Monthly Archives: September 2015

Help Your Child Learn Facial Expressions to Understand Emotions

Often times children who have been diagnosed with autism struggle to understand other people’s feelings and manage their own emotions. This lack of intuition can have a negative impact on their friendships, adult interactions, and their behavior throughout the day.

Some ways that will help you teach your child on the spectrum about facial expressions and emotions are through the use of flashcards, role play, the use of a mirror, and fun creative games that will grab their attention so that they can learn the differences between happy, sad, mad, etc.

The first step to helping your child on the spectrum understand how facial expressions portray actual emotions is to educate them on what facial expressions correlate with which emotions. You can do this by creating or purchasing flashcards, pointing out expressions in books, on TV or in the community.

  1. Flashcards- these will help teach your child what facial expressions look like and what emotions go with each picture.
  2. Images in books and on TV- this is a great way to practice what your child has already learned in the flashcards.
  3. People in the community – by pointing out facial expressions on actual people you are able to discuss what they might be feeing and how it is affecting them. You can point out more than what their facial expression looks like, you can talk about their posture, their eye contact etc.; and how their overall body language is effected by how they are feeling.


Once your child, who has been diagnosed with autism, learns facial expressions and the body language that goes along with each emotion, you can start role playing situations. Role playing can lead to specific emotions and how people will react in specific situations. It is a fun way to practice identifying feelings, and can be group activity or a one on one game.

You can also make a game of identifying feelings by having your child on the spectrum practice facial expressions in a mirror. Name an emotion and have your child look in a mirror and create the expression that goes along with that emotion. Point out how their eyes, eyebrows, nose, and mouth change shapes as they practice different facial expressions. Take turns so that they can see how you would express different emotions. They will learn by watching what you do.

Bring out their creativity by making a game of identifying feelings. Art is a fun way to learn about facial expressions. Have your child, who has ben diagnosed with autism, draw or paint a picture showing people with different feelings, or work with them to create a collage of emotions. Cut out sets of eyes, eyebrows, mouths, and noses. Have your child on the spectrum put faces together showing emotions.

Learning to read facial expressions is important for social interactions.  When your child on the spectrum can identify how a friend, classmate, sibling, parent, or person in the community feels, they can respond appropriately.


Beautiful Minds Center Clinical Director Dr. Margarita Izralson

Dr. Margarita Izralson, clinical director of Beautiful Minds Center was honored to receive a Motif Award for her work in the field of Applied Behavior Analysis therapy, child advocacy and child development. The Motif Awards are globally recognized and widely regarded as the nation’s highest and most prestigious honor for youth advocacy. These awards are given to individuals, like Dr. Izralson, who promote and support the global community through optimum education and development of children in a changing society.

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Dr. Izralson has built Beautiful Minds Center on a foundation of hope and commitment to helping children and families affected by Autism and other related developmental disorders. The mission of Beautiful Minds Center is to provide children and families with high quality Applied Behavioral Analysis therapy and personalized solutions tailored to each child’s specific behavioral needs; and to also provide personalized parent-training programs and family counseling to help parents and siblings cope with, and understand the complexities of Autism.

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We want to Congratulate Dr. Margarita Izralson and the entire team at Beautiful Minds Center for their hard work and dedication to helping improve the lives of their clients and their families. Your passion and determination to help children who have been diagnosed with Autism is a gift that the community is truly thankful for.



Ways to De-escalate Tantrum Behavior

Children, who have been diagnosed with autism, tend to display tantrum behavior because they have a hard time communicating their wants and needs. Instead of being able to tell someone what is bothering them, what they want, or how they feel, children on the spectrum act out in ways that are hard for a parent to understand.

Here are some helpful ways to teach your child, who has been diagnosed with autism, how to communicate their ideas, and use appropriate actions in stressful situations.

  1. Initial reactions to stressful situations can often be very emotional for a child on the spectrum. Establishing a place for your child to go when they are upset can help de-escalate a potential tantrum situation. Giving them the space they need to calm down and take a break might be exactly what they need to regroup. It is also a great idea to teach your child to ask for a break. Respecting them when they say “Excuse me, I need a break” can make a big difference in how they handle a situation. Practice taking breaks in places where there is no quite area. Learning to step away from a situation and count to ten can make a big difference in your child’s behavior.
  2. Help your child, who has been diagnosed with autism, learn from past situations. Although some situations might not be avoidable, creating strategies’ or routines to relieve stress can be helpful in reoccurring situations that cannot be avoided. Creating lists, providing visuals, coming up with rules or instructions, and role playing, are all ways to help your child learn from past situations.
  3. Sometimes finding appropriate stress reducers are great ways for your child on the spectrum to manage their frustration or anger. Squeezing a stress ball or bouncing on a trampoline are great examples of ways your child, who has been diagnosed with autism, can manage their stress levels. Teaching your child the best items to use in a stressful or unpleasant situation can prevent them from acting out physically when they are upset.
  4. Encourage your child, who has been diagnosed with autism, to write about or discuss the things that bother them or specific situations that stress them out. Dig deep into their feelings by inquiring why these specific situations bother them, so that you know how to prevent, avoid, or react when they come up in the future. This is also a great way for your child to think things through. If your child on the spectrum has a hard time communicating with you verbally, ask them to write down what happened, how they felt, and what actions they think they should take to get through each situation and then use these journal entries to role play each situation to educate them on what choices they have when reacting and what consequences come with each reaction they have.

Communicating ideas, feelings, and interests can be extremely difficult for a child on the spectrum, but with the tips above, we hope to make the communication process easier for everyone.