Tag Archives: Speech

The Power of Choice.

I could have stayed under the warm blankets and thought more about this blog, or I could have turned my thoughts elsewhere, or I could get out of the bed and come and dump my thoughts. You guessed it. I chose to get up. Choices are a part of our every day routine. We may not always feel like we have a choice, but when it comes right down to it we do… in every situation.

People with developmental disabilities … namely autism, should no, they deserve choices. Some would think that these kids don’t know what they want half the time. But who are we not to try and give them a choice? “Would you like water or juice?” “Would you like to swing or ride the bike or just sit out in the fresh air?” Even a simple yes or no to a question gives us insight in to what the child might want or need.

One thing that I have learned is that these kids are far from stupid and have wants and needs just like the rest of us. Oh I know… it isn’t easy to figure out what those wants and needs are, but with some time and effort on the part of the therapist/teacher/parent/caregiver/ and the kid themselves, it can be done.

The puzzle (to me) is the best part. Trying to find what works for these kids and piecing it together is a challenge that I am up for. Giving these kids choices only helps to unlock their world. Letting them in on what is going on with them and having them help guide us will only make it a bit easier on everyone.

Start simple. Find two items that you know are preferred. You know that the child likes them both equally. Put them in front of him/her and ask. Let them choose. Or even show them Yes/No icons and ask if they want this item. Teaching them that they have power in choice also teaches them that they have power in communication. It goes hand in hand.

When working with these kids, I have learned that the choices offered are sometimes not what the child wants. However, they still have a choice. Watch to see what they do. They may surprise you. They may throw a holy terror temper tantrum. But we all know that sometimes the choices we are faced with are not always rainbows and butterflies… and we have to learn from that as well. So do these kids.

Yeah, this is what kept me from falling asleep. I am glad I made the choice to get up and write. I always feel a little bit better and a little more excited about what I am doing when I get to share it with others. If you have any questions, or if some of my sleepy time writing confused you, please feel free to comment below. I am always happy to help.

~Kari

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It must be horrible…

… to be trapped in your own head.

Not every day at school is a beautiful bouquet of flowers all wrapped in bows. Trust me, there are more good times than bad (thank heavens), but I just feel so damn helpless when these kids have bad days.

I have laid in bed many nights wondering what it would be like to have Autism. ESPECIALLY if it means that I couldn’t speak or get my thoughts or emotions out in a proper way. I couldn’t imagine being trapped inside my own head … lord knows it is scary enough…

The simple basic needs that we take for granted, such as “hmmm I need a drink” or “I am hungry” are sometimes next to impossible for these kids to assimilate to us.

Today was a rough day with one kid. He is my non-verbal guy and was having a really hard time with his iPad and letting me know what it was that he needed/wanted. He was extraordinarily frustrated. Coming at me… hollering… pinching… scratching. I felt terrible. I didn’t know how to help him. All I could do was maintain my cool and let him know that it was all okay and that I would help him figure it out.

He was so angry and frustrated.

These kids need a light at the end of the tunnel on .. sometimes.. a minute by minute basis. I am amazed at my ability to stay calm and “grounded” during these moments. I was never a very patient person when it came to my own NT child. I guess I just know deep down that these guys don’t know how to control their anger/behaviors and that I need to be an anchor in their storm.

Once I figured out what the issue was, we were able to be happy again and he was the kind and gentle boy that I have come to love.

What I would like to share with you is this… If you have a child that tantrums:

  • Remain calm.
  • Be gentle in your actions.
  • Reassure them that they (and you) are okay.
  • Remind them that together you will figure it out.
  • Keep trying.
  • Love them through it.
  • Time out works most of the time
  • Punishment does not work most of the time.

Thanks for listening. I hope this helps.

Gentle Hugs,

~Kari

 

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Filed under Behaviors, Lessons

Goosebump kind of day!!

Working with kids with Autism causes a lot of goosebump moments. Today was a goosebump on your goosebump kind of day!

As I mentioned in this post, one of the kids in my class is learning how to use a speech/speaking program called Proloquo2Go. He is non-verbal, so we have been working with him daily to teach him how to speak with this program. He has made some good progress touching “yes” when appropriate, “no”, “I’m done”, “I need a break”, “Ready to work”, and a few other things when we prompt him. These are all baby steps and it is wonderful to see him take those.

Today however, this beautiful child, UNPROMPTED, SAID (using his iPad) – “I want, to eat, snack, fruit rollup”!!!! 

Now, to better understand the magnitude of this feat, you need to understand Proloquo.

Each set of words that he said are like folders in a computer. “I want” is a folder, “to eat” is a selection in the “I want”  folder, “snack” is selection in the  “to eat” folder, and “fruit rollup” is a selection in the “snack” folder. This child had to know where to select each item from each folder and he FLIPPIN DID IT ON HIS OWN!!!

We went ape-shit!! We praised him.. rewarded him with tons of praise, high-fives, and the fruit rollup! You should have seen his smiles. He actually got up from the table and ran around happy, smiling, and thrilled with himself. He must have felt so proud that he was able to SPEAK! To let us know what he wanted!

Skip ahead to later in the day…

This beautiful child … once again… SAID… “I want, to eat, snack, Christmas Goodies”once again.. UNPROMPTED!!!!

I am so excited for him! I am so proud of him!! I am so proud of us!!

Goosebumps on my goosebumps!!

Now I am going to chillax and gloat…

~Kari

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Tablet helps autistic learn, communicate – The Times of India

Tablet helps autistic learn, communicate – The Times of India.

I was perusing the news about Autism. Something I do frequently. It is nice to see something on the positive side since lately the news hasn’t been great.

One of my students is non-verbal. We are teaching him to communicate with the iPad using Proloquo2Go. This is not an easy process, but it is one that will pay off in the end. We are already seeing remarkable changes in this child who has not really spoken at all.

He can tell us that he is hungry – and choose what he wants, thirsty – and choose what he wants, and other various things like “I need a break”, and simple responses such as “yes and no”.

If you have a child with Autism that is mostly non-verbal, I would recommend an iPad with some form of communication app. There are several out there. I just recommend Proloquo because I personally have used it. The other programs can/could be just as effective!

Remember patience and rewards! These kids eat that up!

~Kari

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