Social Skills Program 13 Mar 2019

BY: admin

ABACAS Team

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Fantastic Friends – Social Skills Programs for 8-11 year olds

In Term Two, our group social skills programs start up again. Social skills are what we need to be able to make and keep friends. For children the emphasis is developing play and conversational skills with peers.

Fantastic Friends sessions will be run by two facilitators  (Simone and Toni). The program aims to build and develop more complex social skills. For this age group, we will focus on a range of skills including starting and maintaining a conversation, introducing self and other people, asking questions, and apologizing. At the beginning of each term, the specific skills being taught will be customised to the group needs.

Who is suited: Children aged 8-11 years of age who need help with making or keeping friends.

Where: Child Wellbeing Centre at our Tuohy Lane offices, Midland.

When: Friday afternoons during school Term Two, 4-5.30 pm

How much: $87.80 per session

How to get involved: Contact our Reception on 9274 7062 to book an initial appointment with Simone or Toni.

At the initial appointment we will talk to you about your child’s needs so we can work out whether the group program is what they need.

For more information about our other social skills programs, please follow the link:

https://www.childwellbeingcentre.net.au/services/social-skills-programs/

Social Skills Programs 13 Mar 2019

BY: admin

ABACAS Team

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Best Buddies – Social Skills Programs for 6-8 year olds

In Term Two, our group social skills programs start up again. Social skills are what we need to be able to make and keep friends. For children the emphasis is developing play and conversational skills with peers.

Our “Best Buddies” program will help to build your child’s confidence. We will be using modelling, and role playing to practice new skills and refine existing skills.

Who is suited: Children aged 6 to 8 years of age who need help with making or keeping friends.

Where: Child Wellbeing Centre at our Tuohy Lane offices, Midland.

When: Thursday afternoons during school Term Two, 4.00-5.30 pm

How much: $87.80 per session

How to get involved: Contact our Reception on 9274 7062 to book an initial appointment with Simone or Toni.

Best Buddies sessions will be run by two facilitators  (Simone and Toni). The skills being taught in each term will be determined by the needs of the children in the group. However, we will be looking at a range of skills including introducing yourself, conversation skills, play skills, helping a friend, sharing, and turn-taking.

At the initial appointment we will talking to you about your child’s needs so we can work out whether the group program is what they need.

For more information about our other social skills programs, please follow the link:

https://www.childwellbeingcentre.net.au/services/social-skills-programs/

12 Mar 2019

BY: admin

Uncategorized

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Making school fun again with ABA

In today’s blog we will talk about how to make school fun again. Many children enjoy school but some will struggle at school. This can be very stressful for children, as well as parents and teachers. Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) can help to make school fun again, addressing both engagement in school activities and enjoyment.

Where to start with school difficulties?

The first thing to address is why your child isn’t enjoying school. Maybe they are bored, over taxed or having difficulties with friendships?

Our ABACAS team consultants will want to develop an individualised, function-based plan to reduce any barrier behaviours to learning and friendships. This might involve breaking down new skills into easier to learn chunks in consultation with teachers and parents. It might also include looking closely at reinforcers.

Depending on the target behaviours, reinforcers can include social activities with peers (something the child may not be able to access at home!). We might also look at special items or activities at school as reinforcers.   As you know from our other posts, the aim with reinforcers is to make them special for the child. Typically when we are working with schools, we look at reinforcers that aren’t available at home. That way we start to build up reasons for the child to look forward to  going to school.

Where to get help for school issues?

School needs to be associated with positive experiences, people your child likes to be around and fun. An ABA Consultant can work with the school and their teacher to adjust your child’s environment to suit their needs, and increase their skills. They will also work to fade out extrinsic motivators, and find a balance between inclusion and environmental modifications that suit your family and its values.

If this sounds like something we could help you with, please contact Jasmin Fyfe or Rachel Puan (9274 7062) for further information and support. We can help you understanding the reason why your child doesn’t like going to school, finding the right reinforcers for your child and coordinating with school.

Jasmin Fyfe

ABACAS Program Manager

(with help from Verena Hoffman, our psychology intern)

11 Mar 2019

BY: admin

ABACAS Team / Psychology Team

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Amazing Amigos – Social Skills Program for 4 to 6 year olds

In Term Two, our group social skills programs start up again. Social skills are what we need to be able to make and keep friends. For young children the emphasis is on learning how to play co-cooperatively with other children.

Our “Amazing Amigos” groups is a social skills group targeted at Kindergarten & Pre-Primary students. Children in these groups don’t need to have a diagnosis to benefit. We will teach social skills using modelling, role playing and hands on skills practice. Children will be able to try new skills and polish existing social skills amongst peers and supportive adults. The program is 10 weeks and fits in with school the school term. Sessions are run after school on a Wednesday afternoon from 4.00pm.

The specific skills taught each term will be determined by group needs. In general, we will be looking to teach or refine skills such as: asking for help; sharing; greeting others; turn taking and protective behaviours.

Where: Child Wellbeing Centre at our Tuohy Lane offices, Midland.

When: Wednesday afternoons 4.00pm – 5.00pm during the school term

Who is suited: Children aged between 4 and 6 years old who need help with their social skills. Diagnoses are not essential.

How much: $58.53 per session, to be paid each week of attendance.

How to get involved: Contact our Reception on 9274 7062 to book an initial appointment with Simone or Toni.

At the initial appointment we will talking to you about your child’s needs so we can work out whether the group program is what they need.

For more information about our other social skills programs, please follow the link:

https://www.childwellbeingcentre.net.au/services/social-skills-programs/

06 Mar 2019

BY: admin

Occupational Therapist Team

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Hand dominance & crossing the midline

As a baby develops they reach a stage where they realise their hands belong to them and they can use them to reach, grasp, manipulate and investigate. Efficient vision provides the basis of motivation to reach out, touch and explore a familiar face and new things. During the first 6 months, hand movements progress, consisting of voluntary grasp and release, objects are exchanged between both hands. Typically babies will explore objects with their mouths as well as their eyes.

Coordinating two hands

To use both hands together is particularly complex. Both hands need to carry out a different movement task at the same time. One hand develops as the dominant hand, superior at manipulation skills, while the other becomes the helper, or supporting hand. This occurs between the age of 4 and 6 years. How does this work?

The ability to use both sides of the body together is part of general coordination development, it is known as bilateral coordination. Both sides of the brain work together, the left side of the brain controls the right side of the body, while the right side of the brain controls the left side of the body. As babies develop, they move through predictable movement patterns that integrate as they refine a skill. This includes 3 stages of bilateral coordination development.

1) Symmetrical bilateral coordination, or moving one side of the body in ‘mirror image’ to the other. By 3 months old, babies have more symmetry in their posture and movements, for example when babies first discover their hands, they bring them both to their midline and kick their legs together in a similar way.

2) Reciprocal bilateral coordination is when the right and left side move in opposite rhythmic motion, such as crawling, then later to walk.  As a child refines this skill they can learn to climb steps, to run then to pedal a trike.  A leading hand or foot may become apparent at this stage.

3) Asymmetrical bilateral coordination, this is when both sides of the body are doing something different but working together to achieve a complex task. For example, pouring water into a cup, or holding a jar and unscrewing the lid. Between age 4 and 6 children can manage these tasks efficiently and continue to improve once they have established a dominant hand and helper hand.

What’s crossing the midline about?

You may have heard about ‘crossing the midline’. What is this? There is an imaginary line dividing the left and right sides of the body. An exaggerated example of crossing midline is drawing a very large rainbow on a blackboard with one hand, in one movement.  If efficient bilateral integration has not fully developed, a child may start to draw the rainbow with their left hand, then stop at midline and swap to draw the other side with their right hand.

To be able to carry out self-care, get dressed, and learn to read and write without difficulty, a child needs to have an established dominant hand and be able to cross their midline. For a child to spontaneously and comfortably cross their midline, they require sufficient core stability and balance. Having a consistent dominant hand and a helping, or supportive hand is very important, that way each hand becomes specialised in the skill required. From this basis more complex fine motor skills can develop.

Help with hand dominance is a common referral reason for Occupational Therapists. For more information about our services, please contact reception on 9274 7062.

Madeline Minehan

Occupational Therapist

28 Feb 2019

BY: admin

Occupational Therapist Team

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Depth perception in early childhood

As part of an occupational therapy assessment, basic visual skills such as depth perception are assessed along with coordination of the body.

One of the most significant senses your child uses to learn about the world around them is their vision. Depth perception is one visual skill allowing us to see our world in three dimensions. Up until 6 months of age, everything appears flat, your child’s eyes are not yet efficiently working together.

By about age 6 months, ‘binocular’ vision starts to develop, both eyes start working together more efficiently to help children to see the world in 3 dimensions. Babies are learning all about this when they drop something from their high chair on purpose and watch it fall onto the floor. Development of depth perception, or binocular vision, helps your child learn to gain confidence in their body. We want children to learn to crawl then walk, climb up and down stairs, throw and catch a ball.

Signs of depth perception difficulties

Difficulties with depth perception can easily be missed at a young age.  Some typical signs that children may appear to be delayed include the following:

– Low confidence in gross motor development;

-A late crawler and walker;

-Hesitancy or fear with uneven surfaces, curbs, or slopes; and

-Resistance, or fear going up or down stairs.

Depth perception difficulties can influence a child’s confidence interacting with other children too.  For example they may have difficulty climbing play ground equipment, navigating an obstacle course, riding a trike. Problems may be very subtle and not picked up until a child is expected to learn letters and write their name.

What to do if you think your child needs help?

Some children may be slower to develop efficient depth perception, it may be part of a bigger picture as they may also have gross motor challenges as well. Occupational therapy looks at improving coordination of the whole body, including basic motor skills of the eyes. If there is further assessment and intervention needed for vision, an OT may refer to a Behavioural Optometrist.

Please call reception on 9274 7062  for further information about our services.

Madeline Minehan

Occupational Therapist

26 Feb 2019

BY: admin

Speech Pathologist

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Helping children answer questions

Asking your child questions is important as it helps them learn.   When a child is asked something they don’t know they need to be shown how to answer it. If you do not show the child they will not know what is expected of them. Simply asking more of the same question isn’t the solution.

Helping children answer questions

There are some techniques we can use to help child answer questions. Let’s look at the following strategies. When asking Jay questions remember the following;

1.Start by asking the question and answering it yourself so Jay can hear the answer. For example:

Parent- I wonder what else we could use to help?

Parent – We could use a ladder.

2.Give lots of information about the answer. For example:

Parent – A ladder would be good because we can climb it.

Parent – He could use the ladder to climb up the tree.

3.Try and demonstrate the answer where possible. Try to use physical prompts. For example mime climbing a ladder.

4.Try and give the child the answer before you ask them the question. For example:

Parent – He is sad so he ran away.

Parent  – Why did he run away?

Child – Because he was sad.

Always remember to wait after asking a questions. Some children need time to process the questions and to work out an answer. As a rule after asking the question WAIT 10 seconds.

How to start teaching questions?

Each day chose one of the following questions to focus on:

  • What is it?
  • Where is __________?
  • Who is that?
  • What do/did you see?
  • What did/can you hear?

Think of some activities/times during the day when you can ask your child these questions. Remember to gain your child’s attention first before practising. And (as above) remember to give your child time to answer the question for you.

Lastly – don’t forget to have fun and praise your child for their efforts! This shouldn’t feel like hard work as a parent and children need lots of praise when they start to learn any new skill.

Needing help?

When all else fails, you are more than welcome to consult any of the speech pathologists in the Centre. Early childhhod teachers are also a good source of knowledge and support.

Please feel free to contact reception on 9274 7062 for further information about our services.

Georgina Klimaitis

Speech Pathologist

19 Feb 2019

BY: admin

ABACAS Team

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Escape is not an option!

For some children performing a particular skill may be challenging for them, which often leads to problem behaviours. Therefore, it is important to determine the functions of the behaviour. Behaviours may include: attention, tangible, sensory, and escape.

What does escape look like?

Today, we are going to focus on escape. Typically, a child will try to “escape” whenever the demand that is placed upon them is too much or when the task is too difficult for them. This behaviour may look like: running away, crying, shouting, placing their heads onto the table, “shutting down” (or refusing to respond), throwing things off the table, and hitting.

For a child who has difficulty expressing himself/herself, these behaviours are just a means for them to communicate to us that they are not able to perform the task.

What can we do when a child’s behaviour is about escape?

With children who are non-verbal or partially verbal, the first step might be to look at teaching them functional communication.  For example: handing over the ‘help’ compic whenever they require assistance with something. Obviously we need to also teach to the skill deficit. In other words, teach them the skill they cannot do.

For younger children, we would usually prioritise learning to learn skills. Instead of telling them to “sit down” and “behave”, we will focus on skills such as eye contact, sitting still on the mat/chair, manding (requesting), joint attention, matching, etc. Without these skills, a child will not be able to attend to new information as they are being presented to them. Nor are they ready to learn new skills.

For higher functioning children, we still need to identify the skills that needs teaching. However it may look very different to a younger child’s needs. The skills needed may be more of a social skills. Some children find social interaction really challenging. Therefore we might look at skills like maintaining eye contact, respecting other people’s personal space, knowing when it is appropriate to interrupt a conversation, how to interrupt a conversation appropriately, reading another person’s body language, understanding other people’s emotions, recalling past events, staying on topic, etc.

By stepping back and looking at the function of the behaviour, we can gain insight into what supports the child needs. From there its about breaking down a difficult task into small achievable steps via task analysis.  At the end of the day we want our children to develop competency across the range of skills needed in daily life.

Please feel free to contact myself or Jasmine Fyfe on 9274 7062 for further information on how we can help your child.

Rachel Puan

Assistant Program Manager, ABACAS

https://www.childwellbeingcentre.net.au/services/aba-child-and-adolescent-services-abacas/

18 Feb 2019

BY: admin

Speech Pathologist

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Tips on increasing your child’s vocabulary

As children learn to speak, they need  to expand their vocabulary. Children need to learn the meaning of new words and to able to use them appropriately. A lot of this work occurs naturally for a child. They learn through hearing adults (and older siblings) talk around and to them. However there are ways of communicating as a parent  that are more likely to help children learn than others.

Increasing your child’s vocabulary

Let’s start by talking about what your child is interested in! If we try to talk to your child about doing the laundry – they won’t be interested or motivated to tune in to what you say! However you might see a different response when talking about dinosaurs, making fairies fly, and jumping around the house.

Use play time with your child to help their language. This can be challenging but also very rewarding.  During this play you want to ensure you are playing with what your child wants to play with, and how they want to play with it. To illustrate,  if they want to play with cars, great! If they want to make the cars fly like spaceships – great lets do that! Try not to insist that the cars drive on the road in the ‘proper’ way – let your child lead the way!  From here we use the child’s natural language and expand on it.

If your child is able to speak – repeat what they say, and add to it!  For example a child says “It’s a monkey” we can repeat this but add something new to build their vocabulary e.g. “Look it’s a big monkey! It’s a big silly monkey!” Don’t forget to speak in  an animated way, emphasising the key words, slowing down your speech, and repeating yourself.

The 4 S’s of vocabulary building

Say Less- limit your what you say. Yes your child may understand you if you say “Look the blue car is going down to big slide and then let’s move this car under the big brown bridge!”. However, they cannot imitate this. Provide this information to your child in sections that they can try to imitate e.g. “the blue car goes down!”

Stress – emphasise the key words you want your child to learn! E.g. “The blue car goes down!”

Go Slow – Slow down your rate of speech!

Show – demonstrate what you are talking about – if you say “the blue car goes down” – make sure the blue car does go down the slide!

Repeat! Repeat! Repeat! Everything you say – say it more than once! Repetition is the key to your child listening and taking in what you are saying!

Seeking help

Remember – you are not going to be able to change your communication style overnight – it’s going to take time and practice. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you can’t speak to your child in this way every minute of the day. Set aside time to practice each time and focus on your communication.

Consulting a speech pathologist may also be helpful if you’re feeling worried about your child’s language development. Please contact reception for more information about the speech pathology service we provide on 9274 7062.

Georgina Klimaitis

Speech Pathologist

Strategies adapted from The Hannen Centre.

14 Feb 2019

BY: admin

Occupational Therapist Team

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What do Occupational Therapists do?

This year we are starting a series of posts around the occupational therapy services in our Centre. While Occupational Therapists work with adults, they also work with children and adolescents too.

What do Occupational Therapists do?

Occupational therapy helps a person become more independent carrying out every day activities. These activities include self care, work and leisure. For children, school is their “work” activity, but so is play! Play is an opportunity to practise the activities of life, including social interaction and problem solving.

How can Occupational Therapy help my child?

Occupational therapy can help children in a number of ways:

– It can help children to achieve developmental milestones involving coordination and fine motor skills.

– Give children strategies to improve skills such as getting dressed, eating, using a pencil, scissors and cutlery.

– Help parents and assist children to understand their body and sensory system and how it influences everything they do.

Occupational therapy very much works from a partnership model. That is, the OT, family and child working together to identify goals and learn new ways of doing things. Occupational therapists are also able to work with school based staff to develop strategies to support school aged children in the classroom.

At the Child Wellbeing Centre our Occupational Therapists work with young children, primary and secondary students.

Currently OT is available one Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays in the Centre. Please call reception for more information about our services on 9274 7062.

 

Madeline Minehan

Occupational Therapist

 

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