Sunday, October 28, 2012

Homemade PECS Visual Schedule for Kindergarten

Thanks, Ryan.  I know. 
Ah, PECS.  If you know what they are without having to click on the link, well then, we're in a special club together, aren't we?  Your kid has autism of some variety or is otherwise "spirited".  Abby's diagnosis matters less and less to me as long as she is getting what she needs to succeed. 

A short day.  Removed one so you can see the Velcro strip beneath.
So, this is what I've been up to on the craft front... though that's more necessity then creativity.  It is a serious pain in the ass, to be honest. We are very fortunate that we only need to use PECS to let Abby know what to expect for the day, as a visual schedule, so please don't think I'm being ungrateful. She has zero trouble communicating and in fact I'd be happy if she STOPPED talking, but she can be very slow to adapt and any unexpected transition has a 50/50 shot at causing her to meltdown like Chernobyl.   The visual schedule is a recommendation from her behaviorist and does seem to help!

I went around and took photos of everything she's likely to encounter in her school day, from her mat at "Morning Mat Time" to her Spanish teacher (who, yes, looks like a model even when I catch her running to her car after school) in order to make Abby individualized images.  This was WAY more labor intensive then I'd anticipated and I seriously appreciate the pre-packaged sets now, but for our situation doing it myself was the only way to go.

And let's not forget about this guy!  Henry doesn't get what the big deal is with the schedule and the stories and the endless appointments and playdates, but is aware his sister is getting some disproportionate attention--  I've solved this by actively playing video games with him.  Sad, but true.  He's thrilled!
Obviously there are lots of ways to make your own PECS, but I stole a bunch of ideas from the Internet:

1.  Since Abby doesn't need a million of them to communicate, I went ahead and enlarged the standard format from 2X2 to a much less likely to be lost 3X3 inches.  This makes everything easier to see and read, but it also means commerically available PECS pockets and folders won't work with my homemade ones.

2.  I laminated mine onto cardstock-- this makes them more rigid and sturdy.  I used a non-descript color so I don't have to worry about matching it later when I need to make more.  The cutesy-colored and decorated ones are great and all, but if you have a kid who values "sameness" this is key.

3.   Blank PECS!  This is a brilliant idea.  Like with our chore charts, I just write on the laminated square with a dry erase pen if something unique is happening in her day and I need to give her a heads up.  For instance, I'm not going to make her a special PEC for an "Earthquake Drill" she only does once a month.  Plus, how do you make a non-terrifying image for that??  I stuck Velcro to the pen and attached it to the binder too.

If only these emoticons were gifs...  moving them back and forth with my hands isn't the same.

4.  The folder that IS the chart:  stole this idea from Pinterest but can't find the image now... that said, go ahead, search Pinterest for the word "PECS"...  pretty nice treat for Mommy!  Anyway, this is great.  I used a standard binder (make sure it is the kind that will lay flat), sticky backed Velcro, hole punched sheet protectors and plastic dividers. The dividers must be plastic, the paper ones no matter how sturdy will rip. The sheet protectors keep her "Social Stories" neatly organized, her teacher's rough (to the point of uselessness, but that's just me bitching) daily outline, and her weekly "smiley face reports" safe.  All her interventions are in one place!  The Velcro strips on the cover are for today's schedule, any PECS not being used are stored inside on the dividers.  

Social Stories deserve their own post since they are in some ways the most creative part of this whole mess.  "If I Am Late to School.." is our most recent project.  The ones that gets the most use are "When It is Time to Stop My Work..." and the infamous, "Recess is Over and..."
Things are improving for Abby and I am grateful, but it is intense and, to be honest, costs a fortune.  It leaves me little time for my own hobbies and interests (and friends and sleep and coherent thoughts) so that is why the blog has been dead.  I do have some awesome Halloween costumes to post before the holiday!  Watch out!

Upcoming Projects: Not Yet Blogged

a rundown of what I've been up to: DIY wedding dress, "Back to School Night" decor, Flower Arranging for the Incomptent, more jam labels, a dog bed solution, paper embroidery, flying pig needlework, attempting to scrapbook, make your own board game kit, Link from Zelda costume, organinzing for homework, and how to build an afterschooling program!

how to declutter after a death... and how not to do it

what do you do with all your fat clothes? Make doll clothes!