One of my secret weapons when working in-home! I have yet to come across a child with autism who isn’t fascinated by ice. I like to start by placing 3-5 ice cubes in 2 zip-lock bags; 1 for myself and 1 for the child.. This naturally builds in an element of imitation for the entire activity.
- Imitating actions on objects: As ice cubes are generally start off too large to fit into your child’s mouth, you can smash the ice-cubes (in the bag) with your spoon or against the table and have your child imitate you.
- Imitating oral-facial movements: Place the ice-cubes in your mouth or on your tongue, move the ice-cubes around and see if you child can do this. You can also try different ways to bite the ice-cubes (for example; big slow bites, quick little bites etc). A great idea for children who are delayed in speech and need to practise moving the muscles in and around the mouth.
- Temperature (cold): Take an ice cube and briefly touch your child’s skin with it. Combine this with the word “cold!” as well as a shivering action to teach your child the concept of cold.
- Science: One for the older children. Have your child help you pour water into an ice-tray or mould, wait till it freezes and ask your child to help you get the ice. Don’t worry about explaining why water turns into ice. Instead, just point out that ice is made from water when it becomes “really cold”. You can then follow this up with sequencing (see below).
- Sequencing (first/then): If your child understands that ice is made from water, you can ask them to teach you how to make it using “first/then” language (e.g. first pour water, then put in freezer, then eat the ice). You may also consider drawing each step of the process on paper, cut it up and ask your child to arrange the pictures into the correct order.