Thursday, March 12, 2015

Things We Love: The Plastic Accordion Tube

Toy: The Plastic Accordion Tube aka "Pop Toob" 
Description: This toy is as simple as they come! It is a plastic tube that makes different sounds when you spin it. It folds up small or you can extend it and make it long. The activities you can create with this toy are endless!
Good for: Kids motivated by movement and sound, imitating sounds, targeting expressive language, pretend play, and social skills


Expressive requests

First words
“go” and/or “spin”

This toy is great for targeting these simple words. You can twirl the tube over your head, and as you do so, it makes a whistling sound. The tone of the sound changes by spinning it faster or slower. This creates a great opportunity to hold out for, or model, the word “spin.” You can also use the tube like a slide and have small toys slide down and prompt for “go.” This can be especially good for kids who do not yet have object permanence.

Two word combinations:
"Go fast", "go slow", "spin fast", "spin slow”, "long tube", "short tube”, etc. " Remember, the different speeds produce different tones which gives lots of opportunities for varied language!

Longer/ varied requests:
"Make a Light-Saber": turn off the lights and hold the short tube over a flashlight.  After the child makes the request you can turn the flashlight on and pull the tube long.
"Make a square.", "make an oval", etc.: you can many different shapes by connecting the tube together and bending it.
"Spin the tube fast", "spin the tube slow", and “spin the tube super fast!"

Imitating Sounds

A fully extended tube makes a great elephant trunk! You can hold it at the end of your nose, lift the other end high in the air, and make an elephant sound. Have your child do the same!

Use the tube as a telephone. Hold one end of the fully extended tube and have the child put near his/her ear. Use a whisper voice and talk into the tube. It’s like tickling them with your voice!

Spin the tube over your head and make helicopter sounds (kind of like “chicka-chicka-chicka” or whatever other sound you can come up with) and then give your child a turn!

Pretend Play

 It's a telescope and you're a pirate: "Land Ho!"
It's a microscope and you're a scientist: "I've discovered the tickle bug."
It's a stethoscope and you're a doctor: "Let's listen to your heart... bump, bump..."
It's a snake and, "It's Going to Bite You!"
Then Reverse the roles!

Other Activities

Take the tube into the tub and fill up a bucket with some water.  Dip the tube in and fill it with some water.  Hold both ends of the tube up so that it makes a "U" shape with the water at the bottom of the "U".  Put one end of the tube up to your mouth and blow hard so that the water shoots up and back into the tub.  Pretty Fun, right? Think of all the language you can prompt!
"on", "off", "water", "stop", "blow"..."under", "in", "pour"..."blow high", "be an elephant” "make a huge fountain." Get creative with it!

-David Koehler and Lindsey Lewis

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Things Parents of Kids with Special Needs Wish You Knew

“A kind gesture can reach a wound that only compassion can heal.”
- Steve Maraboli

Over the years, we have been lucky to meet so many families of children with special needs and become a part of their daily life. We have been there to experience great triumphs as well as to help overcome trials through ABA services and parent consultation. Through our interactions, we have heard parents discuss everything from behavior management and communication to sleep difficulties, food selectivity, potty training, and more. But there is something else that comes up frequently and consistently. Most parents focus on helping their child reach their potential at home and in school, but we often hear that the assumptions and perceptions of other people can be a source of great anxiety. At In S.T.E.P.P.S., we think it is important to increase public knowledge and raise awareness so that children with special needs and their families feel supported by their family, friends, neighbors, and community. Of course, every child and their abilities are different, but here are some things that we have heard directly from parents about what they wish YOU knew.

1. My child is not “misbehaving” because they are a “brat” or I am a “bad parent”

2. I notice when you stare or give dirty looks (and it doesn't feel good).

3. Meltdowns and tantrums are hard on me AND my child.

4. My child is unique and amazing! Get to know him/her.

5. I worry about how my child is treated when I am not around.

6. There are reasons for my child’s behavior(s).

7. Pity is not productive.

8. An understanding smile is a simple thing to do and it can make my day!

9. I try to focus on the positive by myself, but positive words from others means a lot. 

10. I need empathy and kind words, not judgment, from those around me.

11. I go to great lengths to keep my child safe at home and when we are out in public.  

12. Just because my child can’t talk doesn't mean they don’t hear what you are saying.

13. I have to parent differently than parents with typical kids.

14. If you want to know something about my child, just ask.

15. My child may learn differently than others, but he/she is not “broken.”

16. I want to talk about my kids and I want to hear about yours.

17. I am always anticipating what my child needs or wants.

18. My child may have a sensory processing issue that makes it hard for him/her to be still or quiet.

19. Simple things like going to the store can be a challenge (and sometimes I dread it).

20. If you have met one child with autism, you have met ONE child with autism. Every child is different, don’t compare.

21. Rude and insensitive comments don’t help and make me feel guilt/embarrassment that I shouldn't have to feel.

22. Try not to take things, like language, for granted. Some of us can only hope to hear our child say “mom/dad” or “I love you.”

23. I can’t always just “find a sitter.”

24. Don’t assume my child can’t do something just because he/she has special needs.

25. I live in fear that I will turn my back for one second and my child will wander off.

26. Interacting with my child may take a lot of work and patience, but please don’t let that stop you from trying. It is SO worth it! 

27. I don’t have all the answers, but ... 

28. I don’t need unsolicited advice.

29. My child needs the same things all kids need: love, acceptance, laughter, play, and fun!

30. I am “on” 24/7 and need to be ready for anything.

31. I am exhausted.

32. My child may not understand things like sarcasm or emotions.

33. It is important for my child to have friends and interact with other kids.

34. I need friends, too! Keep inviting me out for coffee or dinner or come over and just hang out with me.

35. I constantly worry about my child’s future and what will happen if something happens to me.

36. I am an advocate for my child in every setting of his/her life. This means I am live and breathing paperwork, calls, appointments, emails, therapies, and meetings.

37. Your children learn from modeling. Show them how to be tolerant, accepting, and compassionate by doing it yourself.

38. You can help my child reach his/her potential just by helping raise awareness.

39. My child has so many great qualities and abilities!

So, friends, what else would you add to this list?

-Lindsey Lewis

Connect With Us!

We have had our blog up and running for a while, but we wanted to take a minute to reintroduce ourselves and reach out to those that may have just come across our organization. 

Welcome to the In S.T.E.P.P.S. Blog! We are thrilled you found us! 

Click around to read a little bit more about us and get to know our team and what we do. We have many ideas in the works to make our blog more relevant to our followers so we hope you keep checking back for new posts. You can subscribe to our blog directly on this page. 

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We are always continuously coming up with new ideas and programs so follow us and join us on the journey as we "STEPP" ahead together!

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Join IN STEPPS at the TACA San Diego Chapter Meeting!

In STEPPS will be presenting on PRT as an effective intervention for Autism at the TACA San Diego chapter meeting on March 24! Check out the flyer below. Hope to see you there! 

Autism Researchers Coming Together!

We are excited and proud to announce that our Directors, Yvonne Bruinsma and Erin McNerney, are co-authors on an important position paper published yesterday in the prestigious Journal for Autism and Developmental Disorders.  This position paper has an impressive list of authors that include some of the biggest names in current research on Autism Treatment and we are thrilled that In STEPPS was able to contribute to this important work!

The paper is titled: Naturalistic Developmental Behavioral Interventions: Empirically Validated Treatments for Autism Spectrum Disorder. It describes how the field of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) evolved from Discrete Trial Training to naturalistic teaching methods like PRT and ESDM that take developmental theories into account. It also describes common elements in naturalistic developmental intervention models demonstrating that these models have more similarities than differences. In short, the paper makes a strong case for autism researchers and practitioners to come together and work under the NDBI umbrella in order to bring improved understanding of the interventions to parents and funding agencies, and the most up-to-date, high quality services to our kids.  

We would be happy to email the paper to any of you that would be interested in reading it, but below is the link if you would like to download it from your own computer.

Download Your e-Offprint (PDF file)
Your 'Online First' electronic offprint is now available! Download your PDF file using the following link:

If the PDF file does not open automatically, please copy and paste the URL into your browser window. Please note that your free e-offprint will only be available for four weeks!

Your article will be assigned to a specific journal issue. After the production of that issue has been completed, you will be notified by email and a new, paginated e-offprint with the final cover of the respective issue will become available to you as a free PDF-download. Any additional (printed) offprints or posters you might have ordered will then be shipped to you.