Monday, October 17, 2016

How to Teach Idioms to Kids with Hyperlexia & Autism

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Tips for teaching idioms to students with autism or hyperlexia.

If you think teaching idioms to your kids is like pulling teeth, then you're probably right. However, it's even more interesting with hyperlexic and autistic kids because of their literal thinking.

So bear with me here as I teach you the bread and butter of how to teach idioms to kids, with or without hyperlexia. I certainly hope you're all ears because I have been bending over backwards to put this post together. In fact, I've worked my butt off to write this post and my head was spinning with all of the possible ideas for teaching idioms.

And as you can tell, I've got some time on my hands if I am willing to cram in as many idioms and metaphors as I can into this introduction. It was really a piece of cake though and I'm quite over the moon about it.

I guess you could say I've gone bananas! So I will put my foot down and just cut it out.

Autism and idioms - tips for teaching idioms to students with autism or hyperlexia

Tips for Teaching Idioms to Kids with Autism {With or Without Hyperlexia}

1. Use Apps to Learn About & Practice Idioms

There are some really great iPad apps available to help kids learn about and practice idioms. And honestly, I know most kids love to play on the iPad. So why not download some educational speech apps for them to practice these sayings. You can check out my recommendations for Speech Apps for Kids to Work on Idioms, Metaphors, & Figurative Language here.

2. Read Books About Idioms & Metaphors

Stop by the library and stock up on books about idioms, metaphors, and figurative language. Since kids with hyperlexia love to read, this approach works great for them. I particularly love the book It's Raining Cats and Dogs: An Autism Spectrum Guide to the Confusing World of Idioms, Metaphors and Everyday Expressions by Michael Barton, but if you are looking for more picture book suggestions for teaching idioms, you'll want to check out these book lists:

3. Play Games to Practice Idioms

Learning about idioms might not be terribly exciting for most kids. However, I know my hyperlexic son finds them hilarious and entertaining, especially when we learn about them through play. You can find tons of printable task cards, games, and more on Teachers Pay Teachers, but here are a couple of free games to practice idioms. No TPT account required either!

4. Explain Idioms & Metaphors Directly

I usually try to avoid using idioms and metaphors in my everyday conversations with the kids, but sometimes they slip out. Just like a good cliche slips out occasionally when writing. When I do say an idiom during conversations, I usually pause and explain the idiom directly to the kids. For instance, if I say something like "when pigs fly," I can point out to the kids how unlikely and impossible it would be for pigs to fly, meaning "it will never happen."

5. Have Your Child Draw the Idioms

Give your child an idiom and challenge them to draw the literal translation of it. By drawing the image, they'll see how ridiculous these sayings are and how they cannot possibly mean what they say, if translated literally. After they've drawn the literal translation, encourage them to draw the correct meaning of the idiom.

6. Write Scripts to Practice Idioms

Kids with hyperlexia benefit from social and speech scripts. You could encourage them to practice using idioms and metaphors in their conversations by writing examples of how and when to use the idioms. For instance, you could write a social script about having a scratchy, dry throat using sentences like, "Wow, my throat is dry and my voice is all hoarse. I have a frog in my throat!"

Other Ideas You'll Love

Hyperlexia & Hypernumeracy Resources

Autism and idioms - tips for teaching idioms to students with autism or hyperlexia