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Parents Make the Difference in the Treatment of Toddlers with Autism

autism

Parents Make the Difference in the Treatment of Toddlers with Autism

If you’re a regular reader of this site, you know how much I believe in parent training during therapy sessions. Research confirms that parents make the difference in the treatment of toddlers with autism! As therapists, we must, must, must teach parents how to work with their children at home so that therapy continues long after we’re gone.

In a 2014 study from Florida State, Dr. Amy Wetherby’s team (love her!) found that the model of teaching parents at home during individual sessions WITH their children focusing on play and every day routines. Daily routines include meals, snacks, chores and care giving. Along with teaching a parent how to teach a child to participate in community outings, these things resulted in the achieving the best outcomes for improving language, understanding, and social interaction.

Other findings that support things I teach everyday around here:

1. Parents should shoot for 20 to 25 hours a week of intervention AT HOME with their child.

What counts as intervention at home? Any direct one on one time counts when you’re focused on interacting with the child. It doesn’t matter who is providing the contact either – whether it’s mom or dad implementing the strategies or a child’s therapist.

That amount of time scares some families. Some families believe it’s un-achievable. It is A LOT of time, but I have seen incredible results from family after family after family who commit to this level of ‘home therapy.’

Other families are intimidated by the enormity of such an undertaking. Moms routinely say to me, “What in the world would I do during all that time?”

I can teach you EXACTLY what to do! Scroll down below for the resources section to find specific books and DVDs to lead you through the process.

2. Parents should learn to push a toddler during fun interactions since this is the optimal time for changing his little brain.

Here’s what I say in every course I teach live: “When we get parents on board and teach the right strategies to toddlers when they’re 1 and 2 and 3, we can literally change the trajectory of that child’s life forever!”

The “pushing” part is critical and is what makes every day interactions therapy-like. A skilled therapist should have no problem modeling this with a child so parents can SEE this approach in action, but it doesn’t stop there. We must coach a parent until the “pushing” feels natural and is just as much a part of the child’s day as any other activity.

3. “Early diagnosis, however, does little good without early intervention.”

So true it doesn’t even need an explanation, but I’ll make one small comment. What good is it if a family knows a child has autism or ANY developmental disorder if we’re not helping a family learn exactly what they can do every single day to help that child progress?

Read the summary of the study for yourself at Science Daily.

The original journal reference is from Pediatrics:
A. M. Wetherby, W. Guthrie, J. Woods, C. Schatschneider, R. D. Holland, L. Morgan, C. Lord. Parent-Implemented Social Intervention for Toddlers With Autism: An RCT. PEDIATRICS, 2014; DOI: 10.1542/peds.2014-0757

 

Resources to Help YOU Help a Child with Autism:

Remember that parents make the difference in the treatment of toddlers with autism! Here are tools to help you know what you can do to help a child learn to interact and communicate with others.

DVDs

For many parents, ordering the 3 DVD Set (Teach Me To Talk: The DVD and Teach Me To Listen and Obey 1 & 2) will be the best choice. Parents can SEE play-based therapy strategies with a variety of toddlers with both receptive and expressive language delays, including autism. The 3 DVD Set is specially priced at $84.99. Order that set here. Here are details about each of the 3 DVDs:

Teach Me To Talk: This DVD is where I ALWAYS recommend parents begin! The best-selling DVD was my first DVD and explains the basic beginning strategies appropriate for any toddler or preschooler who is not yet talking. You’ll see therapy clips with young children ranging from 9 months old to 3 years old. The DVD highlights the six easiest and most successful ways to elicit first word attempts with young children during play-based activities. This DVD is an excellent training tool for both families and professionals. Many practices require that new families view this DVD between the evaluation and first therapy session so that parents understand what therapy looks like and are equipped to target language at home. Therapists also use clips from this DVD to introduce a strategy by watching together with parents during a session and then implementing the strategy with the child. University graduate programs and practicum sites throughout the USA use this DVD during clinical training for speech-language pathologists and early childhood education majors. This DVD is also helpful for clinicians who may be new to early intervention and working with toddlers and their families – not only because of the “how to” therapy examples, but also for providing a “family-friendly script” to use in discussions with parents. Parents email me every day to tell me how this DVD turned things around for their families because it taught them HOW to interact with their child in a way to facilitate language. (Regular price is $39.99) Click here to order Teach Me To Talk the DVD.

 

Teach Me To Listen and Obey 1 discusses receptive language delays or language comprehension deficits in very young children and demonstrates strategies for teaching toddlers to understand what words mean and to follow simple directions using an easy to understand cueing system. This DVD is most appropriate for parents and professionals working with toddlers who are functioning below the 24 month developmental level and older preschoolers with significant receptive language delays. (Regular price – $29.99) Click here to order this DVD.

 

Teach Me To Listen and Obey 2 discusses receptive language delays or language comprehension deficits in very young children and demonstrates strategies for teaching toddlers to understand more complex words such as verbs, prepositions, and descriptive words and to understand those words to follow more complicated two-step directions. This DVD is most appropriate for parents and professionals working with toddlers who are functioning at and above the 24 month developmental level to the 3 1/2 to 4 year old developmental level. It also includes a special section on disciplinary strategies appropriate for toddlers with language delays and highlights the importance of considering a child’s developmental age in determining behavioral expectations. Many parents tell me that their child did not make progress with expressive language in therapy sessions until they implemented the receptive language strategies they learned from this DVD at home.  (Regular price is $39.99) Click here to order this DVD.

Order BOTH Receptive Language DVDs and SAVE! The Set price is $54.99 for Teach Me To Listen and Obey 1 & 2. Click here to order the set.

The 3 DVD Set is specially priced at $84.99. Order that set here.

 

DVD and Book Sets

For parents who are looking for more specific, step-by-step instructions for how to engage a toddler who is difficult to connect with and teach during play, Teach Me To Play WITH You, is also recommended in addition to the 3 DVD set. The description of the book Teach Me To Play WITH You is below; the description of the DVDs are above. This is bundled as the Helping Toddlers with Autism Set. Order this set.

Teach Me To Play WITH You is a 188 page therapy manual written for parents working with young children who have difficulty interacting socially and connecting with others. Instructions are included for beginning play with developmentally-appropriate activities using simple games and toys that are readily available in most homes. There are separate chapters with explicit directions, words, and hand motions for many familiar finger plays and traditional childhood songs. Activities are written so that professionals can copy pages of a specific activity, complete the activity during a session, and share the copy with parents with “homework.” The final chapter explains approximately 20 different common problems related to sensory processing issues that we see interfere with a child’s ability to engage others along with multiple strategies for addressing these challenges during play at home. Parents RAVE about this book both to me via email and to their SLPs who use these activities in therapy and share copies with them! (Regular price is $48.) Click here to order this book.

 

For very committed parents who want a detailed step-by-step explanation of “how to” and “what to” work on for at-home therapy, order Teach Me To Talk: The Therapy Manual, Teach Me To Play WITH You and the 3 DVD Set. This combination is also recommended for professionals who need additional resources and teaching tools to help families of toddlers who have been (or will be) newly diagnosed with autism. Read descriptions of the books below and DVDs above. This set is bundled as the Helping Toddlers with Autism Comprehensive Set. Order that set with this link.

Teach Me To Play WITH You is a 188 page therapy manual written for parents working with young children who have difficulty interacting socially and connecting with others. Instructions are included for beginning play with developmentally-appropriate activities using simple games and toys that are readily available in most homes. There are separate chapters with explicit directions, words, and hand motions for many familiar finger plays and traditional childhood songs. Activities are written so that professionals can copy pages of a specific activity, complete the activity during a session, and share the copy with parents with “homework.” The final chapter explains approximately 20 different common problems related to sensory processing issues that we see interfere with a child’s ability to engage others along with multiple strategies for addressing these challenges during play at home. Parents RAVE about this book both to me via email and to their SLPs who use these activities in therapy and share copies with them! (Regular price is $48.) Click here to order this book.

 

Teach Me To Talk: The Therapy Manual is 220 pages written specifically for speech-language pathologists and other early intervention professionals who work with young children birth to 4 with receptive and expressive language delays and disorders. Because this project was written for professionals, it may not be as family-friendly as other teachmetotalk.com products, but many committed mothers report that this manual gave them more direction and specific instructions for what to work on at home than any other resource they’ve used. This manual is especially helpful for short-term goal writing and for designing FUN and developmentally-appropriate treatment activities for toddlers and young children functioning from the 6-9 month developmental level up to the 48 month developmental level. It’s the ultimate “how to” tool for working with infants and toddlers with language delays. SLPs tell me this is their “EI Bible.” What a compliment! (Regular price is $54) Click here to order this book.

 

Building Verbal Imitation in Toddlers – Learn the 8 levels of teaching a late talker to learn to imitate. Many times parents and therapists don’t see success with late talking toddlers because the adult isn’t working on the right things. The child actually needs to learn several ‘in-between’ steps before he’s ready to begin to imitate words and learn to talk. Professional treatment plans can also fail when the techniques are too clinical for parents to be able to remember and practice at home with their own child. This simple, straight-forward approach is easy for both parents and therapists to understand and implement during familiar play-based activities and daily routines. The ONE PAGE charts of the levels and the handouts for familiar toys and daily routines have been described as INDISPENSABLE TOOLS for SLPs doing home visits and with programs that emphasize parent training and coaching models. (Regular price is $48.) Click here to order this book.

Autism CE Courses for Therapists (and some parents!)

Is It Autism? Recognizing and Treating Toddlers and Preschoolers with Red Flags for ASD is a two- part series that can be purchased together or separately – Part 1 is 4.5 hours and focuses on walking you through the official diagnostic criteria for ASD with a thorough discussion of each indicator and video examples. Part 2 is 6.5 hours and focuses on intervention. If you’re ever confused (or frustrated!) when you’re working with a little one you’re not sure is on the spectrum, this course is for you! Read details about that course. Order Is It Autism? (Regular price is $175.) 

 

If you’re not sure what you need, email me with a description of your situation and I’ll make specific recommendations. Type MAKE RECOMMENDATIONS in your subject line and send that to Laura@teachmetotalk.com.

 

 

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2 Comments

  1. Charity on May 21, 2015 at 3:01 pm

    Thanks, this is far much helpful. Mine are 4.4yrs old twin boys recently diagnosed with ASD.They can’t fully express themselves, mostly repeat words they hear n record on daily basis. Poor social interaction (cover eyes) when they meet strangers, cover ears when shouted at, or any loud sound,stretch themselves a lot on hard surfaces I.e table or the edge of the bed. Slow in academics,don’t even identify numbers or the alphabet nor write, only good at recitals n songs. Any help will be highly appreciated.

    • Laura on May 21, 2015 at 4:21 pm

      Hi Charity. Are your boys in therapy? I would highly, highly, highly recommend that you speak with their SLP, ABA therapist, OT, preschool teacher and anyone else they see for what you can do at home to help them. Because they know your little boys, they will be much more specific than I can be. That being said, I have some OUTSTANDING resources for parents who are looking for specific ways to help their children learn to understand and use words at home.

      Begin with articles in the autism section. You can find those under the word BLOG at the top of the page. Click BLOG and a list of categories will pop up. Other helpful information will be under Receptive Language and Expressive Language.

      As far as products go, I always recommend that parents begin with my 3 DVD set so you can SEE play-based strategies for helping young children at home and it addresses both receptive language (what a child understands) as well as expressive language (what a child says or communicates to you with gestures, signs, pictures, body language, facial expressions, ANYTHING and EVERYTHING he uses!)

      I also want to tell you about 2 other resources here on the site. Almost every day I hear from someone who first found me through My Therapy Tip of the Week videos. They are completely free and available to watch any time to give you new ideas for teaching language with toys and familiar activities. You can access those here in the VIDEOS tab or in the BLOG category by clicking on Therapy Tip of the Week. You can also watch from youtube. Search ‘teach me to talk’ or Laura Mize or Therapy Tip of the Week.

      The next resource is my podcast. I have done over 260 hourly shows about helping young children with language delays. You can access the show here on the site in the podcast category or search Teach Me To Talk on iTunes. It’s a wealth of information for you, especially if you’re a listener and auditory learner.

      Hopefully, you’ll find a TON of ideas to help you help your little boys. Good luck to you!! Laura

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