Summer Holiday activites for younger children with Autism and other learning difficulties (Day 4).

We want to highlight activities that you can do without having to spend any (or that much) money in order to have fun. This game is a perfect example of ‘no-money fun’ that you can have just using everyday household items and a little bit of imagination.

MONKEY TOES

Primary learning focus

  • Balance, motor planning, crossing the midline.

Materials needed

  • Unbreakable bowl, bucket or tote bag.
  • Cotton balls, pompoms, or other small, soft objects.

Description
Scatter the cotton balls or other objects around a small area, and then have the child remove shoes and socks and collect the objects to place in the container using only his/her feet. If a cotton ball is too far away, have the child retrieve it and then hop on one foot to get to the container.

Variations

  • Use different size or colour pompoms, and have the child collect items according to size. Colour or pattern.
  • Have the child sit on his/her bottom, and use two feet together to pick up objects.
  • Have the child trap a beanbag between both feet, then jump on two feet to get the container without losing the beanbag.
  • Challenge balance skills by doing this activity with arms held over the head, hands in pockets or behind the back, or on a slightly unstable surface (for example, sofa cushions or air mattress).

 

As featured in Simple Low-Cost Games and Activities for Sensorimotor Learning by Lisa A. Kurtz

 

Summer Holiday activites for younger children with Autism and other learning difficulties (Day 1).

We realise the importance of keeping children occupied over the summer holidays and with that in mind will be featuring a different activity that you can do with your kids every day this week. These will be interesting, low-cost activities for parents with younger children – first up today is a drawing exercise that can involve the whole family (including the family pet).

 

MIRROR DRAWING

Primary learning focus

  • Auditory perception, visual-motor integration

Materials needed

  • Paper and markers or crayons
  • File folder or other object to use as a visual barrier

Description

In this game, the child attempts to draw a picture that looks the same as the adult’s picture, given only auditory clues. The adult and child each have paper and drawing materials. Place the file folder or other barrier in between the child and the adult, so they cannot see each other’s paper. The adult then draws one item at a time, giving a verbal direction for the child to do the same thing. For example, the adult might say “Draw a large square in the center of the paper, with a small circle inside the square. Next make a smiley face in the top left hand corner of the paper.” After several directions, remove the barrier and compare the two pictures, discussing how they are different or similar. Let the child take turns being the one to give directions to the adult.

Variations

  • Use lined paper and give directions to copy sequences to encourage memory skills (for example, “Let’s draw circles to make this pattern: red, blue, green, red, blue, green”)
  • While shapes and colors are easier to describe, this game is also fun when you make it more creative. For example, give directions for drawing the family pet, but add silly directions, like making a green tongue, or wearing dog mittens.
  • Draw while lying on your belly, or at a vertical surface to strengthen upper body skills.

 

As featured in Simple Low-Cost Games and Activities for Sensorimotor Learning by Lisa A. Kurtz

Incorporating creativity in supervision

Chesner-Zografo_Creative-Superv_978-1-84905-316-7_colourjpg-print Anna Chesner, co-author of Creative Supervision Across Modalities, explains why using creativity in supervision sessions can benefit both the supervisor and supervisee, and gives her top tips for any therapist or helping professional new to using this approach.

Why is the use of creativity so effective in supervision sessions?
Creativity helps to link right brain and left brain understanding of practice. Often as practitioners we may have a feeling of stuckness, or going round in circles. Using creative methods helps us to facilitate new perspectives and fresh energy.

How can creative supervision ensure that a fresh perspective is maintained in supervision sessions, and how does this benefit the supervisor and supervisee?
Creative supervision can bring a new perspective and fresh energy to reflecting on our clinical or other professional practice. This in term can bring fresh energy and clarity to our sessions with clients. If supervision itself lacks vitality it may become part of the problem, rather than facilitating possible solutions.

In chapters 2 and 3 of your new book you write about the importance of roles in creative supervision – why is this? Which of the roles you mention do you think it is most difficult for a new supervisor to take on? Is there one that they tend to slip into more easily?
Not so much roles as an understanding of role (singular). The concept of role helps us to think about our “way of being” and our clients’ way of being. It is a practical tool for looking at patterns of behaviour and relating. Supervisor’s need an awareness of the multiple roles they may inhabit as a supervisor, and in the best case some role flexibility. Similarly, practitioners from all fields can benefit from thinking about their own roles in their practice, and indeed the roles of their clients within their various systems.

What is the most challenging thing you have to cover with trainee supervisors? What is it that they usually struggle most with in terms of incorporating creativity into sessions?
Supervision trainees have firstly to meet the challenge of getting to grips with the role of supervisor, which is distinct from their more familiar roles as clinician. There is an added challenge in learning how to use creative techniques in a way that is a spontaneous response to the supervisory question or focus and remains firmly within the frame of supervision.

Why is it that ‘irrational’ thinking can be such a crucial part of the creative process?
Not so much irrational as out of awareness, or known only implicitly. Face to face clinical work involves the practitioner in complex, multi-layered interactions, where physical or felt sense, and imagination are as important as the actual words spoken. Our right brain awareness can be brought to light particularly well through creative approaches to supervision.

You mention several times the importance of establishing a clear focus in the supervisory session – why is this?
A clear focus or supervisory question is helpful for a number of reasons. It ensures transparency about what kind of help or reflection opportunity is being sought. It supports a collaborative approach between supervisor and supervisee. It reveals the level at which a supervisee is able to reflect on and articulate their process.

What are the top tips you would give to a supervisor who is new to using creativity in their sessions?
– Reflect on your own interventions in the light of supervision theory
– Bring your creative supervision practice to your own supervision space
– Remain open to new learning
– Undertake training in the use of creative supervision methods

 

Tips on Transitioning to the Flexibility of Summer for Children with Special Needs from JKP author and Occupational Therapist Cara Koscinski

SUMMER!

It’s here! Most families look forward to summer relaxation and lazy days. However, the lack of routine and structure can be the cause of great stress for families of children with special needs. School routines are predictable and provide consistency.  The transition to summer and its freedom may be a difficult one. In addition, the skills your child has gained in school should be carried over into the summer to stop any regression. Feeling overwhelmed? Need ideas that are therapeutic and fun?

NEVER FEAR……THE POCKET OCCUPATIONAL THERAPIST is here!!

Try to keep a routine. Look at the calendar together and make a routine for your family. Include your child in choosing family activities.  Let him choose the colors that you’ll write with on the calendar. Post a list of daily schedules and chores with check off boxes. Include chores such as vacuuming the floor and cleaning windows (both great for heavy work).  Schedule new activities well ahead of time and be sure to prepare for them. Visit summer camp sites prior to camp, meet counselors before camp begins, and take pictures of camp locations. Make a memory booklet and encourage your child to write in a journal about his summer activities. If he’s not writing yet, ask him to draw pictures. This will be a great keepsake!

Schedule as many play dates as possible. Extended family and cousins may also be off of school and need to keep busy too. Play games together such as making up your own circus. Walk a taped line imitating a tightrope, learn to juggle, and pretend to walk like different animals in the circus. You can also pretend to make a zoo, jungle, or go on safari.  Walking on all fours to imitate a bear, lion, tiger, dog, or any other animal is great for proprioceptive (heavy work) input.

Make a parade with homemade instruments. Visit our Pinterest board for ideas on how to make your own instruments out of paper plates, oat containers, and paper towel rolls. Marching to different rhythms is a fun way to work on proprioceptive input and body coordination.

Play charades and act out different sports or occupations. This is a great activity to do as a family or during a play date. For an added challenge, act out different emotions.

Draw letters and numbers using only your fingers on your child’s back.  Ask him to guess what you are drawing.  Let him practice on your back too.

Tape a line on the floor and ask your child to jump in different ways over it.  For example, hop with your right foot on the left side of the line.  Jump three times on the right of the line.  Use the line as a pretend balance beam.

Describe each letter of the alphabet by the shapes that make it up.  For example, letter H is two big lines and one dash.  Letter A is like two sliding boards back to back with a dash in the middle.  Take one letter per day and make it the letter of the day.  Draw that letter throughout the day in sand, shaving crème, on sand paper, in salt, and on paper with pencil or paint.  Find things that start with that letter and place them into a paper bag.

Cross crawling is a great activity to help in right/left coordination and visual motor skills. Crawl by moving one arm and the opposite leg (right arm/left leg) and then switch (left arm/right leg). Try giving your child directional commands such as: “Touch your left ear with your right hand.” Be creative and encourage your child to give you directions as well. Sometimes, playing the teacher is empowering!

Evening activities at dusk are fun too. Go on a flashlight scavenger hunt with your child. Use a flashlight to draw different letters and numbers on the ground. Use glow sticks to write letters in the air. Add glow stick liquid to bubbles and have a bubble blowing competition.

Use sidewalk chalk on the concrete or on your trampoline. Ask your child to jump to the letter you call out.

Walk like a wheelbarrow in the grass. Hold your child’s ankles, knees, or thighs and ask him to “walk” on his hands. Remember that holding your child’s ankles is the most difficult challenge for him.  You can place different things such as bean bags or play tools onto his back to “transport” items like a real wheelbarrow does. This is an EXCELLENT activity to add into any sensory diet. It is filled with proprioceptive input/heavy work.

Hop scotch, jumping rope, and learning to ride a bicycle are always super summer activities.

Use a spray bottle to spray plants. Squirting each other on a hot day is a fun way to cool down while building hand strength!

Fine motor tasks such as bead stringing, macramé, puzzles, hunting for treasure in different sensory bins, card games, marbles, making letters in sand and shaving crème, jacks are all great ways to build fine motor skills.

Painting with different items such as leaves, sticks, or cotton balls is fun. Adding tweezers to any task builds fine motor coordination. Instead of picking up cotton balls with his fingers, use tweezers!

If your child has difficulty catching a hard ball such as a baseball, use a wiffleball which will move slower and is easier to catch. Playing mini-golf with plastic golf balls is a fun way to build skills without the danger of a real golf ball flying through the yard.

Make a book. Cut old magazines and paste pictures on to a book made of construction paper and bound with yarn. Write stories about the pictures or make your own. Even punching the holes (through which to bind the book) with the hole puncher is a great fine motor activity.

Make a game of feel and guess. Use an old shoebox and cut a hole for your child’s hand to fit into. Place an item such as a leaf into the box and ask your child to tell you what the item is just by the way it feels. This can be done every season and with many objects such as stones, ice cubes, and seeds.

Make puppets out of old socks and felt. Put on a puppet show for friends or family.

Give your child a treasure hunt list with items such as a butterfly, cloud shaped like a certain animal, or sound of a certain bird’s chirp. This should be a multi-sensory treasure hunt involving eyes, ears, touch, and smell.

Plan snacks that relate to different books. Examples include: Blue Berries for Sal, Stone Soup, and Bread and Jam for Frances.

Set up a store selling different summer items such as beach toys, summer fruits, and vegetables. Encourage your child to make signs for each item and practice making change when something is purchased.

Use old sheets and blankets to make tents. Go camping in your living room!

Finally, plant seeds and watch them grow. Move them from small pots or paper cups into a garden area. Chart their growth in a notebook. Encourage your child to help you with the responsibilities of watering her garden and re-potting when necessary. Caring for something such as a plant can empower a child.

Make sure to read a great book together (Don’t forget about reading and recommending The Pocket Occupational Therapist for families of children with special needs).

Most of all, HAVE FUN together! You never know when you are making a memory that your child will have for the rest of his life!

By  Cara Koscinski MOT, OTR/L

Author of The Pocket Occupational Therapist—a handbook for caregivers of children with special needs. Questions and answers most frequently asked to OTs with easy to understand answers and fun activities you can do with your child.  It’s like having your OT with you everywhere! Published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2012. For more information on Cara Koscinski,  visit her website at www.pocketot.com.

Healing with body, movement and soul – a Q&A with Jill Hayes

Hayes_Soul-and-Spirit_978-1-84905-308-2_colourjpg-webIn this Q&A Jill Hayes, author of ‘Soul and Spirit in Dance Movement Psychotherapy’, explains why a transpersonal approach to Dance Movement Psychotherapy is so effective and shares her memories of a client whose work with soul and spirit allowed her to recover from addiction. 

 

How do you write about the connection between body, movement and soul?

I offer a particular perspective on the body and its movement as connected/joined to other living bodies and other living forms in nature. The body-self which feels and responds spontaneously and intuitively in relationship with other unique forms is given the name: soul. Soul is therefore the first response to being in the world as a separate living form. Sensitive and mobile, resonant and feeling, soul is born from the intelligent body, as a complete system.

Soul gets covered and becomes inactive/deadened by conventional, habitual response patterns. So to awaken movement from inside the body is to find a way back to soul: the creative core inside the living body.

 

What is it about the model of ego-soul-spirit that is so important in relation to DMP? How does it impact upon the bridges between them?

DMP makes bridges between ego, soul and spirit because all these aspects of self can becomes awake and conscious through moving bodies in the therapeutic relationship. DMP thrives on the premise of transitional space, constantly weaving connections between the felt-sense of life and the imaginings and thoughts about life. Articulating sensing, feeling, imagining and thinking is what DMP practitioners are trained to do.

Re-imagining and re-naming aspects of self as ego, soul and spirit provides vocabulary which can convey mysterious and sacred aspects of experience which are often neglected and sidelined in contemporary mental health practice. Recognising and asserting the conditions and the process through which mysterious healing occurs is important in re-conceiving and re-appraising potential methods for creating mental and physical wellness.

Mental health frameworks tend to favour observable, logical methods of practice. Sadly this cuts out a wealth of possibilities for healing. The invisible, the subtle, the energetic and ultimately the inexplicable need to be included in frameworks of wellness, for without them the palette of possibility dries up and is reduced to a few pale colours.

DMP awakens soul because it encourages participation of the whole body system in the process of change: it awakens the organs, the glands, the skin, the bones, the muscles, the fluids; it enlivens spirit through its attention to the flow of blood, the flow of breath and the flow of vibration through the living body, and it develops ego which listens to soul and spirit, inviting a mindful approach to appreciating and reflecting upon the felt sense of movement inside the body.

 

Describe the transpersonal approach to DMP and the experiential focus. Why is this so effective?

Transpersonal DMP is so effective because it contains a deep respect for a living process which happens despite the rational ego. It makes a place for the mysterious, inviting it to manifest in the therapeutic process. The welcoming of the mysterious brings new possibilities which cannot be thought by the rational ego, but can be imagined by the  psyche (a potential for imagining which is not limited by the experience of the ego) and felt in the soul body (which is joined to a living process uncapped by the separate self).

Transpersonal DMP invites the client to enter a creative flowing stream of potential growth and expansion through body, movement and imagination. Endlessly flowing and changing, movement and imagination create new pathways for the mover who trusts in the unknown and who can follow the call of unknown movement and unknown images.

Such transpersonal process is different to working with someone according to a rational theory. Theory often provides a rational pathway for the therapist to follow, offering a rational logic upon which to base interventions and to draft interpretations. Transpersonal practice rejects such assurances and puts its trust in an unfolding process which cannot be predicted, which offers riddles and confusions and surprises in equal measure.

In transpersonal practice the psychotherapist must give up looking for certainty and come home to uncertainty, to not knowing, to not being the expert, to being simply another vulnerable human being sharing an experience with the client. If both the therapist and the client can call up soul in the living body to provide clues to healthy living for the client, then that is enough. Entering into the experience of soul and spirit together is what makes the changes. It is effective because the creation of a flowing mobile relationship provides an axis of change. When both partners commit to being open to soul and spirit, a current of change is called into the process, inviting healing from the core of all life.

The Jungian vision of psyche as imaginal flow of change is present in this model: images pop up and startle the mover, guiding the moving body into relationship with patterns of balance and change, highlighting what is missing, what needs attention, what needs integration. Imagery is embodied and moved to expand the possibilities for growth and change.

 

How does the book explore soul and spirit?

The book explores soul and spirit both practically and theoretically, shaking the terms free from past cultural and religious contexts, but retaining their essential association with a sacred, mysterious movement of change. Case studies are used to illustrate the presence of soul and spirit in therapeutic practice. They exemplify how soul and spirit awaken a creative process of change.

 

Are there any cases of working with clients in this way that stick out in your mind? Why is this?

The case study of Lauren (Chapter 6) endures in my mind because she was able to work with soul and spirit to recover from addiction. In the containment of our joint commitment to her healing, Lauren was able to listen to her inner body (her soul) to understand that for growth and peace she needed to develop love and respect for her creative core.

First using images of psyche, which were strange, beautiful, frightening and unknown to her, Lauren moved and drew them to let them flourish and communicate, so that she became aware of the patterning of her extrovert self in the world, as well as aware of her inner potential, which lay frozen and unrealized inside.

Then through somatic practice, initially alone and then increasingly with me (intuitive tactile connection informed by many sources: Body Mind Centering, Authentic Movement, Cranio-Sacral Therapy, Mindfulness) Lauren delved deeper into her soul and deeper still to find spirit, realigning herself with spirit, listening to her need to connect fluidly, responsively, respectfully and truthfully with the world around her.

To move forward with integrity, Lauren needed to accept herself as she was. To accept herself as she was required the development of love, as joy felt in witnessing life in her own unique form. Without affirmation from an external source through touch, energetic resonance, parallel emotional sensing and imaginative empathy, it would have been hard for Lauren to love herself. A therapeutic relationship potentially provides a core relationship of growth which the client has perhaps never before experienced. This core relationship in which the client’s life and creativity is loved by the therapist, energizes the client’s commitment to her own life, so that she comes to appreciate that she has all she needs inside her to find her own way, because her body soul is sacred, it joins her to all life. She becomes capable of unraveling the past and unfolding the present trusting that the impetus from her core is a sacred impetus which will unfold her potential creatively and without distortion, so that she can become who she was intended to be; she understands that propelled by body and psyche, her blueprint will fulfill itself.

Celebrating the stories of Sesame

Singing 'The Little Green Frog', led by Frankie Armstrong (standing), Jenny Pearson beside her.

Singing ‘The Little Green Frog’, led by Frankie Armstrong (standing), Jenny Pearson beside her.

JKP was delighted to attend the launch of Dramatherapy with Myth and Fairy-tale: The Golden Stories of Sesame by Jenny Pearson, Mary Smail and Pat Watts at Central School of Speech and Drama in North London on Saturday 15th June.

The launch was crowded with the authors’ colleagues, former students, friends and family, all keen to celebrate this exceptional book – among them Alida Gersie, who wrote the foreword, and JKP author, Sue Jennings. Jenny Pearson and Mary Smail regaled their audience with anecdotes of myth and fairytale in action, as well as reminiscences of Sesame days past. We were treated to two a cappella myth-based songs by Frankie Armstrong, world renowned singer and Voice Workshop leader, who also opened the occasion with a rendition of the warm-up song, ‘The Little Green Frog’ (with help from Jenny’s young grandson, Dylan).

The event was preceded by ‘Pat Fest’ – a tribute to Pat Watts, one of the authors, who unfortunately did not get to see the finished book, but who was responsible for committing her share of the stories to paper (originally on scraps of paper and envelope backs, as her co-authors revealed at the launch!). As a key figure in the history of the Sesame course and the creator of its first Myth element, many people came to rejoice in Pat’s remarkable work and legacy, and she was honoured with an enactment of ‘The Flowering Tree’ facilitated by Jeni Treves and Alison Kelly, coordinators on the Creative Arts supervision training course (CAST).

It was a hugely enjoyable evening and a wonderful way to celebrate this special book.

Below are a selection of pictures from the event:

Frankie Armstrong sings a ballad.

Frankie Armstrong sings a ballad.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jenny Pearson sining the book. In the background, picture of Pat Watts (the third author who sadly died while the book was being written) and three of her paintings.

Jenny Pearson signing the book. In the background, picture of Pat Watts and three of her paintings.

Mary Smail reading from the book. Next to her, Frankie Armstrong and Jenny Pearson, with her grandson Dylan on her knee.

Mary Smail reading from the book. Next to her, Frankie Armstrong and Jenny Pearson, with her grandson Dylan on her knee.

Mary Smail speaking to the crowd, with Jenny Pearson behind her.

Mary Smail speaking to the crowd, with Jenny Pearson behind her.

'Forever Mountain', a story from the book, told by Jenny Pearson, with Frankie Armstrong seated on her left

‘Forever Mountain’, a story from the book, told by Jenny Pearson, with Frankie Armstrong seated on her left.

Entering into the realm of imagination – an extract from Dramatherapy with Myth and Fairytale

Pearson-Smail-W_Dramatherapy-wi_978-1-84905-030-2_colourjpg-web Jenny Pearson, co-author of ‘Dramatherapy with Myth and Fairytale’, explains how this extract, from one of the chapters written by the late Pat Watts, expertly guides the reader through the process of preparing groups to enter into the realms of imagination, ready to begin a myth enactment.

“The myths and fairytales in this book are stories from long ago that have survived the centuries because they have been loved and because they carry wisdom and healing. They have survived because people have told them to their children and grandchildren who have remembered them, written them down, created books and plays, dances and films around them, and told them to their children.

In the drama and movement therapy practiced by the authors of this book, the stories take the form of simple, straightforward scripts. The opening chapters take the reader through the experience of entering into the stories as improvised drama and living them in role. The Sesame approach to myth enactment requires no previous experience of ‘acting’ or ‘dance’. Participants are invited into a given space and taken, step by step, toward and over the threshold that leads into the realm of imagination.

This is how Pat Watts, who created the Myth module of the Sesame training at Central School of Speech and Drama, describes the process of entry into that magical Land.”

Read the extract here

 

With eating disorders and action therapy, slow is the way to go

JKP author Karen Carnabucci, a licensed clinical social worker and board-certified trainer, educator and practitioner of psychodrama, sociometry and group psychotherapy, discusses pacing of eating disorders and actions therapies workshops and training sessions for clients—With eating disorders and action therapy, slow is the way to go. Karen is the co-author of Healing Eating Disorders with Psychodrama and Other Action Methods: Beyond the Silence and the Fury.

When we work with people with eating disorders and dieting struggles, we suggest going slow—very slow.

Some of our clients, trainees and others are surprised about the pacing of our workshops and training sessions where we encourage meditative Healing Eating Disorders with Psychodrama and Other Action Methodsbreathing, mindful movement, frequent pausing during meals and dramas that proceed step by step and scene by scene. After all, psychodrama is supposed to be “dramatic” with lots of lively action—right?

Although it is true that psychodrama has sometimes been labeled with a reputation for a rat-a-tat style of dramatic scenes – which certainly can be useful in dramas that focus on play or take place in educational and theater settings – such a speedy pace is not always helpful for eating disorders treatment.  

In the case of eating disorders, slow is the way to go. In our book Healing Eating Disorders with Psychodrama and Other Action Methods: Beyond the Silence and the Fury, we encourage thoughtful pacing as we seek to model to our clients another option for living.

Here is why:

  • Our culture favors a certain kind of body shape and weight and level of attractiveness that is not realistic for most people to meet. This same culture promotes quick fixes and fast food at the expense of learning how to savor food, the experience of eating and the process of living. Women are encouraged to try faster dieting techniques for losing weight—28 pounds in 30 days!—and men are given quick-time promises for products and gadgets to bulk up their muscles or carve those abdominals. Being able to invest time in recovery can be an important relief for our clients who may have felt pushed and pressured most of their lives to look a certain way. When we take our time, recovery becomes not a wild race to the finish line but a slowly evolving process as the person learns to improvise new ways of responding to life’s challenges.
  •  The natural rhythms of the body have been greatly disrupted by disordered eating.  Appetites are skewed for high or low, and the sleep cycle is often disrupted along with other basic body functions. All body systems—circulation, respiration, digestion and elimination plus the reproductive system, endocrine system and the nervous system—have subtle rhythms of their own, and we must give permission to our bodies to learn how to return to these natural rhythms. Experiencing moments of slowness with meditative walking, quiet reflection, gentle yoga poses and periods of listening interspersed by periods of action are a few of the many ways to support and integrate the experience of slowing down.
  • People with eating disorders and body distress are likely to have a history of trauma, whether it is sexual abuse, childhood maltreatment, early disruptions in attachment to caregivers, such as separation from mother due to premature birth, early illness, death of mother, and intergenerational pain. When we encounter trauma as professionals we must be careful that we do not rush our clients into re-experiencing the trauma bare of strengths and resources. We like the Therapeutic Spiral Model, a modification of psychodrama for trauma survivors, which focuses on identifying and integrating personal, relational and spiritual strengths before trauma material is addressed. As the person actually experiences these strengths and resources, he or she will be able to consciously and effectively address the trauma in a manner that leads to genuine healing.

Of course, there are times when our dramas with eating disorder clients became raucous with laughter and cheers, and there may be singing and drumming or stomping of feet when the client, the drama and the developmental stage of the group properly calls for these experiences. The skilled psychodramatist will be able to move between all of these scenes and experiences to guide the client to a new life.

Play the Frog’s Breathtaking Speech Game

Image from Frog's Breathtaking SpeechBring the benefits of yoga and yogic breathing techniques into the classroom and the home with this game from Frog’s Breathtaking Speech author Michael Chissick. Based on the book, the game is a fun way to help children to recognise negative emotions and lean how to turn these into positive ones.

Simply download the game board, card set and instructions from the links provided and with some simple steps you’ll be ready to roar the house down with Lion, shake the walls with the Woodchopper Breath and more.

The game is at its most effective if used with the book, Frog’s Breathtaking Speech – find out more about the book here.

© 2013 JKP blog. All Rights Reserved.

The transformative power of swimming for children on the autism spectrum – from Getting into the Game

Daniel’s Story

By Susan McCann, adapted from Chapter 9: “Swimming – Life Skills for the Water” in Getting into the Game.


As a family, we feel it is important to be involved in a variety of sporting programs. Our son Daniel has some of the fine and gross motor delays common to others with ASD. He also displays some of the social difficulties including limited eye contact and absorption in his own world regardless of the activities around him. This lack of attention makes coaching him somewhat challenging.

Like a lot of other families, we like to go on vacations that involve water sport opportunities. It was on one of these vacations that we realized our five-year-old son Daniel had no fear of the water – unfortunately he was not a good swimmer. As he became more interested in the water, we had more worries than fun on our holiday. Neither my husband nor I felt able to instruct Daniel to become a better swimmer and we were concerned about how Daniel would fare in a community swim lesson setting. When we returned home, we were thrilled to come across SwimAbilities, a community-based program that was geared for participants who need additional support to achieve beginning swimmer skills.

To prepare for our next vacation, Daniel started taking swimming lessons with Swimabilities. It was apparent that the extra and targeted attention he received in SwimAbilities had noticeable positive outcomes for his swimming techniques. Unfortunately, SwimAbilities did such a terrific job of teaching Daniel that he was swimming at the upper level of the program by the time he completed his first session! His further practice on vacation moved him beyond the scope of that program, but that experience showed us that with extra support Daniel not only became a proficient swimmer, but also developed the necessary skills to be safe around water environments.

This summer, we asked Daniel if he would like to compete in “swim racing,” and he agreed enthusiastically. This led to him joining a swim club. What better program for a child on the spectrum? This is a team sport where an individual can benefit the team when they perform well, but doesn’t really disadvantage the team if he is having an off day. The only adaptation the club made was to require an aide to swim with him for daily practices and attend swim meets to help him get where he needed to be at the right times. Daniel has accomplished a lot in the swim club program. This past summer he competed in five swim meets, completing 17 individual races and placing as high as third place in a race. He also participated in a swim-a-thon where he swam 1150 metres in an hour. More importantly, he has made friends with several children in the club that are his age.

It’s amazing the progress he has made in a single year – he just turned seven. Daniel is looking forward to competing in the swim club again next summer as well as enjoying the swimming opportunities on this winter’s vacation.


For more inspirational stories from parents who have seen their children with autism experience the benefits of sports activities, as well as information, advice and support to help your child get off the sidelines and into the action, check out Getting into the Game by Veronica Smith and Stephanie Patterson.

Copyright © Jessica Kingsley Publishers 2012.