Today's Take Over Tuesday is brought to you by Joanne from Building Buddies who work with children and adults with ASD, ADHD, anxiety and other social communication difficulties.
Hi Joanne here from Building Buddies.
I’m a Behaviour analyst working with children and adults with ASD, ADHD, anxiety and other social communication difficulties.
Building Buddies is now 5 years old and has provided support to over 50 families in that time through group work, parent and professional training and 1:1 work.
Over this Take Ove Tuesday I will give some examples of work I have done and drop some tips to use with children and young people struggling. More information on which can be found at www.buildingbuddies.org
Summer fun to help build social skills.
This is a fun game to play when the rain hits this summer. Everyone gather round in a circle, the person who is ‘it’ must leave the room. While they are out of the room everyone must change something about them (take off jumper, put a book on your head etc). The person who is “it” will have to spot the differences.
This works on joint attention, a skill often not present in those with ASD without direct teaching.
This is a large part of my job, our buddies struggle to manage emotions at times and can cause harm to self or others. So what can be done? My top tips for dealing with challenging behaviour;
Remain calm - a storm does not settle a storm, it creates a hurricane.
Seek to understand their emotion as it may not be expressed easily. Anger often masks sadness, fear, disappointment, confusion and hunger! Hangry is real and everyone gets it.
Label the correct emotion and allow them to feel it “your upset and that’s ok “.
Our buddies may have to learn different coping techniques hints for that will come up later.
Going from silent to chatterbox.
One of my career highlights I’m delighted to say has happened on a number of occasions. Meeting a child who doesn’t speak and leaving them talking the ear of you to the extent the parents joke “why did we ever teach them to talk”! I’ve worked with children using PECS, verbal behaviour technique and Makaton to start communication.
Top tips for starting communication; Use patterns - walking up the stairs saying “up up up”, or in the bath “splash splash splash” this helps cut out a lot of the white noise we say and allow them to hear basic sounds.
Pause preferred activity - if playing pause what you do to get a sound before continuing
What if they worry so much?
Often I meet a child or young person struggling with anxiety. They benefit greatly from behaviour analysis as I break down and teach coping mechanism that don’t come naturally. Coping strategies you can use at home include;
the 4x4x4x4 breathing method - breathe in for 4 seconds, hold for 4, breathe out for 4 and repeat for 4 minutes.
Practice changing negative thoughts to positive ones .
Listen to their reasoning - we might think it’s not a big deal but it is to them.
Yoga with a mantra.
Useful books include “”what happens if I worry too much” or the “Moodles” series of books
No one likes a sore loser - but so many of us are!! Losing games is often a reason for a war on a house so here is an idea to try:
Before playing make an agreement that no one will get upset if they lose. If everyone wins well we all get a treat from the treat cupboard. Write it down so they have a visual when they start to get upset.
During the game if you notice they are in a vulnerable position and might lose talk them through it - “yes it’s not looking good chum, but let's not get upset so we can get a treat”.
If they lose and don’t react straight away get them to the treat cupboard as quick as possible - and no the winner does not get extra because they won - they won that’s reward enough!
If they do react they do NOT get a treat and stick to that do not give in! They need to lose well for the treat. Remove yourself and others from the environment and allow them to process it themselves
Screens are taking over now, no point in fighting it! We can however use them to our advantage - games like Scribblenauts encourage problem solving. Duel games - like finger fights- encourage play skills and conversation. There are lots of math and literacy games out there and my main focus with apps are involving yourself with the game they are playing so it becomes a shared interest and not an escape tool.
I wouldn’t use an app for calming strategies as it leaves the tablet very vulnerable and it is connections with others that support emotional development.
You can check out Building Buddies here.