“Quiet Hours” – Letting Autistic Individuals Shop Peacefully

DSCF1328

A superstore in England is being hailed for implementing ‘quiet hour” – times where the store encourages silence for autistic shoppers to be able to shop comfortably. Continue reading

Hear Our Voices Holds Socialization Workshop

Shema-Kolainu-Hear Our Voices hosted a play and socialization skills workshop this morning, November 21. Our 60 attendees came to the school to learn how to properly teach children with autism how to play with toys and integrate with their peers.

Play is important for all developing children because it teaches language, social interaction, motor skills and more. For children with autism, play can be difficult due to their tendencies to isolate themselves or interact with adults rather than other children.

Part of the goal of the workshop was to combat these tendencies with positive reinforcement. For instance, when playing, pick a toy that is related to the child’s interests and strengths. It’s important to note that once play becomes more natural and unprompted, the reinforcement should slowly decrease and more neutral toys should be integrated.

Parents can also pair toys as means of positive reinforcement. For example, give the child a boat while they are taking a bath or play music when they are coloring.

Keeping play fun and not rushing a child who is not ready to interact with peers was also discussed. If you force a child to share too early on, or if they don’t have the proper verbal skills for interaction, the experience of play can be soured. Parents should also keep in mind that their presence should fade as play becomes less forced and peers enter the picture.

If you’re interested in more information or attending a future workshop please visit our website at http://www.hear-our-voices.org/workshop.html. A certificate is available upon completion.

Ten Tips for the Holiday Season

With Hanukkah beginning next week, parents might be looking for ways to make the holiday season as enjoyable and problem-free as possible for their child with ASD. The Institute for Behavioral Training (IBT) has released a list of tips that could help.

IBT Director Cecila Knight says that children with autism usually having “a tough time coping with change,” and are often sensitive to “loud sounds, bright lights, and even touch.” Knight offers these tips to help reduce holiday-related stress:

  1. Make a daily schedule using pictures and words ahead of time to minimize bad reactions to unexpected activities. Include time for breaks and rest.
  2. Have your child help in this list of daily events. For example, grocery shopping, decorating, etc. This will give your child a sense of control over their day.
  3. Avoid too much boredom. A day trip to a museum or a venture sight-seeing offers a nice break.
  4. If there is a long commute or waiting period, make sure to bring along a toy or some type of entertainment.
  5. Remember to bring along visual cues, like a written schedule or AAC devices, wherever you go.
  6. Try to avoid staying at a family gathering too long, as large events can produce stress. Pick what part you’d like to stay for, like the meal, and stick with that.
  7. Utilize holiday craft activities to entertain your child at home.
  8. Pick your battles. Focus on the larger holiday things like social interaction and manners rather than the little things.
  9. Be consistent with your schedules i.e. lunch time, nap time, etc.
  10. Identify holiday stressers ahead of time. For example, if the endless hugs from family will upset your child, then practice the interaction ahead of time or set up a reward system.

Tweet us @HearOurVoices or @icare4autism with your tips!

ICare4Autism Hosts Benefit For Autism Research and Education

Over one hundred people attended the ICare4Autism– a partner of Shema Kolainu Hear Our Voices- benefit for autism research and education last Thursday night at Inglot Cosmetics in the Chelsea Market Place.

Autism is a disorder that affects 1 in 88 children and is marked by non-verbal tendencies and repetitive behaviors. Last night’s benefit was intended not only to raise money for the cause, but also to raise awareness.

Guests included Ambassador Ido Aharoni, Consul General of Israel, who spoke at the event, Ms. New York 2012 Jeanette Josue, and  former New York Giant Roman Oben.

The event featured artwork created by the students of Shema Kolainu. The pieces were auctioned off to the attendees, with proceeds going to the school.

Art therapy can be very helpful for autistic children given its hands-on, visual nature. Studies show that art therapy improves communication and verbal skills, two things children with autism often struggle with. Furthermore, students can use this artwork to cultivate creativity and a sense of individuality.

In total, five one-of-a kind pieces were sold, this highest one selling for $250. Roman Oben’s wife Linda, was also nice enough to buy some art.

Israeli author and guest of honor Lihi Lapid, also received a piece of artwork done by a Hear Our Voices student. ICare4Autism CEO and Founder Dr. Joshua Weinstein presented her with the art which included a plaque honoring her on behalf of the students. Lapid had visited and toured the school earlier that day.

During the benefit, she read from her latest novel, “Woman of Valor,” which describes her experience as a parent of an autistic child.

“She reminds herself that she’s doing the most important job anyone can do,” Lapid reads. “She’s a mother.”

NY State Senator Eric Adams Visits Shema Kolainu-Hear Our Voices

NY State Senator Eric Adams joined Dr. Weinstein and his team at in Brooklyn, NY on the first of June 2012. His smile and caring personality lit up each room The Senator entered. Children ran to meet this generous man. With the addition of each room and educational system, Senator Adams seemed to be impressed further.

While touring the facility, the team had the pleasure of introducing The Senator to a child who, when he entered the school, did not speak. The teacher allowed herself to be held tightly by the child’s small arms. She told Senator Adams, “Ask him what his favorite food is.” The answer was cookies. The response was an outstanding “wow” of appreciation. On this day each visitor was able to experience first hand the changes and growth children make at Shema Kolainu.

Throughout the time together, Senator Adams appeared humbled by the work that is happing at Shema Kolainu. In a soft undertone he thanked teachers personally on the way out of the room. “Thank you for the work you are doing.” Shema Kolainu extends the same thanks to Senator Adams. It was a true honor to be able to extend a visit to him.

Brooklyn Borough President’s Chief of Staff, Carlo Scissura, Visits Shema Kolainu – Nov. 15, 2011

Carlo Scissura talks with Dr. Weintstein about Shema Kolainu

Carlo Scissura, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz’s Chief of Staff, visited Shema Kolainu – Hear Our Voices on Tuesday morning to learn more about the school’s many programs for children with autism and other disabilities. He was very enthusiastic about the school and the wonderful work that SKHOV is doing. Dr. Joshua Weinstein , the Founder & CEO of SKHOV and the staff discussed the school’s history, current achievements and future expansion.

Scissura meets a student of Shema Kolainu

Scissura toured the bustling classrooms and observation rooms of the first and second floor to interact with the preschool and school age students of Shema Kolainu respectively. Scissura was pleased with the appearance of the facilities and the level of care and direction the students received. “This is outstanding.” A tour of the third floor included a trip to the rooftop and vision of things to come. The addition of the third floor will allow for more classrooms, clinical evaluation rooms, computer equipment, a gymnasium and a domed rooftop playground to name a few.

Scissura meets with Dr. Weinstein and Shema Kolainu staff members

Scissura exudes a deep-seeded knowledge of Brooklyn and strong roots in his dedication to the community, particularly education. In 2013, he plans to step up as Brooklyn Borough President following his four-year tenure as Chief of Staff to Markowitz, while Markowitz considers running for mayor.