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Songs for Building Social Skills
My Turn, Your Turn is a musical CD of Songs for Building Social Skills. There are fourteen fun tunes to listen to with your children at home or in the car. This is the seventh CD from singer-songwriter-musical therapist Cathy Bollinger.
This is my first experience with one of her CDs, and it is thoroughly enjoyable with singables songs with children and adults part of the chorus. It is great to play in the background while kids are playing in the room. I must admit I know most of the words to all fourteen songs and sing my favorite throughout the day - You Say I Say. I never realized that the lyrics are included in the CD jacket, but this is helpful for reinforcing the messages within the songs and make sure I know the words correctly.
Matthew has shown great interest in staying in the room while My Turn, Your Turn is playing. He is skipping around the room smiling and getting up close to the boombox to listen intently to certain songs. If I am in another room he comes in and guides me back to the boombox to replay the CD again. It might be time to teach Matthew how to utilize the boombox. He figured out the VCR by himself and Nicholas taught him how to use the remote control.
The music titles are perfectly suited for social skill building and very clever. There is a wide range of ages of boys and girls singing the songs, which is appropriate for all age groups and functions of children along the Autism Spectrum. I brought the CD with us on one occassion for Nicholas's social skills training class so they could listen while building gingerbread houses, but did not plan ahead with the facilitator and they never got to playing it.
I did discuss it with Matthew's Dietitian and will be bringing along My Turn, Your Turn to his feeding therapy session so we can have it on in the background. It helps when the focus is not always on watching him eat, he does better when we have discussions while he is eating, so I believe the music will pique his interest and make the sessions run smoother.
People Like It When I Say Hi - This song emphasizes how the child can bring happiness to other people by starting a conversation with a simple and easy Hi or Hello. There are examples of children singing how they can say Hello to someone in the hallway, meeting someone new and even the busdriver. The children and Cathy engage in rhyming exchanges with guitar playing in the background. They all end with saying bye and see ya later.
You Say I Say - I like the instruments playing softly in the background and especially the chorus. This is one song I cannot get out of my head - "You say I say, that's the game we play, You ask, I ask, back and forth we play." The words guide children along in a conversation going back and forth maintaining the discussion. For example, asking what someone's favorite food or toy is. The conversation is started by saying Hi and asking a question.
My Turn, Your Turn - This is a song about sharing toys or items and asking first before taking your turn. This teaches children to wait and share between friends. The phrases the children sing guide kids to utilize taking turns with others.
I Can Say Excuse Me - This tune is giving kids ways to speak to a parent or adult when they are engaged on the phone or in another conversation. Examples are of Moms and teachers who are already in a discussion, so the way to get your turn is to say excuse me, with the emphasis on just one time to get an answer and wait your turn. This makes the adult or other person happy that the child is learning to be polite. Two Moms meet up and start up a conversation with a child interrupting as the example. The Mom makes a point of saying "thanks for waiting".
Help Somebody Out - This song covers what children do everyday and how they can help others at the same time. An example is to hold the door open for another person, pick something up another person has dropped and do the dishes. This is a nice tune with fun background instrumentals that fit the chorus. It is easy to whistle along to this song.
Who When What - This is one of the longer songs with children learning what to do when they don't understand something at school. The who is addressed as the teacher, the when deals with when the child can ask for help with the what being the specifics. The lyrics guide the listener through the steps with examples of asking a parent for help when they are on the telephone.
It's Okay That Sometimes I Don't Understand - This song deals with how children learn and ask questions. This could be asking for something to be repeated or for someone to speak slowly. All the songs follow a pattern so that you can utilize what you learned in the previous song and it all flows through perfectly.
Save a Little Bit For Later - This is a great song to help a child that might obsess on one topic and teaches them to save some of the discussion for another time. The example is for three weather facts, something my son Nicholas is very interested in as well. The girl Allison in this song is also ten. Parents can use this song to help guide their child in changing subjects and to notice when someone might not be interested in what they are saying.
The song does not address boredom, but the parent can focus on this as a reason why the child can mention three items before giving the other person a turn to discuss their topic of interest. The lyrics explain to the child that it can be tough to stop when they have so much to say, but it can be done.
I Like Movies So Do You - This song expands on the favorite topics the child has, but making the conversation about what everyone likes. The examples would be asking what a favorite movie is or a sport all participants enjoy. The children share what they like about lions and seeing them at the Zoo. Listeners are prompted to start a conversation about something they like and ask another person if they do as well and keep the topic flowing back and forth.
Can I Play Too - When there are times you want to play with other children you can start by saying Hi and asking if you can play with them in their game or project. The examples within this song include engaging with other children during recess. Children are reassured that if the response from others is no that it is okay and to try again with someone else. " But until I ask I'll never know" There is also the choice to play alone today.
Remember Look Towards Their Eyes - This song subtly goes over eye contact and maintaining looking at a person when you are talking with them. I am not one to force eye contact with either of my children, but this is done in an easy manner without making an issue out of it. This is more of a reminder to look " face to face" because it makes someone feel good when you are looking at them as you are carrying on a conversation.
Looking towards their face lets you also see if the person is smiling at you, which will be nice feedback to the child, plus they can smile if they want to. The lyrics go on about how a smile makes each person feel. This tune can be expanded on with parents and professionals instead of just insisting to look at another person. Here the reasons make sense and will get better results from the child on the Autism Spectrum.
Sometimes I Feel Angry - Here the children learn other ways to deal with their anger and feelings. The lyrics mention, " Banging my head like a drum on the wall". Instead of attempting this children can take a deep breath or two, talk to someone about their feelings. The other day after an exhausting outing with Matthew upon returning home Nicholas drew some photos in a notebook to show how he was feeling about Matthew screaming in the store. This is another idea for a child that likes to express themselves through art. Another example within the song is to count to ten, which would be good for children to do together as a learning process to feel better and share coping techniques.
Please And Thank You - This song starts off by reinforing what we have learned prior to this tune, like saying Hi and taking turns. These words are good to say to finish the conversation and start when asking for something. This song is done like a cha cha and very fun to listen to. Matthew likes this song the best. He shakes his magazine to the cha cha shaking of the instruments playing in the background. " Manners are important let's learn them right away"
Everyone Has Strengths to be Proud of - This song focuses on the strengths each child has. The children share with being a good listener, building legos, being a loyal friend and baking cookies. The emphasis is on having our own gifts that we can share with others. " Everyone has their own gift to share, You be my light, I'll be your guide, Together we'll walk side by side"
Lots of these ideas shared in the vocals from My Turn, Your Turn are taught in the social skills training that Nicholas attends. This would be a great tool for parents to reinforce that learning in the car and at home. Children that are in support groups could listen and learn from this CD also. This helps children know they are not the only ones who may be experiencing trouble in one of these areas and get tips on how to cope with feelings and initiate conversations and wait more patiently.
My Turn, Your Turn is available at www.rivannamusic.com along with the other CDs entitled - Toddlin' Tunes, Singing Sounds, Singing Words, Tunes That Teach and From a Mother's Heart. These CDs would make wonderful gifts for families with a child on the Autism Spectrum for therapists to purchase for their clients to listen to in the background and for clinics to have for playing in the waiting room. Teachers can use the CDs for circle time.
These everyday tasks are taught through steps with music making it enjoyable to learn and build upon social skills. The CD includes a list of tips for parents and teachers. They inclue talking about the messages between songs, reinforce messages during real life situations and to play the songs at different times throughout the day.
We will certainly be getting some of the other CDs for our home collection. Rivanna Music accepts paypal. The cost currently for the CDs is $15.98 - a great deal for the whole family to enjoy while out and about doing daily activities.
My Turn, Your Turn was produced in collaboration with Dr. Jeffrey Weisman, the creator of the Ultimate Learning for Kids software series. There are seven children, ages 7 to 13, singing on My Turn Your Turn, including fourth-grader Josh Tucker, who was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome at 3 1/2.
Bollinger attributes her ability to reach out and connect with autistic children through her songs to the support and encouragement of Josh and his parents, Bill and Elly Tucker. Many of the songs written by Bollinger for this CD came at the suggestion of Elly and the OASIS Network, an online support group for parents of autistic children.
For more information visit - http://cdbaby.com/cd/cathybollinger
To visit OASIS - http://www.udel.edu/bkirby/asperger/
It is also available on amazon
An Impression of autism from a kid on the spectrum
Choosing a Camp for a child with Autism
Rules for a Respite Worker
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