6:1:1 6th Grade Autism - PLEASE HELP!

Discussion in 'Special Education' started by kmd298, Sep 1, 2010.

  1. kmd298

    kmd298 New Member

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    Sep 1, 2010

    Hi All,

    I was just hired for my first year teaching in NYC's District 75 (Special Education Schools). I was initially told I would be teaching high school students with multiple disabilities, mainly focusing on vocational skills. Knowing this, I have spent weeks preparing materials, researching, etc. I was told yesterday that I would instead now be teaching 6th grade 6:1:1 kids with autism. School starts one week from today and I have absolutely no materials, and no idea what I'm doing. Additionally, IEPs wont be available until Tuesday! If anyone out there has any experience with this grade/population, PLEASE post anything you think could be helpful, especially in the beginning of the year! First day ideas/activities? Class rules? Anything would be SO helpful!! Thank you!!

    Kate
     
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  3. mom2mikey

    mom2mikey Cohort

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    Sep 1, 2010

    Look for posts from teachersk on this board. She has posted some really great outlines of things that she does in her autism room.
     
  4. teacher12345

    teacher12345 Cohort

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    Sep 1, 2010

    boardmaker offers a 30 day free trial on Mayer Johnson's website and check out boardmakershare.com.
    I second Mom2Mikey, read teachersk's posts :)
     
  5. teachersk

    teachersk Connoisseur

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    Sep 1, 2010

    Welcome to the wonderful world of Middle School Autism!

    It's a great place. :cool:

    I will send you an e-mail or PM with some files that might help you get started. I'll give you a few pointers here, just in case they might help anyone else out.

    Schedule/Routine/Structure
    The first thing you will want to do is come up with a daily routine. It's important to allow for flexibility, but still follow a routine. Does this make sense? For example, I have a period called "Work with Teacher." I call it this because sometimes we do math, sometimes we do language arts, and sometimes we do both (or none!) But, if you call it Language Arts and it's a cooking day, the kids go nuts :)dizzy:). So, it works well to have general chunks of time that allow for different things to be squished in there. Another option is to call it "Work" time, and to have a separate schedule they refer to (on a daily basis, that changes if you need it to) that details what "work" is that day.

    Structure is so important. I am sure you saw from my pictures in some of my other posts that my room is like a boot camp for autism. They know exactly where things belong because everything is labeled. They know where to sit because there is colored tape marking their areas. Their desks have their names on them. Some kids even have squares on the floor as to how far they can scoot their chairs out. (Boot camp, I tell you). IN my previous classroom, I had a kid who would always roll his pencil around the table. I made a tape rectangle on the desk where he was to place his pencil when it was not in his hand. Structure structure structure. It helps them sooo much. I am of the mindset that I want to prepare them as much as possible for the future, and I don't mind providing supports. I'll quote TEACCH here:
    "We should not strive to change the child with autism to fit the learning environment; rather we need to change the learning environment to fit the learning characteristics of the child."
    (TEACCH)
    So, I've alwaysbeen big on providing the supports that the kids need to be the most successful. Of course I fade things as they are more independent, but if a kid needs something and I can't fade it, I am fine with that. It's not like we don't have all of our own little visual supports in life,right? The sticky note reminding us of the groceries, the daily agenda, the calendar, etc. So, at this age, if it helps them make progress and feel secure in school, go for it.

    Visuals
    I think having a daily schedule in the front of the room that details the events of the day is key. Also, each kid should have their own visual schedule. Some kids may need pictures and words, some kids may be able to read without the pictures. I find that even when kids can read, they benefit from the pictures so in the heat of the moment they really don't have to think, they can just look. I use a system where the kids check their schedules and match them to the match board in the location of the room that the activity takes place. For all out of classroom activities, the match boards are on the door. In previous settings (not public middle school like I am in now...) - I would put the match boards in the actual locations (gymnasium, cafeteria, etc.) - but those would last about 10 minutes if I put them up, so that's why we modified with the door.

    The match board is something that some kids need to work up to. The schedules are so important for the kids as they know what to do even when I am not in the room. The room runs (they tell me this...) like a "Well oiled machine." I can leave right before a transition, and as they finish up what they're doing - someone will say (aide or adult) - "Check your schedule." Which means the kids will do what is next, put their belongings away, transition to the next area without prompting etc. I have a whole forward chain program that I use to teach kids the schedule following system... it starts with being able to match the cards to the match boards. Then we move on to being able to pull the TOP icon off of their schedules... then we move to transitioning to the right part of the room, etc. I break it into tiny pieces and I teach the kids that way. It's fun to see how much they "get" it once they are taught.

    Reinforcement
    My kids are HIGHLY motivated by edible reinforcement. This is commonly the case in autism classrooms. Some parents are NOT okay with this, so it is definitely something you want to get OKed by your parents. You also usually have to get some sort of waiver to go against your district nutrition policy. You said you're in the special ed district, so they may already have their own waiver. In my case, it is included in all of my kids IEPs that they will be delivered edible reinforcement as a part of the classroom behavioral management system. My kids use token boards. I laminated cardstock cards with circles on them. different kids have different requirements. Some kids are on a schedule of receiving 1 token and then exchanging that token for reinforcement. Others can go up to 5. Some kids get 5 tokens and turn them in for a nickel (tokens = pennies with velcro on the back). They get two nickels and they can trade for a dime, etc. It's awesome for teaching money exchange, understanding of different quantities, etc. At first they were baffled as to why they should be excited to get ONE nickel in exchange for FIVE pennies. Whoever made that a good idea! Then they thought it was more awesome when I said they get to earn TWENTY TOKENS to get their treat! Haha. I made a big deal, "Ohhhh ____ has been showing me SUCH quiet hands and working like SUCH a hard worker, HE gets to move up to 20 tokens!!! WOoooo!" Then they'd all cheer and clap their hands. (They never figured out that meant you have to wait longer to get your treat... lol). But, it works very well for us. Our behaviors are ALL in check. The kids have their moments (they have autism!!) but for the most part the classroom is fairly calm and the kids know exactly what the expectations are. My lower kids earn treats a lot more frequently than my higher kids. I also offer social/tangible treats (sensory room, swing, puzzles, play doh, ipod, etc.) That works well for kids who aren't allowed to have the edible treats.

    Vocational Skills
    At the middle school age, especially in an autism class, the kids should definitely be exposed to a lot of pre-vocational behaviors/skills. This is a time where they can really be shaped into great little hard workers. The BIGGEST THING at this point, is for the kids to be self sufficient. To be able to sit and complete work without prompting for increasing amounts of time. I follow the Structured Teaching Model (TEACCH) method of using work systems, charts, clipboards, and checklists for the kids to complete independent tasks. You can check out some previous threads about "Match Cards" which are great for building independence and are great for using across ability levels (work for high high and low low!) We also clean our own classroom daily. (The janitors still come because I don't want to trust our cleaning skills to my middle schoolers with autism....) but it's great practice for us. We have the moppy bucket thing, we have tons of cleaning supplies (I'm about to post a pic of the latest shipment that arrived!) and the kids learn to wear gloves, put the chairs up, etc. Great skills for the future. Also great for them to kind of take charge of their own work areas, recognize when something needs cleaned (they put in a "work order" if they find a scuff on the floor, etc. and at the end of the day we fill all of the work orders.)

    We also do deliveries for the school supply closet. People who have orders that come in go to the lady who does all of our supplies. She marks it with the teachers name and room number. We pick up the packages and use a cart to deliver them around the school building. One of my kids swears day and night that he's going to work for UPS. More power to him! He's in charge when we do deliveries. My higher kids learn to look at the map, find the right classroom, read the teacher's name, match it to the door to make sure we're in the right spot, and my lower kids take it off the cart and march in to give it to the teacher, use a device or switch to say "Here's your order! Have a nice day!" etc. Lots of opportunities for differentiation and such a great skill.

    That's all I can think of for now... but that should get you thinking!
     
  6. kmd298

    kmd298 New Member

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    Sep 2, 2010

    Amazing! Thank you so much! I sent you an e-mail so anythign else you have you can post here directly or email me!! So helpful!!
     
  7. mel3716

    mel3716 New Member

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    Feb 19, 2011

    This post was extremely helpful! I have been teaching in a mild/moderate high school setting for three years. My coordinator came to me recently and asked if I would be interested in opening up an MD unit at the high school and I said that I would love it. This definitely came me some great ideas. Thanks!
     

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