As the holiday season quickly approaches, schools in the UAE will be off for three weeks. It can be an exciting time for many people, but for some parents it can be difficult to cope with changes in routine, to keep their children entertained while maintaining their academic skills. The Doris Duan-Young Autism Center (DDY) offers many strategies for occupying children during school holidays while developing and generalizing their academic skills.
Research shows that “multiple examples” help in the acquisition and generalization of skills. Several examples of different activities during the holidays can help children develop and maintain their language and academic skills (Cooper, Heron, Heward, 2007). The activities will be individualized according to the skills and interests of each child. DDY supports the generalization of skills of its clients at home by providing families with additional equipment that can be practiced at home.
Incorporating arts and crafts activities into a child’s day can entertain children while developing and maintaining their various skills. Arts and crafts activities such as cutting, pasting, drawing, and coloring can help children develop the following skills:
• Hand-eye coordination
• Children’s vocabulary can be developed by encouraging children to point or label different items in their arts and crafts projects.
• Children can practice by following written instructions related to art projects
Worksheets are one of the structured activities that can be implemented in a child’s day. The worksheets will be a continuation of the child’s mastered academic goals and will be individualized based on the skill level and age of each child. It is important to foster independence by providing easy worksheets.
• Name writing activities
• Tracing and copying worksheets can be practiced to maintain writing and tracing skills
Academic and linguistic development can be practiced in a natural, unstructured setting throughout a child’s day and can help generalize skills (Sundberg & Partington, 1998).
• Cooking is very important for developing arithmetic, language skills, reading skills and fractions
• Family games are very important for generalizing language skills, numeracy skills and rule compliance
• Watching a movie: While watching a movie, caregivers can comment on different emotions, actions, features, functions and elements of a movie
Parents with purposeful children may find it difficult to switch their children from free play to structured activities. DDY recommends several
prior intervention strategies (preventive) that help parents avoid problematic behaviors (Cooper, Heron, Heward, 2007).
Visual Calendar: A visual calendar helps children structure their day and gives them a sense of expectation and security.
Visual rules: Visual rules are the rules of proper sitting on the table and in a circle to deal with different academic tasks. Visual rules come in different forms (i.e. illustrated or written) depending on the child’s age and skill level.
Choice: Choices are important in giving children a sense of empowerment and control. Children will have the choice between worksheets, arts and crafts activities, books and / or toys.
Variety of activities: The activities will be varied and mixed between easy and difficult requirements.
Positive reinforcement: Positive reinforcement is the presentation of a stimulus after a response that increases the future frequency of that response. Positive reinforcement can be done through a symbolic board and / or verbal praise (Cooper, Heron, Heward, 2007)
• Token Board: This is a system where children will earn a token (ie stickers, happy faces, checks, pictures, thumbs up, etc.). By collecting a certain number of tokens (3, 5, 10, 15, 20, etc.), children can get their favorite toy, activity or snack (Cooper, Heron, Heward, 2007).
• Verbal praise: Parents can verbally praise their children after completing a task.
For more information visit www.ddyautismcenter.com