Letters from Grandpa

I just got back to my office after seeing E, and I wanted to share what I thought was one of the most heartwarming, adorable inter-generational interactions I’ve been blessed to witness.

I’ve gotten to know this little 6-year-old girl and her family very well over the years, and I know that the grandparents on both sides of the family live a long distance away.  Both sets of grandparents are involved in the lives of their grandchildren.  One grandpa sends a letter in the mail, every week, to each of his grandchildren.  He always includes a small gift with the letter.

A letter arrived from Grandpa while I was there today, and at the end of our session E opened the letter.  She read it out loud, with minimal prompting from Daddy for top-to-bottom sequencing.  Below is a copy of the letter, which also contained a $1 bill.

Grandpa's letter to E

This letter was printed in plain, large font that makes it easier for E to read.  (Studies suggest that Comic Sans is the most easily read font for people with Autism Spectrum Disorders.)  This letter contained things that E enjoys or would be interested in (counting, ants, money, Grandpa).  This letter was black and white, with no major visual distractions.  Sentences were short and direct.

After E read the letter, Daddy questioned her on her comprehension.

E:  “Money!”

Daddy:  “E, who sent you that letter?”

E:  “Grandpa.”

Daddy:  “What animal did Grandpa have in his letter?”

E: “No more questions.”

Daddy:  “Grandpa sent you six….”

E: “Ants.”

Daddy:  “That’s right!  Time to go swimming!”

Wow!  What a beautiful inter-generational conversation they just had!  Grandpa communicated with E in a way that she could understand with minimal assistance.  Daddy supported Grandpa’s communication with his assistance and questions.  E replied correctly to Daddy’s comprehension questions regarding Grandpa’s communication, and was immediately rewarded with what she loves:  swimming!  And best of all, E knows that Grandpa loves her!

How cool is this entire family?!

Visual Schedules

This is a visual schedule for a child that can read.

Many parents, teachers, and therapists are familiar with the Visual Schedule.  Most people use the icons from programs such as Boardmaker, actual photographs of items, or labels from items.  These are routinely laminated, cut out, and attached to a laminated sheet or board with Velcro.

I wanted to share another option with you.  I work with many children who have the capability to read, but still have a need for something to help them with transitions and anxiety.  On a basic level, the above agenda is, indeed, a visual schedule.  I write the activities on a piece of note paper, and as each one is completed, it is crossed off.   Much like a To-Do list.

An added benefit to providing this type of Visual Schedule is having the child cross off each task as it is completed.  I like to have them circle the task, then cross through it with horizontal lines.  This incorporates Visual Motor skills and practice using a pencil/pen within a given boundary, while at the same time reinforcing the schedule.

Visual Schedule after
Visual Schedule at the end of the session.

All activities are completed and crossed through.  The child knows that the therapy session is finished and that it is time to transition to something else.