Videos are a good way to motivate your child on the spectrum to learn and follow instructions. Almost everyone has a smart phone, camera, or video recorder; many use the same devise for all three functions. These can be valuable learning tools. Here are a few ways you can use videos to motivate and teach your child with autism.
1. Use videos as a Reward – Videos are a great alternative to rewarding child on the spectrum with food or toys. Videos aren’t high in calories like food. Videos last a specific amount of time so you don’t have to remove a reward, and videos can be readily available on an adult’s phone or other device. Just like adults, children have individual interests and motivators. Find videos that peek your child’s interests or have fun creating videos of your own. If a child is learning a new skill they may be very motivated by someone filming them counting to ten correctly, folding their own clothes, or saying hello to a neighbor.
2. Use Videos to Prepare for New Situations – When your child on the spectrum is about to go to a new school or enter a new classroom; go to camp, or go to places in the community can make them nervous videos can be useful tools. Use videos of new places and new people to prepare your child for changes or new activities. Review these videos regularly.
3. Use Videos to Learn New Functional Skills – Videos can be used to teach your child on the spectrum how to complete new skills. Create videos at home with parents, siblings, friends, and your child’s peers that shows them completing the required skill. When creating a video, break a skill into small steps (e.g. brushing teeth requires opening the toothpaste, getting the tooth brush, putting tooth paste on the toothbrush, etc.) and show each step performed correctly. Your child can watch these video before they practice the activity.
4. Demonstrating Social Skills – In the same way other new skills can be taught, social skills can be demonstrated with videos. Breaking skills into steps and teaching specific responses is one way to teach greetings, good-byes, and other interactions. Videos also can be used to discuss and role play responses to different situations.
Have fun with the use of videos, watch them with your child, help your child create videos of their own and enjoy the learning and discovering process with them.
The ability to communicate is one of the most important skills to have, and one of the skills that most of us take for granted. With the proper communication and language skills we are able to connect with others, build relationships, share ideas and let others know what you want and how you feel.
For children diagnosed with autism, communication skills are formed differently than for most others. Many seem distracted and first words tend to be delayed. Depending on the verbal ability of the child, there are a variety of ways to help increase communication and language skills. Here are several ways to help your child with autism increase language and communication skills:
- Find the time to communicate with your child – Don’t allow electronics, games and television to occupy a majority of your child’s time. Spend time with them, ask them about their day, listen to them when they talk to you and ask questions, read books to them and (if they are able to read), let them read to you. All of these opportunities to communicate will help increase your child’s language and communication skills.
- Be supportive of your child – Always make your child feel comfortable and confident. Encourage them to use their words and try not to be too critical of their mistakes. Use situations where they make mistakes as a learning experience. Help them understand what they are doing wrong in a very calm and helpful way. Try your best not to be judgmental or condescending as this will have a tendency to hurt your child’s feelings and push them to regress instead of advance their skills.
- Be a Role Model to your child – Your child learns from examples. Make sure that when your child is around you, you speak to them and others in complete sentences, correct grammar, and articulate your words clearly. When children constantly hear the proper use of words and sentences they learn how they should sound when they speak.
- Use Reinforcers – Find and create situations that promote language in the home. Use favorite items, toys, games, even food, to motivate your child to use their words properly. Make sure these items are only available when working with your child on language and communication building skills.
- Provide your child with choices – Use choices as a way to get your child to communicate with you. By giving them a choice of what they want to do, or what items they want to have, you open up the lines of communication and give them the opportunity to speak to you. By allowing them to choose between two things they like, you are also able to start a conversation about why they selected one item over the other.
- Read stories to your child – This is an excellent way to incorporate language into a fun activity. Take this time to ask your child about the pictures in the book you are reading. Ask them about their favorite character and what they like best about the story. It is also a great idea to review the story once you have completed reading it. Having your child tell you about what you just read is a great way to finish a language and communication activity.
- Non-Verbal Children – For parents of children who are non-verbal, try not to pay attention to your child when he/she points and grunts, or tantrums and be sure to explain that you don’t understand what they want even when you do, so that they are more motivated to try using their words. Also remember to model an appropriate way to say words they have trouble with, and to model the appropriate way to make requests for what they want. Little tricks like these will help most non-verbal children start communicating.
Most of all, remember to be patient with your child and do your best to set a good example for them by communicating clearly and effectively. When your child sees that he/she can communicate their wants/needs effectively, it will give them added confidence that will help them continue to strive to improve their language development.