My Niece Gaby

For a few years now my niece Gaby has been helping me with The Trip Clip. Gaby has Autism, but it hasn’t stopped her from being able to a do a wide variety of tasks for The Trip Clip, including but not limited to order fulfillment, making magnets, testing The Trip Clip website, and entering sales into Quickbooks.

Gaby has 2 other part-time jobs too. She works at Bridge Disability Ministries and at Star Protection Agency. At these jobs she does scanning, shredding, filing, data entry, and prepares marketing materials.

Gaby has a background in computer work, data entry, and organizational tasks. During her high school years in the Midwest, she volunteered at local school and public libraries where she shelved books, prepared inter library transfers, and did inventory and data entry. Later she did data entry for the local city government as well. Her autism helps her be detail-oriented and focused, and she brings her commitment to excellence and efficiency, along with her quirky sense of humor, to The Trip Clip.

Because The Trip Clip has been a great tool for kids with special needs like Gaby, I thought it would be fun to share how Gaby, who heavily used visual supports like those offered by The Trip Clip when she was at school, has grown into an adult with 3 jobs and lots of great skills. Gaby responded well to visual supports that helped with schedule independence, motivation, stress relief, behavioral issues, and academic instruction.

Every person with autism is unique. Here are some of the special things about Gaby that may or not be true of others with Autism. She has a passion for all things Disney and Thomas. She reads and follows visual directions incredibly well (LEGO kits and puzzles are favorite activities for her). Verbal communication is hard for her, both speaking and comprehending language. Verbal instructions stress her out, she avoids speaking if she can, and if she does speak, it’s often in echolalia. She will often recite lines from one of her many memorized movies or TV shows, and it can take some work on the part of the listener to realize that the reason she’s reciting the campfire scene from Frosty the Snowman is because she’s cold and needs a sweatshirt!

One of the keys to working with Gaby has been to meet her where she is. I’ve found that she can do way more than you might think if you give her written instructions instead of verbal instructions. I’ve embraced her love of LEGO kits and have learned to write detailed, step by step instructions for her, and then I hand them to her silently so as to avoid stressing her out. She can read them and learn the new task at her own pace. And when she’s working, I’ve learned to keep one ear open for subtle sounds that indicate she has run into a problem, since initiating a conversation and verbally asking for help is super hard for her.

Gaby really likes working on The Trip Clip. The tasks are varied and often interesting, though she also has a seemingly endless ability to do repetitive tasks and continue to do them carefully from beginning to end. Occasionally I hit on something that she can’t do, but mostly I’m still finding that the set of things she can do for me is growing. It’s fun for both of us to keep challenging her.

I’m going to post here about tasks Gaby does for The Trip Clip to showcase how much this individual with Autism can do, and just to document all the kinds of things Gaby and I have been doing together on The Trip Clip!

Website Testing – Jan 2023

Having Gaby help test my website is one of the more complicated things we’ve done together. Her thoroughness and willingness to do the same task again and again have worked well. I’ve learned that if I provide her with a written test plan, and clear photos of what it should look like, and occasionally photos of what errors might look like, she can check a lot of things for me. Gaby is very comfortable filling out spreadsheets, so I usually set up a blank one for her with columns indicating all the things she should check, and she will fill out the whole spreadsheet with data about what is and is not right on each page. Her limitation is in her ability to think creatively or outside the box, and in making judgment calls, so she won’t catch everything that others might notice. She’s surprised me, though, with what she can do in this area, and I plan to keep pushing at the boundaries of how much and what kind of testing she can do for me.

Christmas Cards – Dec 15, 2022

One of the great benefits of having my niece work for me is it’s ok if I sometimes have her help me with personal tasks. Some years I’ve had Gaby help me with my Christmas Cards! She does a lot of mailer preparation at one of her other jobs, so this task was right up her alley. Her tasks were: stamp on our return address, put on a postage stamp, fold the card, put in a fancy vellum insert, and put the card in the envelope.

As always I gave Gaby written instructions for what to do, and in this case gave her examples of the folded card, and an envelope with the the stamp and return address on it already so she’d be sure to know what it should look like, and that was all she needed. She completed the entire task without exchanging any words with me at all – an ideal day in Gaby’s mind!

Football BINGO – Nov 28, 2022

Gaby recently created sports-themed BINGO printables for teachers. I’ve just posted one of them, Football BINGO, on Teachers Pay Teachers. This PDF includes 30 unique BINGO boards with football-related pictures, numbers, and letters on each board and a set of calling cards.

Gaby made these BINGO boards and calling cards using the Custom List and the BINGO activity on The Trip Clip website. You can read more about how she did this here. Gaby’s work here was especially good because she noticed a mistake I made and helped me fix it. I gave her a set of images to use to create the calling cards for these bingo boards, and Gaby noticed that the boards included letters and numbers, but the calling cards did not. I had forgotten I automatically put letters and numbers on almost all of the bingo boards that are automatically generated by The Trip Clip. I fixed her instructions to have her create the correct calling cards once she pointed out my mistake, and now the teachers will be sure to have the full set they need thanks to Gaby!

Order Fulfillment – Nov 14, 2022

Gaby does almost all of my order fulfillment, so if you have ordered any physical goods from The Trip Clip, it was probably assembled by Gaby! Although every order is slightly different, the process for packaging up a clipboard, or printing and preparing a magnet bundle and then printing a shipping label, is very similar each time it’s done. That makes this an excellent task for Gaby. She’s been doing my order fulfillment for years now, which means I don’t have to (yay!) and also means I can fulfill orders for my customers even when I’m on vacation. Gaby also likes this task because it’s familiar now that she’s done it hundreds of times, and yet it’s slightly different each time she does it so it doesn’t get boring. You can read more here about how I set Gaby up to do order fulfillment independently.

Spelling BINGO – Oct 31, 2022

Gaby created spelling BINGO bundles for 1st – 5th grade. You can make your own spelling BINGO games using any spelling list you want. Parents can use the list a teacher provided to make a BINGO game to help their kids practice their words each week. Teachers can use their own spelling list to create BINGO boards for their whole class.

If you don’t want to take the time to create these boards yourself, Gaby made spelling bingo packs for each grade that I sell on Teachers Pay Teachers.

Sports Activity Books – Oct 19, 2022

This past summer I had Gaby create a set of sports activity books for teachers and parents to use with their kids. Parents who have sports-loving kids can use these activities when watching sports at home, when going to a game, and at siblings’ sporting events. Teachers can use them as free time activities in the classroom, or assign them as extra credit packets. Kids won’t even know they’re learning with these engaging sports themed activities.

Making these books was an interesting task for Gaby to do. She used The Trip Clip website and customized each of the 6 activities using my instructions and then added the individual activities to the Print Queue. That resulted in a PDF she saved and that I offer to my customers for free so they can try out these activities for themselves. Click through to read more about how Gaby created these sports activity books.

Themed Coloring Books – Oct 11, 2022

Gaby used the Coloring Pages activity to make a sports-themed coloring book. I had her add each sports-related coloring image to the Print Queue one by one, without adding any duplicates, and then save the PDF so I could post it on Teachers Pay Teachers to use with their students. This task was too simple for Gaby, but she rarely complains even when her task is boring! She’s also very good at remembering which images she’s already added and never adds duplicates even if the image appears twice in the list of clipart, so her work was always great!

Today I’m publishing the sports-themed coloring book she made, and I previously published a Halloween coloring book Gaby made a while back. I had her create a Thanksgiving coloring book and Christmas coloring book too, along with a number of other holiday coloring books, and an animal coloring book. I will eventually get all of them published! You can watch my social media accounts to see when I publish them.

Making Magnet Packs – Oct 2, 2022

Last week Gaby made after school magnet packs for me. This is a task that plays to her strengths – I think for her it feels a little like assembling a LEGO kit because she has a set of instructions to follow and a template to follow to put the magnets into batches of 20. It’s also fortunately super helpful to me, since I would not do it myself if I didn’t have Gaby to help me! This job is very straightforward. Gaby prints out a set of pictures, affixes the sheets to adhesive magnet paper, cuts apart the individual magnets, sorts them according to the template, and then packages them up in batches of 20 in a small plastic envelope that she puts a label on.

Gaby is really good at all of these tasks because she’s always careful and precise and the repetition seems to feel comfortable to her rather than boring. I sell 6 different magnet packs, so Gaby helps me keep track of when supplies of any of them are getting low, and when they are, she assembles a new set of magnets so that they are ready to grab and pop into a shipment to customers who purchase them.

Alphabet BINGO – Sept 21, 2022

Gaby recently made 3 sets of Alphabet BINGO boards that I will sell on Teachers Pay Teachers. I wrote instructions telling her how to use The Trip Clip website to generate a random board with all capital letters, which she then added to the Print Queue. Then I had her repeat the steps 29 more times until she had 30 unique boards in her queue. I also wrote instructions for how she could use the Custom List activity to make calling cards for the bingo boards and she added those to the Print Queue as well. She saved the resulting PDF and emailed it to me. She then did the same steps all the way through to make 30 bingo boards of lower case letters, and then again to create bingo boards that have a mix of upper and lower case letters.

This task was a complete success. Gaby used the instructions I’d written and in a little over an hour she had created 3 new packets that I can now sell on Teachers Pay Teachers!