Remember to show respect for the age of your students with autism. Always choose activities, games and books that are in-line with what other people their age would do and enjoy.
Keep a list of things that are liked or not liked. Keep a box of motivating bits and pieces ready to go at any time. Try new things all the time. Hunt out cheap toys and games wherever you go. And whatever you do, hook them in, have fun and make real opportunities to communicate!
Note: A lot of you expressed interest on the core word posters shown in this blog. We’re thrilled to announce that our core word posters are for sale on our Zazzle store! These displays are available in English (US/UK and AU), Spanish, French and Dutch.
Balance the amount of effort required
Sometimes engagement happens when we get the balance right; when the amount of effort required to communicate is in check with the payoff and reward. No one wants to do something that is too hard or too effortful, especially if there is no reward. The opposite is true too. If something is too easy then one can get easily bored and switch off — engagement lost! So check your planned activity. Have you got the right balance so that the student has the best chance for success and engagement? Do you need to increase or decrease the task requirements?
Create real reasons to communicate
My main goal when I am engaging with autistic students is not to make them look at me, nor make them follow a set of instructions or “test” what they know. Instead, I am looking to create REAL reasons to communicate. I am looking for opportunities to show them how to use words on their AAC system (aka modeling) or use their voice to communicate something interesting and fun.
So today I am sharing a collection of my favorite tricks and activities to hook your students in! I will also list some example core words for each activity, just to give you a few ideas and starting points for modeling words on an AAC system.
Some of my best ideas come from activities that went wrong. And some came from a clever and innovative student who decided to do things in a new way. Embrace the mistakes and the changes to your plan. Follow the lead of the person — their way might be WAY more fun anyway!
We are often lucky enough to work with some amazing autistic people. Their unique strengths and interests provide us with both challenges and rewards. The challenges make us think outside the box and work harder. The rewards make us sing and dance and cheer!
One thing we know for sure is that we should recognize their strengths and interests… this is how we can hook them in, engage and interact with them. When we do that, amazing opportunities to build language and meaningful communication can occur.
Check out my video below for some quick tips to get started.