National Autism Resources

Creating Positive School Partnerships

By Ellen Notbohm and Veronica Zysk

Click to View Book

Click to View Book

Here’s a statement that demonstrates our remarkable grasp of the obvious: autism is very, very complex. So we continue to be amazed by the frequency with which we get questions (often from reporters) asking us to synthesize autism or some aspect of it down to “the single most important thing.” As if there could ever be such a thing. Nevertheless, when recently asked, what is the single most important thing parents need to know about special education?, we had an answer ready.

The most important thing parents and teachers can do for their student with autism is to create and sustain a productive working relationship based on honesty, respect, empathy, commonly shared goals and ideals. Parent-school partnerships do have an emotional layer, and it can sometimes waylay even the best-intentioned participants. Creating and maintaining positive partnerships requires that both parents/caregivers and educators/service providers hold to these actions and attitudes:

  • Commit to a team mentality, with a common goal of creating the best possible educational program for the student. Resolving issues in a win-win format is essential to fostering a long-term positive relationship. Leave egos and personality differences at the door, bearing in mind at all times that you are involved in a partnership whose goal is that all parties feel positive about the outcome.
  • Familiarize yourself with both the rights of parents/guardians and the responsibilities of the school system with regard to the provision of services. Don’t leave it up to someone else. Be personally educated and responsible.
  • Arrive for meetings on time, organized and prepared. Have questions ready.
  • Be assertive, not aggressive. If you are not sure of the distinction between the two, check a few dictionary definitions. Assertive is generally defined as being resolute and confident, whereas aggression is defined as hostile or destructive behavior caused by frustration. Assertive means being informed, focused, tenacious and firm, but respectful. It’s much more likely you’ll be heard when communicating in this manner than when you are in the attack mode, where the listener’s natural tendency will be to tune out/avoid/defend and/or engage in similar reciprocal behavior – none of which will be productive. Avoid putting team members on the spot or consciously embarrassing them.
  • Know what you want to accomplish and come prepared. Explain concerns clearly, without unnecessary jargon. Be clear about the child’s strengths and challenges, learning style, and what strategies may be more effective to help him learn and grow. Present specific examples; be able to back up your statements with facts, such as professional assessments and recommendations. Check for comprehension often.
  • Schedule meetings allowing enough time for adequate discussion of the issues, or schedule several shorter meetings. Rushing through too many items in too little time increases opportunities for misunderstanding and dissatisfaction, and almost guarantees that future meetings will be necessary. One professional negotiator put it this way: “You may have the watch, but I have the time. I can drink as much tea or coffee as the next person.”
  • Keep a check on your emotions: learn how to discuss, disagree and reason with others to accomplish your goals.
  • Base decisions on the child’s need, not in response to the personalities or interpersonal skills of team members.
  • Accept that a team member may have a differing point of view, but still hold the child’s best interests in mind. No one is always right or always wrong.
  • Establish a rapport and maintain communication throughout the year. Share information freely. Return calls promptly, write notes often.
  • Maintain good written records, keeping documents in a chronological binder, notes from phone conversations in a folder. Record date, time, to whom you spoke, what was requested, actions promised, conclusions reached. If you are not a good note-taker, record conversations and meetings (informing the other party that you are doing so). Don’t rely on memory, no matter how sharp you think you are. Phone calls and emails and details pile up, and you may need to refer to specific details of these conversations at some point.
  • Follow through and follow up. Always supply what is asked of you in an efficient and accurate manner. When following up on action promised by others, be persistent but reasonable.
  • Express appreciation for all efforts large and small.
  • Parents/caregivers must respect that teachers and administrators are responsible for the educational programs of many other children besides your own. They may not always be able to respond to requests immediately. Educators/service providers must set and adhere to reasonable response timeframes.
  • Educators/service providers must recognize the parent as the expert in understanding the child and how he functions.
  • Be realistic about what constitutes a crisis. Only call an emergency IEP meeting when dangerous consequences are imminent. Parents/guardians have the right to call an IEP meeting at any time during the year but whenever possible, should keep scheduling demands reasonable.
  • Parents/guardians who decide that due process is warranted must say so honestly, without using it as a threat, so that educators may respond in a manner that avoids such a step if possible.
  • All team members must recognize that district policy or state law does not override federal law. Identify and discuss discrepancies.
  • All team members should be pro-active in seeking advice from other professionals or requesting further evaluations in areas of need or uncertainty. Always remember that there are no stupid questions if you don’t know the answer, and that most people like to help others. Ask colleagues, caseworkers, doctors, teachers, family members, neighbors and friends for information, support, suggestions, help with tasks. There is rarely any harm in asking for help (the worst anyone can say is no, and even then, you’ve lost nothing), and even more rarely any advantage in trying to handle thorny problems alone.

Respecting and valuing all individuals as individuals must be the cornerstone of all learning, throughout formal education and beyond. Understand the gravity of the decisions being made about this one child. They will affect his success or failure not just the current year, but for all the years ahead.

Excerpted from 1001 Great Ideas for Teaching and Raising Children with Autism or Asperger’s, 2nd edition, by Ellen Notbohm and Veronica Zysk. (2010, Future Horizons). Silver Medal winner, 2010 Independent Publishers Book Awards, Learning magazine Teacher’s Choice Award.

Four-time ForeWord Book of the Year medalist/finalist Ellen Notbohm is author of one of several award-winning books on autism.

Veronica Zysk is Product Development Manager at Think Social Publishing, and former managing editor of Autism Asperger’s Digest, winner of multiple awards for excellence. She has co-authored or edited more than a dozen books on autism and Asperger’s, working with many noted authors including Temple Grandin and Michelle Garcia Winner.

Positive Strategies for Managing and Preventing Out of Control Behavior

By: Jed Baker Ph.D.

A “meltdown” is an intense emotional reaction when individuals are overwhelmed or threatened. It can look like a loud tantrum or a quiet shut down as individuals become non-responsive. In these moments, it is as if the emotions have “hijacked the brain” such that individuals do not have access to logic and reasoning.

Meltdowns can occur anywhere, anytime, at home or in public. Common triggers include (1) internal issues like tiredness, hunger, (2) sensory issues like too much noise or stimulation, (3) lack of structure, where rules, routines and schedules are not clear, (4) frustrating tasks, like school work, (5) Being denied access to a desired object or activity, (6) being ignored or not getting the attention one wants, (7) and threats to self-esteem, such as making mistakes or losing a game. Knowing the trigger to repeat meltdowns can help us anticipate and prevent them from happening.

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Things to keep in mind as you respond and prevent challenging behaviors including meltdowns.

  1. Understand the limits of the typical approach. When occasional challenging behaviors arise, it’s okay to use a typical discipline approach of having rules and consequences to address the misbehavior. However, when repeat problems continue, we must stop reacting with more discipline and think about how to prevent the problem in the first place. For some children with special needs, increased discipline only serves to escalate the problem.
  2. Manage ourselves before we can manage our children. Controlling our own emotions comes from a positive understanding of our children’s behavior. Parents or teachers must see a child’s poor behavior as temporary rather than permanent.  They must neither blame themselves nor their child but rather see the behavior as a reflection of the child’s lack of skills.  This understanding positions them to maintain their cool and teach the child better ways to cope. Research shows that when parents and teachers maintain optimism, they get much better outcomes
  3. Calming a meltdown in the moment/Crisis management. In the midst of an unexpected meltdown, try to teach the child a better way to get what he wants, like asking for a break rather than tantrumming. When all logic is gone, use strategies to calm the child rather than trying to reason with him or force compliance. Redirect your youngsters attention to something they enjoy, validate their feelings or use humor to get their mind off the problem at hand. These are forms of distractions and can be some of the best crisis management tools.
  4. Understanding repeat problems. When meltdowns continue, it is important to move out of crisis mode and begin to gather information about what triggers those repeat meltdowns in order to prevent them in the future. In the No More Meltdowns book and No More Meltdowns APP  you can learn more in-depth strategies on how to identify triggers and track challenging behavior over time.
  5. Creating prevention plans. Most of the No More Meltdowns book is designed to provide parents and teachers with guidelines to prevent problem behavior associated with common triggers. Here are some common triggers so that you can create prevention plans.bbsg
    • Demands
      • Do your schoolwork
      • Try it, it’s delicious
      • Hurry up, the bus is coming
      • Clean up
      • I don’t want to go
    • Waiting/accepting no
      • Just wait
      • You can’t always get what you want
      • Okay, time to stop playing
    • Threats to self-image
      • Winning isn’t everything
      • It’s okay to make mistakes
      • But names will never hurt me
    • Unmet wishes for attention
      • Play with me
      • How come he got more than me?
      • Time to go to bed

For more in-depth answers on how to deal with meltdowns and create proactive prevention plans pick up your copy of NO MORE MELTDOWNS: POSITIVE STRATEGIES FOR MANAGING AND PREVENTING OUT-OF-CONTROL BEHAVIOR.

Dr. Jed Baker is the director of the Social Skills Training Project, a private organization serving individuals with autism and social communication problems. He is on the professional advisory board of Autism Today, ASPEN, ANSWER, YAI, the Kelberman Center and several other autism organizations. In addition, he writes, lectures, and provides training internationally on the topic of social skills training and managing challenging behaviors.  You can contact Dr. Baker for a workshop or consultation services at www.jedbaker.com or www.socialskillstrainingproject.com.

Supporting IEP Goals across Environments for Young Children with Special Needs

By Joan Green

When young children with special needs go to school, the family and school representatives get together to create an Individualized Educational Plan (IEP) that includes the student’s educational goals for the coming year. Since learning happens all the time, in all environments, families can help their child at home and in the community by being aware of the goals and creating opportunities for practice.

Yong children with special needs often have similar goals, for example: matching, identifying, labeling, sorting, counting, categorizing, colors, numbers, letters, shapes, sounds, and fine/gross motor and social skills. There are many activities that incorporate a variety of educational goals within them. When playing with their child, parents are often reinforcing their child’s IEP goals and may not even realize the value and importance of what they are doing.

My goal is to acknowledge parents for what they already do, to provide them with a few ideas, and to stimulate their imaginations and participation in their child’s education.photo 4

Listed below are just a few simple ideas, sample goals, and possible activities that families can do at home and in the community to help their child reach their goals.

Music: Practice skills by singing songs about what you are learning. Body parts: song “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes.” Make up songs, “Old McDonald Had a Zoo” etc.

Goal Card: In order to actually be aware of what a child’s goals are, it is helpful for goals to be visible. Make a 5”x7” card with the child’s goals on it and put it on the fridge. Glance at it regularly.

Plan of Action: Look at the child’s goals. How do their needs fit logically into normal daily activities? Make a list of the goals and corresponding activities. Now there is a plan.

Favorite Things and Themes: Favorites can be incorporated into activities. (Ex. If he likes cars, then he can count them, sort them, paint them, build garages, write/read or draw stories about them, learn safety signs, add and subtract them etc.)

Sample Goals and Activities:

Home

  • Sorting—socks and shoes (match, identify, label, categorize, color, size)
  • Increasing time on task (use timers, water, sand, kitchen, alarm clock)
  • Following Routine (provide visual schedules, word and/or objects)
  • Increasing expressive language (make box of items that begin or end in sounds identified in IEP) (Ex. Beginning sound “B”—book, bear, button, baby bottle; ending sound “T”—coat, hat, bat, mit)
  • Rote counting—count out silverware while putting it away
  • Number concepts—cooking (give me one cup of water, two eggs)
  • Self-help—dressing skills (pull up own pants, zip up own jacket, play dress up)
  • Categorize—clean up (shoes go in bottom of closet, socks in drawer)
  • Sensory—outside (if too excited, push slowly in swing; if low-energy, put on up-tempo music, play chase)

Community

  • Parking lot
    • more/less (people or cars)
    • counting (number of trucks)
    • transitioning (transition items to take with, items to show where they are going, visual schedule)
    • safety (looking for crosswalks, watching out for cars, identifying safety signs)
  • Grocery store
    • colors (find green vegetables in grocery store)
    • categorizing (banana/fruit, green beans/vegetables)
    • counting (put four tomatoes in the bag)
    • identify (“get the peanut butter for me”)
    • label (“what did you pick out?”)
    • big/little (pick out a big apple and a little apple)
  • Bank
    • counting (number of people in line)
    • social skills with teller (answering question, “What’s your name?” “How old are you?”)
    • waiting—praise waiting, find items in environment to identify
  • Mall
    • self-help—teach how to communicate need to go to the bathroom when in public
    • label—items in stores
    • sensory—touching textures, tolerating crowds, noise

All children benefit when everyone works together to create opportunities for learning. On behalf of the children, thank you for your efforts.  To help children address IEP goals at home or in your classroom you can also utilize Interactive Reading Books, all based on IEP Goals, by Joan Green.

Joan Green currently runs Greenhouse Tutoring Center for Young Children with Special Needs.  She was a special education teacher in the Los Angeles school system for 16 years and was awarded Special Education Teacher of the Year. She served as a member of their Autism Task Force and co-authored a certification of competency for teaching children with autism. As an educational consultant she is frequently called upon as a guest speaker for national organizations. Joan developed many teaching aids over the course of her classroom experience and is a member of the National Autism Resources advisory board.

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Behavioral Solutions: When Your Student with Autism Covers their Ears

fh_behavior_cover.inddSome students with autism fear the sound of vacuum cleaners, lawn mowers and sirens.  So how do students cope with the many sounds at school such as fire drills, school bells, and morning announcements.  Some students show intolerance by covering their ears or becoming upset.  Here are a few suggestions to help your student when they are covering their ears.

Give a warning ahead of time.  If possible, before the noise happens let your student know.  For example, most teachers know in advance about fire drills.  Before a fire drill let your student know in advance when it is going to happen.  If your student is given a warning this can lessen the fear and confusion that might otherwise accompany the noise.

Consider an alternate schedule.  Some students may have difficulty in loud lunchrooms or assembly halls.  In these situations consider an alternative plan.  Perhaps your student can eat lunch in the resource room or have a break in the office.  Often just knowing there are alternative options can decrease a student’s stress level.

Click here to see noise reducing headphones.

Click here to see noise reducing headphones.

Provide something to help block the sound.  If appropriate provide your student with some earplugs or headphones.  This can help block out offending noises and allow the student to work independently and concentrate on school work.

Work with the student to create a “plan.” If the noise of the classroom becomes over stimulating help your student to come up with a plan to deal with it.  For instance during fire drills, your student should know exactly what to do and have a goal-oriented task to complete.  This can help keep his mind occupied and divert him from the stressful situation.

Allow for a noise break.  This could include using headphones while reading or going to a quiet place during lunch time.

Were these solutions helpful?  This is just one of many solutions you can find in Behavior Solutions for the Inclusive Classroom by Beth Aune OTR/L, Beth Burt and Peter Gennaro.

Teaching Children with Autism to Ask Questions

Teaching children with autism to ask questions is a vital communication skill for many reasons. We all need to ask questions to gain information, clarify our understanding and clear up any misconceptions we may have. However, asking questions is also a vital social skill. Questions help us to show an interest in our peers, keep a conversation flowing and can allow us to switch topics in a conversation. Here are a few tips to help you build this foundational language skill.

Flashcards

Flashcards are often used to introduce this concept.

Often therapists will introduce the concept of asking questions with flashcards. For example, using a set of simple noun cards they will place the card in front of the child and ask the question “what is it?” Over time they will move toward encouraging the child to ask simple questions and then move to more advanced question sets that focus on how and why, which are more abstract concepts. You may want to work with the same set of flashcards at home to reinforce what the therapist is working on. However, while flashcards can be very effective at quickly introducing and providing lots of practice with asking and answering questions, it is vital to practice this skill in a wide variety of settings.

Moving beyond flashcards you can practice questions by playing games. There are a variety of games that are fun and work well for practicing questions such as lotto games, Charades or Go Fish.

While reading a book, ask questions while pointing to pictures, let the child practice pointing and asking a question. You can practice

asking and answering simple questions like “what is it” and move on to more complex questions like what happened, who, where, when and why.

Ask questions in natural settings as much as possible. For example, while out taking a walk point to something and ask what is it? The next time you see a police officer point and ask who is it?

You don’t have to wait for natural opportunities to ask questions, you can also create opportunities for the child to ask questions in natural settings. For example, you can ask a child to bring you a cookie but don’t specify where it is.

Harness the power of curiosity. The next time you bring something inside the house place it inside a box or bag before presenting it to the child. Next let them guess what’s inside. You can guess by category; is it a food, a toy or a tool? Encourage guessing by attribute; is it big, small, soft, red? Or try guessing by function; do you wear it? Can you eat it? Does it fly?

Remember to wait for a response when asking a question. It may take the child with autism extra time to formulate an answer. If the child can’t answer the question, then give them some extra help (a verbal prompt). For example when you point to an object and ask what is it? If there is no response you can say: it is a… and then wait for the child to answer. If the child still doesn’t answer then model answering the question. It is a car.

A close working relationship with your child’s therapist is vital. Make sure to ask them what skills they are working on with suggestions on how you can help your child practice these skills at home. Do you have a suggestion on this topic? Please share it in the comment section below.

Sensory Chew Toys for Kids with Special Needs

Cool Chews

Cool Chews

Mouthing objects and chewing is a normal part of a child’s development. All babies go through an oral stage where they suck, bite, chew and swallow almost anything they can put into their mouths. However, many children have an intense need to chew beyond the common oral stage. These children may suck on or bite their fingers, hair, nails, clothes, pencils, crayons or other non-food items. There are a variety of reasons why a child is chewing.  If you have concerns contact your child’s healthcare provider.

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Blue Chewy Tube – the Sturdiest version of the Chewy Tube

For children with fully developed teeth, baby teethers may not be a safe option. It is important when providing these kids with a sensory chew toy that you inspect it frequently and discard it at the first sign of wearing, chipping or cracking. There is no such thing as an indestructible chew toy in that if it didn’t wear down and break, it would most likely damage the child’s teeth. Therefore these items should always be used with adult supervision.

Our Top 5 Favorite Chew Toys for Children:

Chewy Tubes
Chewy tubes have been around for years and are a therapist’s favorite. The green chewy tube features knobby bumps that provide extra sensory stimulation. The blue chewy tube has a larger diameter and thicker wall than other varieties of chewy tubes and is the sturdiest version.

Cool Chews Race Car & Butterfly
Cool chews make a great chew option for elementary age children. With a choice of a car or butterfly these sturdy chew toys are fashionable and feature a multi-textured surface that provides lots of sensory stimulation. You can choose between a race car or butterfly in a variety of colors. You can place them on top of a pencil, string them up to make a necklace or use them as a key chain. They are very durable, made in the USA and are BPA, phthalate and latex free.

Chewelry

Click here to see Chewelry

Chewelry Necklace

Chewelry is one of our bestselling chew necklaces and comes in a variety of colors. This necklace features a coil design that allows for lots of spring action when chewed on or manipulated with the tongue. We’ve been told it has saved countless t-shirts! A Mega Chewelry version is also available that features a thicker diameter and is even more sturdy than the regular version. All Chewelry is BPA, phthalate and latex free.

Textured Grabber

Textured Grabber

Textured Grabber & Textured Grabber XT
The Textured Grabber features three different surfaces to provide lots of sensory stimulation. This is one of our more durable chew toys and also comes in an XT (extra tough) version for kids with a more aggressive bite. The Grabber XT Aroma Pack features four scents: Vanilla, Lemon, Chocolate and Grape. Grabbers are made in the USA and contain no heavy metals, phthalates, PVC, BPA, or latex.

Monkey Sensory Chew Toy

Monkey Sensory Chew Toy

Sensory Chew Monkey or Crab

These sturdy chew toys work well for younger kids who suck and chew on their clothes. They also come with textured teething rings that double as easy latching loops. These toys feature high quality fabrics and phthalate-free materials that are both safe and durable.

Introducing the Fundanoodle Writing Program

imageBy: Michelle Yoder, OTR/L

Individuals with Autism do share some of the same strengths, preferences and learning styles.  However, “if you’ve met one person with Autism, you’ve only met one person with Autism.”  I love this quote, because we are all individuals with various strengths and weaknesses, it’s what makes the world go around.  Keeping that in mind, we have found students with Autism love the Fundanoodle writing program and resources!

We know that children with Autism are better taught visually, because they tend to think in pictures or symbols and they thrive with consistency and structure.

We also cannot forget that they are children, and like all kids they love to play! Play is an essential part of learning, but sometimes these kids may need our help interacting, organizing and planning.  Remember, for children with autism a multi-sensory approach works best.

“If you tell me, I forget
If you show me, I see
If you involve me, I remember.”

Fundanoodle incorporates these key components, making learning fun and engaging for children who have Autism.

Visual Supports:

  • Colorful pictures and symbols- From the colorful bead patterns and Magna Stix, to the appealing pictures of Max and Alphie’s adventures in the writing tablets, the visual stimuli is engaging, yet not too busy.
  • Familiar symbols such as “Stop” and “Go” signs provide starting and stopping points for letter formation.
  • Some children with Autism read very well and use Max’s written directions to form the letters, thus promoting independence with handwriting.

Structure and Consistency:

Click here to purchase the Fundanoodle Writing Kit

Click here to purchase the Fundanoodle Writing Kit

Our recommended multi-sensory approach to handwriting includes three steps:

  1. Build the letter with the colorful, resistive MagnaStix.
  2. Write the letter on the dry-erase board or in a tactile media such as cornstarch or flour.
  3. Perfect it on paper using the visual supports and guidelines that progress from boxes, to green and red top and baselines, to traditional, three-lined paper.

The Action Words used to depict the strokes are carried throughout the program, from the large floor pads designed for three year olds, all the way through upper case, lower case and cursive instruction.

Play:

Make time for fun and learning! Fundanoodle affords the opportunity to play for kids of all ages!

Click here to see the Muscle Movers Cards

Click to see Muscle Movers Cards

  • Get their “wiggles out” and promote proprioceptive and vestibular input, with Fundanoodle’s Muscle Mover Cards.  This is a great multi-sensory activity to address both large and fine motor movements.  Once your child performs the action on one side of the card, she can flip it over and write the letter on the opposite side of the card with a dry-erase marker. The Muscle Mover Cards are great to use in conjunction with the “letter of the day.”  So, if you are working on the letter S, she’ll slither like a snake over to the table, where she’ll then form the letter S with the MagnaStix, write it on the dry-erase board, and then in the writing tablet.  Some of the animal actions are great for your sensory seekers, while others work to calm and organize those children who may have sensitivities.
  • The I Can Bead, Lace, Rip, Trace Kit is full of hours of fun!  They won’t even know that they are hard at work improving their visual motor and fine motor skills, as well as organizing, planning and sequencing! It promotes nice tactile exploration, too!
  • I Can Pound Activity Block is the ultimate experience for promoting play, while developing critical skills! This is a favorite among the children that I work with!  The patterns range from pictures, to letters of the alphabet to numbers.  Demonstrate pounding a colored peg into the “dot” on the pattern and then have him pound away to create a colorful picture.  Many times, I will use this in an obstacle course or during a sensory break.  The pegs might be placed at one side of the room and the block is placed at the other side of the room.  He might get a peg, and crawl like a worm over pillows and through a tunnel to get to the board, where he then pounds the peg into the pattern. Or, because children with Autism do respond well to pictures, we might use the Muscle Mover Cards to imitate an action as we move from one side of the room to the other to get to the pounding block. The rote action of pounding, combined with the resistive nature of the block tends to be very calming for children with Autism.  This is a great activity to put in your cozy corner at school or home.

No two children are alike, but we are positive your students will love Fundanoodle, we make learning to write FUN!

Supporting Successful Playdates for Kids with Autism

We all learn social skills by imitating others. Think about it, probably one of the first social skills you learned was to wave bye bye.  While learning social skills is natural for most of us, children with autism need lots of opportunities to play with typical peers so they can learn age appropriate social skills.  One way to foster social skills is with a one on one play date.

A highly visual game that many children with autism enjoy.

Click here to see Korner’d highly visual game that many children with autism enjoy.

Helpful Tips for Hosting a Play Date:

  • Create a schedule with the child ahead of time. Decide together what the children will play and what the order of activities will be. Some things you can add to the schedule include snack breaks, games, outside play, inside play and clean up time.  Scheduling clean up time can help the child with autism to prepare for the transition of ending the play date. You can write this schedule down so the autistic child can check off items on the schedule during the play date or draw a series of pictures using stick figures for the child to refer to.
  • Put away any favorite toys that will be difficult to share.  If the child with autism has a very strong interest in a particular item and has developed a strong attachment to it initially you may not want to work on sharing this type of item. Later on after some social success work on this skill.
  • Shorter is often better.  While some play dates can last all afternoon, especially starting out one hour is fine.  It’s best to have social success and leave both children wanting more time together.
  • Just invite one peer to play. More children create more complex social interactions, making it harder for the child with autism to engage socially.
  • Choose activities the child with autism enjoys and is competent in. Now is not the time to learn a new game or skill. Remember they are already working on learning social skills.  Often visual children enjoy and are good at highly visual games such as Korner’d or Fish Stix.  Also Cooperative Games are a nice choice because everyone works together to win which can take away anxiety and a focus on winning.  Some good examples of a cooperative games that are also visual are Willy’s Web or Stone Soup.

    Cooperative games take the emphasis off winning.

    Click here to see cooperative games that take the emphasis off winning.

  • Prepare for the end of the play date in advance. Practice giving a time count down such as a 5 minute reminder theplay date is going to end.  Practice having a reward or incentive waiting for them after their friend leaves. Remember transitions are hard and no one likes to end a good time.
  • Observe the child’s social behavior during the play date so you can identify new skills to practice. Try to provide minimal assistance or prompting during the play date.  Remember no kid likes to be corrected in front of their peers.
  • Keep up a good relationship with the typical child’s parents. Thank them for allowing their child to participate in the play date and don’t forget to send them a quick thank you note

3 Evidence Based Interventions for Students with Autism You May Not Have Heard Of

The National Professional Development Center on Autism Spectrum Disorders has updated their research on “Evidence Based Practices for Children, Youth, and Young Adults with ASD.” Three new methods have been added to this document: cognitive behavior therapy, video modeling, and social scripting.

Brochure Engelsk A4 05-06-05.inddCognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
While new to the list of Evidence Based Practices for ASD, CBT has been widely used by school psychologists, speech therapists and autism specialists for several years. CBT teaches students to examine their own thoughts and emotions, recognize when negative thoughts and emotions are escalating in intensity, and then use strategies to change their thinking and behavior.

This intervention works well with students who have problems with anger or anxiety. Cognitive behavioral interventions are often used with social narratives and positive reinforcement to help students manage and change their behaviors. If you are new to CBT and would like to implement this intervention in your school we recommend the CAT kit.

Social Scripting
Teaching social skills can be challenging for teachers but there are several evidence based methods which are proven to be effective such as social narratives, social skills groups and now social scripting. Social Scripting gives students with autism a verbal or written description about a specific skill that models a specific skill for the learner.

One simple scripting activity that can be used across grade levels is comic strips.

  1. Select a comic strip and white out the words.
  2. Photocopy the comic strip to make a worksheet.
  3. Go over the comic strip with your student or social skills group and discuss the social scenario including emotions, reactions to behaviors, create a conversation together and make predictions. Remember to use comic strips that are age appropriate.

We also have several social skills games that explore vital social concepts and are fun to play with typical peers during your social group time.

Video Modeling

Video modeling uses visual recordings to teach students with autism a desired behavior or skill. After watching the video the student is given an opportunity to perform the new skill or behavior. There are several types of video modeling you can use.

  • Basic video modeling is a recording of someone besides the learner demonstrating a new behavior or skill.
  • Video self-modeling is a recording of the student with autism acting out the new skill.
  • Point-of-view video modeling is a little different from the two above in that the video is recorded from the viewpoint of the student with autism. So if you are trying to teach them how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich what they will see on the video is two hands placing the bread down and spreading the peanut butter and jelly.
  • Video prompting breaks a new behavior or task into steps so that a student with autism can pause the video as they try each step.

For those who are unable to create their own videos there are several pre-created videos available for teachers and therapists to choose from.

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