Good morning Friends,

This week we get into the electrophysiology of the brain, the part of our strange anatomy that sounds like a super hero origin story. It even has a super hero name... "action potential!" The release of the neurotransmitters that we talked about last week is regulated by a reaction of electrical signals. It's a complicated but beautiful mess of electrical and chemical reactions that regulate our reactions and responses. It's enough to make your head hurt to think about, or is that just a cascade of chemicals released by an electrical jolt?

If you want a deeper understanding of what we are discussing, here is a good video below. 



The Power of a Smile

One of the items on our Better Communication Challenge is to smile at someone. Here is a moving example of the power simple acts of kindness can have. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=td-II-4uStY

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?

6 Second Storytelling

I hope everyone is warm and sleeping in this morning!  I'm grateful that the snowstorm didn't come on the usual Tuesday night this week because we had a great social group last night. 

We created 6 second films using Vine (they did not get posted online), which is an application that is perfect for stop motion animation and creates a six second, looping video. The challenge to the kiddos was to use group decision making process (the negotiation skills we have been working on) to come up with a short story and then tell it in an innovative way using materials in the room in only six seconds. 

We had a song mashup between What Does the Fox Say and Let it Go from Frozen, a gorgeous animation on the chalkboard about a princess that escapes a tower, a lego adventure that ended well for the dragon but not the knight, and a heart stopping car crash/plane rescue. 

Here are 5 tips for remembering names that we went over at the start of group, taken from Entrepreneur Magazine. 

1. Repeat names throughout the exchange.

2. Make mental associations.

3. Study names in print.

4. Ask for clarification with difficult names.

5. If you forget a name, address it head on.

Practicing Empathy

Empathy is about making an emotional connection. One of the greatest roadblocks to gaining a greater sense of empathy is knowing the right questions to ask. Until kids learn how to ask questions that elicit an emotional response, other people's thoughts and feelings can seem locked in a black box. This is especially true for children and adolescents who are on the autism spectrum. 

Beyond being the kind of quality we want to posses because it makes us good, empathy has immense pragmatic value as well. It allows a person to understand and anticipate the needs of friends, family and co-workers. It makes it possible to process and ameliorate the anger and aggression of antagonists. It makes it easier to negotiate and persuade.

In social group we have been working on understanding and reading body language, asking open ended questions, and demonstrating empathetic listening. This week we will bring it all together in a talkshow/game format. It is going to be fun. Instead of our regular connected conversation time where the kids share news from the week, each child will have an interviewer who will work to draw out and understand the feelings behind the stories. An important skill to practice will be recognizing the signs of the discomfort that comes from pushing the boundary of how much a person is comfortable sharing and then honoring that boundary.

Build with Chrome

Next time you kiddo wants computer time, try this amazing virtual lego building site. You will need to use the Chrome Browser from Google. You're welcome.


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Habit RPG

Leveraging a child's natural strengths and interests is one of the core values of Kids Cooperate social skills groups, So I was excited to come across this resource that uses gaming to encourage positive development. 

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Kids Cooperate director Aaron Weintraub discusses the importance of play, and the Social Sensory Cognition Proces on PlayDHD TV.

Activities Based Social Skills Groups

There is no substitute for experience. at Kids Cooperate social skills groups, we have seen that skill acquisition happens best when scaffolded by play and activity. 

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Abstract Ideas Are Pale Things

Many people on the Autism Spectrum are challenged by social communication. ​ Much of friendship involves the playful use of language such as metaphors and idioms. The Kids Cooperate social support curriculum includes pragmatic language training though activities designed to scaffold  skills such as understanding holistic language communication (body language, words, facial expression, tone of voice), increase the variety of words used, and organize conversational structure.

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Play Makes Good Neighbors

​At Kids Cooperate we are committed to a play based model because the social learning that happens during play lays the foundation for social communication and emotional regulation skills that become important for getting and keeping a job, and maintaining close healthy relationships throughout life. 

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Autism, Animated

​This great video from the Dutch Autism Association is a good introduction to Autism that can be shared with your friends and family.  

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Cityscapes from Memory

Stephen Wiltshire is an autistic Savant with an incredible talent. He can draw detailed, complete pictures of cityscapes from memory. via Evertale

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