Thankful for You!

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving feast with family and friends!


Join the #SLPholidaygiveaway from 11-25-17 to 11-26-17! Good luck!
I have a different kind of freebie this week. Since I am thankful for you, I joined in with a group of friends to offer some amazing giveaways! 

Only a few will win the grand prizes, but I promise that you will all be winners for finding these talented SLPs to follow!

We made it as easy as we could- so go ahead and join using the link below. Good luck!

The contest is now over! Thanks for entering! The winners are Reni, Sarah D. and Hailey L. Congratulations!



More Shoebox Play for Autism- Cars

Have you ever been asked for recommendations from parents about toys that are appropriate for their children to play with?  For more typical students, this isn’t usually difficult. But what do you say for your students on the spectrum who don't have typical play skills?

Take your student who works happily to get some play time with small cars, but then when he gets the cars he doesn’t actually play. 

All he does is line the cars up. Sometimes the cars are in size order, sometimes they are grouped by color, and sometimes there is no apparent pattern. Is there something we should do? And what in the world do we recommend when his parents ask us?

Your student shows that he is able to categorize by features, but he doesn’t get the function piece needed for representational play. How do we change this?

Get tips for expanding the play skills of students with autism using shoeboxes!

I love using shoeboxes to develop play skills for 3 reasons.


1. They make the play steps and ‘all done’ visually obvious.

2. They stabilize the toys to help with physical manipulation problems.

3. It makes one complete activity that the child can learn to do independently.

Design Your Own 

It is important to design the play shoebox so your student sees what to do and when it will be done from the visual set up. 

Another important piece is teaching how to use 2 or more objects together in play, since that is where make believe play begins.

Remember that when you are teaching a new skill, this is work! 

So, your student will work on learning how to play, but will get to line the cars up however he likes once the work is done.

Does your child with autism just line cars up? Read More Shoebox Play - Cars!
The photo shows one possible way to teach pushing toy cars and using them with a ramp to play. The little boy I used this with was nonverbal, with limited play skills, but he was able to learn how to make the cars go up and down the ramps on the shoebox. 

I faded the box by first using just the lid on the table, and then removing the lid. Eventually, he was able to request the color cars and ramps that he wanted and then play independently. 

You know that you have made progress when your student  requests cars and actually pushes them instead of just lining them up!

Does your child with autism just line cars up? Read More Shoebox Play - Cars!

Don't forget to add language skills! 

This photo shows how I put requesting into the activity, but communication is so much more than requesting! 

Add verbs and descriptive language:
go up, go down, go fast, go slow, stop, wait, go behind, go in front, etc.

Model visually and verbally- use your student's AAC device or make symbol play boards to point to the language as you say it.

Adapt some car books and expand the play to toy garages, roads and any other type of car play you can think of. 

But, what about IEP goals and academic standards?

Now, I know that there is great pressure put upon schools nowadays to align all work to educational standards. However, if you don’t help your students develop representational language and thinking skills, how are they going to comprehend higher level academics? 

And if they don’t know how to play, how are they going to develop friendships with their peers? Or the turn taking skills that are a basis for so many social interactions? My feeling is that helping with the language for play and behavioral difficulties are vital to include in your work with students, no matter what IEP goals you also have to address.

Where to start?

1. Figure out the level of your student’s play skills.
2. Pay attention to the toys your student takes out but doesn’t use appropriately.
3. Toys your students looks at, or picks up and sets down, can indicate interest without knowledge of what to do with the toy.

Working with Parents

1. Find out from the parents what kind of toys your student pays attention to at home, and exactly what he does with them.
2. Starting with a type of toy that is available at home has the benefit of offering more chances for carryover.

Suggestions for Parents

1. Buying a toy that is similar to one that your student knows how to play can be a good idea for carrying over play skills at home.
2. It is more beneficial for a student to have a toy he can play with appropriately than to buy a more advanced one that he doesn’t know how to use.
3. Consider asking a parent (who can afford it) to buy a toy that you will work on playing with in therapy sessions and send home when he can play with it independently.

If you found these suggestions to be helpful, you will want to check out my other shoebox play blog post here.

Get started with autism- a free download from Looks Like Language!
And don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter and get your free download of GettingStarted with Autism now!

Have a Happy Thanksgiving, friends!

More Building Thanksgiving Sentences in Mixed Groups

Working with mixed level groups is so much easier when you have co-ordinated materials that offer a variety of activities at different levels of support.  Did you download last week's freebie to get a taste of how it can help you out? If not, no worries. Just click here.

Make your Thanksgiving prep easier with this free Building Sentences activity from Looks Like Language!
This week, you can get the last section of the set. I combined them into larger downloads for you this year so that you have more time to use the materials.

Besides building N-V-O sentences to tell about Thanksgiving activities, or sorting nouns and verbs, it is very easy to adapt the activity for using past, present and future tenses. Just use the pictures and add some days of the week and time word cards, and you are all set!

Get this week's free download here.

Use past and present tenses to tell about Thanksgiving in a multi activity set from Looks Like Language!
If your students need more practice, take a peek at Thanksgiving Activities: Past & Present. 

I hope your Thanksgiving preparations are going well!
Enjoy- Linda

10 Practical Tips for Easier Transitions

A headache forms as you slowly head to pick up your next student. What will it be today? Screaming, running away, or throwing himself on the floor? Transitions for this child are so difficult!

Ironically, once you find a way to help this child transition, therapy can actually go well! He participates and enjoys the activities you do with him. But you dread that transition time every session.

In the last post, I gave you 5 questions to ask yourself to start problem-solving your students’ transition difficulties. Every student is different, so a framework for figuring it out is helpful. If you missed it, catch it here.

It also helps to remember that your student is probably experiencing anxiety that he has no way to communicate.  While you are working on expanding communication skills, here are some adaptations in routines that I found to be helpful.

10 Practical Tips to Help Students Make Transitions

10 Practical Tips for Making Transitions


1. Use songs and clean up routines to give a heads up for transitions when working with little ones.

2. Have young students bring a preferred object from the classroom with them.

3. Have the teacher give a heads up verbally or with their visual schedule to students a few minutes before the session is to start.

4. See if the teacher will try having students finish the current activity and sit in a waiting chair to be ready to transition.

5. Stop by on the way back with the prior student to wave and say you are next, giving them a little warning.

6. Use your photo on their schedule instead of a generic speech symbol.

7. Use a token board, just for transitioning, that lets them choose a preferred short activity when they arrive successfully.

8. Always start and end with a preferred activity to make the speech room a very preferred place.

9. Wait until they complete the current activity in the room before making a request to leave.

10. Show up to get the child with a preferred activity (or a visual for the first activity) to let them see what they will be doing first.

Meeting Communication Needs

Imagine feeling anxious about changes while having no way to communicate and no idea what will be happening next. Scary thought, right?
What might you want to be saying in this situation?

Even easier, what do your verbal students say when you go to pick them up and they are involved in an activity? This is a great way to decide what your non-verbal student may want to communicate.

Just don't expect this to work miracles as you show up at the classroom next session with your visual for him to point to. Visuals work, but they need to be taught. How to do this?

How about starting on a practical, visual level? Let your student play with one of the toys he likes. Not the most highly preferred, but something he likes. After a short time, get out the storage container for the toy and an 'all done' or 'clean up symbol' on it. 

Have your visual request symbol ready (ex. Wait a minute.) and prompt the child to point to it before strong emotions begin.  Give the toys back, but set a timer for a minute. When the timer goes off, indicating time is up, the toys have to be cleaned up.

If you are using a visual schedule, or a first/then board, the toys can be an option to request again after some work is done. With enough practice in varied situations, your student can learn to ask, "Just a minute. please?" so he can finish what he is doing first.

Have you tried anything else that worked?

Enjoy!

Building Thanksgiving Sentences Freebie


Build Thanksgiving sentences at 2 levels for differentiated instruction! Free from Looks Like Language!

A Thanksgiving theme offers so many possibilities for increasing language skills! This week's free download helps with language for typical activities we do for Thanksgiving- food related, of course!

Just like most of my activities, it offers picture support at varied levels.  Whether your students are working on building simple sentences, answering WH questions, or telling parts of speech, you can make planning for your mixed level groups easier.

Get this week's download here.

Make differentiated instruction easier with this Thanksgiving themed activity from Looks Like Language!
Do your students need more practice? Then you might want to check out Thanksgiving Activities: Sorting Then and Now. There are lots of fun activities to make your November planning easier!

Enjoy! Linda



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