265: Strategies for Young Autistic Learners, with Tara Phillips, SLP

Picture of hosted by Penny Williams

hosted by Penny Williams

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In this episode, I’m joined by Tara Phillips, speech language pathologist and founder of Autism Little Learners. She shares some transformative tools and techniques which have significantly benefited her students, such as the use of visual supports and predictable routines.

Together, Tara and I explore the importance of positive connections and a strengths-based approach in early education, practical tips for implementing adapted board books, and strategies to reduce anxiety for both children and parents.

Whether you’re a parent, educator, or therapist, this episode is packed with resources and actionable advice to support the development of young autistic learners. Tune in to transform your approach and enrich your toolkit.

3 Key Takeaways

01

Importance of Predictable Routines and Trust Building: Tara emphasizes the use of tools like a “weight mat” and the implementation of predictable routines to build trust and assist young autistic learners in feeling secure and understood in their learning environments.

02

Adapted Board Books as Effective Learning Tools: Adapted books are a crucial tool that can be used both at home and in school settings to engage children, support their literacy development, and address specific learning needs.

03

Collaboration Between Parents and Educators: Open communication and teamwork between parents and teachers are necessary in supporting the educational and developmental needs of kids on the spectrum. This collaborative approach is vital to establish a productive and comforting learning environment for young learners.

What You’ll Learn

Predictable Routines and Trust Building: Learn how establishing predictable routines can enhance trust and security for young autistic learners, making their educational environment more conducive to learning.

Use of Visual Supports: Discover the significance of visual supports in aiding communication and transitions.

Adapting Books for Engaging Learning: Explore how adapting books can simplify complex concepts and engage children effectively.

Building Positive Parent-Educator Collaboration: Gain insights into the crucial role of collaboration between parents and educators, emphasizing mutual communication to enhance and personalize the learning experience.

Understanding and Implementing IEPs: Tara shares her personal experience with Individualized Education Programs (IEPs), providing you with strategies to navigate these meetings more confidently and effectively.

Resources

Some of the resources may be affiliate links, meaning I receive a commission (at no cost to you) if you use that link to make a purchase.

FREE Visual Supports Starter Set: www.autismlittlelearners.com/visuals

Visual Supports Private FB Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/3922278281209994/

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My Guest

Tara Phillips, SLP

Tara is a speech/language pathologist who has worked with young autistic children for over 2 decades.
She founded Autism Little Learners in 2019 because it was difficult to find engaging resources for young autistic children. Tara has always loved learning new and innovative ways to help her students and their families. She now runs Autism Little Learners full time.

Tara recently published a children’s book titled “The Different Ways We Communicate”, and offers courses and an online membership for educators and parents of young autistic children.

 

Transcript

Tara Phillips, SLP [00:00:03]: And I always tell adults, like, how would it feel if you were in the middle of reading a really good book, and your husband or partner, whoever came by and just took it out of your hands and said, we're done. We're we gotta leave. Like, that would not feel good, and it would make you irritated and maybe throw a little tantrum.

Penny Williams [00:00:25]: Welcome to the Beautifully Complex podcast where I share insights and strategies on parenting neurodivergent kids straight from the trenches. I'm your host, Penny Williams. I'm a parenting coach, author, and mindset mama, honored to guide you on the journey of raising your atypical kid. Let's get started. Welcome back to the podcast, friends. I'm so excited today to have Tara Phillips with me from Autism Little Learners, and we're gonna talk about what we need to know about helping young kids with autism in the classroom and with learning. Tara provides so many amazing supports for educators and parents, and so I'm really, really excited to share her insights and some of her resources with you here today. Tara, will you start by introducing yourself? Just let everybody know who you are and what you do in the world.

Tara Phillips, SLP [00:01:24]: Absolutely. My name, as you said, is Tara Phillips. I'm a speech language pathologist, and I've been both at the elementary level and at the early childhood level. The last decade was at the early childhood level. And I've worked mostly with autistic students my entire 25 year career Mhmm. And have absolutely loved it. It's my passion, and working with families and young autistic kids is something I I just absolutely love. And over the years, there have been so many things where we've had to create our own materials and from the start, 25 years ago.

Tara Phillips, SLP [00:02:06]: So that is something that kind of started a long time ago, and we'd always kind of share them with each other. And now as the digital age is upon us, we're able to share things with other people. And that's kind of what brought me to this point, where we're talking. And anyway, I just I absolutely love what I do. I love being creative. And, I can't wait to talk to you about it today.

Penny Williams [00:02:33]: Yeah. I can hear it in your voice, how much you love the work that you get to do. And I think it's so so much more powerful and empowering to people on the receiving end when we're really passionate about what we're doing and how we're helping. Let's start with just talking about what do we need to focus on for younger learners. We often talk about this. Like, what are the differences maybe for younger learners who are autistic versus the older ages? Because we know, right, that that early intervention is powerful. So what can we do early on that is maybe different for these learners?

Tara Phillips, SLP [00:03:15]: Yeah. It's a really good question because I started the first half of my career at the elementary level, and we always thought our little kindergartners were, you know, the littles, the youngest.

Penny Williams [00:03:27]: Yeah.

Tara Phillips, SLP [00:03:27]: And I guess at that time, it's not that I didn't appreciate the work that early childhood did, but I just didn't know kind of how kids came in at that age. It's a whole different ballgame. Yeah. You have a lot more parent support, at the early childhood level. So for me, going from elementary to early childhood gave me a whole new appreciation for the special educators, speech language pathologists, related service providers that work at that level. Because not only are they oftentimes doing that initial testing and bringing up the different areas the child has challenges in and giving an autism label, an educational label to parents, that's a hard thing to do, especially at first. It got easier throughout the 10 years that I was at that level, but I think for educators, kind of a scary thing to bring up.

Penny Williams [00:04:22]: Yeah.

Tara Phillips, SLP [00:04:23]: And I think we're moving past that now where it's, you know, autism is another way of thinking, another way of being, and it's not a tragedy like it was portrayed many, many years ago. Right.

Penny Williams [00:04:36]: Yeah.

Tara Phillips, SLP [00:04:36]: So that's a plus. But you have to learn that at the early childhood level with the youngest learners. It's a family thing. It is not just you see the parents at conferences and you talk once in a while. You have more ongoing connection with families. And so that part, I didn't expect and I really like.

Penny Williams [00:04:56]: Mhmm. Yeah. Because it's about the entire child and their entire experience. Right? What happens at school influences at home. What happens at home influences what happens at school. And when we're consistent with our kids, those interventions, I think, are more powerful. So I think, you know, for the parents listening, the message there is make sure that you are asking questions, make sure that you are talking with your child's teachers and seeing what they're doing at school because maybe you can implement some similar things at home to really, I think, just make that intervention more make it stick more. Right? But also make it just more influential when it's across different environments like that.

Tara Phillips, SLP [00:05:44]: Yeah. Absolutely. And I think that, you know, I always talk to people too about we meet the parents where they're at. And so some families are busy and life is either really fast paced and it's hard for them to connect with us, and that's okay too. You know? But the parents that really wanna say, okay. What can I do at home? Then it's so important to provide them with some meaningful activities that they really can implement at home and teach them how to do it. I know later we'll probably talk about adapted books, and that's one of the things that I've gotten such great feedback from parents on how it's kind of changed the realm of being able to read to their child at home. Yeah.

Tara Phillips, SLP [00:06:31]: Just some of those routines at home can really be impacted. And like you said, the progress that can be made overall when we're working together is super, super awesome.

Penny Williams [00:06:43]: Yeah. Can you give us an example of an activity that maybe a teacher can give to a family to do at home? We'll talk about adaptive books too, but I'm sure there are other things

Penny Williams [00:06:54]: Other activities.

Tara Phillips, SLP [00:06:55]: Yeah. And kinda going back to that early childhood level, one of the things that I didn't realize or think about as much when I was at the elementary level is that for these kids, a lot of them, I would say probably 90% of the kids I had at early childhood, it's their first time in a classroom

Tara Phillips, SLP [00:07:14]: Setting. And so there's anxiety on their part, on the parents' part. They're not gonna come in and just know what to do. Right? So my first thing always is building a connection and building a positive connection and that includes talking to the parents and finding out what the child likes and then we don't have to figure it out on our own. I mean, we'll figure out plenty of things that the child likes through being with them during the day. But if we know ahead of time, they love Paw Patrol or they love Cocomelon.

Tara Phillips, SLP [00:07:49]: We can have some of those things ready in the classroom so that they come in and they're interested and they feel comfortable. And so just finding out what they like is gonna be the first step and then using those things to develop that positive connection and make kids go like, oh, yeah. I wanna be with her. She's really fun or she has the things that I love. And I feel like that sometimes can get missed when we're in that busy time of back to school and we want kids to just come in, get in the routine, you know, like teach them the daily routine. And so sometimes it gets missed taking actual big chunks of time to play and connect with kids. Because if you don't have a positive relationship, it's gonna be really hard for some kids to actually work and do the IEP goals. Right? Right.

Tara Phillips, SLP [00:08:45]: The pre academic work, the table work, that kind of stuff, it's gonna be harder for them to do that if they haven't developed a positive connection.

Penny Williams [00:08:54]: Right. Yeah. I love that you're bringing up the strengths based approach, which is what we're really talking about. Like, using, I call it tips, talents, interests, and passions Yeah. Weaving that into areas of weakness or, you know, delayed development even to get kids engaged and get them excited so that we can help them through those different challenges that they have.

Penny Williams [00:09:19]: I have been doing a a school struggle summit online for the last couple of years. And then the last one, we had a student profile worksheet that I made so that parents could take that and fill it out and give it to the teacher. So, you know, preemptively, you're helping that teacher to understand, a little bit about your child and be able to connect with them, And I can certainly link that up in the show notes for people as well, but I think it's so so powerful. For my kids' whole school career, we would write a letter for every teacher and give it to them, like, at meet the teacher or something just before school started to say, you know, this is what I love, this is what I'm excited about for the coming school year, and here's where I might need a little bit of your help. And found that that was super helpful at the beginning for teachers to understand a little bit. And I'm talking about general ed classrooms. Mhmm. But the same is true for any.

Penny Williams [00:10:14]: You know, if you have Yeah. A kid who's in self contained, that can be just such a powerful thing.

Tara Phillips, SLP [00:10:20]: Yeah. As an educator, that kind of thing is so helpful. Even down to, like, what are their favorite songs on YouTube? I can incorporate those at group time. What, foods do they love? What foods do they not like at all? You know, just all of those things that oftentimes a 3 year old isn't able to tell us. And I think parents, when they're letting their tiny little 3 year old off into the classroom, it's really, really scary and

Penny Williams [00:10:51]: Yeah.

Tara Phillips, SLP [00:10:51]: A lot of anxiety. And I think writing up something, like you said, whether it's a letter or they complete a survey where they can tell all those little things that, you know, they would feel more it helps them feel more comfortable. It helps them lessen that anxiety a little bit. The other tip that I have for anyone that's at the early childhood level, when you have new little students, especially if the parents are really anxious, I always call them about 45 minutes or an hour after the day starts on the 1st day.

Penny Williams [00:11:26]: Oh, that's so sweet.

Tara Phillips, SLP [00:11:27]: And let them know that things are going well. You know, we just take a minute and call and just be like, just wanted, you know and they get nervous right away when they get a phone call from the school. But it's like, I want them to know that not all phone calls from the school are bad. And so we just say, okay. You know, he's doing really well. He's happy he's playing with this. Just wanted to let you know. And, like, that one minute phone call just makes the rest of the parents' morning or afternoon go so much better.

Penny Williams [00:11:55]: I just got goosebumps all over thinking about if that had happened for us, how that would have changed. Like, of course, somebody says school phone call even now, my kid's 21. He graduated a few years ago. You say school phone call, I still get a knot in my stomach. And how wonderful would it have been if it had started on a different note? It could have changed that experience some for me at least. Right?

Tara Phillips, SLP [00:12:21]: Yeah.

Penny Williams [00:12:21]: I think that's so it's so powerful, but, also, like, it's just such a compassionate thing to do for parents who are having a hard time, you know, navigating school challenges when you have a kid on the spectrum or any neurodivergent kid is really, really anxiety provoking, stress inducing. Right? It can be traumatic. So that's just so amazing. That's such an amazing strategy for any of the teachers who are listening to what a difference that can make. I wanna talk a little bit before we start talking about different kinds of supports, like specific strategies, like visual schedules and adaptable books. For me, we didn't know anything was going on or different until we got to kindergarten and school started, and then it was like, oh, what is happening? You know? And so, you know, there's many parents listening probably too who aren't sure. They may be feeling like something might be going on, but they're not sure yet. They don't have a diagnosis yet.

Penny Williams [00:13:26]: Yeah. What can they do? What conversations maybe can they be having with teachers, either early childhood or elementary, to maybe start that process or to get some insights. I think it's really important to understand what's happening at school too and not just seeing what's happening at home.

Tara Phillips, SLP [00:13:45]: Yeah. Well, I think if parents are, you know, concerned that something's going on, whether it's a speech delay, possibly autism, that kind of thing. And on top of that, they're getting reports from the classroom, like, that certain things aren't going well. Like, oh, he has trouble with transitions or maybe some sensory differences. You know, I would definitely talk to the teacher and ask if there's someone that could come take a look and maybe even do an evaluation or screening or something like that. You know, each school is different in what their processes look like, but it's okay for parents to ask for something like that rather than wait. And and, of course, you can always talk to your doctor too. But in the school setting, they have a system in place where if parents request a special education evaluation, they need to act on that.

Penny Williams [00:14:45]: Yeah. Yeah. I think just, you know, be open to asking questions. Yeah. I hear a lot of parents who don't want to label their kid or they think special education might prevent them from future opportunities, and I would just really encourage parents to at least have conversations, at least find out where the struggle is and what you might be able to do about it, and then, you know, take additional steps if you need to. Yeah. Sometimes kids just have a hard time adjusting. You know? Sometimes kids have anxiety, and it can come out in a lot of different ways.

Penny Williams [00:15:21]: So it's just really important though to not avoid it. Yeah. Not try to just sort of put it off because it's scary, and it is scary. You know? We can normalize that. It is really challenging, but it's also necessary, I think, to show up in the ways that you want to for a kid or for teachers to, you know, let a parent know, I think it's time for an evaluation. I know that's a hard conversation, and I'm sure teachers worry about how that's gonna be received.

Tara Phillips, SLP [00:15:50]: Yeah.

Penny Williams [00:15:51]: But, you know, if we're all moving in the best interest of the child, then that's really something that we need to be doing despite how hard it might be.

Tara Phillips, SLP [00:16:01]: Yeah. And I think as a parent, you can ask along the way tons of questions. Oftentimes, with our students, the the little ones that would come in for specifically an autism evaluation at our early childhood center, we would I say we, the special education teacher, she's now retired. She and I would team on these evaluations, and I learned so much from her. She always invited the parents to come and sit in on the evaluation, and then we could chat along the way. Wow. And I learned so much from her because it wasn't this big scary day on the day where you meet to talk about the evaluation and you get the report Because we had already talked about all the things along the way, and including autism, and the different indicators we were seeing and the things that we weren't seeing. And so by the time we got actually got to the results meeting, we had already talked about it in conversation on the way, like, we're doing the ADOS test.

Tara Phillips, SLP [00:17:06]: I mean, Terry was just so great at teaching me this, but she would say, okay. You know, when we did that, we're kinda looking to see if he's using a 3 point gaze. So is he looking at the toy and back at us and then back at the toy? And she would just kind of explain some of those things. And and she would say, like, yeah. That one he was able to do, but we didn't see him use any gestures and, you know, that could be an indicator, but we'll know more as we do more of this testing. So it really I don't know the word for it, but it made it less scary because we're just pointing out little things that the parent could be like, oh, yeah. He doesn't use gestures, you know, things maybe they hadn't thought of. And it's just little things about their child versus this big bad, like, okay, we're meeting.

Tara Phillips, SLP [00:17:55]: We have this whole group of people, and we're gonna tell you what the diagnosis or the educational label is.

Penny Williams [00:18:10]: I'm just thinking about, like, I wish my kid was at your school. I wish he had you guys, because it wasn't that way. And I remember that first results reporting meeting. He was in 1st grade. He clearly had dysgraphia, and we didn't yet have results for what turned out to be ADHD and then many years later, autism spectrum as well, but I could tell that the special education teachers did not wanna tell me that they were denying him special ed. They were afraid. Like, they were really uncomfortable. They knew I was gonna be disappointed, and I think they knew that, really, he needed it.

Penny Williams [00:18:52]: But at the time, the qualifications were a certain point spread. Yeah. And he was, like, one point off. Yeah. He just didn't meet the requirement. 2 years later, he was evaluated again, and he was in. You know, the the gap had grown.

Tara Phillips, SLP [00:19:05]: Yeah.

Penny Williams [00:19:05]: For him. But it's like yeah. It was such a really, really stressful, hard meeting for everyone at the table, and it could have been different if if we had talked about it going down those paths as things were happening.

Tara Phillips, SLP [00:19:21]: Yeah.

Penny Williams [00:19:21]: You know? And there were other meetings later too at where the same thing would happen. I would be blindsided. Mhmm. You know? They were like, oh, his tests were great. We don't want him to have an IEP anymore. And I was like, what? Like, this is the 1st year in his life he's doing well. It's because he has all these services.

Tara Phillips, SLP [00:19:39]: Exactly.

Penny Williams [00:19:40]: So yeah. Like and I think, you know, for parents who have teachers who aren't communicating that, just ask questions along the way. Like, check-in. I think, you know, most teachers are gonna be okay with that. Just, you know, letting you know a little bit as you go Yeah. I think really would soften the blow for everyone when it's overwhelming.

Tara Phillips, SLP [00:20:00]: Yeah. And I think if people if educators and SLPs like me, when people haven't been on the other end of that team, the parent end, you have no idea what it's like. So I don't talk about it much, but my son, who's almost 30 now, he had an IEP from 3rd grade on, I think. And it's very intimidating when you have a big group of people like that. It's information overload and you start to, like, not even hear part of it. Mhmm. That makes sense? Yep. I mean, this is a long time ago for me, but just some of the things you're saying made me really think about it.

Tara Phillips, SLP [00:20:38]: And I remember once being at a middle school IEP for him, and it was just like a regular IEP meeting, I think, like an annual. And I had turned in some accommodations that I wanted in his IEP. And this was the school district at the time that I worked for, so I'm not some stranger, you know. And there's a big table with tons of people. And then the principal came in, which I didn't even know he was coming, and he sat in the corner away from the table. Mhmm. And, like, what message does that send? Like, I cried through half that meeting because Mhmm. It started off like that, and it sent the message of, like, you're a problem parent, and I'm gonna sit back here like the bouncer or the referee, and I'm going to intimidate a little bit.

Tara Phillips, SLP [00:21:31]: I mean, that's the feeling I got out of it and that's how I felt and, you know, I was young and it was really yucky even though I knew the whole other end, the other side of the IEPs. I've had run many IEP meetings, but I think that over the years, really impacted how I want parents to feel when they're sitting at a meeting with me. Yeah. And I don't want it to be like that.

Penny Williams [00:21:54]: It informed how you showed up as a as an educator.

Tara Phillips, SLP [00:21:58]: Yeah. Big time.

Penny Williams [00:21:59]: As an SLP. Yeah. I mean, we always take those things that are hard and turn them into something. Right? And Yeah. You were able to use those experiences to help other kids, which is so awesome. Yeah. Yeah. Meetings.

Penny Williams [00:22:11]: My my stomach is just a rock right now talking about IEP meetings. Go back to that. It's so hard. Yeah. So before we close, I wanna make sure we talk about some of the supports that you offer Yeah. For parents and educators, and I think that will also help us to understand some of the strategies that we can be looking at and considering and maybe implementing.

Tara Phillips, SLP [00:22:35]: Yeah. With, the youngest little ones, and I know this doesn't include the birth to 3 team, so they are truly the ones that get the kids at their youngest. But when kids are coming in center, when they turn 3, like I said, the biggest thing is developing that relationship, but then also developing predictable routines. So that would be my number 2. We develop predictable routines and what that looks like is oftentimes using visual supports so that kids can have that other modality, the visual modality. So instead of us saying, okay, we're gonna be all done with trains and we're gonna go to snack time, you know, that often we say sounds like Charlie Brown's teacher. The little 3 year olds often aren't processing language, verbal language, fully at that time if they're autistic and so having visuals. So one of our favorite visuals always was the all done bucket, and that's one where you just model it at first, and it's just any bucket or container, and then you just have this all done symbol on it.

Tara Phillips, SLP [00:23:47]: And you use it consistently, and it's something, you know, we teach our support staff and paraprofessionals, and we would do it in the same way every time. So we might come up to the child and have a one of the little digital timers and say, okay, 2 minutes, then all done. And at first, they're not gonna know what you mean. But by the time you've repeated that over and over and over, all of a sudden, they get to a point. And I have so many people that say, well, my students are they wouldn't understand that or they'll use the word they're lower and it's like, no. Like, all students will eventually get this if it's consistent. I mean, maybe there's 1% that won't but I've seen it with all types of kids. So eventually, you do the 2 minute timer.

Tara Phillips, SLP [00:24:41]: It's this predictable routine. They have that heads up, And it gives them that heads up that what they're focusing on, because they're really good at focusing on the thing at hand, usually. The thing that they're really interested in. So transitioning away from that, obviously, is really hard. It's one of transitions are one of the biggest struggles at the early childhood level. So we say 2 minutes and then once they learn it, all of a sudden, you'll see them just put it in. Like, you don't have to give another direction. They just it's almost like magnetic because it's this,

Tara Phillips, SLP [00:25:16]: Predictable routine. And so that's a big one. And I always tell adults, like, how would it feel if you were in the middle of reading a really good book and your husband or partner, whoever came by and just took it out of your hands and said, we're done. We're we gotta leave. Yeah. Like, that would not feel good and it would make you irritated and maybe throw a little tantrum. Like, hey, just a heads up. So that's what the timer is, is that heads up.

Tara Phillips, SLP [00:25:43]: I'm not gonna go over and just be like, put it in the all done bucket. So kind of approaching it the same every time. And then the other one that educators have said has really, really been helpful for them is I made something called the weight mat. And it's just a piece of paper with 2 hands on it and it says weight. And this we use for kids. We have so many kids that love to hold lots of little things in their hands. Like, it could be, you know, 5 matchbox cars in each hand. And then when you go to work on something else with them, they don't have any hands to use because they're holding it.

Tara Phillips, SLP [00:26:20]: Yeah. But they don't wanna let their things go because they're used to everyone taking them away.

Tara Phillips, SLP [00:26:25]: And so the weight mat helps build trust. So that I would have right on the table next to me, and we would start small, right, with a very small amount of time. And so I would say, like, okay. Let's put it on the weight mat. And then we put it on there, and maybe we put one block in the little canister or match one matching item. Okay. Here, you can hold your little guy again. And then we just keep going like that.

Tara Phillips, SLP [00:26:51]: They'll build trust and understand we're not gonna take them away. It's not like an all done situation.

Penny Williams [00:26:58]: Right.

Tara Phillips, SLP [00:26:59]: You get it back as soon as we're done. Well, then they can leave it longer and longer. And I got to the point, this was it was such a great example. This little guy, he's someone where other teachers would say, there's no way he's gonna understand that. You know? He's one that Right. Holds so tight, would never give it up, and maybe say, like, oh, I don't know if he's cognitively at the level where he would understand this concept. But we started with him, he was 3, a brand new young 3. He was non speaking and he had a million things he liked to hold.

Tara Phillips, SLP [00:27:34]: So he we started in September, consistently, slowly, slowly, slowly implemented it. And in April so you think, that's a long time. Right? But in April, he went ahead of me over to the table we're gonna work at. And he, on his own, grabbed the weight mat off the windowsill, put it on the table, and put his dinosaur on it. Oh. And it was like, that is a predictable routine. Yeah. And then he learned that trust too.

Tara Phillips, SLP [00:28:03]: So, you know, it took some things aren't they're not always magical and happen in a week or overnight. It's like that took from September to April. But now he has that skill and that concept that can help with so many things down the line. Yeah. And that's kinda what we have to remember too. So predictable routines, those are two examples. I have something I call the visual support starter set, and that has the picture for the all done bucket, the weight mat. It has a bunch of other, what I call, kind of foundational visual supports that can help with things like transitions, and there's a core board in there for communication, that kind of thing.

Tara Phillips, SLP [00:28:45]: So those are they're just all my favorite things that we start with in the classroom.

Penny Williams [00:28:50]: Yeah. And we'll link that up for everybody in the show notes. Oh, thank you. Let them know where they can find you.

Tara Phillips, SLP [00:28:58]: Yeah. Well, I am at www.autismlittlelearners.com, and autism little learners on social media and all the places.

Penny Williams [00:29:08]: Awesome. Yeah. So many resources you're providing and a membership and just all sorts of great things to support, you know, parents who have little learners and the teachers as well. And I hope that everybody will go to the show notes, take advantage of that, and I will give you that link at the end of the episode. But I wanna make sure that we also talk about the is it adaptable? Adaptive. Adaptive. You got it. Adapted.

Penny Williams [00:29:37]: Let's talk about that real quick, and then we'll close.

Tara Phillips, SLP [00:29:39]: Yeah. I know. We kind of, teased about that, and then Yeah. We almost forgot to talk about it. Yeah. Actually, you'll get, visuals for 2 adapted books in that starter set. So it's kind of one stop there, and you'll get all of this. So adapted board books in particular are something that I have really worked hard on the last probably 5 years at the early childhood level and board books because they're durable.

Tara Phillips, SLP [00:30:07]: Right? Yeah. So literally at early childhood, pages get ripped out daily if you're using regular books, so that's why I would recommend board books. So you have a board book like Brown Bear, Brown Bear. And so many times with my students at that age, they have either seemed to have no interest in books or they flip flip flip flip flip really quick the pages. And it doesn't give you a chance to read it to them, and parents, have said the same thing. Like, I I can't read it, he will sit down, he'll flip through it in 2 seconds, and then he's on to the next thing. So adapted books have been around for a long time, but I made it my mission to get a set of themed adapted books for kinda year round where, again, it becomes a predictable routine in a way. Kids know when you start using them that I turn the page and if it says green frog green frog, I match the picture to a piece of Velcro in the book to green frog.

Tara Phillips, SLP [00:31:09]: And it gives them something to do, hands on, busy little hands, something to do with each page of the book. So they're interacting with the book and that allows you to kinda read it along the way. And at first, they maybe don't know that they're matching the frog to the frog. At first, I might model it or give them the picture that goes on that page and they just simply learn to put it on the Velcro. Later, then you can work on the matching, the vocabulary. I mean, there's just so many great things, literacy skills and vocabulary and language skills kids get out of an adapted book. And the feedback I've gotten from teachers and SLPs that have used adapted books now, the adapted board books, has been phenomenal. They're like, it's a game changer.

Tara Phillips, SLP [00:31:57]: And I felt the same way in my classroom, and so I'm glad it's working for other people. But in room and so I'm glad it's working for other people. But in particular, I had a parent a couple years ago who I was talking to her about adapted books and she said, yeah. My son, like, he flips the pages and she said, he's 3a half and I've never been able to read a book to him. And it's just such a big part of parenting too. And so I showed her adapted books. I made a couple for her and then showed her how to make them. And she emailed me a couple weeks later and she said, oh my gosh, Tara.

Tara Phillips, SLP [00:32:32]: She said, I, for the first time, got to sit with my 3 year old on my lap and read a book to him, read the whole book. And he didn't flip ahead because we had the pieces, and he knew what he was supposed to do on each page. And she said, I could tell that he's done this at school because it's like he took charge and he knew what he was doing. And we got to sit and have that time together reading a book, and it was one of those goosebump moments. And, like, that's one of the things when you're saying what could parents do at home. Like, some of these things really can be great at home during routines, like bedtime routine and in reading a book and transfer between home and school easily. Yeah.

Penny Williams [00:33:17]: And you know what? I never heard of adapted books until today. And I could've used them with my kid. Like Yeah. You know, he was super busy, very hyperactive. So it wasn't that he couldn't, you know, be present for it or anything, but he just had so much, like, wiggle in him that having something to do could have helped. Like, I remember kindergarten, and this is before diagnosis or or understanding what was going on. But, like, every day, his teacher was like, he won't sit at carpet time. He won't sit there.

Penny Williams [00:33:49]: And, like, that could have helped him. He could have had his own book and had something to do, and he probably would have sat through it. So I'm so, so happy that we're sharing this with parents because, you know, nobody tells us what to do and what to look for. And and if you don't have even maybe yet a diagnosis like we did at that time, knowing from the parent perspective that that could help would then be something you could share with the teacher in the classroom and and could help there too. Yeah. Amazing. Amazing.

Tara Phillips, SLP [00:34:22]: I'll send you the link too. I have the adapted book guide, and it's free. And it's maybe 4 or 5 pages, but it goes through the steps for exactly how to adapt a book. Awesome. The materials they need, I mean, it's not a lot of materials at all. Like, 1, 2, 3, this is how you do it. Awesome. So I'll send that to you

Tara Phillips, SLP [00:34:41]: If anyone is interested in adapted books, it'll make it really easy for them.

Penny Williams [00:34:45]: Yeah. So I'll link that up in the show notes as well. Yeah. Also, your website, autism little learners dot com, and social media and everything, so people can go to parentingADHDandautism.com/265 and get links to any resources that we've talked about today as well as Tara's Framies and her website, and I really encourage you. There's so much great supports there for visual supports and so many other things. Every time I look at your website, I get excited. Like, there's just so much good stuff there, and your website is so visual. So I think it's, like, really engaging and just amazing.

Penny Williams [00:35:24]: I hope people will jump over and take advantage of what you've created there and all those resources. And with that, I just wanna thank you for sharing and all the work that you're doing for our little learners who maybe are taking a different path. It's really amazing work, and I'm so excited that you shared some of that with us today.

Tara Phillips, SLP [00:35:45]: Thank you so much for having me, Penny. I have loved talking to you.

Penny Williams [00:35:49]: Yeah. Ditto. And that's it for us for this episode. I hope to see everybody next time. Take good care. Thanks for joining me on the Beautifully Complex podcast. If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe and share, and don't forget to check out my online courses and parent coaching at parentingadhdandautism.com and at thebehaviorrevolution.com.

Thank you!

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I'm Penny Williams.

I help stuck and struggling parents (educators, too) make the pivots necessary to unlock success and joy for neurodivergent kids and teens, themselves, and their families. I'm honored to be part of your journey!

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Join me as I help parents, caregivers, and educators like you harness the realization that we are all beautifully complex and marvelously imperfect. Each week I deliver insights and actionable strategies on parenting neurodivergent kids — those with ADHD, autism, anxiety, learning disabilities…

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