Monthly Archives: March 2019

How To Communicate With The Help Of Visual Aids

Visual tools are important in everyday life. We all use them and rely on them for information. Whether it is a STOP sign, a map, a flyer, your calendar or To-Do list, we all use visual tools in our lives.

When working with children who have communication challenges, visual aids are a highly effective form of communication. They are also a great tool when applying ABA (Applied Behavioral Analysis) interventions at home.

Here are some common ways to provide information using visual tools.

  1. Feel comfortable with changing situations– when you create a schedule for your child with autism, be sure to leave room for changes. This teaches your child more flexibility and less rigidity. Use pictures and Velcro so that you can remove things you didn’t have time to do, or move things around when the order of your day changes. If you don’t have pictures, simply use a piece of paper and a pencil. Show your child when you erase things or cross things out. These are also great tools to use when applying the principles of ABA (Applied Behavioral Analysis) therapy in your home. Preparing your child for shifts and changes in their schedule will prevent anxiety, tantrums and other problem behaviors.
  2. Recognizing Locations and People – One of the other tools used in ABA (Applied Behavioral Analysis) therapy that works very well is showing your child pictures of where you’re going, what you are going to be doing, and who you may see when you are there. Let them become familiar with locations so they know what to expect. All of this helps your child feel comfortable and prepared. It’s great to bring your camera with you to places you visit frequently (like the park, a restaurant, a friend or family member’s house). Taking snap shots of these locations, instead of using generic pictures, will really prepare your child for what to expect.
  3. Give Choices – Showing your child with autism, images of games, clothes, food etc. and letting your child choose what they want to play with, wear, or eat, allows them to feel more in control. The experts at Beautiful Minds Center recommend this technique and find that images make it easier for children diagnosed with autism to make choices because many of the are more susceptible to visual cues.
  4. Manage Time – Creating a calendar or time schedule shows your child what time and when they will be working on preferred activities and non-preferred activities and how much more time they have before they need to transition to the next activity. Many of the therapists at Beautiful Minds Center will use timers and clocks at their sessions. This helps the child they are working with understand the difference between how long 1 minute is and how long 5 minutes is and are great visual tools to use during times of transition.
  5. Communicate Rules – Visual charts with house rules, rules for playing outside, and rules for outings in the neighborhood are great tools to teach your child what they are allowed, and what they are not allowed to do. Having them posted in visible areas around the house are also great reminders.

Whether you are in session with a therapist conducting ABA (Applied Behavioral Analysis) therapy or working with your child on assigned interventions, giving information through visual aids help your child with autism process things in a ways that cause less confusion and frustration then verbal cues might. Actually seeing something through images or in writing gives them the structure necessary to better handle any given situation.

How To Behave In Group Settings

Sometimes fun social events can be very stressful for a child on the spectrum. Group gatherings, such as assemblies, plays, places of worship, and sporting events, are meant to be enjoyable ways to spend quality time with your loved ones, but when a child with autism has a difficult time functioning in a large group, it is time to figure out how you can help them relax and feel like they are part of the group.

1. Let Them Know What to Expect: Before the event, provide your child on the spectrum with explanations and visual tools of what to expect when they are in a large group setting.

Depending on the activity,  additional expectations could include sing with the group, clap when other people clap, or raise hand to ask a question. You may also want to print out a list of these expectations and give them to your child during the event.

2. Videotape your child’s role playing: Role play different social events with your child and videotape them correctly demonstrating skills. Edit the video to show only correct behaviors and then play the video back to them. While they watch the video verbally point out appropriate behaviors.

3. Practice before an Event: It is always good to practice going to a specific event right before the even takes place. Go through each step from attending the event, proper behavior while at the event, when to cheer, when to listen, etc and what to do at the end of the event before leaving. This can be done at the actual venue or at home or school.

4. Be Realistic: Sometimes no matter how much you plan, some events will just not be appropriate for your child with autism. They may be too loud, slow paced, or too long, your child may not be interested in attending and give you a hard time, etc. When you, your family and your child’s friends throw events it is always important to set realistic goals, that way the event or activity is more pleasant for everyone.

5. Reinforce Good Behavior: Provide your child on the spectrum with positive reinforcement during the event for attending and following rules. Use what is truly motivating for your child to encourage them to continue to be on their best behavior and participate appropriately at the event.

Learning to follow rules and behave appropriately in large group settings such as assemblies, places of worship, or movies can be challenging for many children, but can be extremely challenging for a child that has been diagnosed with autism. Some events repeat frequently and provide frequent opportunities for practice while others may occur every few months or sometimes once a year. Regardless of how often an event or activity occurs, or how many large events your child on the spectrum attends, it is always important to remind them of the skills they have learned in the past and teach them new skills to help them participate, stay relaxed and have a good time, no matter where they are or where they go.

The Best Way To Practice New Skills

Sometimes we’re so focused on the task at hand that we miss great learning opportunities . It’s important to find every day activities that your child on the spectrum can relate to in order to practice new or emerging skills.

Use the strategies below to turn almost any activity into a fun learning opportunity!

Make sure your child’s goals are always on your mind and pre-select skills to work on during activities. The first step is to make the most of your child’s experience when you choose a skill to target.

Encourage your child on the spectrum to learn from other children by pairing them up with their peers who all have different strengths and give this group of children roles that develop their skills while doing an activity like an art project, group skit, etc.

Use every opportunity you have to practice these skills in different settings and while engaging in different activities, to always keep your child who has been diagnosed with autism interested. Assign a regular task that involves interacting with peers or adult and look for impromptu moments for skill building.

If your child with autism shies away from group activities, try to use materials that encourage their learning process. Many children on the spectrum would rather select independent activities rather than group activities. Although everyone needs time to themselves, plan activities where that you know your child will be interested in so that they want and have to interact with others.

Prevent skill regression by letting your child with autism be the experts and use skills they have already mastered and intermix them with new or emerging skills throughout the day. Plan events where they are in charge of the activity or are paired with a peer to be the group expert. These opportunities will allow your child on the spectrum to practice and demonstrate their skills to family and friends.

Family and community activities often are viewed as breaks from learning, but they are great opportunities for practicing existing, emerging, and new skills.