Fundanoodle and Autism

In honor of National Autism Awareness Month AND National Occupational Therapy Month we’ve asked our Occupational Therapists to tell us how Fundanoodle can be used with children on the Autism Spectrum. We’ve had such amazing feedback from the Autism community and hope to continue to develop those relationships!

“If you’ve met one person with Autism, you’ve only met one person with Autism.”

I love this quote, because we are all individuals with various strengths and weaknesses, it’s what makes the world go around. With that said, while no one person is like another, individuals with Autism do share some of the same strengths, preferences and learning styles.  Keeping that in mind, we are going to explore Fundanoodle, and discover why children who have Autism love it!

We know that children with Autism are better taught visually, because they tend to think in pictures or symbols.  As well, they thrive with consistency and structure.  And, we cannot forget that they are children, so they love to play! Play is an essential part of learning, but sometimes they may need our help interacting, organizing and planning.  Remember, a multi-sensory approach works best.

“If you tell me, I forget

If you show me, I see

If you involve me, I remember.”

Now, let’s explore how Fundanoodle provides these key components, making learning fun and engaging for children who have Autism.

Visual Supports:

  • Colorful pictures and symbols – From the colorful bead patterns and Magna Stix, to the appealing pictures of Max and Alphie’s adventures in the writing tablets, the visual stimuli is engaging, yet not too busy.
  • Familiar symbols such as “Stop” and “Go” signs provide starting and stopping points for letter formation.
  • Some children with Autism read very well and use Max’s written directions to form the letters, thus promoting independence with handwriting.

Structure and Consistency:

Our recommended multi-sensory approach to handwriting includes three steps:

  1. Build the letter with the colorful, resistive MagnaStix.
  2. Write the letter on the dry-erase board or in a tactile media such as cornstarch or flour.
  3. Perfect it on paper using the visual supports and guidelines that progress from boxes, to green and red top and baselines, to traditional, three-lined paper.

The Action Words used to depict the strokes are carried throughout the program, from the large floor pads designed for three year olds, all the way through upper case, lower case and cursive instruction.

Play:

Make time for fun and learning! Fundanoodle affords the opportunity to play for kids of all ages!

  • Get their “wiggles out” and promote proprioceptive and vestibular input, with Fundanoodle’s Muscle Mover Cards.  This is a great multi-sensory activity to address both large and fine motor movements.  Once your child performs the action on one side of the card, she can flip it over and write the letter on the opposite side of the card with a dry-erase marker. The Muscle Mover Cards are great to use in conjunction with the “letter of the day”.  So, if you are working on the letter S, she’ll slither like a snake over to the table, where she’ll then form the letter S with the MagnaStix, write it on the dry-erase board, and then in the writing tablet.  Some of the animal actions are great for your sensory seekers, while others work to calm and organize those children who may have sensitivities.
  • The I Can Bead, Lace, Rip, Trace Kit is full of hours of fun!  They won’t even know that they are hard at work improving their visual motor and fine motor skills, as well as organizing, planning and sequencing! It promotes nice tactile exploration, too!
  • I Can Pound Activity Block is the ultimate experience for promoting play, while developing critical skills! This is a favorite among the children that I work with!  The patterns range from pictures, to letters of the alphabet to numbers.  Demonstrate pounding a colored peg into the “dot” on the pattern and then have him pound away to create a colorful picture.  Many times, I will use this in an obstacle course or during a sensory break.  The pegs might be placed at one side of the room and the block is placed at the other side of the room.  He might get a peg, and crawl like a worm over pillows and through a tunnel to get to the board, where he then pounds the peg into the pattern. Or, because children with Autism do respond well to pictures, we might use the Muscle Mover Cards to imitate an action as we move from one side of the room to the other to get to the pounding block. The rote action of pounding, combined with the resistive nature of the block tends to be very calming for children with Autism.  This is a great activity to put in your cozy corner at school or home.

No two children are alike, but all children love Fundanoodle!  We make learning FUN!

Michelle Yoder, OTR/L

Don’t forget to enter our Favorite OT contest on Facebook. Michelle has our vote! 🙂

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