Many individuals who have autism or other special needs are visual and tactile learners, in other words they learn concepts better by seeing, touching, and doing their lessons rather than just hearing about them. Recently, I was privileged to see the great Temple Grandin lecture precisely about this topic. Ms. Grandin is quite likely the most successful and well known person in the world who has autism!
Ms. Grandin firmly believes that for students with autism to be successful they must be taught according to their learning styles. When Temple Grandin speaks, I listen because she speaks with experience and authority! I have learned through trial and error that my daughter Bethany’s dominant learning style is visual followed by a close second of tactile. Bethany has been diagnosed with a brain injury (caused by brain tumor surgery), autism, and an auditory processing disorder, as well as a few other diagnoses, so this discovery was not surprising. As a result of this knowledge, I am continuously searching for educational games, products, and activities that incorporate these two learning styles. Anything I purchase or make must also be fun and exciting for Bethany to engage in.
The following products have passed both mom’s “educational and brain workout” test and Bethany’s “fun, exciting, and entertaining” test!
Flash Cards and Matching Games - There is a plethora of commercial flash card sets and memory games available that cover a wide variety of subjects such as emotions, objects, categories, sight words, common activities, survival signs, math concepts etc. You can even personalize your own set to suit your own needs by making them yourself! The learning possibilities with flash cards and matching games are endless!
Dot Markers can be used for all kinds of math and language arts lessons such as making patterns, solving addition problems, marking correct letters, beginning sounds, ending sounds, and well…you get the idea!
Hot Dots - an electronic and interactive learning device has a variety of sets available that visually and tactically teach a number of school grades and subjects!
Cut and Paste Activities - Bethany loves completing Cut and paste worksheets. I use cut and past science,math, and language arts activities with Bethany quite a bit. These types of activities incorporate both visual and tactile learning styles also.
Puzzles - Manipulating puzzles is one of Bethany’s favorite ways to “do” school! We have a community workers puzzle, a “go togethers” puzzle, a CVC three piece word puzzle, and an “Active Kids” block puzzle as well as a few Melissa and Doug Block Puzzles in our educational puzzle collection. (as a side note: I photo copy the completed block puzzles, enhance the lines separating each block with dark black marker, and draw a grid of corresponding squares on each puzzle tray so that Bethany has visual references to help her complete her block puzzles independently!)
Playing Games such as dominoes, dice, and Zingo 123 can teach all kinds of math skills visually. You can even find fraction, money, and time dominoes! Playing Scrabble, Scrabble Jr. Crossword Cubes, Boggle, Boggle Jr., Zingo Sight Words and Zingo Word Builders will get visual learners’ muscles moving in the learning process too.
File Folder Games and Show Box Tasks are another great educational tool for visual and tactile learners! Whether you are homeschooling or after schooling your special needs learner to reinforce skills learned at school, I’m sure you’ll find that adding some of these learning activities to your child’s educational program will also add a little zing and pizzazz to it as well!
Resources Flash Cards, Matching Games, Puzzles, Hot Dots, Dice, Dominoes, Bingo Games and some Cut and Paste books and file folder games are available at National Autism Resources or at School Supplies 365 (affiliate links) The Teacher Created Cut and Past Math, Language Arts, and Science Books, the Scholastic Cut and Paste Mini-Books Science Book, File Folder Game Books and other games listed above that we use are available at Amazon. You can get Shoe box Tasks at Shoe Box Tasks and Tasks Galore For more information please visit us at Faith, Hope, and Love
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