Friday, July 1, 2011

Making a TEACCH Task Idea Notebook

I am using the TEACCH method in working with Little Man. We are in the
beginning phase so am still feeling our way through it to see what he
responds to. I have been reading through as many websites on the topic
as I can find. Surprisingly, there are not as many as I would have
hoped. With this in mind, I am going to start sharing more about how I
am implementing it with Little Man. Maybe the ideas that I post will
give others a glimpse into how we use it and give them another
perspective to consider.

One of the first things that I have noticed is that it is difficult to
find activity ideas specific to TEACCH unless you are looking to buy
task boxes that are already assembled for you. These, like most therapy
aids, can become expensive. Here is what I am doing to address this
issue. I am putting together a TEACCH Idea Notebook. The notebook is a
plain composition style notebook like what students use in school. I
found pictures of homemade task box activities online and printed out
the pictures. I adhered the pictures, 2 per page, in the composition
notebook. Beside these pictures, I am writing notes as to what is
needed to complete the task and simple instructions for doing the task.
Admittedly, many of the activities are well beyond Little Man's
capability right now. That is fine. He will grow into them. The
purpose right now is to get as many ideas as possible to give me a wide
base of activities to choose from.

In choosing which activities to do, I am looking at his current ability
level. What type of motor development is he currently struggling with
or lacking? Do I have a couple of simple activities that will address
those areas? I never choose only one activity for a particular
developmental area. I choose 2-3 so that he gets to use that
developmental skill in more than one way.

Fine motor skills are one of Little Man's weak areas. To address this,
I may choose to have him pull stacking pegs out of a rubber mat, sort by
color some 1" tall plastic counting bears, stack thistle blocks, or sort
colored wooden beads into the little cups of a muffin tin. The idea is
to mix it up a bit and teach the same basic skills using more than one
activity. Some are easier for him than others, but each has a specific

Pulling pegs from the rubber mat is a challenge for him due to the pegs
being tight fitting in the rubber mat. The strength required for him to
keep hold of the peg as he pulls it out is strengthening his fingers,
hands, and arms. Yes, both arms get a workout when he has to use one
hand to pull the peg as he holds down the mat with the other hand.

Sorting the counting bears and the wooden beads both require that he
pick up smaller items (about 1/2" to 1" tall) and transfer them to
another container. It also uses his cognitive skills in having to sort
them by color. At this point, I am using a lot of hand over hand to get
him going and he is having difficulty with the sorting. I am slowly
seeing improvement as we go along.

Stacking thistle blocks is another challenge for him due to the texture
of the blocks. The blocks are designed to easily stick together. The
hard part for Little Man is getting him to actually pick them up since
the texture is a stimuli he is not to sure he enjoys. It is
desensitizing him however which will benefit him later on.

When I am considering activities, I really look at the frustration level
it may cause in Little Man. One example being stringing the wooden
beads on a cord. With his current fine motor skill level, that task is
too challenging for him to attempt. I modified the activity by gluing a
small wooden wheel to the end of a short, 8"long, wooden dowel. This
bead is a "stopper" to prevent the strung beads from falling off. For
now, I give him the dowel with the beads already strung onto it. He
slides the beads off and places them into a cup. Using the wheel as a
stopper, he is also able to stand the dowel up and hold it upright while
sliding beads off as an option. Later when he dexterity has improved, I
will have him string the beads onto the dowel. This will allow him to
do a stringing activity without the frustrations of trying to hold a
cord when his fingers are not able to do so yet.

In using this idea for our neuro-typical daughter, I am making several
of the dowels with a wheel attached to one end. Next, making pattern
cards by stringing beads on in various patterns and take a picture of
each pattern separately. Place the pictures, beads needed, and the
dowels into a box or container. You have a complete task box ready to
go! Great thing with this is that you can use this with other children
as a quiet hands-on activity to give practice in sequencing. You can
even carry the idea over to teaching place value in math by standing the
dowels in a row. This idea will work for Little Man later also when he
is cognitively ready for this activity. Just a note: you can include
extra wheels to place on the open end of the dowel to hold the beads in
place if the child is going to be placing the finished patterns back
into the container for grading later.

The flexibility of the activities is one of the things that I am finding
to be a bonus. Yes, these are being put together with Little Man in
mind, but the ones that are beyond his current ability level make great
activities for his older sister to do. In homeschooling, we are always
on the lookout for ideas that will benefit more than one child. I see a
hidden gold mine here. Having the ideas all together in a notebook just
makes it easier for me to keep the ideas available without having to
brainstorm for ideas on my own. The ones I find online are great
launching points, but can be modified to become an activity for just
about any skill level or topic you can image. The limits in their use
is only that of your own creativity. One of the websites that I am
using currently for ideas is You will find a wide
array of ideas to get started. Most of their ideas are simply in
picture form without explanation, but you can figure out what they are.

I am looking forward to using these not only for Little Man, but as
activities to use in centers or as a hands-on activity to reinforce a
concept being taught in the school books. Our Little Princess is
already seeing them as take-along activities to work on in the car.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Paula, you have been very busy. What a great idea putting your finds into a notebook ready to put together as you need them. Soon you will be able to teach other parents how to educate their child with learning struggles. What a great resource you will be for others. It is great that you can use the activities for both children in varying usages. I am very impressed. Keep up the great work.