Hi everyone! I just wanted to make sure you know I have a pinterest page that is FULL of games you can play with your child to work on social goals. There are lots of ideas to spark your own creativity or give you something easy to do. Make sure to modify them to include your child's motivation and goals. Let me know if you need any help. Happy Playing!
Need some help thinking of pretend play ideas to work on attention span goals with your child? I sat with my own daughters and came up with a list of ideas to try. Feel free to comment below with more good imagination games! Happy playing!
Imaginative Play Ideas
I try to frequently send out tips through social media. I feel I am lucky to know a lot of great techniques to help connect with children with autism and I like to share what I know. Recently I opened up Facebook and this is what I wrote:
I love playing. I love finding kid's (and adults) motivations and then making them laugh and laugh. I love finding any interest and then making it more interesting and then finding ways to help kids practice skills while helping them get more of what they want. I love convincing people that they are powerful and capable of anything they want, whether it be kids or parents. I love helping adults connect to their kids and kids to their adults. I love the silence and contemplation of kids with autism just as much as the engagement and laughter. I love the new moments and seeing kids see and hear and experience themselves do new things. I love building confidence and love and trust. I love love. I love my job! Have a great weekend! Hug your kiddo for me!
I didn't originally intend to publish it, but letting myself go on and on about what I love about my job was fun and it left me feeling really excited about what I do. If you are ever feeling "stuck" in the playroom or a little unmotivated give yourself a moment to write out, type out, or even leave yourself a voice memo going over what you love about playing in the playroom. You will find that once you start yourself thinking about fun and uplifting moments you are opening up your brain to think of even more fun moments. This then helps you to envision future fun moments and might even bring some ideas to help with those future fun moments.
Regardless, the more hopeful and excited you are the, more you help your perception of having a fun and inspiring play session come true. Your enthusiastic attitude in the playroom is a wonderful and enticing model to your child of how you can be in life if you choose. It will also help them play longer, try harder and help both of you have more fun.
Hello wonderful friends, I’ve missed talking to you all. I have been traveling the country and visiting special friends all over the place. Just recently I had a new addition to my extended family, a nephew was born. As I was holding this beautiful child I started thinking of all the things I would love to share with him and what kind of world I wanted him to experience.
Then I remembered a Q&A I did with a family who had a variety of different therapists working with their child and how they asked me all kinds of questions about what tasks I was focusing on with this little boy, what did I want him to learn? I told them I was focusing on the relationship, and I wanted him to learn that people were “cool” and the world was a fun place to be in and that was the most important thing to teach him. I saw them all nodding their heads and scribbling notes as if a light bulb just popped on, to think that liking people might be more important than stacking blocks, what an awesome concept!!!!
I smile now, but it really is an important concept to remember. Autistic children have a hard time in our “real” world. People are not predictable, or easy to understand. Other things are so much more controllable. One of our most important “tasks” when working with these children is to show them how easy people can be, how fun, how helpful, how worthwhile it is to share time with another person. I want you to always be thinking of what kind of world you are showing your child. I hope that it is one of joy, excitement, and of course love.
Wishing you all a happy holiday season!
Help the Leprechaun reach the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow!.
String (long enough to go across the room - amount equal to leprechaun pictures)
Balloons (amount equal to number of leprechaun pictures)
Picture of Pot of Gold at end of rainbow (you can draw or search google images and print)
Pictures of Leprechauns - as many as you wish (you can draw them or find images from google images)
Set Up and Play:
With or without your child (depending upon how involved they want to be) tape the pot of gold up in the room. Tape the end pieces of string to the picture of the pot of gold (as many as leprechaun pictures you have). Thread the string through straws. Blow up a balloon (don't tie it off) and tape the leprechaun picture over the straw to the balloon (see picture 1). Let the balloon go and it will fly to the pot of gold (or it might not make it all the way and you have to keep doing it until it gets there! Do it with all your balloons.
This game is great to work on attention span, physical participation, playing others games. It will be enjoyed by kids throughout the spectrum. It can also be varied to work on many other goals. Here are a few ideas...
-You could work on eye contact while you blow up the balloon
-You could work on longer sentences while your child tells you where to send the balloon (maybe there are several pots of gold?)
-Feel free to add in more ideas in the comments below!
I played this game with one of my favorite friends with autism in the playroom and it was a hit, then I brought it back and my own girls loved it! This game is fun for everyone!!
Happy St. Patrick's Day!
I have a special friend that I get to work with on a regular basis. His name is James. I love him so much!
Anyway, I brought in a game today designed for James. He has been playing Candy land somewhat repetitiously with me lately , so it was designed around this motivation Also, when asked a question in which he needs to state his opinion he typically says something like "everything", or "nothing" or "I don't know", so I wanted to give him some practice stating his opinion.
I had printed off pictures of Candy Land characters from Google Images. I taped them to a wall and put an animal balloon around them like a licorice rope. I then had a cowboy hat and a tape mustache and I myself was "Lord Licorice." I had captured all of the CandyLand Characters and put them under a secret spell and would only let them go when James answered a "secret" question.
Well, James promptly removed my "licorice rope", wrapped it around his foot and started talking about his latest obsession Viki - a mouse from Angelina Ballerina that he saw once and whom he would really like to live with him, despite the fact that she is a cartoon character who does not exist outside of the movies. Following James lead, I too started lamenting about Viki not being with us. She probably could help these Candy Land characters if she were here. (this technique is incorporating a child's motivation into the current game) I wrapped some tape around my foot and we talked about how we wished the "real Viki" was with us even though we knew that could probably not happen. James does not appreciate when we try to pretend to be Viki or make games with her not there (which is normally a technique I would try when a child likes characters). I tried putting tape across the characters for more licorice rope, but James just kept removing it. I did a dance of going with James motivation and talking about Viki and then trying to bring him back to my game. I laughed aloud like Lord Licorice might and said "even Viki would not be powerful enough to break the spell on these characters." Again, I tried putting up more tape, and James kept taking it down. Playfully I said "Hey if you keep taking my licorice rope I am going to tie YOU up". James reached out and grabbed the tape again, with a grin and a mischevious gleam in his eye, and I knew I had him.
James is a very physical guy who loves rough and tumble, but I always make sure to give him control and he knows if he says "stop," I will. I tackled James and tickled him while I wrapped his legs in masking tape. He laughed and laughed as he easily broke through my "licorice rope". I taped him up again all while pretending I was Lord Licorice and he was "foiling my plans". Once I knew James was really motivated - he was giggling up a storm, I introduced my challenge again. I knew that James liked breaking through the tape, so I told him that I was going to ask him questions and if he didn't say either "Lord Licroce" or "Candy Land" as the answer I would tie him up again. I asked him "what is your favorite toy to play with your brother?", when he replied "Lincoln Logs", I celebrated him (because this is something he normally does not do), and then Lord Licorice acted "angry" and tied him up again because he didn't say "Candy Land". James LOVED it! Over and over again he answered questions with his own opinon to see Lord Licorice get worked up and to break free from the tape.
So, there are several lessons to be learned here. First of all, kids love big reactions, so getting angry and worked up over something they did, may just be exciting for them and encourage them to do it again. So save the big reactions for the playroom and when celebrating. 2 - When my initial game didn't work out, I didn't push it on James or give up. Instead I went with James biggest current motivation and found a way for the game to work for him. 3 - I waited until he was really motivated until I worked on his challenges 4 - Once he was really motivated it wasn't very challenging for him to work on his "challenges"
Play is so powerful for all of us, and specific games can be really helpful in working on challenges. However we must also be flexible and willing to try new paths to connect, because often times the most powerful games arise in the moment, when we are most in tune with our child.
This child's motivations were chase and space. The goal was answering questions requiring his opinion.
Using my good friend "google images", I printed off a bunch of pictures of aliens. I taped these all over the room before my friend entered. We also had a toy rocket ship (you could print this out too or make your own). When he came in I told him the aliens had invaded and they were on a mission to find out more about him. We needed to help them get back to their planet, but they wouldn't leave until they had their questions answered. When I touched the alien I put it on my forehead and it "took over my body", the alien asked a question, such as "what do you like to do outside?", or "what's your favorite breakfast food?" When my friend answered, he was chased and hugged by the alien (his biggest motivation). The alien was then immobilized and could be moved to the rocket ship safely. It was a huge hit, and I'm sure this game can be modified in many ways. Here are a few:
Attention Span Goal - Just put up the aliens and help your child find them and put them in the rocket ship.
-Use a laundry basket as the rocket ship and zoom around the room, collecting the aliens
-Hide the aliens around the room and put clues to the next alien on each one
Eye Contact Goal - Similar game as the original described except no question, but you can only chase your child after they have looked for a predetermined amount of time.
There are many more ways to play this, if you would like share your ideas in the comments section! Happy Playing!
Hi Everyone, this is my good friend Connor, he LOVES angry birds! Here is a game that I created for him that can be used in so many ways. An easy place to start is to use it as an attention span game (or physical participation) in which whatever you hit when you throw the ball you get that payoff (in this case angry bird tickles.)
I created this board by drawing a bullseye and putting velcro in the white areas and on the opposite side of a few light balls. (You can play without the velcro, you will just need to pay attention to where the ball hits the board.) Then I drew some Angry Birds and put them around the board (angry birds are Connor's motivation, use whatever motivates your child - songs titles, words like tickles, squeezes, or maybe types of dancing (experiment with words and pictures to see what your child likes best - I find pictures more fun myself). If you want to elongate the game and if your child is willing, have them help in some way (choosing the motivations, or coloring the pictures - Connor told me how to color each bird, so we worked on language skills too!)
Tape the bullseye to the wall. Then model the game a few times by throwing the ball and wherever it hits on the board give your child that motivation. After you've done it a few times ask your child to throw the ball to pick the motivation. It's that simple, and fun!
ways to vary the game:
Have fun, let me know how it goes, and if you have a creative way you varied the game, please share!
The founder of Inspired Spectrums shares her tips and experiences in working with children and adults with autism. Word of caution: she is occasionally sentimental and this is often reflected in her blogs :)