The Koegel Autism Center is currently conducting a research study on a a 6-week online course in Pivotal Response Treatment (PRT) to help parents improve their child's language and social skills. The study is for parents of children ages 12 to 48 months.
I haven't used PRT with children this young, but I love using PRT methods with my students. They're child-centered and use the child's interests as a teaching tool to increase motivation and teaching effectiveness.
I made some new schedules for some of my students, so I added them to my set of "First-Then" Charts. The set now includes 8 printable charts:
Two activity horizontal chart
Three activity horizontal chart (in the picture above)
Six activity horizontal chart
Two activity vertical chart
Three activity vertical chart
Six activity vertical chart
Picture and text combination schedule
To use the charts, you'll put photos, pictures, or text representing activities for the student to complete. I like to attach the photos with Velcro and then have the student take them off the chart when the activity is finished. I also laminate the charts for durability. This also allows you to write on the charts with a dry erase marker if you're writing words on the schedule instead of using pictures.
If your student has never used a visual schedule before, start with the chart with two boxes. Choose a fast, easy activity for the first box and put a fun activity for the second box. This allows the student to get used to the idea of doing a work activity first and then getting to do a fun activity. Once you've practiced this a few times, you can do a longer activity before the "reward," and eventually add multiple activities before the reward.
I'm working on putting together a set of activities to teach the process of doing science experiments to my students with autism. I'm so excited to share it with you when it's ready, but in the meantime, I'm sharing my logs for students to use to record their science experiment observations. This set of four science experiment logs can be used for any experiment and are designed for use in general or special education classrooms. It includes options for beginning writers, more advanced writers, as well as non-writing options using pictures or drawings. Click on either the image above or the link below to preview the logs. https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Differentiated-Science-Experiment-Logs-for-Any-Experiment-3685299
I also offer science teaching/tutoring to students with autism in their homes in areas east of Dallas in Texas. Click here for the info!
This story was written as a reminder to help students remember to use a strategy for calming down. Before using the story, you will want to identify a strategy for the student to use (such as counting to ten, going to a quiet area of the classroom, etc.) and have taught it to the student in advance. Some resources for this are on page 3 of the story document.
This story can be used to remind the student to use the strategy and how to ask an adult for help when he or she feels angry. There are places in the story to customize it with your child/student's name and photo, as well as with the particular "calm down" strategy(ies) you've taught to the student. The story should be read regularly by the student (if necessary) at times when he or she is not angry. Stories like this should not be used as “punishments” when a student is experiencing angry or "negative" behavior. They are a proactive, preemptive teaching strategy to help students develop strategies they can use to self-calm.
For more information about using social narratives to teach positive behaviors, please check out this book:
Note: If your child or student is experiencing aggressive or self-injurious behavior, please make sure to contact the appropriate licensed professionals, such as a Board Certified Behavior Analyst or psychologist/counselor. This story (or the tips in this blog post) are not intended to replace professional advice of any kind.
If you've been following me a while, you know I think it's important to teach science to students with autism. With all of the other skills our students are working on, science is easy to overlook. It might not seem as important as communication or social skills, but it has lots of benefits, including supporting language and social skills.
Here are some of the reasons I feel so strongly about teaching things like technology and electricity to students:
People with autism are often naturally interested in technology, so you can use it to increase motivation for learning,
Learning about robotics, electronics, and technology can help students learn stills that may help them in the workforce,
Doing these activities can help develop and improve fine-motor skills,
Learning electronics and robotics can lead to social/educational opportunities. I'd love to see more students with autism join the robotics teams at their high schools. Meeting others with similar interests can increase opportunities for friendship and socialization.
Here are some examples of things to teach using a great kit called SnapCircuits:
Here are some additional lesson plans and activities on this topic for students with autism. The first one is an interactive book from Curriculum for Autism. I love interactive books because they allow students to read about a topic and respond to questions in the book.
Electricity Safety Activities: These activities teach some basic electricity safety rules for common situations (such as how to safely unplug something). I like to combine these activities with live modeling and supervised practice of the guidelines contained in the activities.
Electricity and Circuits Science Unit 1 Introduce basic concepts about electricity and circuits with this printable, hands-on activity set. Includes background info for teachers, so you can just print the pages and start the lessons with almost no prep! You can also just show the pages on a tablet, computer or phone screen. Each page has everything on it that you need to say and do with your student. Note: these lessons are designed to be used with a kit like SnapCircuits.
In a cooperative game, the players work together as a team to win the game. Instead of playing against each other with just one winner, the players work together to achieve a common goal. They win or lose as a team. What's great about these types of games is that children can learn to strategize and problem-solve together, building trust, confidence, and a sense of teamwork. I think that these types of games can be very helpful for facilitating real-world social skills in a positive and non-competitive environment.
Some strategies you can use to teach the social skills students will need for participating in games with their peers include:
Social StoriesTM: (including information, specific to each game, talking about how to play and about how it is okay if something negative happens in the game, such as a piece of the island sinking in "Forbidden Island," getting an outbreak of an illness in "Pandemic," or losing the game entirely.)
Modeling: demonstrating how to play the game, probably one step at a time, and having the student imitate. It may help for the teacher or parent to practice the game with the student (using the above strategies) in advance of playing the game with peers.
Visual Cues for Turn-Taking: one of the things some of my students have difficulty with when playing games like this is knowing when it's their turn (and frankly, I have trouble remembering whose turn it is too sometimes!). I often use a visual cue like this one to help.
Here are some of my favorite cooperative games from preschool-age through adulthood. The games are listed in order from youngest-age to teens/adults.
Count Your Chickens The baby chicks have flown the coop and mother hen needs help! Players work together to bring the all the chicks home. Ages 3+, 2-4 players, Plays in 10-15 minutes
Hoot Owl Hoot Get all the owls home to their nest before the sun rises! Ages 4+, 2-4 players, Plays in 15 minutes
Race to the Treasure It's a race to see who can get to the treasure first - the players or the Ogre. If you make it to the treasure before the Ogre, everyone wins! Ages 5+, 2-4 players, Plays in 20 minutes
Mermaid Island In a lively and strategic game of chase, players work together to get to Mermaid Island before the sea witch. Ages 5+, 2-6 players, Plays in 15-20 minutes
A Few Examples of Games for Teens and Adults I own all of these games and they're really fun!
Forbidden Island Join a team of fearless adventurers on a mission to capture four sacred treasures from the ruins of a perilous paradise. Ages 10+, 2-4 players, Plays in about 30 minutes.
Forbidden Desert A thrilling adventure to recover a legendary flying machine buried deep in the ruins of an ancient desert city. Ages 10+, 2-5 players, Plays in about 45 minutes.
Pandemic A cooperative board game in which players work as a team to treat infections around the world while gathering resources for cures. Ages 10+, 2-4 players, Plays in about 45 minutes.
As a teacher, I have some mixed feelings about this idea. I do agree with the overall opinions presented in this article, and think it's important to consider the perspectives of autistic people when we're creating our lesson and intervention plans.
I wrote this short story to describe what kids might expect at an elementary school Valentine's Day class party. I know it often helps my students to get familiar with upcoming events before they happen, as well as expectations for behavior at those events. A social narrative teaches these ideas in a calm and reassuring way. You can download a PDF of my story here: http://www.positivelyautism.com/downloads/SocialStoryValentinesDay.pdf
For more information about writing social narratives for your children or students, I highly recommend this book. I attended a training with the author of this book years ago, and the method is excellent!
It can be tricky to assess the writing level of a student with autism, since standardized testing often doesn't work well for these students. I also don't find it particularly helpful to get too caught up in test scores and such, since they don't often reflect your child's unique gifts and strengths.
However, it can be helpful to know an estimation of your child or student's writing level to help you plan lessons and activities that will be appropriately challenging to help him or her grow. If you're searching for activities on sites like TPT, it may also help you to narrow your search by grade level.
To get an idea of your child's writing level, I find it helpful to get a sample of your child's writing and compare it to samples written by children at different grade levels. You'll find the writing samples that your child's writing most closely resembles, and use that a grade-level estimate of your child's current writing skills.
A great resource to help with this is Reading Rockets. On this page, they have writing samples of students in preschool through third grade. You'll want to look at multiple samples from each grade level to see which ones your child's writing matches best with overall.
You may be wondering how to get a writing sample from your child. One option is to give him or her a picture and a blank paper and ask him or her to write a story about the picture or write what's happening in the picture.
Another idea is to have him or her fill in a story graphic organizer to get an idea of what he or she can come up with for a story.
Here are some graphic organizers you can use for a pre-assessment of your child's writing ability. You will want to have your child fill in the form without help. You can point out the description of each section and clarify these descriptions, but don't give your child examples or ideas. It feels weird not to provide help and prompts to help your child learn, but for now, you want to know what your child can do without help.
Whichever method you choose, you'll just want to make sure not to give your child any prompts or help with writing. If my students ask for help, I usually praise them for asking, but gently reassure them that whatever they can write is fine...it's not really a test. It will just help me know what they already know so I can plan what to teach them next.
Once you have an estimation of the grade-level for your child's current writing skills, you can select lesson plans and activities at this level to work on with your child to increase these skills.
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