Activities for studens with profound disabilities

Discussion in 'Special Education' started by EDteacher, Oct 4, 2012.

  1. EDteacher

    EDteacher Rookie

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    Oct 4, 2012

    I began teaching this week as an intervention specialists for a medically fragile unit. I have had experiences with students with severe multiple disabilities, but never students this profound. I am struggling with things to do. I am suppose to be doing things using the grade level standards. All of my students are in wheel chairs, all are nonverbal and all have very low cognitivie abilities. All but two of my students are visually impaired and two students are tube fed. Only one students is able to use her hands without any assistance (sometimes). I am at a loss for ideas to teach them the standards. I know that the past four teacher only did crafts with them, but basically that just made the students mad as well as the parents because they are too old for that. A lot of the activities are forced too because half of the students tense up or flail their arms. In addition, the teacher basically did all the crafts while holding the student's hand. I also use switches all day long for "calendar activities", however I am holding their hand and placing it on the switch and pushing it because they are not capable of doing so. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
     
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  3. deefreddy

    deefreddy Companion

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    Oct 4, 2012

    It sounds as though you need to concentrate on some prerequisite skills before you can address any standards. Each student, no matter their physical or cognitive ability, needs some way to communicate a choice, either by eye gaze, switch, verbally, etc. It sounds like you should get your AT specialist involved in your IEP teams. If they are not able to activate a switch, then a different switch needs to be implemented, or a different system needs to be found so they can respond independently. Maybe even some of your students should have a cause and effect goal.

    Eventually, when the student has a response system, you can implement goals based on standards.
     
  4. bros

    bros Phenom

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    Oct 5, 2012

    So it sounds like the students would best learn verbally, due to the visual and physical issues the students posses.

    I second the idea of getting an AT eval done to see what communication methods are viable.
     
  5. EDteacher

    EDteacher Rookie

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    Oct 17, 2012

    I use the switches, but it is all hand-over-hand because they cannot access them without assistance. A lot of my students are very resistant and will pull away and not want to be touched. I agree about focusing on prerequisite skills and doing everything "functional", but now the state wants us to address grade level standards because they feel that no matter how profound the disability is the student should not be limited. I believe they fail to take into consideration my population of students who are severely profound so that is why I'm having a hard time. I use switches where they can activate fans, lights, hear music or hear a part of a story or a daily routine. I use sensory bins, sensory cards. I'm not sure what AT stands for (there are a ton of different abbreviations), but the students get speech, vision, mobility, physical therapy and occupational therapy. I have talked with all the therapist mentioned and the they tell me I just have to do everything hand-over-hand and use switches. I make words out of playdough and have the students that are visually impaired feel the letters, but that is a struggle also because they begin flailing their arms aggressively. I know I'm rambling lol I am just trying to find someone who has had a class like mine. I'm in a school for the developmentally delayed and no one has ever had a class like mine and therefore when I ask for ideas they have none.
     
  6. karebear76

    karebear76 Habitué

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    Oct 17, 2012

    No suggestions, except I think that AT = Assistive Technology. I hope you are able to find some answers soon.

    Have you been able to find anything that is rewarding to the students? If there is a positive response to any particular stimulus, I would begin there with a simple switch. Activate switch, earn coveted thing. Maybe that would help them generalize the purpose of the switch eventually.
     
  7. anewstart101

    anewstart101 Cohort

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    Oct 17, 2012

    I currently teach in a SH program with 34 kids. I am not the medically fragile teacher. We have 10 students in wheel chairs with severe profound disabilities. We have some students with eye gaze. Others who are non-responsive.

    I have taught medically fragile in a hospital with kids on ventilators. I read age appropriate books. I found out what the parents thought the kids liked -- and used interest. One of my students before he was very sick use to play soccer. He was in a comatose state when I taught him. I showed him pictures of jerseys and talked about countries.

    I used videos and books on computers to play for students. The ipad is a great resource. I used switches and there are toys operated by switches. I would let students hold things. I did things with music. I played a harmonica.

    I had a friend who taught a similar class. A lot of things are hand over hand she used reading milestones for students.

    I like a lot of the videos from havefunteaching -- do youtube search.

    They do a lot of preschool level stuff but more age appropriate if that is possible.
     
  8. EDteacher

    EDteacher Rookie

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    Oct 28, 2012

    Thanks for the comment! I definitely do most of the stuff you mentioned so it makes me feel better knowing I am not the only one. I just feel very ineffective at times. It is really a battle within myself. I will definitely take a look at those videos!
     
  9. EDteacher

    EDteacher Rookie

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    Oct 28, 2012

    My students do not really respond to anything. Once in a while I will get a couple smiles which is the only thing that makes me feel I'm doing something right. They all resist hand-over-hand. Everytime I try to do it I either get whacked or they begin to scream. The only thing I can really get them to do is hit a switch and that is a struggle for most as well. I do read to them, sing, play music for them and I made sensory cards with different textures on them that I have them feel.

    I only have one student who could benefit from using rewards and the only thing she likes is to get the back of her neck scratched and getting lots of verbal praise. So I work more intensely with her trying to get her to complete activities because she can do them she just refuses.
     
  10. NickiMacaroni

    NickiMacaroni Rookie

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    Oct 31, 2012

    Have you heard of Early Literacy Skill Builders? If you can get ahold of this program, it is a reading program that is planned so that children with all sorts of disabilities can use it... even if the only motion they have is to shift their eyes.
    Also, I subbed in a program with kids with profound disabilities. A lot of what the teacher did was meant particularly to stimulate them. For instance, they'd cook a recipe together. The kids that were able to would use their hands or switches to operate the mixer, stir, etc. Then the kids who were medically able to would get to taste the food. Those who could not eat on their own would just smell it. Listening to different types of music, and moving to the music in whatever ways are possible, is also very stimulating.
    Really just do whatever you can. They may literally never be able to meet anything close to their grade level standards, but they should definitely still be exposed to whatever experiences are possible.
    (I can understand them resisting hand-over-hand... I wouldn't like people grabbing my hands and forcing me to do crafts, either! However, they might enjoy the chance to put a little paint on their fingers, or on a paint brush if they can hold one, and create their own art. You can get paint brushes with chubby, adapted handles for kids whose fingers can't grasp a tiny handle.)
    Good luck!
     
  11. inhisgrip20

    inhisgrip20 Comrade

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    Jan 27, 2013

    EDTeacher,

    I have taught students with profound multiple disabilities. I teach elementary age students. I get the impression your students may be a little older. Do you have a specific curriculum you are required to follow or are you free to choose?

    For my students, I have a theme for the month. My activities are based around the general theme. For example, this month our theme is Recycling. Our daily schedule contains various activities, including:

    Circle time: we go over name recognition, days of the week, colors, counting, etc. I have music for everything. I also play a "recycling video" that reviews the concept of recycling during this time. Students use simple switches (like a Big Mac) to answer simple questions or a Step-By-Step to count or say the Days of the Week. Yes, it is hand over hand, but they are still participating and hearing the information. I encourage as much independence as possible.

    Individual table work (basic skills): I have work boxes that students rotate daily (the work boxes address simple pre-academic skills). For the most part they are hand over hand but I talk the students through each step of the process and give them as many choices as I can (i.e. Do you want to do this box first or this box? Do you want to use the red crayon or green crayon? Do you want to count 4 dinosaurs or 6 dinosaurs, etc.) Some of my students answer by touching their choice, AAC device, eye gaze, or eye blink.

    Group math games: We play simple math games that usually center around our theme of the month. For example: Roll and Stamp Recyclables - students roll a large dice and stamp the corresponding number of recycling items on their card. First person to cover all of their recyclables, wins! Yes, it's hand over hand for some of my students.

    Story time, art activity, gross motor skills, etc. All of these are hand over hand for the most part, but we work on reaching, grasping, releasing objects, crossing midline, etc. And communication is ALWAYS a priority. We give as many choices as possible so that students can take ownership in their work.

    I hope this helps. If you have any specific questions, I'll be happy to help. I have been teaching this group of students for 8 years.
     
  12. spedalong

    spedalong Rookie

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    Apr 24, 2015

    This is an old post, but I thought I would weigh in considering that the demands of the bureaucracy governing education have certainly not diminished or have become more reasonable.
    Many of the children I have taught with severe disabilities appear to have a disconnection between their minds and their hands--sort of like a faulty electrical connection. Touching something may be punishing for them. Some have pressed my hands on an object in an attempt to interact with it. Some have been able to complete a task with their hands if I just lightly touch them at the elbow. There is the possibility that others feel no sensation in their hands whatsoever. I have used switches of the jellybean variety that are mounted on holders that extend so that they can depress them with their cheeks with success. There are lots of uses these switches can have with employing recorded responses or turning on music, toys, or twinkling lights that even the visually impaired with limited sight can enjoy.
    Now how do we keep up with those grade level standards when the child is obviously lacking the development to perform them? Let's say the child is expected to be able to recognize letters, but he is blind and is not able to use his hands well enough to discriminate Braille. Going back to the child using switches, I would cut out very large Braille letters from something highly tactile and attach them to the switch buttons. One could be M for Mozart or V for Van Halen and the switches would engage the recorded music of his choice. His responses in choosing the letter that corresponds to the music of his liking could be written up without mentioning the modifications necessary in having him make the discrimination between the letters. It makes no sense to have to work around this, but this is the shape of education today. The primary focus of what goes on in the classroom should always be in educating this kind of student in something he can do.
     
  13. Ggraves

    Ggraves Guest

    Feb 3, 2016

    I am an art therapist and an art educator who works in a childrens hospital. They majority of mystudents are severe. As you described, wheel chairs, non-verbal, visually impaired, sometimes non-functioning limbs, etc. So what do you do to create art with these students? Well there have been several good suggestions so far. First of all your students should have IEPs or 504s or some written guideline per student to accomidate their disabilities. What are those accomidations? Are they adequate for that student? Perhaps you should be present at the IEP meetings to make sure the team knows exactly what the level of achievement for that student is.
    AT is assisted technology. There is a lot more available thaan just a switch. Eye gaze devices, switches that attach to their chairs and can be activated by parts of their bodies, other than their hands (you don't have to touch their hands). The bestway to make a student gets the AT that is right for them is to go to the IEP meetings.
    Nowwhat to actually do with the students? I tie much of any activity I do in with what ever they are learning in the classroom. What the kids studied Charles Dickens we, as a class, made a diaram of a 19th century English house. The students helped by making desicions about material choice, color choice, etc. They experience the activity through feeling the material, or hearing my thorough description, maybe "smelling" a color to help make a choice. We have to help them access from where they are NOW and help them move forward.
    Scenty markers, tactile art materials, AT, switch operated devices (like a spin and paint), are all good tools to use. We make a lot of absract art, focusing mostly on choices. Texture is important: different fabrics, puffy paint, etc.
    Good luck.
     

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