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How Do Autistic Toddlers Play

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Breaking Through The Barriers Of Asd

How Does Our Autistic 2 Year Old Play? | Home Videos Of Autistic Toddler Playing

ASD has no cure. But there is hope through treatment. Many children can learn to communicate and interact. Healthcare providers and mental health experts have learned a lot about how to break through to these children.

Here are some things we know about children with an ASD:

  • They may not be able to understand your nonverbal communications. They may not react to your smile or frown.

  • They take things literally. You need to be careful to say exactly what you mean. If you hurry the child by saying “Step on it,” don’t be surprised if he or she asks what to step on.

  • They may only be able to handle one thought or idea at a time. Keep conversations focused and simple.

  • They may want to only talk about the one thing they are really interested in at a given time.

  • They may see things differently than you do. You may not even notice ordinary sounds, tastes, touches, smells, and sights. But these may be physically painful to the child.

Preferred Play For Children With Autism

SUNY Buffalo State
Play preferences of children with autism spectrum disorder were observed in a community-based museum designed to enable children to choose their preferred play activity. In this naturalistic setting, children with ASD preferred play options with a strong sensory component.

Play is critical to children’s development, including children with autism spectrum disorders . Kathy Ralabate Doody, assistant professor of exceptional education at SUNY Buffalo State, observed different play options to determine those most likely to appeal to children with ASD.The findings were published in the North American Journal of Medicine and Science.

“Children with ASD chose to engage in play that provided strong sensory feedback, cause-and-effect results, and repetitive motions,” said Doody.

One novel aspect of the research, conducted by Doody with Jana Mertz, program coordinator at the Autism Spectrum Disorder Center at the Women & Children’s Hospital of Buffalo, was that the children with ASD could freely select their preferred activities. The research was conducted at a monthly event, “Au-some Evening,” at Explore & More, a children’s museum with exhibits that are designed to engage children through play. The event is open to children with ASD, their families, and their guests.

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Listen To The Parents

Just as you surround a child with autism with acceptance, do the same for parents. Your support could mean the world to them.

Advocates explain that parents would love a night off to decompress and get away. If you feel comfortable with the idea, offer to babysit. If you don’t, provide a listening ear to a parent in need. Schedule a regular coffee date for decompression and chatter, or set up play dates between your children while you both supervise.

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Things To Know About Kids With Autism

  • Sensory processing issues are common in autism.Kids on the autism spectrum dont always feel things the same way as people who are not on the spectrum I mean literally and in terms of their senses. They can have problems with the sensory information is processed. This is why my daughter cannot stomach having anything on her arms, even in cold weather. Its actually is painful for her. One thing to note, though, is that sensory disorder is a SEPARATE issue from autism. While it is common, not every child has it. When they do, it can impact behavior, speech, socialization and so much more.
  • Diet matters.Many autistic children have issues with certain foods. My daughter struggles dairy, that is, products that contain casein, the protein in cow milk. Regularly eating it disrupted her sleep patterns for the first 5 years of her life. Thats right: for FIVE YEARS, she woke up every three to four hours every single night. Removing it got her sleeping through the night in less than 2 weeks. So if a doctor ever tells you that you can feed your autistic child anything, thats probably not the case. Learn why the autism diet is important.
  • Autism may be linked to autoimmune issues.Many people I know call autism an autoimmune disorder, and Im inclined to agree somewhat. The folks at Real Food Forager does a great job of explaining this, with links to current science, and this study seems to confirm it in at least some cases.
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    What To Look For In Toys For Kids With Autism

    4 Toys For " Autistic Children"

    When looking for toys for children with autism, its important to keep these things in mind. Its not that your child wont enjoy any type of toy. Instead, its about finding what toy most engages your child and what may help them work on certain skills.

    Also keep in mind your childs developmental stage . Toys usually appropriate for certain age groups may or may not work for a same-aged child who has ASD.

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    When My Child Is Having A Meltdown Please Stay Calm

    Meltdowns occur because children on the Autism Spectrum often feel overwhelmed by their surroundings. Therefore, a sense of calm is required to end the meltdown and restore a childs feeling of control. During a meltdown, the parent will likely be busy trying to calm their child. A helpful person standing by shouldnt approach the parent and child. They can help by trying to make the immediate area as peaceful as possible. As Autism Speaks recommends, Scan the area around the child for sights and sounds that may have contributed to the meltdown. . . . Is there an alarm that can be silenced? A flashing display that can be temporarily turned off?

    What Are Some Simple Things I Can Use For Engagement

    There are many simple items you can use to engage a child like:

    Balloons Bounce them around or blow them up and deflate them. Bubbles There are so many types available different wands, bubble machines. This is a great activity to wait for a child to ask/gesture for more bubbles. My daughter used to sign more before she could speak to keep bubble blowing going.Cause and Effect Toys a jack-in-the-box, press a button and something happens. These types of toys also teach children that their actions have effects and gives them a sense of control in their play.Blocks Playing with blocks encourages turn taking. Build a tower with each person adding a block until it falls down. The parent can build a tower and the child knocks it down. My son loved this one!Simple Puzzles Puzzles are also great for turn taking. Chunky puzzles with knobs on the top can make handling pieces easier. Puzzles also help with problem solving skills.Books Books with interactive sounds, pop-up books, books with textures, or books with things to do like pull a tab or spin a wheel are all very engaging.

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    Signs Of Nonverbal Communication Difficulties

    • Avoids eye contact.
    • Uses facial expressions that dont match what they are saying
    • Doesnt pick up on other peoples facial expressions, tone of voice, and gestures.
    • Makes very few gestures . May come across as cold or robot-like.
    • Reacts unusually to sights, smells, textures, and sounds. May be especially sensitive to loud noises. Can also be unresponsive to people entering/leaving, as well as efforts by others to attract the childs attention.
    • Atypical posture, clumsiness, or eccentric ways of moving .

    Children with autism spectrum disorder have trouble picking up on subtle nonverbal cues and using body language. This makes the give-and-take of social interaction very difficult.

    Play Time: An Examination Of Play Intervention Strategies For Children With Autism Spectrum Disorders


    Johanna Lantz, Graduate Assistant

    There is no question that play is an integral part of child development. Through play, children learn social skills such as sharing, cooperation and turn-taking. Social language is learned, self-esteem is built, and friendships are formed during recreational activities with peers. Play encourages cognitive enrichment, emotional growth, and influences personality development. It offers a means of exploring various societal roles and rules, and provides time to practice finding solutions to problems. Creativity and imagination are fostered through play. For typically developing children, engaging in pleasurable, imaginative and socially interactive activity is a natural part of life. In contrast, many children with autism spectrum disorders do not play in a manner that is beneficial to development. Skill deficits and interfering problem behaviors often inhibit productive play in children with autism spectrum disorders consequently, this crucial aspect of development should be a target for early intervention. Pamela Wolfbergs Integrated Play Groups and Stanley Greenspans Floor Time are two intervention strategies that are intended to increase developmentally beneficial play in children with autism spectrum disorders. This article will discuss IPG and Floor Time, and will examine research that has investigated the efficacy of these models.

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    Free Ten Green Bottles Visual Resource

    You can download a copy of my Ten Green Bottles resource. You can print it onto card or paper but if you can laminate it and add velcro spots it will last longer and the kids will enjoy pulling them off.

    Using play routines really helps my youngest and he gets really involved. I tried this one out with both my boys and my 6 year old had as much fun as his brother. Have you tried any play routines with your kids? What would you include in your routine?

    Can A Child With Autism Be Potty Trained

    Children with autism can be toilet trained as long as they dont have any medical issues that prevent them from urinating or having a bowel movement. Some signs that would indicate a child is having urological problems would be:

    • Foul-smelling urine
    • Observing discomfort when a child urinates or has a bowel movement
    • Stools that are small, hard, dry, and painful to pass
    • Having fewer than two bowel movements a week

    Before beginning the toilet training process with children with autism, it is recommended a pediatrician confirm with a physical exam there are no medical issues.

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    My Child May Be Nonverbal But She Has A Lot To Say

    We live in a very verbal society that is ill-equipped for those in our population who are nonverbal. Its estimated that about one-third of those on the Autism Spectrum are unable to speak. Still, it would be a mistake to assume these people do not have ideas, opinions, and other things to say. Some autistic children learn sign language to communicate, while others type or use other tools.

    Repetitive Patterns Of Behaviour

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    Regarding restricted/repetitive patterns of behaviour, some children show a strong preference for, or aversion to, sensory stimuli. For example, a child may crave visual input by staring at a fan for a long periods of time. Or they may be overly distressed by typical household noises, haircuts or being touched.

    Children often become attached to specific objects such as a block or a notebook that they must carry around with them yet show little interest in toys. They can become intensely interested in things like door knobs or toilet seats, or become obsessed with a familiar cartoon character or toy.

    They may repetitively wave their arms or hands, rock or spin when excited. Some children repeat actions over and over, such as turning a light switch on and off. Some focus on small parts of an object rather than the entire object .

    Others may insistently line objects up such as toys or family members shoes and become distressed if the objects are moved. They may be aggressive towards others or may injure themselves. They often crave predictability and struggle when their routines are disrupted.

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    Develops Rituals And May Get Upset Over Change

    Babies learn morning and nighttime routines with your help. Making activities predictable can provide opportunities for learning.

    Babies usually flow with changes in routines such as ending an activity early or adding a new step.

    Children with autism may develop rituals and be unwilling to complete a series of behaviors a different way.

    If your child insists on certain things being the same and gets very upset over unexpected change, this may be an early sign of autism.

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    Language And Communication Skills

    An autistic child who needs more support in developing language and communication skills may exhibit some of these signs:

    • cannot form sentences
    • does not answer questions appropriately or follow directions
    • does not understand counting or time
    • reverses pronouns
    • rarely or never uses gestures or body language such as waving or pointing
    • talks in a flat or singsong voice
    • does not understand jokes, sarcasm, or teasing

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    Understanding Common Autistic Behaviors

    We usually discipline children because they consciously act in inappropriate ways, whether its swiping treats off a siblings plate or intentionally tripping a child on the soccer field. However, a child with autism may not be able to control certain behaviors, and its important that they are not harshly punished for them. Some behaviors that children with autism may struggle to control include:

    • Biting their hands and fingers
    • Hand flapping or rocking
    • Hurting themselves by banging or hitting their heads
    • Not looking at people or making eye contact
    • Physical aggression toward peers and grown-ups, like biting or kicking

    Many of these behaviors stem from childrens struggles to express their needs or desires or understand social norms and cues. You shouldnt place your child in time-out, shame them, or spank them because of these behaviors. Rather, its important you work to better understand why they are acting out in this way and, if necessary, try to avoid those triggers in the future.

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    How Parents Can Spot The Warning Signs

    Three Board Games to Play with Autistic Children

    As a parent, youre in the best position to spot the earliest warning signs of autism. You know your child better than anyone and observe behaviors and quirks that a pediatrician, in a quick fifteen-minute visit, might not have the chance to see. Your childs pediatrician can be a valuable partner, but dont discount the importance of your own observations and experience. The key is to educate yourself so you know whats typical and whats not.

    Monitor your childs development. Autism involves a variety of developmental delays, so keeping a close eye on whenor ifyour child is hitting the key social, emotional, and cognitive milestones is an effective way to spot the problem early on. While developmental delays dont automatically point to autism, they may indicate a heightened risk.

    Take action if youre concerned. Every child develops at a different pace, so you dont need to panic if your child is a little late to talk or walk. When it comes to healthy development, theres a wide range of typical. But if your child is not meeting the milestones for his or her age, or you suspect a problem, share your concerns with your childs doctor immediately. Dont wait.

    Regression of any kind is a serious autism warning sign

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    Other Types Of Visual Schedules

    Use your imagination to create visual schedules that meet the needs of your child. You can incorporate signals such as a wait image or timer to help your child when they need to wait for a desired activity or item.

    If there are other areas where your child struggles to keep track of what he needs to do, create a visual schedule to help.

    Does he struggle in the grocery store? Give him a list of items, either with pictures or words, of what items you need to get. This strategy is explained in our post How to Avoid a Meltdown at the Grocery Store but can also be used for other types of errands as well.

    Does he need to reminded to do homework or chores? Create schedules that show what needs to be done.

    Schedules reduce your need to remind and nag your child, allowing you to focus more on teaching, reinforcement and positive interactions with him. It also increases his independence which helps his self-esteem in the process.

    Autism Speaks offers a Visual Supports Toolkit on using visuals for children with autism you will find useful.

    Therapies And Supports To Improve Communication And Social Skills

    Improved communication and social understanding can lead to lower anxiety and less challenging behaviour in autistic children and teenagers. There are many therapies and supports that might increase your childs skills in these areas, and help you manage your childs behaviour.

    A good first step is talking with your childs GP, paediatrician or psychologist, or another health professional who works with your child. They can help you find appropriate therapies and supports for your child. Psychologists, speech pathologists and experienced Applied Behaviour Analysis practitioners can help you with behaviour management if the behaviour continues to be a problem or you need support to deal with it.

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    Not All Autism Is The Same And Neither Is Every Child With Autism

    Its called the Autism Spectrum because autism actually covers a wide scope of complex disorders in brain development. Included are Aspergers Syndrome, classic autism and Pervasive Developmental Disorder, among others. The types of autism range in everything from communication skills, anxiety, social interaction, and repetitive behaviors, among other things. As with any kid, a child with autism should be treated as an individual with his or her own set of abilities and preferences.

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