Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Ahhh...I SEE!...Visual Prompts Part 2: Sequenced Tasks

Part 2: Visual Prompts for Sequenced Tasks:
Feel free to read Visual Prompts Part 1 first if you would like to "catch up"!

In order for visual prompts to be meaningful and useful, generally, the child needs to be able to attend to some degree to the visual prompt (either line drawings as shown in these photos or actual photos of the task), the child needs to have the physical and cognitive ability to complete at least parts of the steps shown (probably with some degree of assistance at first) and the child needs to be motivated by visual stimuli!

(*NOTE: Be careful, though, even though a child may not look like they are actually LOOKING at a visual prompt, they may be internalizing it! If the child does not seem to be looking, but is able to complete the step more independently with the visual than without it, continue using the visual prompt! The child is probably attending to it briefly.)
This is a visual prompt our SLP created for the classrooms to place in front of the tissue boxes!  This works well for children who already understand the steps involved in washing hands and simply need reminders to complete each step.
There are several ways you could go about teaching the steps shown in a visual sequence.  You could begin by showing only one step at a time, cover up the following steps and prompt the child verbally along with the visual prompt to complete one step at a time.  (at first, of course, you would need to provide assistance for each step).  This works well with very young children, children who resist hand over hand assistance or who have a strong desire to complete things independently; but struggle to understand the complete sequence.

Another way to teach the sequence is to simply provide hand over hand assistance (*see note below as well as link) to complete the entire sequence.  When the child is beginning to understand the sequence (probably several days or weeks later) begin reducing the hand over hand assistance and point to ONLY the first step in the sequence and verbally prompt as you provide assistance with each step.  Continue to reduce the amount of hand over hand assistance until you are simply pointing to each step and verbally prompting the child as the child completes each step independently.  Ultimately, you should not need to provide any prompting; the child should look at each visual prompt and complete each step independently.  (Children who tend to learn in a more "big picture" way tend to do better learning the entire sequence first and then going back and filling in the "details" of the individual parts).
This visual prompt breaks down each tiny step in hand washing!  These can be covered up with paper to show only one or two steps at a time.

The final way to present a visually sequenced skill is to use "backward chaining".  Provide hand over hand assistance for all steps the first few times; then provide hand over hand assistance until you get to the FINAL step in the sequence.  Point to that step and provide a verbal prompt with the visual; then assist the child only to the point that they will then be able to complete that last step on their own!  When they can complete that last step consistently and independently, add the second to last step...and continue going backwards until the child can complete each step independently.  (This method tends to work with many children as it provides assistance up until the point that the child will be successful.  The child continues to experience success each time!)

If the child begins to struggle with multiple steps, slow down and back up.  The goal is that the child will experience success with independence!  Also, be careful; don't assume that because the child can complete the last step they should be able to complete all the other steps independently.  Go slow and make sure the child has each step down before "letting go" and allowing the child to try another step independently.   It's not a race!  The goal is independence!  For many children, especially if you teach early childhood, YOU may not see the child completing all steps independently with only the visual prompts!  Just know that you set the foundation from which the child will continue to work as he/she gets older!   Without that foundation, it is very difficult to experience success with independence!

Feel free to stop back tomorrow for Part 3 :)
 (*A Note about hand over hand assistance:  Be careful to be respectful of the child when providing assistance.  Verbally let the child know that you will help them.  Treat this as two people performing the same sequence- or working together.)

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