Autism Acceptance – Planning A Sensory-Friendly and Inclusive Event

Posted on 2019-04-30 18:15:39 by Admin under Resources & Tips

For parents of a child with autism, going to parties or social events can be incredibly stressful. The noise, the activity, the food…all are potential triggers for their child. In honor of Autism Acceptance, here are some ideas for planning a party to include children with autism.  

Schedule the activities at your party into "stations" 

Try thinking of some specific activities you can host (that can go along with the theme of your party if desired). Dividing the children into groups and rotating them through the stations in regular 15-20 minute intervals (or however long you decide) can help reduce the stress of a party atmosphere.

Example stations for a Princess Party that alternate between fast and slow-paced activities:

  • -Princess Bounce House, Princess Dress-Up Closet, Pin the Crown on the Princess, Princess Coloring Station (coloring books, crayons, etc.), Princess Freeze Dance/Sing-Along/Dance Party, Princess Foam Table (shaving cream with crowns, necklaces, princess dolls, etc. in the shaving cream), Princess Treasure Hunt (to find crowns, pearls, glass slippers, etc.)

Some children might need help transitioning between stations and may need updates on how much time they have. Saying something like, “In 10 minutes, we are going to move to the next station…in 5 minutes…in 3 minutes…” can be helpful. Let the parents know so they can help their child if needed since they likely already have some strategies or tricks to help with transitions.

Try to avoid scheduling too many hyper-stimulating games back-to-back (think high-energy games like tag, freeze dance, relay races, jumping on the moon bounce, etc.). Instead, try to alternate these activities with other slower paced ones (think coloring books, crafts, a puzzle or board game station). Alternating fast-paced and slow-paced activities can help some kids avoid over-stimulation that can lead to fits or other behaviors.

Since some children do not transition well between activities (parents may indicate this to you upon receiving the invitation), having separate “Active” and “Quiet” places may be the best option for your party. Maybe the backyard is where the kids can go to run around and play games, but inside, you have a designated room for slower-paced games and activities. 

Designate a sensory safe room

A comfortable, quiet and low-lit sensory safe room can serve as a place for an over-stimulated child to settle down. This room should be a place where you won’t worry that anything valuable will be broken.  Here are some other features to consider in the room: 

  • -Place blankets, pillows, bean bags, etc. around the room to make it cozier should the child(ren) wish to lay down.
  • -This space should be able to have dim light available. Lights and sounds can sometimes be overwhelming to children with autism, so make sure they can get away from this.
  • -Make sure this room is relatively quiet and away from the rest of the noise of the party.
  • -Also consider items like light up toys, CD player with soft music, and/or sensory-friendly toys (see below) 

Sensory Friendly toys and activities

Not sure what toys or activities might be good for kids who have sensory processing difficulties? Here are some suggestions you can have available that won't break the bank! 

  • -Shaving cream — Some find it very relaxing to spray shaving cream on a table and play with it.
  • -Uncooked Rice (or beans) — Have a container of dry, uncooked rice in a bin that children can put their hands or feet in. Hide puzzle pieces or toys in the bin to provide an added goal!  
  • -Balls—Tactile sensations can be calming and pleasing for some. A stress ball is squishy, balls with nubs are bumpy, tennis balls are fuzzy, etc.
  • -Bubbles—a bubble machine or bubbles can be calming to look at for many kids.
  • -Play-Doh—similar to a bin of rice, this can be a calming sensory, tactile activity.  

Other general tips:

Flashing, blinking lights and loud music can be difficult for some kids to deal with. Consider having a designated music/dance room or space where party-goers can boogie! 

Think about reaching out to parents or attendees beforehand to see if there are specific food preferences. Children with autism may only have a handful of foods they prefer to eat. Supplying one or two of those foods can help parents feel supported that their child is included in the party. 

Some children with autism use tablets, pictures, or other devices to communicate. The foods and activities you decide to have at the party might not be available in the communication device. Taking pictures of foods and games then posting them on a board can help children select what activity to do first, which foods they would like, etc. 

Teaching the Core Word: WHO

Posted on 2017-04-19 08:55:11 by Admin under Resources & Tips

One of the words in the PrAACtical AAC: A year of core is WHO.  Find Symbol Stix or PCS button sequence supports on our website. Teach the word WHO by modeling as much as you can!  It’s important for everyone to be able to ask who?  Try it out!

I Can Model Making Snow

Posted on 2017-03-08 09:27:22 by Admin under Resources & Tips

Try a tip from Saltillo consultant Amanda Hettenhausen: 

Since it hasn't snowed much, or at all, this winter, why not make snow with your kiddos? It is fun (albeit a little messy) and provides opportunity to model and practice lots of great words. Since it is a little messy, this might be a good time to model, more than to expect the child to use the device, or break out your low tech board (free ones available here).

There are several recipes available to make snow, but basically it involves 2 inexpensive items such as conditioner and baking soda. Here are a few recipes you could follow. 

Below is an example of what you might say and model during the snow making process. These picture pathways are for WordPower 60 Basic, so you may have to adjust based on the vocabulary you are using. The words I selected were based on the core word list for March. With this one activity we get to practice with 6 of the words "good, it, make, now, read, thing."  You can also find the modeling document here.

Note that when modeling it is not necessary to touch EVERY word on the device. As you say things, touch the 1-3 keywords per sentence. This will help the interaction move along, keep you feeling confident, and the child engaged.

Then you can brainstorm the words you could model once the snow is made and the play commences.

1) DESCRIBING WORDS: it is...cold, wet, white, neat, fun, good, bad
2) QUESTION WORDS: Where is? (if you hide things in it), What does it feel like?
3) ACTION WORDS: put, do, make, 
4) POSITION WORDS: on/off, in/out
5) COMMENTING WORDS: like it/don't like it (and all your describing words)

To learn more about using button capture to create support materials, sign up for the live webinar, Oh the Things You Can Do! A Chat Editor Make & Take Session on March 16 at 5:00 pm ET.

Teaching the Core Word: GOOD

Posted on 2017-03-06 08:27:20 by Admin under Resources & Tips

Happy Monday!  Looking for a word to teach? One of the words included in PrAACtical AAC Year of Core for March is GOOD.  The word good is used every day across many contexts.   Create opportunities for the communicator using AAC to use the word good.  Today is a good day to model the word good!