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Do you want to increase the communication skills of your child with autism? Here are some strategies you can try today!
All of these strategies can be modified to every age & skill level!




1. Can’t get something for nothing- Try to always have the child do something to get a desired item or activity. Whether it’s a point, a vocalization, or a verbal request, the child should always have to do something to get something.

2. Use the Visual Schedule- Most classrooms have a visual schedule, but at home the child may not have a good understanding of what is coming. Have the child interact with the schedule throughout the day to tell what comes next, to make choices, and to decrease anxiety.

3. Anticipatory GamesInitiate any kind of repetitive game (pushing cars to each other, chase, peek-a-boo). Make sure the fun part of the game is correlated with a vocalization that repeats. After a few times, wait for the child to make a vocalization to continue the game & then immediately continue.

 4. Play ‘Dumb’: Pretend you don’t know where a child’s lunch is or what item the child needs to complete a task. The sillier, the better! Have the child tell you (verbally or gesturally) where to find the item or what to do.

5. Model Social Interaction- Practice the skill of independently interacting with others. For example, you can play a game where you practice entering a room & having a child say 'hi' first.

6. Encourage rather than Discourage Interaction: The attempts to engage by a child with ASD may look different and may even be a little uncomfortable for other children. Help to facilitate the interaction by making it fun for both. For instance, if the child with autism grabs a toy from another child, use the opportunity to have the child request or to institute turn-taking.

7. Improve Imitation Skills: Imitation skills are the foundation for communication. Reinforce gross-motor, fine-motor, oral-motor, and vocal imitation skills.

8. Give the child the words you want him to use-If a child hears only questions, then the child may tend to wait to be spoken to rather than being spontaneous. Instead, model what the child should say in a statement-statement format.

9. A little at a Time- If a child asks for a cookie and gets the whole cookie, that is only one opportunity for communication. Giving the child small pieces of cookie or single puzzle pieces for each request increases the number of opportunities for communication.

10. Behavior is communication! Figure out what the child is trying to say & help them to say it!


For more information, please contact A Child's Potential, Inc. through the contact page on our website or visit us on Facebook or Twitter.
All children can learn.
All children's potential is unlimited



 

 

 




 
 
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When school starts, it can take kids on the spectrum a few weeks to adjust to a new schedule.   Here are some strategies you can start putting in place now to make the start of school easier for the whole family.

Your child will need to adapt to a lot of changes with the beginning of a new school year, by starting the process ahead of time he or she can get off to a more successful start!

1. Schedules: Going to bed later and waking up later can be perks of Summertime for kids & adults alike, but now is the time to start moving the schedule closer to what will be expected during the school year.  Start pushing bedtime a little earlier and get them up and having breakfast as close as possible to the time they will need to for school.  A visual routine for the morning can be helpful for all kids whatever their skill levels and can really increase independence in the morning.  Put the schedule in place now so it can be practiced before you are trying to get your kid out the door to catch that bus!


Here is a link to a website that has some good, basic visual schedules:

http://www.livingwellwithautism.com/how_to_use_picture_cards_and_schedules/self_care_visual_helpers

2. Screen Time: For many kids, the start of school can bring earlier bedtimes and homework, which can lead to battles over turning off the screens.  Try to start putting a few more limits on screen-time now before the start of school adds more stress to the situation.  Using a timer consistently can be helpful for many families as well as putting clear boundaries on when and where a device can be used.  For instance, letting the Ipad be used only in the car or having the t.v. on for specific shows only.

3. Get Familiar: Whether your child is going to be in the same classroom or at a completely new school, it can be very helpful to familiarize him or her with the school as much as possible.  Get some pictures of the school or go over and play in the playground.  If you know any kids from his or her class, have them meet you there for a playdate.  If you know who the teacher is, try emailing them for a picture so you can show your child who his teacher will be. 


With some preparation, you can help your child adapt to the start of school and decrease the stress levels for everyone in the family. 

Please contact A Child's Potential, Inc. using our contact page if you have any specific questions about this topic.
























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The last time I got my hair cut, I got into a conversation with the stylist about her little brother who engages in such severe tantrum behavior around getting his hair cut that his parents had resorted to trimming his hair while he was asleep. 
 For many families with kiddos on the autism spectrum, getting their child's hair cut can be every bit as traumatic as a trip to the doctor or the dentist.  Because it's safer to put off haircuts than medical appointments,  a child might not get a lot of practice at getting haircuts successfully and establishing rapport with a compassionate stylist as they do with their doctor.
Here are a few strategies that can ease the stress of haircuts for everyone.
1
. What's not to like?: Different kids have different fears/anxieties about haircuts.  Try to identify specifically what is most distressing to your child so you can decide whether to target that activity for desentisation or to eliminate it from the process.  For example, if the sound and feeling of the electric clippers is particularly stressful for your child with sensory sensitivity, you may opt to instruct the stylist not to use them while you continue to work on desentitization in the other settings and just have the stylist use scissors for now.   
2. Practice sitting in the chair: Arrange with a hair salon/barbershop to let you and your child come in and practice sitting in the chair for short periods.  While the child is sitting in the chair, allow them access to a preferred activity (toy, ipad, music). When you have the child get out of the chair, remove the preferred activity.  While the child is acclimating to the chair, attempt to add some snipping/spraying noises around the child and have the stylist (or you!) touch and lift the child's hair just like you would during a haircut.  After exposing the child to the noises, have him leave the chair. 
3.
Cut a little: When your child has had some successful trials at sitting in the chair with snipping/spraying, then have the stylist attempt to cut a section of the hair.  Give the child access to the preferred activity while the stylist is working and then (before any protesting has occurred!), pause the haircut, get the preferred activity back, and give the child a break.  This will insure the child doesn't satiate on the item and will want to come back for more.  After a short break (a few minutes) have the child sit back down and continue with the preferred activity and the haircut.  Repeat 2-3 times until haircut is done.
4. Quit while you're ahead: If you start to see the signs that your child is getting ancy, encourage the stylist to quickly get to an acceptable stopping place and STOP. Attempt to end the haircut before any significant protesting has occurred so that you end on a good note and your child's last experience with that haircut is positive.
5. End with a treat: When the haircut is done (or you have decided it's done), give your child a special treat while he is still sitting in the chair.  Getting a particularly preferred and rare treat while at the hair salon/barbershop will further cement positive associations with haircuts for your child. 

Hopefully, these strategies will cut some of the stress out of haircuts for you, your child, and your stylist.  All children are different, but with some patience and practice, most kids can have a positive experience getting a haircut.  Please feel free to try these strategies or share some of your own!  
 

 
 
Getting your child with autism moving can be a challenge.  For kiddos with fewer skills, it can be hard to find a program that will accommodate their needs, and for those with more skills, negotiating the social demands of group sport activities can be overwhelming.  But research has shown that increased physical activity is linked to decreasing difficult behaviors and improving cognitive ability.  So what sports can give your child with ASD the most fun and effective workout? Here are three activities that will give your child a workout and also teach some valuable skills:

1) Swimming: First of all, water safety and the ability to swim are extremely important for all kiddos to learn in order to be safe around water.  This may be especially true for kids with ASD, as some have a tendency to be attracted to water.  Swimming is also a great workout and can leave even the most active kid exhausted by bedtime.  Many organizations have adaptive swim classes for children with disabilities or you can find family swim times at community pools.

2) Running: Does your child have a lot of energy?  Get him or her running! Running is a strenuous but fun sport for kids of any age that doesn't involve a lot of complicated rules or social demands.  You can use running to establish routines and teach your child about boundaries, which could help to prevent a child from going wandering.

3) Aikido: Aikido is a martial art that has no punching or kicking.  It is always done with another person, which helps kids learn to read others' body language.  Traditional Aikido is also learned by watching and doing rather than by verbal instruction.  As many kids with ASD are visual learners, some may be very successful learning  in this format. 

Choose a sport and get your child moving today!