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Saturday, February 20, 2010

Best Practices Autism

Your child has autism and you have been told overly social skills deficits are to be expected. So what can you do to improve the ability of your child learn how to behave properly, make friends, and get along in the world?

Like me, you may have been told that your child needs to be in a school setting with other children to be socialized. Let's consider for a minute what kind of social skills a child with autism may learn in school.

1. In a school or classroom setting, your child is exposed to both positive and negative socialization. This isn't really debated by any of us who have been in school. The question is whether or not the "good" socialization outweighs the "bad" socialization.

2. There are typically two placements for children with autism when it comes to schools. Each comes with its own drawbacks as far as social skills are concerned.

For those who are lower-functioning, there is the special ed classroom. If your child is placed in a special ed class, they may actually pick up negative behaviors from the other students. Children who have never said a bad word in their lives come home with all sorts of words that the parents know they didn't teach their child. Or maybe a child who wasn't aggressive previously starts imitating the hitting, biting, or screaming of a classmate. That's not what I think most parents are hoping for when they are told to put their child in school to learn social skills.

If your child is higher-functioning, they may be mainstreamed in a regular ed classroom. Will the typical behaviors of their peers be the positive socialization you hoped for? Unfortunately, many times children with autism become an easy target for bullies who cause them physical and emotional harm. Other classmates, who may be nice enough themselves, may still go along with cruel jokes or name calling at the expense of a child with autism just because they don't want to be ostracized from their peers.

Whether it's bullying, teasing, or isolation, children who are "different" and don't possess the same social abilities as their peers often experience great difficulties just trying to survive a day at school. These children often exhibit signs of tremendous stress and anxiety, depression, and some even contemplate suicide.

So are there any alternatives? Families who are concerned about the educational and social well-being of their children often choose to teach them at home. Home-schooling offers a better opportunity for positive socialization while drastically limiting the possibility of negative social experiences. Home-schooled children are not isolated or "unsocialized".

Home-schooling simply provides the opportunity for parents to expose their children to a variety of social situations when they feel their child is ready to handle them. Most communities have home-school groups that offer park days, sports teams, special classes or lessons, as well as informal get-togethers for home-schooled children.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Toys For Children With Autism

Do you have a child in on autism or a physical disability? Do you have need getting toys for them? Would you like to produce toys the can help them learn? This study plans to find you 7 situations to consider, when buying your child amongst a disability toys.

The National Lekotek Center a non profit organization dedicated to making play and learning accessible for children with disabilities has debuted the AblePlayTM Toy rating system and Website. This Website will give lots of information on toys for children with different types of disabilities, for parents and therapists. Things that parents should keep in mind when choosing toys are:

1. Does the toy have multisensory appeal? Does it have lights, sounds, music, or movement? Does the surface have a unusual texture? Many children with disabilities respond to music and things that they can feel that have a lot of texture!

2. Is it easy for a child to use and activate? Will the toy be challenging to the child but not cause frustration?

3. Does the toy give the child opportunities for success?

4. Is the toy safe for all children and is it durable? Can it be washed in a machine or hand washed? Toys that break easily and are not durable may not be appropriate for children with autism or other disabilities.

5. Can the child use the toy to express themselves and be creative?

6. Does the toy have an adapted switch for children with physical disabilities?

7. Will the toy engage the child and allow them to be an active participant.