Playing with Legos help children with autism adapt

In an attempt to help children with autism learn the building blocks of creativity, researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Center tapped a toy box staple for help — Legos. By building Lego structures in new and unique ways, children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) learned to use creativity, an important skill that they had seen as very challenging prior to the study.

“In every day life we need to be able to respond to new situations,” said Deborah A. Napolitano, Ph.D., BCBA-D., the study’s principal investigator and assistant professor of Pediatrics at URMC’s Golisano Children’s Hospital. “If a child has only a rote set of skills, it’s hard to be successful.”

Many children with ASD can become frustrated and uncomfortable when asked to break out of repetitive activities and create something new. Using Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), the science of figuring out how to target and systematically change a specific behavior, the study’s researchers succeeded in teaching all six children with ASD in the study to play with Legos in a more creative way. The study’s findings have been published in the Journal of Applied Behavioral Analysis. The children, who had wanted to create the same 24-block Lego structure over and over again at the start of the study, began venturing out of their comfort zones to create new structures with different color patterns or that were shaped differently.

via Playing with building blocks of creativity help children with autism | R&D Mag.

Spinning toys and autism

Bonnie at Cafe Bonnie, blogs here about the pros and cons of spinning toys for autistic children. Follow the link to see some of her favorites.

Many children with autism love spinning toys. However parents are concerned about giving their children spinning toys because they don’t want to encourage self stimulatory behavior. If you’ve ever watched your child’s stare at a fan for an hour it can be heartbreaking.

However, I do feel there is a place for spinning toys and autism. Spinning toys can be great reinforcers in an ABA program. Or spinning toys can be a very enjoyable Christmas gift or birthday gift. When supervised properly spinning toys can actually be helpful for children with autism. For example, having a spinning toy that the child really enjoys in your purse can be really helpful when you need to get some last-minute grocery shopping done. Or letting the child play with the spinning toy may allow the whole family to go out to dinner.

As you can probably tell, I’m from the standpoint that nothing is black-and-white. Anything can be used as a tool to help a child with autism or to help a family make it through the day.

via CAFE Bonnie: Coffee Autism Faith Explored: Spinning Toys and Autism.

Toys “R” Us launches 2010 edition of Toy Guide for autistic, developmentally disabled and disabled children

Toys “R”Us, Inc. has released the 2010 edition of the Toys”R”Us Toy Guide for Differently-Abled Kids, an easy-to-use toy selection resource that can help parents of children with special needs select toys that develop skills through the power of play.

This year, actress, author, philanthropist and mother of a son with autism, Holly Robinson Peete appears on the cover, along with Tommy Austing, a 6-year-old boy from Los Angeles. Released annually, the guide is available in Toys”R”Us and Babies”R”Us stores nationwide and online, in English and Spanish, at The largest edition ever, this year’s guide has increased to 60 pages and features an expanded assortment of online offerings that are available through the company’s website.

For nearly 20 years the guide has assisted parents, family, friends and caregivers by providing qualified toy recommendations to help aid in the skill development of children who have physical, cognitive or developmental disabilities. To help parents select the perfect playthings for their children, all toys featured in the guide are associated with icons that show parents which skills can be developed during playtime.

via TRU launches 2010 edition of Toy Guide for Differently-Abled Kids – 2010-08-25 13:40:57 | Playthings.