Sept / Oct  2013



Coping Techniques

Games for Impulsive Children


Youth Poetry



Kids have trouble coping at times.  Even adults have trouble coping!  Individuals with autism are no different. 


We must always remember that no matter the diagnosis, the individual that we work with is a person and is coping with a challenge, just like you and me. 


In this newsletter, we will be taking a look at coping strategies.  We hope to give you informative resources that you can use in your home and workplace. 


CopingCoping Techniques


nullTeaching deep breathing through bubble breaths 

shared by Michelle Heim, Field Support Coordinator


Many times, we tell children to take deep breaths as a calming technique, but this might not be something that children understand. One way I teach this to children is through bubble breaths. In order to do this, we either chew gum or blow bubbles. If you choose gum, choose something that is chewy and easy to blow bubbles. We spend some time either blowing bubbles with gum or use standard bubbles and a bubble wand.  


After doing this for awhile, I talk to the child about how you do two things in order to blow bubbles. First, you take a deep breath in through your nose, and second, you blow it out slowly through your mouth. We then take away the gum or bubble wand and try these steps without it.   It is a concrete way to teach deep breathing.



Using preferred interests as a feeling thermometer

shared by Michelle Heim, Field Support Coordinator

One of the first techniques I learned about when I became a therapist was using a feelings thermometer to help someone explain and understand the intensity of emotions. I have built off of this idea and given emotions or intensities of emotions a twist with focusing on the person's preferred interest.


For example, one client I worked with liked trains and had a difficult time talking about emotions. We discussed how he could communicate his feelings by telling us that all the cars were on the track, 1 car was off, 2 were off, etc. Each of these descriptions let us understand how his day went because we spent some time talking about what a day looks and feels like with all the train cars moving, or one off the track, etc.


nullAnother variation of this could be someone relating characters to how they feel. If the person likes Pokemon, then they can assign different feelings to different character names to help them understand. So, if they like Pikachu, then that might be what they are feeling like when they are happy. Another character could be assigned to feeling angry, frustrated, excited, etc.


This can also have a sensory connection. Many times, I will talk to a child about getting to a "just right level," which is the point where they are focusing, learning, socializing, and attending. That can be assigned a character. Let's say the child likes princesses. The "just right level" could be Cinderella. If the child is feeling under-regulated and needs some alerting activities to bring them back to the "just right level," they might be feeling like a stepsister and you can give concrete activities they can do to get back to being like Cinderella. If they are feeling over-regulated and need some calming activities, then they might be feeling like one of the mice and they need some concrete examples to bring them back down. This can easily be done in a visual format with cards or sticky notes that list the activities.



nullSnow Globes and Glitter Balls

shared by Ann Branning, National Autism Training Coordinator

At times it can help kids to visualize their worries.  Take a snow globe or glitter ball and shake it up, and explaining this is what your head feels when you're upset.  As the snow or glitter is falling, tell the child to watch.  The time it takes for the glitter or snow to fall will help the child calm down.  Nerves and worries cloud our vision.  In that state it's hard for a child to calm down.  Once the child is calm you can ask them what is causing the worries. 



ImpulsiveGames for Impulsive Children
by Dan Karlow, National Clinical Training Coordinator


Parents can often have their hands full with children whom are very impulsive. Simply stated, children are always on the move, and don't often stay put for an extended period of time.  


So, what can you do? Impulsivity is challenging because it's hard to predict what the child will do in the heat of the moment. Try incorporating some of these ideas into your plan:


Play Pretend: Take a moment to think like a kid. Imagine that you are Spiderman web-slinging your way through the house. You hear cries for help in the living room. Doc Ock has Mary Jane trapped.   What do you do?


Have your child dive into the story, and focus on the details. Encourage the story to go on for at least 10-15 minutes. You can also use the story to work on other life lessons (i.e. aggression, turn-taking).


Play Quick Games:  When a child plays a quick decision game, they are forced to pay attention to the details. Impulsive children are attracted to fast-paced video games. Any type of video/PC game or App that is age-appropriate and requires quick decisions can be effective. LeapFrog has a great collection of age-appropriate educational games, and "ADHD Trainer" by TKT Brain Solutions is a great App for impulsivity and inattention.


Also try FUN tasks that require the child to beat a timer (i.e. puzzles, mazes, word search).


Current research on AD/HD and neurofeedback is promising. Neurofeedback games that monitor brain activity have been used as treatment.  As the child is playing the video game, the game will stop if they are not focusing. The game only plays when the child "exercises that portion of the brain that is deficient in focus" (Michaels 2008).


Engage all senses:  As you keep the child active, engage them with all of their senses. Try a classic game: have child close their eyes and try to name objects in a box with their other senses. Be creative. Try various textures, tastes, sounds, etc. This is a great way to explore their senses and to focus on the task at hand.


Other games that can be fun and help the child focus: scavenger hunts (keep them simple), creating art/craft projects with lots of materials, Simon Says, and any other activity that requires movement & concentration.


Dan is conducting an AD/HD webinar on October 10th @ 11am.  To register, go to


For more information on impulsivity, check out these resources:


Karter, Terrance (2013). Games for Impulsive Children.


Michaels, Pamela (2008) Special Report: Beyond Meds, about five popular complementary approaches for ADHD. ADDitude Magazine.

Resources - Books


When My Worries Get Too Big
by Kari Dunn Brown


Power Cards
by Elisa Gagnon


A '5' Could Make Me Lose Control!
by Kari Dunn Buron


The Incredible 5-Point Scale
by Kari Dunn Buron and Mitzi Curtis

Resources - Social Stories


What is Comfortable


What is Uncomfortable


What is Comfortable for Me


What is Uncomfortable for Me


Come to Fort Able


The Steps to Fort Able


for copies of these social stories in editable Word format, please contact  



poetryYouth Poetry
Name Acrostic by Adam Lattimer


A - artistic and autistic is who I am

D - drawing is what I am good at

I - Ira, Luke, Jack, and mom

N - notices that I am the best artistic in the Lattimer family


The information and points of view contained in this newsletter are intended only to stimulate interest about topics of possibly shared concern.  Youth Advocate Programs, Inc. ("YAP") does not represent or endorse the accuracy, completeness, timeliness or reliability of any information contained in, linked, or otherwise accessed through this newsletter.  This newsletter does not contain  medical advice and YAP accepts no responsibility for any errors (or omissions) contained in this newsletter.