Need some advice-austism questions

Discussion in 'Special Education' started by Jem, Sep 11, 2010.

  1. Jem

    Jem Aficionado

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    Sep 11, 2010

    Need some advice-autism questions

    I have a student who exhibits some tendencies that I would associate with autism, although he is not diagnosed. I'm not looking to label him, but I would love advice on how to deal with behaviors regardless of what it is or isn't. This is not my area of expertise, so I'm hoping someone here can help!!

    Firstly, this student 'flutters' his fingers. I don't know what the proper term is. He'll look down at his hands and flutter the fingers, kind of rocking. Why is he doing this? Should I try to prevent him from doing this or let him go at it? It doesn't bother me, but it might appear odd in society-should I make him aware?

    Secondly, he is EXTREMELY dependent on feedback. He can't do anything without reassurance 5-10 times that he is doing it correctly. Even then, he freezes up. He says he hears voices in his head that are telling him he's doing it wrong and calling him names. He cries a lot about this. I was asking him to think deep the other day after he wrote some very general words like 'nice' and 'good', and I called them 'wimpy' words. He immediately jumped on the word wimpy and started sobbing that he was a wimpy writer and couldn't do any better. I have no idea how to help him work more independently on his own and trust his own instincts. I've never had this issue.

    Any help you guys can give me is appreciated. I'm at a loss right now-he's in an upper elementary grade, but socially he's struggling more than our pre-k students!
     
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  3. WaterfallLady

    WaterfallLady Enthusiast

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    Sep 11, 2010

    The fluttering fingers thing is a major autism sign. He really needs to be evaluated so that interventions can be done to help him. Whe. He is evaluated, they will also help you come up with ways to do with his constant need for reassurance. I have a student like that now and it drives me crazy but it is what he needs. In the meantime do you have a student who would agree to partner with him and help h through things? I assume you don't have an aide.
     
  4. bethechange

    bethechange Comrade

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    Sep 11, 2010

    I would definitely document your concerns and bring this kiddo to your student assistance team. Does your district have an autism specialist or special ed teacher certified in autism that could come do an observation/give input on whether he should be evaluated? I know you said you are not looking to label him, and it's great that you are so open to helping him - but perhaps getting an educational identification could open the door to some other services, especially in the social skills arena.

    Kids with autism often think very concretely - which would explain why writing and "pulling words out of their head" can be daunting. Visual supports help a lot. Perhaps you could draw a T-chart - draw a silly picture of a "wimpy" person on one side and write your wimpy words underneath. Draw a strong person (or whatever term you use) on the other side and help him think of some better words (you might have to do most of the thinking until he gets the hang of this process). Then he has a visual that he can choose from when he writes independently.

    For the feedback issue - will he respond better to written directions and cues? Sometimes too much talking is overwhelming to people with autism, even when they are very intelligent and verbal. Especially in times of stress, the auditory channel is not the strongest. Could you write a step-by-step list of exactly what to do? Then he can check it off as he goes along and be confident that he is doing things right. If he continues to ask for input, you can refer him back to his list - giving him the first tools to being more independent.
     
  5. Special-t

    Special-t Enthusiast

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    Sep 11, 2010

    His parents must notice this behavior. What's their opinion?
     
  6. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Sep 11, 2010

    Wow, Jem, I have no idea.

    I have no Special Ed background, and would freely admit to being unqualified to deal with the types of issues you describe.
     
  7. Jem

    Jem Aficionado

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    I'm going to go back and read the details, but I'll post this quickly in case it helps. We're a private school with no aides or spec ed team. Parents have him in 'speech therapy' (he also has a very difficult time talking), and I'll be calling his therapist this week. Dad is VERY defensive about everything. I met with the student for about 20 minutes last year when they were touring and I picked up on this stuff immediately. I tried to bring it up in the interview afterwards, but the father freaked out and said he was just behind (he is still using inventive spelling in fourth grade, when he can get ideas down at all). My director stopped the discussion at that point. I had no idea it was THIS 'bad'. He's a sweet kid, but he's SO needy.

    Ok, I'll go back and read the details now. I highly doubt the parents want to hear the a-word at ALL.
     
  8. Jem

    Jem Aficionado

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    bethechange-those are GREAT ideas!! I have no idea if they will work, but it's a starting point.
     
  9. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Based on what you've said about the student makeup of your school, is there any way they could find the money to hire some Special Ed people? It seems like it should probably be incredibly high on the priority list.
     
  10. Jem

    Jem Aficionado

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    I need to get my Masters degree to keep my certificate, so there is talk about the school paying for me to take spec ed classes. I'll be bringing it up to my director in the next few weeks-I need to get a handle on my current schedule before thinking about adding more to it. The current director is monitoring the classroom and observing a lot, so we'll see if she thinks outside help is needed. Well, it IS needed, but money is very tight.
     
  11. teacher12345

    teacher12345 Cohort

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    Sep 11, 2010

    When he flutters his fingers like you described is called stimming. Don't stop him from doing this persay because it is a strategy that he is using to calm himself down in a world that he finds very stressful and confusing. But, try and offer alternative and more socially appropriate ways for him to stim. for example, maybe rocking in a rocking chair, and using fidgets.

    Here is a short list of some fidgets that you may want to try:
    stretchy string
    what zit
    tangle toys
    fidget pencil topper
    koosh ball
    silly putty
    pop tubes
    wacky tracks
    stretch and bounce balls
    squishy balls
     
  12. mrachelle87

    mrachelle87 Fanatic

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    Sep 11, 2010

    I picked up some squishy balls at dollar tree...buy several. My sensory child went through one a month. He literally wore a hole in it. I have also used those small slinkys found in the party supply aisle. I have had children that had a small stuffed toy on their desk to pet.


    Schedules are very important for these children. Visual schedules work well.

    Also dictionaries that they can write their own words in help with spelling. Those can be bought cheap. Also this book is good http://www.christianbook.com/spelli...writers/gregory-hurray/9780838820568/pd/48058.
     
  13. Jem

    Jem Aficionado

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    Sep 11, 2010

    We have a huge basket of beanie babies they are allowed to use during the day for various reasons. He's very into the snakes and has access to them at any time. We'll be starting our comp notebook spelling dictionaries this week-I had a feeling that would be good for him. A desk schedule could be very good for him-great idea. I'll make one this weekend.

    These are so great-thank you guys very much.
     
  14. teacher12345

    teacher12345 Cohort

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    Sep 11, 2010

    you can get a free trial of boardmaker from mayer johnson's website, if you want to use it to make a visual schedule.
     
  15. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    Sep 12, 2010

    While parent reactions and lack of resources can be frustrated, it's important to put those things aside and focus on the things you do have control over--what happens in your classroom. I am just starting to gain experience with students on the autism spectrum, or those with needs that don't have a diagnosis yet (and maybe never will have), but here are a few things I would try:
    - Personal schedule of the day. Depending on your student, you could use only pictures, a combination of words and pictures, or words alone. For example, one of our grade 3 students refuses to accept a schedule with Boardmaker symbols, but responds well to one only in text.
    - First/Then Choice board. If he doesn't need it for everything, it could be beneficial during activities that cause him stress--"First we will revise 4 words in your story, then you can...".
    - Provide an area in the classroom that can be a calming area for him. You could have a place for him to sit, maybe a small desk or table for him to work at, some fidgets, etc.
    - Chunk his tasks into small bits so that he is receiving the feedback. In this way, you can take back a bit of the control as to how often he is receiving feedback--"do these 3 questions, then I'll come back to check". You can, over time, extend the time between "check-ins".

    I'm going to be doing some digging for some strategies to help with some of our students today--if I come across any other suggestions for you, I'll post them.
     
  16. teacher12345

    teacher12345 Cohort

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    Sep 12, 2010

    also social stories may work. You could also try and use a token economy system. Check out boardmakershare, they have some already made visuals.

    tinsnips also has some schedule pecs http://www.tinsnips.org/Pages/makeandtake.html
     
  17. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Sep 12, 2010

    These behaviors definitely sound like he is in the range of pervasive developmental disorders, of which autism is one. The parents are not doing this child any favors by living in denial and your school, quite frankly, has been doing a disservice to the child as well. This child needs some academic and social interventions and modifications as well as some therapy. Going for your sped degree is a great idea, Jem, if that is what you are interested in, but be prepared then to be the one who gets the classroom where "certain kinds" of kids are placed. In any case, a masters degree is going to take some time-and you need some help for this child NOW.

    Here's a link to a great resource for pervasive developmental disorders and classroom interventions:

    http://www.ksde.org/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=QaZdAQKb13E=&tabid=3910

    Good luck to you.
     

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