How Extracurricular Activities Boost Social Skills

By | Summer, Social Skills, Activities, School | No Comments

When beginning therapy, addressing your child’s social skills is often a perfect place to start. As we teach early social skills and more complex social skills as your child grows, practicing at home can be the perfect environment to learn the basics. As your child’s social skills improve at home, it is important to provide them with opportunities to practice those skills with other kids their age and in different environments. BCI offers telehealth social skill groups weekly and participation in these groups can be very meaningful. If you are interested in participating, speak with your BCI clinician about days and times. If the telehealth groups don’t work for your schedule, or if your child is ready for something more complex, then enrolling them in an extracurricular activity is a great option! 

The Benefits of Extracurricular Activities

Extracurricular activities provide your child with the opportunity to practice the skills they have learned in session in a very natural setting. The skills that they have practiced in therapy or in BCI’s virtual social skills group can be used to facilitate independence in the community. Follow your child’s interests and enroll them in an activity that they will enjoy. Ask the organization if you can attend a few sessions before signing up to ensure that your child will like that activity. Beginning something new may be a challenge, but the benefits of extracurricular activities really are abundant! Your child will be exposed to an increased number of social experiences that are hard to replicate in the home setting. These opportunities not only allow for practice but for opportunities to succeed. 

Don’t forget to include your ABA team! We can help prepare your child for participation and even attend some sessions with them.

Social Skills Supported by Extracurricular Activities

  • Making and keeping friends
  • Conversation skills
  • Flexibility with routine
  • Tolerance of differing opinions
  • Nonverbal communication
  • Coping skills

Looking for Extracurricular Activity Ideas?

Sports and Athletics

Group lessons

STEM Groups
Math & Science clubs
Computer clubs

The Arts 
Community Theater
Art classes
Hip Hop

Summer Camps
Regular Play Dates

After School Programs
Boys & Girls Club
Youth Camps

Sensory-Friendly Movie Theater Fun!

By | Summer, Activities | No Comments

Many families enjoy spending time at the theater but for individuals with autism and sensory processing disorders, these activities can be overwhelming and unpleasant. If you want to help your child attend the theater successfully, check out these recommendations! Remember– ABA therapy is intended to support your child’s needs, and accessing their community is a part of that. Your clinician and RBT can help you plan a trip and can even attend with you!

Prerequisites for a Fun Movie Theater Trip!

Before investing in your tickets, there are several skills that we can teach in advance to support a successful experience. First, you want to assess if your child is able to sit and attend to a movie in your home. Next, you will want to assess if your child will be sensitive to the movie theater environment. If you feel confident in your child’s ability to tolerate the theater environment it may be time for a test run. If your child still struggles with sitting for a movie at home or is very sensitive to sound and changes in light it may be beneficial to target these areas in therapy sessions before making the movie theater trip.

Movie Theater Success

When preparing for your trip look into sensory friendly screenings at your local theaters. The New Mexico Autism Society hosts sensory friendly screenings frequently throughout New Mexico. These screenings may be the perfect opportunity to get comfortable with the movie experience! If you are ready for a typical movie screening be sure to plan ahead. Pick the movie carefully, you’ll want to make sure that it is something your child will enjoy. Choose your seats in advance, sitting next to the aisle may be the best spot in case there are frequent potty trips or if you need to excuse yourself quickly. An early matinee may be a good option as well to reduce the likelihood of there being a large crowd. Lastly, remember it’s okay to leave early if the experience isn’t enjoyable for everyone. The point of the trip is to have fun and it’s okay if the fun ends a little earlier than planned. 

Don't forget to...

  • Buy some fun snacks, let your little one pick a special candy or drink
  • Bring a small toy that your child can fidget with
  • Bring along some noise canceling headphones if the movie gets a little too loud
  • Bring some sunglasses for watching the movie and transitioning back to the sunshine afterwards
    Bring a small toy that your child can fidget with

Easing the Summer Break Transition

By | Summer | No Comments

As your family begins to plan for summer break this year, remember that BCI offers flexible scheduling and it may be the perfect time to increase session hours temporarily to target intensive or tricky programming! With many parents taking time off during the week it may be the right time to dive into an intensive potty training program or tackle those sleep issues. Consult with your BCI clinician on what some of your goals are and they can help you identify how to address these issues within the week. Don’t forget to include your RBT in the planning! They can attend events to help ensure success or practice current skills. 

Plan a community outing

  1. Park playdate with peers to practice community safety skills, social skills, and play skills
  2. Visit a zoo or local outdoor spot to practice community safety skills
  3. Ice Cream Social to practice social and daily living skills

Fun at home

  1. Invite some friends over during session to practice social skills
  2. Crafts and Cooking to practice following instructions, fine motor skills, completing a task

Supporting Development Over the Break

As summer break gets closer remember to let your clinician know of any time off or changes to the session schedule. While taking a vacation from therapy can be a wonderful time to rest and regroup from daily busy life, it is also a wonderful time to include programming in your everyday life. If you are taking some time away from therapy to vacation or veg out at home, here are some ideas on how you can continue to support your child’s growth and development. 

  • Generalizing Skills
    • Before taking vacation, ask your clinician or RBT for a list of programming that is ready for generalization. Throughout the week you can capture opportunities to run that programming to ensure your child has generalized the skill. *ABA Fact- Generalization is demonstration of a skill across people, environments, and materials.
  • Maintaining Mastered Skills
    • During your time away from therapy, you can still implement various programs to support the continued maintenance of these skills. *ABA Fact- maintenance is the demonstration of a skill over time. Sometimes when we don’t practice a skill for long periods of time we lose the skill or we lose some independence with that skill. 
  • Providing Learning Opportunities
    • Throughout your break providing new and different learning opportunities is a great way to continue to support your child’s development. Signing them up for a camp or extracurricular activity can help them identify new interests, make new friends, and practice many skills needed to be successful in the community. 

Sensory-Friendly Summertime Activities

Homemade Playdough

Dump all ingredients into the bag and squish around until the playdough is formed!

Ice Cream in a Bag

Summer Safety

By | Summer, Safety | No Comments

Summer is here, and summer brings its own safety risks both outdoors or in the community.
Perhaps you fear your child may run away from you at the park or is unaware of cars or the steps to safely crossing a street. During therapy your child can learn community and home safety skills.

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