As the holidays approach, there may be more to prepare for than presents and decorating if you have a child with special needs. You are already anticipating the struggles of the long car ride ahead to visit family. Perhaps your child is so excited to get his picture taken with Santa, but you know that waiting in line in a crowded mall is a recipe for a tantrum or sensory overload for your little one. Begin to think about your child's individual needs and sensory issues now to help prepare them for a successful holiday season! Get creative! You can tweak your family's traditions so that everyone is included in holiday celebrations!
We all know that several children with Autism do not like a change in routine. With this in mind, how can we modify the typical New Year's Eve celebrations so a later bedtime and issues with noise won't cause an emotional meltdown?
If you are thinking of celebrating and want to avoid unnecessary fireworks from a child with an Autism Spectrum Disorder, here are a few suggestions borrowed from PBS parents and adjusted with the special needs child in mind to help maintain a fun yet peaceful atmosphere.
Verbal Operants: Mand
Children with special needs often struggle with communicating their wants and needs appropriately. Many times they express their wants and needs through crying, whining, or even through aggression. The term "mand" is often used by ABA therapists to describe how we teach children to communicate their wants and needs appropriately. At Madison Behavior Therapy we teach the verbal operants based on B. F. Skinner's Analysis of Verbal Behavior, which includes mands, intraverbals, tacts, receptive language, imitation and echoics. This article will focus on the verbal operant, "mand" and how it applies to our everyday lives and the importance of teaching this skill to your child. We teach manding through vocals, sign language, PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System), or with an iPad program such as Autismate or Proloquo2go.