Then it’s time to define the strategy you will use for teaching these expectations:
Make it visual
Visual supports are a must. If you stick around, you’ll learn that we bang on about visual supports a LOT. There’s good reason for it though. There’s so much research suggesting our students with intellectual disability find learning from looking much easier than learning from listening. It’s our aim to add as much visual ‘back up’ as we can to anything we’re teaching a student with intellectual disability. The kind of visual supports you might use for teaching behaviour rules can be really simple – stop signs, posters reminding them of the rules (eg. An example of what ‘sitting nicely on the carpet’ looks like), or a ‘help please’ visual support for them to display when they want assistance. Here’s your chance to get creative!
Write a social story
Social stories are a brilliant way to teach new routines and rules. They work with our student’s strength of visual memory and can be personalised to capture student attention and provide meaning. We love using photos of the student and their environment – a super easy way to do this is to build your social story in an iPad app such as Pictello
. It's an awesome app by the people who developed Proloquo2go
that allows you to capture the image straight on the device, paste it into the app, type in your text and, if you want to be really fancy, record a voice over for each page. This means our student can independently access the social story which is particularly helpful in the beginning stages when we want them to be accessing it frequently.
Reward positive behaviour
If we’re teaching a student our expectations, it’s important that they know when they’ve got it right. So, a plan around rewarding positive behaviour is another essential part of this process. For some students, verbal praise and you doing a happy dance will be just the motivation they need. Others may require a more formal token economy system
that reinforces the rules and the reward using visual supports.
Consistency is key!
The most important key to all of this is consistency. If it’s clear that we have the same expectations and will respond in the same way every time we make it so much easier for our student to understand and remember. Using a reward chart/token economy? Make sure you keep the tokens in your pocket so you have them on hand every time. Instructed your student to put their hand up for help? Make sure you’re keeping an eye out for it so they’re not being ignored. Make sure you’ve communicated your plans with anyone else who may be involved in supporting the student too. This could be a teacher aide, music teacher, PE teacher, SEP teacher or parent. If you’re all providing the same instruction and feedback, you’ll be on track in no time.
We’ll be looking more at some of the visual supports I’ve mentioned in posts over the next few weeks so keep an eye out for lots of ideas and maybe even a freebie or two!
Do you have a must-do tip for establishing behaviour expectations at the start of the school year? We’d love to hear them! Just comment below