Monday, April 14, 2008

Swinging and Listening

Swinging is a favorite activity for many of my young friends and so I keep looking for language games that can be played while on the swing. If I get enough of them, I will create a whole web page on my website devoted to games that involve a swing in some way. Readers, please send me any good swinging games that you know about. For now, here is a game on the swing that is aimed at increasing receptive language skills--the ability to listen to words and sentences and understand what another person means.

Initially, the game was played by swinging Ty five times and then stopping. His mother would then ask him to take a ring off of a peg, specifiying a color as in Green off. He would either take the green off or, if he did not understand, his mother would say No, until he selected the right color, at which point she would say YES! Then he was off for five more swings.

As the game progressed, Angela, who was swinging Ty would say Angela do three swings, holding up three fingers. She then counted three swings and stopped so he could pick another color. Ty tries to imitate her saying Three Swings. Listen for this because we were pretty excited to hear him say two words in a row. It is likely that he is understanding word combinations now and this is why he wants to say both words.

Note: We work as much or more on receptive language activities (helping kids understand what we are saying) as on expressive language activities (encouraging kids to say new things). I note this because it is common for people to believe that a child with autism is choosing to not follow directions, choosing to ignore teachers, choosing not to answer questions when the truth is that the child can't understand what was said to him or her. If anyone ever tells you that a child with autism understands everything he or she hears, you can be certain that that person is wrong. Receptive language difficulties are complex, persistent, and often overlooked in children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Collect good games and activities that help your child understand language better and use them and treasure them!

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