6 Thought Provoking Tips for Planning Autism Therapy

Yes, you can take lessons learned from hiking and apply them to planning goals for autism therapy! But before we get into that, let me reassure you that I am not an exercise diva.

Planning autism therapy with some hiking insights! Looks Like Language
Every summer, for many years now, I’ve climbed Mount Pemi as my husband warmed up for the 4,000 footers he climbs. This year, I was pondering what I’ve learned over the years of watching my family look like nimble mountain goats compared to me. 

As I thought about it, I realized these ideas work for planning therapy steps for autism as well.

1. Have a goal in mind

Hiking:  It is that beautiful view that keeps me going. When the climbing gets rough and I am working hard, I know it is worth it!

Autism:  We need to have that beautiful end goal in mind for our students to make all of their hard work worth it!

2. Look a bit ahead to make plans

Hiking: I realized a while ago that looking straight down at where I currently stood  was not the most efficient way to go.  Climbing works much better when I look a bit ahead, plan a path, and trust that my feet will take me there.


Autism: Look at and document where the student is right now, but progress is only made when you look ahead a bit to where you want them to be, and plan a path to get them there.

3. Sometimes you need little steps

Hiking: On the flatter sections, I can keep a steady pace. But sometimes it gets rocky, and little steps are necessary to get me through. Sometimes, I need to look around and modify the path I thought I wanted to go on.

Autism: When learning stalls, or behaviors emerge, smaller steps are needed in the activities to keep your student moving along the path. Sometimes you need to take another look at that path you planned. If it isn’t working, modify it!

4. Stop to take a break

Hiking: I get hot and out of breath after a steep section, so I need to stop and rest a bit. While I am catching my breath, it is good to look around and enjoy my surroundings!

Autism: Our students work hard for every accomplishment.  After they have achieved even a small step, stop to take a break. Review some easier tasks. Stop and enjoy something fun!

5. Enjoy the view!

Hiking: Reward yourself for your hard work. Look all around to see the beautiful view and enjoy it! You worked hard to get there so don’t focus on the next mountain you want to climb.

Autism: Reinforce your student for the hard work! Look all around you to figure out ways to help your student apply the skills in functional tasks. Make sure they can enjoy and use the new skill in as many ways as possible before attacking another skill.

6. Don’t compare!

Hiking: I took a heck of a lot longer to get up the mountain than the guy I saw jogging his way up. But, my view was just as beautiful!

Autism: Some students need so many more steps to get to that final goal than others do, but once they can do the task, it can be even more beautiful!

Finally, I wouldn’t climb a mountain if the view wasn’t worth it.
Don’t make your students climb a mountain if the outcome isn’t functional and worth all of their efforts!

P.S. Here’s the view!

Is your therapy outcome worth the work? Autism tips from Looks Like Language

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