Monday, September 13, 2021

Executive Functioning Forum: Priming for Expectations

Many of our students with executive functioning differences benefit from the use of visual supports to prime them throughout the school day. Most commonly, you may see visual schedules being used to prime students of the sequence of activities throughout the day. Social Narratives are another effective support often used for priming students of expected behaviors or social skills. 

Priming is so incredibly effective that it is one of the most common recommendations we make so that students know exactly what is expected. Predictability is very calming and organizing particularly for students with autism. 

Today's Executive Functioning Forum provides a variety of examples of ways we have seen visuals used in our districts to effectively prime students of various expectations. 

Priming for Instructional Expectations

Letting students know exactly what work is expected during class can be a great way to provide motivation and cognitive clarity. 

Weekly class agenda
Scott Caudill
Brookville High School, Brookville

Explanation of writing expectations to ease student anxiety
Jen Everett
Springcreek Elementary, Piqua

Daily assignment list
Terri Weiss
Kettering Middle School, Kettering

Priming for Technology Use

Technology is increasingly more present in the lives of our students inside and outside of the classroom. Technology requirements and expectations may be different in class than students are used to. Use visuals to prime students on exactly what is expected to prevent unexpected behaviors and distractions. 

Voice and phone expectations
Thurgood Marshall High School, Dayton

iPad use visual

Permitted and not permitted website lists
Bobbi Jo Chapman
Snyder Park Elementary, Springfield

Priming for Turn-Taking

Many of our referral students can become fixated or obsessive about turn-taking. They may race to the front of the line, get upset when others get to do their favorite classroom job, or struggle with taking their turn when appropriate. Use visual supports to make turn-taking more predictable and clearly communicate to the student what their responsibility is. 

Calendar time jobs
Sarah Janosik
Tipp High School, Tipp

Line leader visual
Jamie Minnish
Prass Elementary, Kettering

Helper turn visual
Jessica Burns
Vandalia Preschool, Vandalia

Priming for Voice Volume

Modulating voice volume can be another challenge for some of our students (and really all students at times!). Visual supports can be used in this area along with explicit instruction of what the visuals represent. During class times, refer to the voice volume visuals to prime students of what their volume should be when working independently or as part of a group. Or prime students before entering the hallway or during safety drills. 

Colored voice volume scale
Baker Middle School, Fairborn

PAX voice volume with visual cues
Taylor Ruef
Stevenson Elementary, Mad River

Voice volume push light cues
Kelsey Keen
Tri-Village Elementary, Tri-Village

Voice volume scale
Jackie Vollmer
Driscoll Elementary, Centerville

Priming for Changes

Change is hard! Especially for individuals with autism who strive with predictability and may have a fear of the unknown events that may occur when a change happens. Ease anxiety through using visual supports to provide a predictable way to prime for unpredictable changes. Pair the visual with an explanation of what to expect as a result of the change. 

Change visual
Jennifer Schmidt
Beavercreek High School, Beavercreek

Change card
Jessica Stewart
Trotwood ELC, Trotwood

Post-it note change reminder on schedule
Angela Crum
Parkwood Elementary, Beavercreek

Fire drill board visual
Shanon Vance
Valley Forge Elementary, Huber Heights

Once you increase the amount of priming for expectations you use in your classroom, we think you will be surprised how it not only benefits your students with executive functioning differences but your class as a whole!

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