One morning in the EPIC classroom, Richard, a child with autism, was working with pencil and paper at his desk.
He began by drawing long, curvy lines, and then made an X in the corner of the paper. He asked “treasure?” before getting another piece of paper and repeating these actions.
I realized Richard was asking for a treasure map, so I made him one. His job was to find the treasure chest and make a trail – using a corresponding color – to the ship. He enjoyed it for a short while, then he asked for more treasure.
I thought we might play with the construction pennies set as treasure, but he didn’t follow that well. Richard kept saying “X marks” and I coached him through the rest of the sentence, “X marks the spot.”
Richard took out an X from the letter tub and I took a penny from the pile. On the spot, we created a treasure hunt
game to teach position words. Richard walked with me around the room and I placed the penny and the X in a spot and told him “the treasure is between the cushions” or “the treasure is under the chair.” This was not a way of hiding it from him. It was about learning the meaning of positional words. He loved this, and we played it for 20 minutes.
Kirsten Radivoyevitch is a teacher in Hanna Perkins’ EPIC Early Learning program, for children with autism spectrum disorders. Click here for more information about the EPIC program.