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Westmead Feelings Program

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The Westmead Feelings Program is an evidence-based program developed to teach emotion skills,  social understanding and awareness to children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).  The program provides a structure to help the child learn in a concrete way and help the parents to practice the skills at home. It uses an easy to understand language around emotions with video modelling and a range of visual supports to support learning. 
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Understanding emotions

 

Module 1 for children

Facilitator introduces children to four primary emotions – happy, sad, worried and angry – and explains that there are different intensities of feelings. Children learn this concept with help of the Feelings Strength Bar.

  • How to use the Feelings Strength Bar to rate intensities of their feelings

  • How to recognise happy, sad, worried and angry facial features

  • How different people can have different feelings in the same situation

Module 1 for parents and teachers

The facilitator works closely with parents and teachers to ensure the best possible outcome for each child. Parents and teachers are introduced to their role as ‘emotion coaches’, and learn about how to support children to talk about their emotions.

  • What is the Westmead Feelings Program?

  • The emotional and social challenges of children with ASD

  • How children with ASD communicate

  • How to be an emotion coach

  • How to use the Feelings Strength Bar

  • How to use visual cueing

  • How to use the communications book

Problem solving and perspective taking

Module 2 for children

Children learn about feelings in themselves and in others, to foster a greater understanding of the causes of and influences on people’s emotional experiences and behaviour. They also learn specifically tailored cognitive-behavioural therapy strategies.

  • How to solve problems, using structured visual tools

  • Reading emotional body signs in faces, bodies and voices

  • Perspective-taking, or how different people can have different feelings in the same situation

Module 2 for parents and teachers

Parents and teachers continue to fine-tune their emotion-coaching skills, and learn about problem solving and perspective-taking.

  • How to solve problems, using structured visual tools

  • Reading emotional body signs in faces, bodies and voices

  • Perspective-taking, or how different people can have different feelings in the same situation

  • Putting problem solving and perspective taking together

Managing emotions

 

Module 3 for children

Children learn a range of strategies for dealing with difficult or unpleasant emotions to feel more in control and accepting of their emotions, enabling them to react more appropriately and in more socially positive ways.

  • Management of not-so-good feelings

  • How to use the Feelings Control Kit strategies

  • Recap of previously learned skills and strategies

 

Module 3 for parents and teachers

Parents and teachers learn ways by which they can support children's emotions management skills.

  • Troubleshooting skills from Modules 1 and 2

  • How to use the Feelings Control Kit strategies

  • Effective use and promotion of emotion regulation skills

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