Therapy Ideas for Kids With Autism
- One of the big problems in teaching autistic children is frustration. Many people who try to teach autistic children expect too much out of them, and get frustrated when they can't reach loftily set goals. They are trying to push the children too far and this can actually set an autistic child back. More than any other child, an autistic child needs to learn at his or her own pace. Dr. Stanley Greenspan, a child psychiatrist, has developed a therapy method called Floortime. In this therapy, the adult relates to the autistic child at his or her level, focusing on the strengths of the child and using these strengths as building blocks for learning. Greenspan defines six steps each child must take to grow emotionally and intellectually: self regulation and interest in the world; intimacy; two-way communication; complex communication; emotional ideas; and emotional thinking. Autistic children struggle to progress in these areas. The adults participating in this therapy, usually the parents and a therapist, should get on the floor and engage the child in activities he or she enjoys and at the child's level. Don't add new activities to their regimen unless they express interest. Speak and interact at a level they can understand. If they use one-word sentences, use one-word sentences. If the child doesn't speak but uses physical contact to communicate, do the same. Change your interactions with them as they change the type of interactions. If they move to complex sentences and thoughts, you should do the same. This therapy does not guarantee that a child will suddenly burst forth and be a normal, talkative, and empathetic child. Many autistic children will never get to that level. However, Floortime therapy can help them to reach their full potential in a safe and nurturing environment.
- Many autistic children will never learn to speak. However, they will still have desires and needs and should have a way to communicate. PECS is a communication therapy for children who cannot speak. PECS teaches children to communicate using pictures. These pictures will be printed on cards for the child. The child will hold up whatever card communicates his or her need or desire. You may be able to teach your child what the cards you make mean, or the child may assign his or her own meaning to the card. Whatever the meaning, it has to be consistent. The child should be taught to use the cards in a way that communicates a desire correctly every time. This process can be done at home, but it can be difficult. Pyramid Products is a company that will help move the caregiver and autistic child through the process. They decide what images will motivate the child; create the cards to represent these images; and then go through a slow, steady process of teaching the child what each card means. This process involves showing the child the card and then handing him or her the object the card represents over and over until the child can show the right card. This process can allow a non-speaking child to communicate in a basic way. New words and images can be introduced to the child at a slow rate, and the child may even learn simple sentences with PECS.
Sensory Integration Room
- A sensory integration room is a room that is designed to stimulate all of the senses in an autistic child. This therapy is built on the theory that children with autism have a difficult time processing information from their senses. People who don't suffer from autism can listen to music while reading with little difficulty. People with autism are more easily distracted by conflicting senses and this leads to a difficulty in communication. It also leads them to behave inappropriately in response to various kinds of stimulation. The Sensoryh Integration Room will help teach children how to deal with stimulation coming through their senses and how to react. This room should be designed to be fun, so the child doesn't feel as if he or she is learning or working. A therapist or parent should play with the child and carefully steer him or her through each section of the room. Every sense should be activated. For example, play music and let the child dance. Let them hit swinging balls and spin on a chair. Walking on a balance beam and crawling through tunnels integrates movement, hand-eye coordination, and movement. The adult will guide children through each exercise in an appropriate way and help them to experience these sensations in a way that excites them. As they learn how to react to their senses and how to deal with their sensations, they may begin to communicate more effectively.