autism, speech & occupational therapy

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Newsletter Archive - "Thrive" from A is For Apple

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Thrive - January 2017 Issue

by A is for Apple, Inc. | Jan 18, 2017

Priming: Helping Your Child Succeed in New Situations

In the next few months there are many three-day weekends and long breaks from school. This can be potentially devastating to a child on the spectrum when they’ve just finally gotten back into the groove of therapy, school and a good home routine. In our blog post earlier this month, we talked about transitioning strategies after these breaks. In this newsletter, we are going to take a closer look at one of those strategies: Priming.

The idea behind priming is to preview activities or information with a child before the child participates in that particular activity. The goal of priming is to help children with autism to grow more familiar and comfortable with an activity. It is important to note that priming is not teaching, correcting, or testing. Priming consists of three components:

It is conducted prior to an activity and should use the same materials as the activity, Priming should be a low-demand situation, focusing on tasks that are easy for the child, and Priming should incorporate frequent opportunities for reinforcement.

There are many ways to use priming at home to prepare your child for the day’s activities. These may differ from how priming is used in therapy or at school, but they follow the same principles. For example, in school, before a test, a child may be able to preview the worksheet to prepare for the test they will take. They may also be able to practice with art supplies before a new art project is presented to the class. Using the same principle at home, you can prepare your child for the events of the day by using a calendar with pictures that show them what is planned for the day. You can practice bedtime routines before they happen, you can read a book or watch a video about travel, or talk about sights, sounds and expectations before a trip to the zoo. These are all examples of “priming”.

Priming Can Help:

  • To increase competence and independence
  • To familiarize child with the events of the day/material being learned
  • To decrease frustration/anxiety
  • Help set expectations

Make priming part of your every day routine and it can start to help start better expectations, set consistent routines, and maybe even decrease frustration in your household - even if schedules get thrown a little off balance. We’d love to hear about how you use priming in your home – tweet us or find us on Facebook to start the conversation.

Technology Spotlight

Time is a hard concept to teach. We can tell our children “We will be transitioning to the next activity in 5 minutes” but five minutes can seem like an eternity since time is such an abstract concept at this young age of development.

IMG_0704Using a visual timer can be extremely helpful at home or during therapy when children are having behavior issues, for motivation, to promote task completion, or when needing help with transitions. Counting down the numbers on a timer can still be very hard for children to decipher how much time they have left because digital clocks are still very abstract. Outloud Timer 2 is an app that is interactive, visual, and engages children all at the same time.

If you are looking for a timer, this is one to give a try. It is easy to use and you can set it up with minutes and seconds. Once you set the timer, the penguin appears. You or your child can draw a path to the treasure chest at the end. You can make the path as complex and simple, straight or curvy as you’d like. Once you pick up your finger, the timer starts. The penguin walks along the path you’ve drawn in the time that you’ve set, ending at the treasure chest.

What is pretty great about this timer is that your child can visualize how much time they have left based on where the penguin is. Is the penguin half-way there? How much of that path is left? This app teaches more about the concept of time, plus it is fun, with moving backgrounds, music, and virtual surprises when the timer is up.

This is available on iTunes for the iPhone and the iPad – check it out!

Please join us on our Facebook Page and share your experiences! 

Local Events

Tech Museum

The Tech Museum Sensory Friendly Hours!

Sensory Friendly Hours are a time for families to enjoy a quieter, less-crowded visit to The Tech at a discounted rate. This opportunity may be appealing to parents of children who have mobility challenges, struggle to communicate, or become easily overwhelmed by stimuli.

  • When:  Sunday, January 22, 9:00 AM - Noon
  • Where: 201 South Market Street
                San Jose, CA 95113
  • Learn more at: The Tech Museum's Website
  • Phone Number: (408) 294-8324

During Sensory Friendly Hours, guests will experience these special accommodations:

  • A smaller crowd capacity.
  • Lower audio volume on exhibits.
  • Appropriate lighting adjustments in galleries.
  • Quiet rooms available with calm-down kits.
  • Visual schedules available for download.
  • IMAX film Under the Sea" played at lower volume. (11 a.m. Free with admission; first come, first served.)
  • Welcoming and well-trained staff members.

At noon, the museum will open to the general public. Guests who wish to continue their visit may do so, however some accommodations will no longer be available. Tickets may be purchased at the Group Admission rate in advance or at the door.

Parent Coffee: Children With Challenging Behavior

Do you have a preschooler or school-aged child with a developmental disability or delays who exhibits activities and actions that challenge you, sometimes beyond what you think you can handle?

If your child is a "charger", a "head butter" and one that never seems to stop moving in unsafe ways for themselves or others, this just may be the parent group for you.

Held during school hours, we hope that this allows you to come and gain acceptance and support with others facing similar challenges.

Faciliated by PHP staff, this is not a therapy session but a coming together of parents who face challenges beyond the usual with regard to behavior and where others seem to fail to grasp the impact on your life.

Not sure if it's a good fit for you? Try it once and find out

  • When:  Wed, Jan 25, 2017: 10:00 am to 11:30
  • Where: Parents Helping Parents at the Sobrato Center for Nonprofits
                   1400 Parkmoor Ave #100; San Jose, CA 95113
  • Learn more at: The Parents Helping Parents Website
  • Phone Number: (408) 727-5775
  • Email:

Workshop: Protecting Children with Special Needs

Protecting Children with Special Needs- presented by the U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights (OCR)

  • When:  2/13/17, 10am-12pm
  • Where: Sobrato Center for Nonprofits
                   350 Twin Dolphin Drive, Redwood City CA
  • Who: parents of children with special needs, educators and professionals who work with students with special needs
  • Cost: Free, RSVP:
  • Register and more info at: Eventbrite
  • What: OCR's mission is to ensure equal access to education and to promote educational excellence through vigorous enforcement of civil rights in our nation's schools. This workshop focuses on the important laws and regulations that protect children with special needs against discrimination in federally-funded programs, including: public school districts, institutions of higher education, and other state and local education agencies.