Autism: Plz help me understand

Discussion in 'Special Education' started by Bored of Ed, Nov 22, 2007.

  1. Bored of Ed

    Bored of Ed Enthusiast

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    Nov 22, 2007

    To preface, I have no background in Autism besides a little overview about the disorder in a couple of undergrad classes. LD is more my department.

    So I have a student whose diagnosis is on the spectrum. He's 11 years old (I think; might be 12 now). I assume he's considered pretty high-functioning, because he does talk and even initiates communication (with adults; I haven't seen it happen with peers).

    I have no idea how to work with him to extend his skills and behavior. As of now, I treat him basically like all the other kids, which doesn't do much for him.

    To give you some point of reference, here are some things I'd like to work on:
    > Getting started. He takes forever and a zillion reminders/redirections to get on task. Staying on task is another problem.
    > Spacing in. I know a spacey look is part of autism, but is there something I can do at those times to pull him back into my class?
    > Interacting with other kids. Is this beyond my range? I don't know how severe the disorder is. In any type of social situation, he just stands there and doesn't pay any attention to others.
    > Calming down. I didn't see this much until this week: Sometimes something will trigger him into a hyper giggling fit and I can't figure out how to stop it. I think it scares the other kids (not to mention me!)

    There are other things, too, but this is the overview.
    Communication could also use work, of course. It usually takes a few tries for me to get what he's saying.

    Any advice, links, etc. would be greatly appreciated!
    The catch is, I don't have time and energy at this point to read any long books or implement any whole system overhauls in my class. I do have other kids to deal with, and they're just starting to get into the groove...
     
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  3. inhisgrip20

    inhisgrip20 Comrade

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    Nov 22, 2007

    For getting started and staying on task, do you use any type of visual supports for him? Daily schedules, mini schedules, picture cues, etc. These could be easily made with boardmaker and are very successful for students with autism.

    Here is a good overview of visual supports:
    http://www.starautism.louisville.edu/images/pdf/Visual Supports.pdf

    http://www.specialed.us/autism/index2.htm
    This is a great site with lots of good tips for teaching students with Autism. Click on the big crayons at the bottom to get lots of good ideas (and picture examples too.) :)
     
  4. slickchik

    slickchik Rookie

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    Nov 24, 2007

    I'm not sure how much help I'll be....I work with autistic children in an early intervention program so they are 1-5. I'll let you know what I do and see if it help you.

    Starting and completing a task can be very difficult for people with autism. Try giving him prompts that can be faded out over time, and make sure you follow through. The more practice he gets the more likely he will not need so many prompts down the line.


    Spacing out can be a huge problem if you are trying to get through. Make sure he is engaged throughout his day. If he gets uninterested he may revert to self stimulatory behaviors that will keep him zoned out. Do you noticed specific things he does when he is "zoned" out?

    I think its important that you keep the same sort of expectations for him as the other children. I see many kids with autism who don't reach their potential because everyone thinks they are just mentally retarded and have no clue whats going on. That's baloney! The best thing you can do for him is keep your expectations high and give him the extra help he needs, if he does need it, to reach those goals.
     
  5. positiveautism

    positiveautism Comrade

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    Nov 26, 2007

    Hi, I'm new, but I hope I can help with your question.

    I agree that a schedule of things he needs to do (perhaps followed by something that he really enjoys if he completes all of his work) might be helpful. As the last item on the schedule, you could add a picture of a favorite book, game, etc. He could even be allowed to choose which item he wants to "work for." This might motivate him to stay on task.

    A visual timer might also be helpful for letting him know how much time that he has to complete an activity. Although these make some children nervous, they may be helpful for others. Here are a few links to visual timers: http://www.difflearn.com/prodinfo.asp?number=DRT 140&top=48 and http://www.superduperinc.com/F-G_Pages/ft10_ftb555.htm

    Here are a few short articles (including one that I wrote) that I also hope will be helpful.

    "Teaching Tips for Children and Adults with Autism" by Temple Grandin, Ph.D - http://www.autism.org/temple/tips.html

    Supporting Students with Autism: 10 Ideas for Inclusive Classrooms - http://www.paulakluth.com/articles/tenideas.html

    Hanging In There: Keeping Students with Autism Comfortable, Relaxed, and Focused - http://www.paulakluth.com/articles/hangingin.html

    Simple Ideas to Modify Lessons for Students with Autism - http://www.positivelyautism.com/volume2issue10/section5.html
     
  6. teachersk

    teachersk Connoisseur

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    Nov 26, 2007

    There are a lot of helpful visuals on www.do2learn.com and also www.setbc.org (click on PICTURE SET on the left).

    I find both of these sites helpful for behavior visuals.
     
  7. CanadianTeacher

    CanadianTeacher Groupie

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    Nov 27, 2007

    This is not really helpful for now, but it brought something to mind that I read. It's a fiction book that you can read for enjoyment and insight if you ever have some time. The title is: "The Incident of the Dog in the Night" or something like that. Not sure at the moment of the author, but it's about an autistic boy and how he experiences different everyday things that we take for granted. It's a good book and gives some insight into the world of autism in not so dry way. If anyone is interested, I can dig up the book and get the author's name and double check on the exact title.
     
  8. ozteach

    ozteach Comrade

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    Nov 28, 2007

    It's 'The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time' by Mark Hadden.

    Great book!
     
  9. CanadianTeacher

    CanadianTeacher Groupie

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    Nov 28, 2007

    Yes, that's it! Thank you. :cool:
     
  10. Bored of Ed

    Bored of Ed Enthusiast

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    Nov 30, 2007

    Thanks for your input. I hope to check out all those links over the weekend, and I reserved the book at my library!

    OK... so now my principal just told me that he has a new theory: Maybe the kid's diagnosis is incorrect and he was just never stimulated, and therefore didn't develop socially and linguistically. Apparently, he has an icky home situation -- all I know is that his parents live in the same house but have absolutely no contact with each other, and any time his father tries to talk to or get near any of the kids the mother yells and stops it. I would guess that there's more to the story.

    Is it possible for that to cause autistic-like behavior? Because the kid definitely acts autistic.

    I have been learning to understand him better (I think) but I still don't know how to help him. Sometimes during recess, I kind of "script" a conversation between him and my kid with PDD. Is that appropriate? They seemed interested once I got them going, but they had no idea what to do. I basically told them line by line what to say.

    How do you suggest I deal with this:
    He takes forever to respond when asked a question. I'm not sure if more time or prompts would help. I would like to give him whatever time and attention he needs to draw him out, but the rest of the class gets so impatient. I don't blame them, either -- it really takes a long time and it seems like he's spacing out. I need to call him back several times before I get a response; often by that time he's frustrated (or maybe he's reading some underlying frustration in me?) and just says "I don't know" or "never mind." I think he has what to say, I just don't know how to bring it out and help him access and express it. (his vocabulary is ok. Not good, but sufficient for basic communication. He just appears unable to access the thought that he wants to say)
     
  11. positiveautism

    positiveautism Comrade

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    Nov 30, 2007

    I'm not sure about your question about the cause of the autistic-like behavior. The theory a long time ago was that autism was caused by uncaring and disinterested "refrigerator" mothers, but that theory has long been discredited. Whether that could cause behavior issues that may look similar to autism, I'm not sure.

    I think that it is fine to help script a conversation between the students that you mentioned. Sometimes kids with autism really don't know what to say, and giving them options (such as prompts that will eventually be faded out) can be helpful.

    About answering questions, he may need more time to process the verbal information. Also, would it be possible for him to write his answers down (maybe on a small dry erase board) instead of saying them out loud? He might also be given two or three different choices for answering a question (like a multiple-choice question, but out loud), so that he can still participate, but he doesn't have to figure out how exactly to say what he wants to say. Every student is different, so these may or may not work, but I have used them with students before, and it has been helpful.

    Nicole
     

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