Welcome to my journey through mrsriley.com. The special needs community is discovering more and more every day about the incredible visual skills children with autism and Down syndrome have. There is also much to be gained by making learning visual for everyone. I have seven students in my family homeschool, and I'm all about finding every opportunity to use picture cards to get things organized, functional and fun around here.
As an added bonus, my 5-year-old has Down syndrome and an additional diagnosis of apraxia of speech. Apraxia is a motor planning disorder that basically means Noah has the muscle strength and coordination needed for speech production and he knows what he wants to say, but the connection between his brain and his mouth is short-circuiting.
The good news is that Noah has an American Sign Language vocabulary of about 150 signs. Using Total Communication (sign language plus -NOT INSTEAD OF- speech) has helped Noah to be a great communicator. Language is about so much more than the ability to verbalize orally. Remember that - it's going to be very important. Never give up on speech. The use of picture cards and signs lay a very important foundation for communication, sentence structure, and vocabulary. Used long term, they can be an anchor and a prompt for speech. There was a time I hoped that Noah would outgrown signing and picture cards, but in being exposed to adults with disabilities, I realize that what we are doing by teaching sign and picture card usage is we are equipping our special ones for life. When Noah starts a job, mows the lawn, does the dishes or goes shopping for the first time, mrsriley.com picture cards will be a tool he can use to achieve success and independence. When he gets confused or forgets what to do next, he can use his picture boards much the way we use directions. He won't have to be at the mercy of my attention or anyone else's. Like a hammer for a carpenter, a map for a traveller, picture cards will be a tool, a means to a very productive end, no matter how "high-functioning" or "low functioning" he is.
Noah is also very bright. As his teacher, I want to make sure that his speech dealy does not interfere with his acquisition of skills that he may otherwise be ready for. He has been diligently learning preschool concepts despite the fact he is just beginning to speak. His speech therapist has been using picture cards consistently with him, and after watching her for six months and wandering around mrsriley.com, I'm finally getting the hang of it.
In the next few weeks, I will start posting articles and hopefully links (if I can figure that out) to my boards that are instrumental in Noah's acquisition of pre-school skills such as matching, color identification, following directions, opposites, part to whole, counting, action words and categorizing. We'll also be talking about using picture cards to teach not-yet-verbal children to read, YES-TO READ!!!!!! And, of course, we'll explore using picture cards more generally to offer choices, learn routines and sequence events. As mrsriley.com members, you will have access to all the files I'll be sharing. All you have to do is print them and use them.
From time to time I'll be posting "Noah News" which will be updates on Noah's progress in the areas we're using picture cards. I'm excited about that because it will be a written record of how far we've come since going visual. I'd love for you to use this space to share how you are customizing these ideas and files to fit your own needs. Let us know how you're using your picture cards. Just hit the comment button at the bottom of the blog and type away. Gotta love how we're all in this together. Go mrsriley.com!!!
Talk to you soon.