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When working with children, therapists often have to prepare for the unexpected! The following is a story about an experience with a client and shows just how important praise can be to children.
With ABA with children, we sometimes need kids to practice their skills in the real world or the “natural environment”. With the particular child in this story, the aim was to go to the shops to get some fruits and veggies with the child’s parent (without walking down the lollies aisle and purchasing a bag of lollies!). Normally a trip like this would result in lots of nagging behaviour (e.g. I want lollies!) and often with tears streaking down the child’s face. Shopping was a stressful experience for the parent too!
Little did I know that in this shop, the fruits and veggies section was situated right next to a stand filled with all sorts of lollies! As we moved towards the veggies section (realising that there were lollies in sight), the first line the child uttered was “Can we please get a bag of chocolate? I really want to have it.” Fortunately, the parent and I had talked before hand and decided to ignore such requests should they come up. The plan instead was to redirect the child’s attention to the task at hand by asking which fruit the parent should buy. And in this instance, the child in our story was successfully redirected to the task at hand.
In total, we managed to spend a good 5 minutes within the fruit and veggie section without walking out with a bag of lollies. While this may not sound like a big deal…for this child (and their parent) it was huge!
While we were walking away from the shop, I couldn’t stop singing the praises of the child to the parent as the child’s performance exceeded our expectations. It didn’t take long before I started hearing loud giggles behind us.
As we turned around, we were greeted with the widest grin ever. Turns out that the child overheard our conversation and couldn’t stop giggling with happiness.
Moral of the story? Do not forget to praise your child for good behaviour. Provide them with lots of attention whenever they’re not engaging in challenging behaviour (in this case nagging for lollies). Praise is very important to some children and it also feels nice as a therapist or parent when you have a good reason to do so!
Assistant Program Manager, ABACAS
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Children develop language through watching, listening and practice. Singing to young children can help them develop early language and literacy skills, such as phonological awareness, auditory discrimination, and vocabulary development. Its no coincidence that young children are drawn to activities with music, rhythm and repetition….all of these elements can help young children learn.
Music doesn’t have to be limited to watching the TV or listening to the radio. We can create music anytime and anywhere. In addition to singing well known nursery rhymes and children’s songs, why not make up your own?
Typically when children are very young, you will need to take the lead…providing the music and words, and helping your child do the motions to the songs. After many, many, many repetitions, you can encourage your child to take charge and lead the interaction. In other words, you follow their lead.
Some Tips for Singing With Your Child
- Don’t worry if you don’t sound great, children will respond to the rhythm of your speech, and the love and affection with which you sing. The most important thing is to sing slowly and clearly.
- Use lots of actions with your songs, as this encourages your child to imitate. Remember imitation of actions often comes first, with the words coming later.
- Make up words to familiar tunes so your songs have more meaning for your child. You can put your child’s name in the song to personalize it.
- Make use of pausing. For your children this will help them learn to anticipate, for older children it will give them the chance to fill in the missing word or action. For example “open shut them, open shut them, give a little ……..”
- Make up simple songs (borrowing tunes if need be) for house routines. Not only are you teaching language, you building up helpful routines.
And if you have worries about language development…
Check in with your child nurse, GP or a speech pathologist. Children develop language at different rates. It’s not about who gets there first, more whether they are meeting milestones around the expected time.
The Child Wellbeing Centre has three speech pathologists available for consultation working on different days of the week. Please contact our reception for further information.
ABACAS Team / Psychology Team
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January is often thought of as a quiet month but not at the Child Wellbeing Centre! It’s our second week back in January and it feels like we have hit the ground running!
We have two new and one returning team member to tell you about.
Toni Schmitz (Behaviour Therapist and Provisional Psychologist)
Toni came to us last year as a Curtin University student on placement. She did such a great job with the children that she worked with that she got a job offer! In her paid role with us this year, Toni will be working as a Behaviour Therapist and Provisional Psychologist on different days of the week. Toni will starting off first learning the ropes as a Junior Behaviour Therapist and picking up a psychology case load towards the end of February. She will be available to work with the families she saw as a student last year.
Penny Ya Fen Wong (Senior Behaviour Therapist)
Penny joins the ABACAS team as a Senior Behaviour Therapist. She will be working with individual families providing therapy and be available for parent and school behavioural consultancy. Penny has over 15 years experience in working with ABA programs and a broad range of experience with children with disabilities, developmental delay and learning difficulties. We’re also hoping that Penny will also have her application for provisional registration as a psychologist approved so she is able to provide psychological consultancy services.
Simone Lombardo (Psychologist)
After having some parental leave last year, Simone returns to the Centre in early February on Saturdays. As a psychologist, Simone has a broad range of experience in working with children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. She also has a an interest in working with children presenting with social and emotional difficulties. Simone will be be available to see old and new clients. We’re really looking forward to Simone join the Saturday team of psychologists again.
We still have a few more staffing changes to tell you about. The Centre is currently recruiting another psychologist and we are also in the process of appointing a casual receptionist. I hope to have some news about both of those changes in the near future.
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Just a short note to let you know that the office is now open.
With the exception of public holidays, office hours will be back to normal (Mon to Sat, 9am to 5pm).
We’re looking forward to catching up with all of our clients and hearing about your holiday so far.