. While we have done presentations to local law enforcement officers about engaging with a person who has ASD, and we can only hope other communities have as well, preparedness cannot hurt to go both ways.

firefighters

Discuss The Job Duties of First Responders

An easy way to begin informing your loved one about law enforcement and first responders is to teach them their job duties. Having multiple conversations in this way can be proactive preparation.

Try repeatedly discussing the police/firemen’s indicating elements of their uniform (i.e navy attire with a silver badge) or vehicles (red truck) to pair with their duties. Making notecards for a matching game that identify the job function of the first responders could also be effective. Letting them know to not be wary but instead respectful could also be a good idea.

Taking your loved one to the actual police station or fire station would not just be a fun outing, but would also help solidify the memory of uniforms and vehicles of public servicemen in their mind.

If your loved one with ASD understands the duties of public servicemen and women, it can greatly minimize the confusion of why a person in uniform would be approaching them if that ever occurs.

Make an ASD Card

At Spectrum, we advocate making your child with ASD an identification card of sorts.

Notifications this card can include:

  1. Your loved one’s diagnosis
  2. His or her sensitivities
  3. A contact number for his or her Doctor
  4. A contact number for his or her legal guardians
  5. IEP accommodations (for school)

We omit the child’s name in case the card ever got lost. Nevertheless, this is a tactic we advise for students in school settings to carry and can be handy for public situations as well.

These options coupled with making sure your loved one can identify why a public serviceman would approach them could be extremely beneficial to prevent negative encounters with law officials.