by Marcia Hinds – Megan and Ryan’s Mom
After we helped Ryan’s dysfunctional immune system start to work again, we still needed to catch him up on all he missed with direct teaching until he started to learn like typical kids.
The book Social Skills for Special Children by Darlene Mannix helped immensely with teaching Ryan how to behave at school. This activity book helped my son recognize how social skills were different for different locations. It also increased his language. All Darlene’s books are exceptional and I listed the ones we used below.
There are many great programs for the iPad now. But I’m not as familiar with them since they came after our time. Back then, the internet hadn’t been invented yet.
Our speech therapists were also a great resource. Having speech only twice a week wasn’t enough to correct the deficits in Ryan’s language. So I used to observe his lessons and made sure Ryan got 45 minutes of speech training every day. When Ryan was younger our speech therapists lent us materials and helped with what speech skills I needed to teach next. I got a lot of ideas on how to teach conversation from observing Ryan’s speech lessons. Steal the stuff that works and do more of it at home. Borrow materials and remember to make it fun for your child.
We used to have a game we played to increase Ryan’s speech. It was called What’s Missing ? I would use the noun picture cards I borrowed from the speech teacher. I would lay three of the cards in front of me. As I laid each card down, I said the name of the card. I might use a picture of a house, a car and a pencil. Ryan would repeat the name of the card after I said it. Next I would tell Ryan to cover his eyes. While his eyes were closed, I would grab one of the cards and put it behind my back. Then I’d say “Open your eyes” and “What’s missing?” When Ryan got the answer correct, he was given a puzzle piece. My son loved puzzles. When Ryan collected all the puzzle pieces, he got to put it together. We started out with me being the teacher but once Ryan understood the game, we’d switch roles and Ryan would teach me. He never seemed to tire of the game because used what he loved to teach him.
From the appendix of I KNOW YOU’RE IN THERE
There are many good books, websites, apps and videos about autism. I’ve included a few references and tips that we used, but there are so many more.
- Maurice, Catherine; Let Me Hear Your Voice: A Family’s Triumph Over Autism. New York: Knopf, 1993.
- Maurice, Catherine; Green, Gina; & Luce, Stephen. Behavioral Intervention For Young Children With Autism: A Manual For Parents And Professionals Austin: Pro-Ed., 1996.
- Barbera, Mary; The Verbal Behavior Approach: How to Teach Children with Autism and Related Disorders. Jessica Kingsley Publishers 2007.
- Freeman, Sabrina, & Dake, Lorelei; Teach Me Language: A Language Manual For Children With Autism, Asperger’s Syndrome And Related Developmental Disorders. Langley: SKF Books, 1997.
- Gladysz, Dominka; Immune Abnormalities in Autism Spectrum Disorder– Could They Hold Promise for Causative Treatment? Molecular Neurobiology Abstract January 2018
- Hughes, Heather; Immune Dysfunction and Autoimmunity as Pathological Mechanisms in Autism Spectrum Disorders. Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience. November 13, 2018
- Mannix, Darlene; Social Skills Activities For Special Children. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2008.
- Mannix, Darlene; Life Skills Activities For Special Children. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2009.
- Mannix, Darlene; Social Skills Activities For Secondary Students With Special Needs. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2009.
- Michelle, Lonnie; How Kids Make Friends Freedom Publishing Company. 2000. (This inexpensive paperback was not written especially for families dealing with autism but has very important information all kids need to know to make friends.)
- Sharma, Melinda; A Parent’s Guide To The Common Immune System Issues In Autism Spectrum Disorder. Published 2016 This book has important information for you and your doctor. It includes test that you may want to ask your doctor to order.
- Sheridan, Kate; Could an Antibiotic Treat Autism? Medication to Reduce Brain Cell Inflammation Could Treat Widespread Disorder. Newsweek Tech and Science. February 9, 2018
I found the cheapest and most effective way to teach my son was by using technology. I bought every computer program I could by the Edmark Company because their programs were linguistically based. When my son was playing Millie’s Math House or Sammy’s Science House, he was also learning language. Our favorite CD was Thinkin’ Things One. Our favorite game on that CD was “The Frival Shop” This excellent program taught Ryan how to follow multiple step directions. These programs are still available today, because they have stood the test of time. They are also inexpensive because they are older.
I wish we had an iPad or smartphone when we were trying to teach Ryan all the things he didn’t know. Our kids love technology. As a result, autism apps are extremely helpful for managing your child’s daily routines and providing the motivation to learn. For individuals who are nonverbal or have limited verbal ability, these apps can be essential to help them communicate.
When I was looking for educational materials to use with my son, I used to hang out at the teacher supply stores. Our kids love workbooks because they are predictable. I liked everything Frank Schaffer did, but there are hundreds more. And the inexpensive workbooks you can buy at drug stores or other retail stores like Target or Walmart work too.
There are a multitude of websites and blogs that make recommendations about which apps are best to teach conversation skills, friendship, interaction skills, emotional awareness, and behavior management. There are no correct answers when it comes to choosing the right applications. You know your kid best and what motivates him/her.
YouTube is a great tool for teaching many things your child needs to learn. It is also effective for teaching ABA techniques. The Listening Program (TLP), Fast Forward, vision therapy and Brainjogging are also great resources. In addition, the website for this book, www.autism-and-treatment.com is constantly being updated. Email me there and I will do my best to answer your questions and help your family any way I can. I want all kids to have what Ryan now has.
Excerpt from Chapter 32 and If I Knew Then What I Know Now
We sometimes forget what a war zone school is for children with autism. The one hidden social rule for school is this: do not act autistic. Autistic behaviors make our kids highly visible. Their oddness encourages criticism, discourages social interaction, sets them up as targets for bullies, and puts them at risk of being reassigned to a more restrictive special education classroom.
The book Social Skills Activities for Special Children by Darlene Mannix helped us teach Ryan how to behave at school. This activity book helped my son recognize that his social skills had to change depending if he was at school, at home, or at a friend’s house. You won’t be disappointed if you take the time check out Darlene’s books. All her books are great for teaching these kinds of important lessons.
Ryan loved the special time snuggling with mom each night to do one of the activities listed in the book. Together each evening, we solved a small part of why other people behaved so inconsistently. We followed the book’s lesson plan orally rather than in writing. I really can’t pinpoint the exact moment when Ryan started learning like other children. The timing varied for different skills But it finally started to happen, and over time he no longer needed to be pre-taught every new skill. He was starting to learn without my direct instruction. Yet there seemed to always be something else we needed to tackle.
Once Ryan learned what was expected or a new rule, he followed it religiously without question. You would never catch him riding in a car without his seatbelt because that was a rule. At school, kids weren’t supposed to talk during work time. Since that was a rule, Ryan never talked to the kids who sat next to him at school. When he came home one day with news that he’d gotten in trouble for talking in class, I secretly cheered. That meant he was being social and cared more about having friends than following the rules.
NOTE FROM MARCIA HINDS – Megan and Ryan’s mom:
Ryan became an aerospace engineer, because he received proper medical treatment combined with behavioral, and educational interventions. To preview my book, “I Know You’re In There – winning our war against autism”go to Amazon or my website www.autism-and-treatment.com
Contact info for Marcia:
Phone: 805 796-8213 Email: For help finding a doctor firstname.lastname@example.org
There is more info to help on my website.