HOCUS FOCUS – Using Magic Tricks to Impact Children with Autism and Learning Challenges

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HOCUS FOCUS is a new, cutting-edge approach to instruction that helps to build confidence, self-esteem, and academic skills in children with varying degrees of learning challenges and abilities, including those with Autism and ADHD. A new government report states that children with developmental disabilities has been climbing over the past decade reaching nearly 1 in 6. Parents and educators need to find news ways to engage these children in the learning process if they are going to live successful, productive lives. The teaching strategies in HOCUS FOCUS have been enthusiastically received by educators around the world as an inspiring and creative approach to experiential learning. What HOCUS FOCUS brings to education is nothing short of magical!

Learning magic tricks can improve motor coordination as well as increase self-esteem and confidence in all students.

The teaching of magic has many therapeutic benefits. Not only does it work on confidence and communication, but it can also be used to teach cognitive and motor skills.

Kevin Spencer, named 2009 International Magician of the Year and Performing Arts Entertainer of the Year for six consecutive years, has combined his knowledge of education with the art of magic to create the HOCUS FOCUS project.

This inspiring and engaging program helps to build confidence, self-esteem, and academic skills in children with varying degrees of educational challenges and abilities, especially those with Autism, ADHD, and Developmental and Learning Disabilities. The teaching strategies used are part of current trends in education which promote cooperation, collaboration, problem-solving, critical thinking, and experiential learning. The activities are motivational, promote positive self-expression, and reinforce key skills needed for student success. It allows kids to understand that success can be achieved through hard work and attention to task. What HOCUS FOCUS brings to education is nothing short of magical!

“The teaching of magic has many therapeutic benefits,” says Dr. Aubrey Fine, psychologist and professor at CAL Poly State University (CA). “Not only does it work on confidence and communication, but it can also be used to teach cognitive and motor skills. I have been amazed to watch children with ADHD or learning disabilities work slowly and carefully, following the necessary steps, because they want to get the trick or illusion correct.”

By learning to levitate a pencil, students might better understand gravity; through simple mathematical calculations, they can read one another’s minds; and with a piece of rope, they can improve coordination, learn measurement, sharpen their observational techniques, and increase their problem solving skills.

Carol Gruben, Director of Special Education for the Broken Arrow Public Schools (OK) said, “During lesson presentations, less attentive students remained focused and reluctant students were attempting each activity with enthusiasm. Hocus Focus is a creative instructional tool to support the learning of autistic, cognitively delayed, emotional disturbed, and learning disabled students.”

The HOCUS FOCUS curriculum is available for parents in a Home Edition as an educational activity or for Educators in a School Edition as a complete teaching course. Teacher lesson plans align with National Standards of Learning and Common Core State Standards. Spencer also provides professional development training for educators around the world. In one recent workshop, TRAHC Education Director, Charlotte Smelser (TX) said, “Kevin was masterful with our area teachers and students. Through his educational outreach, teachers saw their students rise to the challenge of critical thinking and problem solving, maintain their focus to give attention to detail, and stay with a task long enough to see the solution. Hocus Focus is a rich and meaningful learning tool to be embedded in the daily routine of the classroom.”

Spencer is an Assistant Professor in the Occupational Therapy Department of the University of Alabama in Birmingham (one of the most innovative and nationally ranked programs in the country). He speaks at numerous international health and education conferences. He recently returned from Europe where he presented research at the International Society for Teacher Education in Kristiansand, Norway. In July, he will share the concepts of HOCUS FOCUS at the International Conference on Special Education in Windhoek, Namibia Africa..

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Wayne Thomas
Hocus Focus, Inc.
(434) 384-4740
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Kevin Spencer
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