Table Time

A common concern most parents have is for their child to sit and eat at the table. Since eating isn’t a favorite for most children with autism, sitting at the table won’t be either. The first thing that needs to be done is to make the table time fun! Have the child do his/her preferred activities at the table. The child will want to grab the item and move it away from the table. Give clear instructions that the item stays at the table and that if he/she wants to play with it, it’s at the table.

 

Pictured is a little boy I’ve been working with for about 2 months. I have paired myself as a reinforcer and have shown him new toys. Our sessions began playing on the floor and now we have progressed to playing at the table. Puzzles are his favorite! So we do lots of puzzles and I let him play with it over and over, he does each puzzle 3 or 4 times.

I don’t give any instructions related to the task (ex, where’s the cat? what color is this? what letter?) or have him ask for items. Since I know he loves puzzles, I only hold up 2 puzzles for him to make a choice and label “Puzzle” over and over. I want him to like being at the table and if I upset him, chances are he’s not going to want to return to the table. The only instruction I give is for him to “sit down” if he wants to do the activity. He is allowed to get up and walk around if he needs to, but the activity stays at the table and will be available on his return.

At my last session, when I arrived at their house, he was sitting at the table ready for me with a big smile on his face as I walked through the door.

* Future posts to come on table time and the steps I use to prepare him for foods. *

Autism & Montessori: Learning to spoon feed

In the practical life section, there are many activities that involve transferring objects with utensils. These are great tasks to help if your toddler has trouble feeding him/herself.

If you think about it, how often do they get to use the spoon? Average, 3 times a day. For some, that might not be enough to acquire the skill. What they need is more practice.

Do small transferring activities throughout the day so that your toddler gets used to holding and manipulating a spoon. Practice! Practice! Practice!

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Autism & Montessori: Hand-Eye Coordination

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Simple tasks such as pouring water back and forth helps with hand-eye coordination and adaptive skills for the future. We take for granted simple tasks such as pouring milk into our cereal, because it comes natural for us. But for a child with developmental delays, there is a lot to process: the weight of the cup, the speed of pouring, and the coordination so that it doesn’t spill.

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Switch it up by using different size cups/bottles and different textures. You can even add a funnel for the more advanced learners.

Have fun and it’s ok to get messy!!

*Please note that he should be using both hands. One hand to pour, one hand to hold. He still needs to work on that. Keep an eye out for that with your little one.*

Autism & Montessori: Spatial Awareness

The Montessori classroom is set up so that the child has to be aware of their surroundings. Children have lessons out on the floor, there are tables set up randomly, and the lessons have an assigned spot on the shelves. You have to look where you’re going so you don’t bump into things. I love that all the lessons are placed on shelves. This forces you to look at what you’re doing and coordinate where/how to place the item.

Here, my kiddo is returning his lesson to the second shelf. The long rectangular shape needs precise calculations. He did it!!!

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Autism & Montessori: Promoting Independence

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My favorite thing about Montessori is that it promotes independence. The children have to take care of themselves and are responsible for their stuff. Here, my little guy is washing and drying his plate after eating his snack. He then has to return it to the table and leave it ready for the next child.

This also helps if the child has sensory issues. In the past, I have had clients that didn’t want to touch the water or the rag. With prompting and desensitization, they were able to do it themselves!

No-tie Laces

Does your child have difficulties tying their shoes? Simple tasks like tying shoe laces can be very hard for a child that has autism. I found this site that fixes that!! It’s called SnapLaces and they look really neat!!

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Check out this article on how these laces helped a child with autism put on his shoes independently for the first time!!