Last updated on April 19, 2014 at 1:20 EDT

Father of autistic boy creates an innovative approach to therapy that’s bringing children to the table – literally.

August 28, 2012

ELKINS PARK, Pa., Aug. 28, 2012 /PRNewswire-iReach/ — Thursday, August 30, will mark the launch of Be Like Buddy, a new online video series for children with autism that’s already getting impressive results.

(Photo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20120828/CG63785)

“We wanted to create an educational program that children with autism and similar challenges would enjoy watching, and a title character that was smart and silly – and autistic!” says series creator Dan Kalinowski. “Making it fun removes barriers to therapy, encourages imitation, and increases memorization. We also hope the fact that Buddy has autism makes him familiar and shows that using visual schedules and reward systems is a perfectly acceptable part of life that deserve screen time, too.”

Each episode of Be Like Buddy stars the puppet, Buddy, who represents a boy with autism. In the pilot episodes, “Eating at the Table” and “Going to a Restaurant”, Buddy is taught daily living skills by an adult who uses principles of Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) and Relationship Development Intervention (RDI), a visual schedule and reward system.

And while the adult is always sympathetic, encouraging and direct, Buddy is sometimes silly and imperfect, but willing to try.

Digital downloads, customizable schedules, and a boy who wants to be like Buddy

Caring for a child with autism involves making the most of each interaction. For that reason, each 5-minute episode of Be Like Buddy will be available for immediate download onto smartphones, tablets, and computers. With each video comes a printable visual schedule and storybook that parents and educators can customize according to their child’s treatment plan.

This immediacy and flexibility has already proven its worth:

Recently, a Behavior Specialist working with a 4 year-old boy offered the Be Like Buddy episode, “Eating at the Table” on her cell phone as a reward for completing his tasks. The boy enjoyed the video so much that, after a few viewings, he asked to go to the table, and then asked for chicken nuggets so he could be like Buddy. Since then, his Be Like Buddy schedule has been customized to include more varied, nutritious foods.

“It brought tears to our eyes when we heard this story,” said Dan Kalinowski. “It’s why we’re doing this: to make learning fun and to offer parents hope.”

Parents and care providers play an integral role

The creators of Be Like Buddy are not suggesting a one-size-fits-all approach. “We’re offering a creative tool, we’re asking for ideas. The best case scenario is that parents, therapists and clinicians download the pilot episodes and provide their input on how we can do this better. We have a Facebook Page and an email address set up so that everyone can provide their feedback.”

The alarming increase in autism and the need for care providers to adapt

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now state that 1 in every 88 children have been identified with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Whether you attribute this rise to increased vigilance or increase incidence, the effect is the same. These children usually have significant language delays, social and communication challenges and other difficulties (source: CDC Website). Since this “spectrum” of challenges affects each child so uniquely, families and treatment providers need to be imaginative and resourceful when it comes to individualized therapy.

Be Like Buddy launches Thursday, August 30th. Both pilot episodes will be offered for FREE until September 1.

Media Contact:

Dan Kalinowski Be Like Buddy(TM), 215-356-9181, dan@belikebuddy.com

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SOURCE Be Like Buddy(TM)

Source: PR Newswire