This will be my last post for 2013. It’s been a great year on the blog and a great year with my students. Just to end the year right, I thought I’d share some of my favorite memories of playing games with my students over the past 12 months. So, in no particular order, here goes!
Using Hooray for Play! with a five-year-old boy with autism and his father – I’ve worked with this family for three years and play has always been difficult, especially when I was not present to guide the parents. I introduced Hooray for Play for the father to use with his son. I will never forget watching him read each card with growing excitement and finally saying “I can do this! I can actually do this!” It seems so simple, but having access to those cards provided him with enough resources and confidence to initiate more imaginative play with his son on a daily basis. It was just the jumpstart he needed.
Adding Swish Jr to the activity schedule for a nine-year-old boy with autism – This is another boy who I have worked with for several years. He loves playing games and is always interested in any new game he spots in my bag. However, when left to his own devices, he does not play with items appropriately. That is, until Swish came along. He is highly motivated by this game and loves to play it with me and with his family. But he also will play the solitaire version. Nothing beats having a new option for independent play!
Asking Should I or Shouldn’t I with an eleven-year-old girl with Aspergers – This game completely changed the level of social skills training I was able to do with this student, and it keeps her engaged every time we play. I haven’t had a chance to review it for the blog yet, but it is one of my favorite discoveries of 2013. Should I or Shouldn’t I takes the student far beyond simple social situations and gets them asking critical questions to help them navigate through each day. As a teacher, it also clearly illustrates the needs of my student and makes me more effective. Keep an eye out in January for my post about the conversations it brought about with this particular student.
Cracking up while playing Suspend with a seven-year-old boy with autism – This particular student is fixated on winning. It is such a severe issue that it impedes his ability to play with peers and family and decreases his opportunities for social interactions. Suspend was the first game that made him forget his need to win. He was so excited about the structure we created that he was actually rooting me on when it was my turn. And when the whole structure fell, we were both laughing and I was thrilled to hear him ask “Can we play it again?!”
Introducing Tiggly Shapes to a five-year-old boy with autism – I have been working with this student for only three months. He has no speech, is able to request a few items using ProLoQuo2Go, and has fleeting interest in any items presented. He loves YouTube and puzzles. Tiggly Shapes captured his interest in a big way. The shapes are easy for him to manipulate, the Tiggly Safari app is his favorite, and he makes a lot of requests through both eye contact and pointing while engaging with the app. It’s exciting to see something that he loves, is easy for his parents and siblings to engage in with him, and can lead to many more opportunities for growth.
I hope you all had as much fun playing as I have had this year! And there’s so much more to be excited for in 2014. Enjoy the holidays, and I look forward to sharing more with you in just a couple weeks!