April 2018 -

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Ben Throop

Ideas of how to use visuals on vacation


     Summer has arrived and stretches out before us! Summers will soon be filled with camps, play dates, therapy groups, and vacations. This change in routine can be difficult for some children, especially when it comes to vacations, which tend to be even less structured. Before the suitcases are packed, here are a few ways to use visuals to help make a vacation go more smoothly.
1.       Make images of potential activities that will occur on the trip. Having picture cards of activities or events that will occur on the trip (ex: beach, restaurant, amusement park, hotel) will allow you to create a schedule for the day or week if needed. A schedule during vacation can be helpful to provide some level of predictability for a child. If the vacation is not scheduled with known activities, you can easily make a visual called “special activity” or “playtime” and use these broad visual cards as a way to schedule in spontaneity! This schedule can be brought along during the day or just glanced at with the child in the morning. It can also be helpful to allow the child to also help plan part of the schedule each day on vacation.
2.       Create a short how-to book on an activity or event that will occur that might be new or scary for the child. For some children, vacations can be a bit scary because of all the new experiences. If a child has never been on a plane or never been camping, creating a book that explains the activity is often helpful. In this book, use visuals and simple sentences to describe what will happen. It is also useful to explain what the child can or will do (ex: After you give the flight attendant your ticket, you will walk down a small tunnel to our plane). If the child is reading to him or herself, create the text so that the child can reread the book to themselves during the trip.
3.       Develop a portable, small vacation token board to reward good behavior during the trip With a portable token board, you are able to visually reward good behavior during the vacation. This can be especially important so that children are given feedback on what behaviors are appropriate and helpful on vacation that may or may not occur at home. Being on vacation also allows you to provide different reinforcing activities that are available only on vacation (ex: more time at beach, riding a special ride, going to a new restaurant, etc.).
4.       If the child is just beginning to talk or uses a picture communication system, make sure to print out images that are relevant to the trip If you have a child who fluently uses an augmentative system to communicate, it is very important to have images of relevant items or activities for the vacation. For example, at home it may not be important to have a picture of “sand bucket” or “pool” or “sunglasses” but on vacation they may be items that the child would need or request frequently.
5.       Have a generous handful of flashcards, arts & crafts, and books While on the plane, in the car, or even sitting at the beach, it can be very helpful to have activities on hand to keep children engaged. Visuals can be used as flashcard or cut and paste images in afternoon craft projects. For children who may be missing additional therapies or educational activities, having these on-the-go “work” folders or bags can provide a quick way to keep your child learning throughout the vacation.
With a little bit of preparation and the help of some visuals, this summer's vacation may be the most relaxing yet!



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