Friday, July 31, 2020

Free Printable Scripts to Help with Making Connections in Reading

These free printable scripts cards help autistic and hyperlexic kids with making connections in reading.

When I was doing research on the making connections reading strategy, I came across lots of free printable resources that did either one of two things. One, these listed a bunch of question prompts (specifically WH questions) to ask when reading. Two, they just had a definition of the three main types of connections with no concrete examples.

Now, if you have a hyperlexic kid, then you know that WH questions are hard for them. And giving them a vague idea and definition of something, without providing clear-cut examples, isn't going to be helpful either. It just doesn't play to a hyperlexic child's strengths.

However, me being me, I made something to help that does play to a hyperlexic child's strengths when making connections in reading

The free speech scripts provided here are designed to help with the first issue I saw with other making connections printables: the use of question prompts. 

With hyperlexic kids, it's better to rephrase the questions into fill-in-the-blank or cloze style sentences instead of using WH questions. So that's why these cards don't contain any questions. Instead, the kids can simply read a sentence and fill in the blanks to verbalize what they are thinking. They might still need help with making those connections while reading, but at least they'll have the language to describe them when they do.

Free scripts cards to help kids with making connections in reading

About these Free Making Connections in Reading Cards

These speech scripts cards use the same format as the other social scripts. They're small enough to fit in the palm of a hand or in a pocket so they can be taken on the go, put in your child's school desk, and/or used discretely (if that's what your child would prefer).

Their main purpose is to give autistic and hyperlexic kids the prompts they need to communicate any connections they make while reading. 

Download the Free Making Connections in Reading Scripts

This printable is three pages long. Blank cards have been included as well so that you can write down and customize your own scripts.

Simply click the link below to download the free printable.

>> CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THE FREE PRINTABLE

Or subscribe to the Weekly Autism Planner newsletter to gain access to hundreds of printables in the subscriber library!

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Free printable scripts cards to help kids with making connections in reading
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Wednesday, July 29, 2020

How to Use the Making Connections Reading Strategy with Your Hyperlexic Child

Looking for comprehension reading strategies to use with your hyperlexic child? Try using this making connections reading strategy.

The most common questions I receive about hyperlexia are often related to hyperlexia and reading comprehension. See, comprehension issues are common in hyperlexic children and it's an area that many families need help addressing, both at home and at school. 

Now, I know it would be nice to have an all-in-one solution to help with this area. But, the reality, though, is that reading comprehension isn't just one thing.

There's a variety of skills that can be targeted and a variety of strategies that can be used to help. There's things like visualizing, making predictions, making inferences, and so on.

Another strategy is to work on building background knowledge and schema. 

Or, in other words, making connections.

So let's take a closer look at this making connections reading strategy. What is it and how does it work? And how can you use this strategy with your hyperlexic child?

Making connections in reading comprehension - a simple strategy to use with hyperlexic kids

What is the Making Connections Reading Strategy?

This strategy for reading comprehension is all about using what you know to make sense of what you're reading. Basically, making connections between your background knowledge and the text you are reading. 

Think of it this way. How much easier is it to understand something when you can personally relate it to something you already know about, are familiar with, or have experienced? It makes a big difference, right? Well, that's essentially what this reading comprehension strategy is all about.

This strategy is great because it encourages the reader to get involved and actually interact with the text instead of just reading the words on the page. Because, let's be honest, we already know those hyperlexic can read those words with ease.

Parts of the Text that You Can Make Connections With

The great thing about this strategy is that it can be used before, during, or after reading. You can encourage your kid to use various parts of the book or text to make these connections, including the:

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Author
  • Characters
  • Pictures
  • Chapter Titles
  • Actions of the characters
  • Relationships between characters
  • Emotions of the characters
  • Choices the characters make
  • Problem or conflict that needs to be resolved
  • Solution to the problem or conflict
  • Style in which the book is written
  • Words or phrases the characters say
  • Overall theme of the book

As you can see from this list, there's lots of opportunities to practice making connections. So how do you go about making those connections? Well, first, let's discuss what types of connections can be made.

3 Types of Connections That Can Be Made

There are three different types of connections that can be made.

1. Text-to-self connections

This type of connection is all about connecting the text on a personal level, relating what they are reading to their own experiences, memories, and feelings. Basically, connecting the story with their own life.

For instance, this might mean:

  • The character reminds the reader of their sister
  • The setting reminds the reader of a place they went to on a recent vacation
  • The character is in grade two just like the reader
  • The character is dealing with the death of a pet and the reader remembers how sad they felt when their dog died

2.  Text-to-text connections

This type is all about connecting the text to another story or book that they have read before.

What does this look like?

  • The topic of the book reminds them of another book they've read
  • The reader notices that the books have the same author
  • The books share a similar genre (e.g., they're both fantasy stories)

3. Text-to-world connections

This final type of connection is all about making connections between the text and the events in the community and the world around you. It may include comparing the text to movies, TV shows, newspapers, world events (historical or current), social issues, or similar.

So that might mean:

  • The plot reminds the reader of the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina
  • The reader notices that the setting of the story is in a different time period than they currently live in and thinks about how difficult it would be to live in that time period vs now
  • The reader remembers learning about the first man on the moon while reading a book about an astronaut going to space

Tips for How to Use this Strategy with Hyperlexic Readers

Not every connection your child will make will be deep or meaningful, but once they make a connection, you can always prompt them to go deeper. Here are some ideas on how to start using this strategy:

  • Use picture books that are similar in theme or have similar characters like this video from Play to Learn Preschool discusses how to do (for hyperlexic kids, this might mean reading an ABC book about animals and then reading a fact book about animals or it might mean reading Elephant & Piggie books back to back - things you might already be doing anyway)
  • Model using the strategy yourself by pointing to parts of the book and telling your child what it reminds you of
  • Ask your child questions before, during, and after reading that would encourage them to make connections (for a hyperlexic child, you'll want to also use a visual cue for this - see below)

For hyperlexic readers, it is really important to include some written or visual cues. Here are some ideas for using visual supports while working on this making connections reading strategy with hyperlexic kids:

  • Explain the reading strategy to them by writing out the "rules" of using this strategy and writing out the three types of connections
  • Use visual prompts that encourage your kid to make connections (printable for this coming soon!)
  • Use a graphic organizer for your child to fill in the different types of connections
  • Write out questions on a piece of paper or on a whiteboard that will encourage them to think about what possible connections there might be (for example, you could write the question "Does this remind you of anything?")
  • Write down any connections you and your child make so they can see what connections they have made (remember, if it isn't written down, it might not exist to them!)

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Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Where's the Support for Hyperlexic Adults?

There's not a lot of information about hyperlexia in adults so where can adult hyperlexics find support? Here are some resources to check out.

Like a lot of things in the autism community, there's a lot of information, resources, services, and support geared towards children, but practically nothing in place for the adults they eventually become. 

So I wasn't surprised to receive an email one day asking me where a hyperlexic adult could find support and resources. 

Thankfully, I have been curating a list in my mind over the past couple of years so I was able to quickly put together a list that she was rather excited about. It also helps that more and more hyperlexic adults are starting to talk about their experiences on social media and I've been taking notice, saving their posts so I can easily find them.

But I'm sure there are other hyperlexic adults out there who might be in the same situation, wondering where the resources and support for them are.

While this list isn't perfect by any means, it's a start. It will help you find others like you. Or, for the parents of hyperlexic children who are reading this, you'll be able to get the first-hand insight into hyperlexia in adults that I simply won't be able to offer you.

So here is a list of resources that might be helpful for you!

Hyperlexia in adults: where's their support?

Hyperlexia in Adults: People & Blogs to Follow

This list isn't exhaustive, but it is a great starting point. I also highly recommend following the hastag #hyperlexia on Instagram as that is how I found a lot of these accounts and resources. 

1. Neurodivergent Rebel 
2. hvppyhands 
3. Yo Samdy Sam
4. Morénike Giwa Onaiwu
5. Autistic Sparkles

Support Groups for Hyperlexic Adults

While these groups aren't hyperlexia specific, they do have lots of hyperlexic adults in them. They're some of my favorite support groups to be in, simply to read, listen, and learn.



3. Hyperlexia + Autism Support Group - This group is run by me. I know there are quite a few hyperlexic adults in it, just probably not to the scale of the other two groups.

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Hyperlexia in adults: where's the support for hyperlexic adults?
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Tuesday, July 21, 2020

25+ Awesome Space Sensory Bins for Kids

Looking for space sensory bin ideas? Try these fun outer space sensory bin activities with your toddlers and preschoolers!

Space is a common fascination for hyperlexic kids, even as a toddler or preschooler. They'll learn facts about all the planets, read all the books they can about the solar system, and rattle off all the names of the moons of the different planets (among many other things). My hyperlexic son, for instance, has gone through periods of intense interest in outer space, off and on since he was about two.

So if your kid loves all things outer space related, then they'll love these space sensory bins. They're a great way to use your child's interest to introduce them to new textures and experiences.

Space themed sensory bin activities for kids

Space Themed Sensory Bin Ideas the Kids Will Love!

Using a wide range of materials from rice and beans to water and moon sand, you'll find tons of great outer space sensory bin activities below to try with your kids.

These ideas are great for a preschool unit on space or for those kids who are extremely passionate about all things outer space (which is the case for many hyperlexic children - see intense fascinations of hyperlexic children). And there are a few sensory bin activities on this list that even incorporate letters to really appeal to those hyperlexic learners!

Ready to dig in? There's over 25 ideas to try!

1. Outer Space Small World Sensory Table

2. Space Themed Sensory Play with Space Painted Rocks from Learning and Exploring Through Play (pictured)

3. Coffee Beans Space Sensory Bin from I Heart Crafty Things (pictured)

4. Night Sky Sensory Bin from Preschool Inspirations

5. Glowing Galaxy Water Bin from Fun-A-Day!

6. Space Water Bead Sensory Bin from 3 Dinosaurs

7. Outer Space Water Sensory Bin with Letters from Mama of Littles (pictured)

8. Space Themed Sensory Bin with Dyed Chickpeas from Rainy Day Mum

9. Night Sky Sensory Bin for Language Skills from Life Over C's

10. Spell A Star Sensory Bin from My Mundane & Miraculous Life

11. Solar System Bin with Painted Rocks & Dyed Rice from Parenting from the Heart Blog

12. Space Sensory Bin from Sugar, Spice, & Glitter

13. Galaxy Sensory Bin from Best Toys 4 Toddlers

14. DIY Glittery Space "Rocks" Sensory Bin from Life Over C's

15. Space Sensory Bin with Painted Rock Solar System from Capturing Parenthood

16. Erupting Moon Dust Sensory Tray from Learn Play Imagine

17. Glow-in-the-Dark Solar System Sensory Play from Playground Park Bench

18. Moon Walking Sensory Bin with Kinetic Sand from 3 Dinosaurs

19. U is for Universe Sensory Bin from Growing Hands-On Kids

20. Solar System Sensory & Imagination Bin from 1+1+1=1

21. Galaxy Themed Sensory Bin with Dyed Rice from S&S Blog

22. DIY Space Sensory Bin with Black Beans from Learning Resources Blog

23. Moon Sand Outer Space Sensory Bin from Little Bins for Little Hands

24. Alphabet Star Search from Pre-K Pages

25. Outer Space Sensory Bin with Glow-in-the-Dark Stars from 3 Princesses and 1 Dude

26. Space Themed Sensory Bin with Moon Sand from Pre-K Pages

27. Glow-in-the-Dark Solar System Sensory Bin from The Chaos and the Clutter

Other Outer Space Activities You'll Love

Outer Space Sensory Bags

Planet Crafts for Kids

Space Themed Calm Down Sensory Bottles

Looking for outer space sensory bins for toddlers or preschoolers? Try these fun space sensory bin activities!
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Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Free Social Story for Teaching WH Questions

Wondering how to teach WH questions to kids? Then you'll love this free social story for teaching WH questions to hyperlexic and autistic kids!

Many hyperlexic kids find WH questions hard to answer.

In Hyperlexia: Therapy that Works, it is suggested that "Wh- questions...need to be specifically taught using written and verbal prompts and scripts."

Which is why I thought I'd put together this handy dandy social story. It teaches WH questions specifically and uses written prompts, which plays to the strength of hyperlexic kids. Remember, when it comes to hyperlexic kids, write it out because reading is their strength.

While understanding how WH questions work is just one tiny piece that goes into helping with the comprehension struggles that are common in hyperlexia, it is a great first step to take.

It is also important to note that there are many skills that go into WH questions, such as understanding what you're being asked and then giving answers that make sense. This free social story dives into these aspects and is a great way to go about teaching WH questions to your hyperlexic child.

Free social story for teaching about WH questions

How to Teach WH Questions with this Free Social Story

This social story is all about WH questions. Specifically, about how to teach WH questions and what kinds of information these questions are asking for. It gives examples of each question and how to respond.

I highly suggest laminating the social story for durability. You can use binder rings to keep the social story together or store it in a binder. As an alternative to laminating, you could use sheet protectors in a binder. Or if you find yourself printing off lots of social stories, then this binding machine is a lifesaver!

Need activities for teaching WH questions to kids with hyperlexia or autism? Try this free social story!

Download the Free Printable Social Story for Teaching WH Questions

This printable is 15 pages long and includes full color photos, colorful clipart with the different WH question words, and charts to show some variants of certain question words. Usually, I prefer to use all photos, but the clipart does a good job of showing the questions in action so I just went with it.

To get your copy, simply click the link below.

>> CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THE FREE PRINTABLE

Or subscribe to the Weekly Autism Planner newsletter to gain access to hundreds of printables in the subscriber library!

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Friday, July 10, 2020

The Best Social Skills Activities and Resources for Teens

Looking for social skills activities for teens? Check out these free social skills worksheets, group activity ideas, and more below! Great for teens with autism.

If you're looking for resources for supporting autistic teens and tweens with their social skills, then you're in the right spot!

Below you'll find tons of great ideas for social skills activities for teens, including social skills group activities and free printable worksheets and resources.

Social skills for teens - group activity ideas, printables, worksheets, and more!

Social Skills for Teens: Things to Keep in Mind

There are a few things to remember when it comes to teaching social skills to teens:

  • Social skills activities should be tailored to the individual 
  • These skills are ones that you work on over a long period of time, even years, and many - if not most - you'll continually work on even as an adult so don't expect mastery after one or two rounds of practice
  • There are tons of different social skills to teach and the ideas below are by no means exhaustive
  • Skills that our teens need to learn these days are a lot more diverse and complex than when we were teens due to things such as technology and social media so it might be a bit harder to truly understand what they're going through during the teen years (i.e., expect to learn as you go too!)

Social Skills Activities for Teens

In this section, you'll find more general ideas for social skills training. These social skills activities for teens include group activity ideas, general strategies for teaching social skills, and free printable lists of social skills. Basically, the ideas to get you thinking about what to teach and how to teach it.

1. 50 Social Skills to Teach Kids, Teens, & Adults {Free Printable List}

2. Effective Strategies for How to Teach Social Skills to Kids & Teens

2. Checklist of 50 Social Skills for Teens from Autism Grown Up

3. General Social Skills Strategies for Autistic Teens from Raising Children

4. 4 Social Emotional Skills You Can Easily Practice with Teens from Nobel Coaching & Tutoring

5. 10 Fun Social Skills Activities for Teens from Mom Junction

6. 5 Great Social Skills Group Activities for Teens from Education and Behavior

Free Social Skills Worksheets & Printables for Teens

Now that you have a good idea of what social skills to teach your autistic teens and some general strategies for how to do so, let's take a look at some free social skills worksheets for teens, as well as other useful printables, that target more specific skills.

These printable resources target skills such as greeting others, apologizing, perspective taking, text messaging with friends, dating, and idioms.

All of the resources below are free to download. Some require you to have a Teachers Pay Teachers account though (which is also free).

1. How to Apologize Social Scripts

2. Praising Others Hidden Rules Worksheet

3. Asking for Help Social Scripts

4. Greeting People Social Scripts

5. Grocery Shopping Hidden Rules Worksheet

6. Text Message Social Skills for Teens from Nicolette Contella

7. Social Inference Worksheets for Older Students & Teens from Miss D's Autism Homeroom

8. Social Inferences: Idioms & Perspectives from Looks Like Language

9. Perspective Taking Scenario Task Cards for Middle & High School from Misty's Speech World

10. Dating Social Situation Cards for Autistic Teens from Learning for a Purpose

11. Perspective Taking for Teens from Miss D's Autism Homeroom

12. The Path to Success Lesson Plans & Social Emotional Learning Activities for Teens from Spanish Joe's Resources for You

13. Mind Reader Social Skills Game for Teens from Molly Sillich

Other Resources for Autistic Teens You'll Love

Autism Books for Teens

Free Social Stories About Puberty for Tweens & Teens

Resources for Supporting Autistic Tweens & Teens

A huge list of social skills activities, games, and worksheets for teens
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Tuesday, July 07, 2020

Calming Lavender Soap Foam Sensory Play

Looking for calming sensory activities for kids? Then you need to try this calming lavender soap foam sensory play activity.

While lavender isn't my favorite scent, it is known for its calming benefits. It's a scent that can help kids (and adults!) wind down at the end of the day.

For this sensory activity, I paired lavender with one of our favorite sensory bin materials: soap foam. 

Now, if you've never played with soap foam before, you're missing out. I personally find the texture of soap foam to be calming and soothing. It's bubbly and silky feeling. And it's a great sensory material for kids who actively avoid gritty and rough textures such as sand.

So grab some liquid soap and get ready to try this calming lavender soap foam sensory play activity. It's great for kids of all ages and ridiculously easy to make.

Simple calming lavender sensory bin for toddlers and preschoolers

Lavender Soap Foam Sensory Bin: What You'll Need

To make lavender scented soap foam, you'll need:

  • Liquid soap

How to Make Lavender Soap Foam for Sensory Play

Soap foam is really easy to make. Simply put a generous amount of soap (I use castile soap) in a large container (or you could use a stand mixer if you've got one).

Next, add a splash or two of water.

Then start mixing the soap and water using an electric hand-mixer until you get a thick, frothy foam.

Add 4-5 drops of lavender essential oil and some purple liquid watercolors (how much you will use depends on the size of the container and how purple you want the soap foam to be).

And that's it! You'll end up with this lovely foamy concoction.

Lavender scented soap foam sensory play recipe

This Lavender Soap Foam is a Wonderful Calming Sensory Activity for Kids!

Now you could add some scoops and spoons to this sensory bin, but honestly, both of my boys really enjoy just playing with the texture of the soap foam, swishing the bubbly mixture back and forth between their hands. 

Soap foam on its own is extremely calming and relaxing to play with, but the added olfactory component is a nice touch! 

Calming sensory activity with lavender scented soap foam

Calming sensory activity with lavender scented soap foam

Soap foam sensory play that's lavender scented

Just look at all those wonderful bubbles!

Playing in a soap foam sensory bin

Playing in a soap foam sensory bin

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