Power Card Strategy (Gagnon, 2001)

  • Situation

    I teach 2nd grade and have a student with autism in my class this year. Although he is bright, he is often out of his seat and does not want to do his work. I usually have to give him a direction 3-4 times before he responds and in many cases, he still does his own thing! He constantly draws Scooby Doo characters all over his books, desk and papers and will get mad when he is corrected. I would love some ideas about helping him get his work done.

  • Summary

    Many students with Autism Spectrum Disorder have highly developed special interests for example, Scooby Doo, Survivor or Neil Armstrong. The use of a Power Card is a motivating strategy that teachers and parents can use to help their child to improve their behavior and/or respond more appropriately in social situations. The strategy helps the student focus on the new rules or expectations because they are particularly interested in how their favorite character or characters might be doing the same. The technique consists of a short story to explain the expectations or social rules and a small card which summarizes how the person using the card can use the same strategy.

  • Definition

    A Power Card is a strategy developed by Elisa Gagnon (2001) that utilizes a child’s special interest, favorite character or celebrity to help them understand expectations, clarify choices, teach consequences for behavior or use more appropriate social responses.

  • Quick Facts

    • Child's Age: 6-10, 11-13, 14-17, 18+
    • Planning Effort: Moderate
    • Difficulty Level: Moderate
  • Pre-requisites

    knowledge of student’s special interest

  • Process

    1. Identify the special interest of your child, for example: Scooby-Doo.

    2. Write a brief script about the situation being addressed which includes the child’s special interest. Use pictures along with text.

    3. Develop the “Power Card” by using an index card (or similarly sized paper) which includes a small picture of the special interest and the steps the student must take to improve their behavior, solve a problem or respond more appropriately. This small card is created from the script and can be carried by the student, posted in his locker or put on his desk.

    4. If your student is a non-reader or a struggling reader, increase the use of pictures to support the text. In some cases, you may only want to use the pictures.

    5. Teach the use of the strategy to your student. Readers can read the script themselves followed by additional teacher/parent explanation. For non-readers, the adult can read the script while prompting the child to attend to the pictures.

    6. Remember to reinforce the student for using the power card thereby demonstrating the targeted behavior

  • Documents and Related Resources

    amazon.com (website link to book)


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