Friday, April 22, 2016

Visual Strategies Evolve but Never Go Away

Leaving an adult with autism at home so that you and your husband can go away on vacation is an enormous undertaking to say the least. That is what David and I decided to do a few months ago when we started planning for a week away this spring.  Yep, we took a WHOLE week for just the two of us and left our 23-year-old daughter at home (with her supports in place of course).

Kaitlin is an incredible painter, works two days a week in an art store, takes great care of her cat, is a serious soccer player, figure skater, basketball player, and fills the heart of everyone she meets with laughter and joy.  She also has autism and needs a great deal of support in lots of different areas.

Kaitlin and Skittles

Thankfully, our daughter had wonderful early intervention that started when she was two years old.  We learned the value of visual strategies right away. She has been utilizing some form of schedule and to-do lists in her daily life since then. Kaitlin started out with an object schedule way back then and has progressed developmentally through to using a written schedule now. NEVER have we NOT used visual methods to communicate important information to her. 

So, back to the vacation and how we prepped for it so that it could be successful for not only David and me, but for Kaitlin as well. Visuals as I like to call them were how I prepped everyone involved. I made sure that each day was written out for Kaitlin in an inviting way and taped on her communication wall. This way she knew the “who, what, when, why, where, how” of the day. I made a list of each person who would be helping her on each day and the corresponding phone numbers (I will not show that due to confidentiality, but you get it) and put that up there. I also put a list of free time choices for her when she had free time. All of this information was emailed to each caregiver, case manager and neighbor that was helping to assure that this was a great week. Folks, it does take a village!

Visual Information about Kaitlin's Friday (the other list had personal phone numbers on them)

Even visuals for choice time are a must

I can tell you that now David and I are home, rested and relaxed that the visual strategies worked like a charm, but only because we started using them when she was very young, taught her to rely on them, built them as she grew, and continue to utilize them for the flexibility they offer our family and Kaitlin.

Friday, April 1, 2016

April 2016 Task of the Month

We know caregivers often have very limited budgets and time for task-making. They like, however, to keep the tasks fun and fresh and relevant to the students’ learning goals.

To address these issues, we look for toys, such as this one, that are inexpensive and can be used in multiple learning activities.
We purchased this simple toy, a “Tic-Tac-Toe” game at a dollar store. Children can learn the game and practice turn-taking. We always think beyond the use intended and figure out how one purchased item can be used to address many goals and different students’ individual objectives. 

With this toy, teachers can supply two sets of numerals, place one set in the tray provided with the game and the other for matching. The same toy could be used for other matching games - colors, shapes, written words to pictures, written words to color words or to number words and so and on and on. 

OR using small items, students could count out sets to go with the numeral in the tray. (Touch points based on TouchMath strategies can help students who are learning to count.) 

How could you use this toy with your students?  

Inexpensive dollar store toy used for multiple tasks.