As of 2018, approximately 1 in 59 children will be diagnosed with autism as early as age 2 (although most aren’t diagnosed until after age 4). With the rising prevalence in Autism, it feels like most of our caseloads are being dominated by this high-need population. Fortunately, I have found some “magic” tricks to help me with my low-verbal kiddos.
- Bubbles! This one shouldn’t be a surprise, but in case it is, blowing bubbles is a great activity for fostering many core vocabulary words and signs including: open, more, please, and all done. I also use bubbles to work on CVC words (i.e., ‘pop’), expanding utterance length (e.g., “I want bubbles,” “I want more bubbles,” “More bubbles please,” etc.), and of course, as a reinforcer.
- Pop the Pig! I cannot stress enough how much this game has helped me in therapy this year. From choice making (e.g., forfeiting the dice and providing two different color choices,), to turn-taking, to expanding utterance length (e.g., “I got red,” or “I want red please”), this game has become a therapy essential. Not to mention, it’s also motivating for the kids to feed the pig, press on its head, and hear/watch it pop! Purchase it here: https://www.amazon.com/Pop-Pig-Game-Improved-Belly-Busting/dp/B00CYQ24QG
- Matching/Memory Game! This one is great for kids who have emerging turn-taking skills. It is also great to teach vocabulary! I have a matching game that has pictures of various animals and everyday objects. Depending on the child’s skill level, I use 3 or 4 pairs all the way up to 12! Search “matching game” on Amazon and the choices are endless!
- Velcro Vocabulary Books! Probably the best Teachers Pay Teachers purchase I’ve ever made. This helps me teach seasonal and holiday themed vocabulary, match pictures, expand utterance length, and engage the kiddos with velcro! It can be found here: https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Seasonal-Holiday-Vocabulary-Bundle-3838832
Lastly, don’t forget to celebrate the little things! I know lack of progress can become frustrating; believe me, I regularly question if I’m helping some of my autism kiddos in the way that they need. However, the slightest growth, whether it be a second longer of eye contact or one less prompt in therapy, should be celebrated. Now go out there and work some magic!
Author: Lindsay Bialosky, M.A., CCC-SLP