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following directions

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Following directions is a part of everyday life for children and adults. Social interaction, appropriate behaviour and academic success all depend on our ability to understand and follow verbal instructions. This relies on a sound understanding of basic concepts and our ability to process and store auditory information.

Basic concepts include:

  • Colours – red, yellow, blue, etc.
  • Directions – over, through etc.
  • Quantities – most, some, etc.
  • Sequences – first, next, last, etc.
  • Shapes – square, round, etc.
  • Size – biggest, small, etc.
  • Emotions – angry, happy, etc.
  • Characteristics – dirty, clean, etc.
  • Textures – soft, rough, etc.
  • Time – early, late, etc.
  • Positions – behind, above, between, etc.

Basic Directions:

Following basic directions starts with a simple, one-step instruction using one concept, for example “Point to the car.” The difficulty increases as more concepts are added to the instruction, such as colour (“Point to the blue car.”), size (“Point to the little car.”), action (“Point to the car that is driving.”), or location (“Point to the car that is under the bed.”). Later on, we combine the concepts (“Point to the large, green car that is driving under the bed.”).

Multi-Step and Sequential Directions:

Multi-step directions require us to follow two or more instructions at a time (“Put the pink book in the box and close the window.”). Sequential direction tasks involve following instructions in a specific order (“Put the pencils in the basket, push your chair under the table, and sit on the carpet.”).

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