In part two of the webinar I learned more about serving youth with ASD, specifically about their sensory needs. Touch is a big part of development for youth with ASD, so programs such as Sensory Storytime – which utilize soft scarves, wet bubbles, and fuzzy felt – are fun and instructive. The webinar presenter Lesley Farmer had the idea to have volunteers install sensory tags inside books for this group of young people. For example, adhering felt, fake flowers, or aluminum foil over other images in the books can turn a book into more than a reading device. This heightened sensory experience can really draw a child into the book.
Another important feature when holding a class or program for youth with ASD is to tell them upfront how the program with progress. Having a timeline of the events or songs will help you youth prepare for the change in tempo or station.
Farmer named a few resources for class participants to check out, including:
Squidalicious – the author of this blog posts videos of her son so viewers can better understand behaviors of youth with ASD, but she is quick to say that not all people with ASD are similar. But I appreciate her giving us an idea because many of us just don’t know.
Zac Browser – This browser is “a virtual playground for children with autism”. Children and parents can access games that are chosen specifically for their positive effect on the young players.
Google games with Autism – Google got on board in 2009 (although you’d think it was 1982, what with that oddly dated picture on the main page). Their page has links to games, tips for parents, and more.
The most important thing I learned from this is that every single child with ASD is unique and different. Just like fingerprints and zebra stripes, no two people with ASD are 100% alike. Because of that, we shouldn’t just offer one type of program and say “Alright. Quota filled.” Instead we should offer a couple different programs to encourage different abilities and interests to shine. In LCPL we host Sensory Storytime for those ages 3 and up, and we offer Gamer’s Union (a gaming program) for those ages 12-18. We have covered development of senses and social interaction, but we have other areas to cover. I hope to be able to create and promote programs for youth with ASD, whether they are special (just for youth with ASD) or inclusive (regular programs that accept youth with ASD).
What programs do you host, or have you heard of?