DIR in the Car
By: Hope McSwain, Expert DIR Practitioner & Training Leader
For our first newsletter, we thought a great DIR theme to discuss would be DIR in the Car! So often , we spend time driving to and from school, appointments, therapies, sports, social outings, etc. It can feel hard to find time to do DIR. Below are some ways to encourage shared attention, engagement and communication while in the car!
Make a playlist
This would be done before you get in the car, but something that can be done together. Create a playlist of your child’s (and your) favourite songs. Your playlist can be long or short whatever works best for you! You can encourage communication by offering choices (e.g., “Should we add this song or that song first?” ; “What do you think about adding this song?”), or playfully forgetting names of songs to encourage them to give you the name (e.g., “ I wanted to add the song that sounds like this duh, duh, duh, duh, do, do, do, but I can’t think of the name HELP!”).
Think about your own songs you like. You can add them into the playlist and sing along to all the favourites both yours and theirs!
Encouraging language by asking to change, keep or replay the song
When the song comes on, you can encourage your child to let you know if they want to listen to it, change it or repeat the song before. You can support your child by asking open ended questions (e.g., “What do you think of this song?”) or by offering choices (e.g., “Should we keep, change, or replay?”).
Comment your own thoughts on the song (e.g., “I love this song!” or “This song makes me feel_____” ).
November 3 Outdoor Classroom Day November 7 Social Club Crew Therapy Dog Visit November 11 Remembrance Day (No School) November 15 World Kindness Day November 17 Science Fair November 21 Fun with Flavours Club November 21-25 Book Fair November 23 Parent Workshop (optional attendance) November 24 Picture Retake Day November 25 Community Club Meadowvale Library November 28 Therapy Dog Visit
If your child is making vocalizations while you are driving, join them in the sounds. You can repeat the sound and wait. Listen to hear if they make a sound back. If they do, you can make the sound again and perhaps add a sound. For example, if child says, “Do, do”, you say, “Do, do”. If your child repeats the sound again, then you say, “Do, do, da”. You can then wait and see if and/or how they respond. You can continue to join them in the sounds/words they are saying and encourage shared attention and engagement through this activity.
Preparing for where they are going
While driving to a place, this might be a good time to prepare them for where you are going. You might explain where you are going, what you will be doing there, how long you might be there for and anything that might support them in remaining regulated. For example, “We are going to grandma’s house for uncle’s birthday. There are going to be lots of people so it might be loud. You have your headphones packed in case you need them. If it gets too loud, we can always take a break in the basement”.
As you are getting closer, you can let them know (e.g., “Alright, two more minutes and then we will be there”).
Allow time for them to process, ask any questions or express any emotions they might be having. If this is a time you know is tricky for your child, you can empathize with them (e.g., “I know this is a tricky time and it can be loud, but I am here for you”). This might also be something that is up regulating or over exciting as you may be doing something very fun. Narrating and labelling emotions is a great way to support their regulation. For example, “We are going to see your friend Susy. I know you feel really happy to see her. When we get there, ask for a hug first!” or “I am so excited to see Susy too! My body feels like it is going to move really fast, so I am going to take some deep breaths before I go in”.
Observing the surroundings
Another fun activity to do in the car is the ‘Spot It’ game. While driving, you can pick items you are going to look for. This might be your child’s favourite car, restaurant, truck, tree, etc. Every time you pass one you comment on it (e.g., “I see a blue Toyota” or “I see the McDonalds over there!”). This can lead into more conversation, you might say, “What colour car can we look for next” or “I would eat a ____ from McDonalds”.
Would you rather and what if games
For our children who are working in the higher FEDC’s, ‘would you rather’ and ‘what if’ games are a great way to encourage reasoning, logical thinking, comparisons, abstract thought and making decisions. Your questions could be logical, illogical, gross or funny! For example, you might say, “W ould you rather eat a snail or fish eggs?” or “Would you rather have a unicorn birthday or pumpkin birthday and why?”.
hope his article was helpful and if you would like to share how any of these strategies worked for you in the car, please feel free to email them to
firstname.lastname@example.org . Happy Car Rides!
Our Community Club had its first outing this month! We headed out on the MiWay bus to the Fire Station! Our students had to work together to ensure we safely crossed the street, followed the road signals, waited safely for the bus, gave the bus tickets to the bus driver and got off at the right stop. At the fire station, the students had the opportunity to see a fire truck, look inside, learn about how the firefighters get ready for duty, what their work schedule looks like and last, but definitely most exciting, seeing the lights and hearing the sirens! Our students did an amazing job during our outing! They loved taking the bus and asking the firefighters many different questions (even asking how much coffee they drink each day)! We look forward to next month’s Community Club outing to the Meadowvale Library!
Social Crew Club
This month, Oakwood was excited to begin our new Social Crew Club! The students joined together and got spooky by making their very own monster sock/bag puppets. Students from different classes were able to engage with each other and build on their social skills. Making the monsters encouraged the students’ creativity, fine motor skills and communication. The materials consisted of items with different tactile sensations (felt, pipe cleaners, cotton), with various colours and shine to provide visual input. While playing with the monsters, the students had the opportunity to strengthen their ideation, communication, teamwork and confidence in expressing themselves. The students were able to have fun and explore different emotions through play in a safe and supported environment. The monster creators were able to bring the monsters back with them to continue the Halloween social fun!
Fun with Flavours
introduces students to the fundamentals of food preparation, healthy eating and cooking skills. This is a great opportunity for students to step outside of their comfort zone and try new things! Specifically, this club encourages students to experiment with various foods, to interact with new and familiar peers/teachers and to strengthen a wide range of skills. Some of these skills include sustaining engagement, communicating, following instructions and sequencing.
If we think about cooking as a process, there is a lot of planning and organization that goes into this: What ingredients do we need? How much of what? What comes first? Who does what? While this shared process can be challenging, it also promotes teamwork as everyone works towards a common goal. The obstacles that get in the way create more opportunity for two way purposeful communication and shared problem solving! Fun with Flavours is also a great way to support our students’ sensory systems, especially olfactory (smell), gustatory (taste), and tactile (touch) senses!
While students are encouraged to participate, this is not the expectation. Getting students to smell, touch, or taste food when not wanted can actually increase food aversion. So, when cooking at home or at school, it is important to reflect on your child(ren)’s individual differences to support their sensory needs and create an inclusive environment/opportunity!
The votes are in! The winner of Oakwood's Pumpkin Carving Contest is Room 5! Congratulations to Ms. Abi, Ms. Michaela, Ms. Charlotte, Ms. Stevie, Ms. Monica and their students! The runner up is Room 14! Congratulations to Ms. Jessica's class! Thank you to all of the families for their participation in the voting process! Happy Halloween!
November Parent Workshop
At our next parent workshop, we will be focusing on the ‘I’ of DIR! Learning about your child’s individual differences, (the ‘I’) is very helpful as it can be used as a guide to enrich your interactions with them. It can be difficult to know where to start as there is a lot that goes into one’s sensory system. A good place to start is by thinking about how you can use your strengths within your sensory system to engage and interact with your child. Think about your sensory system and your child’s sensory system and find which senses are compatible.
If you would like to learn more about the individual differences of both yourself and your child, please join us virtually on November 23 , 2022 from 7:45 pm 8:45 pm .
Scholastic Book Orders
Scholastic Book flyers were distributed to students! You can place an order online by going to; https://classroomessentials.scholastic.ca/ and click my account or create a new account. Then you can create a new account or update your current account. Browse for books and be sure to enter Oakwood's Class Code: RC279261. Scholastic orders using this code gives Oakwood 20% back to use towards classroom resources.
Preparing for the winter months
As we approach the cold winter months, please ensure to send your child to school with appropriate warm clothing for the weather, as we will continue to enjoy recess and gym class outdoors rain, snow, or shine! This may include extra gloves, hats, scarves, or splash pants/snow pants. Outdoor activities support our students' regulation, engagement, communication, turn taking, social problem solving and so much more!
HEAD OF SCHOOL: Trillian Taylor PRESIDENT: Aaron Sawatsky SENIOR EDITOR & PRODUCTION: Ann Harvey Send Your Comments, Questions & Address Updates to email@example.com EDITORIAL REVIEW COMMITTEE: Ann Harvey, Melissa Filion, Cassandra Flurey, Melanie Mendes, Trillian Taylor, Amy Cooke, Hope McSwain CONTRIBUTORS/CONTENT REVIEW: Amy Cooke, Transition Program Director Melanie Mendes, Academic Program Director Hope McSwain, Cassandra Flurey, Kayleigh Gallant, The Oakwood Academy News is a monthly communication created and distributed electronically to members of the Oakwood Academy community during the academic year. ©Oakwood Academy 2022