There can be many benefits to having a service or therapy dog, such as an autism assistance dog, for children with autism. The following article provides information to help you decide if a dog is right for your child with autism.
Language development can be challenging for students with autism and can impact reading comprehension. Using sight word instruction is a great tool for helping children with autism succeed!
So much of a students’ understanding of language development and positive social skill development can come from the experiences students have while reading. Language development and social communication are areas that can be more challenging skillsets to develop for students with autism, thereby affecting their reading comprehension and fluency abilities (Teaching Exceptional Thinkers, n.d.). Sight word instruction provides a tool that can support students with autism as they learn to read by recognizing whole words quickly, rather than sounding them out.
A growing community of inclusive exercise programs promises that fitness can be a source of fun, rather than one of frustration, for Children with Autism.
By choosing activities that will have a greater likelihood of success for your child, by adapting exercise programs for your child’s needs, and by drawing on ways to instill a sense of community, exercise can be fun for your child or teen and not frustrating!
One mother’s tried and true recommendations for helping your child with autism get ready for an early wake up time once school starts.
Are you dreading your "au-some" child's first week back to school because he or she is used to sleeping in now? Are you wondering how they will shift their sleeping habits back to normal? I believe I have an answer to your conundrum...
Julia, the new character on Sesame Street can help all children better understand autism
Sesame Street is a treasured TV show that has educated children worldwide for more than 50 years. It has brought characters like Elmo, Big Bird, Abby, and Cookie Monster into children’s lives and has brought forth lessons that build foundational skills. Through this show, we have learned how to count, how to read, how to sing, how to build relationships, how to channel our emotions, and so much more. In March of 2017, Sesame Street proved that its life lessons are not diminishing. Instead, they are becoming larger than life. Sesame Street introduced their newest character, Julia, to America’s favorite street, bringing knowledge about the autism spectrum to its audience. Here are 5 reasons why this is such a positive initiative in terms of autism awareness:
What we know about ASD is largely based on research on boys with autism: New studies are telling us how different girls with autism are from their male counterparts
The issue of gender bias is as antiquated as it is familiar to women around the globe. Despite immense political, social, and economic advances in the last century, aspects of female biology continue to be grossly understudied, contributing to a knowledge gap that permeates the scientific community. This gender disparity greatly looms over the study of Autism Spectrum Disorder, contributing to flawed diagnostic practices that are still used today throughout the medical community and beyond.
A Letter from the CEO: Girls and Autism?
We’ve wanted to do an article about girls and autism for some time now. There is so much to say: under-diagnosis, different presenting characteristics, treatment options… where to start?
In K-12 education, there is no dispute that developing reading skills is fundamental. In fact, research suggests that early literacy instruction for students with and without disabilities is essential for future literacy development3. Teachers across the world are constantly utilizing various strategies to support students’ reading comprehension and decoding skills. For some, typical decoding and comprehension strategies may be fairly accessible. For others, reading comprehension or decoding may prove to be more difficult. Students with autism typically have challenges related to reading comprehension, such as answering questions or expressing ideas in traditional ways.
COVID-19 took the world by surprise leaving us all to adjust quickly and renavigate home, school, and work life. A top question on many families’ minds is how to explain the virus to our children with autism. The uncertainty of new situations can be stressful for anyone, especially when we are still discovering the facts. Incorporated here are helpful tips and resources to discuss the pandemic with your children with autism, to help them best understand, cope, and thrive during this time.
A Letter from the CEO: Autistic Black Lives Matter
Our hearts go out to the family and friends of George Floyd and to the many other people of color who have been subjected to the insidious racism that continues to plague our country.
Professional Hope: One Mother’s Story of Gratitude for the Specialists that Support Parents of Children with Autism
|"I have assessed and treated a great number of families affected by ASD...What I can say is this: When parents can move through the emotion and identify...the strengths in their child and in themselves, they are then able to consider the numerous options they have to support their family. When it comes to treating autism, it takes a community. When parents create the community they need for themselves and their families, they realize they are not alone. It instills hope and it is like watching a rainbow after a storm, which is the most rewarding part of the work." -- Aimee Adray Drescher, Ph.D., former Director of Psychological Services and a clinical psychologist for Unison Health in Ohio.|
These six tips will help you create a proactive environment in your home to foster task productivity and offer solutions to address undesired behaviors before they arise. By adopting a proactive approach, you are creating a structured and consistent environment that will help your child succeed. If you consistently react to behaviors, work to shift your approach and provide more support and scaffolding to prevent behaviors from occurring. Naturally, your child may exhibit behaviors even with foundational supports in place. That is okay! Look to these guiding factors to address challenging behaviors.
Picture books are a widely used resource in classrooms and homes around the world. Picture books support vocabulary development, story analysis skills, and sentence structure skills1. In addition to building language skills, picture books offer opportunities for children to understand what they are reading through illustrations while supporting engagement and encouraging imagination and creativity. For children with autism, picture books are especially helpful as many children with autism are very literal and visual learners.
For children with autism, communication can be a challenging skill to develop. Children with autism often have difficulties with expressive and receptive language, thus impacting their ability to effectively communicate within their environment, ask for what they want and need, argue their point of view, and engage in successful interactions1. Expressive language development is key for children with autism, as support in this area allows them to use words, gestures, sentences, and writing to express meaning and give messages to others1.
Beginning at a young age, many children with autism can find it difficult to relate to and communicate with other people, and thus may have significant difficulty in expressive and receptive language (Simpson, Keen, & Lamb, 2015). Difficulties in language development can impact later functional outcomes, such as maintaining successful relationships and communicating wants and needs effectively. For students with autism, receptive language development is extremely important, as support in this area allows them to understand other’s requests and the surrounding environment. Thus, early intervention to support language development in young children with autism is necessary.
Children with autism frequently have delayed language development. For children with autism who have developed language, understanding or using parts of speech correctly may be difficult. While many children develop language skills incidentally, parts of speech such as prepositions, opposites, pronouns or verb tenses may be more difficult and require explicit instruction. Understanding parts of speech are important because it shows how words relate to one another in a meaningful way and allows for clear communication.
For children with autism, language skills can be taught using 2-D and 3-D matching skills. Matching is the ability to see two things and recognize that they are the same. Matching skills improve concentration, train visual and short term memory, attention to detail, classification skills, and improve vocabulary. For children with autism, developing these matching skills helps them physically identify and describe relationships between objects which leads to the development of learning language skills. Matching games offer a clear end goal, which is comforting to learners and helpful for teachers and parents.
Autism Learning Line (A.L.L.) and the Benefits of Online Community
Stages Learning Materials is excited to announce the launch of Autism Learning Line (A.L.L.), an online community designed to support parents, teachers, therapists, homeschoolers, and anyone else touched by autism. Working with interns from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and after several years of planning, Stages is happy to have found a way to give back to our community. This new support group connects with our Autism Resources and Community blog that was launched 5 years ago and now has over 500 articles to support families, educators, and therapists. Our autism blog received the award for Top 25 Autism Blogs of 2020 by Action Behavior Center and is also the winner of the Feedspot Top 50 Blogs on Autism Award.
Recognizing and understanding emotions is a key part of development. Emotional awareness allows individuals to identify what they are feeling and why. This is a critical step towards building emotional intelligence, a key skill in life. Being able to identify our emotions and understand why we are feeling the way we are allows us to clearly communicate and helps us build relationships with other, thus supporting our social development.
Teaching children with Autism to follow simple directions is an important skill for them to learn. The ability to follow simple directions allows opportunities for your child to gain independence, regulation skills, communication skills, productivity in daily routine tasks, and practice gross motor and fine motor skills. Having these skills are important in school environments, home, and other natural settings. Children can gain the ability to follow simple directions to:
This World Autism Awareness Day, an exciting collaborative project designed to amplify neurodiverse voices is capturing hearts and minds within the autistic community. It's the perfect time to make your contribution to the Giant Autism Billboard, a compilation of messages offering advice, wisdom, and observations from autistic people and their parents, siblings, caretakers, and professionals.
Ways to Help Your Child with Autism Feel Safe and Secure: Best Practices for Setting Up a Routine Schedule in Your Home
The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has forced schools, offices, stores, care centers, and other businesses to close suddenly. While these closures are important to ensure the health and safety of all families, the disruption in routine and navigating unforeseen circumstances can leave families of children with autism stressed and anxious.
With schools and learning centers staying closed indefinitely due to the coronavirus, families and students are finding themselves having to adapt to learning from home.
Benefits and Strategies for Teaching Art to Children with Autism: Help for Art Challenged Adults Why Art?
Art therapy provides many benefits for children with autism because it promotes emotional and mental growth as well as independence and collaboration skills. As an outlet for self-expression, imagination, and creativity, art can contribute deeply to improving a child’s fine motor skills, visual and spatial discrepancies, and coping (ActToday.org) For children with autism, art therapy can be particularly effective, especially because many are strong visual learners and process information differently from their typically developing peers.
Note: These 5 activities can be done every day, and we recommend that parents create a schedule so that each of these activities takes place at the same time very day when possible. Having a schedule helps keep children with autism feel more secure and reduces anxiety. We also recommend posting a picture schedule (or words if your child can read so that they know what to expect each day.
Given current circumstances you may be faced with the unexpected challenge of educating and engaging your child with autism or other special needs at home. With so much in flux, we want to offer free lessons, materials, activity sheets, data tracking sheets, behavior management tools, and a basic overview of how to use the system at home with your children.
I truly hope that the downloadable Language Builder ARIS lessons have been helpful as you endeavor to set up your child's at-home education program. It has become crystal clear to us over the past several days that there is a dire need for resources to support parents as they adapt to recent school closures. We are committed to providing digital resources and virtual assistance to get you though this tough period so that your child can continue learning and building new skills.
Teachers, parents and Speech Language Pathologists (SLPs) have been asking for an “all in one” autism education curriculum for years. Language Builder: ARIS (Academic Readiness Intervention System) is now available to support teachers and parents helping children with autism learn the skills they need to be successful. This new curriculum is ideal for students from preschool through elementary school who have moderate to severe Autism Spectrum Disorders or older children with learning disabilities. And, ARIS comes with everything needed to begin teaching right out of the box.
For the free lessons we provided in our ARIS Emergency Home Autism Education Program we have included a variety of photo cards that you can download, print and get started with, including: Nouns, Occupations, Emotions, Sequencing and Verbs. You can see that many lessons reference specific Stages products, which you may not have access to. This information is designed to help you source some of these materials yourself so you can expand the content you teach in each lesson.
The coronavirus (COVID-19) is currently causing concern around the world. The CDC has declared a Public Health Emergency for the U.S. The situation and number of cases are changing daily. Many have noted the lack of hand soaps, sanitizers, and disinfecting cleansers in stores as people are stocking up. For families of children with Autism, staying germ-free can especially be a concern for children who have not developed proper handwashing skills or hygiene skills, in addition to everyday germs that children encounter at schools, care centers, and other activities.
For children with autism, making healthy eating choices can be difficult. Children with ASD are five times more likely to have challenges with meals than their peers. It is common for them to have repetitive, ritualistic habits, which can affect eating. Children with ASD may have especially strong likes and dislikes to certain foods, relating to taste, smell, color, and texture of the item. Some children do not eat enough, due to extreme food selectivity or difficulty focusing during eating. For some children, because of their limited food choices, they experience frequent constipation or stomach pain. Medication can also affect a child’s eating habits. For example, some common stimulant medications may reduce appetite.
Teaching children with autism even the most basic skills can feel daunting to a home schooling parent or even, at times, an autism professional. For instance, we may attempt to teach a child for the hundredth time to wipe her mouth with a napkin, but then…drum roll...She goes for the shirt again! The good news is practical measures exist that can renew our confidence and sense of composure while facing teaching challenges that are sure to arise. A new curriculum, ARIS, can also provide support by walking parents through using Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) to teach children new skills, even parents with little or no ABA experience.
Socialization is an important skill for all children to learn and develop. Research suggests that by supporting a child’s socialization, children are more likely to develop self-confidence, problem solving skills, and key language skills, all of which are vital skills that they will use throughout their lives1. Moreover, socialization can increase the likelihood of many positive outcomes for children, such as becoming more active participants in their communities, increased happiness, and friendship development2. However, many children with autism have difficulty interacting with others, thereby impeding their socialization skill development. Social skills such as initiating conversations with others, playing a game with their peers, sharing, or taking turns can be challenging and overwhelming for children with autism.
Preparing your child with Autism for classroom routines is important. Whether it’s the start of the school year, transitioning back to classes from school breaks, or a refresher, common classroom routines can be easily adapted to suit your child’s needs and practiced in and outside the classroom. It is helpful to meet with the teachers and therapists working with your child to understand what their daily schedule in school is like to make a plan for how your child can be supported and successful.
Celebrating Strengths and Shifting Away from Deficit-Based Thinking
Far too often, society’s bias towards students with autism focuses on the autism, rather than the whole child. Students with autism are more often perceived as “lacking” in some area, rather than celebrated for the many strengths they have. Recent research and new directions in education has pointed out the flaws in this deficit-based thinking, advocating for more strengths-based approaches to supporting students with autism.
Children’s books featuring children with autism are an easy and entertaining way to introduce the topic of autism to your children, family members, friends, and your child’s peers. Children’s books offer simple, accessible explanations and illustrations that can help children and others better understand autism and some of its symptoms in a lighthearted manner. These children’s books emphasize messages about friendship, community, and understanding.
Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) and whole child development, often used synonymously, have huge implications for children of all ages. Described as the process of developing the knowledge, mindsets, and behaviors needed to manage and express emotions, interact positively with others, make responsible decisions, and set and achieve goals, SEL has become one of the primary topics of discussion in education. Policymakers and practitioners increasingly recognize SEL as an essential, though often lacking, component of formal schooling. As interest in SEL expands, new research clarifies our understanding of students’ social and emotional development and its connection to academic learning.
Playing outdoors has huge implications for all children. Many researchers cite outdoor play as being a conduit for decreased stress levels, emotional resilience, increased cognitive functioning, increased attention, as well as a host of other sensory-motor, emotional, and social benefits3.
Fine Motor Skill Milestones
Fine motor skills are the coordination of small muscle movements. Fine motor skills are the ability to make movements in our eyes, wrists, hands, and fingers. Many everyday tasks require strength, dexterity, and fine motor skills. Fine motor skills need to be learned and developed as children get older.
For countless American families, finding the right childcare provider for their little ones can be a real challenge. This is especially true for parents and guardians who are navigating available childcare options for their child with autism or other special needs. While many parents might feel they’re alone in their struggles, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that one in 59 American children has been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), while approximately 7 million children with special needs were served by public schools throughout the country during the 2017-18 period.
ARIS was created with access and implementation in mind: intended to make the principles of ABA easily accessible and easy to implement for educators working with children with autism who may not have formal ABA training.
Recent research has highlighted the lack of evidence-based strategies and adequate learning programs for students with autism (Stahmer, et al., 2015). Even when teachers have access to learning programs for their students with autism, many lack consistency and effectiveness in using it. Research indidates that many classrooms vary greatly in their implementation of evidence-based practices and various learning curricula, but teachers are more likely to use instructional tools that are highly structured and when they feel supported by ongoing training for those tools (Stahmer, et al., 2015).
Children come into this world with little knowledge of the world around them. As they grow they explore their environment, acquire knowledge about social norms, facts, and what is expected and accepted. For children with autism the expectations are the same. Learning how to interact with peers, teachers, and parents is a process that each developing child navigates.
Saber qué Buscar con el Autismo
¿Alguna vez se ha preocupado de que su hijo muestre síntomas de autismo, pero no tenía a quién acudir y no entendía cómo obtener un diagnóstico y asegurarse de que su hijo reciba la ayuda que necesita?
No hay necesidad de preocuparse, porque con todos los recursos disponibles siempre es posible determinar si vale la pena investigar más sus temores, y descubrirá que existen muchas maneras de ayudar a su hijo.
As a teacher, it is likely that you have either held or participated in an IEP meeting. Often times, you have likely interacted with family members who may be nervous or anxious about the process. Some parents may come in to IEP meetings feeling intimidated by the many people sitting around a table or the jargon of special education. Many parents, including parents of children with autism, have very unique and specific concerns about their child, and as a teacher, there are ways you and other school staff can facilitate IEP meetings that feel safe, respectful, collaborative, and welcoming.
Play is often described as the “work” of childhood, where children can make friendships, learn social skills, come to understand expected group behavior, consequences, turn taking, and cooperation, not to mention have some fun! Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) can reap these same benefits by playing games with other kids, though many do not naturally gain the aforementioned skills simply by being exposed to games or other play objects, as might their non-disabled peers. As with many concepts, games and their component skills may need to be explicitly taught, supported, and adaptations made in order for a child with autism to experience success with the activity.
Sensory struggles in a child with autism can hinder his or her ability to grasp a writing implement and to use it correctly. But some marvelous strategies exist that can help children learn to write: countering “floppy” muscle tone, varying implement thickness, trying different implement tips to reduce noise issues, and repetition with different implements are all strategies that can help children with autism and/or sensory integration issues.
Yoga, an ancient practice that originated in India, is today a term familiar across most of the world. Those who’ve experienced the practice may be familiar with its benefits of relaxation and overall improved physical health. Did you know, however, that exploring yoga with a child with autism can help him or her improve mobility, spatial awareness, coping skills, and even contribute to self-confidence?
Safety and preparation for emergency situations is a concern for any child, but especially for children with autism, who may be unable to communicate or respond correctly in emergency situations.
Tracing the journey of improved diagnoses, treatment and
educational outcomes for children with autism
April 2, 2019 marks the twelfth annual observation of World Autism Awareness Day. As described by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly, World Autism Awareness Day exists to:
A Letter from the CEO: Rebuilding Paradise
Growing up just outside of Paradise – Paradise, California that is – we always knew that wildfire season was a natural part of the landscape. But even with that knowledge, no one ever expected that the most devastating wildfire in California’s history would end up coming to Paradise.
Special Olympics and Unified Sports for Children with Autism
Sports are a unifying, fun way for individuals and communities to connect. For individuals with autism, participation in athletic events may be difficult due to the loud, chaotic environments or exclusion from participating. The Special Olympics and Unified Sports are programs specifically created to be inclusive of athletes of all ages and abilities in participating in team sports.
Going to the dentist can be a cause for anxiety for most of us, but it’s a very different feeling for those with autism. Patients with autism often have difficulty staying still and allowing the dentist to do what’s needed, which is why a loved one should always be present. Everyone needs a hand to hold sometimes, especially those who fear the dentist, and it’s no different with patients with autism.
The explosion of apps available on tablets like the iPad has been an exciting opportunity for children with autism. It may come as no shock to parents and educators that in general, children with autism prefer and are more engaged during app-based interventions than traditional interventions. And while in the past some have feared that technology could lead to social isolation, a recent study found that a group of children with autism spoke more sentences per minute together while using iPad apps than without iPads.
The beginning of a new school year can be a difficult time for some children with autism. Shifting from the comfort of home to an environment packed with loud voices, stiff chairs, slamming doors, and a new structure can trigger anything from distraction and discomfort to full meltdowns.
It’s a couple months into the school year. The kids in your class know where to put unsharpened pencils, how to ask to go to the bathroom, and what to expect day to day. You have a strong sense of each child’s personality, strengths, and weaknesses. And you’ve noticed which students are not flourishing in the typical classroom structure and need specialized attention. But what do you do if you suspect your student has autism, and they don’t have an IEP?
Positive Pedagogy: How to Bring Positive Psychology into Special Education and Inclusive Classrooms for Students with Autism
How can you help your students discover stillness? joy? authenticity? Positive psychology is the science of well-being, which applied, can bring more positivity and happiness into your classroom. Try investing in these easy “rituals,” or habits, to transform your classroom into an oasis where your students can learn to flourish, no matter their challenges.
Transitions from one activity to the next can be difficult for any child, especially if they are being asked to leave a preferred activity to instead do something they need to do. While some behaviors in response to transitions may look similar between neurotypical children and children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), the reasons behind the behaviors can differ. When a child is navigating life with ASD, the world can be an unpredictable place, and a set routine can help them feel more in control, greatly easing anxiety and frustration. If that routine needs to change for any reason, it can feel like someone pulled a rug out from underneath them, and they may feel emotionally overwhelmed in response.
Despite being riddled with its own challenges and stressors, childhood can often be idealized as a time of magic and freedom. What often makes childhood so uniquely sacred is the acceptance and endorsement of play. While play can often seem like a time of rest and rejuvenation unburdened by demands, it can also be carried out in a therapeutic manner to help your child with autism practice important life skills. Furthermore, enhancing play therapy through engaging principles of Positive Psychology, the scientific study of well-being, can make your child’s play even more beneficial by inviting in more positivity, happiness, and joy during playtime.
Create an art print to reinforce food vocabulary and encourage tactile exploration.
- Key Food Vocabulary
- Tactile Sensory Processing
- Fine Motor Skills
Paper Bag (or Cloth Sack)
18” x 24” Construction Paper
Paper Plate (or Reusable Container)
Appropriate for one-on-one instruction or a small group of learners
The chirping of birds in the morning, the budding flowers on the trees, and the influx of tax forms to be completed can only mean one thing: April is on its way. There are so many reasons to look forward to April – the warm weather, the blossoming gardens, and the celebrations of our planet, including Earth Day and Arbor Day. But in addition to these festivities of nature, it’s important to celebrate people, too. April is also Autism Awareness Month, and this April 2nd marks the 11th annual celebration of World Autism Awareness Day. Join Stages Learning Materials in celebrating our friends and family members with autism through these fun and simple activities:
How to Bring Positive Psychology into Special Education and Inclusive Classrooms for Students with Autism
How can you help your students discover stillness? joy? authenticity? Positive psychology is the science of well-being, which applied, can bring more positivity and happiness into your classroom. Try investing in these easy “rituals,” or habits, to transform your classroom into an oasis where your students can learn to flourish, no matter their challenges.
Students will use Language Builder 3D – 2D Matching Kits to practice matching things that are the same.
- Social skills
This activity can be done with just one child or in a larger group, in a classroom or therapy setting.
Teach storytelling skills, animal names, and recall skills with this story-based lesson plan.
- Drawing supplies (Optional)
This activity can be done with just one child or in a larger group, in a classroom or therapy setting. Children should be familiar with basic elements of a story and with animal names.
In this lesson, the child will learn how to match 3D objects to 2D picture cards of the same object.
- 3D - 2D Matching
- Receptive Language
This lesson is best suited for one-on-one sessions with a teacher or therapist. The child should have mastered 3D object to 2D picture matching.
Practice reading and spelling food names with these movement-based activities.
- Recognizing food names
This game can be played with children in a small group or in a larger classroom group setting.
Learn about different action verbs and express why they dislike or like common activities
- Asking and answering “why” questions
- Identifying and associating verbs and common emotions
- Stages Learning Emotion Cards (or Post-It Notes labelled with familiar emotions)
This lesson is ideal for any number of students, ideally for kindergarten - 2nd grade, a beginning ELL student, or for a one-on-one session with a therapist. Students should be familiar with the emotions chosen for review in this lesson.
Genius, Attention to Detail, Problem Solving, Memory, and Visual Skills
All children, whether or not they are neurotypical, have unique sets of strengths and weaknesses. Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) often also have some unique challenges to overcome in building routines and relationships that are functional and fulfilling. While much of current research and therapeutic intervention focuses on addressing those challenges, more and more research is showing that people living with ASD may also benefit from unique strengths previously unnoticed by the general population.
Learn about different action verbs and review prepositions through the Stages Learning Verb Cards
- Grammar (present and prepositions)
Table large enough to spread out verb cards
This lesson is ideal for any number of students, ideally for kindergarten - 2nd grade, or a beginning ELL student
Learn about different action verbs and review present and past tense through the Stages Learning Verb Cards
- Grammar (present and past tense verbs)
Space to move around
This lesson is ideal for 2+ students, ideally for kindergarten - 2nd grade, or a beginning ELL student
Summer camp can be a positive and enriching experience for children on the autism spectrum, providing an alternative to the rigorous school year routine and opportunities for peer interactions. However, finding the right fit for your child can be intimidating and does require research and planning - here are some steps to help get you started.
Travel can be a beautiful way to explore a new environment, bond as a family, and learn together. For children on the autism spectrum, travel can also mean venturing through unfamiliar routines and adjusting to stressful, chaotic situations. However, with thoughtful preparation, traveling can be an opportunity to show your child that a break from the usual routines can be a wonderful adventure. Use these 10 tips to help create a travel experience that is rewarding for everyone in your family.
Whether you’re shopping for Christmas, Hanukkah, or any other holiday, finding the “perfect” gift for a child with autism can be hard, given the range of sensitivities and needs a child may have. Because autism spectrum disorder (ASD) includes a wide list of symptoms and affects each child differently, it may be best to ask the child’s parents or guardians for some guidance. Avoid gifts with surprising sensory inputs like moving robots, toys with swirling lights, or toys with strong scents without consulting the child’s parents. Consider asking about the child’s sensory needs, as that can guide the types of sensory toys you can gift. Are there any triggers you should be aware of? Any sensory inputs the child particularly enjoys? Also, ask about the child’s cognitive and motor skills level, to find a gift the child will love. Finally, don’t forget about the gift of an experience - sometimes, in lieu of a toy, the gift of time together may be the perfect present.
With the holiday season comes family gatherings, cozy meals, vacation plans, and yes — a dash of festive chaos. Traveling to visit family can be stressful even when everything goes as expected. However, a bit of planning and preparation can help keep your holiday season the most wonderful time of the year.
For over a decade, researchers have been relying on tools developed by Stages Learning to evaluate approaches that are most effective for children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Wide-ranging research topics span from assistive technologies to socio-emotional learning, and language development. Researchers turn to Stages products because of the company’s commitment to creating quality tools that utilize the latest technologies and evidence-based approaches.
About two weeks ago, I began to watch the show Atypical on Netflix. This is a program that was of great interest to me, as it is about an 18-year-old high school senior who is living with Autism Spectrum Disorder. The plot revolves around this young man (Sam) as he tries to find a girlfriend and have an intimate relationship for the first time. I looked forward to seeing how this progressed due to my own experiences in high school with wanting to date and feel loved by a partner. However, I quickly realized that were certain aspects of Atypical that made me feel slightly uneasy due to the broad generalizations of autism that were displayed at times. Despite this, I was not disappointed with this program overall, as it provided a thoughtful and entertaining perspective about a topic that is often ignored when we talk about growing up with autism.
With difficulty making sense of their surroundings and feelings of anxiety, children with autism often develop routines and rituals to have some form of order and structure to their lives. Everyday routines such as washing and teeth brushing are generally consistent. There are times, however, when routines change during events such as fire drills, field trips, and special occasions. During times of transition or change, children may be more likely to have tantrums, aggressive behavior, and show resistance. It is important to prepare children for the possibility of change and help them understand the procedures they need to follow during novel situations.
A family's bond is one of the strongest, purest forms of love. Each component is essential - parents, siblings, and extended family. When we consider a family consisting of a child with autism, the familial ties become increasingly vital. Parents and caregivers definitely become surrounded by more demands than anticipated and have limited time for other tasks and relationships. There is also a heavy reliance on extended family and friends for physical and emotional support. A sibling can become heavily involved in the development of their brother or sister with autism by helping foster social, emotional, cognitive, and physical development. However, throughout the process, siblings may be overwhelmed by the mature role they play in their sibling's lives, feel overshadowed by their sibling with autism's required parental attention, or struggle to understand the ramifications of having a sibling with autism. So how can we support the siblings of children with autism? Here are strategies that can help:
5 guidelines for the class or the home
Friendships can have a major impact on wellbeing and personal growth, yet building new relationships can be anxiety provoking for adults and children alike. So, imagine how hard it can be for children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD), who may struggle to perceive social cues and respond in conventionally acceptable ways. As a result, they may have few friends and shy away from conversations or other interactions. Children with ASD need opportunities to build meaningful relationships and have many wonderful qualities to offer others. Using various strategies to help children with ASD build supportive friendships can help them live happier lives and realize their potential. Below are some approaches to consider and build upon:
Top Tips to Help You Get Started
All children have unique learning needs, but children with Autism Spectrum Disorder or ASD require a little extra guidance and support. Whether you’re a parent or teacher, it’s essential to understand what a child with autism needs and how you can help them learn better.
The Academic Readiness Intervention System (ARIS™) is a new comprehensive early autism education curriculum based on the Language Builder® Picture Cards created over twenty years ago by Stages Learning and widely used in classrooms and therapeutic settings.
Wandering or “elopement,” a common behavioral occurrence among children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), refers to the tendency to leave a safe, supervised space or caregiver and subsequently expose oneself to potential danger. Wandering is both tragic and terrifying for parents, given that drowning and wandering-related behaviors are the top causes of death in the ASD community (Rice et al., 2016). Although most of the reports of wandering have been anecdotal, the first major study on wandering by the American Academy of Pediatrics provides hard data on wandering and elopement among individuals with ASD.
This article was originally published on the Speech@NYU blog. Speech@NYU is the online master’s program in speech-language pathology from NYU Steinhardt.
1 in 68 children have Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), which is roughly 1 percent to 2 percent of students in the United States, according to a recent CDC report. Schools, in increasing numbers, are recruiting professionals to serve the academic, social, and emotional needs of students with autism.
Recognizing, Showing, and Regulating Emotions
Think about the different ways that you recognize the emotions of others in your daily life. Do you focus on their facial expression? Their body language? Or their tone of voice? While some of us may do these things in our daily lives without thinking twice, for children with autism it is often difficult to communicate their emotions and recognize the emotions of others. Parents and educators often find that their children or students with autism display inappropriate behaviors due to their difficulty recognizing and communicating their emotions. For example, children may have tantrums that seem easily triggered, they may become aggressive, or may become withdrawn. Although difficulty communicating and understanding emotions is not a universal challenge in those who have autism, it is very common. Therefore, parents and educators should become familiar with the different ways to help children communicate and recognize emotions.
What is Autism Awareness Month?
Each year during the month of April, individuals and organizations across the globe celebrate Autism Awareness Month with events to educate local communities and raise public awareness about autism. Almost 50 years have passed since the Autism Society held the first National Autism Awareness month in April of 1970. Since then, autism has become the fastest growing developmental disability in the world, with the diagnosis rate of children with autism increasing from 1 in every 2000 children in the 1970's and 1980's to 1 in every 68 children today.
Link4Fun Cards are new language-learning tools designed to scaffold preschool language development by synchronizing traditional manipulatives with digital media. Children tap flashcards against the screen of an iPad to display interactive digital content that engages them sensorily and encourages them to continue learning.
Linda Hodgdon has been a long-time friend of Stages Learning and is author of the best-selling book, "Visual Strategies for Improving Communication." We have invited her to impart some of her wisdom and experience in a guest blog and she discusses an important topic that comes up often in the autism space.
If you have a student with autism, you probably have a list of situations where you deal with problem behaviors and meltdowns. Children with a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) are frequently identified because of their difficulties with communication and behavior. Visual strategies provide a solution.
Affinities, Avatars, and Autism: Oh My!
Learning empathy from Simba. Recognizing emotions with Ariel. It may seem unconventional, but the inspiring story about Owen Suskind, an autistic child depicted in the book and adapted award-winning documentary, Life, Animated, illustrates an innovative therapeutic approach for autism: social and emotional skill building through communication with affinity-based avatars.
It’s likely that we all know someone who experiences anxiety, and there’s no doubt that anxiety can be exhausting and can interfere with daily life. For children with autism, anxiety can occur more frequently and can be very intense. Seemingly simple daily activities such as leaving the house, interacting with peers, riding in the car, or taking public transportation can become increasingly difficult and anxiety provoking. In order to help children who may be experiencing anxiety, it is important for parents and teachers to understand anxiety and how it may be affecting children with autism.
Twitter is a valuable tool for professional development (PD) and community building, especially for members of the education community. The platform is a must-have for digitally literate teachers who use their timelines, followers, and hashtags to inform and improve their PD and pedagogy.
The practice of quieting the mind, otherwise known as mindfulness, is increasingly being practiced across the board – from Google executives to classrooms as a replacement to detention (Bloom, 2016). Mindfulness specifically refers to the practice of paying attention to the present moment non-judgmentally. Observation of our thoughts and feelings allows us to better understand our emotions and react rationally to negative situations.
I can still remember when I was a child watching my mother cook. Her face always beamed with a smile so big that everyone could tell how much joy she had in preparing a great meal for my family. It seemed cooking was not only a hobby that she enjoyed, but also one of her passions. She told me she had watched my grandmother cook as a child and started learning at a young age. I know the experience is still one of her fondest childhood memories. No wonder why she is a great cook!
5 Tips for Helping Your Child Succeed in Sports
It is no secret that sports are a big part of most people’s lives. More than 100 million people in the United States alone tune in to watch the Super Bowl every year. However, being a sports fan and playing a sport are two completely different things–especially in the eyes of a parent. You probably know enrolling your child in a sport has tremendous benefits such as endurance, strength, and general fitness. But as you might have guessed, for many children with autism, finding the appropriate sport can be challenging.
What is Social Thinking?
Social Thinking is a flexible teaching framework that is designed to help individuals ages four and up with autism spectrum disorder and other social and communication difficulties. The framework helps these individuals better understand the process by which we interpret the thoughts, beliefs, intentions, emotions, and actions of another person within the context of a situation. We use this information every day to better understand the experience of those around us. This understanding helps us respond in a way that will effect the other person’s thoughts about us in order to ultimately achieve our social goals.
Leveraging Special Interests to Help Children with Autism: An Autistic Person* Shares Her Experiences
Having a special interest in something is a major part of the repetitive behavior that comes with autism. In fact, researcher Tony Attwood (2003) found that special interests seem “to be a dominant characteristic, occurring in over 90% of children and adults with Asperger’s syndrome.” Your child, client, or student with autism may have an intense interest in one particular subject. While hearing someone you love go on and on about his or her favorite subject may get tiring, special interests are important. A 2007 study done by Winter-Messiers (2007) reflected that special interests should be treated seriously because they may be beneficial in building up skills that would be hard to obtain otherwise.
Students will use the Link4Fun Cards to practice identifying, categorizing, and communicating with vocabulary words. Students will interact with the teacher or therapist using vocabulary cards with interactive technology. Each part of the lesson plan can be extended or shortened depending on the needs of the child.
Students will use the Link4Fun book and app to develop their literacy, social skills, and vocabulary. Students will interact with the teacher or therapist using a print-based picture book with a digital device for an interactive reading experience. Each part of the lesson plan can be extended or shortened depending on the needs of the child.
This is a book review of “Why Johnny doesn’t Flap,” a book about an autistic boy’s neurotypical (meaning without neurological disabilities) friend, Johnny. I will give a brief description of the book’s story, illustrations and message.
Learn about different action verbs through the animals in the Link4fun Pets book
Markers or other drawing supplies
This lesson can be for an individual child or adapted for a larger group, ideally for preschool or kindergarten, or a beginning ELL student
Kristy Johnson is a mother of a child with significant special needs, as well as a researcher in the field of neurodevelopmental disorders. While she has always been very involved in science and engineering, her son greatly influenced her decision to pursue research in this field. Her current research is focused on designing a device that engages children who have neurodevelopmental disorders using the gold standard principles of therapy. Kristy provides wonderful insight into being a parent of a child with special needs (and a parent to an infant), conducting research in her field, being married to someone who also works in academia, and balancing these aspects of her life. Kristy has a strong passion to provide children with the materials they need to thrive.
This article was originally written in English and has been translated into Chinese.
Social Skills & Autism
Autism Spectrum Disorder is characterized by deficits in social communication and interaction. This can include challenges in social-emotional reciprocity and non-verbal communication used in social interactions. This can often lead to children with autism having a hard time developing and maintaining meaningful relationships with their peers.
|Stages Learning Emotion Cards|
This article was originally written in English and has been translated into Chinese.
This article was originally written in English and has been translated into Chinese.
Navigating the holidays with autism
The time has come for families and friends to get together and celebrate. This particular time of the year means many things: inviting extended family over, wrapping presents, pie, singing, joy, worshipping, and making cookies! However, holidays also mean a messed up routine, sensory chaos, and unwritten social rules.
Sarah Scruton is an English teacher at Triton Regional High School in Byfield, MA. Although Sarah is a general education teacher, she provides excellent insight into how to make accommodations for students with special needs within an inclusive classroom, the pros and cons of being a teacher, alternative assessment, and advice for future educators. Furthermore, Sarah strongly believes that if a student is separated from the classroom due to their learning needs, they are also being separated from the overall school culture.
Using the Language Builder Blocks and customized dice, children practice math and engineering skills in this creative challenge.
Timothy Jepson teaches chemistry to sophomores at Triton Regional High School in Byfield, Massachusetts. Although he teaches general education, it is imperative that he make accommodations within his classroom for students who have special needs. Additionally, Timothy has a strong belief that high-stakes testing can interfere with the quality of education. Throughout our conversation, Timothy provided excellent insight into being a general education teacher, providing accommodations for students with special needs, and advice for aspiring teachers.
This White Paper was written by Consulting Services for Education in order to better understand the learning impact of the newest Stages Learning product: Link4Fun Books.
These "bridging" books are designed to support early literacy using innovative new technology and research best practices in order to pair the advantages of traditional print based books with the interactivity available on an iPad. This report can also be downloaded as a PDF. (link)
See Link4Fun books for more information.
Link4Fun Books are printed children’s picture books that are placed next to an iPad or other digital device to provide synchronized interactive content. As the young reader turns a page the action triggers the device to display digital content that compliments the content of the physical book and provides an interactive and engaging learning experience.
As a behavior analyst, Stephanie Hicks experiences the field of special education through multiple lenses. Stephanie works mainly with classroom teachers, parents and a variety of therapists on how to manage and teach behaviors to children with autism. In addition to observing behaviors and writing plans to increase or decrease those behaviors, Stephanie finds it extremely important to consider other factors while writing a plan for a child. She carefully considers developmental milestones, relationships, school anxiety, sensory issues and anything else that may influence behaviors. Additionally, Stephanie conducts workshops regarding new research and strategies for working with students who have autism.
What is bullying?
Stopbullying.gov defines bullying as:
“Unwanted, aggressive behavior among school-aged children. It involves a real or perceived power imbalance and the behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time.”
There are three types of bullying: verbal, social, and physical. All three types of bullying can have serious, long-lasting effects on children. Therefore, it is important to teach children the appropriate strategies to deal with a bullying situation should they ever encounter one.
As an autistic person, I am very familiar with AAC. I use it, and I am around others who use it too. Because it is AAC awareness month, I thought this was a good opportunity to write about it.
It’s no surprise that colorful building blocks are a staple in early childhood centers, given the robust research that supports benefits gained from playing with blocks. Besides the simple joy in building and creating, playing with blocks improves literacy and storytelling skills, builds engineering and mathematical concepts, and teaches young children about communication and collaboration.
This lesson will build storytelling skills in a hilarious, creative way.
- Gross motor development
- Geometry, numerical skills
- Communication skills
Play with just one child or in small groups of preschool/kindergarten children
Find a space with room to spread out the blocks.
Strategies to use with your students
Inclusion is a great thing. Children with special needs are no longer isolated in “Special Ed” classrooms and only seen on the playground or in the lunchroom. Kids with special needs thrive in the presence of their peers. There are so many lessons that children with special needs can learn from other kids, and so many friendships to be formed.
An Autistic Woman Explains Common Autism Characteristics and Misconceptions
Basics- What is autism?
Autism is a pervasive developmental disorder. It is a condition that affects every part of a person’s life. Autism is diagnosed by looking at the three ‘pillars’ of autism:
- Repetitive behavior
So, let’s take a closer look at these things. (If you would like to learn more the National Autistic Society has some great information)
Hi! My name is Catlaina, and I am the author of "Ella Autie". "Ella Autie" was a book made for my senior project. Here is a quick summary:
Whenever I sit down to write a new blog entry, I mentally acknowledge the importance of self-advocacy in the lives of people with autism. It is vital that we tell others how we are feeling and what we are thinking, so that the community can understand our needs. I write these blog entries for similar reasons, and I appreciate the opportunity to tell family members and professionals about my experiences so that they can learn from them. However, I have recently read a book where a 13-year-old boy with autism describes the thought processes and emotions that result in his autistic traits. This book, titled “The Reason I Jump,” is a vital resource for those who are seeking to understand children who are on the lower end of the autism spectrum, and I enjoyed reading it very much.
*Print out out Free Card to give to a stranger when your child is having a difficult time in public.
The “Five W’s”: Choosing when to be an ambassador for autism and when to walk away
Children with autism and their families often find themselves in uncomfortable situations during encounters with strangers. Despite much more widespread awareness about autism, strangers can be outright rude, insensitive, or simply ill informed. Any parent wants to step in and defend their own child, but for parents of children with autism, there often is an even stronger desire to defend and protect their child. These psychologically demanding public encounters with strangers are confusing, hurtful, and stressful for parents and children (Ryan, 2010).
Parents and teachers can feel confused and uncomfortable when students shout, cry, or act in ways that appear developmentally or culturally inappropriate. It’s helpful to learn who you can turn to for training or advice on behavior management and it’s equally useful to learn a few strategies to help children regulate their emotions and, in turn, their behaviors.
Interviews from the field
As a Special Education Associate Professor at Lesley University, a parent of a child with special needs, and a previous K-12 educator, Janet Sauer has many insights into the field of special education. Janet has a passion for social justice, as well as inclusive education for all students. Through our conversation, it was clear that Janet believes that the structural aspect of our education system can sometimes be what hinders inclusive education. Therefore, a major focus of her research is to find a way to change the system to benefit all students.
If you’re like me, there’s nothing more appealing than a home renovation show where a grand reveal shows furniture that is perfectly staged and pristine. As a teacher, this enthusiasm for design and decoration carried over to my classroom even though I was often tasked with making the best out of discarded furniture, fixed bookshelves, and dollar-store items rather than a design team and unlimited budget. Over the years, I learned what design concerns and investments in furniture and materials were worth my time, resources, and energy and what was not. Ultimately, classrooms are just as, if not more important, than any grand home makeover as it is within those spaces that we, as educators, provide the learning opportunities and experiences of our students.
Back-to-school energy was in the air at the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s (HGSE) Fall Intern Fair where Stages Learning staff met and recruited eager and passionate new students who are excited about working with the autism community and are curious about how to leverage innovation and technology to reach young learners.
A Former Student with Autism Shares his Gratitude for a Teacher that Helped Him Succeed
When I was growing up, school was very rough for me. I struggled with many of the same social and emotional challenges that many others on the spectrum had, and each day I am thankful for the fact that I survived. However, there were some school years that were better than others. I smile as I remember certain teachers who encouraged me to try my best and were forgiving of the challenges that I had, and I remember other teachers with frustration as memories of meltdowns and misunderstandings play in my mind. I could write an entire book about the latter, but I now want to focus on a teacher who truly helped me as I attempted to succeed in a mainstream elementary school setting. I will give her the pseudonym of “Mrs. Johnson,” although this teacher deserves to be known.
Our favorite resources around the web
Stages Learning has compiled a selective list of high quality resources and support information for parents, teachers, and families. Please contact us by filling out the form at the bottom of the page if you would like to suggest a resource for us to consider.
Interviews from the field
As a speech-language pathologist working in Early Intervention, Casey Bryn McCarthy has a passion for communication and expression. Her passion for communication developed at an early age after working with children who have special needs. At fourteen years old, she began working at summer camps and volunteering at daycare centers, where she gained experience working with children with a diverse range of skills. Through these opportunities, Casey became particularly interested in children who have autism and cerebral palsy, and she now works with these children on a daily basis.
|Casey Bryn McCarthy|
Casey attended Wheelock College for her undergraduate education where she studied Developmental Psychology with a minor in Early Childhood Education. She then attended the Massachusetts General Hospital Institute of Health Professions where she received a Master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology. During graduate school, Casey participated in a 6-month clinical placement within the Augmentative Communication Program and Autism Language Program at Boston Children’s Hospital working with children with complex communication needs, including those with autism spectrum disorders. Casey has been working as a speech-language pathologist for almost a year now, and it was clear from our discussion that she has a strong belief that all children deserve access to a means of communication.
Students will use the U-Play Mat to practice identifying, categorizing, and communicating with vocabulary words. Each part of the lesson plan can be extended or shortened depending on the needs of the child.
Tips for getting back into gear for the school year
Summer is an important time to take a break from school routines, spend time with the family, and explore extracurricular interests. However, the transition from the more laid-back schedule of the summer to that of the school year can be stressful for students and parents alike. This article offers tips to help you and your child with your back-to-school transition.
Preparing Your Child with Autism for the New Year
Activities that are comforting, thrilling, or intolerable to people with autism can vary considerably from what a neuro-typical child or adult may experience in the same situation. For example, haircuts or birthday parties can be extremely unpleasant. Carly Fleischmann, a woman with autism, wrote a book about her experiences and a team of talented disability rights allies helped her produce this video, demonstrating her experience within a coffee shop.
Note: Nathan Hughes is a writer who works for Stages Learning. He provides an inside view of his experiences living with autism. Stages Learning is dedicated to providing our community with useful articles relating to autism. For more about our products and resources for children please see our collection of learning tools.
Knowing What to Look for with Autism
Have you ever worried that your child is exhibiting symptoms of autism, but had no one to go to and no understanding of how to acquire a diagnosis and ensure that your child will receive the help they need?
Sequencing is the ability to logically order events, images, thoughts, and actions. Why is sequencing important for children?
Students will use sequencing cards to review vocabulary words and practice ordering events.
- Picture identification and vocabulary
- Fine and gross motor development
- Conceptualization skills
- Communication skills
- Sequencing skills
This lesson is designed for 1:1 instruction with a teacher or therapist. It can also be adapted for use with a small group of 2-4 students.
Nathan Hughes has curated a collection of the most useful and interesting blogs that are written by people like himself: People with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Nathan’s selections reflect a variety of experiences and provide advice, wisdom, experiences, poetry and art from people with ASD who are reaching out to help others.
Tips and Strategies for Transitioning to College with Autism
Of the roughly 50,000 young Americans with autism who graduate from high school each year, less than 7,000 end up with a college degree (Wei et al 2015). This discouraging statistic has given rise to countless transition programs that we hope will allow more students to enroll in appropriate postsecondary programs, benefit from their time on campus, and enter rewarding careers. A series of steps from transition meetings to college admissions, outlined below, function as a roadmap for teens and parents who have set their sights on higher education.
Understanding the research on language development
Think of a weekend visit to a park swarming with children. Kids playing soccer, kids swinging on the monkey bars, kids talking a mile a minute, kids climbing the jungle gym. Chances are a few of those kids have autism, a condition that affects 1 in 68 people. These kids have difficulties with their social communication, and often have restricted interests or repetitive patterns of behaviour.
Students will review vocabulary words and play bingo using Stages Learning Bingo Generator Cards. Students can also review vocabulary in foreign languages since the Bingo Generator Cards are available in Spanish and French.
Approaching the discussion with your child
Many parents are unsure about how to speak to their child with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) about the diagnosis. Parents may fear a number of reactions: that their child will not understand, become angry or depressed, or use ASD as an excuse for why he or she cannot do some things. While some children can find the news upsetting, the information can also come as a relief, as found by a group of researchers that interviewed 9 individuals with high-functioning ASD, aged 16 to 21. Most children reported feeling a sense of shock and disbelief when first informed of the diagnosis, but seemed able to incorporate the idea of “having ASD” into their identity by the time of the interview. Some expressed that learning that they were on the autism spectrum helped them understand why they had experienced various difficulties and had been treated differently. It also provided a reason for their behavior that they thought others might understand (Huws & Jones, 2008).
First Hand Experiences of Being a Student with Autism
As an individual with Autism Spectrum Disorder, I have found myself reflecting on both the challenges and strengths that my differences have brought me. On one hand, I had a rather hellish experience with school for much of my kindergarten through twelfth grade career, and I had social difficulties that resulted in my not having many friends growing up. On the other hand, academics and computer-related skills were always easy for me and the unique personality that my autism helped to create (although misunderstood at times) was occasionally endearing to people. Although this is clearly a mixed bag of positives and negatives, I am very proud of who I am and I cannot even imagine how being any different would improve my quality of life.
Guidance on Raising Money for Autism Support
If you are helping raise money for autism research, advocacy, or other programs related to autism, it is wise to follow the advice of Charity Navigator: Your Guide to Intelligent Giving. They recommend, at minimum, that at least 50% of money raised goes toward the actual program, and most types of charities stay upward of the 65 to 75% mark. But for some of the organizations listed below, money raised goes straight to staff and administrative costs because staff are involved in carrying out the mission of the organization, rather than just engaging in raising funds (such as research or lobbying efforts) - or because the organization is complex, has a large administrative structure, and is attempting to achieve many diverse.
For Our Readers: Stages Learning started a new service project in January of 2016: The Global Autism Awareness Project (GAAP). Partnering with students at the Harvard Graduate School of Education we are working to destigmatize autism around the world and provide information to help children receive early diagnoses and find treatment.
Autism Goes to Hollywood: Our Favorite Documentaries, Movies and TV Shows Depicting Characters with Autism
And…action! As there is growing awareness about autism, the media is also increasingly portraying characters with autism and those who are on the spectrum. How autism is portrayed in entertainment can have a significant impact on how our society understands people with autism. While some representations can be stereotypical and misleading, others can be more complex and realistic, showing the diversity and multidimensional humanity of people who are on the spectrum.
Global Autism Awareness: Three Students Got Us Started
In 2016, three students from the Harvard Graduate School of Education approached us about internships. They were interested in autism in their home countries: China and Pakistan. All three had personal connections to someone with autism and wanted to help them, their families and their communities. They were also aware that in Pakistan and China autism is frequently kept out of view: children with autism are kept at home, only rarely attend schools, and often have not even received an official diagnosis.
El desarrollo del lenguaje es diferente para cada niño, y hay muchas diferencias en el desarrollo “normal” de los niños pequeños. Si tiene preocupaciones específicas sobre la velocidad de aprendizaje de las primeras habilidades de lenguaje de su niño, debe hablar con su doctor.
Cuando los niños muy pequeños empiezan a aprender las habilidades del lenguaje, ellos aprenden palabras nuevas y conectan la palabra dictada al objeto actual (Richard & Goldfarb, 1986). Por ejemplo, si los padres repiten la palabra “coche”, cada vez que ellos llevan su niño al coche, el niño va a aprender rápidamente que la palabra “coche” representa el coche real.
What it Means to be Autism Friendly and How You Can Help
An exciting and fast moving effort is under way to create “Autism Friendly” spaces so that children and adults with autism can feel more supported and families can better enjoy visits to the theater, restaurants, and even just going out for ice cream. More businesses are tuning in to ways that they can provide welcoming spaces for individuals with autism: doctors offices, airports, grocery stores, and clothing stores are all finding ways to accommodate sensory needs and provide emotional support for all of their customers.
Students will make an animal that they would most like to be or admire in some way. Students will then choose a song that their animal likes and move their animal to the rhythm of the music. Students will then listen to various types of music and choose other animals to move, following the rhythm of the song. Students will then see how different animals might interact with each other. This is an early childhood activity that can be adapted to special needs students by breaking down the activities and reinforcing the steps separately. Students can build skills that they can use to interact with their peers.
Before I came to study in the US seven months ago, “autism” was just a word I memorized when I prepared for standardized tests. I seldom encountered the word in a contextualized situation in my life, and I never concerned myself with people who lived with this word.
Finding the Form of Art Therapy That Works Best for Your Child
For more than 70 years, creative arts therapies such as visual art therapy, music therapy, dance therapy, and drama therapy have been used in psychotherapy or counseling with individuals of all ages, particularly children. A credentialed professional who has completed an approved program in a specific creative arts therapy specialization can help build life skills and promote healthy self-expression in children with autism. Often used in conjunction with behavioral treatments and medication, these alternative or complimentary creative arts treatments have a broad range of options available.
Jackson Tillman is in third grade, lives in Kentucky, and has autism. The biggest challenge Jackson’s family has is that when a situation becomes overwhelming Jackson bolts, and when Jackson is with his grandmother she can’t keep up. That’s where Jackson’s buddy Mateo comes in. Mateo is a two-year-old Labradoodle with short curly locks. He is the first autism service dog in Kentucky.
Adults with Autism: The Importance of First Person Accounts
Many parents of children with autism wonder what will happen when their children grow up – what will their adult lives be like? This is true of all parents, but likely more so for parents of children with autism. And just like neurotypical children, children with autism are each unique and have strengths that help them in life and weaknesses that may sometimes hold them back.
As a grandparent it can be a struggle to find presents for a granddaughter or grandson who has autism. Sometimes traditional gifts can backfire for the child with autism.
Holidays can be a time of great joy and excitement, but they can also be stressful and disruptive. For families who have children with autism, extra planning is essential to keep everyone on an even keel. Managing expectations about what a holiday “should” be like, and minimizing the changes that will occur in your family routine will help reduce stress and avoid meltdowns.
Research[i] confirms what many parents of children with autism already know: children with autism have a higher incidence of sleep challenges, and the more severe the autism symptoms the more severe the sleep challenges. Research,[ii] as well as common sense, also tells us that impaired sleep has a negative impact on physical, emotional, academic, and social functioning.
Students will use Language Builder cards with the Language Builder App to practice similar matching in both a digital and physical setting.
As a parent our needs are often the first to be postponed or set aside. Sometimes there is no choice: we have to attend to the immediate needs of our children. But in the long run we could be doing significant damage to our physical and emotional health by not attending to our own needs. And if our health and emotional well-being is compromised this is likely to have an impact on how well we are able to care for our children.
By touching or pointing to the appropriate card, students show that they recognize the word and can identify the corresponding picture. This activity can be prefaced by the Picture ID lesson to familiarize the student with the pictures he/she is finding.
Students will practice expressive language skills by verbally identifying a picture on a card. Skills practiced include expressive language, picture identification and photo identification.
Planning for a young adult with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) or other special needs to transition from special education to adult services can be overwhelming for children and their parents alike! Many parents are so intimidated by the transition process that they refuse to think about it until their child turns 14 and a statement about that student’s transition services is required by law to be in their individual education program (IEP), or age 16 when those services must start to be implemented. Other parents may think that they don't need to consider transition until their child is older since the actual transition from special education doesn't happen until students turn 21 (or the age at which special education services end in their state). However, as with any change, the sooner parents and their children start preparing for transition, the smoother the actual shift from special education will likely be. Despite what some may think, there are skills that can be taught to children at a young age that will make any transition easier as they get older. Three of these skills and the importance of implementing them at home are discussed below:
Lesson Overview:Students will learn job identification and better understanding of tools and identifying features of particular workers as they respond to the prompt, "Tell me about..." to describe a worker and/or a worker’s job as depicted on Language Builder Occupation Cards.
Lesson Overview:This lesson plan focuses on the uses of adjectives and other descriptive terms to discuss the attributes of objects shown in the pictures with a teacher, and develops picture identification and vocabulary skills.
Autism – you see it on the news; hear about it from advocacy campaigns like Autism Speaks ; you may know someone whose life is affected by someone with the diagnosis. Undoubtedly, there are students with autism in your local public schools. Simply put, autism is more prevalent than ever, and it is on the rise.
The Language Builder from Stages app was released earlier this year to high praise from long-time Stages Learning Materials customers who were looking for a digital companion to the paper flash cards they love. The app has now been used in classrooms, clinics, and homes throughout the United States, and teachers, therapists, and parents have provided us with invaluable input about improvements to make the Language Builder app even better. Stages Learning Materials is happy to announce that version 1.1 has just been released for both the Basic and Pro versions with this customer feedback in mind! The latest version of the app has some great new features, including unlimited student accounts and record keeping capabilities to track student progress, and the Pro version now offers the ability to create your own flash cards. Your favorite language builder app has been updated and is now better than ever!
This lesson plan reinforces the idea that sometimes, you just need a little help! Students use their problem-solving skills to identify when they need help, then advocate appropriately to get the assistance they need to complete a puzzle that is missing a piece.
This lesson plan gives the classic card game Go Fish an emotional makeover! Students work on their expressive and receptive vocabulary and understanding of the five basic emotions, all while practicing social skills, taking turns, and following the rules of the game.
Students will use the “Picture Identification” activity within the Language Builder app to call out the bingo prompt.
So you’ve just downloaded the new Language Builder app. That means you can throw out all your paper flash cards right? NO!! As you may have already realized through our previous blogs, we are big proponents for blending hands-on and digital learning. There are so many ways that you can combine both digital and tangible resources to support deeper engagement.
Our intent with the app is to complement, rather than replace, the physical products. We will begin a new blog series demonstrating ways to use your physical language builder cards and other Stages products in conjunction with the app.
I am happy to report that Stages Learning Materials has finally taken the leap into the 21st century!
The Language Builder cards have become a staple in autism and speech therapy programs across the country, and even abroad. I regularly attend conferences where parents and therapists alike tell me that they use the cards every day at home or in their practice. The other thing I hear at every conference I attend ... "When will the Language Builder Cards be available in a software program I can use on the computer?" That day has finally come!
All over the news, we see stories about kids with autism and their iPads. Rookie reporters tout the devices as The Next Big Thing, even going so far as to refer to them as cures. I’m sure we would all agree that the touch screen tablets are amazing, for little and big kids alike. But where’s the research backing their use for educational purposes for our students? In one word, nonexistent. As a doctoral student at Montreal’s McGill University, I aim to change that.
The focus of my upcoming thesis is on developing a rigorous and research-based understanding of using iPads to teach children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). I have been extremely fortunate to meet with the Stages Learning Materials staff, and receive their support to use the Language Builder Picture Cards and the newly created Language Builder from Stages app to test which method results in better and faster learning of receptive and expressive language.
On March 10th of this year, Stages Learning Materials released the Language Builder from Stages App, and we have had an amazing response! Hundreds of parents, therapists, and teachers are now using the Language Builder App to teach 6 early ABA activities to children with autism. But we are far from finished adding features to the app!
A Letter from the CEO: A Leap of Faith
It is such an honor to have an article about the launch of our new Stages Language Builder App in the Harvard Graduate School of Education News!
Additional Activities to Develop Sentence Skills
Labeling and Requesting are the most basic of all full sentence activities, and provide a basis for your student to understand that communication requires more than single word utterances. The following list of activities offers just a few examples of the many lessons you can use to help build full sentences and a more complete system of communication with your child.
Building Expressive Vocabulary
This is the step where your child learns to actually say the words out loud. All of the tasks we just described in the previous Autism and Language article come into play when building your child’s expressive vocabulary. Picture cards are a useful tool again, because it just isn’t feasible to bring every object directly to your child. We certainly want them to learn the words bus and airplane, but it’s difficult to get those items into your living room!
These days nearly everyone knows a friend or family member who is touched by autism. Perhaps it’s your own child or your sister’s child. Perhaps it’s the child of your neighbor, your dentist, your mail carrier, or hair dresser.
With the holidays fast approaching, you may be asking yourself: are there any gifts for people on the autism spectrum that are both meaningful and appropriate?
Wouldn't it be great if we all got the right answers on the first try? I don't know about you, but when I try something for the first time, I often need a little help! Why should we expect anything different from our students when we teach them a new skill?
Emerging Language and Building Vocabulary
Language development varies from child to child, and there are wide ranges of expected “normal” language development in young children. If you have specific concerns about the pace of your child’s language development, you should definitely discuss this with your health care professional. However, for reference sake, by the age of two a child is expected to be able to:
The most popular use of the Language Builder Picture Card Series is to build vocabulary. The realistic and current photos help students to learn the name of various nouns, occupations, and emotions. In the beginning, this task can be very repetitive and basic, focusing only on learning single-word responses. When a child with autism begins to gain expressive language skills, parents and educators are thrilled to watch how the child moves from basic vocabulary to building sentences.
When you have a child with autism or other special needs, chores are often overlooked or parents don’t consider it a possibility for their child. Just as modifications are needed in the classroom, small modification or supports can be developed to not only make chores a possibility, but part of the daily routine. Find out more about increasing your child's independence with chores at home!
Most early childhood classrooms are stocked with blocks, crayons, puzzles, and many other tools that support fine motor development. With the iPad becoming ubiquitous across all subject areas in the classroom, does this mean that the manipulatives and toys we once loved no longer have a place in the classroom and will begin to collect dust? One big question continues to pop up: should we replace traditional fine motor development activities and exercises for iPad apps?
- Telling your child about autism should not be the “Big Talk.” Saying that it's big makes it seem like it's bad. Read more of Brenda Rothman’s article at Huffington Post Education.
Building on our theme of blending hands-on and digital learning, the holidays are a great time to utilize technology to help kids understand tradition and explore not only the world around them, but also beyond their own communities. No need to stress about how to keep your kids entertained over winter break, because this week we examine photo and video apps that help build basic language skills, Santa letter writing websites to build emergent writing skills, and a video to illustrate what magic occurs inside the oven as we bake our sweet treats this season.
Learning to categorize items is a basic task for young children. Close your eyes for a moment and picture a typical pre-school classroom: children are sorting little plastic bears, red bears in one tub, blue in another, and green in a third; another group of children arranges pictures into different piles of animals, vehicles, and foods; and still a third group is reading a book about animals that live in the sea vs. animals that can fly! We instinctively know it is important to sort things into categories… but do we know why?
This past week Stages Learning Materials fled the arctic tundra of Boston and Cincinnati to (what we thought would be) the warmer weather of Austin, Texas and SXSWedu.
What is SXSWedu? It is an annual conference filled with panels and discussions focusing on technology innovation and learning. SXSWedu brings together an audience of stakeholders from backgrounds ranging from business development, research, and policy to early childhood educators. Aside from the obvious draw of meaningful conversations and the live music of Austin, we were looking forward to hearing how technology is having an impact on special education and experiencing some of the latest innovations in assistive technology.
Parents and educators often struggle to help children with autism communicate their feelings. When children with autism have trouble recognizing and communicating how they feel, it may contribute to inappropriate behaviors such as tantruming and aggression, or even increased social withdrawal. If our kids could tell us how they feel, they would be less frustrated, and we would be better able to help solve their dissatisfaction.
When you first begin your one-on-one intensive teaching program with a child with autism or developmental delay, the environment is very structured. Often one child will sit alone at a table with one teacher or therapist. The teacher and student are just a few feet away from each other, to minimize the outside distraction.
Our first experiences with food have a large effect on our eating habits for the rest of our lives, so the best time to teach good dietary habits is during the early years. Think about some of your best and worst food habits... don't you wish you had started better habits at age 3, rather than trying to change those habits at age (fill in the blank!)?
There are so many people our children need to interact with on a weekly basis – teachers, doctors, bus drivers, dentists, janitors, crossing guards, store clerks, mail carriers…. Meeting new people can be difficult for any child, but children with autism often have a particularly difficult time with people they don’t know, or who are not part of their typical routine.
Why Matching Activities for Children with Autism?
Note: These activities are excerpted from the Language Builder® ARIS Full Autism Curriculum developed by Stages Learning Materials.
What does matching teach a child? How can this be a step toward developing language? Matching skills are essential for language development for children with autism.
In ABA therapy matching skills typically follow a hierarchy from the easiest and most accessible matching activities using identical physical objects to the more complex and abstract notion of matching representations of objects, such as those found in specially designed picture cards. As the child advances in matching activities they are able to connect physical objects with cards that represent the objects: A big leap forward in the development of language skill learning! Research demonstrates that using a progression of matching activities using ABA therapy techniques provides children with scaffolding needed to develop language skills.
Stages Learning Materials has created Language Builder® Matching Kits specially designed to foster identical and similar matching activities using objects and cards. The Language Builder® series is used widely by researchers and ABA therapists.
The Hierarchy of Matching Activities
Choose a 3D object to start with. Bowls and Cups, as offered in the Everyday Object Matching Kit are often a good first choice because they “nest,” which is a natural motivator for students to stack them together. Alternatively start with an object that is attractive or motivating to your particular student. If your student tends to engage in wheel-spinning stimulatory behavior, you may not want to start with wheeled vehicles.
Once the student has mastered matching one object, you can then move through the list of identical objects to match. As the student becomes more competent matching identical objects in a field of one, you can then add more objects to the field so the student will have to scan the objects before matching.
Choose a 3D object to start with. The Language Builder® 3D - 2D Matching Kits, such as the Food or Animal kits, are perfect for this matching activity. Start with an object that is attractive or motivating to your particular student. It is a good idea to choose an object with which your student has had significant success matching in the 3D - 3D matching activity.
Once the student has mastered matching one object to the corresponding photo card, you can then move through the list of identical objects to match. As the student becomes more competent matching object to card in a field of one, you can then add more objects to the field so the student will have to scan the objects before matching. There are additional lessons designed for 3D - 2D matching at the end of this article.
Choose a card from the Language Builder® Picture Nouns set to start. Begin with a card that has an image that is attractive or motivating to your particular student. It is a good idea to choose an object with which your student has had significant success matching in the 3D - 3D, and 2D - 3D matching activities.
Once the student has mastered matching one photo card to the corresponding photo card, you can then ask the student to match other identical pictures. As the student becomes more competent matching card to card in a field of one, you can then add more cards to the field so the student will have to scan the cards before matching.
Choose a card from the Language Builder® Picture Nouns set to start. Begin with a card that has an image that is attractive or motivating to your particular student. It is a good idea to choose an object with which your student has had significant success with in previous matching activities.
Once the student has mastered matching one photo card to the corresponding similar photo card, you can then ask the student to match other similar pictures. As the student becomes more competent matching card to card in a field of one, you can then add more cards to the field so the student will have to scan the cards before matching
Research on Matching: 3D - 2D is Essential
Basic matching is one of the first lessons taught in an Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) program for children with autism. Teaching early language skills to children with autism often begins with having children match identical objects. Before a child can learn that the picture of an object actually represents a real item (picture-object correspondence), the child may need to start learning by matching actual physical objects. It is often necessary to start by matching 3D objects such as cups or toy cars and later transition to matching identical images on cards (Blumberg & Hurley, 2007).
Teaching daily living skills to children with autism often depends on using activity schedules and sequencing charts. These tools are effective only at the point at which children have mastered the prerequisite skills of matching a 2D image to a 3D object (Haas, 2011). Until a child has the capacity to understand that a 2D image such as a picture of a toothbrush represents an actual object, being able to prompt a child to engage in brushing their teeth cannot be accomplished using an activity schedule or card. Some children will eventually be able to move from seeing an actual toothbrush, to recognizing a card that has a photographic image of a toothbrush, to recognizing the word “toothbrush.” Other children with more severe language delays will only be able to respond to 3D prompts (Baynham, 2007).
The Research Connection Between Matching Activities and Language Development
In a study using different types of photographs, symbols, and objects to teach language skills to 40 non-verbal subjects with autism the real objects proved to be much more readily recognized than any of the other representations of objects (Mirenda & Locke, 1989).
Typically developing infants and children under the age of three also learn from viewing 3D objects and often cannot process a 2D picture of an object until a later age. Researchers testing 5-month-old infants found that these infants could not understand 2-D images, but when presented with the same content in 3D representations infants were able to understand the objects. The researchers found that by examining 3D objects children naturally learn about objects in their world and that being able to examine a 3D object provides additional sensory information rather than just viewing a 2D image on a card (Mash & Boornstein, 2012).
The following are resources that can help support basic matching activities to promote language development:
- Mastering Matching 3D - 2D
- Storytelling and Recall with Animals (3D - 2D Matching)
- Using Identical Matching to Teach Beginning Language Skills to Children with Autism
Resources for Matching Activities
- LB6 Language Builder®: Blocks
- LB7 Language Builder®: 3D-2D Matching Kit: Foods
- LB8 Language Builder®: 3D-2D Matching Kit: Animals
- LB9 Language Builder®: 3D-2D Matching Kit: Everyday Objects
- LB10 Language Builder®: 3D-2D Matching Kit: Vehicles
Stages also offers 10 Memory Card Games that teach matching skills
References to Research on Matching and Language Development
Baynham, Tanya Yvonne. (2007). Training a non-match response: Toward a technology for determining controlling stimulus dimensions for two children with autism. University of North Texas, Dissertation. ProQuest Dissertations Publishing.
Blumberg, E.R. & Hurley, E. (2007). Enhancing Early Intervention for Parents of Young Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders: Information, Strategies, & Resources. New Brunswick, NJ: The Elizabeth M. Boggs Center on Developmental Disabilities.
Haas, Stephanie Iwanciow. (2011). “Teaching daily living skills to young adults with autism: the creation of a curriculum guide for special education teachers.” California State University: M.A. Thesis. Available: http://digitalcommons.csumb.edu/caps_thes/426
Mash, C., & Bornstein, M. H. (2012). 5-month-olds’ categorization of novel objects: Task and measure dependence. Infancy, 17, 179-197.
Mirenda, P., & Locke, P. (1989). A comparison of symbol transparency in nonspeaking persons with intellectual disabilities. Journal of Speech and Hearing Disorders, 54, 131-140.
New routine, new teachers, new classrooms…. New, new, new! This can be stressful for all children, but even more so for children with autism and other special needs. What can you do to minimize stress and maximize success in the new school year? Here are some ABC’s to ensure back to school success.
A common challenge for children and adults with autism is their ability to communicate. Many a parent and therapist will tell you that Picture Cards are one of the best tools to aid in communication with individuals with autism, whether the individual is verbal or non verbal.
We all know how difficult it can be to facilitate healthy interactions between children on the autism spectrum and their typically developing peers. The stereotypic “stimming” behaviors that are often present in children with autism, combined with a lack of appropriate social behaviors, tend to alienate other children and reduce the opportunities for peer interaction. Healthy social relationships are critical for early development, so it is extremely important to build some skills in children with autism that will help them relate to and interact with other children.
Stages Learning Materials produces 13 flash card sets that are labeled on the reverse in 17 common languages (English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Russian, Chinese simplified, Chinese traditional, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, Polish, Filipino, Portuguese, Greek, Thai, Arabic).
Are you still on the fence about letting your child use an iPad or other mobile technologies? The latest survey by Common Sense Media shows that even since their last survey two years ago, media habits of children have changed significantly. One large difference includes the average daily use of mobile devices. Time spent on a mobile device has tripled from 5 minutes to 15 minutes in the past two years.
Continuing with our series on blending digital and hands-on learning, we are going to switch focus today from one-on-one activities to ways to blend hands-on and digital learning in a whole group (classroom) setting.
Keeping in mind Beth Holland’s questions regarding appropriate use of screen time in early childhood, we will be exploring an appropriate, meaningful, and empowering way to teach kids features of 2-dimensional shapes using the VoiceThread app and various tangible 2-dimensional shape resources.
I know, I know – you just conquered Facebook so why should you even consider joining yet ANOTHER social media network? Believe it or not, Twitter is more than just a status update community. It is a great way to network and have conversations about topics that interest you. I have laid out five reasons why I think you should join Twitter.
Stages Learning Materials presents a new blog series to discuss blending digital and hands-on learning. Mixed messages abound when it comes to using technology in early childhood. In a recent Edutopia article, Beth Holland advises teachers and parents to look beyond all the negative screen time publicity and to ask themselves three questions when choosing to use digital materials:
- Is it appropriate?
- Is it meaningful?
- Is it empowering?
Over the next couple of weeks, we will be taking Beth Holland’s advice and showcasing various examples of how you can meaningfully blend hands-on and digital learning both at home and in the classroom to meet the needs of all learners. The following showcase will feature the Stages Lang-0-Learn Everyday Object photo flash card set paired with the Kid in a Story Book Maker App. After briefly introducing each product, we will suggest how your lesson can be strengthened by pairing the hands-on product with the digital product.
Over approximately the past 2 decades, with the rise in the prevalence of autism, an entire industry has grown up around treating and teaching children and adults with autism, as well as easing the challenges and improving the quality of day-to-day life for individuals on the autism spectrum. Within this growing market, the past 10 to 15 years has seen the adaptation of many new technologies to the particular needs of individuals with autism.
Rise in Autism Diagnosis
20 years ago most people had never heard the term autism, much less met anyone who had a child with autism. Today the Center for Disease Control estimates that rates of autism are as high as 1 in 88 children, and 1 in 54 boys (Center for Disease Control, 2008). Autism is the fastest growing developmental disability, with a growth rate of approximately 1,148% (Cavagnaro, 2007). Recent news stories report that number as high as 1 in 68 children. So, what is autism?
El Autismo: Sintomas, Terapia, Materiales de apprendizage, Recursos
Si le preocupa que su hijo o hija pueda tener autismo, y no sabe a dónde acudir, es importante que usted sepa que no está solo(a). Hay muchos casos de autismo y hay personas que han pasado por situaciones similares, muchos de los cuales están dispuestos a ayudar. En muchos casos los padres no tenían ni idea al principio, pero escucharon a sus instintos y buscaron ayuda.
Language development varies from child to child, and there are wide ranges of expected “normal” language development in young children. If you are using Stages Learning Materials products with your own child, and you are concerned about language development, you should definitely discuss this with your health care professional. However, for reference sake, in general:
A growing trend in Early Childhood Education is the focus on using materials with real photo images rather than illustrations.
Teaching ideologies such as Montessori have long understood the importance of focusing on fact rather than fiction in the materials used for teaching young children. The closer the educational experiences are to real life, the easier it is for children to make the links and connections to their real world experiences, and to recognize and transfer the learning value when they later encounter the real thing in nature.
Classroom Bingo is a fun teaching tool for use at home or in the classroom. With Stages’ Picture Recognition Bingo kids won’t even know that they’re learning as they listen intently to match the beautiful photographs on their player’s card with the corresponding words spoken by the instructor!
Iconicity refers to the degree of resemblance between a picture and the object that it depicts. A cartoon image, for example, would have a low degree of iconicity, while a photograph would have a higher degree of iconicity.
Student will gain familiarity with the Stages Cube puzzles through hands on exploration.
- Spatial awareness and hand eye coordination
- Peer collaboration - working with others to solve a problem.
- Demonstrate an increasing attention span by remaining on a task until completion.
Stages Learning Materials is starting a new blog series around blending digital and hands-on learning. There are a lot of mixed messages surrounding the use of technology in early childhood. In a recent Edutopia article, Beth Holland advises teachers and parents to look beyond all the negative screen time publicity and to ask themselves three questions when choosing to use digital materials:
- Is it appropriate?
- Is it meaningful?
- Is it empowering?
Students will use Everyday Object Lang-O-Learn Cards in conjunction with Kid in a Story app to build vocabulary on common objects that can be found around the home and at school. The app enables sharing between parents, therapists, and teachers, which leads to consistency across all environments.
- Build expressive and receptive vocabulary surrounding common objects.
- Sharing activities across all learning environments (home, school, therapy).
- Build digital and print literacy.
Using Stages Bingo sets provides children an opportunity to build various language skills through seeing and hearing new vocabulary words.
- Recognizing and naming familiar foods
- Building descriptive vocabulary. Recognizing foods by description and providing basic descriptions for foods.
Students will use Stages Learning Memory game to practice matching things that are the same.
- Identify things that are the same.
- Engage in turn taking when working with others.
Lesson Plan Overview
Use Stages Emotion Cards with literature to support a child's recognition of facial emotions and feelings in various contexts.
- Learn and name parts of the human face.
- Learn that people carry many cues to identify how they feel.
- Learn that facial expressions change as emotions change.
Just using realistic pictures to interact with and teach children is not enough. The key is in the specific ways that you use the pictures to build vocabulary, communication, literacy and critical thinking skills. The following chapters will introduce many techniques and teaching ideas across broad instructional categories, but one thing is clear: interaction is paramount. Active strategies that engage children and encourage them to participate in discussion about the picture are much better than just offering up passive descriptions.
When very young children first begin to learn language skills, they learn new words by hearing the spoken word tied to the actual object (Richards & Goldfarb, 1986). For example, if parents repeat the word car every time they take their child to the car, the child will quickly learn that the word car represents the real car.