Friday, April 25, 2008

Working Through Transitions With Skill-Building Buddies

In my previous post, I reviewed a DVD intended for kids on the autism spectrum. It covered topics such as greetings, recognizing feelings, using words to express feelings, and dealing with transitions.

But when Parent Bloggers sent me that DVD, they also sent me another with a similar purpose. Skill-Building Buddies is a DVD that teaches children on the spectrum about the right ways to deal with transitions and change, using a mix of animated characters and real-life examples with kids in familiar settings.

The first thing I noticed about this DVD is that I recognized the animation style and the voices. I quickly realized that it was made by the same people who made Go Potty Go, a favorite in this house.

The animated characters set up each live action clip, discussing how change can be hard in different situations, and then after the clip they discuss what the child did right. Each situation followed the same formula: look, listen, and stay calm. Included with the DVD are flash cards of each of these three concepts, so that the parent can use them with their own child.

I liked that each situation showed a very common transition problem that kids will deal with on a weekly, if not daily, basis. One showed a teacher asking a girl to put away her clay because it was time to move on to a different activity. Another showed a boy upset because he wanted an apple for snack time, but there were no apples left. In another clip, a girl was sad because her friends wanted to play a game she didn't know.

In each case, the children showed that they were sad, but then modeled the appropriate behavior. The animated characters always validated the feelings of each child, letting the audience know that it's OK to feel sad or mad, but that you need to listen to your parents and teachers and handle the situation in a calm manner.

Cordy likes this DVD, although just like the Kibbles DVD she never asks for it, yet watches quietly when it's on. At first, I didn't think she was getting the message, but then I saw her playing with her little sister one day, and I overheard her saying, "...use your ears to listen, and stay calm," while she modeled the hand motions. Apparently she understood more than I thought she did.

This is a short DVD, about 15 or 20 minutes in length, and it packs a lot of information into that time. Each situation is quick and to the point, followed by a description of what the child did correctly, and then on to the next clip. My only complaint is that there is just one song in the program. It's a good song about change, but it is played at the beginning and then again after every two situation clips. I got tired of that song before the end of the first viewing.

I think this DVD is a good tool to help children on the spectrum learn to cope with transitions and change. Seeing children model the appropriate response to situations helps them think about the right way to approach a situation. In a sense, it provides them with a script to follow, and scripts can be comforting to children with autism.

Skill-Building Buddies is made by Mazzarella Media and can be purchased directly from their website. Parent Bloggers will also be giving away a copy by leaving a comment on their post about these DVDs.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

your link to Mazarella Media no longer works but thanks for the review. Maybe they are no longer in business. though their DVDs are available elsewhere.