How to improve eye contact and social development in your child


Thank you to the K family for allowing me to post these pictures of AK and NK….and also thank to my colleague Nancy for bringing her tunnel to our session.  As I stated in a previous post…it is so important to me to co-treat when possible with my colleagues…Nancy is a special education teacher…and also an ABA teacher…she works with NK…he presents with an Autism Spectrum Disorder and I work with AK…he presents with expressive and receptive language delays.  Our goal..when we co-treat is to help these twin boys desire to play with one another…to increase their play skills…to improve reciprocity during play…to improve social language…to increase NK’s desire to want to play near (parallel play) AK…to play with AK…and to eventually seek out AK.  Often times…children on the spectrum have difficulty with regard to their desire to be social…to have the ability to be social and interact with peers and others…and to have the verbal or non-verbal language to interact with their peers. 

What I have learned over the many years working with other ABA therapists is that pairing yourself with a desired object/toy/activity helps children on the spectrum to desire to interact with you….of course the desire may be for the object/toy/or activity….however…if you are able to encourage the little one’s desire to be near or with you because of the activity…the pairing will help to improve the back and forth during play…will help to improve language (whether verbal or non-verbal)…and will help to improve social skills.  So Nancy brought her tunnel in…and both boys were or appeared very excited about this activity.  Nancy and I then encouraged the two boys to go inside of the tunnel…it was great to see AK saying hi to his brother..and NK making a verbal attempt to say hi to AK….the closeness inside of the tunnel encouraged eye contact between the two boys…and the mesh-netting on the tunnel allowed the boys to peek through and then make eye contact with us!! Great!  Next, we handed AK a small ball….and asked him to “give to NK“…he did….NK accepted it…and then we gave one to NK…and asked him to “give to AK“….he did….great to see both of them following this simple direction…great to see the back and forth of just passing a ball to one another…great to see the eye contact they made during this activity…and wonderful to hear the laughter between them.

Simple activities such as this are just amazing for encouraging eye contact and social development.  Very little language demands were placed upon the boys…the tunnel is what we used to pair ourselves with the boys…to encourage them to desire to interact with us but more importantly with one another. 

Thanks again Nancy! And thanks to the K family!!

About Kim

My name is Kim Marino and I have been practicing as a licensed speech and language pathologist since 1993. I work on Long Island providing diagnostic evaluations and services to children from birth to age 21. My experience is vast and am proud to say that I work with children that may present with articulation and phonological concerns, oral motor feeding concerns, Down Syndrome feeding, cognitive rehabilitation, auditory processing delays, receptive language delays, cleft palate feeding and sound development and expressive language delays. Most importantly, I am the mother of four amazing children and am happily married to my childhood sweetheart. I feel blessed to have my four children and so lucky to share this journey in life with my husband. I always had it somewhere in my head that I wanted to develop a blog or a website of some sort so that I could provide families with an additional that parents could help their little ones become a better communicator. And as I was developing this blog....I realized that I also needed to share the stories about my life and my children....and the funny things along the way that help to keep me smiling. Whether you are a working mother or not...finding balance between home, children and life can be a challenge....I hope that my blog helps to bring a smile to your face..and also some tools to help you help your little or big one. I hope you enjoy! Kim
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2 Responses to How to improve eye contact and social development in your child

  1. teresakay6 says:

    we have to start setting up a video camera KIm,, I am missing all of these adorable moments! Thank you for the pictures for your enthusiasm!

    • Kim says:

      That’s a fabulous idea! We talked about that last time I saw you. Nancy and I will try to overlap on Thursday’s. So maybe have video camera available for next week. 🙂

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