Posts Tagged ‘social skills’

Best autism articles of 2012: Vaccines, environmental causes, social skills and play dates

January 6, 2013
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Activities for play dates include books, sports equipment and games. Photo by Mike Frandsen.

Autism news in 2012 once again centered on the dramatic increase in autism rates. In March, the Centers for Disease Control estimated that one in 88 children has autism, up 78 percent from 2002.

Scientists increasingly learned through research that autism is largely caused by environmental and man-made factors, a departure from the view held years ago that autism’s causes were nearly all genetic.

Meanwhile, educational and therapeutic interventions continued to evolve, with a strong emphasis on play skills as a way to improve social and life skills for children on the spectrum.

Links and excerpts from 10 autism articles from 2012 are below.

Autism advocates, NIH, CDC testify to Congress about research, autism increase

Autism advocates and government officials testified in front of a congressional committee Thursday about the federal response to the dramatic increase in autism diagnoses in recent years.

One in every 88 babies born in the U.S. will develop autism, according to the Centers for Disease Control, a 23 percent increase since 2009 and a 78 percent increase since 2007. In the 1960s, autism was believed to affect one in 10,000 children in the U.S.

Members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee questioned representatives of the National Institutes of Health and CDC about research priorities and subsequent results. A second panel of autism advocates testified about concerns ranging from research to services for people with autism. See the video here.

Numerous congressmen on the committee harshly criticized the NIH and CDC for a lack of effective research results, while agency officials at times struggled to come up with answers. The safety of vaccines was discussed, an issue that NIH and CDC insists is not linked to the rise in autism. However, many parents still steadfastly believe vaccines are one of the causes of the disorder. Members of the House committee recounted instances in which parents told them of children developmentally regressing immediately after being subjected to vaccines.

To read excerpts from the articles on Examiner.com, click here.

Play date activities for kids with autism

November 2, 2011

Here’s another of my articles from Examiner.com. It seems lately I’ve been doing a lot on play dates for kids with autism. The other ones are more newsy, involving environmental causes, etc.

Anyway, this is just a sample list of some activities to do to improve social skills – reading, exercises, games, music, imaginary play, etc.

To read the article on Examiner.com, click here.

Play, puppets can help kids with autism learn social skills, understand concepts

September 18, 2011

Imaginative play can help children with autism and other disabilities understand concepts and relate information into meaningful contexts.

Role play and playing with puppets can facilitate creativity and spontaneity in kids on the autism spectrum.  By enabling students to take part in scenarios that help them understand how the world works, imaginative and symbolic play can help students who think in concrete terms understand abstract concepts and relationships.

Because children with autism often have a difficult time learning concepts and ideas, it is believed that acting out situations using puppets, toys, and other three-dimensional objects can lead to greater spontaneity, less scripting, and ultimately a more meaningful social experience.  It is believed that reciprocal social interactions and the use of spontaneous, meaningful language can also be enhanced through the use of imaginative and symbolic play.

To read the rest of my article on examiner.com, click here.

Play date activities for children with autism spectrum disorders

January 28, 2011

Participating in play dates can help children with autism gain invaluable social skills.  The best way for children on the autism spectrum to learn how to manage their emotions and make friends is to practice those skills over and over with their peers.

A sample list of play date activities designed to improve social-emotional, play, cognitive, and motor skills is below.  The description of ideas is just a guide.  The list of potential games, sports, and other activities is endless.  The list below includes activities that in some cases require a minimum level of education and communication.

Activities should be customized to the interests and needs of students.  A list of ten or so major activities can be given to kids who should have some leeway to take turns choosing activities.  In a two-hour play date, usually about six activities can be accomplished.

To read the rest of my article on Examiner.com, click here.

 

15 articles from 2010 every parent of a child with an autism spectrum disorder should read

January 15, 2011

One of the major educational and therapeutic trends in autism in 2010 was an increase in meaningful, developmental autism therapies that incorporate social, emotional and cognitive skills to enhance traditional behavioral methods.

On the research front, scientists increasingly recognized and acknowledged that autism is largely environmental and not solely genetic.

And while devastating tragedies occurred, out of those heartbreaks came greater awareness and safety measures that will ultimately save the lives of vulnerable children.

Examiner.com‘s Mike Frandsen takes a look back at some of the articles from 2010 that reflected critical issues in the world of autism.

Mason Alert would help prevent wandering, drowning deaths of kids with autism

Mason Alert to be combined with Take Me Home program to prevent autism wandering

Dr. Stanley Greenspan dies, founded Floortime and developmental approaches to autism therapy

Teaching, coaching sports, playing with children with autism: rewarding, but also a whole lot of fun

Play dates for kids with autism can enhance social skills, emotional awareness, and learning

Using humor, puppets in play therapy can enhance social, communication skills for kids with autism

Understanding and managing emotions are important life and social skills for children with autism

Sports and exercise for children with autism can improve social and cognitive skills

Top 10 mistakes, lessons learned from therapy programs for children with autism spectrum disorders

Landrigan calls for more research into pesticides, toxic chemicals, environmental causes of autism

Autism advocate Lyn Redwood discusses mercury vaccine controversy, chelation, treatment and recovery

Interview with Dan Olmsted, Mark Blaxill: ‘Age of Autism-Mercury, Medicine, and a Manmade Epidemic’

Congress: CDC misled public about Washington, D.C. lead in water crisis, lead was toxic for some

Facilitated Communication (FC) enables non-verbal people on autism spectrum to communicate by typing

HHS, NIH and other federal agencies should hire more employees with autism and other disabilities

For the rest of the article on Examiner.com, click here.

Read books with children with autism during play dates

December 4, 2010

One of the best activities to do with children with autism during play dates is to read books, as long as it’s done in an engaging, interactive way.  At a recent play date I facilitated, I brought a stack of books from my collection – books that I thought would be most likely to be big hits.  Then I let the kids choose which ones they were going to read.  To my surprise, they chose “The Cat in the Hat” by Dr. Seuss and “Where the Wild Things Are” by Maurice Sendak, which were my favorite books when I was very young.  It turned out great.  To see the whole list of books that I brought (those about emotions, social skills, humor, etc.),  ones that didn’t make the cut, plus links to other articles about books for children with autism, click here for my article on Examiner.com.

Teaching kids with autism is not only rewarding, but also tons of fun

September 10, 2010

Helping children with autism learn social skills is fun for everybody involved.

I just wrote an column on Examiner.com about how people often react to what I do for a living with a strange mixture of pity and admiration. They patronize me by telling me what I do is great, but they don’t understand that it’s more than that — it’s simply a lot of fun.

I work with kids with autism, to improve their skills in academics, social skills, and sports.  As I point out in the article, it’s not without challenges.  I’ve been hit, scratched, and had my shirt grabbed so hard it tore in half.  But the great moments outweigh all that, and I’ve got enough memories to last a lifetime, and at least enough for a book.

The main point of the article is that it’s a lot more than rewarding to work with these kids.  It’s a huge amount of fun and I look forward to every session.

How could you not like teaching kids how to read, do math, make friends, play sports, and have fun?  How could you not love jumping on the trampoline, taking them swimming, or taking them sledding?  How could you not like running a play date for kids whose social skills don’t come naturally?

If I seem a little bitter in the article, it’s because there are a lot of women out there who seem to value someone who works in a boring but successful career over someone who would be a great father (not to mention a great husband).  But not everyone has their values upside down.

In “Authentic Happiness,” Martin Seligman writes that when we do things that are both kind and fun, when actions are meaningful, those acts result in true happiness.

Understanding and managing emotions are important life and social skills for children with autism

August 10, 2010

Children with autism are often notoriously poor at identifying, understanding, expressing, and handling their emotions. Meltdowns and tantrums can be common, and the ability to recover from these outbursts can be elusive. Emotion coaching is therefore a crucial component of any autism therapy program.

Helping children with autism deal with feelings should be accomplished not only during play dates and social skills practice, but also during more traditional cognitive and academic behavioral teaching. In fact, an argument can be made that the ability to handle emotions is more important than the ability to excel academically.

Dr. Stanley Greenspan, who emphasized the importance of learning emotions and social skills for children with autism, discussed the need to teach those skills together with academics in “Engaging Autism.”

To read the rest of my article on Examiner.com, click here.

Play dates for kids with autism can enhance social skills, emotional awareness, and learning

April 20, 2010

Play dates are invaluable in helping children with autism learn the social skills that are so necessary to be happy and successful in life. Social skills, which come naturally to most typical children, are often severely delayed in kids on the autism spectrum.

Integrating communication skills (both verbal and non-verbal), emotional awareness, and sensory processing into play dates can make the cognitive work that autistic children do more efficient. Sports, exercise, and work on motor skills can also make learning more effective. Children can learn important life skills during play dates such as taking turns, sharing, and problem solving.

To see my full article at examiner.com, click here.

Sports and exercise for children with autism can improve social and cognitive skills

April 13, 2010

Four years ago, autistic teenager Jason McElwain became an overnight sensation by scoring 20 points in four minutes of action in a high school basketball game.

While many children with autism may never reach similar athletic heights, McElwain and others like him give children and parents hope. Perhaps the most significant part of the story was the acceptance that “J-Mac” received from his peers.

Whether children who have autism are high functioning like McElwain or are less advanced, playing sports can improve several aspects of their lives.

See the rest of my article on examiner.com.


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