Thursday, March 27, 2008

Art lessons for children with Autism: Color Mixing

This will be an ongoing series of ideas for teaching art to kids on the Autism Spectrum. My goal is to tailor and customize solutions for teaching kids with Autism about art and creating art.

Colors and Color mixing. Primary colors produce secondary colors

Supplies needed: The primary colors (red/yellow/blue) can either be playdoh or paint. The book to use is called Mouse Paint by Ellen Stoll Walsh. I suggest taking the book and reproducing or drawing the black and white pictures to help the visual learner participate and actually physically produce the colors. For play doh use the paper underneath the play doh and fill in the figures with the playdoh or clay.

Red, yellow and blue are primary colors and mixing these colors together produce the secondary colors, Purple, Orange and Green. I have found that giving the colors in either paint or playdoh helps the child to physically see and create the secondary colors of green, purple and orange.

You begin by reading the clever story of three white mice as they venture into paint and learn about the colors. Acting out the actions of the three mice of mixing and stirring with paint in cups or on the paper. For the playdoh version, create little mice out of the clay and when you mix (smush) the colors red and yellow together - it will actually produce the color orange. Your help will be necessary to really mix the colors well.

I have found that this lovely story combined with acting and participation has helped to teach mixing and creating colors.

Other ideas to extend play: Depending on level of student you could extend color concept to matching mouse colors with pecs cards, creating flashcards, or writing and coloring/shading letters.

I strongly suggest to keep the project simple with not too much academic activity. Art is about creativity and expression, most of all have fun creating and get messy with color!

Other Sources:
Printable color mouses and various links to extending project. Color charts, flashcards, coloring letters. Depends on student level. I find somtimes less is more. May be too stimulating to extend project visually.

Jax Chachitz

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Art Play Project: Social play, creating stories with playdoh

I have decided to experiment with incorporating social stories into art projects. You can view some information from various websites like, what are social stories by Carol Gray. You can view her website The Gray Center with links to purchase products. But you can also find a few free samples stories to play with. I have not ventured into using the concept of the social story to create a social dynamic to reference but to enhance speech that is appropriate for social interaction. Hope this makes sense to you all! Book image above is from, the original book I have was a song by tom Glazer and Illustrations by Rob Barber, Goodyear Books, Harper Collins Publisher.

For example:
Art Play Project: Playdoh and the book "On Top of Spaghetti"
We begin by making spaghetti, meatballs and cheese with the clay and create the props to act out the story/song for "On Top of Spaghetti" song book. After and during the project I write a simple story, that we read together to document the activity. I was thinking of also taking photos for visual reference. Here is a simple story.

"My name is -------. I am playing with Playdoh with my mommy. I like playdoh. My favorite color is -------. We are reading the book on top of spaghetti. I am making spaghetti with the spaghetti maker. We push and push and push the red playdoh in the maker . Help me. We made spaghetti. Yeah. "

I am finding that incorporating stories has helped to encourage familiar speech, fill in the blanks, and expanding spontaneous appropriate phrases. I have to purchase a simple photo printer for on the spot printing of images. Will post more when this happens as I think the visual cue will be an interesting dynamic to retell the story and add more to the story as we progress.
There seems to be a real lack of toys that can simulate these types of interactions for practicing fluid spontaneous back and forth speech. Any ideas or suggestions out there?
I also have found a link to a boyscout page that has the classic song. On Top of Spaghetti.

jax chachitz

Resources for Teaching Children with Autism

I am trying to create a list of links of helpful and/or free websites. If your child has been diagnosed with a developmental delay and you have tried to find teaching materials, then you have more than likely experienced "sticker shock" For some reason the makers of toys and learning materials for children with developmental delays have to make more money than the rest of us for their labors. True, they provide a great service and thank god we do have access to the multitude of toys out there but . . . DO THE TOYS HAVE TO COST THAT MUCH! There is a point where pricing is becoming somewhat sketchy. Same goes for all those GFCF food products out there! Fortunately, there are some wonderful folks who have put their hearts ahead of their bank accounts and provided some free stuff for parents and teachers of children with autism and developmental delays.

The following links will take you to some wonderful web sites. Many are run by parents with children with Autism. Be sure to check out the free downloads, pictures, ideas, and more. If you know of any other web sites that have helped you, please email me at: Enjoy:

Links I have reviewed: I will gradually try to add to this list. I also want to thank msn group for some of these website suggestions. I am pulling from various resources.

Hiyah - Written by a mother with 2 boys with Autism. "My name is Sara. I have 2 boys who both showed an interest in the computer, but didn't know how to use the mouse or keyboard. Since there was nothing on the market to meet their needs, I developed a series of educational computer software programs that they could operate on their own by simply pressing the spacebar. I am making these programs available at no charge to any parent or teacher who thinks they may be able to use them.

JAMBAV - Jambav uses its expertise in software to make a difference in the lives of children of all ages and all abilites. Check out the parent blog and especially ToonDoo, their cool new online comic strip creator. Create your own comic stips, publish, share and discuss!

STARFALL - You are gonna love this site and so will your child! Start with the A-B-C's and move to reading simple stories, like Zac the Rat. The graphics and sounds will keep most kids attention for a long time!

CHILDREN WITH CHALLENGES - Prewriting Activities, Fine Motor Skills, Cutting activities, Cheap do it yourself activity suggestions. Free, printable practice pages for tracing, copying letters, and more. Don't stop at this page. Go to the main page for some excellent suggestions for teaching children many fine-motor skills.

Accentuate the Positive - Not a toy or an activity but spread your appreciation!

Thomas the Tank Engine and Autism - "Thomas often serves as a 'gateway to learning' for children with ASD. The interest in Thomas provides children with the motivation and interest to try new things." This web site has some great ideas for using Thomas to help kids with autism learn. It has many great pictures of Thomas' facial expressions that can be used to teach emotions. - Many on-line learning and fun games for kids of all ages and grades.

Facial Expressions Game - An interesting resource "game" from DoToLearn. A computer generated facial expression simulator. Weird, but interesting with the nuances of facial expressions.

Beyond Autism Pecs Pictures/Icons Pages - The best collection of PECS pictures, links to all kinds of pictures, and sage advice from a parent who's "been there, done that." You're gonna love this page and amazing source of information and links!

Kids Fonts - Download fonts to create dot-to-dot letters so your child can print, begin cursive writing, or color his/her own name. They offer do-it-yourself supplies for teaching young children
to recognize and write their alphabet and numbers.

Superkids - Educational Software Review - For playing music, music - c scale, travel back in time, create your own math and vocabulary worksheets, play on-line games, and so much more!

Riley and Drew's Thomas The Tank Engine Site: Check out the coloring pages and characters at Thomas The Tank Engine Site.

Facial Expressions of Emotion - An interactive figure allows your child to make a face, guess the emotion, and then click to see if he is correct. Directions: Single click on a set of eyes and a mouth. Then single click on the Done button to check your emotion. If not successful, you will be encouraged to "try again." Very cool for kids who are struggling with recognizing facial expressions. - Print & Play Worksheet Games - Three skill levels. Print out practice sheets for alphabet, numbers, (dot-to-dot), writing, math, social studies, fun, and much more. Worth checking it out.

DoToLearn - Free picture cards, schedules, and tips for visual learners. Also includes products you can purchase. A great resource!

Thomas the Tank Engine Get the latest news on Thomas and the Magic Railroad and much more. Includes brief movies, many wonderful learning and fun games, simple activities, and great animations. Build and Run a Train Set Train Set for the Jet Set by Paul Flavin. A pretty cool toy train set that you can build, run, and control with your mouse. Make it run fast or slow. For the comuter and mathematical savvy.

KinderArt - KinderArt Coloring Pages are free, printable coloring sheets for children.

BrainCandy - Get Connected - A puzzle game in which you rearrange the wires to get everyone connected to the Internet. A challenging game. Requires great puzzle-solving ability, patience, and good mouse skills.

OZMO - Fun Toys and Interesting Stuff - Created by parents of an adult with autism and OCD to encourage easy, safe, wonderful fun with toys, posters, books, novelties, puzzles, jokes and other interesting stuff.

jax chachitz - artist -

Friday, March 7, 2008

ICDL Floortime announces GLIMPSE, new online magazine of works by artists with autism

Below is the information I received via an email from the ICDL Floortime Group.
Announcing Glimpse
A new online literary magazine presents works by artists with autism and other developmental challenges
Washington, D.C., March 5, 2008 (ICDL). The premier issue of America’s first online literary magazine featuring works by people with autism and other developmental challenges offers more than a Glimpse into the rich, creative inner life of these individuals. Remarkable as both art and insight, these poems, short essays, paintings, drawings, and photography broaden our understanding of the creative processes in all of us.
Following are excerpts from the premier edition:
“If I go for a walk in the forest with a friend and they’re talking, I may as well be at home for I’ve missed the trees and the sounds; all I experience is their voice. If I notice the beauty around me I miss everything they said as I was focusing on the forest sights. So often I go on walks alone, but even then I find while walking I’m missing a lot of the forest. So I stop and enjoy a beautiful tree, but then find I’m missing the sounds and begin to immerse myself in the sounds of the birds and the leaves and even though my eyes are open I literally can not see the tree, my vision is blank. Then I flash back to the tree without planning to and it snaps me out of the trance I was in listening to the sounds. And so it goes.” Michael Moon in “ Autistic/Artistic”
MY MOUTH HAS NOTHING TO SAY.” From “ Please Listen to My Heart” by Roy Bedford

Glimpse is published by the Interdisciplinary Council on Developmental and Learning Disorders (ICDL), a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the prevention, assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of emotional and developmental disorders in infancy and childhood by promoting dialogue and integrating knowledge from different disciplines.
Please click here to access a PDF version of Glimpse:

Stop Think Autism: Autism in the Marketplace

Be sure to check out this wonderful blog called Stop Think Autism. There is an interesting link to an article called Autism in the Marketplace. The article originates from Here is an excerpt from the blog article. Thank you to Stop Think Autism for sharing this information.
"It's an interesting piece, and I'm fairly certain this is the first one of its kind I've come across. It discusses adult autistics (yes, Jenny, they really do exist), dealing with finances, living independently, and the difficult issue of legal guardianship. The story is from the parent's perspective. It deals mainly with adult autistics who would seem to need little, if any, services. Yet, they still run into major issues with finances and have difficulty with other day to day interactions."

"The story closely mirrors the ones I hear from families whose child is considered by the school to be "high functioning" and is dropped from special-ed or services. These children skim by, many drop-out or have major issues, especially in high school. If you can do fairly well with school assignments, sit still in class, they presume one doesn't need any extra help."

Jax Chachitz

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Songs for Teaching: Great for kids on the Autism Spectrum

Some children with Autism seem to have an interest in music. I have found that music, acting out the songs and singing songs has been instrumental for my son on the Autism Spectrum. A Speech Therapist had told me it was pivitol in teaching language because it helps to connect the left and right brain. Never did I realize that my life as a parent would be dictated by songs! :)

Here is a great resource to use with a vast number of free songs including lyrics and downloads. The site is called Songs for Teaching, The Definitive Source for Educational Music. Here is an excerpt from the website:

"Creative teachers can use music to teach content across the curriculum -- to students of all ages. A host of educational experts brings you tested ideas for using the magic of music in your lesson plans.
This site contains thousands of pages for you to peruse -- many with lyrics, sound clips, and teaching suggestions. The top educational pros offer practical suggestions based on the latest in brain-based learning. Innovative teachers share their classroom pointers and extension activities using children's music.
Songs from a wide variety of popular artists are presented by academic subject. See the categories below to find educational music and children's songs that complement your lesson plans."

jax chachitz

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Virtual Reality for children with Autsim

This is a great article about the use of Virtual Reality for children with Autism. Written by Translating Autism: An Autism Research Blog

Title:Development of symbolic play through the use of virtual reality tools in children with autistic spectrum disorders
Source:Herrera, G., Alcantud, F., Jordan, R., Blanquer, A., Labajo, G., De Pablo, C. (2008). Development of symbolic play through the use of virtual reality tools in children with autistic spectrum disorders: Two case studies. Autism, 12(2), 143-157. DOI: 10.1177/1362361307086657

Here is the article from the above website. Please be sure to visit the site as it has much more in terms of links and information.
"In general, I tend to stay away from case reports (studies using one or just a couple of participants). Usually I don’t even read them, since most of the time I feel that, given what we know about methodology today, case reports should not even be published. I say ‘most of the time’ because once in a while a case report is published that reminds me why case reports are important: to provide us with insight as to where future research could focus. So I want to briefly review a case report published in the last issue of Autism as simply food for thought."

"Clinically, the absence of pretend play in early childhood is one of the most common features of ADSs. Parents report that their children do not engage in imaginary or pretend play and do not use toys as expected when play requires symbolic understanding. For example, when provided with a box of Star Wars figurines, a child may simply line up the figures making patterns on the floor and may not use the figures to recreate situations or scenes as expected. The assumption is that the child does not view the figures as symbolic representations of people. The authors of this paper wanted to use Virtual Reality as a tool to teach children with autism to use symbolic play. There is some evidence that suggest that symbolic play is of significant importance for the development of several cognitive skills including language, spontaneity, intention, etc. Thus, the authors argued that interventions that teach children to use symbolic play could be of benefit to children with ADSs."

"The authors used a computer virtual reality game “the Virtual Supermarket” to teach children to move from physically manipulating the objects (picking up items from the shelves), to engaging in functional play (dressing a doll with miniature clothing), to finally engaging in symbolic play (using a pair of trousers as an imaginary road). The authors used this game with two children, age 8 and 15, who had been diagnosed with Autism based on DSM-IV criteria. The two individuals received 28 sessions of this type of games during 2 ½ months. They were tested on a variety of measures before and after the intervention period. The authors stated that after the intervention period the children demonstrated improvement in functional use of objects, functional play (measured via the Test of Pretend Play – ToPP), symbolic play (ToPP), imagination understanding, and magic understanding."

"Although this study suffers from the common limitations of case studies, it is extremely interesting, and it should encourage future research in the use of virtual reality as an intervention tool for the teaching of symbolic understanding."