It's a New Year, New Us. Or, come March 1st it will be.
That's our official relaunch date, when all new resources will be making their way to you. In the process, you may notice some changes around here and some hold-ups. Please bear with us.
2020 is going to be our year!
This idea stems from successes shared by other parents who have done similar. All you need to do here is choose a design, print it and add your kiddo's name and stick to their communication device or trick or treat bag.
Alternatively, you could print as they are or shrink down and leave them with each house you visit.
Note: There are autism and special needs options with these guys.
You may remember my post about developing descriptive skills, blank levels and such...? This download is a collection of picture starters (and space for you to write notes) that may be of use.
We tried out the Janine Toole book but there are not images for every object, and while that's useful in some ways for developing visualisation - we're just not at that point (if we ever will be, I'm not sure). So, I decided we'd start over with and make it more suitable to our needs.
These are photograph images rather than cartoon and the activity has been adapted in line with recommendations from our speech therapist.
Download from dropbox here:
Remember our last what's to eat freebie? Well, I like a pretty picture - which is good as too much of the same thing causes some focus loss in this household - so I've created a few more for you to choose from, add to the collection, or try out for the first time. If you don't know what this is for, then check out the previous post or my food therapy pinterest board. Download below.
I want to take a minute today to talk to you about something we're going to be working on with all three of our boys.
If you're in the UK and have a child under speech and language therapy then you quite possibly are familiar with 'Blank levels' - a means your SALT may use to assess where a kiddo is at with their verbal reasoning skills and where they should be working towards.
If you're not familiar then there is a touch more info below and I will be creating a Pinterest board specifically on Blank Levels. But first, let me outline Janine Toole.
Janine Toole is a PhD author of some pretty amazing workbooks I found entirely accidentally on Amazon. For all kids they are great, but especially if you have some communication, social or behavioural things going on. In fact the one we're starting with is specifically for kids with Autism or Asperger's. The book that we're focusing on at the moment is called: "Describing Skills for Kids with Autism & Asperger's (Six-Minute Thinking Skills Book 3). If you have Kindle Unlimited then it's available for £0.00.
The concept behind Toole's method is essentially to build the descriptive skills of a child through levels. Starting with an initial labelling level - 'this is a car', onto additional characteristics - 'this is a car, it is blue...', all the way up to multiple characteristics and purpose - 'this is a blue car, it goes fast, my dad drives a car to work'. I've simplified the programme somewhat (it is important you read and understand it yourself) but this is essentially the gist.
Back to Blank Levels...
Bobo was recently assessed using the blank levels, and Badger in fact still falls under these despite being much older in years. Bobo is currently working at level 2 and we are confident about bringing him up to level 3 this year.
If we do it, then it will be quite an achievement as the success he's been making in closing the gap between him and his peers by age is phenomenal. It already is brilliant progress. This, too, would be astounding and so encouraging for the future.
For clarity, these are basically what the levels look like:
So, I'm sure you can see, Level 1 and 2 are closely tied to descriptive skills. Essentially, the foundation for progress, along with general understanding, is the ability to confidently name, and then describe.
Toole's workbooks and programme are absolutely perfect for this. There's tonnes of other resources and ideas out there too (which is why I will be making a pinterest board) but I really love the clarity and clear work through method Toole provides. We're going to give it a really, really good shot.
I just love the orange zig zag paper used here! This looks fantastic in Bobo's visual communication book (shrunk to A5 and using smaller cards) but would also look equally brilliant as a standalone or printed onto magnetic paper and stuck on the fridge. The download itself is an A4 PDF.
You've 16 spaces to attach your food cards (see symbols or our pinterest foodie page) and then the usual space for your child to communicate their 'wants'.
1.5 inch picture cards/pecs for some of the most popular UK chain restaurants. Download file below.
If a place you regularly visit is missing then let me know. Once we hit enough other suggestions I will make another board.
I'm working on a collection of pretty and free food related resources to share with you all at the moment and, my plan had been, rather than spend hours and hours going through vocab lists and creating the sample picture cards I was going to do a round-up post of all the freebies I was sure were all over pinterest by now.
Freebie cards in a variety of formats, even for something as simple as food, really aren't coming up all that often! In fact it's barely any better than ten years ago when we first stated out on this journey with Badger. There are plenty out there on TpT and such like - which is great, they're fantastically broad - but for parents and carers who need FREEBIES... not so much.
Scroll down for what I did root out. And if you're on Pinterest, all of those and plenty more food therapy resources can be found on my Food Therapy Board. If you have a link to access any more, then please share that in the comments section here for other parents and carers to see.
LivingWellWithAutism - This is a lovely site for many different items. The conversation boards include deserts and favourite foods.
Nina Jain via Able2Learn - This is a really cute little set of some basic foods/snacks. For example: cereal, milk, sandwich, soda, eggs. They are listed for free and Nina Jain also offers other cards which could be useful. (Animals, Periods etc.) She's also got tonnes, and I mean tonnes, of really fantastic life skills visuals which are just great for combining therapies - language, occupational and food. Amazing!
Sasha via theautismhelper - Again a nice little set of snack type resources. Mostly US but there are plenty of overlaps if you are UK based. Rasins, carrots, yoghurt, cupcake, cheese and so on. They've also got this fabulous Thanksgiving set of resources for free which has items like gravy and turkey on. Scroll down and there's a visual 'how to' on making gravy.
While not exactly picture exchange communication, SheWearsFlowers has a lovely selection of photo cards for free. They cover a variety of fresh food produce and are labelled. You may need to cut to size, or potentially tolerate them being out of sync with your other cards, but they're cute nonetheless. The post itself is a craft activity where the author is making a shopping book for her daughter. If you fancy your hand - and can operate a sewing machine better than me - you might like to try the craft as a practical and fun addition to your food therapy. This would be great to get your kiddo involved in shopping and build tolerance to foods they may struggle with.
MyPECS Food Section - home to many, many picture cards in all categories you can think of. Worth checking out but note you do need to choose each one individually (similar to our symbols page if you don't download all as a file.
Last but not least, we have a selection of free food symbols for you to use here at helloautismresources!
Yeah, if you've been around here before then you may well have seen this printable already but... still... it is a cute one. Nice to have around your kitchen or dining room if you frame is and still the Velcro on the outside.
The idea is to use this as a way to try and prepare your child to try a new food. If they need some warning then get this ready ahead of time! Badger's diet is very, very restrictive and we're regularly working on building our food list past five items only for it to reduce again when anxiety starts to peak again. I recommend you go for foods you know have a good chance of success (similar taste, texture etc.) and you have three of those to choose from ahead of time. (For example: watermelon, galia melon, cucumber). Stick on your picture card for the food you are trying and talk to your child about what you are trying today.
From experience, likening trying something new to a past (positive) experience is always the best way, if possible. So... "Today, Tuesday, we are going to try some cucumber. When you were really small, you loooooved cucumber and Mummy used to put it on your sandwiches." or " Today, Wednesday, we are going to try galia melon. It is juicy like the cucumber we tried yesterday but it is soft and sweet like a marshmallow!" Relating the new food item to a previous success and building on it will encourage the child and make the whole process much less daunting!
Also from past experience, I whole heartedly do not recommend you force food issues too hard. It often leads to a worsening of your child's situation. Make it fun and positive, discuss with anyone else involved in caring for or educating your child and always let them lead.
As ever, use symbols, real pictures or cartoon images.
Yesterday we shared a bright and cheery visual background resource (click here), and explained a little how we used that in our house. Today, we have a set of picture cards that you might like to use - alongside the resource or alone if you already have your own. Download at the bottom of this post.
Hopefully these will be useful and don't forget you can add and make your own according to your schedules and lifestyle. Every family is different and so these may not be perfect for your home. We recommend trialling different styles of picture (cartoon, pec symbol (see free symbols in the navigation bar) real life image and your own individual photographs) if these are not working out for you.
Hello Autism Resources is run by Jen, a mother of three boys - two of whom are on the spectrum. Our world is a little, lot, chaotic but we find blessings at any opportunity.