Autism

Discussion in 'Special Education' started by KinderKatie, Jun 6, 2007.

  1. KinderKatie

    KinderKatie Companion

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    Jun 6, 2007

    I am going to be teaching in a autistic classroom for summer school. I am kinda nervous because I have never directly taught autistic students before. I will be teaching with another teacher, but she has also never taught autistic kids before! So, do you have any information that you could share with me? Are there any websites or books you would recommend?

    Thank you.
     
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  3. teachersk

    teachersk Connoisseur

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    The first and most important thing that will help you when working with students with autism is visual supports. Children with autism rely heavily on visual cues and visual prompts to help them through their day. The website do2learn (google it because I can't post websites ....) has some very helpful visual cue cards you can print out (toileting, behavior, social skills, etc.)

    Also, if a child has a tantrum or an outburst, you need to stay as calm as possible. They can easily escalate as you escalate - and this gets you nowhere. I usually bring it back to the student, if at all possible. "I WANT PRIZE!" -- "is it time to get a prize right now? what is on our schedule for right now?" (show them a picture of their visual schedule, or a cue card for what you are doing) - "work first, then prize." "I WANT PRIZE NOW!" -- "Did you finish your work?" "no..." "finish your work so you can get a prize!" --- hopefully this has de-escalated the situation by now. But if you see what I mean - this is helpful in students who have verbal communication skills and the ability to understand "First - Then" situations.

    It is also helpful to prevent outbursts and tantrums by having a predictable day, every day. Do not change your schedule or routine - set it up, make a schedule on the board or in a file folder for the kids to check off or follow - and stick to it. This is very important!

    Sensory issues are also very common in children with autism. Be sure you take breaks throughout your day to accomodate them. Squishy balls to squeeze, hippity hops to bounce on (those big exercise balls), sand table / water table, body sock, etc. These items are typically in rooms that have children with autism, but can also be obtained from an OT. This is very important and some people think that it is not!

    In my classroom, we utilize the TEACCH structured teaching model and I have found it to be very successful. You can read online for more information about this - or you can feel free to message me. It involves keeping the classroom very organized and easily accessible for your students.

    That's all I can think of from the top of my head... you can feel free to PM me if you do find any more questions before or after you start your position.

    I teach in a cross-categorical setting and this year I have two students with Autism. I am teaching summer school as well, and will have four students with autism.


    Sarah
     
  4. KinderKatie

    KinderKatie Companion

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    Jun 6, 2007

    Thank you that was VERY helpful!
     
  5. ellen_a

    ellen_a Groupie

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    Jun 6, 2007

    Sarah's given you the best tips possible! If you want a nice intro to autism, I'd suggest Emergence by Temple Grandin. I am a self-contained SPED teacher for kids with autism, so feel free to PM me with questions as well.

    Ellen A.
     
  6. KinderKatie

    KinderKatie Companion

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    Thank you. I will think about some questions and get back to you!
     
  7. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Jun 6, 2007

    You might also want to send a private message to AspieTeacher - Troy's incredibly generous with suggestions based on his experience with autistic kids and his own experience with Asperger's syndrome.
     
  8. Chokita

    Chokita Comrade

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    Also, don't expect the kids with autism to do what you're asking right away, give them time, tell them something like, "You have 2 minutes left to finish what you're doing and then go check your schedule/go to reading center/go to the circle and so on. They really need some time for transition between different activities.

    Other than that, I have nothing else to add to teachersk's message.

    P.S. Where are you located? I wonder if you're going to take over the autism class where I'm working now :)
     
  9. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Jun 6, 2007

    For years I have worn a big geeky calculator watch. I don't wear it for the calculator but for the scheduler - and, when dealing with kids, the timer. When my offspring were small, leaving a park was truly Not At All Fun - the recurring war between parent and child as to when it's time to go. And then I started using the timer: I'd holler, "Ten-minute warning!" while setting the timer for ten minutes, and ten minutes later it would beep - and it was then the timer's fault that it was time to go and not Mom's, and while there was still complaint, it was less tantrumy and more aw-gee-I-wish, with which it is much easier to sympathize while nevertheless getting in the car.
     
  10. KinderKatie

    KinderKatie Companion

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    Jun 7, 2007

    Thank you all for your help. When I have more time, I will think of questions. Tomorrow is our orientation so I am sure I will have more then. Are there any websites you would reccomend?
     
  11. ellen_a

    ellen_a Groupie

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    Jun 7, 2007

    Autism is tricky to explain because every kid who has a diagnosis is different. Sarah's message to you about visuals, routine, sensory and behavior covers some of the only real "generalizations" that can be made about autism. As much as you can learn from reading, it is hard to understand until you've had experience (I think). Once you've had experience, the stuff you read makes much more sense because you can compare it back to the children you've interacted with. Or maybe I'm the only one who feels this way. :D

    Anyway, here are some of my favorite "autism in the classroom" websites...

    http://www.tinsnips.org/
    http://members.aol.com/Room5/welcome.html
    http://trainland.tripod.com/pecs.htm
    http://www.preschoolfun.com/pages/teacch work jobs.htm
    http://www.dotolearn.com/

    There's lots more out there. Have fun learning!
     
  12. KinderKatie

    KinderKatie Companion

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    Jun 10, 2007

    I found out some more details about our summer school class. We will have 9 kids.

    1- K
    1- 1st
    2- 2nd
    3- 3rd
    2- 4th

    We are trying to figure out what to do with the kids while we are working individually with just one kid.

    We also want to do a lot of arts/crafts and sensory activities as well as non-competitive physical activities in the gym on a daily basis.

    We are also planning lots of trips into the community.

    Any ideas you can share would be great!
     
  13. teachersk

    teachersk Connoisseur

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    What level of functioning are the kids? Verbal? Can they complete academic tasks? We took my low functioning non-verbal autism class to the grocery store as a community trip a few years ago. It was great - the kids had to act appropriately in public, we let them each buy something for under a dollar. Though it was hard for them to understand the dollar concept, we looked at the numbers, etc. and put something in our cart and pushed it around. We had a few meltdowns, etc. but all in all I think it was a great trip. A lot of my kids very rarely had the opportunity to work on their behavior in a public setting - so this was a perfect place. Not too over-stimulating, but a lot different than a classroom.

    Do you have computers in your classroom? Most children with autism are fascinated by computers and computer games. But again, it depends on the functioning level. My lower guys didn't understand the computer so it only works with those who can figure out how to play the game. We had several pre-school games which were very popular - pre-reading skills, counting, etc. This would keep my kids occupied for a very long time. This was usually a privelege for them. You'll find that once you meet your individual students, you'll be able to figure out what best suits them. I had one kid that loves to cut paper this year. So, we would give her words and letters on paper to cut out and glue on construction paper. There will be things like that you can think of according to the kids interests and ability levels.
     
  14. KinderKatie

    KinderKatie Companion

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    Jun 10, 2007

    Thanks for your input! I don't know the kids yet but I know they are all verbal. Well, there is one kid who is not too verbal. But most are high-functioning. My Kindergartener is a math wiz! His mom told me he does subtraction for fun! ;)
     
  15. KinderKatie

    KinderKatie Companion

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    Ok so here is another question. Since there are so many grade levels, and only 2 teachers... would it be appropriate/okay for the paras to work with some students during math? A lot of the math is review and/or familiar to the students so I was hoping that during math time we could split into grade levels and the teachers and paras could all work with one group. I have never had a para in my room so I don't really know what is asking too much of them. However, I know I have really good paras and they would be perfectly capable of this. What do you think?
     
  16. Chokita

    Chokita Comrade

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    Jun 10, 2007

    It is absolutely appropriate to ask paraprofessionals (assistants) to work with students one-on-one or in small groups! As long as you provide the materials and tell them what exactly they should do, that would be fine!
    And remember, it's summer school, so try to have fun and let the kids have fun and play!
     
  17. KinderKatie

    KinderKatie Companion

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    Jun 10, 2007

    Thank you Chokita.

    Yes we plan on having lots of fun!

    We are going to do lots of arts/crafts, cooking, playing on the playground and in the gym, movies, fun lessons, outings, etc.

    But we do have a half hour for reading and math worked into the schedule for 2 days a week.

    Is that too little or too much?

    We want to keep it fun but I think they want it somewhat academic too. I plan on asking that tomorrow.
     
  18. Proud2BATeacher

    Proud2BATeacher Phenom

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    WOW! It sounds like you will be focusing mainly on social skills. Our summer school classes are way more academic. The students are taught reading, writing and math every day and they get 30 minutes of computers. The teachers do a lot more hands on activities and small group activities but other than that it is a regular school day. They do get recess after lunch.

    Make sure you have an objective before you go on Community Skills and have the students practice it in the classroom before you go on an outing. For example, have them practice ordering a meal -- greeting cashier, ordering, paying, waiting for change, waiting for food, saying thank you, carrying food carefully...
     
  19. KinderKatie

    KinderKatie Companion

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    Thats a good idea on the practicing. We were definitely going to talk about it, but I like the practicing idea! This week there are no trips so we will do that then.

    Well I thought this was going to be mainly academic but I get the feeling that they don't really care if it is or not. The regular teachers and parents definitely want us to focus on social skills and do lots of outings.
     
  20. teachersk

    teachersk Connoisseur

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    The biggest thing is just staying in the routine. I have kids that are attending Extended School Year (Summer School) JUST for the purpose of behavior. Some of the home lives and family settings just do not provide the structure and routine that students with autism need. Summer school can at least provide a structured day, even if it is a fun one! I sent play doh, craft supplies, pattern blocks, legos, etc. with my kids. I of course also sent reading workbooks and math workbooks, but this is not the purpose of the day, the purpose is to follow the schedule! It is a good thing for them to have to wake up, get on the bus, come to school, eat breakfast, do the normal school day thing. It will make it so that when August comes, there will not be major struggles settling back in.
     
  21. MissMelissa

    MissMelissa New Member

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    Working with autistic students

    Hi, I had a few suggestions for working with children with autism. I currently work as a special education teacher in an autistic school. I have 8 little sweet and loving autistic children ranging from 5-8 years old.

    As mentioned by another person, visuals are a great aid for these students. It is very helpful for each student to have a visual schedule because these students tend to get overwhelmed by a lot of work and when they don't know what is going on throughout the day. Boardmaker is a great program (its a cd rom program) which is about $300, but well worth the investment in which you can create visuals or PECS. PECS, if you are unfamiliar is a picture exchange communication system used for autistic students who are nonverbal or have little amounts of speech. It helps these children gain some speech or enhances the speech they already have.

    In addition, most of these students display some type of "behavior." These behaviors can range from tantruming to biting to headbanging. It usually seeks a few purposes, to tell you something, escape/avoidance from work or attention seeking. Token boards or star charts are great way of having the student earn rewards throughout the day by displaying "positive behaviors" and encouraging them to be able to get more done throughout the day.

    Most of these students also show some type of "stimming" behavior such as arm flapping, biting their arm, flicking of the fingers, banging on objects. These "behaviors" can occur when something is going on with the child's body. It could be something good or they are excited, they could be extremely upset/frustrated or it could be due to a sensory need at that particular time. Trying to decrease or "stop" the "stimming" behaviors depends on the frequency of the behavior, the type of behavior and why it occurs.

    Sensory issues are also common with the autism population. It might be due to hypersensitivity or hyposensitivity of the senses (sight, smell, taste, touch, hearing). Some good ideas for sensory needs might be: tight hugs, lotion/brushing, quiet calming music, water/sand tables, deep pressure exercises that could be shown to you by an OT (occupational therapist).

    Most important in my eyes though is remebering that these students all have something to offer. Sometimes these students may have trouble showing their emotions, but after working with my class since September I realized that these students just want to be loved and appreciated. The job is sometimes exhuasting and very time consuming, but when you see them learn and smile it is so well worth all the effort you put into it!

    It is vital to focus on their strengths and interests and work from there. It is important to realize that these students sometimes are very frustrated because they cannot properly verbalize all of their needs and wants. In addition, they have great difficulty when something in their environment has been changed or altered without any notice. They need structure, routine and consistency. Also, the job is a mix of trial and error. What works for one student might not work for another student. As a teacher you have to be willing to try anything and be very flexible.

    Good luck, with you new class, kindkatie. If you have questions feel free to ask I'll try to help if possible.
     
  22. Christine3

    Christine3 Cohort

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    Jun 21, 2007

    Lost.

    I am now lost. I just received an email from the IEP team saying that I have a mildly Autistic student placed in my class of 19. I have no where to begin...I am not familiar with this disorder. I do have all summer to prepare and they listed workshops I can attend. But I am just so nervous...It is also my first year in third grade! ah!

    They didn't give me info. on an AID yet...
     
  23. MissMelissa

    MissMelissa New Member

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    Jun 21, 2007

    Hi, CLZTEACH I have some suggestions for you if you don't mind. As always find out as much about your new (autistic ) child as possible. Also, autism is known as a spectrum disorder simply meaning that students could be at all different level along the spectrum. Therefore, if he is "mildly" autistic it is possible that he may not have as many difficulties as one that is listed as "severely" autistic. It is possible that he might just some difficulties with social interactions which is a large part of autism in general. Regardless, transitions and schedules are very large part of the disorder. These types of students need to have the same routine or else they tend to have "behaviors" because they are not aware of what is going on. These students also sometimes have problems transitioning from one activity and become very upset when an activity they like has ended. Regarding your child when you receive her/his IEP make sure you look through it carefully because it will provide a lot of information of the child (mode of communication, health issues, behaviors, academics, social/emotional ). It might also list if the child has a behavior managment plan. However, if this child is being mainstreamed chances are he/she doesn't have any "major behavior" problems/issues. He/she might just have diffculties with academics and/or socialization. There are a lot of great trainings out there. If find that your child will communicate through the use of PECS (picture exchange communicaton system) the PECS training by the pyramid company (the creators) is a great training. A training on behavior modification is also a great training or positive approaches to behavior. A visual schedule for the child might be a good idea and/or a reward system (token economy/star chart etc) however, might want not make it too obvious so the child doesn't feel different from his/her peers. As mentioned, I work in a private autistic school and i work with those that are "severely" to "moderately" autistic though I hate those terms. Just remember that child has a lot to offer despite his/her autism. Make sure he/she feels welcome and have her/his peers make this child fit in as best as possible. I don't if I was any help, but if you need any assistance I would be more than willing to try to help
     

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