Thursday, March 31, 2011

World Autism Awareness Day

This Saturday, April 2 is World Autism Awareness Day.  With 1 in 110 children being diagnosed with autism, it truly is an epidemic that needs special attention.  I work with many children diagnosed with autism and have worked with many in the past that have outgrown their diagnosis thanks to early therapeutic intervention.  I can't tell you the joy I feel when watching the smiles of a child and parent connecting for the first time playing peek-a-boo, seeing a child eager to engage with a sibling or hearing about a child making their first best friend. 

 Please take a moment to learn the signs of autism, so we can all better assist these children and make a difference in their lives and in the lives of their families. 

One of my favorite organizations, the Interdisciplinary Council on Developmental and Learning Disorders is honoring World Autism Awareness Day by making a number of lectures on autism by Dr. Stanley Greenspan available until 4/3/11.  Topics include:

  • Early signs of ASD
  • Older children and adults with ASD
  • Raising the ceiling
  • The CDC-ICDL report
  • The do's and don'ts of early intervention
  • Attention, OCD and anxiety in children with ASD
  • How infants and children learn,
  • The DIR/Floortime approach
  • Bioethical approach to aggression
  • What makes an intervention works and
  • Reforming education

Also, all ICDL publications will be discounted 10% for the month of April.  Discount code is AA2011.

I urge you to take a peek.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Catch a leprechaun today!

Need some gold?  Tired of looking at the end of every rainbow only to find yourself disappointed that those pesky leprechauns fooled you again?!  Why not build a leprechaun trap?  It's a great way to fuel your child's imagination, as well as their fine motor, visual spatial and symbolic play skills.  

I received some inspiration yesterday from one of my favorite preschools that had their students come up with ideas from materials ready for recycling.  Children chose from cardboard boxes, glass jars, shredded paper, wrapping paper scraps and strawberry containers.  They were then told that leprechauns love shiny, sparkly things, so children eagerly decorated their traps with vigor.

Try to have your child visualize what a trap may look like.   What will lure the leprechaun inside?  Where will the leprechaun enter?  How will it get trapped?

Here is a simple trap made from a plastic container with a lid and a paper towel tube.  Nothing too fancy (it was done by a 3 year old).  I guess leprechauns love potatoes, so one was put inside so the little bearded creature could smell it via the "tunnel".  

An abstract idea that can be carried out for a day or two is excellent to keep children connected to a single idea and to work on delayed gratification.  Be sure to let your child know that leprechauns are very tricky and mischievous.  I say something along the lines of, "I have tried for years to catch one, and I never have.  We can try... but those leprechauns always find a way out."

I'm sure your child will come up with a ton of questions for you to creatively answer.

The leprechauns in my house come at night when everyone is sleeping.  They like to play with toys and then leave a mess to let you know how mischievous they can be.  Leprechauns also leave behind gold glitter wherever they walk.

Get as creative as you like... your kids will eat it up.

Here is a kid-friendly link for more leprechaun trap ideas.  I also like this link that provides ideas for geeky traps, if you really want to go all out.