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    Community Helpers and Occupation Flash Cards for Autism

    Topics: About Autism, Teaching with Pictures, Elementary (4-12), Articles

    There are so many people our children need to interact with on a weekly basis – teachers, doctors, bus drivers, dentists, janitors, crossing guards, store clerks, mail carriers…. Meeting new people can be difficult for any child, but children with autism often have a particularly difficult time with people they don’t know, or who are not part of their typical routine.

    One way to mediate a child’s trouble interacting with new people is to actively teach them about the people they will meet in the community, what those people do, and when they are likely to see them.

    Stages’ Language Builder: Occupation Cards have been specially designed as a tool for use by parents, professionals, and educators to teach children about different jobs and community helpers. The 115-Card set includes both male and female depictions of today’s most common occupations. The images are current and familiar, and are featured in natural settings. Care was taken to include plenty of context clues to make identification easy and fun.

    You can use the cards in a few different ways. First, you can simply teach the name of each job as a vocabulary building exercise. But, on a more functional level, you can begin to teach what that person does and where you might see them. For example: “This is a bus driver, they take you to school in the morning, and bring you home at night.”  


    Perhaps, one of the best uses of the Language Builder Occupation Cards is to prepare your child for the people he or she is going to see that day. If you have a doctor’s appointment or a dentist appointment, use the pictures in the Language Builder: Occupation flash cards  to discuss the upcoming event with your child. Because the set includes both male and female images of each occupation, you can even use the image that is gender appropriate to the person your child will interact with.

    The better your child's ability to predict and understand their day, the more control they will feel, which tends to reduce tantrum behaviors and make the day more pleasant for them and for you!

    Are you wondering why are we so big on using real-photos to teach? Read "Background on Teaching Autism Language with Pictures"

    Angela Nelson, J.D., Ed.M.

    Written by Angela Nelson, J.D., Ed.M.

    Angela Nelson is the creator of the widely-recognized Language Builder Picture Card Series, and the creator and lead author for the Language Builder ARIS curriculum. Angela received her BA and JD from UCLA where she studied and practiced behavior psychology under Dr. Ivar Lovaas, and her Ed.M. at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, with a focus on technology innovation and education. As Founder and CEO of Stages Learning Materials, Angela has created autism, special needs and early childhood curriculum products since 1997. In addition to her duties at Stages, Angela writes for multiple industry publications and is Chair of the Education Market Association.