It's Not Your Run of the Mill File Folder Activity!

If your students on the spectrum are able to play in simple sequential patterns, such as placing a figure in a car and pushing it, or putting a car on a garage toy and making it go down the ramp, then they should have the language to talk about it! Do they? 

Communicative frustration is a very important factor to look at in students with behavioral issues. Wouldn't you be frustrated if you weren't able to make your needs known? There are many other factors, as well, but expressive language skills will be the focus today. If you are interested in learning more, I recommend reading some of V. Mark Durand's work on functional communication and behavior, such as this: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/3963649-severe-behavior-problems.
 
autism, AAC, symbol supported, file folder activity, Looks-Like-Language
I have had great success with students producing basic sentences to talk about preferred activities using visually supported, interactive file folder sentence activities. This method has worked with verbally limited students a well as those who are nonverbal AAC users. The first step is to make sure that your student understands the visuals you are using. 

Make it fun! Just have the students request the toys and figures to play with, either verbally or using symbols. Rather than giving them the toy they asked for, give them access to the toys and say something like, “Sure! Take it!” You will see if they understand when they are taking what they requested.

My favorite way to start implementing this technique is in combination with toys I own and the students can play with. If your student plays with the toys first, forming sentences afterwards to talk about what happened during play, you are actually teaching narrative skills as well!

Some students will do better if they form the sentences first, knowing that they get to play when the file folder activity is completed, and that is fine, too!
autism, AAC, file folder, symbol supported, Looks-Like-Language
The graphic shows the steps I take to build the sentences for students with limited skills. I have found the most success with using a backward chaining pattern. 

For example, if I start with 3 symbol sentences, the character and the symbol ’ride’ will already be placed on the top sentence strip. All the student does is choose the toy by placing the symbol on top and point to each symbol in the strip as you read aloud. Then the character head gets placed on the toy and the whole thing goes on the garage. When all of the Velcro strips in the garage picture are filled, it is time for a play break!

If the student did that easily ad is still showing interest in the garage, I might have him place 'ride' and the toy symbol in the top sentence strip in the next round. Be sure to start where the student is successful, work to a little higher level each session and end the activity while the student is still engaged!
For higher level students, the top picture adds all of the choices that might be used to make sentences about playing with the garage. 
If you take pictures of your student’s favorite toy set, making a customized interactive sentence file folder activity is easy enough to do! If you prefer ready made, check out mine here

I hope this gave you some useful ideas! 
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