Freebies for March- 3 for St. Patrick's Day!

There are some cute little kids wearing the green this week in my free download. They can be added to the open ended cards from my free St. Patrick's Day board game that lets you work on any skill. What could be better?

If you missed the game, don't worry! You can get it for free at my store. Please be sure to leave some kind feedback when you download freebies at TpT. They take some time and effort to put together, and kind words go a long way to keep us motivated!

10 Easy SLP Tips: Choices for Difficult Teens

choices, SLPs, difficult students
As children grow older, the choices they need to make expand in
frequency since they are spending more time away from you and with their peers. Their choices also become bigger, having more impact on their lives at the same time that their peers’ attitudes have a larger role in their lives.

The good news is that parents, teachers and trusted adults still have an important role to play in the lives of pre-teens and teenagers. We can be their sounding boards for decision making, pointing out consequences of decisions that they may not have thought about. We can offer advice, but older students do not welcome being told what to do. I believe that it is important to offer advice as options that students can make, delineating both positive and negative possible consequences related to the choices. By discussing these factors and letting our youngsters make the decision, we are empowering them on their paths to become independent adults.

10 Tips for SLPs: Working with Difficult Students

1) Avoid confrontations over behaviors. Stay calm and point out the negative consequences of the behaviors that the student is choosing to exhibit. (These hints apply to behaviors that are not dangerous or injurious.)
2) Repeat the request or direction and give the student time and space to make a different choice.
3) If the student chooses to continue the inappropriate behavior, make sure to follow up with the negative consequence that was stated.
4) If the student chooses to make a more appropriate choice, continue from wherever you were, unobtrusively helping them to catch up. I also like to find a quiet way to thank the student for making a better choice.
5) Consider whether the student’s inappropriate behaviors were due to internal factors or if it could be a reflection of the difficulty level of the work that was being done at the time. Often students will act out rather than admit that something is difficult or that they need help.
6) Have choices in the work available for students.  When students are having a difficult day, they may respond better to working on their goals via a game or a video clip rather than a worksheet.
7) Communicate that you are aware that something is wrong when your difficult student walks in the door looking upset. Ask the student if they would like to talk about it or get the work done.
8) Be willing to barter on difficult days. Getting a smaller amount of responses than you hoped for is better use of a session than having the student lose it and not accomplish anything at all.
9) Try to put a fun spin on some review work. Often students are willing to use a skill in a role play situation, be the SLP anfd give you the directions, or engage in an online activity on days when they would refuse to complete more typical or harder work.
10) Spend time getting yourself ready for difficult days with ideas related to each of the goal areas on your IEPs. I have a few, fun back up games for general language skills, YouTube clips that can be used for a variety of language skills, and websites for making your own stories or comic strips ready to go at any time. Putting the links to these websites on one document can be helpful for finding them quickly on days when attention spans and tempers are short.

SLPs, games, choices, problems, difficult students
In the picture are some fun games I like to have around for those difficult days.

What are your go-to games or tips for
getting through difficult sessions?

Freebies for March - 2 for St. Patrick's Day!

Soon we will be wearing the green! Make getting ready easier with the open ended game from Looks-Like-Language! Then, check back in weekly to get the additional cards and worksheets to match!

This month, I am adding some targeted goals on my card sets to match the game for those of you who would like a little more structure. If you like to review your own skills, the open ended cards with the game will do the trick! Which set are you getting here? I guess you will have to click and find out!

Get them all with one easy download by signing up for my newsletter. I promise, they are short and sweet!

9 Tips for Teaching Choices to Special Needs Children

Choices: The Most Important Strategy has been my theme this month. I've posted tips for learning to make appropriate choices at varied ages. Don't miss my tips for toddlers and for preschoolers! 

Students with special needs need to go through these steps, too, although often they need more support and can take longer at each step along the way.  That is just their learning pattern. To help yourself out, find a way to snapshot what your child/student is like at intervals, whether it is parental journaling or the extensive record keeping of a special needs teacher or SLP.
Free resources for autism at Looks Like Language!

For parents, think about when you take videos. Usually when we do this, we are trying to catch our kids at their cutest! I’m talking about having some reminder of when they are at their worst. Maybe a family member who doesn't see your child daily will notice the change for you!

Because when they are at their worst sometime in the future, that is when you will find support from seeing that they actually have made changes. When change happens incrementally, it is so hard to see and even harder to keep persevering! 

While our special needs kids also have to learn to make good choices, they can benefit from some additional supports along the way. 

Visuals!  So many students with special needs, especially those with auditory processing problems and those who are on the spectrum, have so much difficulty with oral language. 

Pairing oral language with a visual support provides something with meaning to attach to the words, building comprehension skills whether your student speaks or is nonverbal.

3 Tips for Making Choices with Visuals

My free resource Getting Started with Autism Guide has been updated! Click here to get it!

Teaching Requesting

Hold actual objects in each arm, separated in space, to see which one is looked at, and then:
*Pair the words with the choice. 
*Say the name of the object the child is looking at. *Pause a second to see if the child will verbalize first, but don’t let the child get frustrated. 

For children who don’t vocalize often, pair a pictured symbol with the object.  The easiest way is to cut the logo or photo from the  box, place it in front of the objects and help the child point at it or hand it to you to make a request.

First/Then Boards

You determine the first activity that needs to be done, but the child gets to choose the follow-up activity.

For students who are still learning picture representations, I have found it helpful to place the photo/symbol on the board anyway, with the real object next to it, out of reach, with a wait sign covering easy access to it. You may need to start with one trial before allowing access, building up from there, to let the child see the sequence and come to understand that he will get the desired object after the work is done.

Visual Schedules

When the student understands choice boards and that events occur in a sequence, it is time for visual schedules. 

With a First-Then Board, the student has learned to work through one complete activity before getting a choice. 

You can lengthen the amount slowly by using a visual schedule, showing the sequence of events during a therapy session. I like to use symbols that show the type of activity since they can be re-used, like those in this picture.

I included my ready-to-work attending cues on the top. I would say, "Your hands, feet and mouth need to be quiet so your eyes can look, your ears can listen and your brain can think!" After teaching this, my students often just needed a point cue at the pictures to remind them to get back on track.

3 Tips for Higher Level Students with Special Needs

TIP: When an inappropriate choice is being made, try to keep your emotions out of the picture.  Calmly point out the negative consequence of that choice and ask the student to reconsider their decision. Then give some time and space for thinking, letting it appear that they have come to a better decision independently.

TIP: When the child makes a bad decision, try not to have the “I told you so!” attitude. Comments such as, “We all learn from our mistakes”  can show understanding without assigning blame. It lets you follow up later, when emotions have calmed, with a discussion of how to make reparation and how a similar situation could be handled differently next time.

TIP: When your student has an anxiety component, making choices can be incredibly stressful and lead to more problem behaviors, at times, than just expecting them to follow directions might.  This doesn’t mean that we should not be teaching these students to make choices, just that we need to handle this important growing up skill with kid gloves and collaborate with our teams.

Providing choices so that students can learn to make responsible choices is extremely important!  Do you agree?

Thanks to Educlips for the cute free chalkboards and to Ashley Hughes for the adorable free pockets! 

Freebies for March- St. Patrick's Day!
I don't know about you, but I can never have enough open ended game boards around! All it takes is a make up session, with more than usual mismatched groups, or a day where my students are especially distracted, for me to go looking for a quick and easy game board to pull it all together.

I hope this month's freebie will do that for you! Of course, if all of your students are perfect angels, always, you may not need this, lol! You can download the free game at my store. Each week before the holiday, check back in to get additional game cards and worksheets that coordinate with the game. What a deal!

If you don't want to wait, remember that you can sign up for my weekly newsletter to get the link to all of the freebies (and maybe some extra!) 

Choices and Consequences- Language for Cause-Effect

Choices at Home and in Speech/Language Therapy

Choices and Consequences- Teaching cause-effect at home and in therapy

Your little one who was running headlong into trouble is finally starting to get some idea of what they can do (safe) or can’t do (dangerous.) Whew! But, don’t relax for too long! Just when you take your eye off of them, they manage to get into some kind of trouble.

Preschool is the age when children are ready to learn that actions have consequences. They may not like the consequences, but they are realizing that they exist and are starting to show some skill at pushing your buttons. That means it is time to start teaching them that their actions have consequences, including on the feelings of others.

Choices and Consequences- 3 Tips for at Home
You can help the development of language, thinking skills and good choice making by offering choices with  consequences. This involves making statements like these:
"If you...., then...."
"When you ...., then..."
"If you want to....., then you need to....."
"You did...., so he feels...."
"When you ...., I feel.....because...."

Natural Consequences
Explain to your child what will happen next if inappropriate actions are occurring.  That is the natural consequence.  For example, “You can dump all of the toys out and make a big mess. Then you will have to clean them all up before TV time. Or, you can just take out the toys you want to play with. Then you will be able to clean up faster.”  Be sure to make the consequence you stated happen!

Make Consequences Actionable
Apply a consequence that lets your child  know what your rules are, why you think that and what he can expect to happen. In very simple terms, of course.  For example,  “Screaming in the store is not polite. If you can’t calm yourself down, we will have to go home and take a nap to calm down.” Be sure to have consequences that match the severity level of the behavior and that you can act upon consistently. Be careful of words like ‘never’!

Teach the Consequences for Feelings
Help your child see that actions have impact on other’s peoples’ feelings. Since that doesn’t have a large impact on children’s actions in the beginning, be sure to have another consequence, as well. “When you say mean things,  it hurts your friends’ feelings and makes me sad. You have to use nice words or I will have to stop setting up play-dates for you.”

Choices and Consequences- 3 Tips for SLPs

Choice Time
Making time during the session for the preschooler to be able to have a preferred choice is the easiest way to start teaching that actions have consequences. While we try to make all of our activities engaging, some are more preferred than others and some are harder work! To help our students grow, we are always pushing to get the most we can from them. Sustaining that attention and effort can be tiring, so having a little free choice time as a consequence for making good choices and responding to our demands (even if they are couched in play.)

Teach Cause- Effect Skills with Toys and Books
Little ones have to be able to think ahead to the effects, or consequences, of actions in order to make good choices. 

The easiest way to start teaching this is though toys. They are fun and children can see that their actions have consequences. There are so many great preschool toys for teaching cause-effect. The picture to the left has just a few fun examples. 

Students who have learned the language associated with cause and effect toys are probably into building and imaginary play. You can continue to expand their language skills through modeling in play, but it is a good idea to start incorporating some great cause-effect picture books!
The picture shows are a few of my favorites. Laura Numeroff's books are just general fun, showing 'what happens when,' as are Margery Cuyler's "That's Bad, That's Good!" series. 

David Shannon's series of David books shows the consequences of little David's poor choices, with such great pictures! Kids just love seeing other kids get into trouble! 

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst is a classic book that lets you introduce perspective taking skills. Does your student think the same way as Alexander?

Actions and Feelings- Social Language
It is so very important that we provide our students with the language for emotions, both verbally and non-verbally, for thinking about how others feel, whether we are modeling sharing during our play with toys or choosing books with appropriate themes for discussion.  

SO many of the choices a student makes all day long after entering school have emotional impacts on others! Students who are not able to think about the consequences their actions have on themselves and others lack the basis for making good decisions. 

When instructional time is spent dealing with behaviors, the student isn’t learning. Having the language skills does not guarantee good behaviors and choices, but it does provide a way to intervene!

February Freebie- Valentine's Color Match Game

February and Valentine's Day are all about love and friendship. I hope you have already downloaded my free game! If not, you can get it at my store.
Add a Little Kindness from Looks-Like-Language!

This week's Freebie for a Fun Friday includes a set of cards to use with my game to open a discussion of kindness. Such an important topic for every room in the school!  It also includes a worksheet that can be used for homework after playing the game. Just click here or on the picture of the cards to add a little kindness to your room!

If you want the rest of the worksheets, sign up with your email in the 'Get my newsletter' box. The link will come in my next newsletter, which is sent out every Tuesday. I realized that I had to speed things up a little to start getting you all of the materials before these mid-month holidays! This way, we can get a head start on March after Valentine's Day!

I hope you are feeling the love!
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