You may be looking at all this information and wondering where to start. A few thoughts:

If you are a TEACHER:
Always, always, always, always start with assessment. You MUST know what your student needs help with before you start teaching. This is why I always start with the VB-MAPP. (I know many teachers and schools still use the ABLLS-R, so I continue to reference it here.) I also recommend assessing with the AFLS (which is not currently cross-referenced here, but will be in the future) to look at functional living skills. There are many games and activities that help students with disabilities with functional living skills, such as shopping for groceries.

Once you have assessed, you can choose games and activities to help maintain skills students have already learned, and to help students learn and generalize new target skills.

If you are a PARENT: Take a look at what your child likes to play with. If you’re not certain about what types of activities capture their interest the most, arrange several toys/games/books around the room (5-10 items) and let them choose what they play with. Ask yourself: What do they play with first? What do they play with the longest? This will provide some guidance on the type of activities you might want to think about. Do they appear to prefer board games? Books? Toys with moving parts? Ipad activities?

Also, I very rarely pay full price for any of the items posted on this blog. Whenever there’s a major shopping day (Black Friday, Labor Day, etc.) you won’t find me stocking up on clothes or household items. I’ll be buying teaching materials and games. I check out Ebay, Amazon, garage sales, and websites such as Freecycle. It’s also a good idea to suggest a toys/games swap with other families.

The last advice I can offer to a parent of a student with a disability is to follow your child’s natural interests. There are multiple ways to introduce and teach new skills, and one of the best things you can do is engage them in a way that is already motivating to them. For example, if your child needs to learn how to sort items and they happen to love dinosaurs, it’s going to be much easier to start by sorting dinosaurs by size or color or both. Once they’ve mastered that, they will likely be more willing to sort different sorts of items. The key is to have them experience success in lots of little ways that will ultimately lead to bigger successes down the road.

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