Showing posts with label Communication and Life Skills. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Communication and Life Skills. Show all posts

Helping Our Students Transition to Independence

Transitioning? What?

You might be wondering if these links have nothing useful for you, but if you are working with a moderately to severely impaired population, then it is my opinion that you can never get started thinking about this too early!

Building functional independence skills can never start too early! Check out these free resource links at Looks Like Language!
Our students who have moderate to severe deficits need us to be the ones who are thinking ahead and planning how to build their skills to their greatest potential! Since they need so much practice with work presented at tiny little steps, it will only help if we all have in mind the eventual desired outcomes as we plan each year's therapy.

With this in mind, maybe you want to take a look at these links even if your students are still younger!

The complete list of links can be found in this post.

If you don't have time to check out the complete list, I recommend that you at least go to my most favorite download, Moving Toward Functional Social Competence.

The Minnesota Region 10 Low Incidence Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) project compiled this thorough checklists at three levels for joint attention, greetings, self regulation, conversations, perspective taking, social problem solving/critical thinking skills, friendship and life skills. They also included a recommended resource list for further reading. 

Be sure to download this helpful free resource!

I hope you are enjoying your summer! 

Let's Get Started with Conversation! FREE Guide


FREE Getting Started with Conversation Guide- Looks Like Language

Would you like a life without conversations? No way! We probably can't even count how many we have during a day. So, try to imagine how the life of a child on the autism spectrum is like without this skill.

No matter what we do to improve vocabulary, concepts, sentence structure, you name it, daily life functioning will be affected if we don't manage to get our students conversing socially. And it isn't always easy!

The traps I fell into when starting to work on this skill included:

* getting rote I like/What do you like interchanges only!
While this is a beginning, it is definitely not an end goal.

* prompting with 'say' and 'ask' with students getting confused about what I was expecting of them.

* prompting responses verbally, ending up with my students talking to me and not with each other!

* getting students to converse, but only on limited range of topics or when prompted.

I decided that there must be a way to build conversation skills visually and offset these issues. (You know that I am passionate about visuals and strategies!)

It took me lots of years of trial and error before I came up with the methods that worked for my students on the autism spectrum. I know that I've had the actual materials available in my TpT store for a while now, and I'm thrilled beyond measure that there are students out there making progress in conversation skills that I had a part in helping!

However, I realized this summer that I didn't really have anything in place to help you see my overall structure/model. So, I decided to make this brand new free guide call Getting Started with Conversation! 

Getting Started with Conversation will help you with assessing current status, planning therapy,  and measuring progress. More success with less stress!

To get this amazing 8 page FREE Getting Started with Conversation Guide, all you have to do is click here. Your email address will be collected so you can receive my newsletter with tips, news and freebies, but no spam!


FREE Getting Started with Conversation Guide- Looks Like Language
For my followers, I will also be sending out the link for this helpful guide in my next newsletter, but you can get it NOW by clicking here!

I hope this gets you and your students started on the path to building real conversations! Enjoy!

AWESOME Resource Links for Social Skills: Emotions and Younger Students

Have you ever looked at the pile of materials you own and realize that you still don't have exactly what your student needs? I know that I often did!

Between differences in how they learn, what activities they enjoy, and how much practice is needed, I know that looking for resources can seem never-ending.

That is why I love to look for free help. And, of course, I want to share these resources with you!


Need some help finding free resources for teaching emotions? Check out this blog post!
Check out some FREE awesome resources!

I found a treasure trove of online ideas and activities for working on emotions and nonverbal language skills. 

This post features some of the fun, free online games I've found for young kids.

But, don't worry! If you work with older kids, there are some links for you, too. Just click here for some amazing free resources.




1. http://www.autismgames.com.au/game_eyecontact.html

Help kids realize that eye contact is important in this cute game.

If you don't make eye contact, learning to read nonverbal signals for emotions is going to much harder, if not impossible. So you can start here to help kids understand why it is important.








2. https://symbolworld.org/archive/Bits%2Bbobs/games/faces/index.htm

Hover over the faces to see the facial expression change.

This basic game has been archived, but it still works! Kids can hover over the faces to see the facial expression change.











3. http://www.autismgames.com.au/game_memotion.html

Match faces with the same emotions or listen to the story with emotion vocabulary in context.

This game shows faces for basic emotions and has students find matching faces. Simple practice is given for young children to respond in different ways: matching, dragging and memory. The emotions are used in a story context about Robbie the Robot. Love the Aussie accent!








4. https://do2learn.com/games/feelingsgame/index.htm

Find the person who feels the given emotion.

In this game, students find the photo of the face that matches the given emotion. Players can choose which person to use or mix up all three.











5. http://www.scholastic.com/earlylearner/parentandchild/feelings/feelinggame.htm
Match emoticons to the emotions.

Match the emoticons to the emotions in this cute, basic game for young kids. Someone needs to be able to read the emotions to them, however.










6. BOOM Teletherapy Cards- Social Skills for Emotions

Of course, I had to offer you a freebie of mine, too! It is great to have a quick and easy, no prep activity to review or end the session with.

You'll need to set up a Boom account to play this, but it is free! Your students will love the facial expressions on the cute monster faces, and you can make it a therapy activity by discussing each page first:

How does it feel?
How did you figure that out?
Did you ever have a time that you felt this way? What happened?

And if you work with older students, don't worry since I have some resources for you, too! Check out this post.

Enjoy!

FREE Social Skills Problem Solving Unit!

Do you have problems finding appropriate materials for solving problems with your older special needs students? If the level is right, the problems may be too young. If the problem is is right, there isn't enough support for the language skills. 
If your teens with language problems need help with problem solving, download this free unit!

The story in this freebie is about a girl whose 'friend' picks a fight in the middle of the cafeteria one day. It is short and sweet, but allows you to address a lot of problem solving and social language skills. Try it out! 


If you download it and love it, please consider kind feedback as a thank you!


Enjoy! Linda

Assessing Play Skills- In the Playground!

Preschool therapy can be so fun, even when the little ones tire you out with their boundless energy.

If you've read the rest of the posts in this series, you have scrounged up your materials, using a few of the suggested items on the list in this blog post. You’ve been working for a week or two with your book, their literacy skills are improving and they love the games and crafts you have been doing.  Your students have increased their language to talk about your theme during these structured activities. 

So, what is missing?

Tips for assessing play skills in the playground by Looks Like Language
PLAY!

Play is such an important part of learning for young  children that it is vital to include it in your therapy sessions. When children really have the language that you have been modeling, you will see it emerge in their play.

The opposite relationship is also true! If the child has not yet used the language, but begins to demonstrate comprehension of the concepts in play, the language is more likely to emerge!

A Bit of Background

If you work with young children and are not already familiar with the play scale from Carol Westby, download it NOW!

Patricia Prelock wrote an excellent chapter on understanding and assessing play, which you can download here.



If you are looking for an overview of research on play and the findings, you can access a great article by  Lifter et al. (2011) here.

Observing Play
What better spring theme for preschoolers than the playground?  Observe your students while they’re out there.

Social Interactions
Students may be using “my turn” and “please’” under our watchful eye in the therapy room, but if it isn’t being used on the playground, you still have some generalization work to do. Some kids may be interacting with each other on the equipment while others may be following their own agenda. If this is the case, check to see if they are at least looking at the other kids occasionally to see what everyone else is up to. It gives you some important information for determining their independent level of play.

Cause/Effect
The student who pushes the kid in front of him on the slide and then looks bothered when the child screams his way down may have weak prediction and cause-effect skills. This child is just acting on a desire to be done waiting and may not be able to think ahead  and plan yet. Time to work some safety issues into your playground play!

Wandering
You may say see some students, especially those with ASD, wandering aimlessly around the area rather than engaging in the playground activities.  While there can be many components to this, one of them is likely to be unfamiliarity with exactly what is expected. These students may need to be taught specific, concrete activities to do in the play area.

Now that you have observed, what can you do about it in therapy? Here are a literacy set  and a visual sentence building activity set to get you started, but come back next week for some tips! 

Enjoy! Linda

Practical Tips for Treating Echolalia

Echolalia in autism is a unique disorder to treat, and one that can be frustrating to work on. It definitely helps to have some basic information!

Basic Types of Echolalia


- Immediate echolalia is when a child with autism answers your question by repeating the question or echoes whatever you just said. 

- Delayed echolalia happens when a child with autism repeats something that was said earlier in time, often a statement that has been heard frequently or even sections of a favorite TV show or movie

Echolalic statements may or may not have communicative functions.

Helpful Resource Links

It is no wonder that echolalia can be confusing to the treating SLP!  You might find it helpful to read the research by Dr. Barry Prizant, which indicates that echolalia can occur for a variety of communicative, interactive and non-communicative functions. If you prefer to read his original research, click here for a free download.

If you’d like a more reader-friendly version, there’s a great condensed version at Indiana University Bloomington.

If you are looking for a parent-friendly version of echolalia and what can be done, this WikiHow article is excellent.


My Success Story


Get some practical tips for treating echolalia from Looks-Like-Language!

Using visuals is the best strategy I have found in working with students on the autism spectrum. Did you figure out the statement in my picture, courtesy of Smarty Symbols? A picture is worth a 1,000 words!

I have had success personally in treating young children who demonstrated immediate, communicative echolalia. Instead of answering questions, the only strategy these children had was to echo the question. 

This seemed to be a positive event that indicated that the children actually understood that they were being asked a question since the echolalia did not occur when they were given a simple direction that was understood or asked a question that they knew the answer to.

Because of this, my feeling was that the echolalia meant they couldn’t process the question they were being asked and formulate a response, but they understood that a response was required.

Activity Tips

Visual supports are an important part of the strategies that work. 

* Make sure the child is looking a directly at what is happening (joint attention) and then use simple language that tells about what is being done.

* Make sure that the language literally and directly relates to the ongoing activity.

* Model the language multiple times, pointing at the visual support, before ever asking for a verbal response.

* Repeat one action, providing a model yet again, and then ask a question to elicit the response, immediately modeling the response verbally and visually by pointing at the words or word symbols.

* If the child still echoes the question, model the language with a little more emphasis and stop the action.

* Don’t start the action again until the child gives the desired response. Use the visual to help the child point at the pictured words in the response if you don't get a verbal non-echolalic answer.

* Repeat the question and the response as the action begins again, with more emphasis on the answer than on the response.

* Repeat as needed! Practice, practice, practice!

Literacy Tips

Literacy tips for autism and echolalia from Looks Like Language.
Using pictures in a literacy activity, where the pictures show exactly what the words being used meant, is very helpful since pictures last for processing time.

* Find a book with repetitive text that models the same language you are using in your activity.

* Make your own, if needed, using a set of pictures that show variations of the activity while the language remains the same. It is great to include photos of the child doing that activity!

* Don’t downplay the importance of written text and/or visual symbols even for young non-verbal students. Children with autism who are nonverbal can be hyperlexic and may make sense of the written words first, using that as their cue to understanding the oral language.

Involve Parents!

I made a personal book for a student I had who could answer “What is it?” by labeling nouns, but had no other functional language and immediate echolalia.  Every day, therapy culminated in gluing a picture related to the day’s activity in his book.  

The related question was on the left-hand side of the page, with the pictured activity and a phrase or sentence written under it on the right side of the page. This book became his bedtime story every night. The parents used my modeling technique at first, but by the end of the year, my hyperlexic two year old read the entire book himself and used that language functionally.

Use Visuals and Scripts

* Use the list of possible functions for echolalia from Dr. Prizant to make a hypothesis about what the child is using the echolalia for. This will help you determine a more appropriate way of communication to model.

* Make your modeling visual as well as verbal! Use pictures that SHOW the language.

* Use scripted words, phrases or sentences with symbols and/or written words.  Scripted basically means a functional, communicative phrase or sentence that is visual and modeled/practiced in a communicative context until the child can use it to communicate independently.

* If the words are being used for non-interactive and non-communicative functions, using procedures to extinguish this behavior during interactions and activities may be the way to go, while also working on expanding communicative and interactive skills.

* If there is a communicative function in the way the child is using the echolalic utterances, do the same thing we do for all of our students with language needs!
Set up the situation, model the desired response, pause, model again and wait for a response. Just be sure to provide a visual way to respond using pictures, symbols and written words to match the verbal words you are modeling. 

* Pointing to the visual while modeling the auditory often helps students with autism make sense of the words. It also gives you a way to physically prompt the modeled response, with assisted pointing, before the student becomes too frustrated.


Get Started with Autism with this free download from Looks Like Language!
Did you get the FREE Getting Started with Autism Guide yet? Check it out by clicking here

By supplying your email, you are agreeing to receive the Looks Like Language newsletter (No spam- I promise!)

Don't miss this helpful freebie! 

Enjoy!

Change Can Be Hard! 7 Tips for Students


Teach 'CHANGE' in a non-emotional context- Tips from Looks-Like-Language
Change can truly be hard, even as capable adults, so it is not surprising that it is even more difficult for kids. Add on some communication difficulties, sensory problems, and a struggle that is already in place to make sense of a world with rules that are not understood, and it is no wonder that some of our kids have meltdowns when there is a change. 

In the northeast, spring can be a time of very visible change. In therapy, I like to make use of this to help my students understand what the word 'change' means in a non threatening context. It helps them to see that some changes can be positive, and handled, to help them make a bridge to coping with less welcomed changes. 


I'm sharing some photos of activities that are well loved and well used to let you see an example. The bottom left photo is an activity from a very old Sesame Street magazine. My students just loved it and learned that change can be fun! If you know about current places to get these types of activities, please comment with your resource. If they aren't available, I might give a try at making some because they work so well for eliciting this language!


A GOOD BOOK

I always try to start with a good book. One I love is White Rabbit Color Change by Alan Baker, which can be found as a read aloud on YouTube. Mine has been adapted and models the vocabulary 'change.'


Hands on fun to talk about change! Looks-like-Language
HANDS ON 
Next you need a good hands on activity! If you have a small caterpillar and a butterfly stuffed animal set, follow the picture directions to make a fun hands on activity! You just need a paper towel tube, scissors and tape to make it.
Here are the steps: 
1. Cut the paper towel tube in half lengthwise.
2. Cut the tube in half across the width.
3. Tape the pieces back together to make a cocoon.
4. Hide the butterfly inside.
5. Push the caterpillar into the cocoon and watch the change!

ADAPT A WORKSHEET
How about turning a worksheet into an activity? I love this one adapted from a Frank Schaffer worksheet where they can change a picture scene of winter to one of spring by placing the new scenery on top. To play this game, the students need to request which picture they want to change! Requesting a change may be a new experience for some of our kids, but it is functional for them to use when they don't like something that is going on. 

A LITTLE SABOTAGE

A follow up activity is to have them color the picture afterwards, but sabotage the situation by giving them the wrong color or the kind of marker/crayon/colored pencil they prefer the least. Prompt use of the word 'change.' "Oh, you didn't want blue? You want to change the color?" 

SILLY PICTURES

For older kids, it is fun to use silly pictures. After they identify what is wrong in the picture, have them explain how it should be changed to make it better. 

CARD GAMES

How about a card game? Matching games with pictures of natural changes also work. Changing caterpillars to cocoons to butterflies and solid (snowman) to liquid (water) are common examples.

SOME REAL LIFE

These games can also lead to a discussion of changes kids like versus changes they don't like. Start with the less personal examples, like cold weather versus warm weather, and then move to examples from during the school day. Think about bringing in possible negative changes:
* schedule changes
* teachers being absent
* fire drills
* disappointments over trips being cancelled
* lunch menu suddenly changing to the least favorite food
* no recess
* anything you know could be difficult for your students

Be sure to include positive changes:

* teacher deciding 'no homework'
* a birthday party
* a fun special, like a performance
* the lunch menu suddenly changing to your favorite food
* getting an award or prize
* anything special that happens at your school

When students have the language to think and talk about change in positive as well as negative ways,  it is a necessary stepping stone to having more flexible thinking and problem solving skills to help them cope when changes occur.


What are your favorite ways to teach about change?
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