Guest Post by our newest Speech Language Pathologist, Angela Fellman, M.A. CFY-SLP newly graduated from the University of Minnesota in Duluth and working at the Scottish Rite Clinic for Childhood Language Disorders
Paper dolls are a great way to introduce new and different ideas to children. One idea that many children with ASD have a hard time with is wearing new clothing. Sometimes children have a hard time transitioning from their pajamas to their daytime clothing, and some have issues with wearing certain textures. Another big transition that many children had trouble with is the change in seasons. For example, children may resist moving from sweater, pants, and boots to wearing shorts, tank tops, and sandals. This transition can be hard for many children, especially those who have sensory issues or are too young to remember the previous summer. This is where the use of a paper doll can help.
Start by pasting a picture of your child's face on a paper doll cutout. Then, using cut out pictures of your child’s clothing, dress the paper doll in the clothes that you want your child to wear that day. This allows your child to picture the change before it happens and he or she becomes more likely to do this in real life. You can also let the child dress the doll, or have him or her choose what the doll will wear that day. For example, if you want your child to wear shorts that day, then have a couple pairs of pictured paper shorts and let your child decide what to put on the doll, and ultimately him or herself. This way the child is still able to be part of the decision making process, and you are just limiting the field of decisions they have to make to shorts. Making this kind of decision will help your child learn initiation skills and give him or her some independence.