Sunday, 15 April 2018

the Power of CONTEXT for Expressive Language

The Importance of Making Contextual and Social Connection in Expressive Language

When we teach a child, we want to develop their ability to communicate and use their language. We first focus on receptive based learning, labeling items, colours, numbers and letters etc. We do this to teach the child how to label things, how to ask for what they want, and these are the basics of how they can communicate. Although teaching children how to memorize and label pictures and items which is the building blocks to their language skills, it is not the whole picture.

It is important
that we add and build on their receptive language.  This is accomplished by adding how to use these labels in context. If they know the colour blue, can their experience painting with the colour blue change how they use it. Can they paint blue sky, or blue flowers, what else can they paint blue? These social and expressive experiences expand the way children understand the receptive language they have learnt.  *Within the Autism brain it is particularly important to incorporate expressive tools such Art. When well directed, this allows the ASD brain's 'limbic system' to be overridden (calmed Amydala) so that the context can be learned and create a potential pathway for the expression.*

What do we play music with:
instruments, our hands, our fingers, our breath? Do we hit a drum, push a key, or blow a whistle? It is experiencing, music, painting, and other artistic ways of expressing ourselves that we learn the context of how things go together. By teaching children cause and effect of how things work, our aim is to build on receptive language to broaden the range of experiences.  Without exposure to new experiences, and social settings children don't have the ability to learn how to use acquired language in context.

“As we interact in a contextually rich learning environment, we
pick up relevant jargon, imitate behavior, and gradually start to act in
accordance with the norms of the cultural setting.”
—Source: Contextual Learning Strategies

written by Emily McLennan - Art therapist - BBAIM team
BODiWORKS Institute

Friday, 6 April 2018

Expressive therapies for Brain development

Expressive Language Development
through Expressive Therapy

There are many therapies offered to children who are delayed with speech and
language. The prevalence of ABA therapies dominating the industry right now is
only part of brain development in children with special needs such as autism
and other language delays.

It is important that we give children language, as well opportunities to use it in context.
We may teach children colours and words, but unless we put them in the environment
with opportunities to use the language in context. These children will struggle to
develop the spontaneous expressive language we will see in neurotypical in children.

Where your child grabs your hand and says I want to draw with blue paint today.

This is an example of spontaneous expressive language. In our program we aim to
develop the skills for our kids to spontaneously express wants and needs in the moment.
By providing opportunities, exposure to contextual language, and new experiences.
We will use art making with a variety of materials, as well as music to expand contextual language development.

Your child whether verbal or not will be involved in music making, singing,
dancing and social play that will give them ample opportunities to express themselves.
As well as art making that will not only work on motor skill development, sensory play etc.
It will provide them with opportunities expand language expression using colours, textures, and context of verbs, adjectives and nouns. Having language is great, but it is using language in social and situational expressive context that is the overall goal with
'neuro-diverse children' which means an expanded brain.

The more opportunities we contrive for our children, the more we give them the ability
to thrive in their environment. Teaching language is only half the equation, it is in the
opportunities to learn context and to apply that language in context, that children are able to really develop expressive language skills.

written by Emily McLennan - Art therapist - BBAIM team
BODiWORKS Institute

Time to Balance the Brain !

The brain needs balance for development

All the memory tasks and “do-overs” in the world will not develop the brain patterns of thinking, expressing and expanding.
Many special needs children, particularly those in the Autism Spectrum, are subject to repetitive tasks, some with hand-over-hand as their main operative developmental tool.  These do serve a very important purpose however. The brain’s intellectual part of the overall child’s ‘behavioural’ profile needs repetition. This helps in areas of daily activity skill with time dependencies and also for safety aspects. Assimilating what is safe and unsafe to do etc.  Then why is this not sufficient?
In the brain, when we repeat, contrast and correct, it learns to use minimal ‘facilitation’. Which means most of the brain lies unused in order to simplify the pattern.  Over time the neurons are ‘suppressed’ for other abilities, in favour of the easier, simplified processing.  Simply put…Much of the brain’s capabilities for emotion, physical and metaphysical remain underdeveloped. 
...Researchers have demonstrated that children with Autism who have undergone extensive “behavioural training”, which works in the areas of suppression, have reduced memory for complex thinking, cognitive organization and poorer spatial awareness.  ...This has a profound negative effect on social function, sensory management and physical motor development.  There is recent appreciation for researching the effects of suppressive brain training and the development of the overall brain…which ultimately affects behaviour.
A brain-based model approach to overall ‘excitation’ of the areas of the brain to facilitate expression, motor skills, creativity, spirituality and problem solving is very necessary for all children especially those with special needs…particularly Autism!
c/o BODiWORKS Institute