Friday, September 25, 2020

Free Printable List of Chat Rules & Texting Etiquette for Tweens & Teens

A free printable poster of chat room rules and texting etiquette for tweens and teens.

My son is using Google Hangouts to chat with classmates as part of his online schooling this year. Since this is really his first time using a messaging platform of any kind (he doesn't have a cell phone or anything), I wanted to set him up for success.

Obviously, the list of rules and etiquette I share below isn't a comprehensive one by any means, but it is a good starting point to help set some boundaries and expectations for using something that is new to him. 

Please note that I don't have tips pertaining to sharing photos or private information across chat on this list as that is something his class had already discussed together during the first couple of days as school.

Instead, my focus was more on the hidden aspects of social communication and the specific rules of etiquette that many teachers and parents might not mention or might not think would be important to discuss with their kids.

For instance, I noticed he was chatting with a classmate while the teacher was talking or he was sending long lists of the same emoji over and over again. And I've noticed in Zoom chats, both now and back in the spring, that a lot of his classmates would send just random words over chat. Usually the word reeeeeeeeeeee, whatever that means...So that's my inspiration for this little printable.

Anyway, here is the list of chat rules and texting etiquette that I came up with him. A free printable poster is also included because, after all, with a hyperlexic child, if it's not written down, it might not exist to them.

Free printable list of chat room rules and digital etiquette rules for teens and tweens

10 Chat Rules & Texting Etiquette for Tweens & Teens

1. Be kind.

2. Stay on topic and keep it appropriate.

3. Send messages when you think the person will be awake, which is usually after 8:00 AM, but before 9:00 PM.

4. No chatting or messaging during class time, especially when the teacher is talking, unless it is required for partner or group work.

5. Acronyms like LOL and OMG are okay to use, but try to stick to using real words and phrases.

6. Emojis are great to use too, but 1 or 2 emojis are more than enough at a time.

7. You can also send stickers or GIFs, but keep them relevant to the topic and stick to using just one at a time.

8. Don't click on unfamiliar links. You can always ask a trusted adult to find out if the links are okay to click.

9. Stop messaging if the person asks you to stop or tells you that they are busy.

10. If the person doesn't respond after 1 or 2 messages, stop messaging to give them time to respond. They might be busy or unable to respond right now.

A free printable list that teaches chat rules and texting etiquette for kids, tweens, and teens

Download the Free Printable Poster of Chat Rules & Texting Etiquette

This one page printable is designed to look like a real chat thread (I'll be honest, I spent waaaay too much time making it look that way, but so worth it!) and outlines the 10 tips from above. To get your printable, enter your name and email in the form below.

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A free printable list that teaches chat rules and texting etiquette for kids, tweens, and teens

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Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Alphabet Themed Ideas for Simon Says

Looking for ideas for Simon Says? Try these alphabet themed Simon Says ideas for kids and be sure to grab a copy of the free printable list.

Simon Says is a classic childhood game that has lots of benefits. It can help with body awareness, vocabulary, following directions, giving directions (if they get to be Simon!), listening and paying attention, sequencing (if you give multiple commands in one), and motor development. Just to name a few.

Essentially, playing Simon Says is a quick and easy way to work on a variety of social skills.

Now, when it comes to hyperlexic kids, it's best to use their interest (usually letters!) to entice them to try new things and work on new skills. 

This list of alphabet themed Simon Says ideas is a perfect way to encourage them to join in and play because it combines their love for letters into a game, all while sneakily working on important skills.

ABC themed Simon Says ideas for kids

Simon Says Ideas for Each Letter of the Alphabet

Here are 26 ideas for Simon Says, one for each letter of the alphabet. You'll also find a free printable list below.

1. Arms up

2. Balance on one foot

3. Clap your hands

4. Downward dog pose

5. Eyes closed

6. Flex your muscles

7. Give a thumbs up

8. High five someone

9. Imitate an animal (could be a noise or how they walk)

10. Jump up and down

11. Kick your legs

12. Lift your shoulders up towards your ears

13. March in one spot

14. Nod your head

15. Open your mouth wide

16. Pat your belly

17. Quietly shush (could even place a finger over their mouth as they shush)

18. Run in place

19. Stomp your feet

20. Touch your toes

21. Unicorn horn (use your hands to form a horn on your head)

22. Victory dance

23. Wave hello

24. X with your arms (cross your arms to form an X)

25. Y pose (stand with legs together and then arms out to form a Y)

26. Zigzag walk

Looking for Simon Says ideas? Try these alphabet themed ideas with your kids! Free printable list of ideas included.

Download the Free Printable List of Ideas for Simon Says

This one page printable outlines 26 alphabet themed ideas for Simon Says. To get your copy, simply click the link below.


Teach Kids How to Play Simon Says With this Social Story!

If your kids are unfamiliar with the game or need some extra help understanding the rules, then you might find this social story helpful.

A social story to teach kids how to play Simon Says game

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Looking for Simon Says ideas? Try these alphabet themed ideas with your kids! Free printable list of ideas included.

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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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