Pick of the Week: Everybody Can Cook – Enriching cooking curricula for children of diverse developmental abilities

Brand new and hot off the press, this cookbook is not your average cookbook for children. With enriching curricula accompanied with adaptations to fit all developmental abilities, this cookbook goes beyond simply providing recipes to use in the classroom.

Everybody Can Cook was developed to allow instructors in both general and special education classrooms to bring hands-on cooking classes to children of all abilities, ages 2 and up, and to foster a positive relationship between children and food.

This week only, save 15%* on your order of our newly added Everybody Can Cook: Enriching cooking curricula with adaptations for children of diverse physical and developmental abilities by using promo code COOK15 at check-out!

Included in the cookbook are 15 recipes and lesson plans, each complete with:

  • shopping and equipment lists
  • related books and songs to enhance learning
  • pictorial recipes
  • adaptations for various physical and developmental abilities
  • ingredient substitutions for dietary restrictions and allergies
  • visual learning cards (pictured below)


Children strengthen their motor skills, self-esteem, socialization, teamwork, and independence through cooking and practicing basic cooking skills. In addition, they will enhance skills in other traditional disciplines such as reading, mathematics, science, social sciences, nutrition, music, art, history and geography. The Creative Kitchen offers training workshops on implementing the curriculum. Spiral bound, 124 pages, by Cricket Azima.

Don’t forget to use our promo code COOK15 at check-out to take 15% off* your order of Everybody Can Cook!

*Offer is valid until 11:59pm EST on January 20th, 2015. Not compatible with any other offers. Be sure there are no spaces or dashes in your code at check out!

Teaching Functional Living Skills to Children with Autism at the Grocery Store

We hear over and over again how children with autism may need hundreds or even thousands of opportunities to practice a skill before acquiring it. It’s important to keep this fact in mind when it comes to functional living skills (e.g. making the bed, cooking a meal, etc.). Many of the parents I work with prefer to focus on academic skills rather than functional living skills. Some feel that by focusing on functional living skills, they’re giving up on larger goals for their child, such as being placed in a general education environment, having the opportunity to go to college, and/or having the opportunity to have a career.

I always encourage parents to focus on both academic and functional living skills. While it may seem unnecessary to start thinking about teaching a nine year old how to grocery shop, it’s really just providing them with many, many opportunities to practice the skill. Typically developing children “practice” grocery shopping from a young age by watching their parents and playing “store” with friends, but children with autism are unlikely to observe their parents while they’re shopping or to play such games as “store” without explicit instruction. By practicing the skill with your child early on, you’re promoting future independence.

You can practice these skills when you are in the grocery store with your child, and you may just find that your child enjoys shopping. (Grocery shopping is a favorite activity for two of my current students.) It may be beneficial for you to just start out with one skill, choosing the one you think your child is the most likely to experience success with or that your child will be the most motivated by.

  • Choosing if you need a cart or a basket (Is our list long or short? Do we have big or small items?)
  • Using a grocery list (reading the list, crossing off items already placed in cart/basket)
  • Using supermarket signs to find items (understanding categories, knowing where to look for signs)
  • Greeting cashier
  • Choosing good fruit or vegetables (looking for bruises, identifying ripeness)
  • Giving money to cashier
  • Accepting change from cashier
  • Taking bags when it’s time to leave
  • Comparison shopping (looking at unit price, comparing prices of two brands)
  • Making sure you received correct change
  • Returning an item that is damaged

You shouldn’t limit these skills to just the grocery store either. All of these skills are useful in department stores, pharmacies, book stores, and more. Your child may be more motivated to use these skills at the book store or a toy store. You can help your child learn the skills there, then generalize them to other types of stores.

If you need help getting started, you should ask your child’s teacher or therapist to accompany you on your first trip. They can help you identify the appropriate steps to put your child on the path to independence.

Tip of the Week: Avoid Prompt Dependence When Teaching New Skills

“She won’t say hi unless I say ‘Say Hello.’” “He will only wash his hands if I put his hand on the knob to turn on the water.” “He won’t use his fork until I put it in his hand.”

I hear statements like this all the time from both parents and providers working with learners what autism. What they are describing is “prompt dependence,” which is when a learner requires a prompt from a teacher or parent in order to complete a task. So how do you avoid prompt dependence with your own learners?

Let’s start with the prompt itself. There are many different ways to prompt which can be divided into levels by how intrusive the prompt is. Below is a sample of a prompt hierarchy, with the least intrusive prompt at the top and the most intrusive prompt at the bottom. Your goal is to quickly move through the prompt levels to move your learner to independence.

Prompting Hierarchy

Now let’s look at two different examples to show these prompt levels. In the first example, the goal is for the learner to greet a person who walks into the room. In the second example, the goal is for the learner to pull up his/her pants after using the bathroom as a part of a toileting routine.

Prompt Chart

Research shows that least-to-most prompting increases potential for errors and slows down rate of acquisition for new skills. Therefore, most-to-least prompting is preferred for teaching new skills. This means that you would start at a full physical prompt, then move your way up the prompt heirarchy until your learner achieves independence with the task.

In the past, when working with discrete trials, it has been common practice to have a learner master a skill at a certain prompt level, then move to a less intrusive prompt and have the learner master the skill at that prompt level, steadily moving towards independence. This can actually encourage prompt dependence because the learner remains on the same prompt level for too long.

Instead, you should try to quickly move up the prompt hierarchy in a way that makes sense for the skill you are trying to teach. Below are some tips to help you help your learners achieve independence.

  • Follow the rule of three: Whether you are teaching with discrete trials or in the natural environment, once your learner has successfully responded to a demand three times consecutively, move to a less intrusive prompt.
  • If you are taking data, make a notation of what prompt level you are using at each step. (And remember, that only independent responses should be counted towards the learner’s percentage of correct responses.)
  • At the end of a session or group of trials, note what prompt level you were at by the end of the session. Then start at that level during the next session.
  • If your learner does not respond correctly when you move to a less intrusive prompt, then move back to the most recent prompt level. Once they respond again correctly at that prompt level three times consecutively, move again to a less restrictive prompt.
  • Remember that verbal prompts are very difficult to fade. Though they are less instrusive, you should avoid using them when possible.
  • You can pair prompts and then fade out the more intrusive prompts. For example, with the sample of pulling up pants described above, you can pair a visual prompt with a gestural prompt by showing the symbol for pulling up pants while pointing at the pants. Over time, you stop using the symbol and just use the gestural prompt. The gestural prompt can be faded by moving your point further and further away from the pants.
  • Write down what the prompt levels will look like for the specific task you are teaching. This way you will be fully prepared to quickly move your learner towards independence.
  • Differentiate your reinforcement! If you move to a less intrusive prompt and the learner responds correctly, then you should immediately provide a stronger reinforcer than you did for previous responses. If a learner spontaneously responds without a prompt, you should do what I call “throwing them a party” by combining reinforcers (such as tickles and high fives) or providing a highly desirable reinforcer.

Prompting can be very difficult to do well, but following these tips should help set your learner on the path to independence.

Pick of the Week: Visual Schedules

schoolSummer is winding down and for most it’s time to get back to a routine. For many of our students and children that means getting a handle on a busy new schedule of self-care, school, therapy sessions, extra-curricular activities, play dates and special occasions. A visual schedule or an activity schedule can help pull all of the parts of a hectic day together for a child and increase independence, build organizational skills as well as improve comprehension skills. A visual schedule provides clear expectations, utilizes a child’s visual learning strengths, can reduce anxiety or difficulty with transitions, and can increase flexibility.

This week, we’re offering a 15% discount on some of our favorite products to help you get a visual schedule up and running. Just enter the Promo Code BLOGVS13 to redeem your savings and get organized.

DRP_928_Clear_Schedule_Token_StripClear Schedule with Token Strip: This is an option that is easy and portable for those who want to customize and create their own schedule pictures. There is a token economy that runs alongside which is great for learners who require a thick schedule of reinforcement and need to earn a token for each step of the schedule and can be used for any age.



On Track! Responsibility & Behavior System: This product is a great tool for children 8 and up. It is a wonderful resource for keeping the whole family on track across multiple daily routines and behavioral objectives. The detailed instructional guide walks you through the implementation and execution of the system is an added bonus.



EasyDaysies Magnetic Schedule for Kids: The simplicity of this is fantastic. The Magnetic Fold & Go schedule board travels with you easily and can adhere directly to any metal surface. The imagery is very clear and easy to understand and the To Do and Done Columns are intuitive and easy for even the youngest child to use. The starter kit includes 18 magnets that cover all the basics in your learner’s daily routine but as proficiency increases there are supplemental packs are available to include more specific magnets covering Chores & Special Times, Family & Extracurricular Activities, and Get Dressed & Bathroom routines.

*This offer expires on September 24, 2013 at 11:59 pm EST. Not compatible with any other offer. Be sure there are no spaces in the promo code at check out!

World Autism Awareness Day

In recognition of World Autism Awareness Day, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon noted that early interventions can make a tremendous impact on the lives of children with autism.

With the number of children affected with autism being reported as high as 1 in 50, there is an urgent need to ensure that children are given a proper diagnosis along with early intervention and behavioral therapy that will make a difference in their lives. Our products are geared towards educating and empowering children at every step, from early intervention to school-age programs.

In honor of World Autism Awarness Day and Autism Awareness Month, Different Roads is thrilled to offer 25% off storewide today through April 4.*  To redeem your savings, please enter the Promo Code WAA13D at www.difflearn.com or call us at 800-853-1057 to place your orders.


*Sale does NOT apply to the following products: VB-MAPP Assessment Kits (DRK 700, DRK 701), ABLLS-R Assessment Kits (DRK 702, DRK 703), 10- and 25-packs of VB-MAPP Protocols (DRB 682, DRB 683).*

WAA13D Sale runs from April 2, 2013 through April 4, 2013 at midnight EST.

**This promotion cannot be applied to previous orders.**

 The coupon code must be entered during checkout to receive offer. Offer only applies to selected products and not those currently on sale. Your order must be placed during the time of the World Autism Awareness Day Sale to qualify for this special offer. This promotional offer may not be combined with any other promotional or discount offers.

Pick of the Week: MotivAider

It’s the best tool available for people of all ages to stay focused and change behavior and habits quickly, easily and privately. The MotivAider is one of our bestsellers for behavior modification of all sorts. The MotivAider is a simple electronic device that vibrates at timed intervals to provide an individual with a private prompt to engage in a specific behavior. You can program it to vibrate on a variable or fixed schedule at different durations and intensity. There’s a wonderful article and review on the uses of the MotivAider by our friend Jenn over at Toys are Tools that explores how some students and teachers are using the MotivAider in their classrooms.

This week only, you can save 15% on the MotivAider by entering the Promo Code BLOGMTVT at checkout. If you’ve always wondered just what the MotivAider can accomplish, here’s your chance to try it at a great discount.


*Offer expires on July 17, 2012 at 11:59 pm EST. Not compatible with any other offer. Be sure there are no spaces after the Promo Code when you enter it at checkout.


Pick of the Week: What Would You Take? Flip Book

It’s the fourth of July and summer is in full swing. Time for BBQ’s, trips to the beach, road trips and relaxation. Our pick this week is the What Would You Take? flip book so you can prepare your kids in a fun and playful way for what you need to bring on your summer adventures. Scenes depicted include the beach, a fishing trip, the playground and more. You can save 15% on the What Would You Take? book by entering the Promo Code BLOGWWT4 at checkout.

Wishing you all a safe and happy 4th!

*Offer expires on July 10, 2012 at 11:59 pm EST. Not compatible with any other offer. Be sure there are no spaces after the Promo Code when you enter it at checkout.

New Online Curriculum from Autism Expressed Provides Digital Skills to Students with Autism

Autism Expressed is a new organization that strives to empower people with autism with the skills to use the internet and participate in social media. Their mission is to “give students with Autism marketable digital age skills and therefore, a greater advantage when pursuing their independence.” Lessons show them how to understand internet slang and lingo, how to make a Facebook page, and even how to launch a website.

Autism Expressed provides an online curriculum that teaches students internet basics like browsing, searching, email and web safety. The curriculum used is based on the methods of Applied Behavior Analysis so that each lesson builds on the previous and includes an activity so students can practice their new skill. Students can earn achievement badges to reinforce their progress. Students can log in and use Autism Expressed independently. After finishing their video lesson, they can complete an associated activity to unlock a new badge. If they get the answer wrong, the student is provided a prompt. Video lessons and activities can be viewed and practiced as many times as needed to comprehend content and to earn a badge. Since the safety of students is of the utmost importance, in addition to continuous reinforcement of safety procedures throughout the curriculum, there is also a special embedded browser that limits the access students have while they are learning and practicing their new skills.

Ideally, the results of the program are increased motivation, resiliency and a greater learning and earning potential.

Individuals and organizations can register here and you can also find them on Facebook.

Pick of the Week: EasyDaysies Magnetic Schedule for Kids

The EasyDaysies Magnetic Schedule was created by a Mom of three and she’s got scheduling down pat! The simple board helps structure kids’ daily routies while teaching them independence, self-discipline and sight word recognition. With the “To Do” and “Done” columns, you can also use it as a reward system. This starter kit comes with the board and 18 Magnets that cover everyday activities such as get dressed, do homework, and bath time.

This week, we’re also offering a 15% discount on the supplemental kit for Family Activities. This pack includes 9 magnets to add to your schedule that families often do together such as shopping, movie night, church and more.

This week only, save 15% on both the EasyDaysies Magnetic Schedule for Kids and the Family Activities Kit by entering the Promo Code BLOGEDMS at checkout.

*Offer expires on April 24, 2012 at 11:59 pm EST. Not compatible with any other offer. Be sure there are no spaces after the Promo Code when you enter it at checkout.

Pick of the Week: Know the Code at School – Social Skills Card Games

Know the Code at School is a behavioral and social skill card game that illustrate 50 social skills in typical school scenarios. Each card shows a skill with a relevant photo, lists five sequential steps to accomplish the skill and suggests a talking point. The cards are great for games and role plays at an elementary or middle school level.

This week only, save 15% on the Know the Code at School cards by entering the Promo Code BLOGKC9 at checkout.

*Offer expires on April 3, 2012 at 11:59 pm EST. Not compatible with any other offer. Be sure there are no spaces after the Promo Code when you enter it at checkout.