Happy holidays, Gurus! This is the last Free Resource Friday of the year. Instead of introducing a new resource, this post is a roundup of what you can find on our blog (even when it's not a Friday).
Have you checked out ALL of the free resources that are available on the IEP Guru blog? We've posted 15 on Fridays so far.
If you haven't seen them (shout out to our newest subscribers!), you can access them here.
And while you're over at the blog, check out some of our other posts. Here are a few of my favorites:
What is Self-Regulation? Plus 6 Strategies to Improve It
Why it's Okay NOT To Fight for a Traditional H.S. Diploma for Your Student
My Top 5 Issues With IEP Meetings
Procedural What?? The Scoop on Procedural Safeguards
And finally, are you still looking for a last minute gift? We'd love to have you give the gift of knowledge by purchasing one of our resources for a loved one. Who wouldn't want a more successful IEP meeting for Christmas? Check out everything we offer here.
That's it, folks! We're taking next week off and we'll back in January with brand new ideas to share. Onward to 2018!
It's that time of year when I am ALL ABOUT a hack to make my life easier. I can be all in for the start of school, January 1st resolutions, and even a dose of spring cleaning...but these two-ish weeks before Christmas at the end of the semester when everyone is spent and hopped up on sugar? I can't sign up for a quick fix fast enough.
Maybe you're like me and you have times in your life (or let's face it, in your day) where you need someone else to do the work for you. That's why we're here, and that's also why I'm sharing one of my favorite resources with you today!
Understood.org is a treasure trove of information on all-things-disability. Meant for parents, this resource seriously has information on anything you could possibly want to know about. Don't believe me? Check out these sample searches:
"IEP" - 390 resources
"Autism" - 60 resources
"Advocacy" - 144 resources
"Behavior" - 397 resources
"Processing" - 313 resources
Some of these resources are informational posts, while others are checklists, downloads, or videos. They even have a "parent toolkit" that includes a decision guide for questions about school choice, school services, child readiness, and outside support. If you have a question, there is answer somewhere on Understood.org!
If the idea of combing through 397 resources increases your stress rather than alleviating it, fear not! Our IEP Guru Digital Course and Behavior Support Survival Kit have the targeted information you need without the searching.
Where do you go to get your information? Share with us on our Facebook page!
Today's resource is another one to encourage social and emotional learning.
How often, when asked, does your child say they feel happy, sad, or mad? 100% of the time? I hear that...literally and figuratively!
Something that our students with disabilities often struggle with is nuance. They tend to prefer black or white, right or wrong, and good or bad. There are few things more nuanced than emotions, and this is why discrete teaching and frequently practice is crucial for helping our kids understanding how to recognize and react to certain feelings-- both when they experience these feelings as well as when others experience them.
One of my favorite ways to teach and practice appropriate emotional response is by using this set of emotion cards. Made by Joel Shaul of Autism Teaching Strategies, these emotion cards are pure gold because of the scope of feelings they cover! The deck includes 40+ cards that feature different emotions, four suggested activities for using the cards, and over 20 prompts that include directives such as, "Tell about a time you felt like this during a holiday."
In addition to the activities suggested on the cards, I'd also suggest an additional activity that has been a hit with my students: using magazines to do a "feelings pair up."
First, I have a student look through magazines and cut out pictures of faces-- these can be photos, drawings or illustrations, and even pets!
Then, I ask the student to pick an emotion from the stack of emotion cards that they think matches the facial expression in the picture.
Next, we discuss why the student picked that emotion to pair with the picture. What clues in the picture tell us that a person is feeling this way?
Last, we discuss what might happen in a person's life that causes them to feel this emotion, or what the student has personally experienced with this emotion. We may even discuss how the student could respond or encourage this person if they had the chance.
It's an interactive and fun activity that hits on a few key points: identifying emotions in others, interpreting emotional cues, and practicing empathy (i.e. "He probably feels sad because..."). It's also great for fine motor skill development if your students need that too!
Do you have a favorite method of teaching students to recognize and respond to emotions?We'd love to hear them! Share over on the IEP Guru Facebook group!
Has everyone detoxed from the tryptophan hangover after Thanksgiving? I don't know about you but I still feel tired! The fact that it's getting dark at 4:30 doesn't help (#CSTproblems). In any case, I need a little extra motivation these days to get through my to-do list. And since you guys said in our surveythat you wanted more downloadable PDFs and more resources to address behavior, I've got a great resource for you to help your kids (or frankly, yourself!) keep on top of their daily responsibilities with less drama.
Introducing: the visual schedule!
A visual schedule is simply a list of the activities of the day, in order, in a paper or digital format. A visual schedule can help promote positive behavior by:
Reducing anxiety. Consider two situations: You're in new place and you don't know where to go. The streets are not well-marked, it's getting dark, and you spent 30 minutes driving one way only to realize you've gone in a circle. Alternately, you have Google Maps telling you where to go. Which situation feels better? Visual schedules work for children as maps do for adults. When kids know what to expect, it gives them the freedom to plan appropriately and to feel comfortable attempting activities.
Creating incentive to move through un-preferred activities. Do you ever "bait" yourself to do the boring stuff, like pay bills or fold the laundry, with the promise that after you're done you'll do something you enjoy? It's easier to tolerate stuff you don't want to do if you know that you have something fun on the horizon! If you do X first, then you can do Y.
Eliminating in-the-moment begging. While I can't promise perfection, visual schedules act as the final authority for the plans of the day. It's not YOU being the bad guy when you have to say "no" to an out-of-left-field request for the zoo-- the schedule says what it says.
Promoting responsible choice making. One of the most crucial aspects of self-advocacy is being able to express your desires. Having your child help develop their schedule for the day enables them to practice making choices, thinking through consequences, and expressing their wants and needs. Behavior also improves when children feel that their thoughts are respected, and allowing your child to make choices about their schedule is a good start.
A visual schedule includes the time (analog or digital), a description of the activity, a visual cue or icon that depicts the activity, and a box to mark when it has been completed. This schedule can be as unique as your child!
Check out this PDF for an example visual schedule. Want a free sample of your own? My subscribers have already received it direct to their inboxes! If you want this free resource and other great content each week, subscribe today using the box below!
I recently sent out a survey asking our IEP Guru subscribers what they wanted to see from this weekly email series. I got a lot of great responses, and one in particular stood out: transition planning. This was exciting to me because 1) I have a lot of experience with transition and 2) there truly is a lack of high quality information in this area. The good news is that today I've got a great resource to help you start thinking about your child's long-term plans!
Have you ever tried to talk to your student about career options? My guess is it goes something like this:
"I don't know"
"I want to be a singer"
"Maybe I can do something with a computer"
"I'm good at drawing comics"
"I could be a farmer"
These statements, while valid, do not give you a great starting point for identifying possible jobs that align with the skill level, education level, abilities, and personal attributes that your child brings to the table. So where should you start?
At MyNextMove.com. Y'all. I LOVE this resource! MyNextMove is a student-friendly website that allows a user to research possible careers using three tools: a keyword search, a comprehensive list of careers by industry, and an easy-to-use interest inventory.
The interest inventory asks the student to rate their interest in certain activities (such as "sorting, sealing and stamping mail" or "entering data into a spreadsheet") using a 5-point scale. Instead of numbers, however, there are picture icons that depict varying emotions from "heck no" to "heck yes" (think of these like emojis-- your child reads or hears a statement and then picks an emoji that shows how s/he feels about that job). After answering the questions, the inventory identifies which career area (like "social" or "analytic") the user is most passionate about and generates a list of possible careers that align with the interests of the user.
My favorite part? When you click on a career that's been suggested, you get a WEALTH of information including what knowledge, skills, and abilities are required for the job, what personality types tend to enjoy this work, what type of technology a person in that job uses, the educational background required and information about job outlook and average salary. If that's not enough, it also gives a list of related jobs that the user may be interested in. Check out this example for someone who's interested in food prep!
Here's how this related to transition planning: you go through this process, you settle on a job that your child would like to achieve, and you use the skills, knowledge, and abilities lists to set your transition goals. It's backwards planning. You start with the end in mind, and work backwards to figure out what your child needs to master in order to get to that end goal.
Using the example provided with food prep, you can easily see how some of the requisite abilities ("communicate by speaking" or "look for ways to help people") could be reworked into transition goals.
Trust me: you will not regret using this tool to help your student narrow down their interests and begin working toward a feasible career path.
What do you use to help facilitate transitioning planning? We'd love to hear about it! Hop on over to our Facebook page and share!