No-Print Product Review

This week I had the pleasure of trying out my first “no print” activity.  On the surface, this type of product looks just like any other, however, it works just like an app!

Jess from Figuratively Speeching was kind enough to give me a copy of her Associations: An Interactive No Print Activity.  Associations

There’s a variety of ways that you can use the activity; I chose to use it on my Smart Board.  Don’t worry – if you don’t have a Smart Board you can use it on your iPad, laptop, or even your iPhone!

(For something like this, it’s handy to have it saved on your iPad or computer.   If you’re wondering how to save such a thing on your iPad, Dropbox is a great app for such a thing!  Go download it!)

I chose to use this activity with a group of moderate to severe language disordered students who all happen to have autism.  All are at a different level, both receptively and expressively, but this was easy to adapt to each student’s ability and goals.

When you first open the file (a PDF), the cover page will pop up.  I used this opportunity to give one student a direction: Touch the white flower next to the cat.”  (And he did it correctly!)

The next page to appear is the directions page.  I had read this before I started, so again I had the student click “next” to get to the first question.

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My first student needed tons of help to answer this question.  (He didn’t even know what bacon was!  Poor kid is missing out!)  After I prompted his threw it, I was also able to follow up the question with, “When do we eat bacon and eggs?”  Again, he needed a lot of help to avoid echolalia and answer this when question.

For the next aspect of the activity, I moved on to a different student whose language skills are a little higher.  I clicked the “MC” that you see on the right side of the screen.  He had a multiple choice choice for how bason and eggs go together.  After reading his choices, he was able to answer it correctly!  If you simply click the correct go together, you are taken to the main page which has links to all of the questions in the activity on it.

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I used this opportunity to ask him how they go together again.  Without having the written visual in front of him, it was a little more difficult and he needed prompting.

For another student in this group, associations are too high level.  Instead of having him select the go together, I asked him a question about object functions.  The associations question asked what went with “cookie”; I asked, “Which one do you drink?”  In the field of 3 given, “milk” was the correct answer so I just covered the question and let him choose according to my question.

My students, especially my ASD population, LOVE anything that has to do with interactive technology.  This activity is versatile, portable, and affordable!  I was able to target, not only associations, but wh- questions, following directions, and object functions.  Not to mention, my students worked on taking turns and sitting patiently while working their classmate go.

You can win your copy of this outstanding product below by entering the Rafflecopter.  Thanks, Jess, for giving me an extra copy to hand out to a lucky reader! (Click the Rafflecopter link to find the widget and enter!)
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Basic Concept Christmas Trees

Last week, my mod-severe autism groups and I started making Christmas Trees.  Most of those students have goals to do with basic concepts of size (short/long and big/little).  When I saw this idea on Pinterest, I knew it was perfect!

I started by buying some packs of cute Christmas scrapbook paper.  I found 8.5×11 size sheets in packs of about 25 sheets for only $5 at Michael’s, so I bought 3 different kinds.  I cut a couple of each type of sheet into strips that are a couple cm wide.  Then, I took a handful of them and cut them 7in, 6in, 5in, and 4in long.  I left some the length they were (8 in – because that’s how wide the paper started out).  I kept the other halves of the 7/6/5 inch pieces and that gave me my shorter strips. 

So, I started out with strips about 2-3 cm wide, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, and 1 in. long.  I’m so glad I bought myself a paper cutter at the beginning of the school year!  It was only $25 at BJ’s!

I recommend putting each length in a separate bag or clipping them together some how.  The above mess was a pain to sort through when I first started.

Each student got a green piece of construction paper.

As I went around the table, I placed a field of 3 strips in front of each student: 1 short piece and 2 long or 1 long piece and 2 short. I used this as a receptive task to identify “short” vs “long”.   

To assemble the trees, we began placing the longer strips were on the bottom of the paper and they gradually got shorter as we went up. 

a field of 3 with the prompt “Give me long.”

I did a couple repeated trials of receptive identification of short vs long for each student.

For students who were not working on short vs long, I showed them a few strips in the size that they needed and had them describe to me which paper they wanted.  This targeted adjective+noun phrases, “I want…” sentences, and descriptions, depending on the level of the student.

Because I have about 4 students in a group, and I did many trials of receptive identification for each student, we only got as far as finishing the tree itself. 

I also used my Cricut machine (“Joys of the season” cartridge) and cut ornaments (of varying sizes), stars (in different patterned papers), and presents (of varying sizes).  We will add these elements this week, while discussing concepts of size and location (i.e. “under the tree”, “on top of the tree” & “on the tree”).  We will also add a trunk! 

I will update this post with a picture of some of our completely finished trees at the end of the week, but I wanted to write it in time for you to use it in your speech rooms! 

Enjoy, and Merry Christmas!  (Only 5 more days til Winter Break!  Woo hoo!)

Autism Awareness Month

After reading this blog post from a parent of a child with autism, I felt compelled to do a quick post.

I am not personally affected by autism.  Aside from my professional life, I do not live with autism daily.  I do not have any children of my own and when I do have them, I can’t say autism is not on my radar.  Should that be my fate, I hope I would handle it with as much grace and acceptance as the author of the aforementioned article.

I need to commend Traveling Monkeys.  This mother stresses to readers that she is not searching for a cure for her daughter.  This is something I wish for every parent: for their own sake, the sake of their children, and for the sake of the professionals with whom they encounter daily.  One hardship of my job is feeling pressured by parents to “fix” a child.  I sometimes feel that parents seem to think we SLPs (and other professionals) hold a magic pill; if we just spend more time with the child, he/she will be cured!  Perhaps the root of that pressure is my own hope that I could fulfill this wish.  However, I can assure you (parents) that I try every “trick” I have, use every tool I know of, test out every new material there is, and use every form of encouragement I can think of.  I attend trainings and professional developments regularly.  If I did have said “pill” or some foolproof method, don’t you think I’d use it?  I know this feeling that parents have, and the “pressure” they put on me (albeit unknowingly at times), is strictly out of love and advocacy for their children.  I, too, love all of the children that cross the threshold of my therapy room.  I love them for their intelligence, their deficits, their quirks, and their adorable faces.

We all have our opinions of Jenny McCarthy.  I love her as an actress and comedian but I’ve lost a bit of respect for her as an autism advocate.  I believe she gives false hope to parents or children with autism: “if you don’t vaccinate your kids and just feed them a gluten free diet, they will be cured of autism like my son.”  Surely millions of people have forgone vaccinations and gluten/casein/etc and their children are no “less autistic” than the day they were born.  When I saw her on Larry King last year, heard her refer to “the autism years”, and comment that they were over because her son was cured, my jaw dropped. I may have even gotten a few strange stares from the strangers in the airport who undoubtedly heard my audible groan.  All that said, years ago I read her book “Louder Than Words”.  I was young then, only in college.  The book made me cry and I read it very quickly (and I am not an avid reader).  I felt for her in her struggle with all the medical difficulties she faced with her son.  Something she wrote in the book stuck with me; it’s possibly the only thing I remember from it, actually.  She was told by the doctor that diagnosed her son with autism that, “He is still the same boy you walked in here with.”  These are the most poignant words I can think of for parents hearing a diagnosis for the first time, be it autism, ADHD, an intellectual disability, or anything else.  That doctor’s bedside manner and compassion are something every health professional should admire and emulate. 

If I could stress anything to parents, it would be those words.  He/She is still the funny, sweet, loving, smart little person that you brought home from the hospital and would give the world to. 

Here is another great link from the article by Traveling Monkeys.  Lastly, I’d like to thank Traveling Monkeys for letting us into her world as a parent, for being honest, and for articulating what I can only assume thousands of people wish they could.

Okay, so this post wasn’t as quick as I originally anticipated…  I’m off my soapbox now.
~Denise