I cannot stress enough how valuable sand timers are for children with autism and teachers, parents and any one else working with children with autism. Sand timers clearly provide a visual aid and count down to the end of an activity and can be used in daily routines and during lessons. Sand timers can be used in any setting including at home. They can also help children to develop an understanding of time. I always use a sand timer to show when an activity is coming to an end followed with a verbal countdown from 5.
Visual timetables aid transitions by enabling children with autism to understand what they will be doing next or where they will be going. Visual timetables enable children to be independent and can motivate children by making it clear what will be happening in the day.
The child removes the next symbol from the timetable and travels with it to a board by the next transition point (i.e the classroom door, next too or on the classroom table or another room) and matches it to a corresponding bigger symbol. A finished box or pouch can also be used. The photo below shows a big symbol for dance and toilet which is on the door leading to the dance hall and the toilet. The big symbols are changed before prior to the children making the transition.
The different coloured timetables making it clear to the child which timetable is theirs. The children using the timetables above are working at a symbol level. Timetables can be made up of objects of reference, photos, symbols or words for children who can read and have a good understanding of text. Travelling timetables can be made on clipboards for photos and symbols and wipe boards for written timetables.
If you’re not aware of Poisson Rouge, I recommend you have a look at it now! Developed by a team of linguists, graphic artists, musicians and educational psychologists, Poisson Rouge is an amazing free interactive children’s website full of activities and games and autistic children will love it!
The great thing is there is no text or instructions and the screen is easy to navigate. There are lots of great activities which can develop hand-eye coordination, mouse skills, number skills, reading skills, music, different languages, colour and so much more! All of the children I have taught across the primary age with or without autism could all learn and play independently on this great online educational resource.
“No text, no instructions, but carefully designed visual environments and soundscapes make
Poisson Rouge Interactica’s productions resemble nothing else in the interactive world.” http://www.poissonrouge.com/
What do you think of Poisson Rouge? Can you recommend any other great online resources?
I recently purchased the iPad app ‘Cause and Effect Sensory Light Box’ for £1.49 and I would recommend it to any parent of children with autism and/or severe learning difficulties or teacher using iPads in the classroom.
The app has 21 different scenes with abstract visuals and high quality audio which encourage the development and awareness of touch through open-ended exploration and play.
All of the scenes have different responses to taps, strokes and multiple finger and hand movements. When the screen is touched, the audio and visuals will play and will stop when the screen is not touched.
I have used a similar programme on a PC at school which could be used on the interactive whiteboard. I would put the blinds on the windows down and turn the lights off for maximum effect. However the programme was not multi finger or hand compatible and did not have different scenes which made the programme not as enjoyable as this iPad app.
Here is a video showing Cause and Effect Sensory Light Box in use.
Link to the iTunes store: http://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/cause-effect-sensory-light/id533976433?mt=8
There are SO MANY great apps that can be used by children parents and teachers, can you recommend any?
After using the idea of an ‘attention bucket’ (which was passed on to me by colleagues at school) I looked further into the attention autism approach and found this inspiring video of a talk by the founder, Gina Davies.
The attention autism approach focuses on developing attention and listening skills and giving the children “an irresistible invitation to learn”.
An attention bucket is a bucket full of motivating and exciting toys and gadgets which will be of high interest to the children. Gina suggests that the adult in front of the children with the attention bucket must be the most interesting thing in the room so everything else must be out of sight. I am currently thinking of new toys and gadgets to put into my attention bucket but this will depend on my new class. At the moment I have wind up moving toys, light up toys, a spinning top, toys that make noises and toys with balloons (e.g. balloon cars). Here are some of the items in my bucket:
The adult with the attention bucket demonstrates one toy at a time in front of the children, for example, winding up a toy snake and then watching the snake move. The reward must be intrinsic to the activity – the enjoyment of watching the snake. If a child gets up out of their seat they are gently, non verbally guided back. This is to encourage attention and listening skills. Gina suggests using 5 toys in each short session. With my last class I usually had an attention bucket session once every morning and once every afternoon. Attention bucket activities are also good to use to refocus the group.
There is a lot of great information on Gina’s website Attention Autism
Many of my sensory attention bucket resources came from Sensory Toy Warehouse