Tips for Getting Started with Autism Effectively

Tips for using visuals effectively! Looks Like Language goes live on The Speechie Show!
Talking about ways to help our children with autism on Carrie Clark's The Speechie Show was a blast! If you didn't catch me live, I will add the replay link when I get hold of it.

So, if you are new to my site, welcome! And if you've been here for a while, I'm thrilled that you are reading my blog as a regular!

I hope that you signed up for my Getting Started with Autism Free Guide. If you lost the link, just click here

As a special bonus, I've added a free download of a choice board to add to your set of visuals!  It will come in my next newsletter for all of you who have joined me. 
Get started with Autism free guide from Looks Like Language


Since I truly believe in visuals, I wanted to provide you with a blog post that summarizes the main tips I have for how to use them. See, we all need visuals! If you haven't read my post on questions to ask yourself to start problem solving behaviors, you might want to start here.


Tips for Determining Symbol Level

* Visuals are a great asset, but they need to be taught. They are not an automatic cure. Start with basics and expand from there.

* When teaching a visual system, that is the new skill. Whatever you are having the child do during this instruction should be something that is easy and already learned.

* You need to be sure that you are using the level of symbols that your student understands: objects, photos, icons or words.

* Doing a trial of matching the symbol to the object is one way to start assessing the student's comprehension of the symbol level.

* For students who use pointing boards, AAC or PECs exchanges, you can try having alternative symbol levels available and see which type they use to request. It is usually safe to assume that children will choose what they understand and are comfortable with.

* Another way is to let them request and tell them "Take it." Did the symbol they used to request match the item they took? You know that they took what wanted!

Where to Start

Shoebox play skills for autism- tips from Looks Like Language!
1. If your low functioning students are new to visuals, the best place to start is with an activity that has 'all done' built in, so that the way to do the task and how to know it is completed is built right into the task.

One idea is to use work tasks, like puzzles, sorting or placing clips on cards. Students see what to do and know the job is done when all the pieces are used up. The task disappears and some type of reinforcement is given.

But how to add language based skills into this?
I used a variety of play tasks with a shoebox to help my students develop realistic play using common objects, with symbols to support the language. You can see more about this one in this post.


Using token boards- Getting Started with Autism at Looks Like Language
2. Using token boards, like those you got in the Getting Started with Autism Guide, is the next step for showing students how much work is expected and when they will be done. Students need to have some symbolic communication skills for token boards, since they request what they want to work for, and the tokens symbolize a piece of the task that they are completing.

If your students have limited attending skills, only use the number of tokens that they can handle successfully. Really! Even if it only one token. (Just place all but one of them in the picture, leaving the last token in the lower right hand bottom corner for them to finish before getting their request.) And don't forget to make the activity a simple one, even an enjoyable one! Keep it positive and work on increasing the amount of work they can complete at one time. 
How to use a First-Then board- Getting Started with Autism at Looks Like Language

3. A First-Then board is useful when students can do a complete activity. First, they do the work you are requesting of them, then they get their choice. Again, when first using a new visual, keep the requested work short and easy so that they can experience what the new visual means in a positive way.

Even when students are capable of using longer schedules, a First-Then board can be useful to help a student get through some hard work. We are all willing to put in more effort on a difficult task if we know that it is for a short time, followed by a rewarding break. Coffee, anyone?


Using visual schedules in speech therapy- Getting Started with Autism

4.  Visual Schedules help students see what is coming next, reducing anxiety and showing them what they need to do to get their break.  When students can use first/then boards with two activities in the 'First' section, you can start with a visual schedule. 

There are generic symbol cards in the free download, but you may do better introducing a visual schedule with photos of familiar activities that you student knows how to do. For example, the schedule might show: puzzle, bubbles, students' request, book, play dough, student's request. To learn the schedule, the activities are easy and the breaks are frequent.

I love having the all done pocket on a schedule so that students can check their schedule and place the completed activity in the pocket.  Done= out of sight! Read more in this post.

If you just place a schedule on the wall and don't teach its meaning, it is just a bunch of paper on the wall! The same goes for all of the visual supports that can be so helpful, so be sure to take the time to make them meaningful for your students!

I hoped this helped you to be able to start effectively using your free Getting Started with Autism Guide! Any questions? Comment here, or email me at lookslikelanguage@gmail.com, and I will do my best to help you out!

Enjoy!

Snowman Color Matching Freebie 3

Get the last part of the snowman themed freebie at Looks Like Language!
It's winter this year even in places that are usually warm, so be sure to take advantage of it to use a snowman theme!

Your final section of this open ended freebie is ready for downloading! Just click here!

When I worked with preschoolers, I loved burying small toys or pictured items in a container of packing peanuts to pretend we were digging in the snow. 

An off key version of a changed stanza from the dwarves "Heigh Ho!" song often accompanied taking turns with the (sand) shovel.




The Original:


"We dig dig dig dig dig dig dig in our mine the whole day through.
To dig dig dig dig dig dig dig is what we really like to do."

My Version:

(Name) dig dig dig dig dig dig digs the snow until the turn is done.
He/she dig dig dig dig dig dig digs. I wonder what he/she found?"

What is your favorite snow activity?

Exciting News at Looks Like Language!

Do you ever feel like the list of things you need to do is unmanageable? And then, how happy and relieved do you feel when you accomplish something on that list?

Then, celebrate with me!

First, I am so excited to have my Speech and Language Activities: Roll It, Say It, Write It! featured in the TpT newsletter! You can get it here.







Check out the new Boom Cards internet no prep, no print activities at Looks Like Language!
Next, I have been thinking for a long time about how I could make some no prep, no print materials that  are interactive, fun and easy to use (and also did not require me to jump through hoops to learn a complicated technology.)

I’m thrilled to have found a solution!  I am starting to incorporate quick and easy Boom Learning card sets into my printable sets, so you can have the best of both worlds! I just hope that you are as excited as I am when you try out my free and preview sets. My sets let your students drag the right answers on the page, and give them another chance if they make a mistake. So fun!

Give this a try:

Get your free no print, no prep internet activity set for mixed groups at Looks Like Language now!
My free set is an interactive winter themed activity that incorporates words with ’R’ sounds for articulation practice, WH questions and categories.






You can also try out my free trials:

Get a free trial of Boom Cards and have some winter sequencing fun!
For some sequencing fun with a snowman and hot chocolate theme, try this free trial!
Get your free trial and spread a little kindness! Looks Like Language!
How about spreading some kindness? There are two levels that coordinate with my matching printable set.

Acts of kindness is a picture level set for students to find the kind action and drag it to their kindness plate to fill it up with some yummy cupcakes.



Get a free trial of interactive learning for emotions vocabulary at Looks Like Language!
Working on vocabulary for emotions and character traits to help your students discuss kind and unkind actions? Try the free trial of Vocabulary for Acts of Kindness (requires some reading.)



After you’ve given them a try, I’d love for you to let me know what you think!

Does this work for your caseload? How many pages would be optimal for you? What kinds of activities or goals would you love to see?


Be in touch!

Snowman Color Matching Freebie 2

Get your free snowman themed open ended game set at Looks Like Language!
It's another freebie Friday again! Amazing how the time flies by when you are very busy!

I wanted to share my newest adventure with you- Boom Learning Cards! 

I only have a few decks so far, but I love the interactive learning fun that they provide. I had been trying to figure out for a long time  how to make some of my activities interactive for students without you having to print, laminate and cut. I think you will find this option exciting! You can play these decks on your tablets, computers or SmartBoards!


Check out my free deck at Boom Learning!
Read the blurb at the bottom of the page and use the link to check it out my freebie there.

I have one free deck so far, and will try to make this freebie into a Boom card deck sometime this month, so check back soon.



In the meantime, here is the download for this week's freebie. 

Preview my free Boom Learning set by clicking the Boom icon.


What do I need to know about Boom Learning?
This works for following the link to my preview as well.

"With your Teachers Pay Teachers purchase, users new to Boom Learning get a three-month free trial of student progress reporting for up to 150 students. Your trial includes the ability to make up to 5 free DIY decks. You may upgrade or cancel at any time. Boom Cards play on modern browsers (released in the last three years) on interactive whiteboards, computers and tablets. Boom Cards apps are also available. Not sure if your browser is modern enough? Try a free Boom Cards deck first. When you redeem your purchase, Boom Learning opens an account for you if you do not already have one. If you do not subscribe at the end of your trial, you will be able to continue using Boom Cards with the Fast Play feature. Fast Play does not track individual progress. If you do not subscribe we will delete your student records 3 months after the expiration of the trial to protect student privacy."

Snowman Color Matching Freebie

Match a snowman! Have fun with this freebie from Looks Like Language!
If you live on the East coast, you will agree that the weather this week is only fit for snowmen! Brrr! 

I updated the Snowman Color Match Freebie just in time for you to have a quick, open ended matching game for after the snow day(s).

Sign up for my newsletter on the bar above if you'd love to have the whole packet at once. It will go out on Sunday!



A fun winter snowman activity set from Looks Like Language!
If you'd like some more fun activities for your snowman theme, take a look at the Snowman Color Match WH Question Activities at my store.


Some Holiday Cheer for You! Santa's Stockings 3

Happy holidays from Looks Like Language! Get your free color matching worksheets here!
You've made it to the final countdown! Why is the last week always the longest, even though it is a short week?

The last part of the Santa's Stockings Game is ready for you to download! If you missed some of it, start here.

Need some more quick ideas to work on any goal with a holiday theme? Check out this blog post.

Don't forget to try out my mini sampler from my store!
Some free fun from Looks Like Language to make your holiday planning easier!


May your week be peaceful and your holidays be wonderful!

3 Ways to Teach Saying Thank You! Even When You Don't Mean It!

3 Ways to teach children to say thanks- and why it is important! Looks Like Language
Little kids get reminded by their parents all the time: “Say please.” “Say thank you.” This is how we start teaching politeness. Politeness and manners are such important social skills!

When friction develops, manners can keep a situation calm enough to talk it out instead of fighting. In normal every day life, it is practice beginning to be able to take another’s perspective.

Think about it it- who does saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ benefit? The speaker or the listener? Obviously, the listener or we wouldn’t have to work so hard to get kids into the routine of saying it!

Although they may say it faithfully as a learned routine, children with autism may have a difficult time understanding why it is important. Even more difficult- saying thank you when you don’t like the gift!

To help with this important skill, I have 3 ideas for you today!


PRACTICE the ROUTINE

Young or nonverbal children can benefit from practicing the routine. This adapted book will let you put items that your students like and dislike in the presents to visually teach that we still say thank you. Opening presents is such a fun activity, even when it is make believe!

Get this fun social skills activity here
Saying thank you is so important! Get this adapted book at Looks Like Language!
Using shoebox to teach children to say thanks! Looks Like Language
Of course, having some decorated boxes to open up and see a real toy inside is a great activity to coordinate with the book. You can read more about it here.


FEELINGS and WORDS

Saying "Thank you!" is important! Tips for teaching at Looks Like Language
This free game from my store gets kids identifying how receiving different toys would make them feel and giving an appreciative response anyway. Try it out here

Kind feedback is always appreciated!







EXPLAINING  WHY

This social rules story can help your older children or students to begin to understand why it is important to say thank you for gifts we don’t really want. One page is filled in completely as an example.

Click here to download this freebie as my way of saying,"Thank you for your support!"

The second page is a fill in the blank. You can use this page as a basis for discussion and letting your students fill in answers that are pertinent to their lives.

Discussion questions could include:
* Did you ever get a present that you didn’t like?
* How did you react? What did you do or say?
* How did they person who gave you the gift react? What did they do or say?
* How did your reaction make them feel?
* Is that how you want that person to feel?
* What could you do differently next time?
* What could you say differently next time?
* How can you help yourself sound sincere? Sincere means you really mean it. We show that in our facial expressions, body language and tone of voice.


You can use all of these resources at holiday time or for birthdays! Enjoy!
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