Monday, April 24, 2017

Around Town Round Up--Visual Reminders

Many students with autism are visual learners and research has shown that visual supports are an evidence-based practice. In fact, they can process visual information up to 2X faster than the neurotypical individual.  In contrast, research has shown that individuals with ASD take .4 to .9 seconds longer to process auditory information. Visual supports are used in almost all classrooms in numerous ways. This week's Around Town Round Up focuses on the use of visual supports for providing students with reminders for a variety of purposes. 

Some students needs a visual reminder to help them gather materials for class. These color-coded checklists are a great tool for building independence for students.

These desk cues provide a variety of visual reminder options including following directions to gather materials, redirecting behavior, or providing scripting sentence starters to make requests. The bottom example shows the flap covering the cues so they are not distracting when unnecessary. 

A visual cue ring is a great way to provide reminders without adding to auditory clutter within the classroom which can be distracting for peers. 

When using a visual cue ring keep in mind the following tips:

  • Put a contrasting border on the cue card to draw the eyes to it.
  • Avoid using pictures that tell the student what NOT to do. Give them a replacement behavior instead!
  • Use the cue ring for positive feedback or directions for preferred activities so that the student does not only associate it with negative feedback.

Laura Brown, Springfield City Schools

Visual reminders can be a great way to prime students for changes to the schedule or routine which can be challenging! Adding a "change" card to a visual cue ring is an efficient reminder that can be used "on the go" for unexpected changes while a larger change card can be used during a daily schedule review or morning message to review changes for the day. Students benefit from the change card reminder because it provides a predictable way to prime for life's unpredictable changes!
Emily Ottmar, Mad River Local Schools

Sometimes students need to be directly taught expectations during life skills activities. This is a great visual reminder to remind students to push the lever 3 times to get a paper towel. 

Anne Rosenbaum, Kettering City Schools
Older students benefit from visual reminders as well! This is a great example of a visual support for high school students to remind them what the cost of lunch will be each day.

Jennifer Jette, Vandalia-Butler School District

Visual reminders can be a great way to cue students during multi-step academic activities especially during math. Check out these great step-by-step reminders for solving word problems and telling time.
Taylor Ruef, Mad River Local Schools

Controlling voice volume can be a difficult and abstract concept to teach but these visual reminders are a great visual support!

Leslie Mann, Vandalia-Butler School District

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Taskbox Time-- Packaging Taskboxes

This week's edition of Taskbox Time is focused on Packaging tasks which can be a great way to work on a variety of skills including one-to-one correspondence, following a sequence of steps, counting out sets, assembly, and vocational tasks.

One-to-One Correspondence Tasks
plastic figurines in tupperware containers

plastic dinosaurs in tupperware containers

Easter fidgets in Easter eggs

Necklaces in jewelry boxes

Scissors in zipper pouches

tops in tupperware containers

blocks in square tins

Match to Visual Model
match crayons to visual and put in snap container 
match tiles to grid, place in baggies, and put in finished spot

match poker chips to grid and place in baggies

match school supplies to visual and place in zipper pouch

Counting Set
count out set of buttons using visual and put in baggy

count out designated number of pattern blocks and put in baggy

Many taskboxes can be made simply with common household and office supplies. The Target dollar bins and Dollar Tree also offer affordable materials for easy taskbox assembly. Other organizations provide donations. In the Miami Valley, many teachers volunteer at Crayons for Classrooms or attend the Montgomery County Material Reuse Facility's Teacher Shopping Days.

For more ideas check out some of our favorite structured work system books.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Regulation Rendezvous--Smith Elementary Sensory Room

Our OTs, Lynn and Susan, recently had the opportunity to visit Smith Elementary in Oakwood City Schools to view their brand new, fantastic sensory room!

The staff at Smith designed the room to be a calming location for students to go to take a break from the sensory-rich school environment. The room is divided into 4 separate stations with various options in each. To help maintain organization and keep the space from getting overcrowded, the staff has posted rules for use and a choice board that uses a red X to signify an area is in use. 

A highlight of the room is the beautiful mural painted by Oakwood High School graduates which sets the tone for the calming atmosphere of the sensory room.

Cozy seating options such as the large beanbags offer great deep pressure. And soothing light displays from Southpaw Enterprises illuminate the space without needing the overhead florescent lights which students often find overwhelming.

Another great alternative seating option is the inflatable peapod which gives students deep pressure input. 

Other seating options include a bucket chair or bean chair rocker. Students who crave a small, cozy environment benefit from the tent or fiberoptic tunnel. 

We want to thank the staff at Smith Elementary for welcoming us out to see your fabulous space for students! Kudos to you all for creating such a wonderful support for your students!

Monday, April 3, 2017

UPCOMING PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT: Gear Up for Success! Evidence-Based Autism Intervention Planning Model

Do you teach or oversee special education within the Ohio Miami Valley? Are you looking for tips and tricks to help you organize your classroom? Then you are invited!

Who: Intervention Specialists, general education inclusion teachers, special education supervisors in the Ohio Miami Valley (Darke, Clark, Montgomery, Greene, Miami, Preble counties)

Cost: FREE!!

What: Gear Up for Success! Evidence-Based Autism Intervention Planning Model presented by the MV-ACT

Where: Room 300 at the Montgomery County Regional Center 4801 Springfield St., Dayton, OH 45431

When: Tuesday, May 2  from 8:30am-3:30pm 

Why: This session will provide participants an opportunity to apply three-tiered differentiated model for implementation of evidence based autism intervention practices, matched to individuals student characteristics. Not only will participants leave with a thorough understanding of many evidence based practices for autism intervention, but also will be able to use a 3 tiered planning approach for adjusting “intervention intensity” based on various factors, such as group size, skill level, and task demands in order to maximize forward momentum in student progress.

How to register: contact Mary Fryman by email at or by phone 937-236-9965,ext.2122

We hope to see you there!