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!

Pick of the Week: Timers & Counters

Timers help manage all sorts of transitions, schedules and behaviors. The sky is the limit when it comes to how creative you can be with a simple timer. With Back to School creeping up on the horizon, it may be time again to start thinking about schedules and time management. This week only, you can save 15% on our entire category of timers, hand tally counters, and clocks to help ease you back into the biggest transition: back to school time.

To redeem your savings on any product in our Timers, Counters & Clocks category, simply enter the Promo Code BLOGTCT12 at checkout.

*Offer expires on August 7, 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: 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.


“Cool” versus “Not Cool” – Strategies for Teaching Students with ASD by Autism Partnership

Cool” versus “Not Cool”

Children understanding appropriate versus inappropriate behaviors and correct versus incorrect responses are a fundamental aspect of intervention.  When children can recognize these distinctions it can help change their performance.  And when it can be taught in a fun way it can help motivate children them not only to acquire the information but to use it in their everyday life.

This discrimination can be used to teach a variety of concepts.  We have used it to successfully teach children to reduce self-stimulation and acting out behaviors.  Children have also learned pro social behaviors such as personal boundaries, recognizing when they are boring peers and empathy through this strategy.  Voice modulation and even articulation have improved through “cool/not cool”. 

There is nothing magic in the words “cool” or “not cool”!  Use words that are appropriate for age, level of understanding or that are common used among peers.  For example, you could use “good idea” vs. “not such a good idea” or “great” vs. “not so great”.  Instead of words teachers could use thumbs up vs. thumbs down or a smiley face vs. a sad face.

This is part of a guest series by Autism Partnership founders Ron Leaf, John McEachin and Mitchell Taubmann. Established in 1994, Autism Partnership is one of the nation’s premier agencies dedicated to providing intensive behavior intervention for children with autism and their families. They offer a comprehensive program and a variety of proven services, including in-home, in-classroom and one-on-one, as well as lectures and workshops. All programs are handled by expert staff and tailored to each individual child, family and caregiver, with the goal of helping that child achieve their best life. For more information, visit www.autismpartnership.com.

Pick of the Week: Timers, Counters & Clocks

The new year offers us a chance to take stock and approach things with a newfound zeal. It’s a time to feel energized and motivated. To help you stay on task, this week’s pick is our full selection of Timers, Counters & Clocks as even the most determined of us could use a bit of a reminding. The MotivAider is a great tool for behavioral modification of any kind, and the Vibralite Watch offers a private reminder to engage in any situation. Whatever your goals and resolutions may be, all of us at Different Roads to Learning wish you a happy and healthy 2012!

To save 15% on all Timers, Counters and Clocks, this week only, enter the Promo Code BLOGTC2012 at checkout.

*Offer expires on January 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.

Pick of the Week: Time Tracker Mini

We love this small, easy to program Time Tracker Mini! It’s a simple visual and auditory timer that has 360 degree viewing so it’s great for anywhere, in the classroom or at home. There are two simple dials: one for a total alarm time and one for the amount of warning time you’d like given before time is up. The timer turns green, yellow, then red as it counts down. The total alarm time can be set anywhere from 5 minutes to 2 hours in 5-minute increments.

Save 15% on the Time Tracker Mini this week only by entering the Promo Code BLOGTTM2 at checkout.

*Offer expires on December 6, 2011 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.

President’s Day

President’s day is on Monday and it is likely that there may be some gaps in your child’s home program or perhaps they are home without therapy because school is closed.  Either way we all know that structure and the maintenance of routine play a big role in a child’s success.  Your best bet is to not leave anything to chance.  Create a picture schedule of the planned activities for the day substituting any gaps with activities that your child has had success with independently or activities you can facilitate.  Depending on your child’s abilities and his or her individual interests this schedule may include some new activities mapped out by using pictures of each step involved.  I’ve really enjoyed simple cooking activities with my students lately.  The simple act of making lemonade together provides so many opportunities to expand language, turn-taking, following directions and sequencing.  The best part is that when you are done you have delicious lemonade to drink.  Whenever I include kitchen activities I like to draw up a pictorial recipe before hand that the child can follow along with.  It is also important to keep in mind that not everything has to be explicitly therapeutic or educational.  You can have structure without it necessarily including direct instruction.  In fact I think that holidays are the best time to mix in some more varied activities.  Try printing out images of your child’s favorite storybook character and paste them into a journal while writing your own story to go along with the pictures.  Parents and caregivers sometimes shy away from incorporating novel activities into a schedule but with some preparation and guidance it can be an enjoyable “day off” for all.

What does at day off look like in your household?  Maybe you can share a fun activity you’ve recently tried?

The MotivAider

The MotivAider is consistently one of our top sellers here at Different Roads to Learning. It’s a versatile and helpful tool that can be used for anything from prompting a child to engage in play to toilet training. The MotivAider vibrates at timed intervals to prompt an individual to engage in a specific behavior. This is an interesting article about how it is specifically used with children with ADD. Have any of you used the MotivAider as a way to teach or change certain behaviors? How have you used it and for what?  We’d love to hear your experiences.

Back to School Basics

You know it is officially back to school season when the grill in my backyard has been cool to the touch for days and I’ve had my yearly medical exam (PPD titer and all!). I hope it has been smooth sailing for you and your little ones as classes begin. If it hasn’t been, this is what I always try to keep in mind, for all people, big and small:


It is best to join forces with your child and prepare for the year by making sure you cover what I like to call the 3 S’s.


Make sure everything in your child’s work/play space at home is organized and equipped. Play continues to be an important part of learning even when school is in session so take this time to go through toys and arts and crafts supplies and weed out things that are broken or no longer developmentally appropriate for your child. Make sure there is a spacious and uncluttered work space stocked with all of the supplies your child will need to complete homework and school projects. It is also a good idea to keep a space near the work area for a visual schedule to help foster independence during homework time. Lastly, designate a spot near the entrance of your home where your child’s backpack, important papers and your keys can go each afternoon. The last thing you want is to add undue stress to your morning routine and risk missing the beginning of class.


We all know that with this population transitions can be especially difficult.  First, take care of as much as you can the night before. Pack bags, sign paperwork, pack lunches, and pick out clothing.  Also, don’t think that a a parent you are the only one responsible for this prep work. Incorporate as many of these things into your child’s evening routine as you can. Having your child participate will foster independence and build confidence. Again, visual schedules and token economies help facilitate independence and provide motivation respectively.  Structure benefits children so it is good to develop a general school year routine and stick to it as much as possible.  Predictability is helpful when it comes to transitions but also remember to build in components that have some element of change to them so that you can facilitate flexibility.  One part of the schedule that shouldn’t change is the sleep schedule.  Keep it as consistent as possible, even on the weekends.  I suggest building a calming activity into the schedule before bedtime and using a timer to help with the transition to bed.


Sometimes, people find it surprising when I suggest preparation for social interactions but there are a lot of creative ways to help children familiarize themselves with conversational topics, common games and salient information about their peers and teachers.  I encourage all of the families I work with to print photographs of family outings or events that can be used as visual prompts for conversational topics.  Especially good are things that happened over the weekend.  If the picture book is reviewed Sunday evening they will be fully prepared to talk about what they did over the weekend. Additionally, you can find out what schoolyard games are popular with your child’s peer group and practice them at home with siblings or playdates.  If it is an athletic game you might also spend time with your child making a book about the rules that can be reviewed periodically. Lastly, I like to construct a “friend journal” with a child at the beginning of each school year.  You might need to enlist teachers or other parents to help with this but it is such a useful tool that it is worth the extra effort.  Start by obtaining photos of each classmate and pasting them individually into different sections of the journal.  On a daily basis you can help your child fill in something they have learned about their peers.  This could range anywhere from favorite cartoon or tv show to their age or their family members names.

Going back to school can be a fun and exciting time.  With a little preparation and creativity maybe it will be the best school year yet!

The TimeBuddy Clock is here!

We’ve been waiting since February for the TimeBuddy to arrive and it’s finally here!
This wonderful and customizable clock is designed to help young children with daily routines and time management. TimeBuddy is a battery-operated 24-hour activity clock with alarm settings. The alarm can be set for up to three different activities. The clock dial points to visual icons which consist of reusable stickers that are placed at actual times throughout the day by the parent, giving children cues on when to start and stop certain activities. You can also set the clock to literally speak three different phrases in your choice of three languages (English, Spanish, and French). There’s even an option for a user-recorded message of up to 15 seconds to allow parents to record a personalized message and you can insert the child’s name into the pre-programmed messages.