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

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!

5 Things NOT to Do When Building Conversation Skills

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.

FREE Getting Started with Conversation Guide- Looks Like Language

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:

* using imitative skills to have "conversations" which went nowhere.

* 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,' resulting in students getting confused about what was expected 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 a limited range of topics or when prompted.

I knew that there must be a way to build conversation skills visually and avoid 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've had the clinician tested materials available 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!

See what happy buyers have had to say:

"What a wealth of resources! The variety of books, games, and worksheets really offer a ton of ideas for therapy."

"So many great activities and materials for conversations!"

"These are great packets. Great visuals. Simple enough for almost any age/skill level. I really like the way each of these activities are presented and my kids enjoy them as well."

"I have been struggling to make/come up with activities for these skills, this bundle is going to be SO helpful in my sessions. THANK YOU!"

I want to help you see the information behind these useful materials, so I decided to make this brand new FREE guide call Getting Started with Conversation! 

It will help you with assessing current student status, planning therapy,  and measuring progress. 

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 a monthly hello from me.


Build turn taking skills for conversation with loads of fun activities and printables!
Are you stressed for time? Are you too busy to create your own materials? Then try this out!

This fun packet is full of engaging activities for differentiated instruction and skill building, printable games and a checklist for tracking progress.

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.


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