A set of ideas aimed at understanding the development of brain and cognitive ability of children. Of every opportunity that arises at every moment of everyday to foster the development of children, increasing their linguistic abilities, motor, sensory and intellectual.
The Mat2Brain model is a tool for activating and strengthening cognitive abilities. This stimulation project is developed in a multidimensional and systematic practice of cognitive abilities, with the purpose of activating and strengthening neural patterns involved in the process of codification, storage and retrieval of knowledge.
This model was thought and designed based on scientific, neurological, psychological and educational and once in development is susceptible of being reflected and improved through the experiences obtained with the application of the model. Based on the studies presented above, the article attempts before any application to perceive the competences, strengths, cognitive preferences and learning preferences so that the action becomes as directed as possible to the ultimate goal. With this we grouped a number of questionnaires and observation tables in order to make the first evaluation and consequent plan for the child and / or group. The Mat2Brain model allows continuous assessment of performance and select the type and complexity of tasks that best fit the cognitive outcomes of children. This allows you to continuously challenge each child's cognitive abilities so they can perfect their skills. It gathers cognitive data and provides a comprehensive exposition about performance. In this way, we can review the evolutionary, initial, current indicator and other cognitive abilities.

Robotization of human feelings and expressions to help people with ASD

Is this the end of all studies and all methodologies developed over time in the ecology of learning and socialization?

A Robot to teach autistic children to communicate...

Using a robot to teach humans to communicate may seem strange, but experts at the University of Hertfordshire are convinced that it is an asset to the learning of autistic children. The ability to simulate the expression of basic emotions, repeatedly and predictably, can provide good learning opportunities.

Kaspar is a robot with the size and appearance of a child, developed by a group of roboticists at the University of Hertfordshire. The reason for their existence are autistic children, was established to encourage the development of social skills and communication in autism, since these are the main difficulties of the people affected by the disruption of behavior.

The team will cover the doll with artificial skin and developing technology that allows the robot to interpret and respond to tactile stimuli. The aim is to make it able to respond to children in order to encourage behavior "socially appropriate" and discourage others. That is, the new Kaspar will be able to tell if your child is being very aggressive and respond appropriately. 

In my humble opinion
"You can never think of replacing learning with real people because no robot is able to simulate the quality of human interaction."

Structured teaching units for students with autism spectrum disorders


What are Structured Teaching Units

They are not, in any situation, plus a school class. All students have a reference attending class, taking advantage of Structured Teaching Units as a teaching resource of specialized schools or school clusters. These are a response to students with specific educational autism spectrum disorders and can be created at any level.

The teaching is structured in one of the most important aspects of teaching TEACCH model. The TEACCH model was the result of a research project which aimed to teach parents behavioral techniques and methods of special education to respond to the needs of children with autism. The philosophy of this model's main goal is to help the child with ASD to grow and improve their performance and adaptive capacities in order to achieve maximum independence throughout life. This model is flexible enough to suit the way you think and learn from these children / young people and allows the teacher to find the most appropriate strategies to meet the needs of each.
Through structured teaching is possible:
- Provide a clear and objective information of the routines;
- Maintain a calm and predictable;
- Meet the student's sensitivity to sensory stimuli;
- Propose daily tasks that the student is able to perform;
- Promoting autonomy.

Physical Structure
The physical structure is how to organize and present environment of space or teaching / learning. This should be structured so visually clear, with well defined borders and areas, allowing the student to obtain information and organize autonomously as possible, is essential for ensuring stability and foster learning.
The clear delineation of the different areas helps the student with ASD to better understand their environment and the relationship between the events, allowing you to more easily understand what is expected to hold in each of the spaces.

1 - transition area
2 - meeting
3 - learn
4 - work
5 - play
6 - working group
7 - computer

In Structured Teaching Unit can be created different areas. The existing space and the needs of students are at the base of the structure of space and the creation of which is deemed necessary.

Organisation of Time

The time organizes time and simultaneously is an effective support for communication and for the internalization of concepts. It is a way to provide students with the notion of sequence, showing you what will perform throughout the day, helping you in anticipation and prediction.

The time is made ​​on the basis of each student and can be adapted to various levels of functionality. Regardless of the functional level of each child / youth with ASD, the written word must be present at the times.

While the time inform the student about the sequence of activities that will occur throughout the day, the work plan indicates the tasks that has to perform in a given area. Must be adapted to the functional level of each student and presented from top to bottom or left to right, consisting of a reassuring routine which allows to acquire the notion of beginning middle and end.

Organization Area
The Transition Area is the amount where are the individual time that will guide the daily activities of each student. The visual cues provide information about where, when and what to do during the day or part of the day. You can plan a predictable way the many changes that occur throughout the day, helping students to overcome resistance to change or changes in routine, even in situations that may seem minor. Give students the notion of temporal sequence, facilitates the understanding of verbal orders, helps reduce behavior problems and develop autonomy.

The Learning Area is the area of ​​individualized instruction, clean distracter stimuli, which develops attention and concentration, while new skills and tasks are consolidated and worked with the student. Strategies are used demonstration, visual or verbal cues, physical assistance, positive reinforcement and also activities that meet the interests of the student.
The work plan should be visible (in the table) and the symbols that are presented on the boards of the assigned tasks, previously organized.

It is the area in which the student intends to perform activities independently learned. Each student must have their area of ​​work. Again, there is a work plan that transmits visual information to the student about what to do and what the sequence (each tray must correspond to a task with all the material necessary for its realization).

This is an area designed to develop activities, ensuring the planning and structure, promote communication and social interaction. The meeting may take place at various times of day, since all or most students are in the unit.

It is the area in which the entire group can work together to develop. Priority is given to the development of expressive activities such as music, arts and other, group games.

It is the place for:
- learn to relax;
- to short waiting times;
- allow esteriotipia;
- learn to play (in the presence of adult);
- working symbolic play.

This area can be used independently, with help, or in partnership, learning to wait, to give time and run a shared activity.

ASD - Help to connect socially

A growing number of individuals with Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASDs) are now educated in mainstream settings. The difficulties they have in relation to communication, social interaction and flexibility of thought can create problems for them in a school environment where sometimes their needs are not fully understood. A strong reaction to sensory stimulation can also make school a very stressful place. It is essential therefore that all school staff are aware of these needs in order to alleviate stress and maximize learning potential.

Many children with autism love to run, pick up objects, and move in the outside environment, although they fixate on these objects, reflections of light, shapes, and motions. The therapist or family member can use that interest to help the child connect socially.

First Contact
In phase one, a child with autism may rock back and forth, singing endlessly, chanting rhythms, humming, watching lights, following images and reflections in the outside environment. In order to avoid eye contact and interactions with others, a child with autism may pace around the playground, spin in circles, and collect objects and place them in a row or nearby; he allows no one to touch them. The phase one child lacks the ability to use language to engage and recruit others, produces no language in full sentences to express ideas and emotions, and uses objects to manipulate without the intention of play with others. He cannot sequence ideas to create a narrative form that tells a story in play. He is isolated in a limited, nonsocial world with little access to the world of relationships. 

Strategy 1 : Experience What the Child Experiences 
Join the child in his own experience by listening to and echoing his sounds, as well as those in the environment. Move closer to him in a calm, playful way, making comments about any actions or sounds in the situation. Sometimes have to move right next to the child and offer a toy or an object like a feather. If he seems anxious, sings repetitively, or exhibits negative behaviors like screaming, may have to wait to offer him an object. At other times need to remain more distant and stay silent before attempting to move near the child. In order for him to experience the feeling of being with another person, observe and wait, watching his gestures and sounds, even if he turns away.

Strategy 2 : Move into the Child’s Play Space 
A typical child will create a space where he wants to play, move objects, and interact with a peer. The typical child will move his body so that he faces the other child, places his objects in the center or near the center of his play area, and begins play actions toward the other child, or toward the main object of interest. The play space is the area that surrounds the two children and defines where they’ll play. One child might move a toy horse toward a barn that he places in the center of the space between himself and his peer.
While a typical child creates this play space, a child with autism will have no idea how to define this area, or where it begins or ends to include others. The child with autism may have sensory issues, may overreact to sounds and to visual stimuli, and become confused in a disorganized area. In contrast to the typical child, his play space may consist of one small area surrounding him; it includes no one else. He will protest if anyone gets too close to him or moves his toys; he doesn’t have the concept of how to create a place to play with another child.
One way for this play space to include others is to place a small rug or mat in front of the child, and to set up simple objects that may interest the child. Since children with autism are visual learners, the visual space needs to be clear and not too busy with too many objects only one or two objects of high interest. Another way to introduce a more flexible play area is to enter his limited play space gradually.
Use an object that is identical to the child’s object, playing with actions near the child and slowly moving the object closer to him. This act of moving into a play space is complex and takes time; however, it is the beginning of helping the child join and feel the presence of another person. This technique is more effective than taking a child’s toy away, which usually causes screaming and tantrums. However, in some cases, touching the object or asking for it is another way to engage with an isolated child who refuses to acknowledge another’s presence.

Strategy 3 : Listen to Each Detail of the Parents’Stories
Parents’ descriptions of their child’s behavior often gives opportunity to support them as they begin the long and difficult intervention process.
By listening the description of his son’s behavior:
- screaming when someone comes near him, hoarding his trains -
Hears both his desperate need to relate to his child and child’s efforts to control and preserve his comforting environment in the corner. Understand and openly acknowledge this tension between the father and the son, joining him as he learns how to support the child.
The parents become the most important advocate and teacher for their child, since they are with their child more than any specialist. Parents often become experts on the methods and they know what methods work with their child. They need respect and support in this journey of helping their child. The progress of the child and the development of the relationship motivate parents to keep working. Sometimes the progress is slow and the therapist needs to support them during these times of discouragement. There will be times of frustration and times when a parent doesn’t understand what to do next. The therapist has to be honest about the progress, explain the goals, and support the parents in every session After see that the parents realize that we understand their frustrations and disappointment in their child, work on finding the best way to interrupt the child’s fixations on certain agendas, patterns of play, and particular objects. We do this work together.

Strategy 4 : Interrupt the Child's Fixed Patterns of Play
If a child continues to cry, have tantrums, and refuses to connect, or if he resists any contact, then try to be sensitive to the basic behavioral principles of rewarding the positive behavior and ignoring the negative. When prompting a child with sounds and words to get him to imitate, use a reinforcement such as a smile or gesture of approval to the child only if he is just beginning to whine or point or fuss about not getting an object, or if he doesn’t have the word or the sound in his vocabulary for the particular situation. In this case, engage in sound play with positive gestures and play with the child.
However, in some cases, if the child is about to go into a full tantrum or meltdown, must either leave the child alone or wait and ignore the behavior until he is quiet. Even if the child is only quiet for a few seconds, may reward him with praise or a positive word at that moment. try to find the delicate balance between giving the child a word or some positive sound play when he needs it, and ignoring behaviors that are completely inappropriate. As the parents watch, they learn when to reward the child with praise. Once parents see a tiny successful response from their child, they begin to have hope. They join us and we collaborate. Teach them to observe the child’s gestures (such as moving an object with intention); body language (such as moving closer to someone); or sound production (such as giggling) - so that they know whether their child wants to play.

Strategy 5 : Help the Child to Feel the Presence of Others by Using the Environment


Who is it for? Early Intervention (EI) is intended to pre-school children, showing changes in their psychomotor development or are in situations of high risk to have. A child is at risk when exposed to situations of biological or environmental, that can interfere with normal development.
Examples of biological risk factors are prematurity and growth retardation intrauterine asphyxia or infections that occur especially during childbirth or during the first days of birth. Poverty, low social / cultural and family psychopathology, are examples of environmental situations that put children at risk, are associated with a slower development and therefore require EI.

Why intervene early?  
There are several reasons to intervene as soon as possible:

1. It is known that the development and human behavior can be changed by environmental influences, positive and negative. Genes and environment interact dynamically during development, providing both power and growth potential, as well as risk and dysfunction. Hence the importance of a healthy and stimulating environment.

2. The scientific research suggests a neurobiological basis for EI, related to the so-called "plasticity of the nervous system," in which the brain behaves more "malleable" and is more susceptible to learning when stimulated. The younger a child is most able to respond positively to stimulation.

3. Risk factors and disabilities, have the potential to exacerbate or lead to the onset of secondary disabilities. A hearing not corrected, will lead to a delay in speech and language that can become irreversible even if the deafness is corrected later.

4. Parents of children with or at risk, may need professional support to establish the appropriate parenting skills. No one is truly prepared to have a child with problems and this situation is usually needed help.

What is Early Intervention?

In practice EI is the provision of services directed to children and families, with the aim of reducing the effects of risk factors or developmentally disabled child. The EI can thus be better when a remedy or preventive development problem when prevents or reduces the occurrence effect.

EI services to be provided by interdisciplinary teams with professionals from education, health and social service, in order to meet the range of problems these children and families present.
The type of support that a healthy child, who lives in a family where the mother is illiterate and the father is an alcoholic needs is understandably different from that is suitable for a child with a severe disability, the daughter of parents without socio-economic problems.

Other important aspects to take into account that the EI is provided in accordance with "best practices" are: 

Intervention "family-centered."  
EI services should not be directed solely to the child and its problems. In young children, it only makes sense that the work is done with the family in order to engage and to improve their skills to deal with your child.

Intervention of "community base"
Whenever possible, the EI should be provided by teams working in the community as opposed to EI working in large centers, where parents have to travel to obtain services. This shift may nevertheless be necessary for diagnostic or therapeutic interventions more sophisticated. Make a test or go to a query development or genetics, for example.

EI in "natural settings".
Shall be provided in areas where children are usually (kindergartens, nurseries, childminders or home) and not in Special Education Institutions. Children with special needs have the right to make their learning integrated into non-segregated environments.

The Early Intervention Work?
After years of research, evidence, either quantitative or qualitative, that EI not only accelerates and enhances a child's development but also improves family functioning and reduces the cost of society with special education and other rehabilitative services. The first EI programs, only worried about the child's development and acted perspective medical therapy.
Currently, they have a more social approach. They are now also considered important objectives of the EI, improving the knowledge and the autonomy of families, in order to deal with the problems of their children.