Saturday, April 27, 2013

Make a Treat

Kids love sweet treats.  Have a cookie making snack.  Let your child use a knife to spread icing on a cookie and then decorate it as he/she likes with candy or sprinkles.  What a tasty treat, and a great coordination activity!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Mother's Day Craft

Ok dads, here is an easy, but cute, Mother's day craft for you to do with your kids (teachers, too).  All you need is a small flower pot, straws, construction paper, fake grass and pictures of your kids.  Have the older kids cut out the "petals".  They can do them all one color, or make them colorful, using lots of different color paper.  Glue everything together and mom has a cute flower pot for at home or on her desk at work.  If you are feeling especially industrious, have your kids paint the flower pot different colors.  Have fun- and don't wait- Mother's day is coming up soon!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

PA Verbal Behavior Project for Autistic Support classroom model

I had the opportunity a few years ago to be the OT in a model classroom for the PA Verbal Behavior Project.  We continue to offer autistic support early intervention classrooms using this form of intervention and I've seen lots of kids make excellent progress in their short preschool years!  Here's a good video that demonstrates the way this program works...

Verbal Behavior Project - YouTube

Are you a teacher/therapist in a Verbal Behavior classroom?  Do you have a child enrolled in one?  We would love to hear your comments!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Vaccines and Autism

Well, this one may open a can of worms I presume, but it is a hotly debated issue and one that I have heard arguments on both sides many times.  I belong to Medscape, which reviews current literature across medical categories.  Here I can also access archives of research articles that keep me up to date on current discoveries and issues.  In the Week in Review Email, this was highlighted:

Vaccines and Autism: CDC Study Says No Connection

Key points that hit home for me today:

  • The number of vaccine antigens has decreased in recent years although the number of recommended vaccines has increased.  This is the result of changes in vaccines that allow them to more precisely stimulate the immune system.
  • We now have more than a decade since the removal of thimerosal from childhood vaccinations and the rate of autism continues to climb.
I celebrate tiny achievements each week with families that include a child with autism, and we may be a long way away from a full explanation on cause, but there are many early warning signs that may help lead us to identifying issues earlier.  Intervention at the earliest sign of trouble usually yields a better outcome for the child and family.  See the following link for a comprehensive list of developmental milestones.  Please contact your pediatrician or local early intervention office if something is amiss!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Sensory Play

Here are some quick, easy, and inexpensive, sensory play ideas. 


  • 1 cup water
  • 1/3 cup liquid dish detergent
  • 2 tbs light corn syrup

Mix and let set for at least one hour.  Cover and store in the refrigerator.

Rice & Pasta Dye

  • 1 cup pasta or rice
  • 1 1/2 tsp rubbing alcohol or grain alcohol
  • 1/4 tsp. food coloring

Mix the alcohol and dye in a plastic zip bag.  Add dry rice or pasta and shake gently until it is evenly coated.  Spread on wax paper to dry.

Paper Mache

  • 1 part flour
  • 2 parts water
  • 2-3 tbs salt

Mix the flour with the water in a saucepan. Mix well to remove lumps.  Cook the mixture over low heat until you get a creamy consistency of thin paste.  Add more water or flour as needed.  Add a few tbs of salt to help prevent mold.  Let cool before using.

Clean Mud

  • 3 rolls toilet tissue
  • 1 bar Ivory soap, grated
  • 3/4 cup borax
  • water

Children can help unroll tissue.  Put in a large container or sensory table.  Saturate with water.  Add Ivory soap and Borax.  Mix well.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Chance of having more than 1 child with Autism

1 in 5: the chance that if you have a child with autism , there is a 1 in 5 chance that you will have another child on the spectrum.  If you already have a child with autism, it is recommended that you have your younger child assessed at an earlier age so that he/she can begin with early intervention.  It is shown that the earlier a child begins to receive therapies and behavior support, the more improvement noted.  Children with autism typically receive Speech Therapy and Occupational Therapy and some will need Physical Therapy.  The sooner a child begins with these essential therapies, the more improvement will be noted.  Children with Autism may need a specialized teacher, or even a specialized classroom to promote learning.  Behavioral therapy is offered to children with Autism that need it.  While a child with Autism will benefit from these therapies, to see the most benefit, it is essential that the family be involved.  If you feel that your child demonstrates certain characteristics of Autism, speak to your physician and convey to him/her your concerns.  Remember, the earlier the necessary treatments begin, the more improvement you will notice.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Lancaster Public Library Events for Autism Awareness Month!

For local followers interested in finding out more about the Autism Resouce Center at Lancaster Public Library in Lancaster, PA...

The first National Autism Awareness Month was declared by the Autism Society in April 1970. The sixth annual World Autism Awareness Day is April 2, 2013.

The aim of this month is educate the public about autism. Autism is a complex mental condition and developmental disability, characterized by difficulties in the way a person communicates and interacts with other people. Autism can be present from birth or form during early childhood (typically within the first three years). Autism is a lifelong developmental disability with no single known cause. The U.S. Center for Disease Control estimates that an average of 1 in 50 children in the U.S. has an autism spectrum disorder.

First opened on November 11, 2010, the Autism Resource Center at Lancaster Public Library was the first of its kind housed in a U.S. public library. Even now, only a very small number of public libraries offer unique autism resources collections.

To highlight National Autism Awareness Month, the Autism Resource Center and our Children and Teen Services and Adult Services Departments offer a range of informative and entertaining autism-relevant April programs. These include:

  1. First Friday for Families:  April 5th at 6pm • All Ages:  "The Brilliance of Autism - See Our True Colors" by The Children of Lancaster County Autism Mommies.
  2. Sensory-friendly Movie- "Toy Story" April 9th at 6pm: A sensory-friendly film screening with reduced volume and turned-up lights. Kids are welcoming to move around, talk, and sing during the screening. Light snacks provided.
  3. Artism:  April 13th & 27th at 10:30am: Certified teacher Nora Joyce leads activities, crafts, and games for children on the Autism spectrum. Spanish speakers are welcome at this program - se habla espaƱol.
  4. Read a Dog a Book: April 20th at 2pm: A child reads for 15 minutes with a volunteer and therapy dog from K-PETS. This program is provided for children on the Autism spectrum in 1st-4th grade.
  5. Autism Basics Speaker: April 25th at 6:30pm: Find out more about the Autism Spectrum. Social, cognitive, and language delays will also be discussed. There will be a question and answer portion to the program.
The Autism Resource Center has over 800 juvenile, young adult, and adult items available for loan. These items include books, CDs, DVDs, games, puzzles, manipulatives, and Spanish language titles. There are listening and viewing stations with a laptop computer containing special Boardmaker software, which can be used to create social storybooks and other tools for assisting individuals on the autism spectrum.

Help us celebrate National Autism Awareness Month by stopping in at the unique Autism Resource Center on your next visit to the Lancaster Public Library. It is a special resource unique to our community that is worth checking out. 


Herb Landau
Executive Director

Treatment Interventions for Autism

There is no "cure" for autism.  However, there are interventions that can be tailored to meet the unique needs of individuals with autism. 
Intensive behavioral therapy can significantly improve  language and cognitive skills.  Theses therapies can be provided in the home, involving the family, or in a specialized classroom or in a preschool.  As a child gets older, specialized social skill training and educational adaptations may become the focus of intervention.  Trade school training may be used to allow the adolescent to learn skills necessary to become an employable adult.
One method of treatment for individuals with autism is Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), which focuses on reducing unfavorable behaviors and shaping and reinforcing new behaviors, such as learning and speech. 
Another treatment method is called Developmental, Individual, Relationship-based (DIR)/ Floortime model. Rather than focusing on skills and isolated behaviors, this model focuses on building the foundations for social, intellectual and emotional capabilities.
These are just two methods used to work with children with autism to build skills necessary to function in society.  There are other, different methods available.   There is not one method that is right for all individuals with autism, so it is important for parents and educators to be informed of the different methods of treatment.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Thursday, April 4, 2013

What is Autism?

So what is autism? Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and autism are both general terms for a group of complex disorders of brain development. These disorders are characterized, in varying degrees, by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviors. Autism is considered a spectrum  disorder because everyone on the spectrum varies in degrees that they are impacted in the areas of social interactions, communication, and stereotypical behaviors. There is a saying “if you know one person with autism, you know one person with autism.” This is to reflect the fact that while there are core similarities, the way a person is affected varies greatly person to person.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Warning Signs of Autism

April is Autism awareness month, so we will be spending time this month educating about autism.  Since autism presents itself differently in every child, there are no set checklists to tell definitively if your child is on the Autism spectrum.  There are, however, warning signs.  Here are some signs that your child may have autism.     
No big smiles or other warm, joyful expressions by six months or thereafter
No back-and-forth sharing of sounds, smiles or other facial expressions by nine months
No babbling by 12 months
No back-and-forth gestures such as pointing, showing, reaching or waving by 12 months
No words by 16 months
No ...meaningful, two-word phrases (not including imitating or repeating) by 24 months
Any loss of speech, babbling or social skills at any age
Play with toys in a non-functional way Ex of this might be
*lining up cars instead of pushing them around/crashing them/or having them "go"
preoccupation with spinning items, mouthing items, moving fingers or items in front of their eyes or watching out of the corner of the eye
 inconsistent response to name

obsession with particular item (or style of item) or topic
 over reactive or under responsive to sensory stimulation
 lack of showing or sharing
disconnect in relations with others, lack of reciprocity, and/or "seems like they are in their own world"
It is important to note that other developmental delays or trauma can create some of these challenges as well. I will try to do posts on typical development of play skills so help highlight the differences.
I talk a lot about ENGAGEMENT. Not in a task, but with the world. If you are trying to interact with your child and you could stop, get up and walk away and it wouldn't change what your child is doing at all (they wouldn't look up, reference you, fuss, or attempt to get your attention) and this is frequently the way that interactions with your child are (they could take it or leave it when it comes to interaction).... then start asking questions. 

If your child is displaying some of these "red flags", talk to your doctor about the possibility that your child may be on the autism spectrum.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Hand Print Flower

Now that it's spring, let's make it feel like it  with hand print flowers! Most kids love to get dirty, so lay down some newspapers and let them have fun (or let them do this outside).  Use different colors to create a beautiful flower.  Don't be afraid to let the kids get dirty- we are finding that some parents don't allow their kids to just be kids.  Allowing kids to do messy play is so important and fun.  Kids need the sensory component of putting their hands into gooey, messy things.  For those kids that won't put their hands into a plate of paint, use a paint brush and paint their hands.  For those kids that have tactile sensitivity, at least paint their finger tips, at first, and then try to progress to painting their entire hand.  Do the activity, or a similar activity, over and over to allow the child to get used to the feeling.