ASK ALIX your questions about special needs is a series that I created so that I can answer your questions about your child with special needs. I am dedicated to helping special needs moms connect with their kids at home through putting in place a communication system and creating educational and sensory activities at home. This is your space to ask me any question you like. I will select certain questions to answer on the blog.
I am putting my 14 years of experience working with children with autism, as well as my personal experience as the sister of my amazing brother, Nick, who has Prader-Willi Syndrome, to work to answer your questions. I know that as a special needs mom you’re searching for answers and my Ask Alix series is a response to the questions you have.
Since starting this blog, I have been contacted by families all over the World who are trying to increase connection, communication and fun with thier special needs kids at home. I also work with French and International families at my learning center in Paris.
It is a joy to be in contact with you, to learn from you and to provide you with information that can help you progress on your journey. I created this community for you so that we can come together, share resources and learn from one another.
ASK ALIX :
Sarah is the mom of a 3 year old boy with autism and she writes :
“My child doesn’t seem to be interested in anything. How do I get him to interact with me and to be interested by the toys I present to him?”
(I translated this question from French to English with this mom’s permission.)
This is an important question and one that I get asked a lot.
It applies to a lot of children with special needs, particularly non-verbal kids. It may sometimes seem that your child is not interested in anything. If your child cannot communicate verbally this is especially true because we are so used to interacting through speech. Most likely, your child is interested in many things, however these things may not seem “normal” to you.
You may have the idea that a 3 year old boy should like Legos or cars or trains. Your child may like these types of toys as a 3 year old boy, or he may not.
He may be interested in watching the same part of a movie over and over or playing with doors. These activities may seem repetitive and non-functional. In some ways that’s true. However, if this is what interests your child at the moment, to get his attention and join him in interaction, you will need to follow his interests. Watch the movie together or play with the door together at first.
As soon as possible, you will want to move away from these types of activities to something a little more functional such as playing with a little farmhouse that also has doors you can play with. Soon, you’ll be able to introduce some farm animals and move your child’s attention away from simply playing with the farmhouse doors in a repetitive way.
Interested in learning more about building a collection of educational toys for your child? Download my free special needs toy checklist below.
In a behavioral program, we use a program called pairing which serves to increase your child’s motivation to play with you and a variety of toys and learning materials.
There are several steps in this program :
1/ Present a new toy.
2/ Show your child how to use it. (Turn on the music if it’s a musical toy. Tap the toy if it’s a drum. Turn the pages if it’s a book…)
3/ As soon as your child is a bit engaged, remove the item in a funny way.
4/ As soon as your child gestures towards you or looks up at you, give the item back.
5/ Continue 3 – 5 times.
Children with special needs tend to learn through a lot of repetition. This can sometimes feel uncomfortable for parents and educators but is essential for the little ones we are trying to teach. Persist in activities. Do them several times. Feel comfortable with the fact that your child may need to be presented with something several times before he or she is motivated to play with it.
Now it’s your turn!
What are you going to try with your child today? How are you going to interact and share a special moment with your little one right now?
Do you have a question? Come in to the Autism Family Wellness private FB group, request to become a member, and once I approve your request, you will be able to come and ask your question. I answer all questions personally.
Some activity ideas :
Teach color sorting with this simple pumpkins + spiders game.
Build matching skills with an easy Farm animals matching activity.
Engage your child in some fun special needs origiami folding.
Make some adorable and educational finger puppets.
Create a sensory bird bin.
Learn to create a Progress Nook for your child at home
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