lunchbuddiesplus

Learning and Sharing

Effective Strategies and Practical Ideas for Getting Things Done

 

What should you do if you often arrive at tennis lessons without your tennis bag?  What if you need constant reminders to go upstairs and put on your socks before putting on your shoes?  You put on your “future glasses”, start with the end in mind and then go back and figure out how to get there!

I have quite a few clients who need strategies to frame how they function in the world.  Sarah Ward, M.S., CCC-SLP http://(http://cognitiveconnectionstherapy.com/) has given us a fantastic strategy from her executive function-directed therapy.

How do we get started?  First, we decide on an activity that is considered a constant issue.  In this case, it’s getting to tennis lessons with everything needed.  My first question is, “What will you look like when you are ready to go?” and with that “picture” in mind, we decide on a plan for what we need to get get ready.  Next, we decide on the steps to take.

 

 

This client told me that just having a list of words to guide him through the process was not helpful. His self-awareness prompted him to ask for pictures.

 

What about prompting and cues?  Sarah Ward tells us, “Don’t cue to do – cue to know what to do”. As we practice timed relays for getting ready and out the door with everything he needs, I ask questions such as, “How are you going to know when you are ready?” and “Would you do anything differently?”.

Slow processing speed can impact all areas of executive function.  Can slow processing speed improve?  Practice, practice, and practice!   Research shows that repeating a task makes it become more automatic and quicker to process.  Practicing timed activities that challenge learners to “beat their best time” can help build processing speed.  Strategies such as Get Ready-Do-Done and visuals including lists, schedules, and timers in addition to cognitive modeling and thinking aloud procedural steps provide a framework for successfully managing tasks.

 

 

https://goodsensorylearning.com/collections/working-memory

Lucky for all of us using the Get Ready-Do-Done strategy, post-it pads and dry erase boards are available on Amazon or on the Cognitive Connections website http://efpractice.com

Best,

Robin

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Elevation

Elevation is a social emotion. It is the positive feeling that one experiences after seeing an act of altruism, virtue or human beauty.  I received the following article from the parent of one of my clients with the question, “Do you have any recommendations for videos or movies that we can watch together as a family to give A. opportunities to experience the feelings of elevation and compassion?”

https://www.cnn.com/2018/04/06/europe/pope-elevation/index.html

I was amazed to learn from reading the article that Thomas Jefferson described the emotion of elevation 200 years ago.  Witnessing unexpected acts of kindness, courage or compassion can make us want to help others, give unconditionally and become better people.  Jefferson wrote, “When any…act of charity or of gratitude is presented to our sight or imagination, we are deeply impressed with its beauty or feel a strong desire in ourselves of doing charitable or grateful acts also.  Observing good deeds can “elevate” our bodies and minds, opening our chests and hearts”.

There is a series of Thai commercials on YouTube that will make you “feel all the feels”.  The one posted below shows how one young man gives without any expectation of getting something in return.  What he does get from his altruistic acts is something money cannot buy.  He gets emotions, witnesses happiness and feels the love.  It is a perfect example of what my client’s mother is seeking to help to inspire her son to become a compassionate, caring young adult.

 

 

I have started using these video clips during therapy sessions with A.  The following books by Dr. Anna Vagin have helped me to construct a framework for discussions and social/emotional learning.

http://www.socialtime.org/


 

 

The following video clip prompted a lovely lesson on the Ripple Effect.

A. is hoping that his Bar Mitzvah project will create a ripple.

I have found that it is much easier for A. to describe what he is thinking as we watch the video clips. With some help from me to dig deeper, he is beginning to use his words to express the feelings.  His mother reports acts of kindness that she is observing (without the response, “What’s in it for me?”).  I think that he is beginning to understand that not all rewards are tangible and kindness is unconditional.

My best,

Robin

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Big Picture Thinking

 

 

Learners of all ages who experience difficulty with big picture thinking and concept imagery may struggle with:

  • Reading comprehension
  • Listening comprehension
  • Critical thinking and problem solving
  • Following directions
  • Memory
  • Oral language expression
  • Written language expression
  • Grasping humor
  • Interpreting social situations
  • Reading “between the lines”
  • Understanding cause and effect

In order to become proficient readers, learners have to be able to understand the meaning of what they read.  This skill requires not only comprehension but good thinking.  Information is conveyed through concepts and not just facts. Most of my clients are able to answer fact based wh-questions about what they read because they are good at rote memorization of facts and knowledge.  When asked to summarize or talk about cause and effect, these same clients use a list of facts to retell a story.  Rote memory recall is not really thinking.  Conceptual processing difficulties impact reading comprehension, getting the main idea of what is read, and formulating written expression.

 

 

 

We can build our brains with critical thinking skills.  Below are a few of my favorite resources:

 

https://lindamoodbell.com/program/visualizing-and-verbalizing-program

Develop concept imagery as a basis for comprehension and higher order thinking

https://www.playosmo.com/en/

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Cat-Says-Meow

Think about situations as a whole rather than parts.

 

My Best,

Robin

 

 

 

 

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Time Robbers

Time robbers are those things that steal valuable time away from us.  Some time robbers are out of our control as they are imposed on us by others or unexpected circumstances.  Time robbers are often self-inflicted as we allow our valuable time to be stolen.  Either way, it is an important strategy to learn to identify and manage them in order to minimize the damage.

As I coach clients who are working to strengthen executive function skills, I ask them to first identify what they perceive as their own unique time robbers.  The following is an excellent example of something that I might use to visually guide my clients through the process.

 

 

http://www.glenbardgps.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/sarah-ward-executive-function-lecture-handout-December-6-2016-Glenbard-IL.pdf.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Managing time robbers requires a great deal of self-control.

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Self-Control-Boot-Camp-3721869

The activities in Self-Control Boot Camp help learners to:

  • understand what self-control means, why it is important and how it impacts our daily life
  • how to stop and think before making a decision
  • understand impulse control and will power
  • use self-control to accomplish tasks and responsiblities
  • self-regulate emotions and use coping strategies
  • stick-to-itiveness
  • strengthen self-control over time

 

We often need to ask ourselves “what does a client really need?” or “in what way can I best support a client?”.  Self-control and managing time robbers are foundation skills that are helpful to all learners.

~Robin

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Teens in the Kitchen

 

A cooking class has been on my mind for a long time.  I waffled on the notion of leading the class myself but realized I needed to go to the experts.  Publix Super Markets are new to the Richmond area and I was hooked on my very first shopping experience there.  On one of my visits I noticed the Aprons Cooking School at the Nuckols Place location and had an Aha! moment.  I found my experts!

I took my goals to Chef Brian:

Improve social executive functioning skills while participating in a fun, social event, by promoting 
Multi-tasking
Time Management
Planning
Sustaining Effort
Decision Making
Self-correction
Problem solving
Self-assessment

The folks at Aprons were fantastic!  They were flexible, accommodating, and fun.

Chef Brian and Chef Kara planned a gluten free menu of French Toast, Grits w/ Sausage Gravy, Maple Brown Sugar Bacon and for dessert, a Berry Napoleon with Oatmeal Crumble.

Look at the teamwork!

 

 



Thank you, Aprons Cooking School, for making this event an awesome social experience!

 

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Are You Like a Magnet for Other People?

 

We want to keep other people thinking good thoughts and feeling good feelings when they are around us.  Just like magnets “attract” and “repel”,  we can say and do things with our body, eyes, and words that make people want to be around us, or do things with our body, eyes, and words to push people away.  Magnets can be used as an effective hands-on visual for learning the importance of why we want to attract other people and how to draw them close.

Each meeting of the Friday Night Heights group for Teens and Tweens provides a context for practicing social competencies. Currently, the group focus is on making small talk, situational awareness, and self-monitoring.

 

 

The list of behaviors that repel others from the conversation is long.  Arguing, interrupting, and tone of voice are at the top of the list.  Too much sarcasm is also important and can be a deal breaker when it comes to friendships and hanging out with a group.

 

 

The following video helps us to understand the difference between verbal irony and sarcasm.  It is all about intent and tone.

 

Giving compliments can make others feel good.  If we are not careful and keep in mind who we are talking to, what we mean as a compliment can be received as an uncomfortable comment.  Since we are in a climbing gym we keep our compliments to what is expected in that situation.  “You are brave on the wall” or “Great climb tonight!” are examples of positive compliments.

 

https://everydayspeechsocialskillsvideos.vhx.tv/recently-added

Browse the videos at Everyday Speech Social Skills.  One in particular, Uncomfortable Comments is very helpful in showing situational awareness.

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Helping Young Children Figure it Out

 

Michelle Garcia Winner writes in the Forword of We Can Make It Better! that “by kindergarten, children are expected to have a solid grasp on their emotional regulation as well as how to cope with the emotions of others.  They are expected to understand that they learn as part of a group, and that they are supposed to focus on what’s  being taught and not on their own personal needs.  They also are expected to try to read the intentions of the teachers and others around them, monitoring and modifying their behavior based on how they think others are thinking and feeling”.

Children with social learning challenges often need us to make the invisible visible.  After introducing the Social Thinking® concepts to preschoolers through the We Thinkers curriculum, We Can Make It Better! by Elizabeth M. Delsandro, is a wonderful next step for helping young children to be flexible, social problem solvers.

Thoughts and feelings are the heart of social learning.  Understanding how our behavior affects the thoughts and feelings of others will help us become better problem solvers.

 

 

 

With each short story included in We Can Make It Better!  a social dilemma is presented.  While working through the problem solving process, children have the opportunity to develop a better understanding of how one’s behavior, whether it is with our words or our actions, impact our relationships with others.  Each story invites the learner to “make it better” with an expected ending or outcome to the story.

http://socialthinking.com/products

 

I love adding these fun Kimochis to the activities.  https://www.creativetherapystore.com/products/kimochi-mixed-bag-of-feelings

 

https://everydayspeechsocialskillsvideos.vhx.tv/videos/problem-solving-friends-being-fair

One of the best features of the Everyday Speech Social Skills Videos is the use of thought bubbles. The learner has the opportunity to see what others are thinking about during problem solving scenarios.

Help young children figure it out.  Make the invisible visible.

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Self-Monitoring

 

Self-monitoring is one of the most comprehensive research supported techniques of behavioral self-management (McDougall, 2008).  Techniques and tools reported in the self-monitoring literature include:  self-talk, video-modeling, and self-recording.

My teen clients spend hours of individual coaching sessions learning about expected behaviors (different for every situation), hidden social rules, and conversation skills by watching videos and practicing positive self-talk.  Now its time to apply what they have learned.  When we arrive at the climbing wall we will spend some time talking about expected behaviors in this particular group and some conversation starters.  Then, we will go out into the gym to climb and put these skills into action in a real time social situation.

 

After climbing, we will regroup for some pizza and feedback.  We will all (adults included) use the Rating Your Own Impression form to start the feedback conversation. Did I show interest in others? Did I stay out of people’s personal space?   Did my tone and facial expression match my message? Do others see me as friendly and approachable?

Social Thinking® Thinksheets for Tweens and Teens                                                                                                                                    http://socialthinking.com

Looking forward to another fun Friday evening at Peak Experiences!

Best,

Robin

 

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Conversation Mapping

 

 

 

I love combining resources to make an outstanding lesson/session for a client.  A few of my teen clients are working on conversation building.  Here are some of the resources that we use:

 

First, I like to start with this Conversation Mapping activity   https://jillkuzma.wordpress.com/conversation-skills/teaching-ideas/

 

 

After practicing several conversation scripts, we move on to video modeling

 

 

The social skills videos on the Model Me Kids app are excellent for teaching perspective taking.  The narration, graphics, and visuals, all done by teens, help explain the hidden social rules of conversation.

http://www.modelmekids.com/

 

 

Most of my teen clients find it difficult to start conversations based on other people’s interests.  With the photos provided and the visual prompts of connecting comments, wondering questions, and compliments in this free download the groups have what they need for more guided practice.

http://autismteachingstrategies.com/autism-strategies/100-cool-people-photos-for-conversation-practice-a-complete-conversation-starter-kit-for-children-on-the-autism-spectrum/

 

Finally, we use what we have learned by building conversations using the Conversation Builder Teen app.

 

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/conversationbuilderteen/id551522479?mt=8

After lots of practice, it is time to venture out into the real world to try all that we have learned.  A great place for real world practice is the Friday night Teen Social Skills Group at Peak Experiences climbing wall!  For more information on this group contact me at autasticavenues@gmail.com

Best,

Robin

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Cause and Effect in Reading Comprehension

The world is full of causes and effects, so it is no surprise that literature and non-fiction writings contain cause and effect references.  Cause and effect is a literacy tool used to help students comprehend when actions and reactions occur. Identifying cause and effect relationships within a story helps students focus on two important elements of comprehension: what happens in the story and why it happened.

  • The cause is why or the reason something happened. It answers the question Why or How. Authors often identify the cause using signal words: Because… Since… Cause… Reason… So that… Unless… The main reason… Due to… For the simple reason that…
  • The effect is the result of what happened. It answers the questions: What happened? What was the result? Authors typically indicate the effect using these signal words: As a result of… If… Consequently… Effect… Therefore… Thus… So… Because of this… So that… For this reason…

Sometimes, before we can understand cause and effect in the stories we read, we must first understand cause and effect in our daily lives.

 

 

 

I find that I weave the Social Thinking® vocabulary throughout therapy and reading tutoring sessions. The concepts are applicable no matter what we are doing. “Think with your eyes and find the clues”.   http://socialthinking.com

 

https://www.superduperinc.com/products/view.aspx?pid=fd11#.Wa0-V62ZNsM

 

 

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Cause-and-Effect-Differentiated-Activity-Bundle-Common-Core-Aligned-321042

 

Best,

Robin

 

 

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