Show and Tell--Icky Sticky Bubble Gum

Icky Sticky Bubble Gum

This preschool song is always a favorite.  I like using it for learning body parts or clothing.  It's a great song for working on imitation skills as well.  You can choose what your hands are getting stuck to, or you can pause and wait for the kids to choose.  The kids always love this song.

You can listen to a sample of this song by David Landau, or buy it on my amazon picks here.

And here are the words:

Icky sticky sticky sticky bubble gum bubble gum bubble gum

Icky sticky sticky sticky bubble gum makes your hands stick to your head
And you pull them and you pull them and you pull them away

Icky sticky sticky sticky bubble gum bubble gum bubble gum

Icky sticky sticky sticky bubble gum makes your hands stick to your ________
And you pull them and you pull them and you pull them away

Joy Mano
Utah PLAY Project Home Consultant
Early Intervention Services for Children with Autism

photo credit: @Doug88888 via photopin cc

My dream list

This is just a random post about me and my dreams.  It's been on my mind a lot lately, so I thought I'd share.

A little background: In 2005 I made a list...some would call it a bucket list.  It stayed filed away for the next year or so, it was just a list.  Towards the end of 2006 I suddenly had the realization that I could actually do some of the things on that list, so I started to prepare.  In 2007 I moved to Ecuador to do one of the first things on the in an orphanage.

Since that time, my list has shrunk...and grown.  I've been able to cross of a lot of things, and add a lot more.  It's been pretty amazing, and fun, and fulfilling.  Some things on my list that I initially thought would be "once in a lifetime" experiences have actually become such a big part of my life that they will never be a one time thing.

One thing I've learned about dreams is that we don't have to know how it's all going to work out.  There are so many times in our lives that we say "that will never happen" so we don't do anything about it, we don't even put it on our dream list.  So I've learned to put those things down.

I have a few passions in my life.  One of them is humanitarian work, another is autism, and another is kids.  So, why not combine them all?  

I would love to some day be able to start a program in a developing country working with orphans with disabilities.  There are a lot of orphanages out there, but unfortunately they are usually understaffed, and they are rarely trained in working with kids with disabilities.  I would love to be able to build a program where kids receive the intervention that they need early in their lives.  I obviously don't have all the logistics worked out, but some day...

I received an e-mail the other day from a lady who is part of a program in China where they train nannies to work with kids rather than having the kids live in an orphanage.  It sounded like a great program, and it made me think that it is possible, and some day I can do that.

May your imaginations run wild, and your dream lists grow (and shrink), and may the things you never thought were possible...happen.

Joy Mano
Utah PLAY Project Home Consultant
Early Intervention Services for Children with Autism

Community Ed Class Begins Next Week

Sorry for all the presentation flyers, but just another reminder that next week my Community Ed Class begins on April 2, 2013.  You can register by going to  I hope to see you there!

PLAY Presentation in Weber County, Utah

Just a reminder I am presenting this coming Wednesday in Weber County.  If you are interested in learning about what the P.L.A.Y. Project is, please join us at 7 pm.  Thanks!

Show and Tell - TOMY Gears

The TOMY Gearation Building Toy has always been a favorite in my preschool class.  Yes, you have to be careful because it can also turn into a toy that some kiddos will turn into a self-stimming toy, but overall it's a great toy.  This isn't necessarily a great toy for "following a child's lead" or PLAY Project, but I still like it for other reasons.

Reasons I like this toy:
  • You can make different designs/connections with the gears.
  • Some of the gears do fun things like make noises or have parts that flip.
  • It can be a great reinforcer by giving one piece at a time when you're doing more discrete trial type teaching.
  • You can give a child a choice between two pieces.
  • You can hoard the gears and work on requesting by the child.
  • You can take pictures of the gears, and then do a matching game where the child has to find the matching piece to put on.
  • You have to do some problem solving if not all the gears are moving.
Joy Mano
Utah PLAY Project Home Consultant
Early Intervention Services for Children with Autism

Jodi DiPiazza and Katy Perry

You've probably already seen this, but no matter how many times I watch it, it still makes me cry. This came from "Night of Too Many Stars: America Comes Together for Autism Programs" in October 2012.

Why Early Intervention Is So Important

Whether your child has autism or not, it is important to understand the red flags (this link goes to Autism Speaks, which is a great site to check out.)

Why should all parents understand the red flags of autism?  Autism is generally not diagnosed until 18  months and sometimes (a lot of times) it's not diagnosed until age 3.  I believe that Early Intervention is huge!  And the earlier you start, the better it is for your child.  Here's my plug for the P.L.A.Y. Project.  Because the P.L.A.Y. Project is based on functional developmental levels, and the intervention is all about play and relationships, it can be used with any child whether they have autism or not.  So if you're concerned at an early age, even if your child has no diagnosis, you can get started with some intervention.

So why is Early Intervention so important?  Think of all the things that a child learns between the ages of 0-6.  The brain is has the highest rate of growth in those first 6 years of life.  We want to take advantage of that.  Kids will have a natural progression, but if we are able to add to it with methods and techniques that will help them grow in the right direction, then let's do it!

I'll be honest, before I started working in Early Intervention and Preschool, I had no idea that it was important.  I was used to working with adults, I had never looked into Early Intervention before.  I think a lot of people are in the same boat, if they've never had a need, then they never had a reason to look into it.  As the legislature seems to be cutting more funds from Early Intervention programs, I realize that they don't understand it either.  The more we put into the early education of our kids with special needs, the less they will need as they get older.  It doesn't mean that they won't need anything as they get older, but they will need less because they will gain valuable skills at a younger age that they can take with them.

By law, if your child qualifies for special education services, you will receive it for free within your school district if you are living in the United States.  If you are having concerns about your child development, google your school district's Early Intervention program and make an appointment.  Sometimes there's a wait to get in for an appointment, so the earlier you do it, the better.

Schools are great, and I loved teaching in the school setting.  There are always going to be limits, no matter how much you wish there weren't.  Schools need to show that they are giving a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE), they do not need to show that they are performing miracles.  There will be times when you may want more intervention or therapies for your child, and that's great.  That's when programs like mine come into play.

There are a lot of therapies out there for children with autism, and it can be overwhelming and confusing.  I have had the opportunity to become familiar with a variety of interventions, and I honestly feel that with kids on the spectrum being so different from one another, you have to find out what will work for you.  I personally chose The P.L.A.Y. Project (Play and Language for Autistic Youngsters) because I like the idea of the parents being the therapists.  I like that it focuses on relationships, which is one of the core deficits of autism.  I like that it focuses mostly on family relationships.  I also feel that some of the other interventions also have their strengths, and I'm all for that.

Two of the main interventions for autism are Behavioral and Developmental.  Check out my post Autism Therapies Comparison if you missed it.

Joy Mano
Utah PLAY Project Home Consultant
Early Intervention Services for Children with Autism

photo credit: hlkljgk via photopin cc

Show and Tell -- Where is the green sheep?

I just love this book.  I know that's what I say about everything I share on Fridays, but that's what Show and Tell is all about right?  Sharing the things you love.

Where is the green sheep? or as my class would say it "WHERE IS THE GREEN SHEEP?!?"

This is a book about opposites, you see all the sheep of different sizes, in different places, and doing different things.  I love the repetition of this book, I always think repetition is great for the little ones because it brings consistency and also then the kids can participate.

Throughout the book, the question remains "Where is the green sheep?"

Here are a few simple activity ideas that you can do with this book.  I have included some ideas that can be used with kids who are unable to speak, but that you want to encourage participation with.

  • Teach them a gesture of raising their hands and shrugging their shoulders every time you say "Where is the green sheep?"
  • Use a BIGmak type button and record a child's voice saying "Where is the green sheep?" then every time you get to that part of the book, you can pause and wait for the child to press the button as they help you "read."
  • You can have a picture of a green sheep on a popsicle stick, and every time you come to that part of the book, the children can raise their pictures.
  • You can pass out pictures of all the different sheep and as you come to each sheep in the book the kids can put their picture on the board.
  • You can do a file folder game of the different sheep.
  • You can hide the green sheep somewhere in the room and play hide and seek with it.
  • You can assign a child to be the green sheep, and that child gets to go hide while everyone else tries to find him/her.
  • You can make sheep out of play-doh, and then describe what everyone's sheep are doing or what they look like.
  • You can work on prepositions and put the green sheep in different places (in the box, on the chair, under the table, etc.)
I'm sure there are a lot more ideas out there, hopefully this will give you somewhere to start.

Joy Mano
Utah PLAY Project Home Consultant
Early Intervention Services for Children with Autism

Autism and Difficult Behaviors

Why do we behave the way we behave?  I don't know if you're like me, but there are occasions when I can't figure out why I'm doing what I'm doing.  And yet, we're supposed to somehow figure out why our kiddos are doing what they're doing.  This doesn't only apply to kids with autism, but to most kids.  However, autism throws in a whole other dimension, and sometimes makes it more difficult to figure out the reasons why.  Because what makes sense to them doesn't always make sense to us.

I will teach you what I've learned through my education, and then we'll go through a couple scenarios to test it out.

First off, when we say "misbehave" or "difficult behaviors," I just want to point out that it's all relative.  What is "misbehaving" to you may not be "misbehaving" to me and vice versa, we all have our own definitions of what a "tantrum" is.  This is one reason why it's important to define what the behavior looks like.  Instead of saying "he was having a tantrum" we would say "he hit his head against the wall and started pulling his hair out."  That definitely gives us more information, and it is objective.

Generally there are 4 reasons why people display "difficult behaviors"
  • To get something
    • Something tangible
    • Their way
  • Attention
    • Adult attention
    • Peer attention
  • Escape
    • Activity
    • Task
  • Sensory Stimulation
    • Self-reinforcing
First Example: Refusing to eat
I shared this example in another post about Setting Events.
The antecedent (what happened right before the behavior):  He was given his breakfast
The behavior (what did it look like): He refused to eat
The consequence (what happened right after the behavior):  He was continually asked to eat by the staff (attention)

So what was the reason:
A) He wanted something else to eat
B) He wanted attention
C) He didn't want to eat, he wasn't hungry
D) He wanted his belt

If you didn't read my other post, then you might think I was just pulling something out of my hat with D, but in actuality the answer was D.  This is why Setting Events are important to consider.  He did want something, but it wasn't a different meal like my staff thought.

Why is it important for us to know the reasons why someone is acting the way they're acting?  Mainly because it is our way of helping that person.  We want to help prevent them from going through the stress of having these behaviors, we want to help teach them how to respond or request more appropriately, and we want to help them to learn how to cope and get out of those behaviors without harm.

So how did we learn from this experience?  We made sure Simon had multiple belts in his closet, and made sure he had one on before he went to breakfast.  Because Simon was nonverbal, it was hard to know what he wanted because he couldn't express it.  When eating is a health issue, you'll do everything you can do to get them to eat, you don't want a silly belt being the cause of his decline in health.  

Some moments you'll want to be careful of what you're reinforcing.  In this instance, I wasn't concerned about reinforcing his behavior of not eating by giving him a belt, it was our fault that it wasn't in his closet.  Plus, I would have given him 5 belts if it meant he would eat.  His health was getting that bad.

Second Example: The grocery store
How many times have you gone to the grocery store and either your child or someone else's child had a meltdown on aisle 5?  Each child is different, and you may see similar behaviors but for different reasons each time you go to the store.  I made a list of many reasons why a child may have a difficult time at the grocery store.  Here are just a few
  • To get something
    • Here you are in a room full of everything anyone could ever want.  Self control is difficult for some of us, and if you don't have a concept of money, it's even more difficult :)
  • Attention
    • How can you not get attention when you're screaming in a room full of strangers?  The key would be teaching how to get positive attention rather than negative attention.  Which is not as easy one may think.
  • Escape
    • I sympathize with the kiddos that hate shopping.  I hate it too, and I often times want to escape. 
  • Sensory
    • As you will see in my past post.  The grocery store is full of sensory overload.
You may be thinking that this post is not all that helpful because I didn't address what to do once you know why someone is doing what they're doing, but that would make this already long post way too long.  I will post more in the future about behaviors, but for now you can check out a few of my past posts about behavior.

Like most things, the key is that recognition is the first step.

Setting Events- The belt story

Joy Mano
Utah PLAY Project Home Consultant
Early Intervention Services for Children With Autism

photo credit: alist via photopin cc

Autism Meeting in Weber County, Utah

I have been invited to present at a parent meeting in Weber County, Utah on March 27, 2013.  Please join us!  It's free for anyone interested in attending.

Also, if you are in the Salt Lake area, don't forget to check out my Community Ed Class I'll be teaching in April.

Here's a flyer for what's coming up in Weber County.

Show And Tell Friday--Mercer Mayer Apps

I love the Mercer Mayer Apps.  First of all, I just love Mercer Mayer books, so it makes sense that I like the app.  However, there are other books I love and really dislike the app, so loving the book isn't always a qualifier.

There are a whole bunch of Little Critter Apps out now.  They have one free book, it's Just Me And My Mom-Lite.  So check that one out first to make sure you like it.

Here are the reasons why I like this app:

  • I love the voice that reads it.  I have seen other apps of children's books that use an adult voice that is monotone.  This one is a child's voice, and is full of emotion.
  • You can choose to have it read to you, or you can choose to read it on your own.
  • The words are highlighted as it is read aloud.
  • You can record your own voice reading it if you'd like.
  • When you tap on objects in the pictures, it names the object and the word is displayed on the screen.
  • There is a little activity throughout the book where you try to find something like a frog, mouse, or spider on each page.
As of today March 8, 2013 (we all know this list will change frequently, and I won't be able to keep it up to date), these are the current Little Critter Books that are Apps.
  • All By Myself
  • I Just Forgot (on sale as of today for $0.99)
  • Just Go To Bed
  • Just Grandma And Me
  • Just Me And My Mom-Lite (free)
  • Just Me And My Puppy (on sale)
  • Just A Mess
  • The New Baby
  • What A Bad Dream (on sale)
  • I Was So Mad
  • Just Going To The Dentist
  • Just Shopping With Mom
  • Just For You
  • Me Too!
  • The New Potty
  • When I Get Bigger (on sale)
  • Happy Easter, Little Critter (coming soon)
  • Just Me And My Little Brother (coming soon)
Joy Mano
Utah PLAY Project Home Consultant
Early Intervention Services for Children With Autism

Parent Testimonial of the PLAY Project

“My Name is Rachael, I have a 4 year old Autistic son named Tyler. I started doing Play Project two years ago with Joy.  Play Project for me has been a new life, a new life style, and a necessity in our lives.  Before we started working with Tyler on Play Project we could not get him to respond to his name, show us what he wanted, or even calm him down.  Play Project is something that I work on each and every day, all throughout the day.  We have learned that this is just our new way of life and our way to play with our sweet TY TY!  If I look back at when we started Play Project, I can remember how completely lost I was.  I had no idea how to PULL Tyler out of his world...and then through Play Project I have learned that I don't need or want to pull him out of his world ... I want to enter into his! I am so grateful for Play Project and for Joy, teaching me how to play with my son. Tyler now gives us eye contact on a regular basis, he shows me what he wants with either picture exchange or by pulling my hand, and he is now responding to his name!  Another thing that Play Project has helped us with is his meltdowns, Tyler used to hit his head on walls with frustration, he has not done that for over 1 year! The more we PLAY the better he does! I love Play Project!”


Giving Up A Little to Give Someone A Lot

You may have seen this video that came out last week.  I'll be honest, it totally made me cry...and gave me some things to think about.
  • What if every parent encouraged their child to do what they loved regardless of limits they think they might have?
  • What if every teacher/coach decided from the beginning that they would make sacrifices in order for their student to have his/her moment in time?
  • What if every peer was willing to lose a little to give a lot?
  • What if in that journey to the moment of glory, every kid had a crowd chanting his/her name.
  • What if no matter how many times you tried and missed, your coach left you in, your teammates still passed you the ball, and the crowd was still cheering for you until you succeeded.
  • What if in just a few seconds your initial thought is to help someone who is supposed to be an opponent have an unforgettable moment rather than end the game as everyone else expects you to do?
  • What if every act of kindness made it to the news?
Joy Mano
Utah PLAY Project Home Consultant
Early Intervention Services for Children With Autism

Show And Tell Friday-Puppets

Today for my show and tell, I would like to share with you the wonderful world of puppets.  You can really find puppets anywhere, as you already know.  Here is a link to my amazon picks where you will find many different puppets.

Maybe your child has never shown an interest in pretend play, and maybe your child loves to use his/her imagination during play.  Either way, puppets are great for everyone.

I'm sure you can think of ways that puppets can be used in pretend play, so I want to focus on bringing in puppets and pretend play when your child has no interest.

It's important to learn how to play at your child's level, and to essentially follow his/her lead.  When you play too high or too low, developmental progress may be slower.  If you can figure out what your child's intentions are, and you learn to play at his/her level, you will find greater progress.

If you try to make your child participate in thematic play where the puppets have a role to play, and you have a whole story that you are following, you may lose them if they are at a sensory play level.

If your child is at a sensory level of play, think of the activities you already play and that they enjoy, and then just have the puppet be present.  Here are some examples:

Tickling.  Have the puppet tickle them instead of you.  You're in essence playing the same game, it's just that you have a puppet on your hand.  The puppet can talk, but don't have the puppet ask too many questions if your child is not ready for that.

Chase: Have the puppet do the chasing, or have the puppet act scared when it is being chased.

Peek-a-boo/Hide and Seek: Once again, replace yourself with the puppet.

Music: Have the puppet sing songs or do actions instead of you.

You get the idea.  The puppet just becomes another participant in the activities your child already loves.  The child is usually not the one with the puppet at this stage, but he/she is learning about things the puppet can do.  You are modeling for them.  When the pretend transfers over to the child (rather than you always being the puppet) you will find this is a good exercise for theory of mind.

I love puppets because they can be used at all stages of play, and as the child learns and grows, the puppets will too :)

Joy Mano
Utah PLAY Project Home Consultant
Early Intervention Treatment for Children with Autism