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COVID-19 has led to a new way of rethinking all aspects of our daily lives. For many of us, it has meant huge shifts in our physical, social, mental, and emotional health. Organizations and corporations have had to reconsider what productive and efficient work can look like, while schools have had to reimagine learning in the virtual world. For schools, this switch to mostly remote learning presents more opportunities for students to engage in technology and various social platforms like chat rooms and social media. This also presents more opportunities for students to engage in or be affected by cyberbullying.
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.
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?
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.
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.
Topics: Autism & Emotions
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.
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.
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.
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.
*Print out out Free Card to give to a stranger when your child is having a difficult time in public.
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).
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.
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.
Use Stages Emotion Cards with literature to support a child's recognition of facial emotions and feelings in various contexts.