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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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.