Pervasive Development Disorders; Autism, it cannot be Ignored; Social Games!

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Image from: www.autismwest.org.au

Welcome back readers! My first question for you is, have you had an opportunity to play this week? How about last week? For those who are tuning in, I would suggest reviewing last issue’s article. We are knee deep into demystifying Autism, which is one of the most recognized Pervasive Development Disorder.  I believe that we are at the place in our research and discovery, to make you the readers responsible for catching up on what you have missed. A quick review for the readers; last issue we started to review the social skills, that can be developed upon, by introducing social games. We were able to discuss verbal skills which are useful for interpersonal communication; non-verbal skills which include gestures, facial expressions and body language. Imitation games are extremely important because this is an opportunity to stimulate the child enough for them to want to copy your actions. Finally visual motor skills which allow an individual to put together the visual information that they have with a motor output, as well as being able to recognize, recall and make sense of what they see. This week I will complete this list by elaborating on visual/spatial discrimination, sequencing, auditory verbal skills and memory.

Visual Spatial Discrimination is common with children and is usually seen during early learning. Children with discrimination issues have difficulty seeing the difference between two similar letters, shapes or objects. Letters that are easily confused are: b and d; as well as p and q. Some of the games that can be utilized to help with visual spatial discrimination are: Blue’s Clues, Memory and Guess Who? Please remember that visual discrimination issues are observed in many early learners; please do not assume that your child maybe Autistic because they are having these issues.

Sequencing involves having the ability to put things in a specific order. School Family (http://www.schoolfamily.com/blog/2010/09/28/what-does-it-mean-to-have-a-sequencing-problem), explains that students with sequencing problems may have trouble following step-by-step directions. It can be increasing frustrating for someone who has sequencing problems to complete long term projects. This is understandable because if you are unable to sequence, it will be difficult to figure out what needs to be done and in what order. It is important that parents recognize this and begin to work on it as early as possible. Some games that can assist with sequencing issues are: Connect Four, Card Games (Solitaire), and Gestures.  Gestures can allow you to teach simple communicative processes. If someone waves hello to you, it is appropriate for you to wave back (even if you are just being polite). It teaches the child that there is a sequence of events that occurs when you meet someone.

Auditory Verbal Skills are taught in the hopes of developing hearing as an active sense. The goal is to make listening automatic and to assist the child in seeking out new sounds that they will experience throughout their lives. Hearing and active listening becomes an integral and necessary skill. Oddly enough, many of us are not as good at this as we think; it would not be a bad idea to become actively involved in the games that work on auditory verbal skills, listening and spoken language learning center.

Play to Learn (http://www.agbell.org/Play_to_Learn/) provides a list of games along with instructions on how to play them. One I really like is, “Follow the Directions.” This game teaches the concept of placement to a child. The aim is to provide simple directions using words like, “Over,” and “Under,” “In,” and “Out.” This can be fun and very interactive; you can switch sides and have your child tell you what to do. You can have more fun with this by messing up on purpose and having your child correct you. Kids love correcting adults; trust me. If I am ever wrong, my students are the first to call me out.

The last social skill that we will look at is memory. Memory refers to the ability to store, retain and recall information, events and procedures. Most often, the memory issues that you will see active with children is their working memory. Working memory involves the manipulation of information that short-term memory stores; this includes all new information that a child learns. One of the best games for dealing with this issue is the game Memory. It involves placing cards with pictures or symbols on a desk. The cards are face down not showing the picture. You can take turns by turning over each card and then trying to find the matching card on the table. This is an interactive game and is helpful when dealing with working memory issues.

As mentioned earlier, these games are mutually beneficial; they will assist your child with developing social skills, as well as assist you with your own. One thing that I have learned when educating is that you can always relearn a skill. In the end, this just makes that skill stronger and more effective. Enjoy your week and happy learning everyone!

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