Grasping the concept of time and understanding the need for transitions is difficult for children with autism. A strategy that parents and teachers can use at home and school to help children prepare for upcoming activities is called priming.
Priming involves going over the activity or information with the child before he or she participates in the activity. There are three different parts to priming:
Priming is inexpensive and time-efficient. The same materials should be used in priming that will be used for the task. When this isn’t appropriate, try using visual supports such as picture steps to an activity or a daily schedule chart.
Some examples of priming include:
The goal of priming is to help children with autism to grow more familiar and comfortable with an activity. “It is important to note that priming is not teaching, correcting, or testing.” (Texas Statewide Leadership for Autism)
By paying attention to where the most problematic behavior is exhibited, you can choose what information to use priming with. For example, look at the areas at school where a child has difficulty paying attention, or a recurring theme at home where a child isn’t able to transition well.
Marvel and Friends: Transitions and Change is a DVD that offers video priming for a variety of everyday situations a child will encounter at school and home. Visual supports, animated characters, and young children model each transition and give simple reinforcement.
Priming will help children adapt to new learning situations, cope with new tasks and develop new skills, interact with adults and peers, and manage daily transitions. For more information, see “The Use of Video Priming to Reduce Disruptive Transition Behavior in Children with Autism.”]]>
It’s impossible to avoid changes in our daily activities. Providing an environment that’s predictable and routine is ideal, and we can help autistic children to learn functional routines as well as novel events.
With visual strategies, we can help the autistic child to adapt to a variety of common situations encountered at home, in school, and with peers. Other unpredictable changes that occur due to weather, scheduling, human error, as well as novel settings and peer interaction can also be introduced.
Visual strategies are an excellent way to introduce new routine activities as well as prepare for unpredictability and can include story cards, video instruction, picture schedules, and activity “road maps.” When possible, previewing an event with children will prime them for the upcoming transition. This can work for any upcoming event, such as a fire drill, staff absence, visiting a friend, or taking a trip.
Marvel and Friends: Transitions and Change demonstrates a variety of everyday situations for children, helping them to understand how to handle each one with visual cues. Children enact each scenario, and animated characters Marvel the dog, and his friends Mandy and Mikey, replay the scene using flashcards.
The “look,” “listen,” and “stay calm” flashcards give children visual supports to help them transition and improve their expectations and understanding of events. Rather than feel stressed, anxious, or confused, visual supports help them respond effectively.
Whether you’re preparing for a new babysitter, eating out at a different restaurant, or canceling recess, you can help children to prepare for transition and change.
For more ideas, check out National Autism Resources’ five tips for helping autistic children with change.]]>
Teaching children to stay clean by using routine and repetition will help them to learn. When your child sees that a bath or shower is part of their daily routine, he will begin to accept it just as he does mealtime and bedtime.
Because children don’t share our recognition of dirtiness, they can become overwhelmed by our attempts to show them. Taking things slowly and in steps makes it more manageable for them.
Describe each step involved in staying clean. When washing hands or taking a bath, a laminated task strip with each step broken down and placed nearby can help them to remember.
Mazz Media’s Marvel and Friends: Staying Clean and Healthy DVD teaches staying clean and healthy with step-by-step modeling of washing hands, taking a shower, clipping nails, and brushing teeth. Children demonstrate the steps, and the animated characters Marvel the dog and his friends Mikey and Mandy help to explain them.
“Sometimes it’s easy to tell when your hands are dirty, but sometimes it’s not,” Mandy explains. Learning the importance of hygiene and staying healthy is fun with animated characters who talk to children in a manner they can relate to.
Marvel and friends make it simple and entertaining to help children understand that staying healthy means staying clean. The importance of clean clothes, eliminating germs, when to wash hands, and why clipping nails is a good idea are all covered in a no-fuss, kid-friendly approach.
Make a plan. You can teach your child to stay clean and healthy by following a routine, using repetition, and implementing come creative motivational visuals. For further resources about autism, check out Autism Speaks.]]>
Since the 1970s, the United States has been celebrating National Autism Awareness Month to help raise awareness for what is now the fastest-growing developmental disability. Mazz Media celebrates April as National Autism Awareness Month and children with Autism Spectrum Disorders by featuring the Marvel and Friends DVD series.
Marvel and Friends: Sharing and Taking Turns focuses on the development of interactions with other children. Using real-life scenarios, the children in the video display effective ways to take turns and share. Animation and music videos are also added to engage and entertain children who might have limited attention spans.
Marvel and Friends is appropriate for any young child struggling to learn these important social skills. By modeling everyday situations children encounter at school, in peer groups, and at home, these essential life skills are presented for all children who are in need of social instruction.
Animated hosts Marvel the dog, Mikey, and Mandy are the friendly companions who turn each scenario into a teachable moment. By using verbal and visual aids in the video, they give children the additional prompts they need when nonverbal cues are not enough.
Each situation is first modeled by young children and then replayed by Marvel and his friends. “Look,” “listen,” and “stay calm” flashcards in the video spotlight the steps modeled by the children, and animated music follows to reinforce the message.
It has been shown that consistency is the best way to reinforce learning with ASD children, so be sure to apply similar strategies from one environment to another. Children with autism also do best with a highly structured schedule and a “home safety zone” where they can relax and feel secure.
You can help children avoid the frustration of challenging social dilemmas by giving them the structure and safety they need and showing them positive ways to respond to day-to-day circumstances.
Don’t forget to reward good behavior by praising them when they learn a new skill. Each approach to helping an autistic child is a step toward helping them learn, grow, and thrive.]]>
The pre-K child wants to ask for his or her turn to play. The middle school sister wants to say no to an insistent brother. The teen driver competes with friends, music, and cell phone in the car. Each scenario is an opportunity to teach basic social strategies and avoid adverse consequences.
Through modeling numerous scenarios, you give children an opportunity to learn basic social skills. They will learn how to avoid problems, increase their confidence, and develop lifelong coping mechanisms. This prepares them for the changes and challenges they’ll encounter throughout their day.
Make It Fun to Learn
Help children explore coping solutions by introducing some of the challenging situations with role play or video. Teaching social strategies through acting out possible consequences can be very empowering. It gives children powerful tools to protect themselves and those around them.
The everyday interactions in Mazz Media’s videos give children examples to follow when coping with conflict. For the younger child, animated fun helps to communicate their choices. For teens, dramatic tension builds through play-it-out enactments. All ages will find valuable models to build on and guide them through their social development.
Throughout the month of March, featured videos include “Social Strategies for Kids Module,” the “Get Along Monsters” series for elementary school children, and the “Play It Out” series for teens.]]>
This is a strange irony in America’s history. When Barack Obama was elected in 2008, the irony came full circle.
It was just forty-four years earlier that African-Americans were given the right to vote.
The election of the first African-American president is the culmination of 200 years of tearing down racial and political barriers. America’s promise of freedom and equal rights for all its citizens is symbolized anew through this extraordinary event.
Many people helped break down the civil rights barriers and pave the way for this milestone. Learn more about the events and people who helped shape Barack Obama’s life and advance the fight against racial inequality for Black History Month.
“Barack Obama: Overcoming Barriers” and Mazz Media’s other educational videos are an engaging and entertaining component for the classroom, home school, or counseling environment.]]>
One of his favorite books was a biography about George Washington. He grew to be a successful lawyer with the values he learned from the former president. Before he became the sixteenth president of the U.S., his interest in politics led him to take a moral stand against slavery.
He ran for president as a member of the newly established Republican party. Lincoln led this new party into what would become the costliest and most deadly conflict in America. At a turning point in the Civil War, he renamed the cause from reunifying the union to abolishing slavery.
Lincoln said that all people held as slaves “henceforward shall be free.” The Emancipation Proclamation was born. The Union would remain together by threads, but the fight for equality had only begun.
Learn more about the sixteenth president’s childhood, leadership, and radical views against slavery for Black History Month. Watch a video clip of the complete video “America’s Journey Through Slavery, Abraham Lincoln: The Great Emancipator” for your classroom or homeschool from Mazz Media.]]>
At the new place, Harriet was given the job of winding yard, and she was often whipped. She had no bed, and she kept her feet warm on cold nights by sticking them in the fireplace ashes.
She loved the outdoors, so when her new owner made her work setting muskrat traps in the cold river waters, she managed to find enjoyment despite the harsh conditions and scraps of food she was given. She was a slave without her family, a home, or the freedom to do what she liked.
Harriet Tubman kept working hard all her life. Once she escaped, she worked to lead hundreds of slaves to freedom on the Underground Railroad. This video segment gives you a glimpse of Harriet’s childhood and the life of an enslaved child.
Watch the full video to learn more about the child who grew up to be a leading abolitionist and the first female spy and battlefield leader for the Union army during the Civil War, as well as the story of Rosa Parks and the city-wide boycott she started that changed public bus segregation.
Find “Heroes of Freedom: Harriet Tubman and Rosa Parks” and other educational videos for Black History Month from Mazz Media.