Friday, March 28, 2014

'Unlocking the Social Potential in Autism' by Karina Poirier

Unlocking the Social Potential
Unlocking the Social Potential_Final_ShadowsTo your dismay, your child has received a diagnosis of autism. Along with this alarming news comes the barrage of emotions that suffocates you like an avalanche— denial—confusion—depression—guilt. You want to fix your child; you have a million questions; and you want answers immediately. Autism is a journey in which the child and her family navigate challenges and experience achievements along the way. To guide you in this rewarding journey, Dr. Karina Poirier offers her expertise in this book that parents will find incredibly useful.

In this book, you will find the answers you’ve desperately been seeking. Dr. Poirier has provided in simple, easy to comprehend language, an overview of child development, a descriptive explanation of how autism affects each developmental area, and guidelines for advancing your child’s functioning in all developmental domains. You will appreciate the multitude of hands-on, full-color sample lessons for teaching social and emotional skills, language, problem-solving and decision making, and play skills to children with autism.

Publisher: Social Cognition Publications | Irvine, CA Color: Full-color illustrations Pages: 300 ISBN (Print): 9780988798205 ISBN (Digital): 9780988798212 Available: March 2014
Available at:

Improving social and communication skills in children with autism

Dr. Karina Poirier, author of Unlocking the Social Potential in Autism, says that understanding a child’s unique needs is the key step to dealing with concerns and developing their strengths.

“Bring everything into the light. The worst thing you can do,” she said, “is to ignore the issue. Parents can help their children learn how to communicate better and develop social skills that will help them thrive later in life.

Get help early, identify the specific issues you are facing, ask questions, learn everything you can, and devise a concrete and detailed strategy for engaging your child so key skills are developed and strengthened”.

Here are her answers to some key concerns that parents of a child with autism are faced with.

Q: My child can sit through a learning task on the iPad or television; however, he becomes restless and fidgety when working with a teacher. Why?

A: Your child’s attention system is reactive. Consider how much children learn from viewing television. Teachers struggle to get children’s attention when an activity does not include the sensory kaleidoscope children are used to receiving when sitting in front of the television.

Key Action: Children must be taught at an early age how to develop the mental tools (attend, remember, think) to engage in deliberate and self-directed learning experiences with an adult’s guidance.

Q: My child does not respond appropriately to mood changes in others (e.g., when a peer’s mood changes from happiness to distress). Why?

A: Your child may be lacking the ability to read nonverbal cues. Children with autism often have impaired ability to read, interpret, and process social and emotional messages. Children who are unaware of others’ thoughts and feelings risk not developing the sense of self.

Key Action: Treatment to teach the child the emotional codes that are part of the social experience. The child needs to develop the ability to understand other peoples’ emotions from their facial expression, tone of voice, and body posture. The child should be taught to recognize and interpret how people around him think and feel.

Q: My child has difficulty with describing his/her day at school, recounting an experience, or relaying a message. Why?

A: Delayed recall skills utilize episodic memory. Episodic memory allows us to remember past events and share these events with others. In other words, it is how we engage in reciprocal conversations with others. Episodic memory produces a conscious awareness of events that have occurred at any one time; it enables people to remember what happened to them in the past or to conceive the future.

Key Action: Effective treatment is required for the child to learn about memory strategies and to practice remembering. Through repetition, the child develops not only better recall of past events, but also the skills to communicate the memory of the event to peers or adults during a conversation.

Q: My child is verbal and has good command of language; however, he has trouble initiating conversation with others and taking turns during a conversation. Why?

A: Children with autism have difficulties in social initiation and social-emotional understanding. Engaging in a reciprocal conversation with others requires the development and interaction of memory, information processing, and expressive communication skills—all of which are pervasive deficits of children with autism. It is not that these children do not desire involvement with their peers. On the contrary, they do have the desire to be socially engaged with others; however, the dilemma lies in the fact that these children lack knowledge of social norms.

Key Action: Effective treatment that emphasizes social norms and rules, and teaches children how to process social information by distinguishing between relevant and irrelevant information in a social situation. Initiating and maintaining a conversation requires a person to have social knowledge, which is knowledge of event schemas.

Q: How much play time is appropriate to include in my child’s learning routine?

A: For a young child, teaching through play is extremely important. Play gives children something to do with their ample free time; it also serves the important purpose of honing children’s physical, social and emotional development. Play does not occur spontaneously in children with autism the way it does for typical children.

Key Action: Investing significant time teaching through play focuses the child on developing fine and gross motor skills, interpreting the social cues of other children and adults, and responding to those social cues appropriately. Play can be used to develop the ability to interact with, explore, and, ultimately master their surroundings. Play is an essential part of the learning process, and its ability to mimic real-life scenarios makes it an ideal way to stimulate overall development.

About the author:

Karina Poirier, Psy.D., BCBA-D

Dr. Karina Poirier is the Director of the Center for Social Cognition , a board certified behavior analyst at the doc-toral level (BCBA-D), and a certified cognitive educational therapist. Her clinical practice is devoted to providing outstanding individuals and group therapy that improves social and cognitive outcomes for individuals with autism, ADHD, Traumatic Brain Injury, and related disorders.

Learn more at


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Sunday, March 16, 2014

Review of '101 More Improv Games for Children and Adults' by Bob Bedore


101 More Improv Games for Children and Adults: A Smart Fun Book for Ages 5 and Up is the follow-up to Bob Bedore’s popular 101 Improv Games for Children and Adults. This sequel takes us even deeper into the craft of improv — the magical art of creating something out of nothing — with all new games!

Author Bob Bedore emphasizes how you can use improvisation, creativity, and teamwork any time, any place, to get your imagination flowing, win over a crowd, or be a wittier conversationalist. Actors and improv students will appreciate the author's fun, down-to-earth approach to developing theater craft. And improv isn't only for serious thespians. Used as a classroom activity, it teaches kids how to have fun, relax, and work together without seeming like an educational tool at all.

Great on its own or as a companion to Bedore’s first book, 101 More Improv Games for Children and Adults is centered around entertaining an audience and creating memorable scenes. This sequel includes information on how to produce your own improv show.

101 More Improv Games for Children and Adults is full of wacky and brilliant activities for kids, teachers, actors, comedians, improv groups, or anyone else.

**My review, which first appeared on Examiner**
This book is filled with all kinds of fun activities for most ages. I would recommend it for elementary and beyond, though some could be scaled back for kindergartners, as well.

The first quarter of the book provides some examples as to how an improv situation works, via descriptions known as "Magic Moments." It provides rules on how to "stay in the game" and provides a general outline that fits all of the different types of activities. It doesn't get very in depth with the methodology involved with doing improv. In fact, author Bob Bedore recommends you read his first book to get more of that information. I don't know much about doing improv, but still felt that there was adequate explanation in this book. Bob does provide his contact information, should you have questions. 
These activities would be great for building community within a group, forging relationships and bonding experiences. It gives children a chance to practice speech and language skills, as well as helping them to build confidence. They also have to pay attention to what is going on, so that they can effectively participate. My favorites are the ones where the audience calls out different characters or emotions, music is played to dictate movement, or the one-word debate.
While kids would benefit from having an adult supervise or guide the activities, once the concept is introduced to them, they could page through this book for ideas on their own.
I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. 
Buy links
Amazon \ Barnes & Noble \ Hunter House

Get the first book, 101 Improv Games for Children and Adults

Sunday, March 9, 2014

'Extreme Savings: The #1 Guide to Getting Anything You Want for FREE!'


"Extreme Savings is perfect for people who want to really save money."

You will learn how to shop like a coupon pro walking out of grocery stores with FREE products. That’s the really fun side of couponing! This book has all the key information taught in a typical couponing class. You can use it everyday for easy reference. However, Extreme Savings is not only about couponing. This book goes far beyond just clipping coupons.

After you read Extreme Savings you will know how to effectively lower all of your monthly bills (gas for your car, utilities, cable, cell phone, insurance…).

Available on Amazon

Author Bio and Links:

This book was written by the team of savvy shoppers at

Saturday, March 8, 2014

'Boredom Busters: Stuff for Kids to Do When There's Nothing to Do!' by Eileen Mc Aree

Book description:

Turn off the TV and turn on the fun! 

Entertain your kids without plugging in! Boredom Busters is chock full of ideas for entertaining children of multiple ages. All activities are child tested and parent approved! This book is the perfect guide for when you are:

• Sitting in traffic on a family vacation
• Stuck in the house on a rainy day
• Working from home with a houseful of kids
• Trying to tackle your weekend To Do list
• Making dinner, packing lunches or doing the laundry
• Any situation that calls for entertaining kids while you are otherwise occupied!
Child directed play is good for kids. Let the kids indulge in some old fashioned fun while you get your grownup work done! 


• Backyard Games
• Sidewalk Games
• Simple Crafts
• Travel Games
• Rainy Day Games
• Ball Games
Teach your children to unplug and still have fun!

Available on Amazon

Eileen Mc Aree is a teacher, writer and mother of four. She lives in New York. Eileen has been designing educational materials since her early days of teaching in the New York City Public School System. Since then, she has worked as a Special Education teacher in Middle and Elementary Grades, and a Preschool teacher of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. She began taking Spanish classes as a way to better communicate with the families of some of her students and fell in love with language learning. Currently, Eileen is teaching Middle School Resource Room as well as a Spanish Preschool program.She hopes to encourage other parents to give learning a foreign language a try!

Visit her Amazon author page!

Monday, March 3, 2014

Help get the word out about Lowe Syndrome!

Meet Jenna. Her son Noah was born with a rare genetic condition known as Lowe Syndrome. Let her explain her project:

How can you help her achieve her goal?

Click here to visit her Kickstarter campaign. Read more about her and Noah, and the details of her plan. Preview the storyline of her book. Contact her for more information. And then choose a level for your donation and thank you gift.

One step toward teaching tolerance is helping to create books such as this one. Educate yourself and build a brighter future for our young ones.