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Teaching Answering Where Questions for Preschool or Autism – Adapted Books

12 Nov

It was a three day weekend, so I got busy finishing up two projects for working on answering “where” questions with my preschoolers with autism. I find that many of my preschoolers who are beginning to grasp answering “wh” questions get stuck after learning how to answer “What is it?” and “What is he/she/it doing?” questions.  As with many concepts, providing visuals for language delayed preschoolers or students with autism can be a big help when teaching answering “wh” questions. With that in mind, I created two printable packs for working on answering “where” questions that are loaded with visual supports. One pack has an animal theme and the other has a vehicle theme.

Both packs contain the same styles of activities:

  • An adapted book with visuals
  • A printable, coloring book with visuals
  • Printable puzzles with visuals
  • Worksheet with visuals

Where Questions Vehicles Adapted Book and ActivitiesWhere Questions Animals Adapted Book
The adapted books each feature 5 different “where” answers. The animal book focuses on animal homes (jungle, web, nest, pond, and farm) and the vehicles book focuses on places where the vehicles go (road, train tracks, sky, ocean, and outer space).

You can see an example of what the “Where Do the Vehicles Go?” book looks like when put together below on the left and a preview page showing some of the elements of the “Where Do the Animals Live?” book on the right below.

Where Questions Vehicles Adapted Book Animal Homes Book preview page

Just print, cut the pages on the dotted lines, laminate, add a bit of velcro and you are ready to go. I used a metal ring to hold the book together but plastic binding would work great too. I use the books during whole group circle time in my preschool classes and during pull-out speech therapy. The kids have been loving them!

To work on carryover, each pack also includes a black and white printable book with line drawings so kids can color the vehicles and animals. My classes use these during their center time and send them home so parents can see what their child is working on in school.

Animal Homes Printable page 2

Vehicle Places Printable page 3

The packs also include printable puzzles for matching the vehicle/animal with where they belong and a worksheet.

The packs are available on Teachers Pay Teachers. Click on the links below to head over there!

Where Questions for Preschool and Autism Adapted Book and Activities Pack – Animals

Where Questions for Preschool and Autism Adapted Book and Activities Pack – Vehicles

See Touch Learn Pro – iPad App Review

23 Sep

I have been using the See. Touch. Learn. Pro App from Brain Parade quite a bit over the last year, so it’s definitely time I reviewed it. Last year, when I only had preschoolers on my caseload this is the app that I used by far the most. There is a free version which is great if you just want to get an idea of how the app works. I bought the pro version ($39.99) because it comes with over 4,000 images and allows you to use your own images to make activities. Another great perk of the pro version is access to the “community” which is a section you can go to download activities and picture libraries that other user have created and uploaded.

The app is organized into “Lessons”, “Libraries”, “Community”, and “Settings” sections. The “Settings” screen lets you control several aspects of the lessons like whether you want to show text prompts, automatically advance to the next exercise after a correct choice, or wiggle an incorrect card (I have this one set to “off” because my kids loved making the card wiggle and kept touching the incorrect cards and laughing their heads off!).

The “Libraries” section shown below, shows you all the picture libraries that are available to download organized into sections. In this section you can also make your own libraries if you have the Pro version by downloading pictures from the internet or adding them from your Camera Roll. The ability to add your own pictures is so cool because you can make activities completely customized to your students.

See Touch Learn Libraries

The “Lessons” section shown below, comes with a ton of pre-made activities. They are organized into categories like “Objects”, “People”, and “Other”. As you make your own activities you chose a category to place the activity in. I wish there was flexibility here to create your own categories because I end up adding a lot of the activities I have made into the “Other” category. The pre-made activities offer a great way to get started right away using the app and cover lots of academic and language concepts. You can also edit the pre-made activities by making a duplicate of the activity and then editing it to your liking. The thing I like least about the pre-made activities is the digitized voice that says the prompts. My kids found it hard to understand so I ended up editing any activity I wanted to use frequently by adding my own voice as the prompt. It’s great that you can record your own voice for the prompts, it just takes a bit of time.

See Touch Learn ActivitiesOn the Lessons screen you can create folders to organize your activities a little more. You can see that I have created a “Preschool” folder. I put the pre-made activities I liked for my preschoolers as well as the activities I made in that folder. I plan on making an “Elementary” folder as soon as I get some more time to start making some activities for my elementary kids.

When you select an activity, a screen comes up showing all the parts of the activity. From this screen, you can choose to play the activity or edit it. There is also a setting now in the Lessons screen that allows you to choose “Play Mode” so if a child is using the App they will only be able to play activities not edit them.

See Touch Learn ActivityOnce you select “Play Lesson”, the activity opens and the prompt is read. When the child selects the correct picture(s), a reinforcement sound is played (you can change this in the Settings screen). I wish there was an option in the Settings screen for randomly playing a reinforcement sound because it gets a little repetitive hearing the same reinforcement sound over and over again through an activity.

See Touch Learn Category ActivityThis photo shows a categories activity I made for my preschoolers. The activities focus mostly on receptive academic and language skills although you can make any of the activities expressive as well by requiring your child to give you an expressive response before moving on. The best part of the app is the wide variety of language goals you can target with it. I have made activities for all types of “WH” questions, vocabulary, object functions, what goes together, pronouns, concepts, action words, categories, and negation! I think that is what makes this app worth the price.

I plan on making a lot of new activities with the app for my elementary students. It would be easy to make a quick comprehension test for any book you are reading, custom vocabulary cards, and really anything that you would do with flashcards normally. My kids are much more motivated to use the iPad than flashcards any day!

PROS

  • Huge picture library
  • Allows you to add your own pictures
  • Allows you to create and customize activities
  • Motivating for kids
  • Access to Community activities

CONS

  • Price
  • Digital voice difficult to understand
  • Reinforcement sounds get repetitive

Overall, I would absolutely recommend this app for speech pathologists, special educators, and teachers. If you enjoy making your own activities and customizing, I think you will particularly love this app. If you just want to use the app as is, you may get a little frustrated. It is worth it to take the time to make some awesome, custom activities!

If you have any questions about what the app can do or be used for, please post them in the comments below.

Pronouns Interactive Game for Preschool and Up

20 Sep

It’s been a busy week of getting to know my new kids and starting therapy, so I haven’t had a chance to post about the new activity I made. I have kids on my caseload (and always do) that have pronouns goals. Flashcards work for my older kids but don’t keep my preschoolers’ interest so I created a hands on activity to keep them interested while we work on pronouns. It is also great for working on plurals, is/are verb+ing, and general sentence structure.

Pronouns Preschool Speech Therapy GameSince it is food-based, I decided to name it the Yum Yum Pronouns Game. It focuses on the pronouns “he”, “she”, and “they”. It’s a printable game that includes game cards that show either a girl, boy, or girl and boy as well as a food item. A child picks a card and labels it with whatever language targets you are working on. It could be “he/she is eating an ______” if you would like to use present progressive verb tenses or “they ate two apples” if you would like the child to use past tense verbs. It also has large pictures of a girl, boy, and girl and boy; as well as lots of small food picture cards that correspond to the foods on the game cards. Those pictures are sized to fit a square tissue box. I cut out the mouth areas on the picture and on the box, so when a child chooses a game card they can then find the matching food and feed it to the matching boy, girl, or boy and girl. After a child completes their turn they get to keep the game card and the player with the most cards at the end is the winner. To make the game more exciting, there are also “Ants! Lose a Card!” and “Ice Cream Truck! Take Another Turn!” cards.

I also included printable dice templates so that the game could be played in a more open-ended manner. To play the dice version of the game, roll both dice then choose a food picture that matches the food showing on the dice and feed it to the matching person/people while labeling what you are doing (i.e., “She is eating ice cream”).

If you do not want to put the pictures on a tissue box, you can also just tape them to the front of a sandwich baggie and cut out the mouth holes to still have an interactive game. I also thought this format  would be great to adapt to work on the dreaded “I” and “You” pronouns by putting a picture of the child and a parent or teacher on the box. Then you could take turns feeding each person targeting things like “I am eating a cookie” and “You are eating a banana”. Working on “I” and “you” is so tough I am constantly trying to think of ways to work on it!

I made the game to keep my preschoolers interested, but it works great with any age child who is working on pronouns. I used it with kids all the way up to third grade this week and got rave reviews!

If you would like the game, it is available on Teachers Pay Teachers here.

New Favorite Speech Therapy Circle Time Song

5 Sep

A while back I wrote about my Most Requested Circle Time Song and while the “We All Go Traveling By” book that my preschoolers fondly refer to as “the bus song” is still a hot pick in my preschool circle times a new song has taken over top spot.

It is called “Can An Elephant Jump” by ELF Learning and it is so entertaining and targets several language skills that lots of my preschoolers are working on. Here is a YouTube video of the song with some cute animation. You can either play the song there or download the whole album here. I bought the whole album because I think they have some great songs and I wanted to be able to play the song during circle time.

The song is fantastic for targeting asking questions, answering yes/no questions and verbs. I created visuals with Boardmaker to go with each part of the song to give my kids visual supports and they love looking at those too. I hope this song stays popular with my preschoolers this year because I never seem to get sick of it unlike some of my other popular songs (I’m looking at you Spider on the Floor!).

**I am not affiliated with ELF Learning and earn no money from them, just a big fan!

Autism coverage mandated in California under bill signed by Brown – latimes.com

9 Oct

Autism coverage mandated in California under bill signed by Brown – latimes.com.

Great news for families with children with autism! Very interested to see how this law will be implemented though, I’m sure insurance companies won’t make it easy!

To mainstream or to not mainstream…

23 Sep

Earlier this week an episode of  NBC’s Parenthood focused on Max, who has Asperger’s, and his first time mainstreaming into a general ed classroom. In my opinion, Parenthood continued to do a great job depicting another issue that many parents of children with special needs will probably face during their child’s school age years. The question of whether to mainstream or not is a complex one and one that I believe truly needs to be dealt with on a child by child basis. Mainstreaming can undoubtedly be beneficial for the development of  a child but it also needs to be approached cautiously.

There are many philosophies on mainstreaming varying from full inclusion of children with special needs into the general education environment to virtually no mainstreaming with children with special needs being isolated to their own classrooms or campuses. In my caseload of preschoolers, I have children who run the whole spectrum of mainstreaming options and it seems to work fairly well. Our most impacted preschoolers with autism are in classrooms specifically for children with autism that are set up in a reverse mainstreaming system. Reverse mainstreaming means that while the classroom is set up for the students with autism, peers without special needs also attend the class with the goal of them providing good models of language, behavior, etc. We also have preschoolers that attend special day classes that consist of students with a variety of special needs. These students mainstream daily on the playground and for varying amounts of time in the general education preschool classrooms based on their needs. We also have student’s with autism who are fully included in the general education preschool classrooms with some extra supports like behavior specialists and speech therapists supporting them. I may be biased (I am) but I think we do a fairly good job of matching a student’s needs and learning styles with the amount of mainstreaming they receive. Of course we are not perfect but we are always trying to provide more and more mainstreaming for our students under the restraints of what we can do in a public school system in this day and age with budget cuts restricting some flexibility.

The aspect of Max’s mainstreaming experience that struck me the most was the lack of support for both Max and his teacher. A child with special needs should never be dropped in a classroom without loads of support that can be backed off when the time is right. Modifications and accommodations can be made to help a child navigate the classroom and his school work successfully. While I am generally not a fan of providing a “shadow” or “one on one” aide to a student, providing some classroom support in the form of an extra adult in the room trained to work with the student can be very helpful to both the student and teacher. I also feel that one of the aspects that is most lacking is training for general education teachers on strategies for working with student’s with autism. Even some basic training on behavioral strategies can go a long way with helping a general education teacher provide the best learning environment for a child who is mainstreaming in her classroom.

I look forward to future episodes of Parenthood to see how Max’s first year of mainstreaming progresses! Just like with my students I hope that the right mainstreaming setup for Max will be found and that he will have the best school year possible!

 

LA Times Article: Putting Ezra First

21 Sep

Autism: Putting Ezra First – LA Times

Today I read this great op-ed piece in the L.A. Times by Tom Fields-Meyer who is a dad of a teenager with autism. I absolutely love the attitude that he takes towards his son and his autism. Instead of mourning his son’s autism, he embraces his quirky qualities and views his autism in a very positive manner.  I understand that every parent’s situation is different and that kind of perspective may not apply to all families of children with special needs. However, I try to maintain a similar attitude to that of Mr. Fields-Meyer while working with all of my students. My goal everyday is to help my kids develop their speech, language, and social skills to the best of their ability but my goal is not to “fix” them.

I plan on reading the book written by Tom Fields-Meyer: “Following Ezra: What One Father Learned About Gumby, Otters, Autism, and Love from His Extraordinary Son” and will post my impressions of it when I am done!

Back to School Speech Therapy Tips

31 Aug

Well summer is ending and tomorrow I head back to school for the new school year! Of course I am sad to see summer vacation end but I always get filled with anticipation for what a new school year holds. I know I will be working with several new teachers in our autism specific preschool classrooms so one of my first goals for the year is to establish good collaborative relationships with them.

If you have a child who will be receiving speech therapy this year here are a few tips to get the school year off to a good start:

  • Contact your child’s teacher and ask them for contact info for the speech pathologist (SLP).
  • After a few weeks of school, contact the SLP. Ask he/she what your child’s schedule is for speech therapy and what is the easiest way to contact him/her. I much prefer email but that may differ from SLP to SLP.
  • Pull out your child’s IEP and look over the goals. Make sure that they are still appropriate for your child. Many children make great developmental jumps over the summer break so they may have surpassed their goals.
  • If you feel changes need to be made to the IEP, contact your child’s teacher or SLP to schedule an IEP.

Have a great start to the new school year!

Autism Speaks Individualized Education Plan (IEP) Guide

25 Aug

Autism Speaks recently published an IEP Guide for parents. It looks like a clearly written guide that includes some letter templates that parents can use when communicating with their school district. It is quite a bit of information so it may be overwhelming to parents new to the special education world. I think the best way for parents to understand the special education process is to talk to parents that have already been through the process. Our district has a Parent Support Network that connects parents of special education students for this purpose. If you are a parent new to special education, check with your school district or regional center to see if they have a similar program that will connect you with fellow parents.

How to play with your child with autism – YouTube video

27 Jul

 

This YouTube video demonstrates some great skills for caregivers of young children with autism to learn when it comes to encouraging joint play and language skills. A few of the highlights:

  • Imitate: One of the best ways to establish a connection with a child with autism is to imitate their actions. Imitation is a core deficit for children with autism so trying to get your child to imitate your actions may often be unsuccessful and frustrating until they have mastered that skill. Instead of trying to get your child to imitate you, copy what they are doing and you may be surprised with the outcome!
  • Reduce your language: It’s often our first instinct to think we should inundate our children on the spectrum with lots of words and asking questions to get them using more words. Instead, focus on a few key words relevant to an activity your child is interested in. Make sure to follow your child’s eye gaze so that you know you are giving them words that correspond with what they are looking at. Also, don’t forget to include words other than nouns – action words (“up!”, “go!”) and exclamations (“uh-oh”, weeee!”) are often great words to focus on because they are motivating and fun.
  • Choose related toys: If you notice your child enjoys putting items in and taking them out of a familiar toy try to find other toys that have this feature and show your child how to use the new toy. Other aspects of toys that a child may be drawn to are spinning things, items that roll down, and noise making toys. Don’t be too disappointed if you think you have discovered a perfect toy that your child will love only for them to show no interest, that has happened to even the best teachers many times!

I think the most important aspect that the video shows is that “intervention” should be fun for the child and can be implemented by any person – not just therapists and teachers!