Teaching the 5-W-H Questions: Part 3

By Christine Marchant

If you read my previous posts, you’d notice that I have a system to teaching the 5-W-H questions.

By the time the child has surpassed level two and is ready for level three, he is not impressed with the ‘preschool’ attempts.  The magnetic fishing and the Caribou games no longer hold his interest.  Using basic pictures will often bore him to death!  There is no right or wrong way to teach, but the best way is to match your system to the child’s learning style.  It is important to observe if the child is an active or passive learner.  The active learner loves games and action. The passive learner prefers work sheets, scrabble and card games etc.  I have watched many therapists teach the 5-W-H questions to children.  Most of them are for younger children, I have had a few older children that are a bigger challenge.  The little children are happy with ANY game you come up with, while the older ones are more tricky.  With the older children, I find just saying: “this is our target—this is what we are doing and when we are finished, then you can play your game” is the more effective.  We set up their favorite game, then we do “target” then your turn, “target” then your turn.  My rules are that we do two cycles of “target’ games, then we do one game “free style” game.  Free style is playing the game any way the child wants to.  It’s ok if the child rigs it for them to win EVERY TIME!   I don’t care!  Just get the child hooked.

Teaching before and after is often a challenge.  It’s vague and abstract thinking.  It’s been proven that we can envision the past easier than the future.  That’s why I teach “before” first.

1) Find books or photos that show a TON of details in each photo.  I use books, flash cards, and random photos saved on to my Ipad.

2) I bring out their favorite game, then the photos.

3) At this level, the child is already hooked into the program.  The first player looks at the photo, and describes what is in the photo, then says what he thinks might have happened just before this photo.

4) The other players can agree or disagree.  This opens an interesting conversation.

5) Follow the same pattern that I shared in the previous posts:

What do you suppose happened before the girl fell off her bike?

Who do you suppose she was with?

Why do you suppose she fall off the bike?

Where do you suppose she was?

When do you suppose this happened?

How did we come up with the “before” information?

6) When all players are satisfied with the answers, the player takes their turn.

7) By providing their favorite game, the child is usually motivated to do the “work”.

8) Sometimes, at this level, the child finds it difficult and tries to avoid the “work”.  If this happens, just sit quiet and say, first we do the “target” then you can play the game. The desire to play usually is enough.

I find it very rewarding to see the children go on this journey.  I love seeing the look of amazement and understanding in their eyes as they become more aware of their world.  I decided in high school that I wanted to work with children and I’ve enjoyed every year.  I have one more post on this topic, which involves teaching “after” and then I move on to teaching other aspects of language.

Teaching the 5-W-H questions: Part 1

By Christine Marchant

Teaching the 5-W-H questions (who, what where why and how) is different for each child. At least, that’s what I thought, until one day I realized that I’ve been teaching it for several years.  I discovered that the verbal level of the child does not matter.  I have a child who is not much higher than “non verbal.”  She is very intelligent, but is unable to express herself.  Without realizing it, I actually taught her the 5-W-H questions.  I sat down and started to write down the formula I used.  I then tried it on my preschool boy, and he got it!  I then tried it on my other preschool boy and he got it!  I was amazed!  I wrote out the formula step by step, and next week, I will try it on my older boy.

I’m not a speech pathologist, but I do have decades of experience raising children, and 5 years experience as a child development facilitator.  I am on many full service teams.  I am only sharing my experience working with many therapists and children.  This is the formula that works for me.

The 5-W-H questions can be very difficult to teach because they are abstract and can be a challenge for children and their support aides.  I started with the most concrete and easy W question, and then worked up to the most abstract and difficult questions, which are WHY and HOW.  Children will move through these steps at different speeds.  The amount of time isn’t the goal.  The goal is to have the child concretely understand the question and why and when to use it.  Stay with the formula and repeat as often as needed.  If the child ‘loses their grasp’ of the knowledge, just drop back one step, do a quick review, and when it’s concrete again move to the next step.  Don’t change the order or the formula.   Just go forward and backwards.

My girl took 3 years, my preschool boys took weeks, and my older boy will most likely have it mastered in a few sessions.  Go slow and stay faithful to the formula.  Do not move to the next level until the previous levels are set, concrete, and consistent.  Once the child knows the formula, you don’t need the visual.  I use the visual for my girl because she’s still almost non verbal and LOVES to print her thoughts.  The visual helps her remember where each answer belongs.  Once the child is consistently responding correctly to each question, you can mix them up and be creative.

On a sheet of paper, create 6 columns and in each column, print the 5-W-H questions allow enough space to print at least 4-5 words.

___________________________________________________________________

WHO                       WHAT                WHERE                     WHEN                 WHY                  HOW

___________________________________________________________________

I like to use a set of 24 photos.  Use 6 at a time- 3 turns each.  I keep it to 10 to 15 minutes per activity.

I repeat the activity twice.  Then put it away, I do this twice a session.  It’s more effective to teach shorter lengths of time more often than longer times, less often.

Leave the columns blank and laminate the sheet.

Level 1

  • Only ask WHO and leave the rest of the columns blank
  • WHO is riding the bike?
  • Do this for each photo, the adult should go first to model the correct response.
  • Take turns until the 6 photos are done.
  • Stay on this level until the child is consistently responding correctly

Level 2

  • Only ask WHO-WHAT and leave the rest blank
  • Do this for each photo, and the adult should go first to model the correct response.
  • Take turns until the 6 photos are done.
  • Stay on this level until the child is consistently responding correctly.
  • WHO is riding the bike?
  • WHAT is the boy doing?

Level 3

  • Only ask WHO-WHAT-WHERE and leave the rest blank
  • Do this for each photo, yougo first to model the correct response.
  • Take turns until the 6 photos are done.
  • Stay on this level until the child is consistently responding correctly
  • WHO is riding the bike?
  • What is the boy doing?
  • WHERE are they riding the bike?
  • Follow the same steps as level 1 and 2

Level 4

  • Only ask WHO-WHAT-WHERE-WHEN
  • WHO is riding the bike?
  • WHAT is the boy doing?
  • WHERE are they riding the bike?
  • WHEN are they riding the bike?
  • Repeat the same steps.

Level 5

  • Only ask WHO-WHAT-WHERE-WHEN-WHY
  • WHO is riding the bike?
  • WHAT is the boy doing?
  • WHERE are they riding the bike?
  • WHEN are they riding the bike?
  • WHY are they riding the bike?
  • Follow the same steps

Level 6

  • Only ask WHO-WHAT-WHERE-WHEN-HOW.
  • WHO is riding the bike?
  • WHAT is the boy doing?
  • WHERE are they riding the bike?
  • WHEN are they riding the bike?
  • WHY are they riding the bike?
  • HOW are they riding the bike?
  • Repeat the same steps.

The Real Life Experience of Sensory Processing Disorder

By Alyssa Neudorf

The first question most people ask is, what is sensory processing disorder (SPD)? I would describe it simply as processing the entire world differently. A person who is partially sighted or hearing impaired will process the information coming to those senses in a different way from someone with typical vision or hearing.

What does this mean for me? As a person with SPD, it means that I process all the information coming to ALL of my senses differently, more intensely and all at the same time. Most people have the luxury of blocking out repetitive stimuli like the clock ticking, the clothes you are wearing, the smells in the air and, the chair you are sitting on while reading – this is not something I get to do. I am aware of everything all the time.

When all this intense and repetitive information becomes too much something called sensory overload is reached. Sensory overload can look and feel different for each individual person. For me, it is something that happens suddenly. I am fine until I am not. I begin to feel very warm, shaky, things start to dim around the outside of my eyes. My brain starts to try and leave my body making it very, very hard to speak or move without help. It feels like there is a tonne of bricks stacked on my vocal cords and the signals to legs are slow or blocked. Mentally I know I can speak and I can move but making that happen is very hard. It is at this point that a simple question, touch or surprise will trigger a meltdown. People will often ask “what do you need?”, or “what can I do?” The problem is at this point I don’t know and if I do I can’t always tell you. I can’t think and I feel frozen and stuck with everything spinning, flashing and pounding away around me all while becoming more intense. Then hyperventilation kicks in.

Sound exhausting and painful yet?

Having a schedule and routine helps me to plan out my sensory energy for the day. There is only such much I can do with 20 tokens and everything in your days takes different amounts. Getting dressed, eating, school, being social, going outside, tying your shoes, and taking the bus just to name a few. As a result, I can’t drive yet even though I would like to, don’t go shopping much, I wear certain clothing, most of my shoes don’t have laces (those that still do will be replaced with elastics), and I only wear specific socks. Clothes shopping is a big challenge and thus is avoided and is only done on a day when I don’t have to do anything else that day.

That is just a small window into the life of one person with SPD. It is different from person to person. Hopefully this article has helped you gain some understanding of what it is like to have SPD.

Connecting with a Multidisciplinary Approach

By: Stephanie Magnussen

Although it may seem apparent that a child needs specific help, there usually are many layers to an individual’s needs.  For example, if a child has a speech delay, the parent may request that he sees a speech pathologist.  But why does this child have a speech delay?  Is there is a sensory need that is not being met, or are there developmental delays or behavioral issues at work?  Kids are complicated little people, and it’s important to remember that what we see is only the tip of the iceberg.  It’s really beneficial for a group of therapists to explore what lies beneath the surface to give the child the most effective strategies to thrive academically, socially, and mentally.

Perhaps the short term goals for a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder are maintaining eye contact and increased vocabulary, and the long term goals are independence and integration into a typical classroom.  The speech pathologist will develop activities that increase vocabulary, while the occupational therapist creates drills for promoting eye contact, and the psychologist may make social stories that build confidence and promote more appropriate social behavior.  Just having one therapist would not be the most advantageous for the child and family in this case.  The parents are also part of the multidisciplinary team.  They must be on board with practicing what the therapists are working on and provide a supportive environment for the child to thrive under this team approach.

At Connecting Dots, all of the therapists are registered health care professionals with Master’s level education.  They all work together and share ideas on how to set a child up for success by using each of their expertise.  If a child is exhibiting disfluent speech or a stutter, and therefore struggling socially at school, of course we want to promote smooth speech, but there may be other issues to address.  The child may have motor planning deficits which result in disfluent speech.  The speech pathologist can work on an action plan for smooth speech, while the occupational therapist develops a plan to promote increased ability for the muscles to make the correct movements for speech.  Psychologists are also a key part of this multidisciplinary approach.  Communication is not just the words that we speak, but also our ability to interact with those around us.  Any disability can be stressful for a child, and may result in anxiety and social isolation.  A psychologist can identify activities and games that will help a child excel socially.

As an aide at Connecting Dots, I have been fortunate to work with speech pathologists, occupational therapists, and psychologists and have seen the gains my clients are making by working on each piece of their puzzle.   Every child’s background and needs are so diverse, and an individualized plan with input from different types of therapists allows the team to work on gains for the child in a holistic manner.  It is truly a team approach between the therapists, aides, and family members.