We have all been preoccupied with the coronavirus pandemic, but how can we not be. Good news is that this year, one since this post was originally written, we have a vaccine! I’ve re-written it with reflection in mind and the fact that there is concern. April is also Autism Awareness month and April 2nd is World Autism Day. In that spirit, I wanted to start this month off with a post along that theme.
Many have resorted to using more and more technology with their children. The paper, “Association of Early-Life Social and Digital Media Experiences With Development of Autism Spectrum Disorder–Like Symptoms,” was published online in JAMA Pediatrics and is available at this link. Don’t be alarmed, in response to comments about this article, it is noted that there is more need for research.https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapediatrics/article-abstract/2772821?resultClick=1. Look at how the spectrum of online relationships has changed us. How does this impact your family and how does it impact development of relationships in which communication is already a challenge?
The impact of COVID19 on development of social skills has not yet been measured yet. This is a significant area of concern for those who live on the autism spectrum. As a result, continued monitoring milestones of your child is imperative, Parents can do so using a screening tool that I have referenced below. There are also resources for adults.
Well… as a speech language pathologist this topic is near and dear to me. In fact, it is an occupational hazard… Pragmatics refers to the way in which people use language within social situations. Consider that you may use language to greet others, inform people about events, make demand, give directions or make requests. If you find that you are not able to do so and in fact may not have the focus to interact verbally with someone else and really hear, here are some ideas. After all – it is our verbal communication that separates humans from other animals
Movement or vestibular input will help your brain to calm down (this goes for adults too). For adults – think about how calm and energized or focused you may be after a work-out. For kids, consider the fact that movement can promote the use of sound. In the video below, by using a teddy bear or similar item this can be facilitated in young children. This activity promotes counting (in the video) but you can adapt it such that i.e. you sing “twinkle twinkle little star”, reciting ABCs or spelling words. For older people you can adapt a more age-appropriate strategy of using a wiggle seat cushion or exercise ball chairs gives more vestibular stimulation and promotes core strength.
*p.s. this also strengthens the muscles that we use to speak!
On Facebook recently, I read the following question from a parent and had some ideas about what might be helpful:
“Anyone had success in detaching their kids from the electronic world? I have a huge concern about what this is doing to my 2 boys with multiple letters in their diagnosis…I am afraid our summer is a battle and competition with it.😑”
There is cause for concern, battles aside. According to How Technology Hinders People with ADHD: “Technology use requires balance and self-monitoring. It can be beneficial to utilize the available software to help increase productivity, but also to help decrease distraction and hyper-focus”.
Tuesday = iPad etc. I might want to rotate every day of the week. Monday may be kindle day, Tuesday could be i-pad day etc.
Plan Media Viewing: Here is a list of acceptable programs or … decide together what will be watched (you as a parent are responsible for how technology is used and viewed at home)
Talk about what you have watched with mom/dad
**The research shows that children of different ages understand ond process what they view on computers or other electronic devices best if you as an adult watch it with them and then discuss what is being viewed.
The Ready to Learn Television Program
The Ready to Learn Program: 2010-2015 Policy Brief, published in March 2016, summarized ED’s Ready to Learn Television program research on the effectiveness of three educational television production organizations.53 The brief reported on 15 effectiveness/summative research studies with children aged 3-8 using media in informal learning settings (such as after school or child care programs); 7 of the studies focused on learning at home. From the 7 studies that focused on learning at home, positive associations were found between at-home engagement and children’s math learning with children whose parents received interventions such as content guides and suggestions for supplemental activities. The studies also found that parents’ awareness of children’s math learning increased their likeliness to engage in activities and strategies to help their children learn math.
On a personal Note:
On this Father’s Day, I remember the house rule in my family. Each of the three of us siblings was allowed to watch television for one hour per day. The rule was so ingrained into my daily life that I can even recall the names of the shows I watched and the time of day. It was always for an hour in the morning before school. It was a relaxing way to start the day. Of course, the time of day changed with advancing childhood years.
There were exceptions to that rule: My parents allowed us additional time if we had to watch something on television for school OR if there was a special program – for example watching “The Wizard of Oz” as a family was a big deal for us. It was, after all, a simpler time. Another such special additional viewing that stands out is the night that Neil Armstrong landed on the moon. The LM landed on the Moon at 20:17:39 GMT (16:17:39 EDT) on 20 July 1969. That was special!… so special that we went to the neighbor’s house to watch together. We went there because they had a color television set and I imagine my parents wanted to share the occasion with other adults. For some reason, one of those memories as a little girl was that of dad carrying me home really comfortable in his arms, because I fell asleep right after the landing.
The beauty of this rule is a child was that I was forced to develop other interests and had to learn what else I could do in my free time. Mom was a librarian so we spent a lot of time picking out books and reading. I’d read two or three books at a time. I set up lemonade stands, rode my bike, learned how to draw, and write poetry. During the summer, we went to the pool. We traveled as a family, as we got older and actually may do so even now, periodically as adults. It builds bonds by sharing face time. The challenge comes when you sit down to eat and the phone has to go in a basket, away from everyone and the game is who can stay away from their phone for the longest! Technology can really be addictive!
Finally – for additional thought on the topic of how we use the brain and how it develops take note of this article and perhaps build reading time into your family’s regular routine:
Welcome to a new decade! Where have you been and where you will go this year. I hope my readers will be able to increase their connectivity to others and opportunities to engage with those in many different venues. As you do so- pause and think about how we are doing so. My question to you is where did talking face-to-face vs. FaceTime go?
Changes Over a Decade in How We Talk:
Absolutely fascinating how it seems that social media has taken over so much of our means of communicating with one another! Take a look at the statistics https://www.oberlo.com/blog/social-media-marketing-statistics and recall that social media only became a phenomenon of the late 1900s. Remember the movie “Social Network” and how famous Mark Zuckerberg became as a result?
Regardless of how it has affected us, the use of technology has changed communication, the way that we think and live our lives each day. There are positive ways in which we can use technology at home and the guidelines posted by the American Academy of Pediatrics indicate that the key is to use it in moderation and with parental supervision.
I personally have a dislike of labels being put on people, but on some level, they do enable us to understand what we see or experience ourselves. The area of Sensory Processing Disorder is not that commonplace of a condition and not as familiar as the “flu” or “stomach virus” for example. So the importance of understanding and then conveying to others that which you know about the condition has meaning. It allows for the potential of gaining the understanding of others around you and empowers others to be more empathic of the needs of those with SPD.
The below five systems are typically those that we learned about in school… keep reading – there are additional ones:
In a visual manner, we can take a look at the neuroanatomy of the disorder which adds greater understanding of the fact that there is a REAL reason for why the behaviors exist and what may cause disturbances in self-regulation.