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Active Ingredients for Change
Young children learn best when having fun. Whether it is play, bath, meal time, or another routine, each moment can involve the ESDM to help children connect, communicate, and learn. See how you can get started with the ESDM with your child or the families whom you support in an early childhood learning environment.
Quick Tip 

Find out how to use tips from the ESDM for early social-communication skills important to life-long learning, behavior, and health with your child or with families whom you support in an early childhood learning environment.

Click the video icon (to the left) for the latest Quick Tip video. 
Want more of this week's Quick Tip? Click the video icon above!
Latest News

Read monthly research about intervention outcomes for children with or at risk of autism; coaching supports for their families; and/or family-centered, culturally inclusive coaching tools to help early childhood professionals support families. Each monthly article is publicly available for free access.
This month’s Latest News looks at how infants recognize missteps in their communications when needs or want may not be met and initiate or respond with strategies to repair those breakdowns with caregivers. The study followed 18-month-old infants with and without a familial history of autism to better understand their rates of success and types of repair strategies used towards caregivers when breakdowns in communication occur.

There were two primary findings.

1. Infants overall initiated communication, experienced breakdowns, and made repairs at similar rates. This may relate to the context of everyday life at home where caregivers are accustomed to their infants’ communication styles, readily fulfilling their bids, and that infants are skilled at identifying breakdowns and persistent in making repairs.

2. Infants differed in the types of repair strategies they used with caregivers. Infants without risk of autism preferred joint attention bids for the partner to look at and share interest in the same object and selected from a larger repertoire of repairs to fit different situations or to adapt when one strategy they used was not successful. Infants with risk of autism had the opposite pattern and relied most on behavior regulation requests for the partner to do something with a smaller, less flexible repertoire of repair strategies.
This flow chart shows how the study coded infant initiations, successes, and repairs. Infants and their caregivers often understand one another’s communications, recognize when breakdowns do occur, and negotiate communication to resolve misunderstandings. However, the ways in which infants engage in these behaviors may differ in relation to familial history of autism and developmental outcome and may benefit from a larger repertoire of strategies to initiate and repair communication.

 Click the article (above) to read more.
Play of the Month
Play not only brings smiles to children's faces but also helps them learn, feel good about themselves, and enjoy the interaction that comes from doing something with someone. Join me each month for Play of the Month to try with your child or the families whom you support in early intervention or other early childhood learning environment.

Sometimes the best toys are everyday objects in your home. Who knew toddlers could find an empty laundry basket so exciting? You can find a list of general play strategies here to help you discover what level of play your child enjoys or the children and families whom you support in an early learning environment.

Pay attention to what children like (or seem curious about) and follow their lead as long as you are a part of the action, too. Remember, the most important thing is for children to have fun doing this with you! Fun means engagement and that excites children's brains and bodies for meaningful learning to happen.

Simple play actions that encourage children to explore, use their senses, and movement:

  • Drop toys into the basket (hint: this activity can be a great substitution for children who may throw toys around the room).

  • Sit children in the basket and cover them with balls or other toys. Have them pop out and scare you!

  • Sit children in the basket and sing “Row Row Row Your Boat” (or other song) while you move the basket back and forth.

  • Sit your child in the bin and give them a push so they slide down the hall.

  • Turn the basket upside-down and take turns going underneath with children to “peek a boo.” You can also take turns putting the basket over your head or children's heads to pop out.

Combination play that encourages multi-step actions for children to construct and accomplish goals:
  • Put the basket on one side of the room for children to stand in front of (or a few feet away) and toss a ball or other toys into the basket. The basket can also go on its side to practice kicking balls into the “net.”

  • Drop toys into the basket, shake them around, or toss them up in the air and catch them again, and then dump them out.

  • Place the basket upside-down and have animals or cars climb over it like a big hill.

  • Play “Where Is X?” Get a toy or stuffed animal to place in different positions for your child to label or find: “Where is Teddy? Can you put him…on top of the basket? Now can you put Teddy under the basket?” In addition to on top and under, try spatial words like “in, next to, besides, behind, close to, or far away”. Take turns for children to tell you where to put the item.

Imaginary play that encourages children to make-believe and role-play:

  • Pretend the basket is a car for children to drive somewhere. Remember to model all the little steps like pretending to open the door, putting on a pretend seat belt, starting the car, and honking the horn. You can also add in a modified game of red light/ green light where children have to pretend to stop the car every time you call out a “red light!”

  • Pretend the basket is a boat to go on a fishing trip. Give children a wooden spoon as a paddle and use a colander as a net. You can even start with an art project where you cut out toy fish for children to decorate so they have something to catch on their trip; or print out pictures of sea creatures that “float in the water” to fish out with the colander, kitchen tongs, or another utensil.

  • Put a pillow and blanket inside the basket to make it a crib for a doll or stuffed animal. Offer props that might encourage children to act out daily routines—think about items like a child-size cup, a toy bottle, a baby spoon, a washcloth, and more.

  • Have a tea party or a picnic. Turn the basket upside down and it becomes a table. Take out child-sized plates, cups, and a pitcher, and pour some (pretend) tea.

  • Turn the basket over with toy or stuffed animals underneath to pretend you are at the zoo. Say hi to the animals, talk about what they like to eat, or pretend they are asleep to not wake them up and scare them. Bonus idea- Weave the yarn through the holes at the top of the laundry basket over the toy or stuffed animals, zig zagging it across the top to create an obstacle course. Cut and tie off the yarn when you’re done. Give children the kitchen tongs to act as their ‘game piece’. Then have him ‘rescue’ the animals one at a time by sticking the tongs between the yarn to pick each animal up.

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