Video Scavenge Hunt

This week in social group we created video scavenger hunts. The group split into two and each came up with a list of things for the other team to capture on video. Some of the items included "Say something nice to the person on your right" and "work together to create an obstacle course". 

Video is a particularly good medium for children on the autism spectrum or with ADHD. A study by Corbett & Abdullah (2005), found video feedback effective because it plays to the strengths of children who express:

  • over-selective attention (making them very prone to distraction)
  • restricted field of focus
  • preference for visual stimuli and visually cued instruction
  • avoidance of face-to-face interactions
  • ability to process visual information more readily than verbal information

Do any of these sound familiar?

Triggering Change

Did you encourage your children to make resolutions this year? Did you make any yourself? You may find it helpful to use the model of behavioral change that scaffolds the curriculum at the Kids Cooperate Social Skills Groups

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Using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for Autism Spectrum Disorder

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy can be helpful in treating the emotional antecedents to Autism Spectrum Disorder.

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What Causes Autism [Infographic}

Research is beginning to point to the factors that cause Autism. These include a complicated tapestry of environmental and genetic factors that interact in ways we don't yet understand.

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Adding Theraplay to the Autism Spectrum Toolbox

At Kids Cooperate, we believe that play based therapy is the most effective way to learn, integrate, and generalize new tools and strategies for coping with the emotional and sensory stresses faced by many children on the Autism Spectrum.​

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Raising a Confident Child, Locus of Control

​As parents, a common hope for our children is that they will make good, confident decisions and think ​for themselves. Your child's perception of whether the course of their lives are controlled primarily by their own thoughts and actions, or external circumstances is referred to by developmental psychologists as "locus of control".

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Understanding Autism Part 2: Theory of Mind

The two main concepts related to understanding Autism are Executive Function and Theory of Mind. This post will focus on Theory of Mind which is the ability to intuit the thoughts, feelings, and intentions of others. Social skills coaching leans heavily on this model of understanding Autism, and brings resources to bear on helping people to modify their behavior for situational appropriateness. 

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Research Points to Father's Role in Genetic Mutation Causing Autism

Is the age of fathers a significant factor in determining the cause of Autism? A study published this week in Nature  points to research evidence that suggests that genetic mutations in sperm, more so than in the egg are responsible for developmental abnormalities.

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Understanding Autism Part 1: Executive Function Theory

The two main concepts related to understanding Autism are Executive Function and Theory of Mind. This post will focus on executive function which includes the cognitive tasks related to planning, focus, organizing, error correction, recognizing danger, and impulse control.

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Research Robin Hood

​Academic publishing is theft. Your tax money goes in to public research universities and funding agencies, and dense unreadable research studies come out behind the paywall of a scientific journal. This regular feature column will provide a synopsis of recently published Autism research in order to make is accessible. You bought it, you own it. This week, social anxiety and autism.

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A SYMPHONY OF SMALL VICTORIES: RESULTS MANAGEMENT MODEL OF AUTISM SOCIAL SKILLS PLANNING

Social skills groups cross the line from fun to effective when there is the correct blend of art and science. The art is the flexibility, creativity, and carefully nurtured group dynamic. The science comes from a cycle of planning, observation, and adjustment.

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We Are The 1.01%

We are the 1.01%. According to the New York Times, a new report out last Thursday from the CDC " ...estimates that in 2008 one child in 88 received one of these diagnoses, known as autism spectrum disorders, by age 8, compared with about one in 110 two years earlier. The estimated rate in 2002 was about one in 155." The Times article notes that it is unclear whether this increase in diagnosed cases of Autism Spectrum Disorder has been caused by a nebulas definition of what constitutes the spectrum, greater awareness of the disorder, or some, as of yet unidentified environmental, social, or genetic factors. Changes to the DSM diagnostic manual that will take effect next year will narrow the criteria for a diagnosis and may reduce the number of children who qualify for ASD services. The PPD-NOS and Aspergers diagnoses will disappear entirely, and revised categories for other spectrum disorders will be more clearly defined in a way that the organizers of the DSM say should absorb most of the children already diagnosed. 

It is important to consider that, according to the Times piece, "boys were almost five times as likely as girls to get such a diagnosis - at a rate of one in 54, compared with one in 252 for girls. The sharpest increases appeared among Hispanic and black children, who historically have been less likely to receive an autism spectrum diagnosis than white children." If we unpack this, it means that the increase in diagnosed ASD most likely came from the rise in the traditionally under diagnosed minority communities, and that the proposed changes to the DSMV have the potential to disproportionately effect access to services for these children. This does not mean conspiracy. What it does mean is that families dealing with Autism Spectrum Disorders and their allies must continue to educate themselves and advocate for their children. We are the 1.01%.

Aaron Weintraub, MS runs child-centered social skills groups with a focus on children and teenagers withPervasive Developmental DisorderAsperger Syndrome, High Functioning Autism, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, and Shyness. Strengths-based approach in a community based setting. Groups available in Tolland, Mansfield, Willimantic, Hartford, Vernon and Coventry Connecticut. 
http://kidscooperate.com
860-576-9506

A Strengths Based Approach to Social Skills Programming

Many autism interventions are built on a deficit model that begins by identifying the behaviors that are causing the most social difficulty, and then designing a curriculum to address problems. For example, according to Bellini (2006), the six major areas of impairment in social functioning include:

  1. Nonverbal communication
  2. Social initiation
  3. Reciprocity and terminating interactions
  4. Social cognition
  5. Behaviors associated with perspective taking and self-awareness
  6. Social anxiety and social withdrawal

These concerns are real, tangible, and difficult to cope with. The impulse as a parent or educator is to ameliorate problem areas by targeting deficits as quickly and effectively as possible. In the rush to target valuable energy and resources to solve problems, your child's innate strengths and capabilities can be forgotten.

As a pracitioner offering social skills groups in the greater Hartford region, I feel that it is critical to design interventions using a strengths based approach. I propose the following six inherent strengths of children with autism spectrum disorder and ADHD. 

  1. Elasticity: the ability to adapt 
  2. Desire to make social connections
  3. Inherent ability for growth
  4. Individuality: each child has individual interests and motivations
  5. Natural supports: family, faith community, and anyone invested in the child's success
  6. Resiliency: the ability to recover from setbacks

A strengths based approach can be reflected in the language used by the constellation of professionals and informal caregivers supporting your child, and this learned optimism will begin to transform the way that you and your child view growth and progress. A study by Shirvani (2007) found that positive teacher communication improved both students performance and parents attitudes. The growth you are working towards can be scaffolded by acceptance, support, and an unwaivering belief in your child's innate capabilities.

Aaron Weintraub, MS runs child-centered social skills groups with a focus on children and teenagers withPervasive Developmental DisorderAsperger Syndrome, High Functioning Autism, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, and Shyness. Strengths-based approach in a community based setting. Groups available in Tolland, Mansfield, Willimantic, Hartford, Vernon and Coventry Connecticut. 

http://kidscooperate.com

860-576-9506