E-learning supports

Hang in there parents! See below for some scheduling visuals and supports, social stories, strategies for calming and a few behavior supports. There is a TON of information in this newsletter, but I thought it better to have everything in one place rather than sending out shorter tidbits daily. Stay safe and contact me with questions!

Supports in Unstructured Times

It's safe to say that these next few weeks will bring some unexpected moments. Students may struggle to cope with the many changes in schedule, routine and new learning structure. Below are some tips to help students who may become anxious or dysregulated during this time.

  1. Keep a schedule. As difficult as this may seem, it's important to keep some consistency throughout the e-learning days. Below you will find a sample schedule which may help in planning out your day.
  2. Use a first/then system to keep students motivated. During your child(ren)'s work times, preferred tasks can be embedded in the schedule after more non-preferred tasks. For example: "First 10 minutes of writing/Then 3 minutes of coloring" or "First 30 minutes of math work/Then 10 minutes music." See below for a printable first/then board with sample visual supports.
  3. Use a "working for" token board to give incentives for task completion. This is just a bit more structured than a first - then system. This gives children a visual representation of how much work to do before a break. Token boards can be used for academic work, self-care routines or completing the steps of a chore. Typically the chart might say "I am working for ________." at the top. Add a picture or statement of what your child is working toward (lego break, music, ipad time, etc). As they complete steps of actvities or parts of assignments, place a star in each of the 5 boxes. Once they have earned all 5 stars, they are ready for their break! See below for an example.
  4. Use social stories to support expected behavior. Social stories can be used to teach expectations for not only social skills, but to ease anxieties related to a variety of situations and to teach routines. Attached you will find social stories for e-learning days, how to stay healthy, why school is closed and following directions at home.
  5. Allow your child(ren) to move and take breaks. Even older students need movement (although they may want to be sedentary!) Just a short walk outside can boost focus and concentration. While getting outside for some fresh air is the ideal way for our children to move their bodies, this may not be an option. Thankfully, there are some creative ways to make sure kids get in time for gross motor movement. Consider options such as GoNoodle.com, Cosmickids.com and Gaia.com for whole body movement and yoga videos. If you are looking for options other than video-based activities, consider building a pillow fort, keeping balloons off of the ground, having a dance party or setting up a home-made obstacle course for younger kids or fitness challenges for older students.
  6. Use this time to bolster life skills. Consider spending this time teaching some skills in the home: have kids help with the process of doing a whole load of laundry from start to finish, work through a recipe for dinner together or clean surfaces around the house while explaining how to safely use different cleaning products. All of these experiences help a child to understand their future role as independent adults. I've included some chore visuals below as well.
  7. Work on the broader executive functioning skills. Provide sorting activities, have a child create their own schedule, set a daily goal, practice telling time or play some problem-solving games such as Heads-up, Charades or Guess Who.
  8. Limit screen time and news. Set up times of the day when electronics are and are not allowed, or alternate actual paper/book work, movement and electronics throughout the day. Be careful about the news being on around younger children who may worry about what is happening. Teens who are on social media may be hearing a variety of stories about the virus and next steps. Touch base with them about how they are feeling and what they are reading. Check out some of the resources below on how to talk to your kids about the pandemic and how to help kids manage worry.

Visual Supports

A simple schedule for days at home with students. I might suggest lengthening the academic time a bit in the morning and building exercise and creative breaks into that time. The activities and length of time can be altered for older children.
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Sample visual supports for scheduling and first/then board. Printable PDF of pictures and first/then card attached below. Simply print and cut out the pictures, then tape pictures to a clipboard, cabinet door or binder in the order that the child will complete the tasks.
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"Working for" token board. Add a picture or statement of what your child is working toward (lego break, music, ipad time, etc). As they complete steps of actvities or parts of assignments, place a star in each of the 5 boxes. Once they have earned all 5 stars, they are ready for their break! Grab a printable copy of the token board here and learn more about how to use boards at The Autism Helper.
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Calming Activity Cards

Print all 50 cards developed by an Autism advocate and mom at


or see attached document at the end of this newsletter.

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Calming Tools for Older Kids

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Lisa Peterson

Autism and Behavior Interventionist

Danville Community School Corporation


I know this time may be stressful, but I hope you are also able to enjoy some additional downtime with your child(ren) and that you and your families stay well. Please feel free to contact me over our e-learning days if I can help support you and/or your student's learning or behavior. I will be checking my email often throughout the day.