Heartfelt Advice From Children With Learning Disabilities

These kids help us to step into their shoes and see things from their point of view. Children with learning disabilities can find it difficult to communicate their needs or even what they are feeling. It’s important for us to remember that everybody learns in different ways and the best way for us to help children reach their full potential is to try and understand how best to facilitate their learning style and find a way that works for each individual.

 

Video Credit: Brain Highways

Five reasons why you should read aloud to your kids – and pick their favourite book

Originally published on The Conversation, written by Ryan Spencer, Clinical Teaching Specialist.


As parents know all too well, children love to re-read their favourite books over and over again.

While this may feel painfully repetitive to adults, there is something in the text that is bringing children back time after time.

Children benefit greatly from re-reading as they learn the rhyming or predictable pattern of the text – rather than spending that time trying to understand what the book’s about.

Research shows that repeated reading of favourite books can boost vocabulary by up to 40%.

But this is only truly beneficial when the text is read aloud.

Research shows that when preschool children are frequently read to, their brain areas supporting comprehension and mental imagery are highly engaged. Studies show that this helps with the development of reading skills, such as word recognition, when they start to learn to read.

By assisting our children to develop these skills, we’re ensuring that they know that text conveys a message, and to read on for more information when they get stuck on a word.

And it’s never too early to start reading aloud to your children. Australian author and literacy studies professor Mem Fox says reading to children from birth can help develop a love for and understanding of books.

Need more convincing? Here are five ways that reading aloud can benefit your child:

 

  1. Improves fluency

Fluency when reading is essential in order to build strong and confident readers. But it can frequently be misinterpreted as relating only to reading speed alone.

Researcher Timothy Rasinski highlights the “bridge” that fluency plays in between word recognition and understanding what the book is about. He highlights the way that reading fluently at a natural reading speed helps to ensure that comprehension is maintained when reading.

When you share a book with your child, they get to see good reading modelled for them. They establish a sense of the speed and prosody that is essential to fluent reading. This then aids in their comprehension of the story.

To help your child hear themselves as a fluent reader, choose a favourite book, and take it in turns reading a sentence, such as in the style of echo reading, where you might read a sentence or a page first then your child repeats the same part.

Hearing themselves as confident and fluent readers allows children to break out of the struggling reader mindset where every book is a challenge.

 

  1. Expands vocabulary knowledge

Research shows that possessing a broad vocabulary is essential to making sure that children have access to a range of different words with different meanings.

It makes sense that the more words that children know when reading independently, the more they’ll enjoy what they’re reading.

While vocabulary lessons are taught in schools, parents can also assist in helping their children learn new words at home by reading favourite books aloud.

Before reading a book for the first time, flick through the pages with your child. Look for any interesting words that your child might not have seen before. Talk about what these words mean and where they may have seen them before.

 

  1. Helps comprehension

Successful reading is all about making sense of what we’re reading.

As adults, if we don’t quite understand something that we’ve just read, the first thing that we tend to do is to go back and reread.

This is a vital skill that we need to encourage in our children to help them become self sufficient readers.

Reading aloud provides the means by which to clearly take about what is happening in the book and to practice this rereading skill.

The conversations about what the book is about can take place before reading with your child in order to predict what might happen. Discussions during and after reading are also usual in clarifying what your children have just read.

 

  1. Involves family members

Fathers and other significant males in a child’s life play a vital role in encouraging their children to be active readers at home.

While mothers do tend to spend more time with their children and often take on reading as a part of this experience, research demonstrates clear benefits when dads, uncles, grandfathers and male friends read with children.

Dads are often seen as the untapped resource when it comes to reading with their children and they frequently provide a different range of experiences, especially when reading aloud.

This might be through using different funny voices and even the content that is read together.

 

  1. Brings the fun back into reading

As any avid reader knows there are few things better in life than curling up with a favourite book and not wanting to put it down.

Sharing this experience with your child is a valuable way to get them on the path to loving books as well.

Consider taking home a new book from the bookstore or library and selling this to your child.

Try talking about the pictures, look at interesting words and predict what might happen before reading together.

When you are reading the book aloud for the first time, use different voices for each character.

If you’re looking for some inspiration on what to read to your child, then try the Children’s Book Council of Australia Awards shortlist, or the Dymock’s Top 51 Kids list which is voted for by kids for kids.

 

Sesame Street’s Nationwide Initiative to Help People See Amazing in All Children

Beloved children’s television program, Sesame Street has launched a wonderful new initiative, See Amazing in All Children. Developed with input from parents, autism service providers, and people with autism, See Amazing fosters an affirming narrative around autism for all families and kids.

The initiative includes a website packed full of free resources and tips to help parents educate their kids about autism, and support families to accomplish everyday activities. Visit the website here to click through the interactive story of Elmo, Abby and Julia, to download daily routine cards, or to watch some See Amazing videos.

An exciting part of the See Amazing initiative was the introduction of a new friend to the Sesame Street cast, Julia, who has austism. Together the furry Muppet friends go on daily adventures to help children and the adults in their lives reach their highest potential. Grover and the gang will tackle a variety of topics that face children in the areas of health and well-being, school readiness, and emotional well-being. Some of the content and topics presented are more sensitive, so you should preview these videos before sharing with a child. You can see more on the Sesame Street in Communities YouTube channel.

 

My Week as a Therapist

High-school student, Isabella Camilleri, wanted to spend her week of work-experience with children, not adults. Below Isabella tells us about her time at the Aspire office, and a few of the lessons she learnt from both the Aspire therapists, and kids!

Last week I completed work experience at the Aspire office and it turned out to be much more than just a nice break from school. I chose to complete my work experience at Aspire because I was inspired by my brother’s therapists and wanted to learn more about the work they complete and the resources they use in their sessions. During my work experience, I sat in with some of these therapists and their clients during sessions and also made resources for the office staff to use.

During the sessions, I observed how the therapists use reinforcement and educational activities to fulfill the requirements of the client’s individual programs. The programs for each child are catered to their specific needs, which conform to the idea that even though most children have been diagnosed with Autism, each child is unique in their own way in terms of their reinforcement and language and learning patterns.

The resources I made included PECS and WECS books, which stand for Picture/Word Exchange Communication System respectively. These resources are used for communication by children who use minimal or no language, so that they can develop their communication skills further.

Overall, I had an enjoyable experience working in the office, especially when making resources for the clients of the office. I would like to thank all of the Aspire staff for accommodating me this week.

 

Sign up today for term 4 social skills!

 

Big Heroes Social Club

Don’t miss out on our next social skills group.

With term four less than a month away make sure you secure your spot in our last Big Heroes Social Club for the year. The first session will be on Saturday 10 October and will run each week for the ten weeks of the school term. 

At the moment there are only a few spots available in each of the groups.

What is a social skills group?

Our small social skills groups are a perfect chance for children to develop and practice their social skills at different levels through a variety of fun-filled games, crafts, music and role-play activities, as well as setting personal goals for each child. Additionally, parents will receive a brief evaluation after each session with possible targets to develop at home and at school.

New fun and wonderful themes will be introduced each week to help your child improve their social confidence in a supportive play-based group environment. Spaces are limited so get in quick!

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Where does my child fit in?

Morning Builders – Saturdays 10am- 12pm

A structured peer group environment ideal for our advanced learners, that will focus on targets such as perspective taking, theory of mind, advanced conversation skills, executive functioning skills (e.g. task topic shifting), advanced social skills (e.g. body orientation, eye contact) and social dynamic play.

Afternoon Explorers Saturdays 12.30pm- 2.30pm

A highly structured peer group environment for our intermediate learners to advance and master targets such as requests from peers, turn taking, participating in group activities, executive functioning skills (e.g. switching attention, transitioning), skills based activities (e.g. fine motor skills, crafts) and functional pretend play.

How do I get involved?

Initially, we conduct an interview, generally over the phone, giving you an opportunity to address any questions or concerns, as well as giving us the opportunity to assess your child’s needs. Fees for the Big Heroes Social Club can be deducted from FaCHSIA/ NDIS Funding.                                                            

If you are interested please contact the office for more details on (02) 9648 4442 or email at info@aspireearlyintervention.com.

 

Aspire Spring Newsletter

There’s always plenty going on at Aspire, especially now that we have a such a wonderful centre with FIVE clinic rooms.

If you want to keep up to date or hear about the latest news, have a read of our Spring Newsletter via the link below.

Aspire Spring Newsletter

How Can Health & Finance Help?

We recently entered into a partnership with William Johns and his organisation Health & Finance Integrated – a Social Enterprise financial planning service dedicated to assisting people through times of vulnerability with financial advice and guidance.

Setting up a meeting with William is a great opportunity to find out a few strategies that you could introduce to make your life easier by planning ahead for the financial and life challenges you may face. Take the time to visit their website and learn more about their services.

 HFI advert

Health & Finance Flyer

Participate in a Survey for Autism Research

The Experience of Mothers of Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder

What factors contribute to a child’s improvement or lack of improvement in ABA programs?

You can participate in a study to help learn more about this area if you are a mother of a child with autism that is between the ages of 2-12 years and currently participating in ABA therapy.

The study involves a short questionnaire that should take up to one hour to complete. The questionnaire will ask you questions about yourself, your social support, and your child’s level of functioning before starting ABA and currently.

If you want to participate please click the link below to enter the survey/ take a copy of the link below to access later:

https://psych.newcastle.edu.au/survey/index.php/345251/lang-en

 

More details can be found in this document.

Research Study Information Sheet

Staff Profile: Sumit Behl

Sumit joined Aspire as a senior therapist earlier this year with over two and a half years experience working in Applied Behaviour Analysis on a full-time basis. She is passionate about behavioural therapy and loves working with children and their families to help them reach their full potential.

Sumit has recently begun studying to become a Board Certified assistant Behaviour Analyst.

We thought it might be nice to get to know Sumit a little bit better so we asked her the important questions. You can read her answers by clicking the read more link.

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What did you do before you joined us?

I was working as a Behavioural Therapist with a number of children

Why did you decide to pursue a career in Applied Behaviour Analysis?

I really like working with children, and believe that I can help them even more through planning and writing individualised programs to suit their needs. I chose to pursue a career in Behaviour Analysis so that I can learn more about how to help people on the autism spectrum reach their full potential.

What is your role here? What would a typical day look like for you?

I am a Senior RBT at Aspire and have recently started training as a supervisor which widens my responsibilities to include planning and writing client programs. I love the new challenges that this training presents me every day.

On most days I work with children on a one to one basis, but I am also very busy planning and designing their programs. There is always a lot of preparation to be done before sessions that is an important part of what I do.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

The most rewarding part of my job is my direct involvement with children, I got immense enjoyment out of seeing their progress and helping them learn.  My job makes me very happy!

What do you like to do in your spare time? Do you have any interests/hobbies?

I love to travel! I spend a lot of my spare time researching and planning trips to places I have never been to. For my next travel installment I would love to go to Switzerland on a romantic trip with my husband.