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Autism, For Parents, Language Therapy, Little Friends, Older Friends

How to Teach Children Their Phone Number

I talk a lot about how to teach safety information to children. It is particularly important for our children on the Autism spectrum, who have Down syndrome, or are otherwise minimally verbal or intelligible. I always focus on targeting these students’ names, but their phone number is equally as important. Here are some tips I like to use:

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1. Mickey Mouse Theme Song

This classic tune is perfect to help memorize a phone number to a little jig. Just replace each letter of “Micky Mouse” with a number. This has been enormously helpful for my kids during our speech therapy sessions.

2. Errorless Learning

Don’t tell my college psych professor… but I’m pretty sure there is a name for the memorization strategy I’m about to describe… but I can’t remember it (oh, the irony). In any case, let’s just call it errorless learning.

I like to write the phone number down and have my student read it multiple times. When it seems they have the hang of it, I cover the last digit and have them say the whole number again. If they get it right, we practice that several more times before I then cover the last two digits. If they struggle, I show them the entire phone number again and we practice some more.

We keep practicing the phone number while covering one more “end” digit at a time until it is memorized! It may happen in one sitting or it may take months. Be sure to go at the child’s pace.

3. Multimodal Approach

I want my kids to have options for success in a stressful safety situation. This is why we practice not only saying their phone number, but also writing and dialing it. By the way, getting to call mom or dad during a therapy session is a HUGE motivator!

4. Repeat It And Then Repeat It Again

We know that repetition is key to muscle memory and creating automatic pathways for speech. Practice the phone number so many times it becomes as automatic as counting to 10. Don’t be afraid to spend some time on it every session as well! Even if you think they’ve got it down, revisit it every once in a while. We want this information at the tip of their tongue whenever they need it.

 

That’s all for now! I’ve found these techniques really helpful when teaching my students their phone numbers. It’s also been easy to help families implement at home for extra practice. If you are working on safety information in your classroom or therapy sessions, you might also be interested in these adapted personal information cards.

 

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Best of luck to you, friends! Let’s keep our kids safe at prepared.

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Language Therapy, Older Friends

Strategies for Unfamiliar Words

So our kids are reading their class book or listening to NPR (that’s what kids do for fun nowadays, right?) and they come across a word or phrase they don’t know.

Do they…
A. panic
B. ignore
C. figure out the new word

Even though we WANT the answer to be C, the reality is they most often choose B.
Sure with us by their side, they can work through these new vocabulary words with thought-provoking followup questions…

but my kids need tools they can whip out in the middle of class or worse…. standardized testing. Furthermore, they need an easy way to remember these strategies.

So here we go. A 2-step strategy for conquering unfamiliar language *WITH HAND SIGNS* (wahoo!) as a memorization strategy. So many of our kids will remember the motor plan or pneumonic given to them before they will remember the strategy itself. When we make it goofy, we make it memorable. Adding multiple modalities (I’m counting cheesiness as a learning modality) will only increase our friends’ success.

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Step 1: Think When

Think when you have heard this word or phrase before.
Perhaps you can remember the situation in which you heard it? That may give you insight as to the definition.
Maybe you can think of another word that sounds similar- one you do know the meaning of?

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Point to your head, then point to your invisible watch.

(I guess we could also point to our head and then unlock our invisible iPhone? Or we can keep our fingers crossed that watches are still relavent enough that kids have at least seen them in movies.)

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Step 2: Try Out

Try out different words in the unknown word or phrase’s place.
Help your kiddo figure out whether the word serves as a noun, verb, or adjective.
Find a possible synonym for the unknown language and try it out!
If it makes sense, you win! If it doesn’t make sense, keep trying out new words.

The good news is even if you didn’t find the exact synonym or meaning, you likely have gotten close.

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Hold your imaginary “puzzle piece” and keep sticking a new piece in your “sentence” until you find the right match.

 

And there you have it! My kids have had a lot of success with this strategy so far- I hope yours find success too! They can use these gestures and concepts on vocab words, figurative language, and any other ol’ piece of language our kids come across… AND they can do it without you. That is the best part.

Have fun with it!
Lindsey

Articulation Therapy, Generally SpeechyThings, Language Therapy, Little Friends, Older Friends

Let’s Talk Visuals

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My biggest takeaway from my internship in a public school was the use and value of visual supports. My supervisor was the visual QUEEN and while I didn’t fully understand why at the time… I certainly do now.

The way I see it, there are two major reasons you should consider using visuals in therapy:

  1. If our kids are language delayed, language may not be their best learning method. For receptively delayed kids, more words mean more confusion, higher frustration, and less success. Providing them with a visual reminder, cue, or explanation may be their key to success in learning skills and handling emotions. For our behavior kiddos, it can mean pointing to a desired action rather than them hearing the word “NO” one more time in their day.
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  2. You are building a cueing system. Your option for cueing your kids with minimal visual cues (or better yet- them self-regulating and checking back to their cue independently) is stronger if you START using that cue early on.

 

Tips on Smart Visual Creation and Storage

Once upon a caseload, I was a young CF with lots of extra time. I took advantage by building my own visual library. I used (and still use) the visuals I collected for picture exchanges, cueing, behavior supports… the works! My biggest recommendations to you as you create your own library are the following:

  1. Invest in binders and tons of velcro (check amazon for better velcro prices!). Velcro strips are excellent for storage purposes on binder pages but velcro dots may be your best friend when it comes time to place velcro on the back of a visual. I have ruined many-a-scissor and wasted many-a-hour from cutting sticky velcro strips.
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  2. Pick a system. I chose to have the “scratchy” side of my velcro as the anchor and the “soft” side on the back of visual supports. REGRET! Put the “scratchy” side on your visuals to allow using them on felt boards later on. Learn from my misfortune…. it’s too late for me but save yourselves.
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  3. Laminate EVERYTHING and keep it forever. If you are going to spend the time putting all of these visuals together- do it right the first time. If you want to save yourself HOURS AND HOURS of googling you can check out my SLP visual kit (pictured below). You still have to laminate… but you don’t have to google for (did I mention?) HOURS AND HOURS to find cute, high quality, comprehensive images. I did it for you. It took me forever. <3

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Soapbox over. Use your sweet kiddo’s eyeballs like the sponges they are! Our little learners all have different needs and modalities- we don’t talk about that enough in grad school.

I would love to hear about your favorite visual supports. Send me a message or comment!

Best of Luck!
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