Communication can be tough. As we all know, many children diagnosed with autism have a more difficult time developing the language skills they need at first. Nonverbal communication, such as eye contact, hand gestures and facial expressions, can especially be a challenge. While many children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) develop communication skills differently and more slowly than their neurotypical peers, research indicates professional early intervention along with parental involvement can make a significant impact on a child’s development.
Since communication is key to growth, we sought ways we can work together to help ASD children and their families communicate better. In addition to highly-recommended forms of therapy, such as applied behavior analysis (ABA), speech and occupational therapy, there are small steps you as a family can take to help facilitate improved communication.
First — it’s time to play! We have been closely following the success of LEGO®-Based Therapy as reports have revealed this toy is a favorite among children on the spectrum and has led to the popularity of LEGO®-based clubs. In an effort to learn more, we reached out to Amy Wagenfeld, PhD, OTR/L, SCEM, Research Coordinator at the Els Center of Excellence, to provide an article for us on what makes LEGO® bricks an applicable intervention for therapists as well as an activity for groups. In her piece, LEGO® Therapy: How to Build Connections with Autism One Brick at a Time, Wagenfeld explains the fundamentals, the process and the valuable social connections that can be made.
We are also pleased to provide the advice of Ayodeji Oyewale, a lecturer at Nash College, Bromley, UK who believes teaching a person on the spectrum to shop can aid the development of excellent social skills. Be sure to check out his guidance in Ways to Develop Social Skills and Independence at the Store as he discusses important tasks such as: making choices, money matching, exchange task, the task of waiting and road safety.
Be sure to also review our articles on the new research surrounding integrated therapy and primary tools for communicative play with your child.
In addition to professional guidance from noted medical professionals, coaches and occupational therapists, we always love to hear from our readers, the moms and dads who share their journeys. Lindsay Wieand, for example, the mom of a four-year-old boy diagnosed with autism, has provided us with a piece in which she describes how she was able to help her son communicate through the creation of simple sensory boxes. Wieand provides multiple ideas for developing box themes and gathering materials — there is likely a box or two you can create with someone special.
Journaling has long been revered as a way to express personal feelings and document important life moments, however, one mom discovered daily journaling also increased vital communication with her autistic son. In her piece, How Journaling with My ASD Son Created a Special Life Connection, Vickie C. describes the special connection and improved communication skills she and her child created through the simple use of a daily journal several years ago. It’s a simple and cost-effective idea that could lead to increased communication and a lifelong family connection.
We are also happy to share the success story of Sarah Patten in The Need to Grow – Advice on Changing your ASD Child’s Relationship with Food. Author of What to Feed an Asperger, Patten describes the successful gardening journey she and her teen son went on that has led to his acceptance of many vegetables. Her ideas are sure to motivate you to start your own garden.
Speaking of inspiration, be sure to check out our articles which highlight impressive women diligently working to change the daily lives of people with autism. For example, Karen Bowersox, a grandmother of a special needs child, designs, develops and markets a special clothing line to meet the needs of individuals with disabilities and their families. We also have an article by inventor Leslie Hanes, present owner of Discovery Trekking Outfitters, whose mission is to make swimming accessible to everyone through her launch of specially-made discreet swim diapers. We also want to introduce you to Susan Sullivan who shares information about a unique nonprofit known as PreLOVED Toys, Inc. a sustainable green business that creates employment for people with autism and other challenges.
Here’s to finding new ways to communicate with the people we love.
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Amy KD Tobik
Issue 39 features:
- LEGO® Therapy: How to Build Connections with Autism – One Brick at a Time by Amy Wagenfeld, PhD, OTR/L, SCEM
- The Need to Grow – Advice on Changing your ASD Child’s Relationship with Food by Sarah Patten
- Going Green while Creating Jobs for People on the Spectrum by Susan Sullivan
- The Value of Homeschooling Your Child with Autism Now by Teri Brogan, MS.Ed
- Grandmother Creates Special Needs Clothing Line to Make Dressing Easier by Karen Bowersox
- Excellent Ways to Develop Social Skills and Independence at the Store by Ayodeji Oyewale
- The New Els Center of Excellence Opens its Doors to the Autism Community – Press release
- Pioneering Mom Invents Discreet Swim Diaper for People of All Ages – Press release
- Thrive in Chaos – Experiencing Joy and Happiness…WHILE You Serve Those With Special Needs by Kyle Jetzel
- 5 Primary Tools for Communicative Play with Your Special Needs Child by Maureen Marshall
- New Autism Research Reveals Improved Processing When Therapies Integrated by Debo’rah Merritt, PhD, LPC, ABA Post-Graduate Certificate
- Parenting A Child With Special Needs: The Good Bad and the Ugly by Mari Nosal, M.Ed. CECE
- How Journaling with My ASD Son Created a Special Life Connection by Vickie C.
- Simple Sensory Boxes You Can Make to Teach Your Autistic Child Skills by Lindsay Wieand
- How One Determined Family Helped Nonverbal Son Communicate At Last by Natali McKee
- A Quick Look at Six Excellent ASD Literary Finds by Amy KD Tobik
- A Life-long Dream for My Amazing Son on the Spectrum by Kimberlee McCafferty
- 3 Simple Ways to Help Your ASD Child Prepare for Costume Days by Sarah Kupferschmidt, MA, BCBA
- HELP: I Need Communication Advice for Autistic Grandson by Angelina M., MS, BCBA, MFTI
- How to Get My Child to Listen – Parenting 101 by Southeast Psych
- How Can I Ensure My Adult Special Needs Daughter Can Make the Right Decisions? by Ryan F. Platt, MBA, ChFC, ChSNC
- Healthy and Versatile Egg Wraps by The Autism Food Club