Food Play

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Who has a picky eater?! Then it’s time to play with food!!

Use exposure therapy to get little ones familiar with new items. The more they see the item, the more likely they are to try it.

This isn’t going to happen over night. This is a process and it will take time. Try to include some type of food during play everyday.

I love this set from Melissa and Doug. It’s great for hand-eye coordination, language, cognitive, motor, adaptive, and social skills. So much learning with 1 toy!!

Table Time

A common concern most parents have is for their child to sit and eat at the table. Since eating isn’t a favorite for most children with autism, sitting at the table won’t be either. The first thing that needs to be done is to make the table time fun! Have the child do his/her preferred activities at the table. The child will want to grab the item and move it away from the table. Give clear instructions that the item stays at the table and that if he/she wants to play with it, it’s at the table.

 

Pictured is a little boy I’ve been working with for about 2 months. I have paired myself as a reinforcer and have shown him new toys. Our sessions began playing on the floor and now we have progressed to playing at the table. Puzzles are his favorite! So we do lots of puzzles and I let him play with it over and over, he does each puzzle 3 or 4 times.

I don’t give any instructions related to the task (ex, where’s the cat? what color is this? what letter?) or have him ask for items. Since I know he loves puzzles, I only hold up 2 puzzles for him to make a choice and label “Puzzle” over and over. I want him to like being at the table and if I upset him, chances are he’s not going to want to return to the table. The only instruction I give is for him to “sit down” if he wants to do the activity. He is allowed to get up and walk around if he needs to, but the activity stays at the table and will be available on his return.

At my last session, when I arrived at their house, he was sitting at the table ready for me with a big smile on his face as I walked through the door.

* Future posts to come on table time and the steps I use to prepare him for foods. *

Teaching colors

As with any task, when you’re first teaching a new subject, always pair the label with the item. It’s going to take time before the child can say the name of the color, so stay away from asking “What color is it?”.
imageCheck the level of the child. Start by matching the colors. As the child matches, label it for them. I like to use the phrase “Match, blue with blue” etc.

If the child is not able to match independently, set up a positional prompt to increase the chances of getting the answer correct. Praise! Praise! Praise!

Learning is suppose to be fun. If the task is too hard, the child will get frustrated and probably won’t want to do it again. Keep it simple. It might not click right away, and that’s ok!! Just keep practicing!

Motor Skills: Playing Train

One of my favorite toys to use is a wooden train set. Depending on the child, I use it for many reasons, in this case it’s for motor. Building the train set helps with balance and coordination. I’m not an OT/PT so I don’t know the correct terminology, but the child is in a tripod stance where she is using her arm to support her weight and keep from falling over.

While putting the train together, if the magnetic ends don’t match, she needs to use her fingers to rotate the train and make it “click” together. She also has to use both hands to line up the magnets.

The idea is to make the track long enough so that she has to move around it. The constant getting up and moving around is great practice for her muscles.

Have fun!!