How to teach possessive pronouns (hint—take your clients perspective!)

Possessive pronouns can be difficult for our young clients who are struggling to learn the rules of language. Many times, this centers around being able to take perspective (which can be especially challenging for students diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder).

I have found the most reinforcing way to teach these pronouns is during a game or turn-taking task (any one is fine!).

Step 1: Pick a game that inherently has turns in it (you really can’t get this step wrong)

Step 2:  Remember that you will only model the language your client should say.

Ask your client (let’s call her Eva)—“Eva--who should go first?”  Of course, she will exclaim…me!!! To which you will respond—"Yes—Eva—you say it’s MY turn” while simultaneously grabbing her hand and prompting her to tap her palm on her chest.

Step 3:  Eva takes her turn then wait.

See if Eva tells you to take your turn—most likely she won’t and that is why you are reading this.  Then, take Eva’s hand, have her point to you and say “Eva—you say it’s YOUR turn”.  The point is to always take Eva’s point of view and verbalize what Eva would say.  If after Eva went you said “It’s my turn”—Eva would be utterly confused—how could “my” mean me and her?

Step 4:  When Eva is ready—introduce a boy and girl character to play the game also—they will be “his” and “her” respectively.

Act out each character taking a turn and do the same thing you did in steps 2 & 3—just change your pronoun.  For example, when it is the boy characters turn, take Eva’s hand, point to the boy and say, “Eva—now say—it’s HIS turn”.