Playtime with Zeebu: Educational Resources for Children on the Autistic Spectrum

Michelle Winner quote about why Playtime with Zeebu works

Why It Works

  • Our video is slowed down at a pace that gives children with developmental delays time to process.
  • Characters learn consequences of their actions. They learn to stop and think about the feelings of one another before reacting. They work out their problems together to achieve successful resolutions.
  • Coping and calming methods are taught. The characters go through a “calming down” period when they notice their actions are affecting their relationships with each other. They learn to “Be calm so we can think” and “Take five deep breaths.”
  • The puppet is included with the video. This creates a great opportunity for parents and educators to re-create scenes from the video. It highlights specific issues that confront children daily. Using a puppet to act out difficult situations that children encounter makes problems easier to handle and less threatening.
  • Zeebu and his friends let the child experience “perspective taking” or “theory of mind.” Children with developmental delays, particularly those on the autism spectrum, have difficulty understanding that people have thoughts that are different from their own. Zeebu and his friends learn that everyone has different thoughts all the time, and by looking at their friends faces, they begin to understand what their friends are thinking and feeling. The characters learn to see each other’s perspective, and change their behavior to coordinate it with each other.
  • The use of thought bubbles in our program is meant to focus the viewers ’attention on the emotions a particular character is having. Children will clearly see that their friends on Playtime with Zeebu ™ have thoughts and feelings.
  • Asking for HELP is an important skill for children that have a hard time initiating. Zeebu and his friends ask Tia, their human friend, for help when they need to solve a problem. They then work out a solution together.
  • Children learn the importance of listening and how to be part of a group. The characters discover how to listen with their whole body. They learn that their eyes, not just their ears, play an important role. Character’s comment to one another about where their eyes are looking and what they are thinking about. They state, “Now that you are looking at me I know you are thinking about me” and, “Now that you are listening with your whole body, you are part of the group.”
  • Music is used to reinforce concepts. Our songs can be used in a child’s daily routine to remind them of ways to solve problems.
  • Opportunities for generalization are everywhere. Our video is filled with social situations children encounter on an ongoing basis. The puppets are an interactive way to create generalization. They allow the child to transfer learned skills into his/her real life situation.
  • Video modeling is a popular teaching tool for children with developmental delays. It allows children and parents to watch it multiple times, which enables the skills to be reinforced.
  • Declaratives are a key component to our program. Characters in Playtime with Zeebu ™ resolve conflicts using declaratives; these are statements that share perspective rather than force behaviors or elicit specific responses. Declaratives make the verbal exchanges between characters more meaningful to the child. Children will better understand the purpose behind the character’s statements with this intentional language.