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Autism, Language Therapy, Little Friends

Using First Person Video Modeling as a Tool to Teach Children on the Autism Spectrum How to Play with Toys

We know that children on the Autism spectrum have deficits in theory of mind, perspective taking, generalization, and play skills. Research is coming out that indicates to us not only is video modeling helpful for teaching these children social skills and play skills, but that first person point of views are particularly important.

 

To this end, I have created a series on YouTube to help in this area. You can find the playlist HERE.

 

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At the time of this blog post, videos include modeling with a ring stacker, Mr. Potato Headjack-in-the-box, and farm animal pop-blocs. You can click the name of any of these toys to get a closer look if you think your kid might enjoy them. Below are some direct links to the videos:

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If you are interested in making your own video models, there are a few key factors to consider:

  • restricted display (fewer visual distractions)
  • repetitive presentation
  • first person point of view

 

You can click here, here, and here for some more information on the evidence base for video modeling as a teaching tool.

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Remember that play is a JOB for our children. They may seem disinterested in toys or uninterested in how to play with them functionally. It is our job as therapists, parents, and educators to teach them.

Baby steps.

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Maybe on day one they touch the toy for a second. Day two they watch you play with it. Day three they tolerate hand-over-hand to stack one block or push one button. Day four they stack one block in imitation.
This is an example of the incremental changes we are looking for. BABY. STEPS. Don’t give up after the first minutes, days, weeks, or even months.

It’s time well spent.

Not only does playing with toys develop fine motor skills, it is the foundation for language. Play skills are VITAL to social interaction, interaction with one’s environment, and the ability to act out in play that which may occur in the real world. I recently saw a quote from Dr. Karyn Purvis that reads,

“Scientists have recently determined that it takes approximately 400 repetitions to create a new synapse in the brain- unless it is done with play, in which case, it takes between 10-20 repetitions.”

This quote may not be directly applicable to our kids with ASD but it does speak to the power and importance of play.

 

If you know a child who struggles with appropriate play skills, please also consider seeking additional referrals-

Occupational therapists are invaluable to the team. Fine motor abilities play an enormous part of what a child is able or willing to play with. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… we’re all in this together!

You may find milestones for play skills from the CDC’s website. The CDC is a wealth of information!

Best of luck to you! There’s a reason the Autism symbol is a puzzle. There is no “one way” to help these kids. I hope these videos can be useful tools but they are not a guarantee- nothing is! Just don’t give up until you find your answers!

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Please Note: As an Amazon Influencer, I may earn from qualifying purchases. I will only ever share items that I believe in whole-heartedly.
Articulation Therapy, Language Therapy, Little Friends, Toy Reviews and Uses

How to Create and Use Surprise Eggs for an Instant and Engaging Speech Therapy Activity

Photo Sep 17, 8 26 53 PM

 

One of the first toys I put together as a clinical fellow (a copy of something my incredible coworker owns) was a set of surprise eggs. I am not exaggerating when I say the day these little eggs came into my life, my job got easier and my world got happier. I’m talking critter clinic and ball popper levels of GOODNESS here, people. It is instant-therapy and so engaging!

I’m going to walk you through why they are so wonderful to have on-hand, tips on putting together your own set, and how I like to use them. I promise to be brief- we’ve all got stuff to do.

 

WHY THEY ARE AWESOME

Each egg is its own mini activity with a clear beginning and end- which I LOVE. It is enormously helpful for keeping little people’s attention because you can move through it quickly. It also helps reduce behaviors because they soon learn the expectation that the toy is here, and then it’s gone, then another one comes, and that’s just how it is. Even the simple visual of each egg going into an “all done bin” one at a time can be helpful.

Surprise eggs also lend themselves SO EASILY to creating verbal routines (my favorites are below in the “How I Use Them” section). They can also be easily adapted as an activity for infants and preschoolers alike. I have even had some older kids show interest! Depending on what you fill them with, you can use these for just about anyone. Personally, I never change out the objects inside because it would just take too much time, but that would absolutely be an option to adapt them to different goals and age groups.

 

HOW TO MAKE YOUR OWN

Word to the wise- invest in quality eggs. I purchased my first set from Target around Easter time and they have held up beautifully! When I needed more, I tried to find some cheap ones on Amazon- half of them were cracked and the other half didn’t close properly. So be sure to read reviews closely and remember this is an investment- spend the big bucks. If I ever find some reliable ones online I will link them!

You can fill the eggs with  just about anything! My favorites are wind-up toys (like these!) and other interactive toys you can find at places like Michaels and Party City. Things that light up, bounce, spin, and squish are perfect for providing plenty of language opportunities!

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I also store them in a clear tub that latches so it easy for children to request what color they would like next without making it to easy for it to be a free-for-all. I store most of my toys this way.

 

HOW I USE THEM IN THERAPY

  • Verbal Routines: knock knock knock open, shake shake shake open, telling the toys hi/bye as you take them out/in, and (of course) READY SET GO!!
  • Wh Questions – what is it, what is it doing, what color do you want
  • SO MANY VERBS AND ADJECTIVES AND NOUNS!
  • -Gross Motor Imitation- knocking on the egg, shaking the egg, waving hi/bye to the toys
  • -Functional Play- do we know how to make the tiny car drive? or the little dinosaur eat your hair? (weird, but fun)
  • Joint Attention- optimal opportunities for eye contact and social referencing!
  • Bonus OT Tip- a 2 year old child should be able to open these eggs- if not, a referral is warranted!

 

I am so excited for you to try this activity! I truly have used it almost every day since I made my first set during my CFY years ago. If you make your own- tag me in your picture so I can see! I love hearing from you!

Have FUN, Speechy People!

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Please note: As an Amazon Influencer, I may earn from qualifying purchases. I will only ever link items that I believe whole-heartedly in.
For Parents, Little Friends

One Speech Therapist’s Ideas for Giving THE BEST Baby Gifts for Speech, Language, and Feeding Development

I am going to be an aunt! (Again!)

This will be my first niece and my first niece/nephew since beginning my career as an SLP! Lemme tell ya. I. went. to. town. on her baby shower gifts.

I had so much fun shopping for her and wanted to pass along a few gift ideas for those of you about to welcome a new little nugget into the world! Here is what I bought for my sweet niece:

 

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Let’s break it down!

 

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Farm Animals and Bath Toys

Bath time is such a fun way to spend focused time on language. Farm animals are some of my favorite toys for my youngest patients for so many reasons! You can use them to work on vocabulary, colors, verbs, and silly animal sounds. I particularly like animal sounds because they provide such an easy syllable shape (CVCV or consonant-vowel-consonant-vowel) for babies to imitate. They also typically contain early developing phonemes. (A good rule-of-thumb for what speech sounds are easiest to produce- the further forward in your mouth a sound happens, the easier it is to imitate because it’s easier to see! Think: “moomoo” “baabaa”!)

 

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Cause And Effect Toys

Work on early play skills and joint attention with toys similar to this pop-up toy! Anything with a button that teaches the baby “if I do ‘this’, then ‘that’ happens!” Bonus: cause and effect toys are sure to make that kiddo laugh and laugh! It’s always funny when adults pretend to be startled!

 

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Teething Toys

If you read my previous blog post then you know how strongly I feel about babies learning to mouth! The pacifier on the left is unique because it has a bumpy texture to it- which I love for giving baby a variety of sensory input. The necklace in the middle is a stylish way for the baby to have access to a clean teether, even on-the-go. There are so many cute styles of teething jewelry these days! On the right, we have a practice tooth brush. It’s never too early to start practicing so your child doesn’t have an aversion when teeth start coming in.

 

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Food Toys

You can use play food to work on vocabulary, joint attention, and functional play routines. Your baby will love feeding you as you make silly “omnomnom” sounds! You can use foods to work on turn-taking as well and perhaps you can even get some imitation of “mmmmm” or eating sounds.

I chose this particular set of play food because of the variety in texture. Not only will this help baby explore their sensory world but it provides a great opportunity for language! Here we have hard, soft, crinkly, shiny, and so much more!

 

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Books

ALL THE BOOKS! I chose this cute little Curious George book because it was repetitive, has great language opportunities with its touch-and-feel pages, and it’s a board book. Books books books. You really can’t go wrong. A few of my favorites are Brown Bear, Hop on Pop, 5 Little Monkeys, and Are You My Mother. It is so important to our kiddos language development that we read to them from a young age.

 

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Fruit Feeder

I bring these feeders to every baby shower I go to. I love this for safely exploring new flavors from an early age. These are also featured in here my mouthing blog post. It is so important for babies to experience a variety of flavors in the world so that when the time comes to transition to solid foods, they are ready!

 

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An ADORABLE OUTFIT!

This has nothing to do with speech therapy. It’s just precious and 100% necessary.

 

I hope this post gives you some ideas the next time you’re buying a baby gift! The only other items I didn’t buy for my niece that I would also recommend would be some jumbo knob puzzles for fine motor development, a fill-and-spill toy (these target another great early play skill), a munchkin 360 cup (better for oral motor development than a sippy cup), and an amazing parenting book called Parenting With Love and Logic, whose principles have helped me in my own therapy room.

 

Happy shopping and congrats to the expecting families! Such a blessing!

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Please Note: As an Amazon Influencer, I may earn from qualifying purchases. I will only ever promote items that I believe in whole-heartedly.