Thursday, 29 September 2011

That's it....Time Out!

Why isn’t time out working?

There are several factors that could be contributing to why your time out procedure is ineffective as serving for a deterring consequence (punishment procedure).

To begin with, consider whether you are forgetting to account for the variables controlling the behaviour.  If your child wants to escape a situation and throws a tantrum, sending him or her to his room for time out is not  ideal if the goal is preventing future similar behaviour.  
Young Girl Point The Alarm
Assess whether you are fighting fire with fire so to speak. Put it this way, if you daughter is acting out for more attention, and you suddenly become much more of her (and can you blame yourself, really!?) she becomes wise to it and realizes that more times than not, acting out means more mommy/daddy time (time out isn’t so bad with mom or dad). Something they never taught you in parenting class is that an inconsistent pattern of responding will strengthen behaviour 9 times out of 10. Eek. That’s a lot of pressure; what it means is that you need to be consistent....realistic, and consistent. One major rule in my day to day routine is only make rules you are willing to enforce on a daily basis. Pick your battles, and know you can't win them all.

The reason I don’t love the idea of time out, is because it doesn’t teach the child what he or she is expected to do; there is a bit of a failure to address what kind of replacement or alternate behaviour the child can engage that serves the same function, whether the child wants attention, escape, or avoid or to get a specific item. 

I like the idea of a time to stop and think about your actions, but at least with my clients time out is a bit too abstract to be functional. I prefer to use behaviours as teachable moments for increasing coping skills; sensory breaks are must, but are conditional on good behaviour rather than questionable conduct. Of course, every situation is different.  

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Social Skill and Making Memories

A bubble machine does wonders for getting a group of kids to focus on the same stimuli, for an extended period of time, in a small physical area. It hits ALL the bases.

Kids that would otherwise find a quiet space away from others to work or play are suddenly heading straight for the fuzzy red carper and participating in sustained joint-attention with their peers. One child says "pretend they are mosquitoes" an instructor follows along and says "catch a mosquito" and shows the other students how...she then instructs each child by name to catch a mosquito "Billy, catch a mosquito like this!" "Alley, catch a mosquito like this!"

In a new group, some kids just won't respond unless addressed  by name. Whatever it takes, right?! And eventually I will shape it and fade it, but for's baby steps. Especially since it's only day 2.
All of the kids were engaged, and performing the same repetitive pretend skill, together. Some were even exclaiming "GOTCHA" to the bubbles/mosquitoes. Ah, success.

I started singing a song about mosquitoes and immediately a child covered his ears in horror. Eek, I should have known. I didn't realize my vocal skills were that bad, but hey I heard him loud and clear. I put on some phonics related songs instead.

Eventually, the bubbles ran out and everyone was feeling happy and satisfied. next we moved into the gym to use our sensory motor toys; I have to say, toys that are designed for two people (see-saw specifically) is ideal for eliciting social skills in a natural way. You literally have to ask someone to play in order for it to be fun. I love that! After some fun in the gym, we washed our hands and headed to class for a much needed drink, and snack.

Snack was yummy as always. We worked on answering what questions; what are you eating? What is Alley eating? What is Billy eating? What did you have for breakfast? We worked on labeling various items and saying them in a sentence "I have a ________" "I am going to have _________" and of course "Can you open this please?!" After snack it was time for musical-circle.

Props made my beach themed musical-circle a of fun. Giving each child a prop or costume item helped remind us that we were learning about the beach! It also helped us practice waiting, and using those important words (let's be honest, some of our kids are working on the ps and qs, but others are working hard to master simple manding and tacting first). Whatever the important words are, our kids were using them.

Adding maracas to the mix gave it the island feel it was missing. We shook our instruments to the beat and practiced following instructions in a group. This was easier for some of our friends than for others. By the time wheels on the bus came around I was feeling like pushing the envelope a bit. They were echoing back to be beautifully for each song, and I really want to see if they could mimic not only the words but the pace. I started going really fast, and sure enough the group did the same; ok not every single person, but it was definitely a success.

A lot of the time I find that the failure to acquire skills is the result of a tendency to avoid and escape demands; compliance, though the word itself seems almost animalistic (not a word according the blogger), is a really important part of learning. Especially when the goal is speech acquisition; without basic willingness to comply, there is a limit to your child's overall success. Once you have a child that is willing to engage and interact freely with you, without any (or at least not any indulged) escape and avoid behaviours, they become much more willing participants in the exchange. Not to mention it becomes much more comfortable and less stressful.

I agree though, it can be hard to get a child to relinquish control, especially when they have language delays and use behaviours as the primary means of communication.

As always pictures from

Saturday, 3 September 2011

The MM Perspective

Looking for something, but don’t know what?

Often times, parents are looking for maximum engagement as a way of increasing overall independence and quality of life for their kids. The reason you have yet to find the “right” additional programming for your child, is because it has not been created yet...wait a minute, what do I mean!?

Perfect programming comes from individualization, parent and professional communication and so many other variables that are relevant based on your unique situation. The perfect additional program is waiting for you, but it will take some meaningful communication first!

We provide holistic programs, meaning we target development of the whole child.

We are guided by principles of ABA in everything we do, meaning that our standard is high and we implement only evidence-based techniques.

In consult with other multi disciplinary professionals including SLPs, OTs, BCBAs and educational professionals, we support development across all domains including (but not limited to) life and leisure skills. Life and leisure skills contribute to your child’s overall quality of life and often need to be targeted systematically for maximum gains.

It’s September, and it’s time to start thinking about additional ways to keep your child engaged. After-school, weekends, or during the day there is always something going on at Magnificent Minds. Offering group and 1:1 learning, we are able to meet your needs. To set up a tour of our space, call us today!

Thursday, 1 September 2011


FREEDOM FOR AYN: FREEDOM FOR AYN: This blog is dedicated to Ayn Van Dyk and her father Derek Hoare who have not spoken to nor seen each other for 77 days since she was abduc...

Hop over if you have a second.