With the change in seasons, utilizing our local libraries can provide enjoyable activities out of our home for our little ones.
Many libraries offer weekly story-times. Some even offer sensory friendly story times specifically for kids with ASD. Visit your local library’s website to see if this is available in your area. If not, it can always be beneficial to ask your librarians about beginning one!
These story-times are an excellent opportunity to generalize your child’s skills and have them practice learning in a group setting.
Learning opportunities provided may include:
Playing with musical toys, which can teach valuable imitation and group responding skills.
Preschool songs/nursery rhymes, which promotes following one-step instructions and imitation.
Group reading helps practice sitting quietly and listening.
It also helps your child to attend during sing-a-long songs if they are familiar with them from hearing them at home, so brush up on your Twinkle Twinkle and London Bridge!
Also, don’t forget to capitalize on the presence of same-age peers! Simply being around children your child’s age can help them become more comfortable in social settings.
Leaving the house with a child who has Autism Spectrum Disorder can be difficult, but we promise, it is worth the countless learning opportunities these outings provide. New places and people are excellent ways to ensure your child is generalizing all of the amazing new skills you are teaching him from making eye contact to asking another child to join him in play.
Things to note:
Stand in front of your child when he or she is swinging. This way they can associate you with the fun sensation of being pushed back and forth!
Work on language and social skills while simultaneously performing gross motor activities. This builds critical connections between different regions of the brain.
Encourage your child to play with many different items at the park. Make sure you prompt him to move on if his play becomes repetitive in nature (ex: going up the same ladder and down the same slide over and over).
While at the park:
1. Get in your child’s attention spotlight as often as possible (face-to-face within 3-4 feet)
2. Have fun (goofy faces, sing songs, big smiles, play movement games).
3. Imitate his vocalizations and actions. Trust us children love to see that you are interested in what they are doing. Initially you may need to be careful to bring two of certain items such as balls, toy trucks, etc. Some children will shut down if they feel like you are taking their toy.
4. Follow the ONE-UP RULE. If your child is nonverbal label items and actions with one word (e.g. “push,” “swing”) If he is reliably using one word to make requests and communicate table items and actions with two words (“go fast” “kick ball”).
These strategies can increase engagement between you and your child with Autism Spectrum Disorder. We hope you have found them useful.
Feel free to comment with any additional strategies below!