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2014-06-22 - Autism and Language

Week of 6/16

I received an email asking if I would write a series of blogs based on autism and language. Last week, I talked about kids with little to no verbal skills. This week I will be talking about kids who have language but do not have complex language structures.

  1. First, make a list of your child's words that they use everyday. It should include people, actions, food, toys and places they like (park, pool, school).
  2. You can use pictures paired with the words if the child is a preschooler or just use word cards if the child is in elementary school. (can use index cards to write labels on).
  3. Next spread all the words or pictures on the table. You can place them in categories on table and have the child pick one from each. ex, Mommy eats pizza, Daddy plays at the park. You model the sentence and have the child repeat.
  4. As the child's language increases you can a add more words like articles a, an and the.
  5. Add pictures of colors and shapes to add attributes,

Before you know it your child will making complete sentences. Make sure to generalize to the outside, ie, I see a big green tree and see if the child reciprocates when they see an object by using the words they learned.

2014-06-09 - ASD (autistic spectrum disorder)

Week of 6/9

I cannot believe it is June. Where has time gone?? I have decided with the summer months ahead of us to write my blog in list forms this way it is quick and easy to look at while you are going about your day. I received an email from a reader who asked for some recommendation of various speech and language areas within the autism spectrum. This week's blog will focus on getting children with ASD (autistic spectrum disorder) to communicate their wants and needs with a limited vocabulary.

  • A child with limited speech production will rely on gestures and visual (pictures) to communicate.
  • First, make a list of the all the child's favorite toys and snacks. You can use real photos or Mayer Johnson pictures.
  • Second, put together a simple picture book (no more then 5 pictures and then you can add). You can use a photo album to place pictures in or a clipboard with pictures velcroed to a board. * Third make sure the child can identify each picture. A child who doesn't understand what a ball is will not be able to label it to show meaning.
  • Then give the child the book and ask him/her what they want. Have the child point or they can hand you the picture.
  • Model the labeled word for the child. If the child makes an attempt of a sound doesn't have to be an approximation of the word then reward the child with high fives or tickles even bubbles can be reinforcing.
  • You can also PROMPT a sound on the lips (talked about PROMPT technique in last weeks blog).

Example: child points to ball you go to give child ball and you model word and then place your fingers on child's lips for the buh sound. If the child gives you ah sound reward them with a high five and good job using your words. Don't get discouraged it can take many attempts to get a child to make a sound. ALWAYS REWARD FOR ANY ATTEMPT A CHILD MAKES!!

Thank you for all your suggestions and keep them coming.

2014-04-12 - The SOS Approach to Feeding

Week of 4/1

Last weekend I went to a great feeding conference called The SOS Approach to Feeding. It was given by Dr. Toomey, Dr Ross and Bethany Kortsha. I cannot praise this conference enough. For any speech, physical or occupational therapists attending it is a must. I learned so much about the principles of feeding and the differences between picky and problem feeders.

Since I direct all my blogs towards parents I want to address that exposing your child to different foods from infancy is so important. Kids don't just take a food and put it in their mouths they need many exposures to the food such as using their senses through touch, smell and vision. We were always taught to not play with our food but that was misleading information. Getting your child to play with their food is an excellent way for your child to develop healthy eating habits. Have your child sit in their highchair while you cook and have them smell different herbs and touch different fruits and vegetables. Let them play with fake food as you cook a meal. Babies love bowls and spoons in the kitchen.

This month is Autism Awareness month and many children on the Autistic Spectrum have difficulty eating new foods. Look at a child's feeding skills. If that child is only at looking at food then begin at that step and work your way up the ladder. So get in the kitchen roll up your sleeves and start playing!!!