Sunday, November 27, 2016

5 Awesome Motivators for Children with Autism (and no, they're not all food!)

Hi everyone!

I hope everybody had a wonderful and peaceful Thanksgiving.  Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and the upcoming Cyber Monday, have had me thinking about what the best purchases would be for an SLP on a budget. Since I recently changed student populations, I have had to begin building a toolbox of common motivators that appeal to children with autism, that help me get in a lot of trials of whatever it is we're targeting that day. Here are five that I have found a lot of success with.  I hope that you do as well!  I am also including links to where to find items that I have recently purchased.

1. Battery Operated Car & Track - Have you seen these?! I had never, until a coworker offered to give me one of hers for free.  Mine is taxi and NYC themed, but you can find a ton of different themes on Amazon.  It is made up of puzzle pieces, designed to look like a road.  Once the student earns each puzzle piece and puts them together, he now has a really cool road that is always different from the last time he built it, since the puzzle piece roads can be put together in a multitude of directions. Then, the motorized car is another way to motivate your student to accomplish your targets! First, I have my student earn the car (by requesting, commenting, or a multitude of other goals we work on). Then, the child gets a turn watching the car drive on the track!  Depending on how much time is left in a session, I may stop the car every so often and prompt the child to request to see the car drive once again.  I found this adorable one on amazon that I wanted to share with you.  It's school bus themed and may just be a Christmas gift to myself!
--> Battery Operated Car & Track

2. Bubbles - They are a motivator especially for my sensory seeking children.  I'm talking about our kids who may like to smear mucus or saliva on desks. Bubbles are a great way to decrease undesired behaviors, while our students have fun popping them.  Plus, they disappear quickly which requires the student to get a lot trials in of whatever your target is.  I just bought these ones off of Amazon because of the No Spill label and am very happy with them  --> No Spill Bubbles

3. Goldfish Crackers- I like these because most of my students do. As a disappearing motivator, they are eaten quickly with little mess, allowing for multiple trials like the bubbles.  You can pick up Goldfish Crackers at your local grocery store, or even the dollar store! Nothing better than cheap motivators that last a long time.  Of course, be sure to check with the teacher about food allergies, and the parent/guardian about their feelings on edible motivators, prior to feeding your student.

4. Stacking Blocks - I'm partial to Melissa and Doug because of how pretty the colorful wooden blocks are, but really any stacker that is color coordinated should work well.  A lot of my students with autism love stacking, and enjoy keeping things orderly.  I like this particular Melissa and Doug stacker
--> Block Stacker because it comes with FIFTY FIVE blocks.  I mean comeon - any session where you manage to fit in 55 trials of a target is pretty phenomenal.  I like to use this block to teach a very specific skill in an isolated environment, before carrying it over to other environments.  For example,  teaching a skill such as saying "want" while looking at the blocks, or saying "thank you" after receiving one.  This is a nice activity for a group of two as well, as you can have your students pass blocks to one another while targeting turn taking.  There's just SO much you can do, besides the obvious of learning colors and counting.

5. Button Art - I discovered these a few years ago while creating a Donors Choose project.   It kind of reminds me of when I was a child and had a Lite Brite, except these don't light up.  These button art activities come with a bunch of boards with kid-friendly pictures printed on them (think cat, house, boat, etc).  They are color coordinated, with color peg holes, so children know which color peg to use, to create the picture.  My students LOVE them.  These are nice because there is a clear ending to the task, so students have an idea of how long the activity will go on for.  They are also simple in that a student does not need to follow along and match colors to still have fun with the peg art!
--> Button Art

Have you guys found other motivators that your students with autism love?
 Let me know if your students love these activities as much as mine do!