We finished personal description stories in January and started introducing prepositional syntax in preparation for preposition round-up stories (page 15) last month.
For several weeks, we have been practicing the concept of prepositions in Pamela's speech therapy program (the association method). I chose to make it very practical by focusing upon highways. Highways? Yes, highways! Autistic children often develop unusual interests, and, right now, many of Pamela's conversations revolve around the different highways in our area. She knows more than one route to take to different towns and often asks us to take one highway to a city and take another highway on the trip home. She enjoys studying maps of our state to learn new connections. Her syntax was never quite right in these conversations about road trips. One way to get plenty (I mean PLENTY) of practice with prepositions is to teach the ones used most in her conversations. My favorite technique is practicing language through her most cherished (euphemism for perseverative) topics because we are guaranteed to have many opportunities to apply new syntax.
Pamela understands prepositions, so my goal the first week was to introduce the syntax of prepositions in sentences associated with map activities. The first day we talked about our town, and the next three days we covered different towns where relatives she has visited live. We ended the week with an imaginary road trip pictured below. I focused on prepositional phrases with proper nouns to avoid the need for articles like a, an, and the:
"at [street address]"
"on [street name]"
"in [city/county/state/country name]"
"near [another city/county/state/country name]"
"between [two cities/counties/states/countries]"
"near Interstate/United States Route/South Carolina Highway [number]"
"to [city/county/state/country name]"
To increase her enjoyment of the stories, I included maps and icons for all the kinds of major roads (interstate, routes, and highways). Pamela loved these therapy stories and enjoyed her introduction to prepositions. The second week we introduced where. Because Steve and I have the same pet peeve (ending questions and sentences with a preposition), I bit the bullet and introduced questions beginning with prepositions: "In what. . .", "On what. . .", "Near what. . .", "To what. . .", and "Between what. . ."
Pamela looked forward to speech therapy every day because it helped her learn to discuss one of her favorite topics. Incorporating an autistic person's interests is like that spoonful of sugar Mary Poppins sneaks into her medicine. And, this "sugar" causes no cavities and does not cost a dime!