Who would have thought that a lesson about cockroaches could be so much fun! We had a blast today and the amount of language these kids produced was amazing. It’s not always easy for kids with autism to have changes thrown into their normal routines. And attending Extended School Year (ESY), otherwise known as summer school, can be even more of a challenge for students on the spectrum because typically they are not at their regular schools during ESY. The summer school sites vary each year and so do the bus routes, teachers, teacher-aides, and speech-language pathologists. All of these changes in routines can add up to a lot of crying, non-compliant behaviors, increased oppositional defiant behaviors… another words BEHAVIORS, BEHAVIORS, BEHAVIORS. So when I can do a 35-minute circle and have every child completely engaged and participating during the first week of summer school, that is a huge success!
The cockroach book is one of my favorite books and it is turning out to be one of the students’ favorite books as well. This book is like most of my other books with matching pieces inside. To extend the lesson I added an extra activity. I brought in real life props from the story such as a bug swatter, a truck, a broom, a ball, a shoe, and a small stuffed dog. At the end or during the story you can have each student imitate what happened in the story with all the props. We targeted WH questions, following directions, matching, sequencing, action words/identifying verbs, emotions, and lots of other goals. With the non-verbal students, you can add the overlays to a Go Talk or a Cheap Talk or attach a picture to a Big Mack or other communication device.
And I forgot to mention, most of my books end with a funny twist. We often find that a common characteristic of kids on the autism spectrum is having a difficult time understanding abstract concepts such as humor or idioms. These are important skills that sometimes need to be explicitly taught because as a child gets older, humor can become a really important part of his/her social development.
PS… don’t forget to have fun!