Everyday life parenting a child with Autism, ADHD, Sensory Processing Disorder and Anxiety can be really exhausting. I knew I needed help and Amazon’s Alexa was the answer.
One of the biggest challenges we have in our house centers around routines, transitions, and daily living tasks.
Given that these tasks take multiple steps, lots of body movements and can be just plain challenging they exhaust me on my best days.
It takes a lot of prompts and reminders to get our child from point A to be B, let alone getting her to focus on the task that needs to get accomplished.
I get easily overwhelmed by the amount of things I need to get my child to do every day. Sure, I could do a lot of them for her but then she wouldn’t be learning how to do them herself. When I get overwhelmed, I get impatient with our daughter. I start to be more in a hurry and less willing to help my little-distracted butterfly from one task to the next. And our daughter knows it, it affects our relationship and destroys her self-confidence.
I decided I could use a little relief and some extra help. So, this exhausted mama decided to invest in an awesome assistant… meet Alexa.
You may have heard of Amazon Alexa and all the fun things she can do, she’s got games, news, music and more.
But, did you know that she can actually help you with your kids? I didn’t know that either.
Bonus: As a bonus for joining my weekly-ish newsletter, download a FREE printable, our daily Alexa plan and the ultimate list of family friendly Amazon Alexa skills and questions.
7 Reasons Why We Love Using Alexa to Help Our Child With Autism, ADHD and Sensory Processing Disorder:
1. It is great for practicing listening skills. We love that it gets our child to practice language skills by asking questions, waiting for a response and listening carefully.
Alexa doesn’t replace real-life interaction but I think it takes away a lot of the social pressure in communication. Our daughter practices listening, and be warned Alexa can talk fast. So, in kids especially with any auditory challenges that might make it more difficult to understand her.
BONUS: Download our free printable, the ultimate list of family friendly Alexa skills and questions and see how she can help your family.
2. No nonverbal cues to pick up on. In kids with Autism one of the challenges they can have is in reading nonverbal communication. With Alexa, there isn’t any non-verbal communication so our daughter is able to focus on waiting to hear what she says first, without having to try to interpret everything else around her.
3. Grows a love for learning. Our daughter loves facts and knowledge. It’s a great way for her to get information and learn new things. We love that it helps connect her learning at school to home. For example, she recently did a project on Abraham Lincoln and could ask Alexa, “Who was Abraham Lincoln?”
She can also ask Alexa for the definition of any word.
4. Alexa is screen free! (You can purchase a video option, we have a speaker only, the Echo Dot and the Echo Dot Kids). She loves to use technology and I love that this is a great non screen product. Screen time is often our safe haven. It gives us a sense of relief when we need it and helps us get through some really tough times. However, it’s easy to overuse. Sometimes, we have difficulty getting our child interested in things other than screened devices, so I love that this product not only challenges her to think but again doesn’t involve a screen.
5. We use it as a reward for completing tasks. Part of our behavior modifications at home usually involve rewards, it is amazing what positive reinforcement can do! Amazon’s Alexa games and questions have been a great way to reward quickly and easily after completing a needed task. Some of these I have built in automatically as in the routine example below, where I have added it into the task.
6. It makes some of our challenging tasks fun. Getting out the door in the morning is nothing short of a marathon in our house. Alexa has an app called Out the Door, which is super fun to do on mornings when we need a distraction. Even neurotypical kids can have a really hard time listening and doing what they are supposed to. Having an easy distraction from the not so fun task like brushing teeth (with Chompers by Gimlet) has been a lifesaver in our house, instead of our daughter focusing on not wanting to brush her teeth she’s focused on what Alexa is saying.
7. Relief. Alexa doesn’t solve everything, but for now, the novelty of new questions to ask and tasks Alexa does is really exciting. It reduces my number of prompts and helps get daily tasks done in a fun way. There is so much you can do with Alexa, keeping it fresh with our Ultimate List of Family Friendly Activities and Questions keeps her attention and gives me continued relief.
Related: Dear Autism Mom: It’s Just Hard
Using Alexa to Help a Child with Autism, ADHD and Sensory Processing Disorder
Executive function skills tend to be a struggle for a lot of kids that have neurological differences. Using Alexa skills to set up routines, reminders, and timers are a huge support in our house. Download our daily plan free printable with Alexa.
How to Use Alexa to Help with Your Child’s Routines
1. Think about your daily schedule. There are a lot of things that may be different but think about the routines of your family schedule that are the same. Pick out ones that are also a really big struggle, maybe where you feel overwhelmed or where your child struggles the most.
2. Create a plan and a schedule. Write out a list of times and activities. Maybe your child takes a bath or shower at the same time every day.
3. Decide if you to set it up as a reminder or a voice command.
In the Alexa app when you set up routines you can set them up two ways. In the morning, I have her morning routine set to play from in her bedroom as reminders. For example, when it’s time to get dressed Alexa says, “It’s time to get up and get dressed.” The next reminder is 15 minutes later, “If you are dressed you can ask Alexa to tell you a joke,” this is set up as a reward, and hence another reminder of you need to get dressed.
In the evening, I have our routine set as a voice command. So I will say “Alexa, time for a shower.” I have then set Alexa to respond with a random compliment and then she tells our daughter the next steps, which are, to go and get her pajamas and go to the bathroom.
TO HELP WITH TRANSITIONS:
Often, one of the hardest things to get our kids to do is transition from a task they are doing to another task. Or the even harder transition to something they don’t want to do. We use the option of setting a timer on Alexa to help transition. We either tell our daughter we are setting a timer or we will ask our daughter if she wants, 5 or 10 minutes more of the current task and set a timer based on her answer. It’s as easy as saying, “Alexa, set a timer for 5 minutes.”
Related: The Mysteries of SPD
TO REWARD FOR COMPLETING DIFFICULT TASKS
Some of the really fun options the Alexa has to offer we use as rewards. Our daughter’s therapist has us on a behavior modification plan that includes rewards. I keep a list of all the fun and funny Alexa questions and then give her one when she’s completed a task.
Some of the ones we enjoy are:
“Alexa, open Kid Trivia.”
“Alexa, open the box of cats.”
“Alexa, do you rap?”
“Alexa, tell me a superhero joke.”
Get our free daily plan with Alexa:
Are you using Amazon’s Alexa with your kids who have Autism, ADHD, Sensory Processing and Anxiety? What is one of the skills you love to use? Comment below.
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