Making Visual Supports Work For Your Child This Summer
By: Michele Walker, MS
© 2010 BeeVisual LLC. All rights reserved.
NB: This article was written for parents. It would be an excellent choice to share with the parents of the students you treat.
Summer is here and there are many ways to incorporate visual supports to benefit your child. In order to keep some of the structure that occurs at school, you can use a visual schedule for your child. It can be as simple as wake up, eat breakfast, brush teeth, get dressed, play time, etc.
If your child is competent in the basic routines he needs to perform, you can incorporate a mini-schedule for the part of the day that needs the most structure. For example, my boys both have a “reading schedule” that they complete 5 days per week to prevent regression in reading.
My 10 year old, who has dyslexia, needs to practice reading and spelling over the summer. This is the schedule that he follows:
Of note, research completed by Dr. Gary Mesibov, recently retired director of the TEACCH program at University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, has shown that when a child sees the magnitude of what he has accomplished his self-esteem increases. Dr. Mesibov does not recommend using “all done” envelopes or “all done” pockets as the completed tasks and accomplishments just seem to disappear. Instead, he recommends sliding the image of the task over to an “all done” column or placing a check mark next to the image.
My 6 six year old, practices his reading via the Lexia program, which is a computer based reading tutorial. He also has a “word wall”, which consists of magnetic words posted on our refrigerator. Each day he adds a new word to his word wall. He can see the words he masters accumulating and this brings him great joy and satisfaction. Makes mom proud too!
Another suggestion for incorporating Visual Supports into your child’s life is by utilizing the internet before going on family outings. If you plan to visit the aquarium, an amusement park, or the beach, I suggest that you go to the destinations website and locate a map and pictures of the location. This will enable your child (and you) to preview the location before they get there. When we visit amusement or water parks, my children love to see what attractions the park has to offer and know ahead of time if they meet the height requirement for certain rides. This also prevents unanticipated disappointment once at the park.
Google Images and Google Earth are both wonderful resources for images. For example, this summer, we are vacationing at Cape Cod. We used Google Earth to show our children the house we will be staying in and Google Images to show them area beaches and attractions. This enables them to mentally prepare and know what to expect. If your child has any anxiety or is just super curious, supplying images ahead of time will do diminish anxiety and satiate their curiosity.
On your trips and throughout your day-to-day, be sure to take lots of pictures to create a mini photo album or photo wall of things your child does this summer. These gathered pictures will provide a basis for formulating thoughts, joint conversation and “data” for upcoming writing assignments this fall at school. Your child may find it helpful to bring his pictures to school in order to share with others what he did over the summer.
Finally, I have found it extremely helpful to provide my children with a monthly calendar, particularly during the summer. Here is an example of my youngest son’s calendar. He can see his month at a glance. He knows when he is going to the beach, when he has a play-date and when he will head back to school.
I hope that you find these tips helpful and I wish you the best for a picturesque summer!
This Month’s Featured Author: Michele Walker, MS
We Thank Michele Walker for providing us with this months newsletter article.
Michele Walker, MS is the creator of the award winning Choiceworks Visual Support System. She is a consultant, speaker, and author. Most importantly, Michele is a mom to two wonderful boys, one of whom has dyslexia. To learn more please visit BeeVisual
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