Power Cards

Another pioneer in the world of social skill development is Elisa Gagnon, who has written about another type of narrative called Power Cards. A Power Card is a brief scenario or character sketch describing how the hero solves the problem. The Power Card then recaps how the person with ASD can use the same strategy to solve a similar problem.

Happy group of kids

I am often asked, “How is a Power Card different from a Social Story?” While there are many similarities, I would describe their differences by saying that a Power Card is usually very brief, and always incorporates a student’s interest within the narrative.

As an example, this power card helps a student to transition from a highly preferred activity to a less preferred activity, using one of his favorite characters, Curious George.

  • When it is time to stop flying a kite, Curious George will try to:
    1. Stop and say “That’s O.K.”
    2. Ask for one more minute
    3. Ask for two more minutes
  • Curious George loves to fly a kite. Sometimes, he has to stop flying a kite and do some work. Curious George wants to keep flying his kite, but he knows that he will have another chance to fly his kite later.
  • I will try to be like Curious George and stop working on the computer when it is time to do something else. The Power Card may be decorated with illustrations of the favorite character or any other positive feature, such as the student performing the desired behavior[s]. As with most strategies, review the Power Card during calm times so that it can be effective when more stressful times occur.

For another student at the Middle School level, this Power Card proved highly successful after doing some research online about pirates and their code:

Life of a Pirate

  • Pirates are seen as outcasts, lawlessly sailing seas. Yet, research shows pirates made a code, rules, laws, or articles. These guidelines are shown in pirate films such as Pirates of the Caribbean. Let’s look at some of the articles of their code.
  1. ARTICLE 1 – None shall strike another on board the ship.
  2. ARTICLE 2 – Each man shall take care of his mate with good deeds and words.
  3. ARTICLE 3 – Each man will do his share of work so that the ship can stay on course.

by: Lisa Rogers

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