Picture symbols of wait, your turn and finished. Picture of a visual strip with the same symbols and numbers 0 to 10.

Taking Turns Visual Strip

Taking turns can sometimes present a challenge in pre-school and kindergarten classes. For many students in Special Education classrooms; waiting, taking turns and finishing a preferred toy or activity when asked, is a challenge. I have a resource that will help. Read on for how I use the taking turns visual strip and then download a free copy for yourself.

What is the purpose of a visual?

Visuals are important when working with students with Autism and/or developmental delays. It helps them to process information. For some of our students the time for them to receive, comprehend and act on a verbal message is substantially longer than regular developing peers.

Some of my students take up to 15 seconds to respond to an instruction. We need to offer a support when giving a verbal instruction. The student is not reliant on holding the message in working memory if we continue to point to a visual as we speak. Therefore, there is a greater chance the instruction will be followed. This often reduces anxiety. For more information on visual supports this is a comprehensive article or for a quick reference this is a great website to visit.

Symbols wait, your turn and finished. Picture of a taking turns  visual strip with the symbols and numbers 0 to 10.
Taking Turns Visual Strip

When would I use a taking turns visual strip?

The taking turns strip is great to use in situations where it may not be as possible to use iPads, expensive speech generating devices or bulky core boards and PODDs’. For example during very messy sensory play or art.

We also use a strip during water play, or during summer sports carnivals when outdoor showers and hoses will be used. Another place we use it is on outdoor equipment such as slides and swings during busy outdoor play times. However, these social strips are also handy to simply have on tables when students are playing any games. Remember of course to take the time to teach what the symbols mean, in order for the students to be able to follow them.

How to use the taking turns strip

The download comes with two visual strips on one page. Simply print, cut and laminate. To use, point to the symbol of ‘wait’ and leave your finger on the symbol as you speak. An effective strategy in our class when faced with students who take longer to process information, is to count silently to 10. The ‘your turn’ symbol can be used when it is someones turn or, as part of a two symbol instruction of “your turn (is) finished”. Alternatively, for early communicators, the single symbol of ‘finish’ can be utilised. I have also included a single ‘wait’ symbol. This is great to use for the next student who is waiting to have a turn.

Using the number line

A number line is used as a visual reminder that a students turn is about to finish. It allows them to process and/or reconcile themselves that they have to cease playing with a toy or, stop engaging in a preferred activity.

I point to each number as I count slowly. After every fourth number I point up to ‘finish’ and say whatever is finishing. For example; “10, 9, 8, 7 shaving foam is finished; 6, 5, 4, 3, shaving foam is finished; 2, 1, 0, beep beep shaving foam is finished.” When the students get used to this system most have followed the instruction before I get to the end. They all watch as the countdown goes on either directly, fleetingly or using peripheral vision. It works well for a range of students.

Ready to download?

In the download there is two visual strips and some individual wait symbols that you can utilise. For consistency, the symbols are the same ones that are on my communication core board. You can download the full core board here, free, if you would like one to support your students. If you are ready to download the taking turns visual strip you can get it below.

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Aroha, Ann

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