The "Power" of Power Cards

Parents and caregivers! Do you ever wish you could help bridge the gap between home and school expectations? Do you want a simpler way to relay directions without saying the same thing over and over again? There’s a neat tool that can help. They are called Power Cards and they are powerful!
Power cards are a visual strategy used to help promote desired behaviors. They are similar to social stories in that they give the individual using them reminders of tools to help them succeed in a given a situation. They are also simply written in a story format that is relatable and specific to the individual.  
Power cards can be used in the home, school or community, for any social or academic type situation.  The key is to choose a behavior you either want to see more of (a behavior to increase) or something you want to see less of (a behavior to decrease); while also connecting it to a highly motivating topic for your child.  By using their special interest, it will help motivate them to read/listen to the story and follow the expectations in the scenario (Gagnon, 2001). Another important aspect of the Power Card is accountability.  After reading the script, ask your child to repeat back the steps necessary to complete the task.  When they start engaging in the task, note the positive behaviors you are observing (e.g. “Wow, you are walking with your hands by your side and using a quiet voice in the library, just like Superman does!”) After the task is completed, immediately refer back to the power card.  This can be considered a “Check in” time.

Materials needed: 
Computer, printer (although not necessary) you can also draw/write the story by hand. Whatever modality works best for you! **Consider making a few extra copies of the script and the power card..just in case they fall behind the couch, or get washed in the laundry...

Steps to complete:
  1. Select a behavior you want to see increased or decreased.
  2. Choose a special interest topic that your child is motivated by.
  3. Write/type a brief scenario about the character engaging in the positive behavior for change and why it is important.
  4. Include a brief 3-5 step strategy outlining what the character did to problem solve. *Remember to include how they experienced success by using this strategy.
  5. The Power Card (about the size of a baseball trading card) this includes a picture of the topic of interest, and a solution to the situation given in 3-5 steps. (This card is created by the script and can be carried by the child)
  6. A brief note of encouragement for the child to engage in the positive behavior. (Gagnon, 2001)
1. Behavior for change- Staying seated at the dinner table
2. Topic of interest- Doc McStuffin’s 
3. Scenario (script):
Doc McStuffin’s loves eating dinner with her family. At the table she stays seated and eats her food slowly. She doesn’t get up from her seat until everyone is finished eating. If she finishes her food early, she continues to stay at the table and waits for family to be finished. While she is waiting she likes to talk to them about her school day. When everyone is finished, Doc McStuffin’s parents say she can be excused. 
4. Power Card
The front of the card would have a picture of Doc McStuffin’s. On the back would be the steps she needs to take in order to stay seated at the dinner table.

Staying at the dinner table looks like:
1. Staying seated
2. Eating food slowly
3. Waiting until everyone is finished

​The end goal is for your child to independently engage in the task without the use of the script or visual. You may find that the Power Card is not needed as often as your child grows in their independence with the task 
Keep in mind to share the progress made with the school your child attends. If you are seeing success at home with a certain task, it’s time to start generalizing it to the school setting!
For more information click the link provided:

Gagnon, E. (2001). Power cards: Using special interests to motivate children and youth with Asperger syndrome and autism. Shawnee Mission, KS: Autism Asperger Publishing
Keeling, K., Smith, B., Gagnon, E., Simpson, R., (2003). Using the power card strategy to teach sportsmanship skills to a child with autism. Journal of Focus on Autism and other Developmental Disorders. 18 (2): 105-111.

Social Story: (To be read before a transition)

Minnie mouse always walks with a safe body in the hallway at school. Walking safe, means she is following school rules. When Minnie is walking safe it makes her feel happy! (*Remember to ask student to repeat what safe should look like)
Walking safe looks like:
  1. Walking feet
  2. Hands by your sides
  3. Eyes facing forward
  4. Voices off
  Power card: (To be carried during transitions. After arriving at her destination ask stuent to repeat how she walked in the hallway.) *This will need some prompting.
Walking safe looks like:
  1. Walking feet
  2. Hands by your sides
  3. Eyes facing forward
  4. Voices off

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