“During any moment of any given day, I’m either obsessed with what I’m doing or bored with what I’m doing.”
–Student with Asperger’s explaining the difficulty navigating everyday activities.
Sōsh™ is the new word in social skills development. It is also a mobile application designed to help ‘tweens, teens and young adults improve social skills. Sōsh is especially developed to be used by individuals with Asperger’s Syndrome. Dr. Mark Bowers, a pediatric psychologist, in conjunction with a counseling psychologist, developed the application – moving social skills training into the high tech, mobile app world.
In this video blog, learn how to Relax using The Shredder to eliminate unwanted thoughts. It is a fun and effective way to relieve stress. The Shredder is available as a standalone app from the full Sōsh app for a fun and effective way to relax and reduce stress.
This approach to social skills has not been available until now. Individuals using the app learn to: practice conversation strategies, relax, pursue social opportunities, recognize feelings, make successful transitions, journal progress, eliminate negative thoughts, monitor behavior, and regulate speech volume, to name some of the many features. In fact, Sōsh contains over 60 well-designed and engaging screens of exercises, strategies, and practical information to improve social interactions.
With exercises, strategies, and a wealth of practical information regarding social skills, Sōsh will assist the user every step of the way. The Sōsh app is available in the iTunes app store. Visit mysosh.com for a full review of the app’s potential to improve social skills.
Dilemma: Summer is fun for kids and adults alike, and often a time for vacation and rest. It is also hot and there is plenty of unstructured time which can lead to concerning behaviors.
Everyday Solutions(s): Have at least some sort of structure to each day. Rest or down time is important and you need not structure all times of each day. The goal is to have a framework but also work with kids on learning to entertain themselves. Sometimes having a list of possible activities to choose from during free time can avoid boredom or reports of “nothing to do.”
Sōsh Approach: Use the Sōsh mobile app To Do feature so that the child knows his or her schedule for the day and can carry it (on an Apple device) and check in on the list instead of asking you what there is to do! Just take a few minutes to set up the list at the beginning of each day and save yourself lots of arguments and suggestions of how to fill the time that day.
The Sōsh™ Daily News is a new publication from Dr. Mark Bowers that is published each evening (usually around 5 pm EST) and combines the latest news and articles about social skills and autism spectrum diagnoses. You can read a recent issues by clicking the link below. If you like it, you can subscribe on the Daily News page. Or, you can follow Dr. Mark @MYSOSH on Twitter or click on the tweets feed to the right of this WordPress page. Enjoy the Sōsh™ Daily News!
Dilemma: Your child loves to play video games, portable game systems, use the computer, and/or watch television shows. Transitions away from screen time are difficult and create arguments.
Everyday Solutions(s): Limit daily screen time to 1-2 hours per day. Providing structure and alternative, physical activities helps to naturally limit screen time. Summer is a great time for swimming, camps, and other outdoor activities. You may also consider using a token box that can be purchased from Family Safe Media. This device attaches to the game console and allows electricity to the game system depending on the amount of tokens the child inserts into the device. You control the tokens and use them as rewards. Thus, completing a daily chore might be worth one token, which “buys” the child 15 minutes of game time. When the time is up, the device shuts off, which teaches the child to use his or her time wisely. It’s tough to argue with a machine when it is time to transition.
Sōsh Approach: Use the Sōsh mobile app Transition Timer. As stated above, the incidence of argument is substantially lowers when a timer rather than a caregiver makes the transition announcement. The child can also be encouraged to log his video game activity in the Sōsh Interest Log and can be rewarded for staying within your screen time guidelines or transitioning without incident. Further, having a child journal his or her strong feelings about transitions (once calm) can help to increase emotional awareness and self-control during future transitions. For an in-depth explanation of these and other effective transition strategies, check out this book.
Dilemma: Your child talks over others or otherwise interrupts what they are saying.
Everyday Solution(s): Correct the behavior in the moment with a verbal warning (e.g., “You need to wait your turn”), use a method such as 1-2-3 Magic to count instances of interrupting up to three incidents before giving the child a consequence, practice/role-play turn-taking (and turn the table so that you interrupt the child for perspective-taking practice), or read a story/write a social story about interrupting and its effect on interactions.
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Sōsh Approach: Use the mobile app to video record the child engaging in the behavior (i.e., interrupting) and then ask him or her to monitor how often it occurred using the Regulate >Tracking page of the app. Finally, open the Recognize > Feelings page of the app to document and archive the effect of the interrupting on the other person so that learning can generalize.
To learn more, visit www.mysosh.com.
Sōsh is the new word in social skills development. It is also a new mobile app that helps young people improve their social skills “in the moment.” Dr. Mark Bowers, a pediatric psychologist and app co-creator released the Sōsh app today– moving social skills training into the high tech, mobile app world. In addition to real-time, portable tips and tools for individuals with social skills difficulties, the mobile app also provides activities and feedback to parents, teachers, and therapists for guidance and review. For individuals ages 9 to 22 years old, difficulty with social interactions is a leading cause of stress and one of the most common calls for help. With exercises, strategies, and a wealth of practical information regarding social skills, Sōsh will assist the user every step of the way. The app is available in the iTunes app store. Visit www.mysosh.com for a full review of the app’s potential to improve social skills.
Welcome to the Sōsh blog dedicated to helping individuals improve their social skills. Stay tuned for weekly content updates.
Sōsh is an approach developed by Dr. Mark Bowers, a pediatric psychologist, that divides social functioning into five areas essential to social skills development and success: Relate, Relax, Reason, Regulate and Recognize. These “5R’s” serve as a road map for individuals who want to be social, but may have faced obstacles in the past; and also serve as a guide for parents, teachers, and therapists hoping to encourage and assist individuals with their social goals.
The Sōsh mobile app is available for “in the moment” social skills help and Dr. Bowers has also published his book: Sōsh: Improving Social Skills with Children and Adolescents. Visit www.mysosh.com for more information on these exciting developments.
I see that it has been about 6 months since my last post. I have some exciting developments that I will be sharing soon and I assure you that the past six months has been spent working tirelessly on some rather time-intensive projects geared toward helping improve social skills in the lives of children, teens, and young adults. I can’t wait to update everyone and I hope that it will be worth the wait. More to come…
Too often we give our children answers to remember instead of problems to solve.
By Carolyn Buchanan | December , 2010
What does Owen want for Christmas? That question begins arriving in my e-mail inbox every year right around this time from well-meaning relatives and friends. They’re looking for a suggestion of what to give my son to make their holiday shopping list more manageable. But they also want to find something he’ll get a kick out of. (The same sort of question pops up around his birthday, too.) This year, I’m trying a new answer: “Owen doesn’t need any more things. How about if you give him the gift of . . . you?
I’m suggesting to friends and family that they spend an afternoon with my son, sharing a hobby, an interest, or a talent of theirs that will make the day memorable and unique. “The gift of time is always the most important thing you can give to a child,” says Mark Bowers, Ph.D., a pediatric psychologist at the Ann Arbor (MI) Center for Development & Behavioral Pediatrics. “When children look back on their childhoods, they’re much more likely to remember events than objects.” In this article is a guide to offer to relatives and friends that they can use for connecting with your child. (You can also use it yourself with your nephews, nieces, or other children.) All of the suggestions we offer are budget-friendly! As always, it’s important to coordinate any plans with the gift-receiver’s parent in advance.
Read entire article here.
My recent contribution to a WebMD article for those parents raising a toddler. Thanks and kudos to Jennifer Soong for really covering all the bases eloquently on this topic.
When Dylan Bocanegra was three, he blamed the family’s cat, Bamboo, for practically everything, recalls his mom Eva-Marie Fredric, a producer in Los Angeles.
Crayon scrawled all over the living room walls? Bamboo did it. Plastic bottle flushed down the toilet? Bamboo did it. Smoke rising from the TV set? Yup, it was you-know-who.
“Like most toddlers, Dylan had a vivid imagination and told tall tales,” Fredric says. “Our cat became the scapegoat for everything he did.”
That was years ago — Dylan is now a teen. But some things never change — plenty of preschoolers, then and now, do like he did and stretch the truth.
Preschoolers (aged 3-5) are learning to grasp the line between reality and fantasy. Telling a fib or tall tale is not an unusual way to explore this boundary at this age. Parents are often hardwired to react hotly to what they see as a lie, but this may not always be the best way to handle the situation.
“At age 3, it’s often when parents will say, ‘Gosh, my child is lying. I don’t know what to do,” says Tanya Remer Altmann, MD, FAAP, pediatrician and author of Mommy Calls: Dr. Tanya Answers Parents’ Top 101 Questions About Babies and Toddlers. “But it’s a fuzzy line between what’s real and what’s in their imagination.”
Let’s say that your 3-year-old spilled milk on the floor. You ask, “Who spilled it?” and your child says, “Not me.” It’s not that your child is lying, Altmann says. She may wish she didn’t spill it, or if the spill took place an hour ago, she might not even remember spilling it.
Anyone under age 5 is too young to understand what a lie is, says Mark Bowers, PhD, pediatric psychologist in Ann Arbor, Mich. They don’t have the same cognitive capacity as a kindergarten-age kid who begins to learn the difference between right and wrong.
“You don’t have a future criminal on your hands because your child’s not ‘fessing up to spilling the milk in the kitchen,” Bowers says.
If you catch your child drawing on the walls, you may be tempted to confront her: “Are you the one who did this?” Chances are she’ll say “no” because she doesn’t want to make you mad or get in trouble.
It’s better to state what the rule is and offer a solution, Bowers says. For example, “We have a rule in this house that we only draw on paper. So why don’t we get some soap and you can help Daddy clean it up.”
To avoid accusations, he advocates a Columbo approach, or playing dumb. Within your child’s earshot, you can say: “Oh, I wonder how this milk got spilled? It would really be nice if somebody could help me clean it up.”
After your kid comes over and helps you, give him a high five for helping out.
“These are teaching opportunities to show your child what they should do in the future,” Altmann says. “Unless it’s really serious, stay away from punishment and turn it into a learning opportunity.”
Creativity is at a high point from age 3 to 5, Bowers says.
Imaginary play is part of a child’s natural growth and development. You start to see imaginary friends, superhero fantasies, wishful thinking, and talk about places your child has never been, like Disneyland. You can help nurture your child’s imagination while teaching them the importance of honesty.
Don’t worry if your child details a fictitious trip to Disneyland. Simply respond by saying, “Well, you know, we haven’t been to Disneyland yet, but if we did go, what would you want to do?”
“Whenever possible, have fun with them,” Bowers says. “Join them so they can pursue what’s in their imagination.”
Preschoolers often stretch the truth to get your attention. You can encourage your child to tell the truth, says Fran Walfish, PsyD, a child and family psychotherapist and author of The Self-Aware Parent.
One way she suggests is saying to your child: “You have such a wonderful imagination and when you say A, B, or C, I can’t always tell if it’s your imagination or if it’s real. The thing that is most important, that makes a person feel safe between two people, is when we tell the truth and always say what’s real.”
“It’s very important to be able to gently, without judgment, put accountability where it belongs,” Walfish says. “You have to bust your child in a nice way.”
Use language your preschooler can understand. For example, you might say: “It’s hard sometimes to tell Mommy that you did it. You say the cat did it because you’re worried about Mommy being mad at you. But you and I both know the cat can’t do it. I’m the kind of Mommy that wants to hear that you did it and then we can talk about other ways you can get my attention.”
Altmann recommends using positive phrasing. “Say ‘it’s important to tell the truth’ instead of saying, ‘Oh, you lied.’ I would urge parents not to say that,” she says.
Stay away from the negative stigma of calling your child a liar, Walfish says. It labels the child, makes her feel bad and that she has to hide things from you.
“You want to keep the connections open so that your child can tell you anything,” Walfish says.
You don’t have to wait for these types of situations to crop up. Bowers suggests reading books together that encourage honesty, such as The Boy Who Cried Wolf.
How did Fredric get her son, Dylan, to stop his fibbing? She used a cat hand puppet and a different voice to get him to ‘fess up to the truth.
At the puppet’s prompting, he admitted to things he did, apologized, and gave his mom a big hug. “It actually made him feel safe to tell the truth,” Fredric says. “He didn’t worry about getting in trouble.”
Tanya Remer Altmann, MD, FAAP, pediatrician and author of Mommy Calls: Dr. Tanya Answers Parents’ Top 101 Questions About Babies and Toddlers.
Mark Bowers, PhD, pediatric psychologist, Ann Arbor, Mich.
Fran Walfish, PsyD, child and family psychotherapist; author,The Self-Aware Parent.
American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry: “Children and Lying,” November 2004.
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With all of the much-deserved praise going around about the Temple Grandin movie (15 Emmy nods and 7 wins), I wanted to take a moment to review a less well-known movie titled, Adam. I recently had the opportunity to watch this film, and I loved it. The following description is taken from Wikipedia: Adam is a 2009 comedy-drama film written and directed by Max Mayer, starring Hugh Dancy and Rose Byrne. The film follows the relationship between a young man named Adam (Dancy) with Asperger syndrome and the woman of his dreams, Beth (Byrne).
What I appreciated about the film was the manner in which the actor playing Adam approached the character. It was refreshing to see a film about a person living with Asperger’s syndrome that was not sensationalized in the way in which Hollywood tends to portray individuals in movies. Instead, Adam offers the viewer a window into the inner world of an individual with Asperger’s in a respectful and accurate fashion. For example, during one scene Adam has climbed outside the window of Beth’s apartment to clean her windows for her. She does not expect to see him out there and yells due to being startled. Adam asks her why she yelled. She did not expect him to be there. He knew he was there all along, so why wouldn’t she? It’s rare to see a movie attempt to tackle Theory of Mind.
Although every person with Asperger’s Syndrome is unique and Adam’s character does not represent all people with Asperger’s, it is nice to see how this particular character copes with young adulthood, independent living, and romantic relationships. The music in the film is also very well done. In sum, if you have any interest in Asperger’s Syndrome then this would be a great film for you to watch. Feel free to post your thoughts on the film if you have seen it.
Parents often ask me whether their child’s behavior is typical or something more significant such as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). In my clinical experience, OCD is a term that is often misused in ‘pop’ culture. For example, I often work with parents who describe themselves as “OCD” because they are organized or meticulous in their everyday lives. These behaviors may be orderly or repetitive, but they do not necessarily indicate obsessions or compulsions. Another example is the junior high school or high school perfectionist I counsel who wants to have straight A’s and becomes upset if this does not occur. Again, this is not OCD although many individuals with OCD tend to have some tendencies toward perfection. Just because you have obsessive thoughts or perform compulsive behaviors does NOT mean that you or your child have obsessive-compulsive disorder. Many people have mild obsessions or compulsions that are strange or irrational, but are still able to lead their lives without much disruption. In the case of obsessive-compulsive disorder, these thoughts and behaviors cause tremendous distress, take up a lot of time, and interfere with friendships, school functioning, employment, or relationships. Thus, the amount of disruption that occurs and the amount of settings (at least two) that are affected in one’s life help to define true OCD from someone who is orderly, ‘anal,’ or a perfectionist.
When it comes to determining the presence of OCD in children, the following need to be considered:
Children and adolescents with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) suffer intensely from recurrent, unwanted thoughts (obsessions) or rituals (compulsions), which they feel they cannot control. Rituals such as hand washing, counting, checking, or cleaning are often performed with the hope of preventing obsessive thoughts or making them go away. Performing these rituals, however, provides only temporary relief, and not performing them markedly increases anxiety. Left untreated, obsessions and the need to perform rituals can take over a person’s life.
It looks like this:
The Sequence of OCD Symptoms:
1) Evoking Event
2) Obsessing Begins
3) Distress & Anxiety
4) Urge to Ritualize
6) Relief and Self-Criticism
While the onset of obsessive-compulsive disorder usually occurs during adolescence or young adulthood, younger children sometimes have symptoms that look like OCD. However, the symptoms of other disorders, such as ADD, autism, and Tourette’s syndrome can also look like obsessive-compulsive disorder, so a thorough medical and psychological exam is essential before any diagnosis is made. It is also important to note that OCD is an anxiety disorder, and in children, the symptoms of anxiety usually change over time. So a child with OCD symptoms will not necessarily have OCD as an adult. What is most important is to make environmental and behavioral changes to help reduce your child’s anxiety and provide support, yet do not give in to the anxiety or change your routine significantly in response to it. Remember, some anxiety is good..it tells us when we need to fight or flee. Making too many accommodations for your child’s anxieties will only serve to reinforce the fears. As the old saying goes: If you see a ghost in a graveyard, you should run toward it. This is the essence of exposure and response prevention treatment for OCD, which will be detailed in future blog postings.
Dr. Mark Bowers is a Licensed Pediatric Psychologist at the Ann Arbor Center for Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics in Ann Arbor, Michigan.