Monthly Archives: August 2018

Teach Your Child Facial Expressions to Understand Emotions

Oftentimes 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 affected 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 been 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.

Teaching and Reinforcing Classroom Rules at Home

Helping your child on the spectrum understand classroom rules and expectations is a priority at the beginning of the school year. Since your child with autism has to make the transition from his summer schedule to a new school year schedule, we found that it was important to help parents take the proper steps to posting, presenting and reinforcing their new schedule and new school rules.

1. Find out classroom rules and post them at home – To get your child with autism used to specific classroom rules, it is always a good idea to get a copy of the classroom rules and create a poster board, list or picture board that is posted in a location that is easy for your child on the spectrum to see. This you’re your child acquainted with the new rules and provides a visual a child can refer to if there are questions about the rules.
2. Review Regularly – At the beginning of the year, it is important to review these rules with your child with autism daily. As time passes, your child will need less frequent verbal reminders, but they still may need reminders at the beginning of the week and after returning from a break.
3. Enforce Rules at Home– It is also important to discuss the importance of the classroom rules at home. Maybe even enforce some of the rules in your home. Start with the ones that your child on the spectrum has the most trouble following.
4. Address Other Rules – Classroom rules are not the only rules your child with autism should learn and live by. The home, cafeteria, playground, hallway, friend’s homes, relatives’ homes etc. all have different rules. Although broad rules such as respecting property and people may cover different areas, prepare your child on the spectrum for expectations across environments by addressing rules specific to each environment they visit.

Helping your child on the spectrum understand classroom rules and expectations is a priority at the beginning of the school year. How rules are developed, posted, and reviewed is important for a child with autism.


how To Meet New People and Make New Friends

Now that the new school year is almost upon us, this is a great opportunity for your child on the spectrum to meet new people and build strong friendships. Since your child with autism spends a significant amount of time in the classroom which is a wonderful environment to build lasting friendships, here are some great tips on how they enjoy a new school year filled with new and old friends.

1. Group Lessons or Activities– Many teachers will build lesson plans that revolve around children collaborating and working together. These are great opportunities to encourage your child on the spectrum to interactive with and be friendly to their group, team or partner. Role play ways to engage in conversation during group lessons, team sports, partnering activities etc. That way, your child with autism will feel more comfortable interacting with hew students, team members, or new participants in their regular activities.

2. Practice Social Skills – Sometimes it is necessary to discuss and outline social skills clearly for a child on the spectrum to understand them. Role plays and group discussions about meeting someone new, having a conversation, sharing, helping, and being a good sport can illustrate aspects of the skills children may overlook. Work with your child with autism at home to rehearse new scenarios, frequent interactions, or a past event to practice real-world situations.

3. Work with Your Child’s Teacher – Parents and teachers should work together to promote an interest in school friendships. Reach out to your child’s teacher to let them know that you are working with your child on relationship skills in hopes of them making new friends in the new school year. Listen to their teachers advise and learn from their teachers who they are close to and how you can help them feel more comfortable building stronger friendships

4. Extracurricular Activities – Your child on the spectrum often see their classmates as c community and may feel more comfortable around them than they do with people or peers outside of their classroom. It is always good to encourage your child with autism to join a new activity, team, or class outside of school to build new friendships. Maybe even join these activities with another friend from school so that they know someone going into a new situation and feel less anxious from the start. This will help them acquire additional interests and meet additional friends along the way.

Teaching your child on the spectrum how to be a good friend is important. Sometimes they will develop close friendships this way, other times they will remain nice to their classmates, but not form the everlasting bond you hoped they would. . Do not force a friendship, but encourage children to share, say kind things, and be good to their classmates, teammates and to peers they meet doing 

extracurricular activities.

Here’s to a wonderful beginning of a new school year. We hope it is filled with good times, laughter, and great friendships for your child.