“It’s Potty Time!”

Toilet training for a child with autism can be challenging! Here are a few tips to help this be a smooth transition.

#5 Allow your child to stay naked while focusing on toilet training at home. This makes it easier to get to the toilet and eliminate in it. As your child becomes more proficient, begin adding clothes back. Staying near the toilet is also a good idea in case an accident starts to happen, you can quickly move to the toilet.

#4 Have the child help change clothes. Part of learning to use the toilet is undressing and dressing oneself. When a child has an accident, it is a natural consequence to have to take off wet clothes, use a washcloth or baby wipe to clean up, and put fresh, dry clothes on. While some children may be in different places of learning how to dress or undress themselves, you as the parent or teacher can always choose one clothes item at a time to focus on the child putting on and taking off. Once they are more comfortable with that item, add another item.

#3 Have the child help clean up accidents. This is important because it helps the child become more independent and also take responsibility for making a mess. This doesn’t mean that you have to fuss at the child about the accident- it just means letting the child know they are wet/dirty and need to help clean up.

#2 Ditch the pull-up! Pull-ups do not teach anything about the sensation of being wet or wetting yourself. I think it sends a very confusing message to kids- why would you want to stop what you are doing to go to the bathroom if you don’t have to. Having an accident and feeling all wet and yucky may help a child make that connection and not want to feel that way again.

#1 You don’t have to wait until your child can acknowledge the need to use the bathroom…in that case, some of us may be waiting a very long time. Acknowledging the need to use the bathroom is important, but it shouldn’t stop a parent and/or teacher from beginning the toilet training process. For some, it may take a very long time to request going to the bathroom and for others, they might not ever request. Is it always necessary to request to use the bathroom? I don’t think so- when we are at work, we don’t have to ask permission to use the bathroom. At home, we don’t ask permission to go; we just go to the bathroom. For some individuals, they may just GO to the bathroom when they need to go. If a child learns to go into a bathroom to use it, we can always work on requesting permission as they become more fluent in going when they need to or we can accommodate the child in the fact that they may not ask when they go to the bathroom.

My favorite toilet training app is Potty Time. This app uses American Sign Language and a catchy little tune to teach about using the bathroom. And your child might just get addicted to “calling Rachel” when he or she has a success!

If you are getting frustrated or not having much luck on your own, it may be time to get some help. Jackson Autism Center works with children on toilet training privately. We have found the greatest successes with individuals we work with on a regular basis because there is an established relationship with the child, but we work with anyone needing help. Complete a contact form to find out about the next toilet training opportunities.

Friday Five: Five Favorite Apps from JAC (PART ONE)

These apps are super fun and great for teaching a variety of skills to kids with autism. I have put them in no particular order.

  • Daniel Tiger’s Grr-Ific Feelings: Many kids on the autism spectrum struggle to understand emotions, pick up on nonverbal cues of emotion, and understand how to regulate their emotions. This app allows children to play a turn taking trolley game where they work on skills to regulate emotions, understand and identify emotions, draw about their emotions, watch short videos about emotions, and even take pictures of themselves with a specific emotion. It is packed with lots of fun!
  • Sesame Street: Breathe, Think, Do: This is another app that really focuses on emotional regulation. Sesame Street has taken 5 situations where a child may be upset and teaches them to breathe and calm down, think of a solution, and then follow through with that solution. The animated videos are fun and engaging while teaching such important skills!
  • Mr. Potato Head: This app is great for such a variety of reasons- I love using it with kids who are learning to express new langauge concepts such as body parts, jobs/occupations (clown, pirate, witch, cowboy, etc.) as well as having beginning conversations about what Mr. Potato Head is doing in the fun scenes or taking a picture of him. All ages enjoy this app!
  • Toy Story Theater: I love the story-telling feature in this app. So many kids with autism do not have great play skills and this app lays out a story and then has the kids “act it out” with the characters and props. It is so much fun to save Woody from the Aliens or stop the tornado with Buzz’s laser gun…the possibilities are endless…
  • Timbukto Pizza: Who doesn’t love to eat pizza? In this app, you design funny pizzas by following the directions/recipe (that you are supposed to remember) and if you do it well, the monster will eat it all up…but if you do it wrong, he will throw the pie at you! Either way, you can take a picture as the pizza chef!

Success with a Speech Generating Device

On April 1 and 2, 2016, LAMP Words for Life will be half off…that is, $150 instead of $300. What can a speech generating device mean to an individual with autism? I want to share a story of a student a friend of mine works with who used a speech generating device…until he didn’t need it anymore! He became so verbal that he passed it along.

This is not to say that verbal speech is always the result of using a speech generating device (SGD), but it can be a possibility! Research has not shown that kids who utilize speech generating devices are any less likely to become verbal than any other children. SGDs can only help speech development, not hinder it.

“Party” Says a Teenager using His Speech Generating Device

One of the most joyous moments recently was with a teenager I have been working with for 2 years. We have been using LAMP Words for Life for over a year now and he will request where he wants to go eat and tell me step by step what to draw, including what color to use, but no completely spontaneous language beyond that. He reads using WFL and loves to spell.

Recently, he was hanging out before our session started and I was getting another student to tell about his birthday party and how old he was, what he ate, etc. My teenager was standing still or pacing during this conversation.

When we started our session, he kept going to different things on Words for Life, but not settling on saying anything. I could tell there was something he wanted to say and continued to wait and encourage him. After a few minutes, he said “party.” He wanted to talk about the other little boy’s party or perhaps have one of his own. He didn’t give anymore details. This was so exciting for him to take what we talked about as a group, when he seemed to possibly not be paying attention and want to talk about it again with me. This was a huge moment for us!

LAMP Words for Life celebrates April 2 as World Autism Awareness Day and puts WFL, which is only available through Apple, half off for April 1 and 2, 2016 only. This makes such an impact for so many families who are waiting and watching for their child to ask for “popcorn” or “tickles”…or “party.” Party on, Wayne!

Tips for Getting a Haircut for a Child with Autism

One of my clients is getting ready for a big day…getting a haircut! This has not been an easy task for her or her family- lately, it has ended with her becoming very upset and reenacting the entire haircut. I am currently working with her family to make this a more positive experience as she gets ready for her next haircut. As I was getting ready, I ran across these tips from Autism Speaks.

Here are a few things I am doing to help this be a more positive experience:

  • Using Toca Boca’s Hair Salon Apps- Hair Salon, Hair Salon 2, Hair Xmas, and Hair Salon Me. We take turns in the “hair salon” fixing up the person’s hair, whether it be a girl, boy, Santa, Xmas tree, or a photo we take. This helps her become familiar with the steps taken when getting your hair cut and allows her to be in charge of what happens and when it happens.
  • Writing out a social story about what will happen at the salon. This is based off our pretend play with the Hair Salon apps.
  • Making a video social story. This will allow her to practice and process the haircut before it happens. We will video in a manner that looks as if we did cut hair so when she watches the video, she sees herself being successful getting her hair cut.
  • If needed, she will visit the salon prior to the haircut. This will allow her to meet the hairdresser and share any specific requests she may have. One of these requests may be to only get a “trim.”
  • A list of what will happen and in what order may help to decrease anxiety about the haircut.
  • Becoming familiar with the items that will be used in the salon and the smells in the salon can both be useful tools to creating a good visit. Hair salons have many smells and may not be pleasing to an individual with autism.

20140430-012435.jpg These are just a few tips to ease the stress of haircut day.

Light it Up Blue with Communication

For April 2 only, the LAMP Words for Life app will be half off. This app is an incredible tool that individuals with autism can use as well as school districts and classrooms should have available.

Dr. Rebecca Mullican uses this app at Jackson Autism Center on an iPad to assist with communication. She has gone through the extensive training and am also a LAMP certified professional, one of three in the state of Mississippi.

If you would like to find out more about the app or how it can help your child communicate, please complete a contact form. Let’s start communicating now!

LAMP Words for Life 50% Off for World Autism Awareness Day

April 2, 2013 has arrived. This is the World Autism Awareness Day. I hope you remembered to wear blue today!

In honor of autism awareness, LAMP and PRC are selling their communication app “LAMP Words for Life” at 50% off. The app usually sells for $300, but today only, it will be $149.99. This is an amazing deal! The LAMP app is ideal for any child who does not have a consistent way to communicate- whether he/she is nonverbal, only has word approximations, or has speech but does not use speech to communicate. One of the important facts about LAMP is that children learn to communicate with speech generating devices by using motor planning. This means that just like you and I remember where keys are in a keyboard from using a keyboard day in and day out, kids learn how to communicate because their words are in the same place every time they use the app/device. Language is learned on a word by word basis and kids begin to put their own phrases and sentences together instead of using phrases and sentences someone else thought up for them. Click here if you would like to learn more about LAMP.

Take advantage of this great savings today. I am LAMP certified to teach children and individuals how to communicate using “LAMP Words for Life” so let me know if you need assistance teaching this communication system to your child or student. I have seen this communication system work for many children and get excited about the opportunity for it to help even more!

Find My Friends App Assists Children with Autism

APWow. I came across this article this morning about my sweet friend Addison. The Find My Friends app was developed after a very scary night for Addy and her family when she was able to escape her bedroom and go for a neighborhood walk alone with her ipod. Her parents wrote Steve Jobs to share their story and believe Addy was part of the reason the app was created. I remember that night like it was yesterday as Addy’s mom called me in horror to share what had happened to her baby. We were very thankful for her safe return home and hope this app will help others return home safely too.

For people unfamiliar with autism, elopement is when a person wanders or runs off without permission. The Interactive Autism Network conducted a study that said elopement occurs with about half of the children with ASD. Elopement is a major issue that parents and professionals deal with. There have been a variety of tools marketed to assist with eloping, such as the big red safety box, Project Lifesaver, and  items like the “Mommy, I’m Here”  child locator. The Find My Friends app  is an application that helps locate friends with a street address so that situations like Addy’s can hopefully be avoided.

Elopement can happen anywhere. I have had students elope from the playground, classroom, and any other place at school. It is a horrible feeling the moment that you realize he/she has escaped yet again. There is nothing that explains the fear that you feel when you don’t know where he/she has gone. Understanding why the behavior is occurring can assist in trying to prevent further elopements, but does not always fix everything. It is important to do everything we can to prevent reoccurrances, but to also be prepared in case it happens again.

It is important for not only parents and professionals working with autism to understand about elopement, but  community members and safety professionals as well. Too many times, parents are receiving blame for elopement when they are doing all they can to stop their child from running away. Educating others about elopement and letting neighbors know about children that pose a risk of elopement are great starts to further protecting our children.

The following item was helpful to me within a school setting when the child is going to be fairly closeby: