There are loads of great products out there to encourage development of our children’s social skills – here are a few of our favourites; think music, dancing, games, yoga, books, apps and even gardening to name just a few ways to encourage these skills!
Many mainstream and developmental/ special schools include sensory gardens, along with the quintessential Aussie ‘veggie patch’ or herb garden if you have a smaller area to work with. Take turns by using a variety of gardening tasks to encourage kids to team up and work together. Whatever your dynamic, getting out there in nature is a wonderful way to develop and enhance social skills (and they won’t even know they are doing it as they’ll be having so much fun!)
Yoga is for everyone! Yoga is a highly therapeutic, fun way for children to
develop a whole range of skills – including calming techniques to help with their social development. We think you will love The Yoga Garden Game (New Edition). Since many yoga positions are named after animals and objects found in nature, kids can use their imaginations while learning different poses.
EARLY START DENVER MODEL – PROMOTING LANGUAGE, LEARNING AND DEVELOPMENT
The Early Start Denver Model (ESDM) is an evidence-based model of intervention for parents and professionals assisting children with ASD. The ESDM uses a set of teaching principles and a developmental curriculum designed to address the needs of pre- schoolers with ASD. The major focus includes skills that enable communication, social learning and engagement in naturalistic learning activities. While the intervention is intensive, it is delivered within play, daily routines and every day moments, across multiple settings, making it highly accessible.
INSIDE OUT DVD AND BOOKS
The Disney movie Inside Out is a story of a little girl and all the emotions interacting inside her head. Riley is the main character, and with each of her emotions —Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear and Disgust — we watch as her emotions lead her through her life and influence her way of doing things. Both as a DVD and a set of books, this is a great tool to use with children to help understand and recognise the different emotions we all have inside of us.
We love this board game available from My Diffability. Greedy Gorilla helps to practice winning, losing, turn-taking and waiting skills. Use the healthy food cards to create nutritious meals and post the junk food into the gorilla’s mouth to make him burp! You are all sure to get a giggle out of this game!
For centuries, dancing has continued to play an important social element for many people across the globe. Used to express, share stories and break down barriers, it makes sense why it is wonderful for our children who live with disabilities. Just look around in your local community for dance classes and groups that cater for children with special needs – we are sure you’ll find one that your child will love! The Tippy Toe Co is a dance company in Brisbane that hold inclusive dance sessions for all abilities. Please see what they have to offer here: www.thetippytoeco.org/intro
What are Mooshuns? Mooshuns are moody cushions! We love these emotional tools that help children with communication needs express how they are feeling. Finding a simple way for children to share their feelings or indicate their emotional state is such an important and positive step. We also love that these cushions speak a universal language, no matter what your background in our diverse Australian culture!
This iPhone app by Touch Autism is where you can create individual and personalised social stories for your budding social butterfly! With a variety of features, including social stories already created for you to use, you can also create stories that are relevant to your situation and child.
Bill Nason is a mental health professional, behaviour and autism specialist with over 35 years of experience working with individuals with autism spectrum disorders and developmental disabilities. He develops positive behaviour support plans which encourage strategies to help with minimising burnout associated with sensory, social and mental fatigue. With a wealth of knowledge to help parents with their children and guide them to a positive way of living for all.
MUSIC MAKING AND RHYTHM GAMES – DRUMMING WITH ACTIVE 8
Anything that creates sound and music is a sure-fire way to encourage positive social skills and we like the sound of that! Research shows that group musical activities are a great way to encourage kids to interact with one another and help grow their confidence in friendship making. Think local music therapy groups; singing/playing an instrument – including the very popular activity of drumming! Active8 is an organisation in Brisbane that offers drumming classes to help develop social skills. Check out their timetable here: www.activeeight.com.au