School’s out for summer!… but so is the structured routine that many children with special needs so often need. The daily school tasks also provide the opportunity to practice social skills in context. But don’t despair, to keep the momentum going over summer here are a few great tips to keep kids connecting:
1. To encourage eye contact: Vestibular (movement) input is a great way to also help support the visual system. Have your child swing and encourage him/her to look at you while swinging. You can put a sticker or similar mark on your forehead at the eyebrow level as an added visual cue.
2. Use a mirror and/or each other and work on imitating facial expressions. Work on emotions such as imitating a happy face, sad, angry, confused etc. For younger children the Abilitations Weighted Emotion Cushions are the perfect complement to this activity; the Emotion-oes Board Game works well for older kids.
3. Idioms are basically expressions that are not predictable/logical in their usual context. Phrases like “raining cats and dogs” or having a “green thumb” are often challenging for children especially those on the autism spectrum to master. Keep the social conversation going with PCI’s Spiral Flip Book on Idioms.
4. Incorporate parachute play. Use a 2 person chute, or a 6 foot parachute for groups of 4 to 8. Parachute activities promote cooperation and teamwork as well as plenty of visual motor skills. Games can include popcorn play (placing bean bags and/or small balls on the chute and keep them “popping” by shaking the chute up and down or beach ball fun where kids coordinate the movement of the chute to see how high they can send the beach ball in the air (try the Sportime Fingerlights 10 inch ball for extra float power!).
5. Put the smart tablet away and break out a classic board game! Trouble is a reliable favorite and the dice bubble as well as the larger game pieces and formed board make this more inclusive for younger children or those with special needs. Promotes turn taking, sequencing, and interactive communication and is just plain fun!