Tuesday, September 22, 2020

The ABCs of Problem Solving Steps {Free Printable Included!}

Teach kids and teens (or adults too!) the steps to solving a problem with this free printable ABCs of problem solving poster chart.

Knowing how to solve a problem is just one of many social skills kids, teens, and adults need to learn. 

There are a few steps involved in problem solving so it's always good to have a visual cue that breaks down the different steps, especially for autistic and hyperlexic individuals who find visual supports particularly helpful.

And, since the alphabet is kind of our thing around here, I want to share the ABCs of problem solving with you. Well, actually it's more like the ABCDE of problem solving, but whatever, close enough. 

Regardless, this is an example of how you can take your hyperlexic child's interest (letters) and use it to teach new skills (problem solving). Something I discuss here.

Steps to solving a problem using the ABCs

5 Steps to Solving a Problem

Here's how to use the ABCs of problem solving:

Step 1: Ask

This step is all about asking yourself the following questions:

  • Is there a problem?
  • What is the problem?
  • How big is the problem?
If you ask the first question and determine that there really isn't a problem, then there's nothing you need to do. 

But, if you do determine there is a problem, then you need to clearly identify what the problem is and determine the size of the problem. Knowing the size of the problem will help you determine, in later steps, if it's a problem that can be tackled on your own or if you might need some help.

Step 2: Brainstorm

For this step, you need to come up with different possible solutions and ideas for how to best solve the problem. Write down everything you can think of. 

Step 3: Choose

This step is all about picking one solution to try. Ask, "What solution will best solve my problem?" Then go through the list of ideas you came up with in the brainstorming stage and pick one that you want to try or that you think makes the most sense for the problem. 

Step 4: Do it

Here's where you actively attempt to solve the problem. This is where you take the solution you picked in step 3 and use it.

Step 5: Evaluate

Now it is time to evaluate your results. Did your strategy or solution work? If yes, then celebrate!

If not, then you need to evaluate why it didn't work. Then use that information to help you pick a new strategy or solution from step 3. This step isn't about quitting when one solution doesn't work. It's about asking yourself, "What can I try next?"

Remember, there is a free problem solving printable available below.

Teach kids and teens how to solve a problem using this free ABCs of problem solving steps printable

Download the Free Printable Problem Solving Chart

This one page printable outlines the 5 problem solving steps from above. To get your printable, enter your name and email in the form below.

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Monday, September 21, 2020

Free Alphabet Scavenger Hunt Printables

Go on an alphabet scavenger hunt with your kids using these six different alphabet scavenger hunt printables.

When my hyperlexic son was little, it was hard to get him outside some days. But I could often entice him outdoors by using his interest in letters or his interest in math and numbers. Case in point: this paper plate alphabet scavenger hunt activity where we searched for letters on license plates.

So whether your kid is a letter-loving hyperlexic kid like mine or not, these alphabet scavenger hunt printables offer lots of fun ways to keep track of what you find on your hunts. 

Free alphabet scavenger hunt printables for kids

About These Free Alphabet Scavenger Hunt Printables

There are lots of different ways to do alphabet scavenger hunts. And there's lots of different ways to keep track of what you find on said scavenger hunts. That's why you'll find six variations in this set of printables.

There is one page where kids can write down the names of the objects that they see for each letter. Or they can check off items for each letter on another page.

Two tracing pages are also included - one for uppercase and one for lowercase - where kids can trace the letters as they find objects that start with that letter.

And finally, there are two pages - one uppercase and one lowercase - where kids can simply color the letters as they find objects for those letters.

You can laminate them so they can be used over and over again. Or simply print and go!

Download the Free Alphabet Scavenger Hunts

This printable is six pages long as it includes six variations. To get your printable, enter your name and email in the form below.

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Monday, August 24, 2020

Hyperlexia: How is Early Reading a Problem?

Clearing up confusion about hyperlexia and how it's more than just early reading.

I recently commented on a discussion about hyperlexia in a Facebook group where the person was seeking more information about it. They were trying to understand how early reading could possibly be viewed as a problem.

It was a good question.

Well, the early reading itself isn't an issue. 

Either is the intense fascination with letters. 

So what exactly is the problem here then?

See, the thing is, hyperlexia is so much more than early reading. And it's more than just an intense fascination with letters. There are issues that accompany this precocious self-taught reading and that's what I want to touch on here.

Hyperlexia definition and how it is different than early reading

Incomplete Definitions of Hyperlexia Might Be Leading to Confusion

It's quite possible that a lot of the confusion around hyperlexia is that, oftentimes, people are given incomplete definitions about what hyperlexia is in the first place. 

They are led to believe that hyperlexia is just early reading that is self-taught. 

But there's more to it than that.

Hyperlexia is defined as having three main traits or characteristics, one of which is the early ability to read. It's the other two traits or characteristics that really define the issues or problems of hyperlexia. This is what the person in the Facebook group was really trying to discover and learn about. 

The two traits that often get left out of definitions - or overlooked - are the difficulties in acquiring, understanding, and using language and the difficulties with social interactions. 

And that's where the so called problems lie.

So What are the Issues That Accompany Hyperlexia?

Most of the problems that hyperlexic individuals encounter stem from their difficulties with acquiring language. So here is a list of some of the issues that are quite common in hyperlexia:

  • Issues with comprehension
  • Pronoun reversals
  • Difficulties understanding and answering WH questions
  • Difficulties processing what is said to them (which is why they're often described as selective listeners)
  • Abstract language and inferences are tricky for them to understand
  • Picking up grammar rules doesn't come easy or naturally so they need to be taught specifically
Decoding the written word comes easy to them, but understanding the language around them doesn't. 

So you can see how it might be challenging to carry on a conversation when you find it difficult to answer questions or don't really understand that pronouns like "you" could refer to yourself in certain contexts. 

These issues might play a role in other difficulties that hyperlexic children have, such as why they "rarely initiate social conversation" (source: What is Hyperlexia?) and have difficulties with social skills.

How to Separate Early Reading from Hyperlexia

Lots of kids read early, but not all would be classified as hyperlexic. 

Now that you have a better understanding of the issues that accompany hyperlexia, as well as the more complete definition of the term itself, you can begin to see how you can separate an early reader from a hyperlexic one.

If your early reader doesn't seem to struggle with comprehension or with any of the issues mentioned above, then they're likely just an early reader.

However, if your early reader starts to check any of the boxes for the issues listed above, especially if you also suspect they might be autistic, then there's a really good chance that they are a hyperlexic reader instead of just an early reader.

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A closer look at the definition of hyperlexia and how it differs from early reading, in attempt to answer the question how is early reading a problem?

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Thursday, August 20, 2020

Free Printable Self Advocacy Scripts

These free printable self advocacy scripts help autistic and hyperlexic individuals learn how to be a self advocate.

It's primarily parents who have to advocate for their autistic and hyperlexic children in the younger years, but one day, that child will need to be able to advocate for themselves on their own as well. 

It's an important skill to learn how to self advocate, which means, at some point, you've got to give your child the tools they need to be able to do so. And kids are never too young to start advocating for themselves.

These free self advocacy scripts are a great starting point for kids, teens, and even adults, as it provides the language they need to be able to advocate for their wants, needs, and dislikes. 

Free printable self advocacy scripts that teach kids, teens, and adults how to advocate for themselves and their needs

About these Free Self Advocacy Scripts

These social 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 and/or used discretely.

Their main purpose is to give autistic and hyperlexic individuals - regardless of age - the prompts they need to communicate their wants, needs, and preferences. 

You'll also find scripts to teach kids, teens, and adults to negate, which is an important part of self advocacy. It's just as important to ask for what you need as it is to set up boundaries, say no, and tell people to stop doing things that make you uncomfortable.

Download the Free Self Advocacy Scripts

This printable is seven pages. Blank cards have been included as well so that you can write down your own and customize the scripts to fit your needs.

Simply click the link below 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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Wednesday, August 19, 2020

The Role of Prior Knowledge & Schema in Reading Comprehension

How does background knowledge or schema affect reading comprehension? Find out the importance of activating prior knowledge or schema during reading.

The term schema came up again and again in some recent comprehension webinars and workshops that I attended and it really got me thinking about how I work with my own son on his comprehension skills. 

See, when it comes to improving the comprehension of hyperlexic kids, schema plays a huge role. It also makes a big difference in helping your kids make connections while reading.

But what is schema exactly? 

And what is the role of prior knowledge in reading comprehension?

Well, let's take a closer look at schema and reading comprehension.

What is schema in reading comprehension? Tips for activating background knowledge during reading

What is Schema in Reading Comprehension?

Schema refers to the information we have stored in our brain, made up of the background knowledge and prior experiences that we have for different topics and ideas. It refers to everything we know (or, rather, everything we think we know) about those topics.

It's important to note that schemas are dynamic, constantly changing and growing as we learn and experience new things. 

They also differ from person to person, meaning your schema on one topic will be different than my schema. So it's important to remember that everyone's schemas are different.

How Does Background Knowledge or Schema Affect Reading Comprehension?

As much as my husband has tried to explain what he does for a job to me, I truly don't understand much of it because my schema is basically nil. I have no experience using the things he talks about and I don't really understand the jargon and language that accompanies it all. 

But talk to me about piano teaching repertoire? You bet I'll understand what you're talking about because I already have schemas built on these topics to aid in my understanding.

Not having the right amount of background knowledge can make it difficult to understand things. 

Like you might not have a clue what I'm talking about when it comes to piano teaching repertoire, right? But if you had some schema about how to teach piano, what piano method books exist, and had personal experience using some of those books yourself, then you could likely understand what the heck I was talking about.

You can see how being able to access and use your prior knowledge can build a greater depth of understanding. Using schema also allows kids to make connections while reading. And it even aids in visualizing what you read, a core component of the Visualizing and Verbalizing program (review here), because the schema is there to help you picture what it should look like.

So if you want to start improving your hyperlexic child's comprehension skills, then building and activating schema is extremely important. 

So...How Do You Build Schema?

There are lots of different ways to build schema surrounding a topic, including:

  • Reading books
  • Watching videos or documentaries
  • Looking up information on the internet
  • Listening to a podcast
  • Offering sensory rich experiences
  • Trying something yourself
  • Talking to someone who you deem to be an expert or more knowledgeable
  • Discussing the topic with someone else
  • Asking questions when you're unfamiliar with something

For example, if you don't know anything about sharks, you might read a nonfiction book about sharks, watch videos on YouTube about different types of sharks, read the Wikipedia entry on sharks, make a shark sensory bin, and/or go to a local aquarium to see sharks in person. All of the tidbits of information you gather from these sources will contribute to your knowledge - or schema - of sharks.

Ideas for Activating Background Knowledge & Schema for Reading Comprehension

You now recognize how important it is to build and activate schema, but how do you actually activate schema when reading? Here are some suggestions of things you can do before reading:

  • Share the topic with your child and ask them what they already know about it (you can write these things down or have them just share it verbally, up to you)
  • Ask them questions related to the topic or the book you will be reading to help awaken and ready their brain
  • Introduce vocabulary words and provide definitions
  • Look at photos or watch a short YouTube video that is related to topics, situations, or experiences that will be discussed in the story

A Recap of the Role of Prior Knowledge in Reading Comprehension

This video would be helpful to show your kids (especially autistic and hyperlexic kids who find social stories helpful!) as it explains how to use schema or prior knowledge when reading. It also includes some concrete examples. Definitely check it out for more info!

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Schema in reading comprehension: the role of using prior knowledge or how background knowledge affects reading comprehension

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Tuesday, August 18, 2020

How to Use the Picture Walk Reading Strategy to Build Comprehension Skills

Looking to improve your hyperlexic child's comprehension? Try the picture walk strategy for reading! Below you'll find out how to do a picture walk and why it is important.

There are so many different ways to work on comprehension skills before, during, and after reading a book. However, many people tend to focus more on the after portion of the reading, asking questions to check if the child understood what they were reading or not.

But what you do before reading can make a huge difference in your child's overall comprehension of the book.

That's where the picture walk reading strategy comes in. It's a quick and simple activity that you can do before reading the book.

But what is the picture walk strategy exactly? Let's find out!

How to do a picture book - a simple reading comprehension strategy

What is the Picture Walk Strategy for Reading

A picture walk is a shared activity between a child and an adult that occurs prior to reading the book where you flip through the pages one by one as a way to preview the story. It allows the child become more familiar with the book before actively reading the text. Think of a picture walk as a "before reading strategy."

Why are Picture Walks Important?

This reading strategy is important for building comprehension, a skill many hyperlexic children need extra help with. But here is a list of the benefits of doing a picture walk:

  • Improves comprehension
  • Activates schema (aka their background knowledge)
  • Introduces new vocabulary prior to reading
  • Increases interest and engagement in the story
  • Allows the child to practice asking and answering WH questions
  • Teaches the child about the different parts, structure, and format of a book
  • Gives the child a better idea of what the book will be about
  • Provides the child a chance to practice making predictions
  • Teaches the child that the pictures can be used as clues to understand what is happening in the story, what unfamiliar words might mean, etc.

How to Do a Picture Walk

A picture walk takes place before reading the book to activate background knowledge and improve comprehension, but how do you actually do a picture walk?

Well, basically, you start with the cover and start flipping through the pages, one by one. You point out important picture clues on each page and talk about what you see together with your child, asking them questions along the way. You don't really need to worry about the words on the pages quite yet as the goal is to focus on the pictures at this stage.

The picture walk should only take a few minutes to complete and isn't hard to do. This video shows some tips and tricks for doing a picture walk and what to point out.

And now that you have a better understanding of what a picture walk is and how to do it, let's see it in action! Here is a video of an example picture walk:

Once you've completed the picture walk, you can go ahead and read the book itself.

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What is the picture walk reading strategy? Find out how to do a picture walk to improve comprehension

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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.


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

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