Teaching Emotions in a Therapeutic Preschool Program

Throughout early childhood development, it is very exciting to see children begin to develop independent thoughts and express emotions. As parents, it can be amazing to see how quickly your little ones change as they begin to show their personalities throughout early childhood development milestones. For kiddos with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or other developmental delays, it may take longer to reach these milestones, particularly for skills involving communication and social skills. In a therapeutic preschool program, children receive support for social skills, including learning how to read emotions in others and how to effectively express their own emotions.

Reading emotions
For children on the autism spectrum, social cues do not always come naturally. As a result, it can be extremely difficult for children with autism to detect the emotions of other people by reading body language or facial expressions. These nonverbal cues may not translate for children with autism, but this does not mean that these skills cannot be learned. In a therapeutic preschool program or separate applied behavior analysis therapy (ABA therapy) sessions, children can work with their therapist on reading emotions.

Expressing emotions
Children who are on the autism spectrum experience emotions just as children who are typically developing. If a child has difficulty detecting emotions, this does not mean that they do not have feelings. Every child on the spectrum is a unique learner, so not every child will process and express emotions in the same way, especially in cases where expressive language is delayed. In a therapeutic preschool program or ABA sessions, children with autism may receive support to build their expressive language skills. By the therapist (and parents) providing feedback in an honest and consistent, but encouraging way, children can improve their ability to verbalize their thoughts and feelings.

Working on emotions in a therapeutic preschool program
For children who are unable to use expressive communication to show their emotions, a therapeutic preschool program might provide visual supports for the child. For example, they might have a communication book with different images that the child can point to to show what they are feeling. A teacher or ABA therapist might also work one-on-one with student to create social stories. A social story is a great learning tool for learners who benefit from a concrete structure when building new skills. A teacher in a therapeutic preschool program may also use modeling to illustrate different phrases that a child can use if they notice one of their classmates looks angry or sad.

Do you think your child could benefit from a therapeutic preschool program?

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"After almost 2 years our son’s time at CST Academy has come to an end. The preschool program has done wonders for him. Ms Jaclyn is such a warm, kind and patient teacher. She and my son’s OT (Ms. Nikki) and ST (Ms. Erika) worked together to ensure he was meeting all of his goals. The level of collaboration between all therapies shows how dedicated they are to helping your child reach their full potential. They have all made such an impact on him, it’s amazing to see the changes since he started there. He has blossomed into a strong, confident boy who is more than prepared to start his new school in a few weeks. We will always fondly remember our time at CST Academy. Can’t recommend them enough!"
"I worked with CST Academy over a period of about 10 months. They are absolutely incredible! I also referred a friend to their program and the progress his child made just blew him away! Usually, I don’t write reviews unless I feel strongly compelled one way or the other, and in this case I do! You cannot go wrong here. I would not trust my children to anyone else. Call them and see for yourself. I have seen other programs and there is just no comparison."