Jul 27, 2015

Do this........Nonverbal imitation for students with autism

Why non-verbal imitation for students with autism?  Simple. We all learn through imitating others.   From the time we are born, we look at what others do and we try it too.  For example, if you walk into a room and see everyone standing, chances are, you would stand too. Some students with autism do not naturally possess this skill.  They may not automatically look to others to find information or answers.  And with this disconnect comes missed opportunity to learn.

This is where the "special"  in special education kicks in. Many students can learn this skill of imitating through focused and direct instruction on imitating.  And, although it may not appear in the student's educational plan, knowing how to imitate has extreme impact on a student's performance in the classroom.

There are a few things to keep in mind when you teach this skill:

1.  It may be easier to begin asking the student to imitate the manipulation of a toy or some other object. It also may be easier if you both have the same identical object. 
2. Next, try working on large motor movements with arms, hands or feet. 
3. Move the imitation request to actions around the room. Be sure the student waits for you to finish the action before they attempt to imitate. 
4. After the student seems to get the hang of this over days, or weeks, add in fine motor imitation.  
5. Students by now may be ready to advance to having you request 2 step then 3 step imitation sequences.

Resources to help teach this skill: 

Action Words, Imitation Skills, & Verb Task Cards for Students with Autism

These task cards provide teachers and para-professionals the words to say and skills to work on to help students perform action word imitation skills.  The cards are designed for classrooms that may have more than one adult working with a student on the skill. They serve as a visual reminder to the adult. This way, everyone stays on the same page. 

Each task card is half a page in size.  They can be laminated to increase durability. On each page, one task card is for Motor Imitation and the other is for Motor Performance. Typically, the motor imitation cards would be taught and mastered before expecting the student to do the motor performance task cards. 

Jul 26, 2015

We Mastered Tracing and Imitating Lines...Now What?

At this point, I might as well continue discussing the other fine motor supports that are available through Autism Classroom.  The other posts discussed tracing lines, curves and shapes, but what do you do when those skills are mastered?  Well... work on the alphabet of course!

Here are the remaining fine motor skill builders from Autism Classroom.  The first is

Autism, Special Education, Kindergarten- ABC-123 Writing Task Cards

These are for building skills in  tracing the alphabet and in tracing numbers. Uppercase and lowercase dashed print numbers are included. They come two on a page and can be cut to created a half-page size task card.  This makes it easy to choose the letters you want.  For example, the specific letters in a student's name can be used to help him or her begin to write his or her name.  Additionally, there is a bonus set with "bubble" font so that students can trace inside or use playdough to make letters.

Autism, Special Ed., Kindergarten Fine Motor Imitation Task Cards (ABC's)


Similar, but slightly different are the ABC Motor Imitation Task Cards.  These task cards and printables require the student to see the alphabet letter on one side, then trace it in the empty spot on the other side. The printable has 5 letters on the page, to allow for 5 trials on one page. To see more click on the picture below.

Click for More Information

Jul 24, 2015

Teaching Fine Motor Imitation with Lines and Shapes

Once I discovered this idea of creating task cards, I rolled with it. I decided tho use them to address fine motor imitation skills.  These are task cards and printables that work on drawing lines, curves, and shapes. 

Task Cards

Using the task cards, students will see one image on the left and will have to draw the same thing on the right.  Each page holds two cards that can be laminated (for best results use cards stock) and cut in half to make two task cards.  Once laminated, dry erase markers can be used. Or, they can be placed in a plastic sheet protector and used with a dry erase marker. 

                                                        Click for more information.


The printables include a space for the student to complete 5 trials of a skill on one sheet of paper. These would be best printed out on regular paper if you want to photo copy them.  This way an instructor could record 5 trials at one time. One of the things I like is that there is one plain white background set (to save ink) and one blank worksheet that can be used for any skill you may want to work on that day.

The resource includes directions printed at the top of the pages to help those instructing remember what to say to cue the response. The resource also includes:

Horizontal lines
Vertical lines
Curved lines
Slanted lines
Letters T,V,O, C

Jul 23, 2015

Scissor Skills Sequence and Adapted Scissors for Students Learning Fine Motor Skills

Early this week, I wrote about fine motor skills related to writing.  We also know that our students sometimes have trouble with cutting and scissor skills.  Obviously, first, we have to teach scissor safety so that kids are not endangering themselves and others. For some students, this may mean that you stay close to them at all times when using scissors.  For others, it may mean starting with plastic safety scissors.  Still others might simply need to know what to with the scissors and they can take it form there. 

When I work with students to increase scissor skills, I use a variety of scissor types.  For example, for students who really have safety as an issue, I might use an "ultra safe" kids scissors product.  For students who can close the scissors, but might have a hard time opening then, I might use an "easy spring" scissor product because it automatically springs back into action.  Additionally, I like the scissors that allow for all four of the students fingers to go in the bottom hole and the thumb at the top so that they have somewhere to place their fingers while cutting.  And.......I cannot say enough about the combo pair with all of these innovations in one!

Teaching Scissor Skills

Once you have decided what tool to use, it is time to begin teaching the skill.  First, assess what the student already knows about cutting paper.  Some kids know to place the scissors up to the paper and some do not. After you get your starting point, teach that skill.  For many starting out, the first step is to make small snips in paper. These can be without lines for the student to cut specifically or you could give them a visual cue of where to cut. If paper is to flimsy, try an index card for making snips in paper.

The resource called Cutting Practice and Scissor Work for Beginners provides handouts with sequenced steps for scissor work.  

Most pages contain several trials of the skill on one page.  

The resource also includes lines, curves, and shapes.

                                                     Click for More Information

The steps to cutting the square is broken down into parts.  First, the student will need to cut a straight line to "cut a square" shape. You set it up so that after they finish, they have a square.  Next, you provide them with just an L shaped line, so that after they cut the L-shaped line, they have a square. Third, you give them a square with 3 lines to cut. After they have mastered all of these, you can give them the full square to cut. For some students, this task is easier if you use card stock paper which is not as flimsy as regular copy paper. 

If you need to teach this skill, give these tips a try.  Bring lots of patience. Have fun!

Jul 21, 2015

Fine Motor Skill Sequence for Students Learning Fine Motor Skills

Fine Motor is an area addressed in many general education classrooms and special education classrooms.  There are often a great number of skills kids need when addressing this area. Throughout the years I have provided information  related to a sequential method for addressing fine motor skills. But just last year, I was able to put all of that info together in a uniform and concise package. This is the end result...

Autism, Special Education, Kindergarten- Fine Motor Task Cards

These task cards are for working on fine motor skills.  Each page contains two cards.  The pages can be laminated and them used with dry erase markers or play dough, etc. 

Often, it helps to teach students these skills in a sequenced order.  This is my favorite set of steps that I was taught by an occupational therapist years ago.

Tracing horizontal lines

Tracing vertical lines

Tracing curved lines

Tracing crosses

Tracing slanted lines

Tracing the letters T, V, O, C

These items are all included along with a set of cards without words.


Jul 20, 2015

Setting Up the Special Education Classroom for Success

It is that time of year to start slowly and calmly start thinking about what you want your classroom to look like when school begins...but no pressure here.  It is still summer.  However, it's probably time for me to do a slightly detailed exploration of the book How to Set Up a Classroom for Students with Autism-Second Edition. I say this because, this is the type of information you want to take in a little at a time.

                                                      Click for More Information

The book begins with some information about autism, strengths of individuals with autism, and implications for teaching. This beginning chapter also outlines the 10 main strategies that will be discussed in the book.

What else does it talk about?

First Things First - You need to know that this is a process and will take time. Also, you will need to gather materials and check with your school to see if they have some of those materials.  Most importantly, the First Things First chapter gives about 15 ideas (if you need ideas) for para-professionals on what to do those first few days of school to get the classroom ready.

Why is it unique?

There is a set of discussion questions at the end of each chapter to help if you are using the book for professional development or if you just want to better analyze what you read. Additionally, there is a list on the first page of each chapter that teachers and administrators can use to identify key elements in the classroom.  And, how can I forget, there is a "GAME PLAN" at the end of each chapter to tell you exactly what to do to get started implementing what you have learned.

Want more?

The assessment chapter, of course, describes some assessments that are important for students with significant special needs. The schedules chapter, of course, talks about a variety of schedules. But more importantly, it tells you why to use them. And,  it gives ideas for creating them. The classroom environment chapter provides a detailed checklist and TONS of information about setting up the various area of the classroom. This is my favorite chapter!

Data collection is always a hot topic and it is addressed with a few samples. Those looking for ideas for how to motivate a classroom team, will find it in this book too.  With a behavior support chapter, a sensory chapter and sample templates for routines and lessons, this book always lives up to its nickname "a mentor teacher in a book."  It is available through purchase order at discounted bulk prices at AutismClassroom.com. It is also available online in paperback and electronically at any major book seller, through AutismClassroom.com or through Teachers Pay Teachers- Autism Classroom Store.

Jul 18, 2015

Autism and Special Education Back to School MEGA BUNDLE

Calling all planners and organizers!!!

I am so pleased to announce that it is MEGA BUNDLE time! This Autism &
Special Education Back to School MEGA bundle is a PDF compressed zip file
with 900+ pages. This product contains awesome bundles and products that can help jump start the learning for the school year for students in the early elementary years or students in special education classrooms. All of this in one easy to use product. 

It is only offered aas a mega bundle for a very limited time. After that, the items

will still be offered in the Autism Classroom Store. 

The long list of fabulous items included in the bundle:

Fine Motor Bundle Practice
Morning Work for Students with Autism BUNDLE
Match Rhyming Words Using Pictures
Teens with Autism: Matching, Sorting, Classifying and Identifying

Special Education & Autism Interactive Notebook – Play Skills (Part 1)
IEP Work Bin Tasks- Bundle
Same - Different Task Cards Bundle
Autism and ID Communication Support Bundle
Colorful Quantities
CVC Word Identification and Word Work Printables
My Color Book
Nursery Rhyme Scramble 

 Click to see more...
Click on the images to see more.

Jul 16, 2015

Periscope is the New Go-To Tool for Teachers Who are Special Educators and General Educators

Peri-what? Peri-who? Oh, Periscope.  

So, when I looked it up for a formal definition, this is what I got:

1.) an optical instrument for viewing objects that are above the level of direct sight or in an otherwise obstructed field of vision, consisting essentially of a tube with an arrangement of prisms or mirrors and, usually, lenses: used especially in submarines.

2.) a periscopic lens.

I have a really good feeling that is about to change.  Sort of like our image of a tweet.

Periscope is a new and fast-rising app founded by Kayvon Beykpour and Joseph Bernstein in 2014.  It’s live-streaming and live broadcast videos have special education teachers, general education teachers and others in the education field going ballistic.  Anyone can stream a live broadcast with their followers in real time.  It has been interesting to say the least to literally watch this grow overnight.  Once you have the app, you can connect through Twitter.  You will be alerted when someone you follow is about to stream live and when someone you follow on Twitter has joined on Persiscope. 

If you have not joined yet, consider it.  Here are a few recommendations for what to do once you join:

~Use hashtags to find people with similar interests.
~Provide original content.  Speak from the heart to share the message you have for the world.
Mentor other educators. Veteran teachers can use this tool to help mentor and provide advice to new teachers.
~Visit other’s classrooms and get to see the décor and instructional ideas. This is a terrific opportunity to share ideas and answer questions as the broadcast airs.
~Bring out your inner Oprah. Obviously,  you are the host.  Jazz up the broadcast with an interview or two.  Or, be like the one of the teachers I saw early who had a “give-away” Oprah style. 

What every you choose to do-- have fun!