Autism Blog

My child’s repetitive play is driving me nuts – Three things you can do

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By Monique Simpson – Founder and Speech Pathologist

I clearly remember watching my 3 year old daughter Siena playing with her dolls house. Back then she would put each of her little people precisely into bed with their blankets neatly folded before taking them all out to repeat the idea again and again.

Siena does not have ASD but she used to be quite an anxious child. Her need for repetitive play and predictably was merely a reflection on her internal world and needing to control her outside world. She felt comfortable, safe and motivated by playing in this way especially since so many other aspects of her day were not as black and white.

Take this example and then multiply it by hundreds for children diagnosed on the autism spectrum. There is SOOO much about life that does not make sense to them and this will certainly be reflected in their play on lots of different levels.

Many of the families that I treat understandably can be driven nuts by the repetitiveness of their children’s play because at times it can be an in your face reminder of your child’s challenges and basically because it can get boring!

There are so many things to consider when building the variety in play of children diagnosed on the autism spectrum. I have tried to simplify this into three key steps:
Read more …

Please help me improve my child’s attention span!

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By Monique Simpson – Founder and Speech Pathologist

A child with autism may have an unflinching ability to be able to maintain attention on a task that is motivating to them, like chatting about fire engines, repetitively turning taps on or off or perhaps lining up their favourite Thomas the Tank engines. However when asked to attend to an activity that doesn’t ‘tickle their fancy’, like labelling or matching some picture cards or building something with blocks, their attention may be very fleeting.

A study carried out by Garretson, Fein and Waterhouse in 1990 suggested that;

autistic children’s difficulties in sustaining attention on imposed tasks may be attributable partly to a developmental delay and partly to the motivational contingencies of a task rather than to a primary impairment in the ability to sustain attention.

I couldn’t agree more! Working with a child’s motivations and respecting and building upon their ideas are valuable tips to remember when improving attention span.

From my clinical experience here are three other critical points you should consider when working on increasing attention span: Read more …

Blowing can help relax kids on the Autism Spectrum!

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Maintaining a calm and organised state of arousal is often at the forefront of our minds when treating children on the spectrum.

Why?…. because we know that this leads to more successful interaction and learning opportunities. There is so much about life that does not make sense for these kids and as a result anxiety can certainly be a constant challenge.

There are heaps of different strategies we can incorporate to achieve a greater calm. One of the things that I often try and implement into my therapy to achieve this is ‘blowing’. Since these kids are often spending significant periods of their day in ‘survival mode’ it means that their breath can be really quite shallow. Therefore the types of blowing activities you might want to incorporate are those that encourage deeper diaphragmatic breathing. My favourite pieces of equipment to achieve this are: Read more …

Improving Speech and Language in Children with Autism using Video Modeling

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Hi everyone,

I have to say I’m finding video to be a great way of explaining all of the concepts and techniques that I have to share with you and also for bringing to life many of the examples that will help with applying these tips to your own situation. So I hope you’re enjoying them too!

This week’s tip focuses on how you can improve your child’s articulation and speech clarity skills using a technique called Video Modeling. There are many ways to improve articulation, but Video Modeling is one technique that I’ve found to be very effective over the years with the children I treat.

So anyway, I created a quick, step-by-step guide to show you exactly how you can use Video modeling to help your child’s articulation and speech development. So if your child is struggling with this then I think you’re going to find this video tip particularly helpful.

It goes for about 10 minutes.

P.S: Please share any thoughts or stories you may have about this video by leaving your comments in the box provided below.

Part 2 – Why ‘Play’ is SO Important for Children With Autism

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Last week I promised to do Part 2 of Why Play is SO Important for Children with Autism. (If you missed Part 1 you can find it here).

But the thing is, we decided to try video blogging, which I’m really excited about! However it took us much longer than expected to get Part 2 ready.

So anyway, I’m sorry it’s late, but here it is as promised…

Part 2 in shiny new video format!

The first video below looks at the importance of stage 3 of play development – Imaginary Play, while the second video gives you some great tips on how to use Imaginary Play to help your child (or those children that you treat).

Stage 3 – What is Imaginary Play? (18 min)

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Part 1 – Why ‘Play’ is SO Important for Children with Autism

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One thing that you need to understand is how important PLAY is for the thinking, language, emotional, problem solving and creative skills development of children with autism. So many people underestimate the importance of PLAY.

Ok. So how does play develop and what should your child be able to do in play?

Stage 1

From birth to 18 months of life, much of your child’s play will revolve around Sensory Play.

This means feeling different textures, learning about how their body feels when it is moved in different ways, listening to interesting noises like birds tweeting, the clock ticking and how different people’s voices sound different and can make interesting noises etc, etc. Their sensory play will continue to develop and become more complex during the first 18 months. Read more …

Therapy needs to fit in with your family life

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Hi all,

Last week I attended the Asia Pacific Autism Conference and one of the big take-home messages (which I am always going on about) was “how important it is to fit the therapy to the child rather than the child to the therapy”. This is incredibly important and also a great way of distinguishing good quality therapy from more generic approaches that may not be effective, or sustainable.

As you may know, I strongly believe that every child’s intervention plan needs to take into consideration the unique and individual differences of the child with autism. But what is equally important and often overlooked, is that the intervention must also take into consideration the values, circumstances, and lifestyle of the FAMILY for it to be most effective and sustainable. Read more …

If you want more language you need to expand your child’s world

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One of the main autism symptoms or characteristics of children with autism is their language delays and slower speech development.

The ability of a child with autism to talk well is not just dependent upon having the motor skills to be able to shape sounds into words and words into sentences. But more importantly the child needs to have thoughts, ideas and feelings that they want to ‘share’ and communicate with others.

The reason that I want to talk to you about this today is because I had a session with a little girl named Sasha on the weekend. She is a delightful little girl who has many of the pre-verbal skills necessary to be able to talk and in fact she has already started to appropriately use some important words in her life e.g. more, go, biscuit… which is a wonderful start.

However it is very obvious that the area of development that is going to get in the way of Sasha’s language and speech development is going to be her ‘limited interests’ in her life. Read more …

Is Your Child’s Therapy Team Really Working Together?

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Often organisations and professionals that work with your child with autism may pride themselves on the fact that they work collaboratively and holistically with the other service providers in your child’s team.

Though I must admit that this statement confuses me a little and I will tell you why…

I think that when most professionals say this they mean that they ‘discuss’ their therapy goals with the other professionals or autism working togethertherapists who are working with your child.

This might sound ideal but unless all the team members are actually implementing the treatment goals in the SAME way, the child’s program will not be consistent and can often be very confusing for the child.

What you need to keep consistent in your child’s program is the ‘therapy style’ or the way that you and your therapists interact with your child when you are working on these goals. Read more …

A Quickie but a Goodie!

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Howdy all,

This week’s tip as the subject says is a quickie, but a goodie 😉

Have you ever noticed that after your child has been jumping on the trampoline, swimming, swinging, playing chasings or basically just moving around that they are a lot more talkative and chatty, or if your child is not talking yet that they are playing around with their vocalisations more?

Well there is a reason for this…

Movement stimulates the language areas of the brain. Read more …