There's a system that I use when teaching concepts. I usually want a child to master each level of the system before moving on, but there are many exceptions to this rule. Here's the system that I use when I'm teaching "rough/smooth" with my sensory box from the previous post:

1. When teaching concepts, I find that it is best to start by choosing one concept. When using the box, I usually teach "rough" first because it seems to be an easier texture to identify than "smooth". Just my opinion.

2. I begin by choosing one item and pairing it with a picture symbol for "rough". I show the item to the child and begin describe the texture aloud as I use my hands to dramatically feel the "roughness" of the item. "Feel the rock. It's so ROUGH. It's a rock. It's very rough." My words are simple and direct.

3a. Next, I take the child's hand and move it gently over the object so that they can feel the word "rough". I continue this for each "rough" item that I have.

3b. At this point, the child may begin using the word "rough" to describe the items while you help them to explore. If they are, great! Move on. If they're not using the word yet, I hold up each item and say "Here's a ____. It feels ___." pausing to let the child fill in the blank. It may also be a good idea to pair this part of the activity with sentence strips (this also supports literacy- bonus!). I haven't done this yet because most of my kids pick up on the concept very quickly.

I consider steps 1-3 to be mastered when the child can pick up an item from the box and tell me that it feels rough. This may take one session, it sometimes takes more.

4. Next, we explore our environment searing for textures that feel rough. This one is so much fun! The kids love leaving the therapy room to explore! Once we've explored our space, I've got a pretty solid idea of how well the concept has generalized from the box to "real life". Parents usually tell me by now that their children have been using the new word at home.

5. It's now time to repeat steps 1-4 to teach the concept "smooth".

After we've learned "rough" and "smooth" as separate concepts, I present them as opposites. This step is soo important, especially for our children with Autism! It can be simple to learn one descriptor at a time. When choosing between 2 descriptors, things can be pretty difficult. I think it has a lot to do with each child's language flexibility and word finding skills.

6. I combine all of the items together and randomly choose one. I may say, "I have an egg. It feels (or it's texture) is very ____". I let the child select the next item. I say, "You have a stone. It feels ___". The key is to make sure that both smooth and rough items are being chosen at random. This step can be tricky for so many! Here are more tips for when it gets tricky:

-Continue to combine each item with it's "texture" picture symbol.
-Present a rough item and THEN a smooth item each time.
-Model each time using the word "but".  Ex. "The rock is rough BUT the egg is smooth."
-Make sentence strips for each item.
-Have the child sort each item into categories of "rough" and "smooth"

That's it! I hope to be making more sensory concept boxes in the future... Maybe...

Comment below with any ideas that you can think of or would like to try!