An Autumn Outing with Spectrum

This past weekend, we enjoyed some Spectrum Family fun at Snead’s Asparagus Farm! What a great time to connect with our staff outside of work and have us grow as a team!

Autumn outings to animal farms, hayrides, and pumpkin patches have been a wonderful experience for Spectrum families and employees alike. They provide excellent opportunities for our kiddos to engage with peers and nature.

Everyday Learning Opportunities: At the Library

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.

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-

Enhancing Learning Opportunities: Bath Time

A neuro-typical toddler is learning from his/her environment all day, every day.  At Spectrum Autism Services, LLC. our goal is to ensure that the same can be said for even our earliest learners with ASD.  It is our belief that teaching children to learn and interact with others in their natural environment (home, grocery store, park, library, grocery store, doctor’s office, etc.) is the key to maximizing their success.  As a result, we have created this list of tips for parents to use during bath-time

Tips for making the most of bath-time

  • Stay in your child’s attention spotlight aka position yourself so that you are face to face and at the same level as your little one. Yes…this means the floor : )  This will allow you to capture eye contact and easily participate in your child’s play. (Life hack: get a kneeling mat, your knees/bottom will thank you)
  • Encourage the development of independent life skills.  A typical toddler will often yell “My turn” or “I do” when parents are providing more help than they need.  Children with ASD often need our help learning to perform these tasks independently. When your child is ready to get in the bath provide support but encourage your child to begin undressing/dressing independently.  It may be helpful to partially remove his/her shirt initially and let them attempt to take it the rest of the way off to avoid frustration and make sure the child is successful.  You can also encourage independence by having your child participate in washing himself/herself with soap/bubbles and a washcloth.

Bath-time is a great time to sing/teach sensory social songs with finger movements.  Some of our favorites include:

    1. Itsy Bitsy Spider
    2. Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
    3. Five Little Monkeys
    4. I’m a Little Tea Pot
    5. Wheels on the Bus
  • Imitation is one of the most important skills to teach a child with ASD.  Encourage the development of this skill by imitating your child actions both with and without toys.  Don’t forget to praise his efforts to imitate you as well. Encourage speech by labeling toys in the bath tub and the actions of your water baby : )  Use the 1 up rule (if the child is nonverbal label items/actions with one word, if the child is regularly using single words use 2 words to label items/actions, and so on. When possible limit the number of people in the bathroom to you and your child.  This will allow you both to focus on your interactions with each other free of distractions.
  • Bathing is an enjoyable experience for many children.  Capitalize on this! Laughs and smiles are great signs that your child is having fun and realizing what a great playmate (read: teacher) you are!
  • It is never too early to teach cleaning up. Yes… we are moms too : )  When you are letting the water out (or before if water going down a drain scares your little one) have him/her help place bath toys in a bath tub storage basket.  You can also have him/her put his/her clothes in the hamper.