February 2015 Vol 2 Issue 2
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Helping Siblings Get Along with "Structured Play" 

A picture speaks a thousand words...

Consistency is key....
Every Saturday morning for the past two years, my two sons have played together intermittently for two hours.  When we started this process, we had family meetings, schedules, rewards and other support systems in place.  My kiddos played for shorter periods.  Initially, there were lots of tears, yelling and arguments.  My older son told me my rules were "dumb."  It was "not fair" when he was held accountable for verbally or physically abusing his younger brother.  He "hated" consequences.  It was also "stupid" -  requiring that he played with his brother before he could play with his Nintendo DS.  Now... two years later,  that has all changed and they both eagerly self-manage play time.  Their interaction is genuine.  It is not perfect, but tremendous progress has been made.   I've now become a distant observer and lead cheerleader, lavishing my sons with hugs and praise for their efforts!   In the picture below, my two sons built a fort, to the specification of my 5 year old.  Next, they had milk and cookies and finally took turns with the I-Pad Mini playing various games.  This is now a regular Saturday morning occurrence with no yelling nor tears.

Keeping it simple....
With structured play there's clear communication, goals and rules.  Initially, we focus on one small activity at a time.  Over time, we expand.

Here's what I know....
Helping our kiddos build sustainable habits require time and patience.  There are no "quick fixes." However, planting and nurturing those seeds will result in our children garnering important skills that last a lifetime.  From toddler to teenager structured play which naturally involves teamwork, turn-taking, compromising, problem-solving, self-advocacy and more, emboldens our kids and builds self confidence.  It also increases their ability to transfer those skills to all areas of their lives.  

My sons in structured play self-managing for 2 hrs
Why Social Stories Work
"A Social Story accurately describes a situation, skill, or a concept according to defining criteria, with a content, format, and voice that is descriptive, meaningful, and physically, socially, and emotionally safe for the person for whom the Story is developed (referred to as the Audience)." - The Gray Center.

At Swanky Brain, Inc. we believe Social Stories work in different ways for children.  Why do they work?  Here are a couple reasons:  

Children on the spectrum are visual learners; so a Social Story with vibrant supporting pictures immediately resonates.  
Just as important is the choice of words used in the story.

Also, all children retain information when it is repeated to them.  So, when a Social Story is read repeatedly, it gives children an opportunity to process the positive messages.  Then, it becomes easier to take those messages and make them applicable to to real life situations.  
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