Workshop for a Social Care Setting: Language Skills among Autistic Children
Workshop Plan for Autistic Children Aged 12-18 Years
Considering a workshop for autistic children requires an appropriate welcoming space focused on avoiding a sensory overload at the event. There are some possible challenges of while planning activities for autistic children as strong smells, bright and flashing lights and loud music and noise can be disturbing for them. Therefore, a quiet place like Portarlington square is selected to conduct the workshop. Their place is made visually clear with adequate paper ‘footprints’ indicating places children should stand or walk. An appropriate lighting that is not too bright is maintained while defining some a separate quiet area where children can calm down during the event. Parents and children were made aware of these areas to make themselves comfortable whenever the need to calm down arise.
Along with the above preparations, it is important to focus on some of the observations and questions important to run a session with autistic children. These are:
- Are my participants curious about them being different from other people?
- I need to understand that the brain of autistic children works differently making it hard to talk, listen, understand, play and learn
- Does any of the participants trying to communicate or calm down by hand flapping, rocking or repeating noises?
- Are my participants expecting extra time to process verbal language?
- How has the child’s communication skills developed since birth?
- Can the participants follow all verbal directions and understand individual words and sentences?
Further, the pre-session planning is based on looking for some amazing activities focusing on small-group activities, using props like bubbles, blocks etc. and communicating clearly through display pictures so that children know what to expect at the workshop. Small group activities ensure that children are not physically cramped. It was ensured that we pre-plan some activities where children can be given the roles in which they can be successful. To ensure this it is important to check the details of participating children beforehand to understand who will be comfortable in collecting materials, who is more interested in distribution of material or arranging the props, etc. A thorough study of the participants during the pre-planning stage will help in better running of the session.
As we are planning a dance party, proper equipment in the form of parallel bars, mirrors and sound equipment will be required to clear steps defined to be followed during the dance session.
This one-day workshop provides participants an opportunity to develop language and Life skills through interactive activities especially designed for autistic children between the age group 12-18 years. The focus is on receptive language as well as expressive language skills of autistic children. The intervention programs will help in improving the communication skills and stronger social functioning by responding in an appropriate and favorable manner to music and other sensory stimuli.
|Autism Spectrum Disorder||12-18 years||Behavioral: Music Therapy Sessions|
- To provide opportunities of speech activities promoting communication skills in autistic children
- Use and understand nonverbal communication like gestures
- Becoming comfortable engaging in functional groups and activities
- Provide opportunity to express themselves using words and gestures and use their receptive and expressive language skills in an appropriate and socially acceptable manner
Agenda and activities
|10 AM||Introduction to the Workshop:||To introduce and make parents aware about the purpose of the workshop|
|10:45 AM||Small Game with play cards with the participants||To make children comfortable and calm while knowing each other|
|11:00 AM||Music Therapy Activity||It is an established form of creative art therapy where music is used as a key mode of communication, expression and adapting it to the abilities and needs of individual autistic child. The focus is on using the therapy to be beneficial for activation and supporting of mental and psycho-physical behavior. ||Develop Language Skills|
|1:00 PM||Lunch Break|
|2:00 PM||Dance Party||Dance Therapy contribute towards the overall quality of life by reducing the severity of autistic spectrum. It brings in all senses to integration thereby improving the underdeveloped motor skills||Develop Sensory Integration Skills to improve communicative behaviors|
|3:00 PM||Refreshment Break|
|4:00 PM||Dance Party continues….||Continuing the party for repetitions|
|5:00||Wrapping up the workshop|
Music is proven as a key strength among autistic people giving several benefits in the form of modification of brain and behavior, improving social interaction and communication and improving the language skills among autistic children and adults (Sharda et al., 2018). Therefore, music therapy is considered as a key intervention under this workshop providing an opportunity to participants to communicate and express themselves. As the first intervention, a song was composed using the target words. These words were selected from the functional vocabularies that the children between age group of 12-18 years can use effectively in everyday communication. A criterion to include the vocabulary were considered to select the words based on names of familiar objects and people, functional action words and words related to emotions. Along with this there was incorporation of inherent musical structures and organized musical patterns allowing patients to reflect on the activities of music therapy when they are asked to sing the song in small groups. To make the activity interesting some novelty in the form of silly voices and sound effects were be added to ensure that children remains interested when they appear fatigued or find it difficult to remain engage during the session. Such an activity help in reinforcing musicality of language to advance understanding as well as naturalize the flow of words (Alvin and Warwick, 2008).
A key component of the activity was to help children tap their hand to a beat with each syllable to work on speech imitation. This acted as Auditory-Motor Mapping Training (AMMT) intervention aimed at promoting production of speech directly through training the relationship between sounds and articulatory actions through the inclusion of bimanual motor activities (Wan et al., 2011). This intervention stimulates a network of brain regions that generally remains dysfunctional in autism. The therapy is said to improve social-emotional reciprocity and enhance non-verbal communication skills thereby improving the social adaptation skills of autistic children (Geretsegger et al., 2014)
Another activity is related to sensory integration as speech therapy for autistic children. Here, it is to be noted that in case of any kind of hearing or vision processing impairment, language skills generally remain highly underdeveloped. Such disruptions become horrible when autistic people have sensitivities towards particular frequencies (Amos, 2013). There are cases when children can’t hear a sound at all, or a simple rubbing can result in discomfort. So, a dance party is planned under the workshop with proper mirrors, parallel bars and sound equipment. Children were given an opportunity to follow the steps in small groups where four repetitions of pre-defined activities were the target. These activities include single-leg and double-leg squatting, weight shifting, spinning and anteroposterior spreading of lower limbs. These activities associated with moving of upper limbs in a ballroom dance style was develop imitation of gestures thereby training the sensory integration among autistic children. Providing clear instructions to follow repetitive movements will help in reversing the delayed behavioral maturity through integration of several attention systems thereby help in developing the social communication ability among them (Dewey et al, 2007). Such an activity will help individuals to demonstrate their cognitive, behavioral, social and communicative behaviors while improving the body balance and dynamic motor skills of children.
During the workshop children responded in a positive manner as I made sure to keep the interaction with participants positive and keeping the distractions to minimum. Both the activities were attractive, and children made the required attempt to understand the activity, its purpose and perform in an expected manner. At the same time working in small groups made sure that children are not over-burdened and learn to work along with team members. This acted as a stimulant to interactions and communications among the group members thereby helping in achieving the objectives of the workshop. They were able to understand nonverbal communication gestures and were comfortable while engaging in dance and music groups. Children were seen to be more attentive and focused at the end of the workshop. They made friends and able to express their ideas and feelings with each other while understanding each other’s emotions. A conversation among participants at the end of the workshop helped in identifying the improvement in their conversation skills and peer interaction through vocabulary development.
While working with my participants, I realized that future workshops should be organized with some fresh goals targeting the struggle of autistic children with expressions, cues, feelings, values and perceptions. Future goals of visual-auditory processing and training must be followed to make people with ASD actually see the conversation and diagnose how they can follow the conversations socially. This will help them to explore questions on semantics or meaning or words in literal and relative sense.