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speech and language activities for travel

Speech and Language Games for Traveling

Vacations are wonderful times to make memories and experience new places. Likewise, these experiences offer unique opportunities to expose your child to new vocabulary and practice language skills in a new environment. Although the hours spent in a car or on a plane seem anticlimactic and dull, this time offers the perfect opportunity to mix fun and language practice to maintain skills while away from therapy. Check out this list of speech and language games for traveling that will keep children entertained while also practicing various speech and language skills.

Speech and Language Games for Traveling:

  1. I Spy: This traditional game is a great exercise to use adjectives and to target expanding a child’sSpeech and Language Games for Travel utterance length. A player can provide clues that include descriptive words or colors (e.g., “I spy something that is shiny” or “I spy something that is blue”). This is a great opportunity for repeated practice of the meaning of an “adjective” as well as for improving a child’s vocabulary.
  1. Category Game: The Category Game is an easy adaptation of the game Concentration that is more appropriate for the car. The Category Game involves thinking of one category/group of items (e.g., Disney movies) and then taking turns until someone can’t think of anything. This is a great vocabulary activity that targets enhancing a child’s lexicon and improving his or her word retrieval skills. As children become more advanced, the category can also be more difficult.
  1. The Picnic Game: The Picnic Game is a great way to exercise memory and pre-literacy skills. The Picnic Game starts with the phrase, “I’m going on a picnic and I’m going to bring…”. The first player picks an item that starts with the letter “A” (e.g., apple). The next person then recites what has been previously said, adding their own item that starts with the next letter of the alphabet (e.g., “I’m going on a picnic and I’m going to bring an apple and a banjo”). This game will test a player’s short term memory, as well as give him or her added exposure to the alphabet.
  1. Speech Sound Game: This game is similar to the Category Game, but rather than focusing on vocabulary, this game will target a child’s phonological awareness skills. To start, a player will pick a speech sound (e.g., “s”). Players will then have to think of words that start with that sound (e.g., “sit….sand….sun”). The first one who can’t think of a word is out. This game can be made more difficult by starting with just a random word (e.g., “pot”). Rather than thinking of words that all start with “p”, the next player will have to think of a word that starts with “t” (i.e., the last sound of the word that was said before). This is a great way to practice segmenting the sounds within a word, as well as give extra practice for producing certain speech sounds. Phonological awareness skills provide a foundation for later developing literacy skills.
  1. 20 Questions: This game is a great way to target receptive and expressive language skills. To begin a player will think of a person, place or thing and announce what category that is in. The other players will then ask yes/no questions in order to try to guess what the player is thinking of within 20 questions. This game requires answering with a reliable yes or no, as well as using a variety of vocabulary words to ask creative questions. 20 Questions can also be adapted to a variety of levels, making it as easy or hard for each player’s skills.

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NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

sensory strategies for road trips

Sensory Strategies for Road Trips

It would take five pairs of hands and feet for me to count the number of family road trips I embarked on as a child. My family and I would load up our van and drive everywhere; we explored everywhere from Florida to New York City!

Road trips, whether they be taken with family or friends, have been a staple of American culture for decades. There isSensory Strategies for Road Trips an undeniable appeal for many to take the adventure and see the beautiful country sides, mountain towns, and valleys that the United States have to offer. While many families can plan a road trip with no second thought, many other families have become mindful of the sensory demands that a road trip has on their child.

Road trips come with sensory demands in many forms: visual, tactile, auditory, proprioceptive and vestibular. Road trips also bring the possibility of car sickness. Nausea can be precipitated by head motion. Car sickness, specifically, is caused by the discord within the brain’s ability to process movement with visual input. For example, your visual system says you are moving as the landscape passes by; however, your body and the proprioceptive receptors of the brain say you are sitting still. As your sensory receptors cannot find a way to process both sides of the sensory input, your body begins to have a visceral reaction, leading to nausea.  Another example occurs as you are trying to read a book in the car; your eyes are stationary on the book while the fluid in your ear canals are moving as the car goes over bumps and the car accelerates/decelerates; your brain has difficulty in processing if you are moving or if you are stationary as the input it is receiving does not match up.

Worry not, though! Here are some sensory strategies to incorporate into this summer’s road trip agenda:

  1. If your child requires movement breaks, do not wait until you need a bathroom break to stop. Allow scheduled stops at rest areas or parks to stretch, jump and run. Though it may add time to your trip, it will be beneficial for your child as a means to regulate.
  2. If your child is visually sensitive, provide him with sunglasses or even an eye mask.
  3. Keep in mind that seatbelts can be difficult for children with tactile difficulties. Place a soft piece of cloth or invest in a seat belt cover to ease the tactile input.
  4. If your child is of age or weight, allow them to sit in the front seat to help ease motion sickness. Sitting in front helps to alleviate the vestibular input of bumps and hills in the road.
  5. Provide your child with calming or preferred music. Auditory input can be used to help “ground” your child and assist with self-regulation and even sleep.
  6. Set your child up for success with comfortable and preferred clothing. Be mindful of removing their outerwear, as well.
  7. Proprioceptive input via a weighted blanket will help to provide body awareness and grounding abilities to your child, serving as calming input.
  8. Provide your child with snacks and drinks as preferred. Nutrition and appetite have a great influence on your body’s ability to regulate and calm.


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NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

Road Trip Do’s and Don’ts for Children with Autism

Going on a road trip requires a lot of preparation for everything to go smoothly. If you have a child with autism, going on a road trip will require a little extra preparation, but it should not deter you from taking a trip. A little bit of extra preparation will go a long way to ensure a stress-free enjoyable ride.

Road Trip Do’s and Don’ts for a Child with Autism:

Road Trip Do’s:

  • Prepare. Have an itinerary for the time in the car. Plan scheduled stops along the way for Road Trip Do's and Don'ts for a Child with Autismrestroom breaks, meals, etc.
  • Know your route. This will help with any unexpected stops that may occur. Know where the rest stops are located and where you are planning on stopping to eat meals.
  • Bring your child’s favorite snack and toys. Be well stocked with a variety of snacks, beverages, and activities. Also buy some new activities that can be used if they lose interest in the other activities.
  • Find a social story about car trips. Even better write your own using pictures of various landmarks that your child will see on their journey. Read this story each day in the weeks and days leading up to the trip.
  • Prior to the start of your trip, take small shorter trips (in increasing length if necessary) to get your child used to being in the car for long periods of time.
  • Reinforce and praise appropriate car riding behaviors (e.g., give a preferred snack or access to a preferred toy). Or after a successful outing, stop at your child’s favorite restaurant for a reward.
  • If your child has difficulty using public restrooms, practice going to different restrooms before your trip.
  • Leave for your trip very early in the morning, or even drive overnight if possible so there will be less traffic and your child will be more likely to sleep for the first portion of the trip.
  • Prepare for the worst. Think of everything that could possibly go wrong and then come up with solutions for those situations. Of course you can’t plan for every possible scenario, but having a general idea of what to do when things go wrong will be helpful.

Road Trip Don’ts:

  • Don’t “wing it”. Preparation is key in having a successful road trip. When you are unprepared for the trip there is a bigger chance of something going wrong.
  • Don’t assume that just because your child does well in the car for an hour that they will do well with long trips. Prepare for the worst and have a plan in place if your child begins to get restless during the trip.
  • Don’t wait for problem behaviors to arise. If your child is doing a great job of riding in the car, let them know by either providing specific praise (i.e., “I love how you are sitting and playing so nicely.”), or give them a few bites of their favorite snack in addition to the praise.
  • Don’t show your frustration. Even in a very stressful situation, it is best to remain clam. If you child sees that you are upset, it is just going to make them more upset.

Whatever may happen, good or bad it is important to focus on the special moments that were shared with your family and all of the good memories that are created during the trip that you can reflect back on for years to come.

Click here for more travel tips for children with autism.

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NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!