Individuals with autism can range from nonverbal to so verbal they barely stop talking. Many of our students need the support of visuals to express their wants and needs. This is a critical life skill and an essential behavior management technique! Imagine how many of our students’ inappropriate behaviors occur due to the inability to express his wants and needs. I can’t even imagine not being able to talk. I love talking! Do it everyday, all day. How freaking frustrating would that be to be unable to talk. I bet you’d go to extreme measures to get your point across wouldn’t you.
Each year at my school, I do lessons about autism with the general education classrooms. It’s awesome to hear their insightful questions and see the almost immediate increase in understanding and empathy throughout the school. I use one example in each lesson that always seems to hit home. So imagine you are a student who cannot talk. You have to go the bathroom. Real bad. Like just drank 3 gaterades on the way to school bad. How do you tell your teacher? I usually get some smarty pants kid that says, “Oh, I’d use those picture things you guys use.” Well what if you you left your picture book at home? You’d probably try to leave the room and just go to the bathroom. Your teacher tells you to sit back down. You keep trying to get up and leave. Now your teacher sits right by you to make sure you don’t leave and tries to make you do your work. What do you do? You are in serious emergency state now. Do you push the teacher and push the desk and sprint over to the bathroom? I probably would. This example helps students understand that our students’ behaviors occur for a reason and many times it’s to express their wants and needs.
Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) – PECS is probably the most widely used communication system. It’s a specific format of how to teach and use pictures as communication. PECS offers training and services to teach teachers the most effective ways to implement this procedure.
PECS is relatively inexpensive and easy to implement. It provides a structured way for children to request items. This system can be easily adapted for a range of students. Here are some PECS related posts:
Situation Specific Visuals: A communication book is great but I love making situation specific visuals. These types of visuals can helps students engage in social interactions, request items, or comment. If you use these visuals in the same time or same center each day, this will become part of their routine. Here are some examples:
Here are some posts on more types of situation specific visuals:
- Using TAH Curriculum for Homeschooling from a Homeschooling Parent - September 10, 2022
- Using The Autism Helper Curriculum for Homeschool - August 8, 2022
- Literacy Subject Overview in The Autism Helper Curriculum - August 2, 2022