Today we had a busy day as we combined our training session with doing a review of the programme. The review involved asking parents and teachers to complete various questionnaires and interviews that they had also completed at the very beginning of the programme. We filmed some of the interviews and got some great feedback.
Our training was on play and social skills and how we can teach these skills to children with autism. We started by discussing how children typically develop play and social skills and how they move through various stages of development. For example, children initially play alone and then begin to play in parallel with a peer, and later learn to cooperate with another child to achieve a common goal.
Next we discussed how play and social skills can be difficult for children with autism, for example, they may not acquire imitation skills that are important for play without specific teaching, and they might experience difficulties with understanding the feelings and thoughts of others, which can make social interactions harder.
We talked about specific teaching strategies that can be used with children with autism and these included how to teach imitation with objects, breaking play skills down into smaller steps to help us teach them and using video models. As usual our families and teachers were very willing to have a go themselves and practised some of the strategies with each other. We’re looking forward to having further opportunities to practise in our cooperative sessions this week.