I am an ATP working in the special education setting, but I’ve also been an OT for almost 30 years. Since the goal of OT is to improve functional independence and the goal of AT use is to provide tools that help accommodate for disability, the two are a perfect match. Although my role is to foster academic engagement and success in the classroom, we all recognize the importance of the child’s family as members of the education team. Carryover in the home is a key piece to supporting that success!
In this post, I’d like to share some of the resources that I routinely offer to parents to introduce them to the use of visual supports, AAC tools and strategies, and sensory strategies commonly used within the classroom.
Many of our students with Autism are visual learners and many more demonstrate impaired language skills. The use of visual supports has shown to be an effective tool for establishing routines, supporting communication, easing transitions between activities, and engaging students for socialization, leisure, and learning. Information provided in this handout Visual Supports and Autism will introduce parents to the use of visual supports.
LessonPix is an easy-to-use online resource that allows users to create various customized learning materials and offers great ideas for integrating use. This is a subscription-based program ($36/year per user) but found in a growing number of classrooms because of its ease of use for creating picture supports for hundreds of communication and learning activities.
One of my favorite resources is AndNextComesL , a blog created by the mother of a child with Autism. The author offers a wealth of ideas and activities for home use, including many free printable materials. I have downloaded the Weekly Autism Planner and all of the Daily Visual Schedule Cards and provide these to parents to support carryover in the home. There’s even a section of Sensory Resources with great ideas for addressing the special sensory needs of children with Autism. Since it can be difficult to explain the complex sensory needs of children with Autism, the video, Raising a Sensory Smart Child, can help parents better understand this topic.
Another blog written by a mom of twin sons with Autism offers a personal perspective and information about a range of interventions. Her post titled Autism and AAC: Five Things I Wish I Had Known, provides insight and ideas related to using Alternative and Augmentative Communication (AAC) strategies.
I always encourage our moms to look at the resources found on Pinterest! I have a great set of files there with resources for ‘all things AT’ and I am always finding new ideas to add to my toolbox.