When you walk into Parent Teacher Night what is one of the first things you see? Art! There are art projects on the walls, on the bulletin boards and more. Art is a part of each child’s life from preschool to high school and for some they continue this passion into their adult life. Participating within art projects at home and at school helps our kids in a variety of ways such as: with their fine motor skills, with their cognitive planning skills, with their sequencing skills, increases their self confidence (“this is something I made”), works on their commenting skills (“look what I did,” “wow I like your rainbow”), works on their social skills (turn taking, sharing) and so much more.
At KidSpeak, LLC we use different art projects each week to work on each child’s individual language goals, play goals, social goals and even for their emotional regulation. From water colors and finger paints to collaborating together and making collages and murals. Today we want to focus on how you use the SCERTS® Model within your art projects with your child.
First let’s review the SCERTS® Model. The SCERTS® Model was developed by Prizant, Wetherby, Rubin and Laurent as a family center educational model to help children with autism spectrum disorders and their families. At our office we utilize this model of therapy with all of our children: children that have autism, children that have articulation disorders or delays, children that they have language disorders or delays, and more. We have found that this model of therapy works with all children. SCERTS® is an acronym:
SC – Social Communication – the development of spontaneous, functional communication, emotional expression and secure and trusting relationships with children and adults;
ER – Emotional Regulation – the development of the ability to maintain a well-regulated emotional state to cope with everyday stress, and to be most available for learning and interacting;
KidSpeak’s past blogs on Emotional Regulation
TS – Transactional Support – the development and implementation of supports to help partners respond to the child’s needs and interests, modify and adapt the environment, and provide tools to enhance learning (e.g., picture communication, written schedules and sensory supports). Specific plans are also developed to provide educational and emotional support to families, and to foster teamwork among professionals.
KidSpeak’s past blogs on Transactional Supports
**This information was taken directly from the SCERTS® Web Description Document that may be found at www.scerts.com**
How can you use SCERTS® within art to help increase your child’s skills?
SC – Social Communication and TS- Transactional Supports
Before beginning your art project think of the social communication skills you want to work on and then think about what you will have to do to help your child reach those goals (transactional supports). Below you will find just a few examples of different social communication skills paired with a visual and verbal transactional support that you can use to help your child reach their goal.
1. Making choices: Within art you can work on making choices about what art to do and then making choices for items within your art project. Such as “finger paints or water paints” or “green or red.” Show your child the picture of finger paints and water paints and say “finger paints or water paints” if they don’t make a choice then take their finger and point to one and say it. Then play it. You can do the same with colors choices. Remember if you don’t have a picture for it then you can use the actual objects.
2. Requesting: Within art you can also work on requesting using phrases and sentences such as “more blue,” “I want stamps,” “I want bug stamp,” etc. You can use visual requesting strips.
Or you can use your art activity page by pointing to the pictures of “more,” “want,” “colors,” “items,” etc. Point to the pictures and say the words. Then allow your child to do the same.
3. Terminating interactions: Working on “finished” is a great skill within art. Whenever you are finished, point to the pictures “stamps finished” and say the words. Then take your child’s finger and point to the picture and say “stamps finished.” After you have done this a few times you can try to just point to the “finished” picture and see if your child says “finished.” If not, that is okay, just keep trying by modeling the language and pointing to the pictures.
4. Asking for help: Most everyone needs “help” opening the dot paint, opening water paints, etc. Each time your child needs help show, them the “help” picture and say “help”. You can do this by using sentence strip or by using the activity page.
5. Turn taking: You can also work on turn taking within art. You can take turns with the paintbrush, crayons, markers, dot art dabbers, gluing, cutting, etc. While working on turns, point to the picture of “name + turn” and say “name + turn” when it is their turn (i.e., Manda’s turn, Laura’s turn, Ben’s turn, etc.). Next have your child point to the picture (you may need to help them) and say “name + turn” for themselves. After a few tries, see if they will say “name + turn”. If they don’t, it’s okay just keep modeling this language for them by pointing/showing them the “my turn” picture and verbally modeling the language you want them to use it.
6. Sharing: One skill that may be difficult for your child is sharing with another child such as: sharing the water cup within water colors, sharing the water colors set, sharing the ink pad in stamps, etc. Place a sharing picture in front of the item that they are sharing and when they share, sing a sharing song.
7. Commenting about their work: A great skill to work on during art is commenting about their own work such as “look,” “look at my picture,” “it’s blue,” “it’s a tiger,” etc. You will work on this skill the same way as all of the above - by first pointing to the pictures and verbally modeling the language you want them to use (“look it’s a tiger”) while you point to the “look” picture and the tiger they colored.
8. Commenting about others’ work: Another great skill is commenting about others’ work such as: “Wow, pretty, I like your painting, etc”. You will work on this skill the same as all of the above - by first pointing to the pictures and verbally modeling the language you want them to use (“wow”) while you point to the “wow” picture.
**Sometimes finding access to these visuals may be difficult. Here are a few resources where you may be able to find these visuals:
1. If you are currently seeing a speech therapist, ask him/her if they will make these for you.
2. You can purchase the Boardmaker software and make your own.
3. You can order some of these online at the KidSpeak, LLC Store:
Art Package: http://kidspeakdallas.com/products-page/product-category/art-package
Custom Visuals: http://kidspeakdallas.com/products-page/product-category/custom-visuals
4. You can make your own using clip art. **
ER – Emotional Regulation
1. For some children their emotional regulation level is so high that they cannot sit for art. These are the kids that are constantly running around the room, getting in and out of their chairs, rocking in the chairs, etc. The first thing we do for them is help them calm their bodies. For some children they need to take a break (in a bean bag, with a fun light toy, play with squishy toys, something that helps calm them down). Once they are calm then we attempt an art project that they like (for most of our kids this is finger paints or water colors). As we focus on this each week, we notice that their breaks become shorter and their time in art is longer. Then after a few more weeks we begin to introduce different art projects like coloring, markers, stamps and more. Another great tip is to try dimming the lights and play classical music at a low volume. This sometimes will help your child remain calm throughout the activity.
2. For some of our kids their emotional arousal level is great before art but because the fine motor part of art is hard for them, this increases their emotional arousal level and they cannot finish their art project. These kids may begin the project but they end up throwing their paper/crayons, begin to play with the water in water colors or just become uninterested. For these kids it is important to talk with their Occupational Therapist first and see what/how they are focusing on these fine motor tasks. You want to make sure you are collaborating with them versus combating their strategies. For some of our kids that have difficulty with fine motor tasks, we start with finger paints and stamps and then move our way up to colors and water paints. We allow them to become successful within one to two art activities before we try the more difficult ones. This way they have a positive experience with art and they are more likely to try the more difficult art projects. Another great tip is to try dimming the lights and playing classical music at a low volume. This sometimes will help your child remain calm throughout the activity.
3. Lastly, some of our kids do great with art. They love to color, paint, etc. So you can continue to use these strategies to help your child work on their social communication skills but you can also use art to work on their emotional regulation skills. Art can be a very regulating activity. At KidSpeak we like to begin some of our groups/individual session with very simple art activity like coloring or painting. This helps regulate their bodies and prepare them to be successful within our session.
Have fun trying the SCERTS® Model with your child and using Transactional Supports to increase your child’s Social Communication and Emotional Regulation through art! Your child won’t even know that they are working on fine motor skills, cognitive planning, sequencing, increasing their self confidence, language skills, social skills, play skills and emotional regulation!
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