Monday, March 28, 2011

Phonological Awareness

Lesson 1 – Listening

Understand what we use when we listen.

Recommended book:
The Ear Book – Dr. Seuss

What to do:
  • Talk about what we actually do when we listen.
  • Stress the behaviors that show how well we are listening:
    • Eye contact
    • Sitting still
    • Responding appropriately
  • Discuss how fidgeting, talking to a friend and not paying attention interfere with listening.

Lesson 2 – Make some noise!

Focus listening/attending behavior
Become aware of a variety of ways to make sounds
Follow directions to start/stop noisemaking

Recommended materials:
drums, bells, horns, pots/pans, game buzzer, toys that talk

What to do:
  • Talk about the different ways we can make noise (clapping, snapping, stomping, mouth noises, etc.)
  • Talk about how we can turn them on and off.
  • Make some noise together and then say “off” or “stop”
  • They may not respond right away. Calmly, say it again. You may also want to use a hand motion or a picture of stop sign.
  • Practice until the child learns to respond quickly and appropriately to the commands.

Lesson 3 – Hearing Sounds

Learn that objects and people make sound
Learn that there are many different types of sounds
Encourage children to respond to verbal cues
Learn that you hear sounds

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Autism Blogs:

**These are just some favorites and suggestions. Each of these websites has multiple links to other blogs and sites. Feel free to wander. The ideas and concepts presented are not always representative of me as a therapist. Please consult your physician, pediatrician, or therapists before attempting any ideas or treatments with your child.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Visual Scheduling

5 Tips for Effective Visual Scheduling for Individuals with Autism
April 2010
  1. Phrase schedules loosely
    Presenting schedules with less rigid definitions will help individuals with autism learn to be less rigid with the schedule. Try things like "Today we'll probably..." or "This afternoon we may..." Use this more loosely phrased language verbally, and in print and/or symbols on the schedule.
  2. Make a conscious decision to cover and/or remove symbols
    Covering a symbol represents a less permanent removal of a schedule item versus actually removing (item from the schedule. (Most likely your "removable" schedule items will be adhered with Velcro.) Hide a symbol when you want the individual to focus on something else. Remove a symbol when that schedule item is over or is no longer going to happen.
  3. Introduce the concept of time span schedules
    Often when we use time in schedules, we build in very little buffer. If an event doesn't begin when the clock on the schedule suggests, the individual with autism may have a difficult time. Using time span schedules links schedules to the time, but also builds in some buffer - for the normal events of life that may present some delays to our schedules.
  4. Don't stop being visual
    Remember to continue to represent your schedule visually - even if things change. Let's say an event is not going to happen as planned. Verbally describe this change to the student but also be sure the visual schedule reflects the change. This may mean removing a schedule item and replacing it with an alternative.
  5. Color code to add meaning
    Implement creative, and more importantly - meaningful, use of color coding on schedules and/or calendars. Want to signify that Saturday and Sunday are "Stay at home days"? Color code the border of those buttons the same color as a student's house. Does a student have speech therapy every Thursday? Color code those buttons with the color of the SLPs hair, for example!

This is a fantastic video presentation about visual scheduling for autism. Anyone can watch it. I’ve printed out the powerpoint slides that go along with it as they are very informative too but the video is much more detailed. It’s about an hour long but you can stop and start it any time.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Saying No

Do’s and Don’ts of Saying “NO”

  • Don’t be afraid to say “no” to your child.
    • ALL children need discipline
  • There are 3 types of “no”
    • Regular – the answer is wrong “no”
    • Very Loud – this “no” is very LOUD and is designed to be very unpleasant.  This is typically used for something extremely unacceptable (hitting, hurting, running away)
    • Assertive – This “no is to let your child know that their behavior is not acceptable to stop immediately. (“no throwing rocks”)
  • Do be specific with your “no”
    • Your child will not know what to stop doing unless you tell them.
    • Do give them an alternative (“Stop jumping on the bed, let’s go outside and play.”)
    • Do give them consequences… and follow through… every time! – Children know an empty threat when they hear it.
  • Don’t send mixed messages
    • Use your tone of voice and facial expression to ensure that:
    • Your positives must be unmistakably positive
    • Your negatives must be unmistakably negative (no laughing at their bad behavior)
  • Do be consistent
    • As with all discipline, consistency is key.
    • Your child must know that you mean what you say.
  • Don’t bribe your child to get good behavior
    • Good behavior should be the standard, not the exception
  • Do remember your roles.
    • You are the parent.
    • He/She is the child.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Time Out

Even kids with special needs need discipline!!

Time Out Method

Step 1: Make House Rules
  • Identify acceptable and unacceptable behaviors in your house.  Make a list of the rules and post it on your refrigerator or other common area.  Go over each rule with your child.  
  • Explain what will happen if he breaks a rule. (“If you hit me, you will go to time out.”) Then show him the designated spot to go to when he is in time out.
  • Do not make your time-out spot in a place where he eats, plays, or sleeps.
Step 2: When Your Child Breaks A Rule
  • Get down to his eye level and make eye contact.
  • Tell him what he did and that it was unacceptable in a firm but not loud voice.
  • Warn him that if he does it again he will go to the time-out chair/spot.
Step 3: When Your Child Ignores Your Warning
  • Get down to his eye level and make eye contact.
  • Tell him what he did and that it was unacceptable in a firm but not loud voice.
  • Take him directly to the time-out spot and sit him down.
  • It is helpful to use a kitchen timer that beeps during this step.  Tell him that he can get up when he hears the beep.
  • The length of time-out is 1 minute per age (3 years = 3 minutes).
  • When the time out is over have him apologize to the people involved in his behavior.
Step 4: When Your Child Gets Up
  • Take him back to the time out spot and sit him down every time and restart the timer.
  • He has to know that he will be taken back no matter what.
Helpful Hints:
    • Children need “time-in” just as much as “time-out”.  “Time-in” is a time of interactive play and attention that lets your child know that you care and you love them.  Because many children use misbehavior as a way to get attention, the more “time-in” you have, the less “time-out” you’ll have to use.  
    • Be CONSISTENT. “No” means “no”.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


Starting the Sign for “More”

  • The sign for “more” is tapping your finger tips together in a group
  • This sign can be used in many activities at home including:
    • Play Time (more blocks, more bubbles)
    • Meal Time (more bite, more drink)
    • Any interaction with your child that would include requesting
  • At first, your child may not spontaneously use this sign. Instead, put your hands over theirs and “help” them make the sign.
  • Keep your language very simple.  Don’t use 10 words when 3 will do.
  • Always use the spoken word along with the sign.
  • Always reward your child for using the sign (verbal praise, another bite, etc)
  • Be consistent with when you use the sign.  If you use it with meal time, ALWAYS use it with meal time.
  • Make it FUN!!

Monday, March 21, 2011


S: When ah we going to wuk on ah's (R's)?
Me: Why do you want to work on R's?
S: Because that's what we ah wuking on at feech (speech) class (at school).
Me: Let's get those s blends under control first.
S: Oooookay

Sign Language

Helpful Hints for Using Sign Language with Your Child

  • Be Consistent – this is probably the most important thing to remember.  Consistency – from the very beginning of your signing experience with your child – will be the most helpful to you both and essential for your success.  Use the same sign and she will be able to sign it back to you sooner.  Don’t kill yourself trying to learn an entire signed language in a week, however – concentrate on a few to a handful of signs and build from there.
  • Be Happy – Frowning and bored voices will not make a child eager to sign.
  • Be Open to Interpretation – Children will not always make a sign correctly the first time they sign it, just like they won’t speak a word correctly the first time they speak it.  Keep signing the word the correct way and your child will soon grow more precise as he matures and his fine motor skills improve.
  • Be Open to Suggestion – Sometimes a child will create a sign for herself.  Feel free to continue using it, and applaud her creativity.  You can also easily adapt a made-up sign to a more formal sign (such as ASL) just as you would encourage her with proper speech.  Acknowledge your child when she uses her invented sign and model back with the ASL version.  She will soon “correct” herself.
  • Be Full of Praise – Act excited when the child uses a sign correctly, and let your child know how wonderful you think he is.
  • Be Expressive – Use your face and body in addition to your hands.  You should also always say the word as you sign it.  Alter the tone of your voice depending on the context.  Make it sound fun and interesting.
  • Be Varied – Not as in the sign of course, but as in the places you sign.  Don’t just sign at home, for example, or when company’s around, or when you’re not in the public eye.  Signing with your child works best when it’s worked into your life as a natural means of communication instead of something you only do part of the time or only in certain places.
  • Be Patient – Children can take weeks or even months before they make their first sign.  And sometimes even when they’ve done a sign correctly for days and even months, they may stop using it.  Keep on doing what you are doing and eventually they will get back on track.
  • Be Prepared and Amazed – Your child will open your eyes to his world and it’s a great place to be!!

Advantages of signing with your child:

Infants taught sign language:

  • Can communicate wants and needs to their caregivers at an early age
  • Will have an earlier understanding of the English language
  • May learn to speak earlier
  • Could have an above-average ability later in life to learn a new language
  • May possibly have a higher IQ

Parents who sign with their children may experience:

    • Lower frustration levels (for parent and child) because the child can communicate with you
    • Deeper bonding with their child because they have greater insight into their baby’s mind
    • A higher level of trust from their child because he/she knows that you understand them
    • Satisfaction. What a great feeling it is to know that you can effectively communicate with your pre-verbal infant!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Great Books

Great Books for Kids – Reading is Fundamental

  • Great books for kids involve lots of repetition!!!
  • Books can inspire your children, expand their imaginations, and help them become better learners
  • Create a “literacy rich home” – This describes a home environment that encourages children to become lifelong readers.  Families can support language learning by creating an atmosphere in which reading, writing, and talking are a natural part of daily life.
  • Here’s a list to get your child’s library started:

Are You My Mother?
Baby Faces
Brown Bear, Brown Bear
Chicken Soup with Rice
Do You Want To Be My Friend?
Duck by the Sea
Fire! Fire! Said Mrs. McGuire
Good Night, Mr. Bettle
Goodnight Moon
Have You Seen My Cat?
Henny Penny
I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly
I See a Cow
If You Give A Mouse a Muffin
If You Give A Mouse a Cookie
If You Give A Pig a Pancake
Is Your Mama A Llama?
It Looked Like Spilt Milk
Jesse Bear, What Will You Wear?
Jump Frog, Jump
Lello the Lion
Leo the Late Bloomer
Love You Forever
Mr. Brown Can Moo, Can You?

My First Baby Signs
Owl Moon
Panda Bear, Panda Bear
Pat the Bunny
Polar Bear, Polar Bear
Rooster’s Off to See the World
Shapes and Colors
Sheep in a Jeep
She’ll Be Comin’ Round the Mountain
Silly Sally
Stop, Thief!
The Braggin’ Dragon
The Gingerbread Man
The Jacket I Wear In the Snow
The Snowy Day
The Three Little Pigs
The Very Busy Spider
The Very Hungry Caterpillar
The Wheels on the Bus
Today Is Monday
We’re Going on a Bear Hunt
Zaza the Zebra

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Book Review: Feeling Happy

I keep forgetting to share this book: Feeling Happy by PBS Kids

I love this book for speech therapy! I especially love it for ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) kids because it goes through 10 (maybe 8.. I can't remember) different emotions. Each page allows the child to turn a wheel to match the emotion face to the animal in the story. Each page has short rhyming sentences to let you know the situation and the emotion that resulted. The last page has an overview and encourages the child to choose how they feel at the moment. There's also a section in the back to parents about encouraging and teaching emotion words to their kids in everyday life.

I sent this book home for a couple of weeks with a sweet, higher functioning boy with ASD who has had a LOT of difficulty regulating and expressing emotions appropriately. With a LOT of reinforcement and encouragement from his wonderful mother, he has started identifying emotions in the characters on tv and movies! I can't wait for him to tell me he's angry or upset instead of screaming and losing control.... now just to master "why" questions so that he can tell us what has caused this unwanted disruption in his emotional control!