Thursday, September 18, 2014

Relationship & Social Skills: Going Beyond "Turn-Taking" in Guided Peer Play Sessions

All photos used in this post have been approved by both boys' parents.




This is the glimpse of a month in the life of 2 boys: "Robert" and "Luke" (both pseudonyms), who needed help learning to play and work with others in a meaningful, interdependent way.

Because Luke was moving away, we had only 4 weeks to work on our goals, mid-July until mid-August, 2014. This ended up being a module of 6 sessions at 1.5 hours each time. In addition to this face-to-face time, therapists who worked with each boy also reinforced some of the goals about once or twice a week on other days, in a 1:1 setting (therapist and child).

Goals were listed as:

A. Physical Coordination

- matching/adjusting one's body movements (speed, direction) to that of another peer
-practising sustained attention to another peer
-practicing working towards a common goal with the peer (rather than parallel actions)

B. Being Flexible
(a huge indicator of ability and predictor of school/life success)

- flexible about whose turn it is in an activity
- flexible in choice of activity
- tolerating disliked activities
- living with the "unknown" (you can be OK not knowing what's coming up next)

C. Personal Space

- practicing adjusting "just right' distance between 2 people
- practicing that what is "just right" depends on the activity/context and is not fixed (static).

D. Losing Gracefully (at a game)

E. Reciprocating Statements

- Congrats / Thank you
-Thank you / You're welcome
- Sorry / It's OK

F. Conversation Skills (goal during snack time)
- Statement - Statement
( example: "I like juice." "Well, I like water.")
- Question - Response
(example: "Can you help me open this?" "Sure!")
*The goal was to encourage both responding to a statement/question from a peer, and also to initiate statements/questions spontaneously.

G. Interviewing Skills
-finding out about each other.







Above: Coordinating my actions to my friend's actions, so that we can reach a common goal (aligning and gluing the snake pieces.)








Whether it's carrying and putting away a heavy box of toys together.....







....or carrying chairs to set up the snack table, these activities help the boys learn to focus on the movements (speed, direction) of each other, and continuously adjust their own actions. Sustained attention to another person is a challenge for many children on the spectrum. Activities like the above can help. 



Finding Out About Each Other: A little was done at every session. Each boy learns that other person have realities and interests different from his own ("Oh, he has a sister, but I don't. And guess what, he doesn't have a brother, but I do." "He likes cars but I like animals." "His mum has a different name from my mum.") Many children on the autism spectrum have challenges with understanding/accepting Other People's Perspectives. This activity can nudge that awareness along.

At the end of the 6 sessions (across 4 weeks), we could see some progress (defined by the reduced need for scaffolding/prompting by adults) in most* of the areas. However, it is clear that a longer module would have helped even more!

All the best, "Robert" and "Luke"!



*we did not have time to work on the Personal Space goal at all. 

Thursday, August 7, 2014

A Parent's Experience with Play-Based, Naturalistic ABA Therapy

Photo shared by parents and permission given to publish.


When our son was suspected of being on the spectrum, we decided to move to Kuala Lumpur, where better access to therapy was available. Since the move, we have tried different types of therapy for speech and also other skills, and we were happy to see steady improvements.

After about a year in Malaysia, we came to know of Intan and play-based, naturalistic, ABA* therapy. We decided to try ABA  therapy to see how our son would respond to it. It was one of the best decisions we have made regarding his therapy. In just one month, we already started to see amazing results. His conversational skills really improved, and we started to notice how he became more and more aware of his surroundings. He started interacting more with us and his brother. He became more conversational - we started to see more impromptu short conversations between him and his brother. He communicated a lot better his wants, this also helped with the decrease of his tantrums. At school, his teacher also mentioned how he started to join in during the activities at school.

Over the course of the next few months of therapy, we have seen him just take in whatever was being thrown at him. Some things came easily, other things he needed practice. But the good thing was how he started using the skills he learned during therapy in his every day life.

We are forever thankful to Intan, who designed and supervised his programme, and the 2 wonderful therapists who worked with our son. He loved his sessions with his teachers and always looked forward to it.

Asma
Maldives

* Applied Behaviour Analysis

Friday, May 23, 2014

ASD Behaviour Workshop #2: Increasing Flexibility, Improving the Capacity to Deal with Changes & Managing Self-Stimulatory Behaviour



Children on the autism spectrum often prefer routines over novelty, and changes to their routines frequently cause much distress.

Through description, discussion, video clips, and role play, the trainer will explain strategies which have been shown to improve the capacity of children with ASD to process changes. In addition, strategies for managing self-stimulatory behaviour will be covered.

This workshop is limited to 25 participants, so kindly register as soon as possible, The registration details are listed in the flyer.


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Monday, May 12, 2014

Behaviour Workshop #1: Strategies to Manage Task-Avoidance and Attention-Getting Behaviour

This workshop is for educators and caregivers/parents of young children on the autism spectrum.

I will build an understanding on the various functions (reasons) for behavior, describe that I've selected 2 functions for this workshop (task avoidance / escape and attention-seeking), go through each one using a combination verbal description, visuals including video clips, and discussion (audience-trainer and audience-audience) in order to introduce some strategies which have been known to be effective (either from published research and/or from my own field experience). We would also be breaking into groups to practice some of the strategies. 

To register, please use the directions on the attached flyer.




Tuesday, April 22, 2014

"Travelling by Airplane with a Young Child on the Autism Spectrum": Presentation

Audience Feedback: 

I really liked that you broke down every step from that time that you leave your house to the actual in flight travel.  I think a lot of times, one doesn't really realize how many steps it takes to travel by air (especially over seas travelling) with children, but especially with  children who do take every step very literally.  I've had the topic of travelling by plane come up a few times from a couple of different families;  as a person who works closely with the autism community and doesn't travel by plane often,  it can be difficult to remember all the steps you have to go through to even get on board.

Your presentation was very insightful --
I think you were exactly right when you said that being prepared before you even leave the house is the best advice to give anyone who is travelling with a child with Autism.


- H.F., Senior Therapist, De Pere, Wisconsin





Originally, this talk was presented in the USA at the ASW Conference in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin in April 2013. 

Due to interest locally, ANDI Initiative will be giving this presentation again, this time here in Malaysia. Kindly register your interest in the comments or email us at ANDI.Initiative@gmail.com.






Friday, April 11, 2014

Promoting Success for Children with Special Needs in Inclusive Environments through Mindful Shadowing - Workshop



This workshop for shadow aides and teachers was a full house this past January. ANDI Initiative intends to conduct a similar workshop in the next few months. If you are interested to attend, please email us.


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