Archive for the ‘Visuals’ Category

Today was the long-awaited Neighborhood Parents Network Developmental Differences Resource Fair. The first of its kind in Chicago, the Fair – free to parents – featured a room full of exhibitors that included private practitioners (speech, OT, developmental therapists, music and art therapists, social workers, psychologists) as well as representatives from some local large public organizations such as the Chicago Public Schools Office of Special Education and Supports.

Specialists were available to talk to parents about their programs and services and had the opportunity to answer initial questions in a face-to-face manner that is not often available to parents. Further, clinicians were able to network with each other through the course of the four hour event.

Jordan Sadler, MS, CCC/SLP was assisted at the Communication Therapy table by staff therapist Erin Vollmer, MS, CCC/SLP, and undergraduate intern Kate Gilday.  It was a pleasure to meet so many parents and discuss their child’s needs and the best services to meet them.

We want to thank three developers of high quality, child-tested iPad apps for donating codes to us for this event. A huge thank you goes out to Injini, Mobile-Education Store, and BeeVisual. Winners have been notified by email and those who weren’t chosen have received emails with links allowing them to purchase the featured apps if they’d like.

Here’s what we raffled off today:

Injini’s Child Development Suite for iPad – A collection of high quality learning games for the developmentally young. Beautifully designed app that targets cause and effect, patterns, early receptive language, and much more! This is a favorite among our young clients and really wowed the crowd at the Fair today. Children loved exploring it while we chatted with their parents!

BeeVisual’s ChoiceWorks universal app – We were able to give away 5 codes for ChoiceWorks today, and this was another very popular app at the event. New on the app scene, ChoiceWorks is an inclusive app that allows the user to create individualized schedule boards, help a child with self-regulatory skills like waiting or taking turns, and deal with challenging emotions. It’s beautifully designed and intuitive for new users. Parents of my clients are also loving the companion books that go with each activity, which are terrific social stories!

From Mobile Education Store, we gave away codes for three different apps that we use consistently in our language therapy sessions and find to be excellent:

LanguageBuilder – Helps children ages 3-10 improve sentence formation and improve receptive and expressive language development.

StoryBuilder – Helps students ages 6-10+ improve paragraph formation and integration of ideas, improve higher level abstract thinking and inference skills. Great for working on narratives.

ConversationBuilder – Teaches multi-exchange conversations with peers in a variety of social settings to students ages 6-10. “Freeze frames” social scenarios for kids to consider what they would say or do to enter into play or conversation.

More recommended apps and iPad peripherals are yet to come in the next couple of months!

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The introduction to this series of posts can be found here.

Articulation, or speech sound production, is the part of a speech-language pathologist’s job that the public is most aware of. When we tell the majority of lay people what we do for a living, they assume we spend our days working with kids on their /l/, /r/ and /s/ sounds, and when children are referred to us due to concerns about language development, we often have a lot to explain about the breadth of our expertise. No matter what our areas of expertise, most of us spend at least some of our time working with children on articulation.

There are some terrific iPad apps dedicated to assisting children in their articulation development. While there are many apps that families can use at home to improve their children’s communication, these dedicated apps are more appropriate for use under supervision of a trained clinician in a therapy session.

Why would a speech-language pathologist work on articulation using an iPad?  For one thing the device makes the clinician’s job substantially easier in that it holds a great many pictures, replacing the boxes of (typically) outdated picture cards that often sit on our shelves, and it makes it very simple to collect and share data. Further, kids are highly motivated by the interactive, hands-on nature of the device. However, there is absolutely no reason to purchase more than one dedicated articulation app for your clients –  choose carefully to make sure that the app you invest in will work for the majority of the kids you see.


The articulation app I have been using the most in my work this past year is ArtikPix. ArticPix allows you to customize the flashcards you use in practice and then in a matching game. The graphics are simple drawings, similar to Mayer-Johnson symbols. After selecting target phoneme(s), the clinician can select which word position will be practiced (e.g., you can create an activity that includes /s/ in initial word position and medial /l/). When the child taps the screen, the word is clearly pronounced. The child can tap a microphone icon to record him or herself repeating the word, and then listen to it. This immediate feedback is wonderful. The clinician then taps the smiley face or frown face to collect data on accuracy. There are “yay!” and “awww…” sounds that correspond with these, but you can also turn those sounds off in Settings. However, the child can see how you judged their production and with older children, I’ll ask them to rate their own productions that way. The latest update of ArtikPix allows the clinician to collect data easily for up to four students in a group. The app saves your data for each child (and any notes you have added on that session). You can share results by email.

For $29.99 you can purchase the “Full” version which comes with 21 card decks of 40 cards for each phoneme – there are close to 1,000 total articulation cards. Click here for a complete description. We did not purchase the full version at our office. We downloaded the free ArtikPix app and we purchase individual phoneme decks for $1.99 each as needed. It is possible to download extra decks of cards from within the app so it’s very quick and easy. Since we see a small number of children for speech sound production, this worked well for us, but if you are working with many kids who have a variety of error sounds, it would be more cost effective to purchase the Full version.

This app does not target phonological processes, but the developer created an additional app to address this. PhonoPix-Full can be purchased separately for $24.99.

Here is a video of a client working with one of my graduate student clinicians on his /l/ sound using ArtikPix:

Articulate It!

I recently purchased Articulate It! for my iPad. Articulate It! was developed by Smarty Ears, whose wide variety of apps are created by a speech-language pathologist. This app includes all English phonemes and over 1,200 photo cards. Similar to ArtikPix, the clinician can collect data and share it (but more easily, in a clear graph form, and you can opt to include the client’s recordings in your email).  Additionally, the clinician can choose targets based on phoneme, phonological processes (e.g., fronting, stopping, initial consonant deletion, to name a few), or manner of articulation (e.g., fricatives, glides, nasals).  Again, it is possible to set up this app for group therapy. The clinician has the option to write a note for each production of the target sound rather than a general note at the end of the activity. Another helpful feature of Articulate It! is that there are randomized transition sounds (which can be turned off if desired) so that the child isn’t made overly aware of his or her mistakes when data is collected. For some of the sensitive kids I work with, games that have a “wrong answer” sound are very anxiety-provoking. To take a look at this app, click here. It’s easy to use and quite intuitive.

This Articulate It! app is costlier, at $49.99, but it does provide targets for both articulation and phonological work in one app. The cost is only slightly higher than buying both ArtikPix and PhonoPix, and there are more features. We have begun to switch our clients over to Articulate It! and feel that it is worth the price.


While not designed to be a therapeutic tool, Toontastic is an app we find many, many uses for in speech and language intervention. It is one of our most beloved apps because we can work on such a wide range of goals with it – and it’s only $.99! In the area of speech sound production, I have found it to be a very fun and motivating way for kids to work on their sounds in a structured conversation or story-telling format. This link, for example, will take you to a story we created with a 4-year old client who was working hard on her “sh” sound. She asked to make a cartoon on the iPad and so we adapted the activity by helping steer her toward a theme that might have more “sh” sounds in it, and then working with her on filling in the story with the words we’d decided upon.

I will review this app further in my post on ways to work on language with the iPad, but the general idea is that the child chooses a background theme and characters (or draws their own!), and then uses the structured narrative arc to create and narrate his or her own story. After creating each scene, the child has an opportunity to choose appropriate background music that fits the mood of the scene (e.g., scary, happy, excited). For our older clients we usually incorporate all pieces of the story arc, but with younger children like this one we stick to a beginning, middle, and ending by deleting some steps within the app. Kids love it and it’s been a really fun way to move into less structured articulation practice! If the clinician and child want to share the story, it can be uploaded to the Toontastic website. Before doing so, I make sure that the child’s identification is protected.

In any therapy, the iPad is only as creative as you are.

Toontastic illustrates an important point about use of the iPad in speech therapy, which is that you can go light years beyond dedicated speech apps in therapy if you use your natural creativity as a clinician. If you are able to think outside the box without the iPad, you’ll be able to do the same with it. It is simply another tool in your toolbox. You can have as much success with apps that were never intended for therapy as with dedicated ones like ArtikPix or Articulate It! In addition to activities like Toontastic, you might engage a child in drawing a series of nice, long /s/ sounds while producing the “sssssss”, using a free app like Draw, or you could work with a young child on a puzzle in an app like Puzzld!, targeting all the /s/ words in it. The sky’s the limit!

Please feel free to share your experiences with these apps – and any others you’ve tried – when remediating articulation and phonology difficulties in a pediatric population!

Stay tuned for a summary of our favorite iPad apps for language remediation!

Jordan Sadler, MS, CCC/SLP, is a speech-language pathologist and has been the Director of Communication Therapy, P.C. since 2004. She loves finding new ways to bring the iPad into therapy sessions and helping families find useful apps for home and community settings.

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Here at the Chicago office I’ve been experimenting with use of an iPad in my pediatric communication therapy work for about seven months now, and am very excited to share what I’ve learned. (I used the iPhone in my work for about a year prior to that, but its impact was minimal compared with the iPad.) As a developmental speech-language pathologist who believes that a foundation of trust and emotional connection that can only be forged through face-to-face interaction is central to the therapeutic process, I used to feel strongly that technology had no place in speech therapy. And perhaps, given the quality of what used to be available, I was right. But the creation of “iDevices” such as the iPhone, iPodTouch, and in particular the iPad, have been game-changers for me.

I will be writing a series of blog posts here, illustrating usage of the iPad for AAC (Augmentative & Alternative Communication), improved language and narrative skills, speech sound production, and general motivation. While there is a lot of buzz right now around the use of iPads with individuals with autism (with good reason!), I have been able to integrate the iPad into work on absolutely every type of speech/language goal my clients have, and highly recommend it as a therapy tool.

There are many excellent resources already online for those who are getting started, particularly for children with autism spectrum disorders. An ideal place to start is SLP Tahirih Bushey’s post called “iSupports for Children with Autism — Basic Concepts” on the Autism Games blog, in which she wrote a primer on what the various devices are and why they are useful for a child with ASD.

The next required stop for someone interested in this topic must be Shannon Des Roches Rosa’s blog, Squidalicious, in which she writes frequently about how the iPad has made an enormous difference in the life of her son Leo, who has autism. Take your time on this blog and read as much as you can. The link provided here takes the reader directly to a fantastic list of all of Shannon’s posts about the iPad (and links to other relevant articles), including upcoming events and speaking engagements she’s been involved in. There the reader will also find a link to a spreadsheet of apps that are recommended for iPad users with autism; I am one of the contributors to this spreadsheet and I think it’s a terrific resource for those who are parenting or engaged in speech/language therapy with those with autism spectrum disorders or other disorders of communicating and relating to others.

I would also highly recommend the GeekSLP website, where speech-language pathologist “techie” Barbara Fernandes shares a great deal of information about apps for iPad, iPodTouch, and iPhone for SLPs, teachers, and parents of kids with all types of speech/language challenges, not just autism. The reader will find articles, posts, and podcasts on this well-organized website that is chock full of frequently-updated information. I have particularly appreciated her recent Apps for SLPs document, which I have printed out and keep in the waiting area in my office for parents to peruse.

Next up: I will share with you my favorite speech therapy apps and show you how I use them!

Stay tuned!

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By Liesl Wenzke Hartmann, MA, CCC-SLP

I recently attended the Social Thinking Provider’s Conference hosted by Michelle Garcia Winner and came away energized and excited about my work and the new tools I got to add to my therapeutic tool box.  I thought I would share about one in particular that I am finding to be especially helpful for my students.

Story Grammar Marker, also known as Braidy the StoryBraid, is a teaching method for narrative language that was dreamed up by an SLP from the East Coast –Maryellen Rooney Moreau.  It’s a technique for helping children learn to tell and write stories and can be adapted for kids in preschool all the way up to high school.

I’ve always known that narrative language was a struggle for many of my students but until this workshop, I hadn’t fully understood the scope of how important and relevant it is.  During the workshop, my mind started whirring along, taking me back to all the times my students have come into their sessions and with excitement in their voice trying to share an experience they’d had last summer, last weekend, last night or just 5 minutes ago, but could not get the full story organized and out of their mouths.  With detective work, fill-ins from parents and carefully crafted questions, I’ve often heard the full story eventually, but have never had a clear method for how to help my kids really organize their story and express it fully and independently.  I started also thinking about how story telling is such a huge part of my relationships with my friends and colleagues, how I feel closer to those who can tell a good story, how I learn so much about others in my lives by the stories they share, and again the gravity of personal narrative language began to sink in.

The technique works like this:  A braid of yarn signifies the Gestalt or big picture of the story.  Visual markers hang off the braid to represent the major components of a story:  the characters, setting, “kick-off” event, feelings, plan, actions, “tie-up” and subsequent feelings.  This is by far the clearest representation of a story that I’ve come across.  What’s more, MaryEllen explained so beautifully that the setting not only includes the “where” of the story, but what the character was expecting to happen.  She explained that many stories happen like this:  A character is having an expected day or a “ho-hum” day as she cleverly describes and “all of a sudden…” the “kick-off” event happens (something unexpected).  Then the critical thinking part or “triangle” of the story happens.  The character(s) will inevitably have feelings about that unexpected “kick-off” event and will then need to make a plan to deal with what just happened.

A colleague of MaryEllen’s spoke the next day at the conference and shared how she’s been using this work to help kids work through difficult situations at her school.  She uses the braid to help the child calm down, get regulated and explain what happened to get them so upset.  The child and therapist can then problem solve, finish the “story” in a new way, and then take the actions to remedy the situation – brilliant!

I’m really enjoying this new tool – I’m seeing that my students are getting it.  They are so drawn to the braid tactilely and I can see the light in their eyes when they realize that there’s a visual cue there for all the questions they get peppered with when trying to tell a story.  It really helps them hold language in their hands – instead of an invisible swoosh of words in the wind, flying up and around everyone’s heads.  There’s nothing “ho-hum” about this technique!

You can learn more about this awesome teaching tool on the MindWing website.

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It’s developmentally appropriate for kids to go through the phase of wanting no help with anything, wanting to have control of the objects they’re interested in, and wanting complete independence. But for kids who struggle with verbal expression, this can be a very frustrating time. It can result in less functional behaviors such as grabbing, running away, screaming, hitting, etc. These behaviors often happen because the child has no other way to tell you, “I want to do it on my own! I can do it all by myself!”

I mentioned using Mercer Mayer’s Little Critter books in a previous blog but I can’t say enough about them. I wanted to share an idea I had recently that was very successful with one of my kids. This child is at the point where she’s really wanting to assert herself but does not always have the verbal language to do so.  She loves books and we have read Little Critter stories together in previous sessions.

Mercer Mayer’s book All By Myself allows for lots of practice of this very useful phrase. Its repetitive story line provides predictability so the child can join in reading the story with you. It also presents situations that your child is likely familiar with such as brushing teeth, putting on pajamas, and going to bed. While reading this book with my student I realized she was feeling very empowered by saying she could do these things all by herself . This is a child who desperately needs to feel empowered and I didn’t want the activity to come to an end so I had an idea: we’d make our own “I can do it all by myself” book. We got out paper and markers and drew a picture of the child as well as her name on the cover. I started with the first few ideas in hopes that once she got the idea she would contribute some of her own. I wrote, ” I can put on my shoes all by myself.” I drew another picture of the child and encouraged her to contribute by telling me what color she wanted her shirt to be, whether she wanted pants or a skirt on in the picture, whether she wanted her hair down or in pigtails. After suggesting two ideas and creating the pictures together, she suggested some of her own. It became an excellent exercise in expressive language as she told me that she could pick out new pajamas “all by herself” and that they should have cookies on them in the picture. Later on in the session I overheard her in the bathroom saying, “I can go potty all by myself!” (This was not even an idea we had put in the book!)

This activity could be adapted for many different levels. For a child who needs less support they could create all the ideas themselves, and draw the pictures as well. They could make a plan before doing the actual pages to encourage organization of ideas and language.

I hope this is a helpful activity to try with a child you know. If you do have a chance to try it, let us know how it went!

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“My five-and-a-half year old son is on the autism spectrum and is hyperlexic. I’m really struggling to figure out how to engage him in conversation – even the briefest of exchanges – where I initiate the topic rather than him.

I try to keep my language simple and concrete such as: “Tell me one activity you did today at school.” But more often than not, he will not answer, walk away, or say something – often a random or scripted line – to change the subject. It’s even more difficult when I want to get him to revisit a difficult event and process it in a moment of calm.

This is especially puzzling to me given his huge leaps in language over the past year or so. When he’s initiating conversation, he can be incredibly chatty! He is doing well in a regular ed Kindergarten classroom and not relying heavily on his aide to follow directions and participate in activities, so it seems he’s not having problems tuning in and speaking up in class. I suspect that he is struggling with an auditory processing difficulty, but it seems extremely contextual.

Any suggestions for helping my son tune in to conversation, even when the topic isn’t superheroes or Pixar movies?”

– Christa Dahlstrom, who writes about life with her son at Hyperlexicon


It’s always less fun to talk about things you don’t necessarily enjoy talking about. We all have topics in which we feel more comfortable: things we’re interested in, things we’re knowledgeable about, or things of particular importance to our lives. For children on the autistic spectrum, the task of discussing things that aren’t of personal interest can be not only less enjoyable, but also extremely challenging. This is because communication is often characterized by difficulty with perspective taking, reading social cues (both verbal and nonverbal), and formulating appropriate questions and responses. Some ideas for helping engage your child in conversation about something that’s not on the top of their list:

  • Have a “conversation jar.” Have everyone write down a topic or two and put it in the jar. Take turns drawing conversation starters at dinner, or afterschool, or before bed. This way the child will know that while it’s okay to talk about what they’d like to; it’s also part of the deal to talk about what others would like to. Make some (flexible) guidelines about how long you can discuss each topic. It might help to write the rules down in case your child needs a cue to move on. You can say something like, “Okay, let’s look at our guidelines; did we all ask one question about the topic?” Keeping them as guidelines rather than rules will help to increase flexibility (you don’t want to shut down a fabulous conversation simply because it’s the “rule”).
  • Keep a list of questions on the fridge, or somewhere they can be easily seen. Sometimes difficulty discussing unfamiliar topics simply comes down to not knowing what to say. Play a game where you and your child take turns asking questions from the list. Questions can range from, “Did anything make you laugh today?” to, “What do you think about ____?” or “What would you like to do tonight?” To make it a game you might have a reward, a marble jar for example, that you put a marble into every time someone asks a question from the list. Have a mini-competition while you’re getting ready for dinner or while you’re eating breakfast to see how many marbles you can get as a family team. There could be a tangible reward for when the jar is filled up to a certain point- maybe a trip to the movies or other special activity. In our groups the idea of a pizza party is very motivating and could easily be adapted for a Friday night at home.
  • To increase awareness that individuals have different things on their minds, make a simple chart that shows what family members have going on. For example, you might use a white board with a small area designated for each person. Encourage everyone to jot something down that’s of importance to them: a math test, what to make for dinner, a friend who’s not feeling well, etc. This can also be used in coordination with the list of questions; fill in the blank formats such as, “How did the ____ go today?” might be especially helpful.
  • Michelle Garcia Winner, an excellent source for information and ideas regarding social thinking and building social interaction skills, suggests using small play-doh balls to keep track of conversational turns. Every time someone responds appropriately or asks a questions about the designated topic, a ball is put into a bowl. This is very motivating for children because it’s exciting to see the pile growing bigger and bigger. You can use any items for this activity (pennies, cheerios, buttons).

Hopefully some of these ideas will work for increasing the range of conversation topics with your favorite child. If you have any additional ideas or would like to share something that’s worked for you, please leave a comment and let us know!

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I get lots of questions from parents about how to work on improving their child’s use of personal pronouns. It’s not unusual for children on the autistic spectrum to demonstrate what’s referred to as pronoun confusion or pronoun reversal. Since this is something that we work on a lot of Communication Therapy, I thought I would share some ideas that can be used to work on this skill at home:

  • Use visuals. Keep them posted around the house so you can easily reference them when needed. The visual to facilitate use of the pronoun “I” usually consists of an individual gesturing to himself or herself, paired with the written “I”.
  • Read Mercer Mayer’s “Little Critter” books with your child. These books are written in first person and consist of simple sentences of a repetitive nature. The stories are simple and often label emotions clearly. The pictures are not overwhelming and have a few reoccurring characters that children usually enjoy looking for on each page, which can also be used to model pronouns. For example, take turns finding the spider or cricket on each page and model self talk while you do so: “Okay, it’s my turn. I’m looking for the spider…I found him!”
  • Draw self portraits along with your child. These can be as simple as drawing stick figures and will allow for lots of clear modeling. Choose a part to draw and describe what you’re doing: “I’m drawing my hair. I have brown hair.” Gesture to yourself as you emphasize the word I. Repeat similar, simple sentences with each thing you draw (eyes, nose, legs, feet, etc.). If your child is confused by the concept of drawing themselves- they may want to draw you, as you’re doing- try having a picture of each of you to look at while you draw. This will help make it clear that you are each drawing yourselves.
  • Make a book for your child. You can use pictures of things they’ve done, places you’ve visited, pictures of friends and family members, or just things they enjoy. Narrate the book so it’s written from your child’s perspective. Again, keep the language simple and emphasize use of personal pronouns. It’s okay it if sounds repetitive; we learn from repetition.

If you have a chance to try any of the suggestions, please share and let us know how it worked for you! If you find ways to expand on ideas or come up with any new ones, please share those too!

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Charlotte hiking with her dress

I am somewhat horrified to realize that two months have passed since I promised you Part 3 of the “Transitions and Emotional Processing” series I began last summer, but I see that Part 2 was posted the week before school started.  I can now safely say that it takes me two full months to get myself and my family into the school routine before I can get back on track!

If you didn’t read Part 1 and Part 2 (or need a refresher on them), I recommend going back to read those posts before reading this conclusion.  As promised I can give you some follow-up information about how the suggestions I gave goodfountain in those first two posts worked out for her daughter Charlotte.

The day after I gave her my recommendations, I received a copy of the heart-warming photo above, attached to the following email:

We went to a nature preserve today to walk one of the trails.

When it was time to get dressed, I started talking to Charlotte about how this was a place that was for shorts and tennies, not dresses and slippers.

She said, “Can I take it with me?”

And with the memory of your email in my head, I said, “Sure! You can take it!”

She went and found her backpack and packed her dress, her shoes and her necklace in it and carried it the whole time.

Not even a single whine about getting dressed.

The following week, I checked in with goodfountain again about how things were going and received more information:

What I am seeing is that I have to basically use ALL of these strategies and rotate among them. Carrying the dress in the backpack worked a couple of times. Referencing the little card with things to do when she feels angry has worked a few times. I haven’t had a chance to do any big feelings discussion, but I did make a list of where we can and can’t wear the dress. That helped some, for a couple of days, along with not ignoring the dress issue. I just bring it up right away and we tackle it head-on.

Another thing that has helped is giving her some good motivation. The other day I got no complaints from her when we went to return the guinea pig to school because I let her ride in the back next to the cage (I folded half the third row down and put cage there). She changed out of her dress right away.

It seems that the best thing is having an arsenal of things to try while we weather out the “storm” of these passing phases. She’s not going to be obsessed with a Belle dress forever, but she’ll move on to something else. And I’ll adapt the strategies. And eventually it will all sink in.  Having a variety of different things to try with her has made getting through the difficulties a lot easier.

This is an excellent point.  It is so helpful for caregivers, teachers, and therapists to have that “arsenal” of strategies to try when things get challenging.  No one strategy will work every time – we need to be on our toes and think flexibly in the moment.

I’m curious: what other strategies have you tried in a situation like this?

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I had the privilege of attending a conference called “Asperger Syndrome and Adolescence: Building Skills for the Real World” hosted by The Gray Center in Grand Rapids, Michigan last week. It consisted of two speakers.  The first, Talmer Shockley, was an adult diagnosed with Asperger’s who spoke openly and honestly about his personal experiences.  He offered insight into all the challenges that present themselves to him on a daily basis. The second speaker was Teresa Bolick, Ph. D., who spoke about strategies to help individuals with Asperger Syndrome better understand the social world around them.  I would recommend that anyone who gets a chance to hear Dr. Bolick speak should do so. She was an entertaining and thoughtful presenter with many suggestions and ideas for intervention. Following are a few highlights from her presentation:

  • The concept of “Social Capitol” is very important when looking at what behaviors are acceptable and what behaviors are unacceptable. Kids with social capitol have a reputation within a social network. There is a sense of trust and reciprocity that has been established over time and allows for forgiveness of social mistakes (which none of us are exempt from making). The example Dr. Bolick provided explained it quite well: when the cute 7th grader who everyone has a crush on puts a pea up his nose, it’s funny. When a “quirky” kid puts a pea up his (or her) nose, it’s weird. Social capitol is gained over time and kids with Asperger’s need help building it. Learning how to do some of the following will help: make a good impression, listen to others and remember what they say, get involved with other people, contribute, be a good sport.
  • Using and teaching “low and slow.” When agitation starts to increase it’s important to remember to bring everything down. We often don’t think of ourselves as threatening but the simple fact that we’re bigger than most of the kids we work with automatically puts us in that position. If a child is in distress or quickly moving in that direction, how you approach them will greatly impact the situation. Here are some things to remember: Low: lower your body to the child’s level, lower the pitch and volume of your voice, lower the complexity of your language and decrease questions. Slow: slow down your heart rate by taking deep breaths, slow your speech and pause between sentences, slow your movements, slow down your agenda.
  • The idea of creating an “ACCEPTS” book to help with self regulation. Each page focuses on a different positive theme and it can be brought out when a child needs a boost. The sections are as follows: A = Activities (what makes you smile?), C = Contributing (how did you help someone?), C = Comparisons (how far have you come?), E = Emotions (a collage of positive feelings), P = Pushing Away (note some worries that can be pushed away), T = Thoughts (self-affirming), S = Sensations (memories of calming/regulating sensory input).  Kids can cut out pictures from magazines, use photographs, or anything else they might want to include on the pages.
  • Suggesting that social stories should be used to reflect successes as well as challenges. They’re a great tool for positive reinforcement and won’t get the reputation of only coming out when things aren’t going well.
  • Make Beliefs Comix:  You can choose your own character, facial expression, body positions and speech bubbles on this website.  A great resource!
  • Charting and visuals can make a huge difference. It takes things that are intuitive to most of us and presents them in an analytical way. This can make them much easier to approach and process for people with social cognitive deficits.  The charts don’t have to be fancy, it often just helps to see things categorized and written out (for example, a table defining what topics are appropriate to discuss in what situations).

These highlights are just a sample of the information that was presented but they were some of the things that stood out to me. I hope you’ll find them useful!

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Some of you may already know about the wonderful blog Autism Games by Tahirih Bushey, SLP, but in case you don’t, we’d like to send you on over to check it out!  There are some posts that are particularly relevant to many of our clients just this week – for example, “Being a Translater for a Child with ASD“, “The Ducks Go Marching Two By Two“, and “Eric and I Look for Mommy“.  There is also a fabulous piece that was posted on March 9 that is untitled and I was unable to link to it, but it’s a true example of what following a child’s lead in order to get engagement started.

I hope you’ll check out these and some of the other excellent posts!

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