Autism, Siblings,Sensory Integration, Family, Special Needs, Children, Activities, Fun, Mom, Creative Play, Community, Love, Perspective

Archive for May, 2011

Fun Sensory Activity for your ASD Children and Siblings!

I have recently discovered water beads!

 While I know these have been around for some time, I just tried them at home and used them outdoors in my daughters activity water table.   Wow!  Hours of fun sensory play!  I noticed amazing PLAY… The first attempts to avoid them all together, then curiosity, the light touch, then crawling in the water table to feel them all.  Great sensory activity for all of your children and the best part, they are reusable!

I am just going to copy and paste some info I researched on them before diving in to a purchase of them. There are a million companies selling these, and I have even seen them recently at Walgreens.  I went this route with this company, felt like good info on the product was given!


Water beads are a revolutionary new and unique water conserving product for plants and cut flowers. The beads are being used in beautiful style by homeowners, interior designers and large companies alike.  Water beads change water into colorful shining beads, that resemble crystal balls in a clear glass container.
Simply put the small packet of beads into water. The water beads will expand, and you pour off the excess water.  Put the remaining beads into a clear glass or plastic vase or bowl and insert your plant, fresh flowers or artificial flowers.  For added beauty many people add a submersible light to really make the beads sparkle. This amazing new product combines environmental protection and beauty.
Water Beads come in eleven colors to match your event theme and design ideas. They can be reused and washed and they’re non-toxic with no odor.
One small packet of 5 grams of beads will produce about 500 grams of beads once they are hydrated.  Soak overnight to a ratio of one vial of beads to 50 parts water. You can add more water or pour out any extra water when the beads expand. They can also be used to water potted/garden plants and flowers. This product is non-polluting and will not fade. It is reusable as long as you add water to rehydrate the  water beads (approximately every 7-9 weeks). Of course, this product is not edible and should be kept away from small children.
Water beads can be used as a decoration for birthdays, baby/bridal showers, graduations, anniversaries, baptisms, weddings, etc.Additional uses: handicrafts and home decorations, growing plants on vertical structures, bare root treatment and storage, growing plants without soil, feed lot clean-up, water absorption from gasoline/diesel fuel tanks (the Water Beads will not absorb petroleum products; only the water), and dust abatement in construction and mining.
Don’t be confused by lower price and less quality.  There are three qualities of Water Beads.
 Beads absorb water but do not leach it out. They remain rubbery and have no benefit to plants.
 Beads absorb water and leach it out. They are not colorfast and dye the water to color it. When removed form water, they appear clear. The dyed water will stain counters, rugs, grout, tablecloths, ..etc.
 Top quality beads are colorfast throughout. They readily absorb water and leach it out to plants.  They are non-toxic and reusable. Simply rehydrate when they begin to shrink.
On our site you can only buy the finest quality Water Beads available.  And you’ll be happy that you spent a few cents more for the genuine article.
From –


Sibling Day Celebration 2011 FREE EVENT please share hope to see you there!





4:00 pm – 8:00 pm

Join us for a FREE summer evening of fun!

**We are celebrating ALL siblings of special needs families!**

**We want to recognize the TRUE HEROES of your special family!**

Free Games, Activities, Bounce Fun, Painting Faces, Balloons, Horse Painting, and much more, all on the Beautiful Avalon Horse Farm! 

Located: 18029 lake Reflections Blvd., Lutz, FL 33558

Bring a picnic dinner if you wish and enjoy the spacious farm and let your amazing special needs kids show their siblings just how special they really are to them by bringing them to a super fun summer event!!!!!!

Rain or Shine Come Ready to Have Fun!!!!!


If you need further information or wish to be a vendor please contact:

 Joy Falahee Event Coordinator 

Early Autism Interventions or 813.995.5652

Fall /Winter Schedule Announced visit:



Presentation #4 Inspiring Father! Larry Polnicky of Brain Balance

When I was coordinating the Early Autism Interventions and SPD conference held this past Saturday, I was fortunate enough to meet an amazing father doing what he loves, all the while doing amazing things in the community. I asked  him to share his story at the conference, it was extremely touching, and I thank him for sharing a journey that often hashes up for those of us with children on spectrum and other special needs the extreme pain and triumph of the journey all rolled in to one!


My name is Larry Polnicky, and I am the Director of the Brain Balance Achievement Center in Oldsmar, where we help children with Autism, Asperger’s, ADD, and other childhood neurological disorders.  Today I am here as a parent to tell you my very personal story about my son Ben’s journey out of Autism, and how I came to opening our Center.

My wife and I began to notice Ben missing his developmental milestones as early as about 18 months old, but as new parents, we went along for another 18 months thinking all kids are different, and they all develop at their own pace.  By the age of three, it is was undeniable that something was wrong, and we finally woke up to the realization we were dealing with delays that well exceeded the norms.  We immediately began reading and researching everything we could find in an effort to help Ben and get him on the right track.  Two years later, after trying many different approaches and therapies, and spending a great deal of money, we reached our lowest point emotionally.  We had a completely non-verbal 5 year old, still in diapers, drinking from a bottle and eating baby food.  We were in despair and thought Ben was facing a life of disability.

In late 2009, we attended a concert by country music artist, Zac Brown.  In the middle of his show, he stopped the music, brought up the lights and began talking about a new program called Brain Balance that helps children with Autism.  It struck me as very odd that an artist would stop his own show and talk for 8 or 10 minutes about such a thing.  It must have been very important to him, and so we looked into it.  We learned about the science of brain hemispheric imbalance, the researcher behind it, Dr. Robert Melillo, and his groundbreaking book, Disconnected Kids.  We found it described Ben’s condition precisely, gave a plausible scientific explanation of the cause of his condition, and outlined an approach that could lead him out of it.  We immediately enrolled Ben in the program.

Within a few weeks, Ben startled us when he reached across the table and grabbed a chunk of chicken and began to chew it.  This was a child that could only eat pureed food and would gag if anything even as large as a pea entered his mouth.  We then tried a green bean, and Ben ate it.  Cautiously, the next day we gave him asparagus, and he ate it.  Then it was a new food or two every day: salmon, cucumbers, mushrooms, lettuce, etc.  By the end of the 12-week program, Ben was eating not just the diet of a typical five year old, but an almost ideal human diet of fresh fruits and vegetable and lean meats.  Suddenly, one entire pillar supporting his Autism had fallen!

Enthusiastically, we enrolled him for another 12 weeks.  During this time, Ben’s OCD behaviors and tantrums reduced dramatically.  His core muscle strength and fine motor skills improved, and a host of other changes began to take place.  As described in the book, Ben’s brain was “reconnecting” and he was reconnecting with his body. Then, near the end of the 12 weeks, for the first time ever, Ben took himself to the toilet!  From that day until now, he has been fully toilet trained!  The second pillar had fallen!

Around this time, I attended a lecture by Dr. Melillo.  I was so inspired by this man, his research and what he had done for my son and my family, I felt compelled to open my own center and help others similarly situated.  He had given me a debt I could never repay, so paying it forward was the only option.  I am proud to say I am one of three parents who followed this path from that one Brain Balance center in Atlanta, Georgia, to opening a center elsewhere in the country.

Since we opened in late 2010, we have continued applying the Brain Balance techniques to Ben.  A few weeks ago, he started blurting out BAH, BAH, BAH!  A day later, it was MAH, MAH, MAH!  He continues to make new consonant sounds like D, N and G, and he is able to do so volitionally, something we worked on for years and thought impossible.  He is progressing toward speech, and I really don’t see how that third pillar can remain standing much longer!  He also recently mastered riding a bike with training wheels.  Every day he continues to improve his motor skills, his reasoning ability and his social awareness.  His brain function is approaching a level typical for his age.  Clearly, Ben is emerging from Autism.

I would like to leave you with one thought:  there is hope.  And, there is reason for hope.  New discoveries are being made all the time.  A lot of dedicated people are bringing focus and resources to this terrible epidemic, and it is working.  And one day in the not too distant future, I will introduce you to Ben, and he will tell you himself.

Larry Polnicky

Center Director

Brain Balance of Oldsmar, FL

4022 Tampa RD, Suite 6

Oldsmar, FL  34677


Powerful Message for All!! Presentation # 3 Author Suzin Carr I Choose!

I was fortunate enough to be in the presence of an amazing lady this past weekend that delivers a powerful message every time she speaks. Everything she says is inspiring and is something we all must remember everyday!

Thank You Suzin Carr you are an amazing inspriation!




While I truly appreciate the opportunity to post a speech, as I mentioned to you, I never write them completely out. There are constantly new examples coming forward to illustrate the message of our books that “we choose what comes out of our mouth, what stays in our head, and what lives in our heart.” The stories of the folks I meet are near and dear to me; I remember each one as if it were yesterday because there is an amazing humbling that comes with witnessing a life transforming.

I’ll tell you the story of Matthew:  a sweet and open 10 year old boy who asked his mom to buy our book. Quite reluctantly, she asked him to check out the entire event in case there was something more suitable. Upon returning some time later, it was clear that Matthew was determined our book was for him. I asked him, “Matthew, what is it about this book that is so special to you?” His answer was definite: “Sometimes I get really, really mad and I think it could help me.”

I’ll also mention to you Roger: a repeat customer on our website.  At the bottom of his letter there was a P.S. The message was that he wanted to tell me something about his personal life. How at age 50 and in seemingly perfect health, he suffered a severe stroke and now has rapidly progressing MS. He keeps our book on his desk as a reminder “that every day I choose how I will approach it.”

And it’s also for me…who already running late missed the turn to go north on 275 towards Lutz, and instead headed south on 275 towards St. Pete. “Suzin Carr, read your own book! You could yell, sing, cry… or breathe in and enjoy this moment sent at this time as a chance to S L O W way down and absorb the view.

It’s for the Grandmother when I was Guv’na who approached me with arms flailing “Guv’na, Guv’na…will you take your picture with my grandson, he has autism.” Breathe, Suzin Carr, it was all I could do to close my eyes and think, “Ma’am, I would take my picture with this wonderful child even if he didn’t have autism.” To me, he was a bright, sparkling, sweet little boy that at that moment just did not need the label blasted to a large surrounding crowd. He was enough…just the way he was standing before me.

And for the trip to the car wash when I realized my car antennae was missing. I got out, walked through all the brushes, and checked with the detail guy next door. “Sir, is it possible that my antennae got yanked off in the brushes when I drove through?” “Hmmm,” he said, “possible, but not likely. If you want to know what I think happened, did you know that when car dealerships are closed people come in and unscrew those antennas to sell on eBay?” Suzin Carr, read your own book….you could go home and call every one you know to tell them the “news”, you could try to remember when the car might have been around THOSE types of people in THAT type of neighborhood, or you could do nothing and wait.” A week later while unpacking the car of groceries, there next to the black floor mat was the antennae. Be careful what thoughts you choose to let in.

What I want for all of you is to share this message with your families at the kitchen table, listening to each other, guiding each other, breathing in together and absorbing these powerful words. 

I want it to strengthen your relationship with your spouse, your kids, your boss, and your friends, and most especially with you. Peace is possible for and with each of us. I thank you for having me and I hope you will choose well.

Presentation #2 from April 30 Conference: Aquatics Therapy!!!

I find this to be an amazing intervention and therapy! It has saved my daughter’s life! Read it!

Thank you Jenna and Lee Ann for an amazing presentation from the Best There Is!

The Benefits
 Aquatic Therapy

By: Jenna Post, MOT, OTR/L

Lee Ann Tripepi, OTR/L

April 30, 2011



o   Define aquatic therapy

o   Understand the physical properties of water and its therapeutic value

o   Identify and define ways to enhance the sensory system using an aquatic environment

o   Identify and state the functional use of different pool equipment and activities used during a therapeutic aquatic session


The Sensory System

o   We learn about ourselves and how to function in our environment by processing multiple sensory input.

o   Everyone is familiar with the basic senses such as hearing (auditory), seeing (visual), smell (olfactory), taste (gustatory), and touch (tactile).

o   There are also two other types of sensory input that most people are not familiar with and they are proprioceptive and vestibular input.  These two senses give us important information about our body.

The Proprioception and Vestibular Senses

o   Proprioception

It is the unconscious sense of where your joints and muscles are in space.

o   Vestibular

Vestibular input responds to changes in head position and body movement through space.

It coordinates movement of the eyes, head, and body.

The vestibular receptors are located in the inner ear.

It gives us information about movement, gravity, balance, and body in space.



The aquatic environment is rich with sensory input that provides an intensity of proprioceptive, vestibular, and tactile input that is not found anywhere else


The Aquatic Environment is
a Sensory Experience

o   Proprioception-(body awareness)

o    Water pressure, floating, touching or not touching the bottom of the pool, sitting on steps, going up the ladder, kicking, splashing, sharing space with others, etc.

o   Tactile-(touch)

o    Being immersed in water, wearing a swimsuit, wearing a swim diaper, wearing safety equipment, drying off with a towel, splashing, touching others, touching pool equipment (noodles, floats), warm water (92-94 degrees) etc.

o   Vestibular-(balance, position in space, gravity)

o    Swimming on your stomach, swimming on your back, floating, bouncing, kicking, diving, jumping (in and out of the water), etc.

o   Auditory-(hearing)

o    Water splashing, others talking (yelling, screeching, laughing), toys, jets, squeak of wet foam equipment, music, whistles, etc.


Why treat children in the water?

o    Aquatic activities are fun and a great distraction

o    Children and families are motivated-aquatic environments are “mainstream”

o    With the properties of the water and a trained therapist it can offer a child earlier and greater opportunities for risk taking, learning, and practicing

o    The body’s response to immersion assists in cardiovascular, respiratory, and musculoskeletal improvements

o    Skills can be learned and carried over to almost every functional context

o    It can lead to a lifelong opportunity for fitness and community integration

o    It can offer alternatives to everyday land home programming

o    Overall, there is an increased motivation for independence


Benefits of Aquatic Therapy

o    Improved eye contact

o    Improved focus and attention

o    Increased anticipatory play

o    Increased ability to follow directions

o    Increased ability to transition

o    Improved strength

o    Improved range of motion

o    Improved muscle tone

o    Improved endurance

o    Improved head control

o    Improved balance

o    Improved posture

o    Improved coordination

o    Improved sensory motor skills

o    Improved respiration

o    Improved tolerance to handling and/or to therapy on land

o    Improved problem solving

o    Decreased fear and apprehension

o    Increased socialization

o    Improved ability to interact in a different environment


Treatment Assumptions

o   Every child has unique needs and abilities

o   The child is an active participant in his or her learning

o   Goals are determined specifically for each child and are based on a thorough evaluation of his or her changing abilities, needs, and desires

o   Success breeds success, treatment should build self-confidence and empowerment

o   The art of therapy revolves around knowing when to intervene and when to step back

o   Aquatic therapy should only be one component of a comprehensive therapy program


Treatment Techniques


o    Therapists are trained in water safety and use good water sense and proper body mechanics, and are 100% present with the pediatric patient.  Everyone should learn water adjustment and safety skills.

o    Use of a variety of therapy techniques (e.g. NDT, sensory integration, soft tissue massage, developmental swimming techniques, Brain Gym, Bad Ragaz, Watsu etc.)

o    Allow the child to initiate and experiment with movement

o    Provide stability and facilitation as appropriate

o    Offer and remove support as needed

o    Work on your back, stomach, and side, in vertical, and all positions in between

o    Work with or without equipment

o    Like on land, toys are tools

o    Decrease assistance, as appropriate

o    Teach water adjustment and safety skills for all levels

o    Allow for and encourage independence when ready


Examples of Aquatic Therapy Goals

Aquatic therapy may be used as a modality to improve impairments in the following areas:

o    Joint flexibility/ ROM

o    Muscle strength

o    Muscle tone

o    Coordination

o    Proximal stability/postural alignment

o    Perceptual/spatial awareness

o    Functional activities

o    Respiration/breath support

o    Endurance

o    Balance and coordination

o    Head control

o    Self esteem

o    Motivation

o    Arousal level

o    Sensory organization

o    Awareness of body action/relaxation


Examples of Functional Activities in Aquatic Therapy

As a result of the support provided by water, functional training can often be initiated sooner than it would on land.


For example:

o    Grip and upper extremity strengthening during play activities (e.g. holding onto various pool play equipment)


o    Midline activities (e.g. scooping and dumping containers of water)


o    Bilateral coordination activities/UE strengthening activities for dressing and feeding (e.g. reaching and pulling arms through water)


o    Sensory-motor integration for improved dressing (e.g. wearing pieces of equipment, weights, goggles, floats, etc.)


o    Sensory-motor integration for improved tolerance of environmental stimuli (e.g. water interacts with a person in so many ways it splashes, pushes on the body, is wet, is cold, is warm, etc.)

Examples of Functional Activities in Aquatic Therapy

o    Proprioception and body awareness activities for dressing and improving attention-to-task and impulse control (e.g. waiting on the side of the pool or on a float before jumping in, etc.)


o    Proprioception and body awareness activities for tolerance of environmental stimuli (e.g. increase toleration of body proximity to others and contact with others and equipment, sharing space, etc.)


o    Ambulation and other reciprocal movements (e.g. marching, cycling, jumping, kicking, etc.)


o    Transitional movements, sit-to-stand, steps, sit-to-high kneel, etc. (while on a stable surface, while on a dynamic floating surface, using the pool steps, etc.)


o    Balance and coordination, as well as, trunk and abdominal strengthening (while using various pool surfaces, and many different types of equipment e.g. noodle races, frog wall climbing, jet ski races, mermaid swimming, etc.)


Use of Movement in Aquatic Therapy

o   Speed of the movement

o   Combining movements (bilateral coordination)

o   Using levers (resistance creates proprioceptive input)

o   Planes (vestibular input)

o   Power (body awareness and proprioceptive input)

o   Travel: forward, backward, sideways, circular, in a box, on the diagonal, down/up (body awareness, motor planning, sequencing)


Equipment we use to facilitate the sensory system

o   Proprioception

o   Therapist’s hands, pressure from the water, vests, wet suits, weights, belts, floating rings, floating mats, etc.

o   Tactile

o   Therapist’s hands, vests, wet suits, weights, belts, floats, textured pool toys, towels wet or dry, brushes, paint, splashing water, squirt toys, etc.

o   Vestibular

o   Floating mats, tilt boards, floating platforms, jet-ski noodles, regular noodles, rowboats, floating chairs, etc.

o   Auditory

o   Wind-up toys, splashing, pool jets, blowing bubbles, echoing of pool room, noise of others playing in the pool, sound traveling through water, etc.


Pool Equipment Distributors

Sprint Aquatics




Konfidence USA

(952) 807-5815




o   Uncontrolled seizures or Epilepsy

o   History of cardiac instability

o   Significantly limited vital capacity (less than 1 liter)

o   Contagious water or airborne infection

o   Ventilator dependency

o   Open wounds that cannot be covered by a bio-occlusive dressing

o   Skin breakdown

o   Frequent episodes of bowel incontinence


Patient Precautions

o    G-tubes must be clamped and placed inside the bathing suit

o    Open wounds must be covered with water impermeable dressing that is provided by the family

o    Suction equipment (provided by the family) must be available at poolside for patients with tracheostomies

o    Avoid submersion of a patient with a tracheostomy.  Water level will be limited to nipple depth and splashing activities avoided

o    Angina or other cardiac considerations need to be monitored in response to immersion and exercise, medication will be kept poolside and administered by parent/nurse when needed

o    Abnormal blood pressure needs to be monitored in response to immersion and exercise

o    Absence of cough reflex or mouth closure deficits will be closely monitored and face will be kept away from the water

o    Avoid rotational and spinning movements when vertigo or nausea is present

o    Skin sensitivity to chlorine or bromine will be monitored

o    Children with tympanotomy tubes will wear properly fitted earplugs and swimming caps or bands

o    Hearing aids will be removed to avoid contact with the water

o    Children with unpredictable bowel or bladder incontinence must wear special swim diapers or elastic legged rubber pants, according to pool guidelines


Aquatic Therapy Locations

We use two pools one at St. Anthony’s in downtown St. Petersburg, and one at The Long Center in Clearwater


If interested in services, please contact:

St. Petersburg location

o Sue Papadopoulos (727) 767-4257

Clearwater location

o Judy Cote (727) 571-1210



o     Aquatic Physical Therapy Section of the APTA, Developing an Aquatic Physical Therapy Program, 1998

o     Salzman, Andrea Poteat, Aquatic Resources Network Concepts in Physical Therapy, Aquatic Resources Network, E-mail:, website:

o     Aquatic Therapy and Rehab Institute, Inc., Aquatic Therapy Specialty Presentations, Sanibel Island, FL, June 2006, 2008, and 2010.

o     Fisher, A., Sensory Integration-Theory and Practice, FA Davis Company, 1991

o     Garrett, Gren, Wetter is Better!, Illume Educational Seminar, Cocoa Beach, FL, March 1999

o     Maxon, Dori, Mobilizing the Middle with Water, PT, OT, Speech Today, December 7, 1998

o     Reid, Campion, M., Hydrotherapy Principles and Practice, Butterworth-Heinemann, 1997

o     Ruoti, Richard G., Morris, David M., Cole, Andrew J., Aquatic Rehabilitation, Lippincott, 1997

o     Scott, Benjamin, Benefits of Aquatics, Advance, 1998

o     Tecklin, J., Pediatric Physical Therapy, JP Linnincott, 1994

o     Mitchell, Terri, Creative Ortho Aquatic Rehab, International Aquatic Therapy Symposium, Sanibel, FL, July 1, 2010

o     Mitchell, Terri, Hydrodynamics, International Aquatic Therapy Symposium, Sanibel, FL, June 29, 2010

Grosse, Susan J., Autism Spectrum Disorders: Specialized Therapeutic Aquatics, International Aquatic Symposium, Sanibel, FL, June 29, 2010

Early Autism Interventions and Sensory Processing Disorder Conference 2011 Presentation #1

All week I will be posting the amazing presentations given by true inspirations that create the tiniest of miracles everyday! These are amazing presentations by the Best there Is! Read them!



The first one I am sharing was presented by Nancy Russell LCSW. She is an amazing lady and inspiration!

Learning to Find our Children’s Language as it Relates to Behavior

Coaching 4 Kids LLC

Non Verbal Behavior/ Body Language

Interpreting what we do not hear: Most children on and off the spectrum as well as children with sensory processing disorder have a unique ability to “read” this type of language, many times it is processed differently though.  I find that most children utilize these three types of groups to express their needs.

Group 1: The Mime; this group is overly gestural in the way they express emotion.  You can read their expressions without having to hear the words. You know when they are angry or when they are happy/ or sad.  You can see the expression their face and can interpret the meaning most times.

Children many times will look for the body movement versus the expression on the persons face. When they see someone with a ridged jerky body and sudden changes of behavior they might interpret this to be angry when in reality it could be fright.  High levels of jumping and waving of the arms could be interpreted as anger when in reality it is excitement.  Now add Sensory Defensiveness to the messages they are interpreting, and we find we have a child who is in hyper-alert.

Many times they may read the gestural movement correctly but cannot interpret what triggers these different responses. The fragments of noise, body positioning and environmental stimuli formulate a different thought process.

Group 2:  The Babblers; This Group is the “confusers.” They use words with little gestural movement.  They utilize the spoken word as their mode of communication.  Most times you understand what their needs are or what they are expressing for we listen to the spoken word, look for facial expressions and then relate this to something we know and then we can ascertain what they are saying.

Children many times will not look at the speaker utilizing the reading of facial expressions, and do not understand the voice inflections they hear.  They cannot interpret the words and relate them to past experiences.

Group 3: The Boundary Breakers; this group utilizes both gestural and voice inflection.  A person who communicates in a combination of both many see as excellent communicators.  We have the ability to read the body language, to interpret the meaning, and listen to the voice inflections in the words, process what they mean, and combined all three to understand the meaning of the topic.

Many children struggle to process the fragmented pieces of this type of communication.  The three four and sometimes even five steps we need to process in understanding the speaker is over stimulating to the child and causes disruption in their ability to cope in certain situations.

How Does This Relate to Behavior

Group 1: The Mime; take a moment and think of a time that you were overly excited about something.  What different types of movements were you making?  Were you the jerky body and sudden change in behavior, or jumping up and down waving your hands? Can you envision how we do these in social context where the environment and things around us may influence our behaviors? Such as watching Funniest Home Videos and the person on TV falls down in some absurd way, a Football Game, telling a story at the dinner table, these are related in a social context for us.

For many children our modeling of these behaviors can be interpreted and used in showing how they are feeling, but with the social context piece missing we interpret their expressions as social inappropriate behavior.

An example could be a child falls down while riding the tricycle on the playground. Another child becomes excited Jumps up and down and begins to laugh. We view this as an inappropriate response to the social situation.  But are they not just modeling what they had seen others do while watching a program such as Funniest Home Videos?  The social context is the missing link.

Another could be the football game.  We react by pointing waving our arms when our team did not score.  A child could display this by waving their arms and pointing when they cannot do something they want.  Is this defiance or their way of expressing their needs and emotions?

Group 2: The Babblers; take a moment and think of a time when you were trying to explain something to someone but you needed to not use gestures due to your surroundings, such as a restaurant or maybe your voice inflection is enough to express the context of your thoughts.

For many children our modeling of these behaviors is too complex for them to understand. We need to remember the route it takes for us to process the spoken word.  They do not have these skills at this point and they appear to tune you out.

An example could be you are in the grocery store and your child wants a certain cereal.  We talk to them in a low voice and tell them no.  They revert and hear the word no and not reason behind it. They become “The Mime” and the behavioral outbursts begin.

Another example could be we try to explain something to them. It appears that they are “tuning us out” when in reality they do not have the attending skills needed to hear you.

Group 3: The Boundary Breaker; take a moment and think of a time when you watching a speaker or a TV show. Did you find that you were memorized by their movements, voice inflections, and words that they are using? We depend on different modes of understanding what is being portrayed. We have the ability to read the body language, to interpret the meaning, and listen to the voice inflections in the words, process what they mean, and combined all three to understand the meaning of the topic.

Sit back for a moment and think of a situation that a child on the spectrum might have encountered. What happened?  Did they attempt to process the fragmented pieces of this type of communication?  What were their reactions? We need to remember that the three, four, and sometimes even five steps needed to understand the speaker can be over stimulating to the child and causes disruption in their ability to cope in certain situations.  They then utilize either the “Mime” or the “Babbler” to communicate to you what they are feeling.

What Can We Do?

  • Be fully aware of our own body language communication style, and note that children will model this most times when trying to communicate with us.
  • Be aware of how our body language can be viewed by the children, and ways they may interpret it.
  • When the child is having a meltdown look at the context of the social situation and which style of communication the child is reacting too.
  • Utilize this information and react to the social stimuli and not to the behavior.
  • Remove them, allow them time to process the social stimuli, then reintroduce them into the situation again.
  •  Help the child by addressing the situation in a manner of communication you know will calm them.
  • As the child matures help them address their modes of communication and utilize these to teach self regulation skills.

Presented by: Nancy Rae Russell LCSW

                       For further information or you would like to learn more about the study that we will be completing please contact me;


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