Good Thoughts and Bad Thoughts

This blog is a continuation of the “Eyes and Brain in the Group” blog. As I was attending the Social Thinking © conference in Long Beach in January, I realized that my “Expected and Unexpected Behaviors” lessons were incomplete. In the lessons I used several visuals for Expected and Unexpected Behaviors. I talked about having “good thoughts” when I client demonstrated expected behaviors in the clinic and “bad thoughts” when he exhibited “unexpected behaviors.” But I hadn’t really used a visual to make it explicit. During the conference, I noticed Ryan Hendrix (one of the presenters) use a red thought bubble for “bad thoughts” and a green thought bubble for “good thoughts.” I felt a figurative light bulb go on in my brain. Wouldn’t it make more sense to hold a green thought bubble over my head than say “I am having good thoughts,” since you don’t always express your thoughts verbally. Just holding up the green bubble without verbally interrupting the session would give the client the positive feedback and the acknowledgment while continuing with your lesson.

So of course, the next weekend I had to make the two thought bubbles. I used a generic thought bubble shape I found online and outlined one red and the other green with Do-A-Dot markers to make them bold. I wrote “Yay!” with a smiley face on the green thought bubble and “Oh, no!” with a sad face on the red thought bubble.

I also made a generic (white) thought bubble that said, “I am thinking about __.” I put some Velcro underneath so I child could attach a picture of something/ someone they were thinking about. To carry it further, I also made a “talking bubble” and laminated it so you can write on it with a dry erase marker. The client could write what they were thinking about on the “talking bubble.” For example, if they were thirsty and thinking about juice, they would write, “I want some juice” on the “talking bubble.”

One of my clients in particular has difficulty realizing that people have different thoughts. What is in his brain isn’t necessarily in mine. So if he is thinking about “m&ms,” he needs to say it so I know what he’s thinking about instead of demonstrating “unexpected behaviors” such as screaming or crying. So having two thought bubbles (one for him and one for me), each showing that we are both thinking about different things (his has m&ms, mine has the activity we are doing) makes it explicit for him.

I have to credit Ryan Hendrix for the ideas listed above. I also used Jill Kuzma’s thinking and speech bubbles. You can find the templates on her blog. She has some additional ideas and activities that are great to carry on the lessons using thought bubbles.


Eyes and Brain in the Group

I recently attended a Social Thinking © Conference in Long Beach. It was one of the few conferences I have attended where I found myself writing notes on the sides of ideas and treatment strategies I could use the next day. One of the ideas I used right away was using concrete and visual cues to keep my little ones’ “brains and eyes” in the group.

We notice when somebody’s is in the group and their brain is paying attention and their eyes are looking at the activities/ materials. We think that person is doing a really good job participating in the group. We also notice when somebody’s body is in the group, but is does not appear like their brain and eyes are part of the group. It does not appear that their brain is thinking about the same thing as the group. We say, “Your brain and eyes are not a part of the group”.

I found my clients didn’t seem to truly “get” the concept of keeping their brains and eyes in the group. So I bought a rubber brain and an “eyes chip clip.” Now, when I see my client’s brain or eyes wandering, I actually roll the brain or eyes off the table and say “Uh oh! I think you brain just rolled away. Lets bring it back so it can be a part of the group.” Or “I see your eyes are not looking at the game. They are looking at the toy on the shelf. But the group is playing the game together. Let’s bring your eyes back to the game so they are a part of the group.”

It is such as simple and easy idea. But I was surprised because it was such a hit with all my clients. They loved the rainbow colored brain and plastic eyes. Now, when they see the brain rolling off the table, they will instantly shout out, “I’m bringing my brain back!” Or “My brain is back in the group.”

The brain and the eyes can be purchased on Amazon: Brain + Eyes

eyes brain

ChatAble App Review

ChatAble is an AAC app developed by Therapy Box, a leading technology company based out of the UK. I was initially interested in this app because it was the only app on the market to give users scene and grid communication options on the same page. What that means is that you could upload a picture or a photograph of a scene, create hotspots that that child could touch to activate a video or audio recording and also have icons or pictures in a grid next to the scene.

It is incredibly easy to program. I created a hybrid page (pages with scenes and grids) within minutes of downloading the app. While I think everyone should always read the manual and watch the overview videos before programing any AAC system, I have to admit, ChatAble might be one of the easier and more intuitive ones to set up.

My favorite part of the app is the ability to incorporate a variety of media options such as youtube links, websites, iTunes songs, self-recorded videos, and more. While a child can certainly use this app as a communication system, I also use it to build receptive language, vocabulary, and syntax. It is so easy to import personal photographs to create buttons and scenes. By addting hotspots that lead to a video makes it exciting and dynamic for the clients. Really, the possiblilities are endless.

I’ve included the overview video of the app that is on the Therapy Box website for this blog. I will be writing about how I used this app with Amelie to move her from just requesting foods to other functions in my next blog. So stay tuned for the next edition of “A Voice for Amelie.”

Disclaimer: Therapy Box provided my practice with this app to use with my clients. However, all the opinions and thoughts in the review are my own.

Sensitive Sam Visits the Dentist

Sensitive Sam Visits the Dentist by Marla Roth-Fisch: A Book Review

sensitive sam dentistMarla offered me a copy of her book, “Sensitive Sam Visits the Dentist” so I could post a review on my blog. This book is beautifully written and illustrated by Marla to help children with sensory processing challenges cope with their visits to the dentist. It is written in a “Social Story” format, which would be really helpful for children on the Autism Spectrum. Each page has hints and suggestions for parents. Parents and therapists can use it before an upcoming visit to the dentist to prepare the child. I would recommend reading it together several times before the visit so the child is really familiar with everything involved in the check-up and knows what to expect. The sensory information (sounds, smells, taste, etc.) is amazingly detailed and provides out kids with a complete picture of the experience.

“Sensitive Sam Visits the Dentist” is a 42-page soft cover book with adorable illustrations. The book is written for ages 4-12 years and has a poetry feel to it with rhyming words. This makes it even more engaging and fun for the little ones. The first 20 pages of the book are for the kids and the last 22 pages are for parents and caregivers. This portion of the book is packed with tips from dentists and dental hygienists. It also includes personal stories from parents, caregivers and therapists with ideas and tips to help with oral hygiene and making visits to the dentists less stressful.

Marla’s first book, “Sensitive Sam,” won the 2010 Preferred Choice Award, by Creative Child Magazine. As a parent of a child with sensory processing disorder, she is well aware of the challenges these children face in routine, everyday situations. Visiting the dentist is hard for many children, but this book can make the process easier and smoother for everyone involved. I would highly recommend this book to parents, caregivers, teachers, therapists, and yes, even pediatric dentists. It can be purchased for around $10 on Amazon and is worth every penny!

Disclaimer: The author of the blog was given a copy of the book for a review. No other compensation was provided. The opinions on the blog are solely the authors.