At our office we utilize photographs throughout all therapy sessions as well as recommend our families to use photographs in many different ways. Today we wanted to share with you six fun and easy ways you can use photographs to help increase your child’s understanding, expressive language, social communication as well as Theory of Mind and perspective taking skills.
1. Schedules: Using a picture visual schedule is a wonderful way to help kids plan, organize, prepare and think about their day. We recommend using photographs on visual picture schedules when going to family houses, doctor visits and friends’ houses. By doing this, it works on so many different skills such as: facial recognition, name recognition, understanding possession (yours, mine, etc.) and so much more.
If you are interested in learning more about schedules check out our past blog “Let Me Check My Schedule”: http://www.autismspot.com/blog/Let-me-check-my-schedule
2. Friend and Family Books: One activity that we always recommend for our families is to create a friend and family book. The idea is to first create the book with your friends’ and family’s names and pictures. Then you read and look at this book everyday. This will help your child become more familiar with their names and faces; which will lead to them being more familiar with the person and then will naturally lead to them initiating and responding to more play and conversation with them. As our kids grow, we then recommend that our families add information to the book such as things they like and dislike, their birthdays and more. This helps increase their Theory of Mind of others.
If you are interested in learning more about friend and family books, check out our past blogs “Family Matters” http://www.autismspot.com/blog/Family-Matters and “Five Ways to Help Your Child be Social at School”:
3. Create Books: Most children love looking at pictures of themselves. One of our kids’ favorite activities is when we create a book using their photographs. We do this in four different ways. The first way is by using a photograph of the child within our weekly themed book that we are using for therapy at that time. For example, if we are working on farm animals and our main character is visiting the farm, then we may change our main character and use the child’s picture.
The second way is by recreating our weekly themed book we are using in therapy by using pictures of the child and/or their family member. For example if we reading “The Napping House” by Audrey Wood; then in addition to reading that book, we may create another book using similar language but using pictures from their family: their Grandma for the “granny”; their dog for “the dog”; their picture for the “boy”; and we may even add in characters like cousins, Mom, Dad, etc.
The third way we do this is by taking pictures of the child during our session and then using their pictures within that theme we are using in therapy to create a book. For example if we are reading “Maisy Goes to the Doctor”, then we would take pictures of the child playing pretend doctor and pretend patient and use those pictures to create a book just for them (“Amanda is the Doctor” or “Amanda Visits the Doctor”).
The last way we use pictures to create books in our therapy session is by having our children act out different situations while we take their photos. We do this a lot when we are working on them learning the social curriculum Superflex® by Michelle Winner Garcia. They love making books of themselves having an “Unthinkable moment” and then “defeating the Unthinkable” by “being Superflexible”. If you have not checked out Social Thinking® by Michelle Winner Garcia then you are missing out – go to www.socialthinking.com. She will change your world – she is AMAZING!!
4. New Events: Using photographs to help children understand and prepare for upcoming events is a great idea! You can use your photos (of you, another family member, of your child, etc.) or you can search for photos on the internet. The idea is to use photos detailing step-by-step what they can expect and in the order they can expect these things to occur. A few great examples would be getting a haircut, going to the dentist, going to the doctor and more.
5. Talking About Past Events: We use photos a lot for talking about past events. In our therapy sessions we do this in many ways. The first way is by taking pictures throughout the session, then at the end of the session we look back at them and talk about what we did that day. Another way is that at the end of a theme or a month, we will create a picture document that discusses what we did for the entire theme and month. A third way we use them is at the end of the semester we will create a “What I Did This Fall/Spring/Summer” book that details what we did throughout the entire semester – the kids LOVE these.
We also encourage our parents to take pictures throughout their day so they can: 1) scroll through the pictures at the end of the day; 2) print them out and place them on their big wall calendar; 3) print them out and place them in a little photo album and more. A lot of our little kids love flipping through their “What I Did Today” photo album on their way to therapy.
When our families have BIG events like a big holiday party (Thanksgiving, Easter, Christmas, etc.); a birthday party (for them or for a friend) or are going to a big event (zoo), we suggest making a book centered around that event. This really helps our kids talk about what they did.
6. Future Events: We also encourage our family to use their photographs from years past to help prepare their child for future events. You can look back at an old photo album, look at old pictures on your tablet or phone, or even create a specific picture document for it. For example, if you took pictures from their last birthday party, then you can use those pictures to talk about what you will do or may do at their upcoming birthday. By reviewing these pictures it helps prepare them on what to expect but it also helps them talk about what they “may do”.
Remember that when you are using these ideas, focus on the language that your child is currently working on using and understanding at school and at therapy.
We hope you have fun helping your child learn with photographs!
The Picture Communication Symbols
©1981-2016 DynaVox Mayer-Johnson
are used under contractual agreement
and were created by KidSpeak, LLC.
All rights reserved worldwide.