Monday, October 16, 2017

Taskbox Time-- Incorporating Interests

Structured Work Systems are a great way to work on students completing tasks more independently. One way to make Structured Work Systems more motivating is through incorporating interests into the taskbox activities. This week's Taskbox Time is dedicated to taskboxes that incorporate student interests. 

Many students love animals. There are a variety of tasks that can be made incorporating animals.
Count out designated number of lion erasers

Package animal figurines in tupperware

Angry Birds Counting Cards
Carrie Prickett
Jane Chance Elementary, Miamisburg
Match animal erasers
Match Blues Clues Memory Cards
Match small and large teddy bear calendar pictures

Some students have an intense interest in coins.
Match coin to purchasing card and place in baggy

Coin sorting

These taskboxes were created for a female student who loved to play dress up.
Packaging necklaces in boxes

Sort hair accessories

Many students love to play with Legos.
Sort Legos by shape

Build Lego person given visual model.

Some students love celebrating holidays. We love these seasonal taskboxes.
candy cane beading
Robbie Whorton
Trotwood-Madison High School, Trotwood

package Easter fidgets in Easter eggs

Here are several additional special interests tasks:
package dinosaur figurines in Tupperware

Preferred environmental print matching

Match small and large weather pattern calendar pictures

We love some of these ideas from around the internet!
Matchbox car name sequencing
McDonald's french fry counting out designated set
Breezy Special Ed

Interests can also be incorporated to the Structured Work System through labeling bins with preferred icons such as Disney Princesses, animals, or in the example below Bengals Football.
Carrie Prickett
Jane Chance Elementary, Miamisburg

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Regulation Rendezvous-- Stevenson Elementary Calming Sensory Space

Dealing with the myriad of sensory information within the school setting can be very challenging for a student with autism. When a student with autism experiences sensory overload, (s)he may have a behavioral meltdown. One strategy to avoid or help a student recover from a meltdown includes the use of a calming sensory space. On today's Regulation Rendezvous, we have featured the Calming Sensory Space at Virginia Stevenson Elementary in Mad River Local Schools. 

ALIST teacher, Emily Ottmar, has worked with her school OT, Denise Campbell, and has consulted with our OTs Lynn and Susan to create a fantastic space for students to feel safe and comfortable while at school. ALIST principal, Cory Miller, supported Emily's efforts and continues to strive to meet the diverse needs of the Stevenson students. 

The Calming Sensory Space at Stevenson has minimal alerting sensory input including decreased lighting and noise. Students at Stevenson use the Calming Sensory Space proactively and it is viewed positively and never as punishment or "time out". It can be included in their daily schedule, recommended by an adult, or initiated by the student with permission.

The Calming Sensory Space is divided into 6 separate locations within the room. Upon entering the room, students choose where they want to go using the choice board below. Only one student can be in each space at a time to ensure minimal input and distractions.

Extra materials and shelving is covered to limit visual clutter.

Each location within the Calming Sensory Space has clearly defined expectations and directions on how to clean up. It also provides an inventory of what materials should be in the space. Spaces are divided using shelving, flexible folding mats, or classroom dividers.


The tunnel provides proprioceptive input for students who want to lay on their stomach while looking at a book or completing a puzzle. Students can lay within the tunnel for decreased visual stimuli from the rest of the room. 

Peapod Chair

The peapod chair provides proprioceptive input through calming deep pressure as students sit within the pod. 

Saucer Chair and Beanbag

These seating alternatives are also proprioceptive options to give students a comfy place to look at books or play with fidgets.

Small Bean Rocker

The bean rocker is great for young students who want to get vestibular input through rocking in this cozy spot. 

Large Rocking Chair

Older students can rock in this large rocking chair to get calming linear vestibular input. 

Hammock Swing

Students get vestibular input through the hammock swing. Adults monitor the swing to make sure students swing back and forth for calming linear input instead of rotating which can be alerting. 

In addition to the Calming Sensory Space, teachers at Stevenson can check out calming items to trial in their classrooms including weighted shoulder and lap pads, vests, fidgets, and seat cushions.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Upcoming Professional Development-- SpEd Hacks

SpEd Hacks: Classroom Management Tips, Tricks and Strategies for Success!

When is it?
  • Monday, November 6th from 9:00am-3:00pm

Who should attend?
  • Intervention Specialists working in a self-contained or resource room setting with students with autism and/or low-incidence disabilities

What should participants expect?
  • In this interactive session, Allison Officer will provide tips, tricks and strategies for classroom management in the special education classroom including classroom layout, scheduling, organizing materials, structured work systems, using visuals, and working with paraprofessionals. Participants will network with other teachers and will be given time to brainstorm ideas to implement in their classrooms. 

How much does it cost to attend?
  • The cost is FREE to all districts who have already signed up for Miami Valley Autism Coaching Team services for the 2017-2018 school year. 

How do I sign up?
  • Contact our secretary Mary Fryman at or (937) 236-9965 to register

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Organization Station--Play and Leisure Time

Many classrooms incorporate play and leisure to their daily schedule through recess, free play, and/or reward time. It is a great time to work on social skills and can also be used for reinforcement. In order to successfully incorporate play and leisure time to the classroom it is important to be organized! Today's Organization Station will focus on a variety of organization supports for successful play and leisure time in the classroom.

For many classroom's the first step to a successful play and leisure time is a clearly defined area of the classroom. This helps students understand where to go for play and leisure time. Many classrooms designate this area with colorful rugs and shelves of toys.

Jessica Ward
Rolling Hills Elementary, Northeastern

Toni Mallot
Jane Chance Elementary, Miamisburg

The next step in organizing play and leisure time is having a clear system for students to decide what they want to play. Many classrooms use choice boards for student to choose one activity which must be cleaned up before choosing another activity. This can prevent the area from getting too messy and avoids various activity materials getting mixed up. It is also a way to communicate what activities are allowed the be played with at a given time and which are off limits. This is especially useful when using certain activities as reinforcers and not allowing students to have free access to them during other times.
Choice Board for Recess
Weather dictates if it is indoor or outdoor recess.
Dry erase marker can be used to cross out activities that are off limits.
Stop sign can be used to hang on playground gate when it is black-top only. 

Choice Board for Preferred Music Videos
Rick Wical
Ankeney Middle School, Beavercreek

Emily Ottmar
Stevenson Elementary, Mad River Local Schools

Emily Ottmar
Stevenson Elementary, Mad River Local Schools

Pocket Chart Choice Boards
Activities vary between Choice Time and Indoor Recess

Many teachers organize materials within the location using shelving or hanging organizers.
Sensory Tubs
Toni Mallot
Jane Chance Elementary, Miamisburg

iPad bins containing labeled iPads and headphones

High Interest Magazines for High School Students
Jody Chick
Yellow Springs High School, Yellow Springs

Hanging Shoe Organizer to Store Movies

Becky Schwab
Eastmont Elementary, Dayton Public Schools

12-Block Organizer Bins Labeled with Baseball Card Protectors

Hanging Shoe Organizer for Headphones
Laura Brown
Perrin Woods Elementary, Springfield

For many students, play and leisure time is the most preferred time of day! This can make waiting or transitioning back to work a challenge. We suggest using a visual countdown or visual countdown spinner to help with the transition. This is a great tool to cue these transitions and provide ample warning that the transition is coming. As the adult anticipates an upcoming transition, the adult begins the countdown by placing a picture of the upcoming activity at the bottom of the countdown. As the transition time approaches, the adult removes the numbers, beginning with 5 and progressing on down until the transition picture is reached. The unique aspect of the visual countdown is that the adult maintains control of the timetable, whereas with a visual timer, the time elapses on its own from the fixed increments of mechanical movement in the timer. Thus, the visual countdown allows more control and flexibility for the adult facilitating the transition. When using the countdown it is important to use it when transitioning from a preferred to a nonpreferred activity (when it is time to clean up) but also when transitioning from a nonpreferred to a preferred activity (when waiting for play time) so that it doesn’t develop a negative association. We suggest this tool any time you are trying to communicate the passing of time to a student. Provide a lot of reinforcement at first for use of this tool to get buy-in.

Additionally, use physical boundaries to help students better understand when play and leisure time is not accessible. 
Rolling Shelf with Lock to Close
Amy Beanblossom
Arcanum Elementary, Arcanum

Mrs. P's Specialties

Reversed Pocket Chart with Visual Blocking 12-Blocks Shelf