Understanding the Iceberg Model of Childhood Behavior

An adult speaking to a teenage boy in a calming wayBehaviors are the result of the interactions of two things: the characteristics we possess as people and the characteristics of the situation we face. The theory behind the iceberg model of childhood behavior is that there are many things that influence the way that children act and react: skills, knowledge, experience, social role or values, self-image, traits, and motives. Some (the most conscious) of these characteristics can be seen outright – “above the water,” if you will. The more subconscious or unconscious characteristics are the ones working behind the scenes — “underwater.” It is a mixture of all of these characteristics that will shape a child’s behavior—meaning that the cause of the behavior won’t always be apparent.

The tip of the iceberg—the conscious characteristics that children have in their toolbox—are skills, knowledge, and experiences. Skills represent what children can do innately or things they have learned to do over time. Knowledge is what they know or have come to understand as they’ve grown. This knowledge is shaped by their experiences, which help build both the knowledge and skills available to them in their personal toolboxes.

Under the water, however, are the unseen forces that can shape their behaviors. This portion consists of four large components: their social role and values, self-image, traits, and motives. Continue reading “Understanding the Iceberg Model of Childhood Behavior”

Inclusive marketing: How to subtitle videos on a budget

If you want to learn more about inclusive marketing best practices, download our guidebook!

"CC" in word cloud, the symbol for Closed CaptioningWhen it comes to making your marketing inclusive for people with disabilities, one of the biggest difficulties is subtitling videos. In a small nonprofit, you don’t have the budget to be able to pay someone to create subtitles for all your videos (we’ve tried it, and boy, can it be expensive!), and you certainly don’t have the time to transcribe all your videos or the video-editing software to then add those transcriptions to your video. This is a real challenge, and one we’ve faced first-hand at PYD.

But lucky for you, there’s a solution! Over the course of our dealing with this challenge, we’ve come across a strategy that is free, quick, and easy for anyone to do, regardless of your technological know-how or background.

Continue reading “Inclusive marketing: How to subtitle videos on a budget”

Youth and Family Disability Resources: June 2016

It’s June, so it’s starting to warm up! Take a look below for some festivals, outdoor movies and concerts, and new resources along with some other free fun events.

Picnic and Lawn Games with Path-Way
Saturday, June 11, 11:00AM-3:00PM — Mayor Thomas Menino Park, Charlestown, Ma
Bring your family and friends to Thomas Menino Park on June 11th, and enjoy some of   PATH-WAY’s favorite   lawn games to include Cornhole Toss, Adaptive Mini Golf, Wheelchair Slalom, Giant Jenga, and so much more. There will be some food options, or you may bring your own picnic lunch. If interested, please contact stephz@path-way.org, or go to www.path-way.org.

Inclusive by Design Concert
Saturday, June 18th, 7:00 PM — Sheraton Hotel, Dalton St. Boston
You are cordially invited to attend an Inclusive by Design concert featuring legendary New Orleans bluesman Henry Butler this June in Boston at the Americans for the Arts Conference. Guitarist Noé Socha will open for Henry. Nancy Ostrovsky will create a large mural during the concert in a performance art style to provide a visual art expression. American Sign Language and Audio Description and captioning will also be employed to broaden the scope of participation. Tickets are Free. Continue reading “Youth and Family Disability Resources: June 2016”

Rivka’s Report: Using technology to embrace affinities in kids with autism

For those new to PYD, Rivka Barrett served as our Ambassador of Mentoring in 2014-2015, and she’s stayed involved as a PYD board member since moving on. Currently, she’s working for an awesome new service for youth with autism, and wants to share a little bit about it so PYD families can take advantage!

After I graduated from college in 2012, I spent two years in the academic and healthcare sectors, planning to eventually get my Ph.D. But one day, I decided to try something new.

In June 2014, I went to a forum on mentoring for youth with disabilities where I met Steve and learned of an opening at PYD for an AmeriCorps Ambassador of Mentoring. I applied, and luckily got the position! Through Steve, I began to learn about blogging and social media, offering me a new outlet to share resources and connect with the PYD community.

I’m now doing social media marketing for The Affinity Project, an assistive technology startup in Cambridge working to help families with ASD. The Affinity Project was founded by Ron Suskind, who wrote the bestselling book Life, Animated (which is now also a critically acclaimed documentary!), about his autistic son, Owen. Owen used his affinity for Disney movies to communicate with, and make sense of, the world around him.

In response to his book, Ron received a huge outpouring of stories from parents who had similar experiences with their children, or who wanted to know how to embrace their child’s passions as pathways for connection. Inspired to help others, Ron gathered a team of leading technologists and researchers to begin building Sidekicks – a fun online service that is helping families connect with and teach autistic kids through their strong interests, like Disney or LEGO.

Many children with autism have strong interests – or, as we like to call them, affinities – such as cars, trains, maps, math, robots, animals, and animated movies. Historically, doctors and therapists have suggested limiting access to affinities, on the grounds that they’re obsessive. But now many leading researchers are beginning to explore affinities as pathways for communication and connection. We’re finding that, in the case of animated movies, many kids find it easier to identify emotions in animated characters, whose facial expressions are more exaggerated than in real life. And ASD kids often appreciate the predictability of watching the same movies over and over.

Several of our staff have friends or loved ones with autism. And Owen, who has served as an advisor with our company, inspired the name of our Sidekicks service. As other kids jumped developmental hurdles, Owen noticed himself being left behind. He coped by taking on the role of a sidekick, the kind that helps the hero on his path. And in his words: “No sidekick gets left behind.”

The Affinity Project hopes to give ASD kids their own sidekicks so they can be the heroes. Our service involves three characters: the parent or therapist (the Coach), the Sidekick (an animated avatar) and the child with autism (the Hero). Here’s how it works:

Interested in trying it out? If your Hero loves Star Wars, Toy Story, or Harry Potter (and many other movies!), sign up for Sidekicks’ free Pilot Program at www.sidekicks.com. Or if you’d like to learn more, contact Rachel Verner directly at rachel.verner@theaffinityproject.com.

Youth and Family Disability Resources: May 2016

It’s May, so spring is finally here! Read on for some conferences, festivals, and all sorts of things to get us outside to enjoy the flowers and nice weather that is on its way.

Down Syndrome Advocacy Day-Boston
May 18th, 2016,  State House, Boston
The Massachusetts Down Syndrome Congress (MDSC) third annual Down Syndrome Advocacy Day encourages lawmakers to support critical policies and funding to ensure that all people with Down syndrome have opportunities to lead meaningful fulfilling lives in the community. This year the MDSC needs your help to raise awareness with your legislators about two new priority bills as well as critical funding needs. This year, the top priority bills are:

  • H. 3271 – An Act Concerning Nondiscrimination in Organ Transplantation, sponsored by Representative James Cantwell, which will prevent discrimination against anyone with an intellectual or developmental disability in need of an organ transplant.
  • H.1064/S. 672 – An Act Creating Higher Education Opportunities for Students with Intellectual Disabilities, Autism Spectrum Disorders, and other Developmental Disabilities, sponsored by Rep. Tom Sannicandro and Sen. Barbara L’Italien, which will bolster Massachusetts’ Inclusive Concurrent Enrollment Initiative (ICEI) to give 18-to 22-year-old students with disabilities higher education opportunities in an inclusive college setting with necessary services and supports.

If you are interested in this opportunity,  email timetospeakout@mdsc.org or visit their website. Continue reading “Youth and Family Disability Resources: May 2016”

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