Self-Contained Autism ParaPro Interview

Discussion in 'Job Seekers' started by HOPE-fulTeacher, Aug 2, 2011.

  1. HOPE-fulTeacher

    HOPE-fulTeacher Comrade

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2010
    Messages:
    263
    Likes Received:
    0

    Aug 2, 2011

    I got a call tonight to interview for a parapro position in a self-contained autism room in a local district (very out of the blue- didn't even apply for the job!). I spent 2nd semester last year assisting in ECSE rooms, including working with a couple of students with autism; however, I've never taught in or even spent any time in a self contained autism room. What is the environment like? How is it the same/different than other special education rooms or general education rooms? What kinds of questions might come up in the interview? What kinds of questions should I ask to see if it's a good fit for me (as someone who's not sped. certified)? I'd appreciate any advice or tips people have to share- thanks!
     
  2.  
  3. ciounoi

    ciounoi Cohort

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2009
    Messages:
    593
    Likes Received:
    0

    Aug 3, 2011

    Environment: Depending on the level of the students, probably like any other classroom. If the students are very low functioning, you might see a lot of color coding, work folders, etc. The main thing that always strikes me when I go into an autism classroom is how it is (usually) so quiet! The students are often lost in their own little worlds. There is a big emphasis on communication because if this in these rooms.

    Questions you may hear: How to communicate with students, how to structure your day, how to manage behavior, your role as a para and how you will relate to the teacher, what you know about autism, what you know about stimming, etc. Probably most of the usual questions, too (Why do you want to work in this classroom?).

    Questions to ask: Since you have no experience with sped, you'll have to learn. To that end, you might want to ask how you would be trained for this room, PD opportunities for you, how you will be assessed/observed as a para in the room, how autism classrooms in the district are usually run, etc.
     
  4. BumbleB

    BumbleB Habitué

    Joined:
    May 10, 2011
    Messages:
    917
    Likes Received:
    0

    Aug 3, 2011

    Haha, come visit my summer program for autism. We have one girl that screams (and I mean high pitched, shrill, top-of-her-lungs screams) whenever she wants something. Not to mention 20 other kids doing vocal stims. I make sure to bring plenty of Excedrine with me to work!
     
  5. HOPE-fulTeacher

    HOPE-fulTeacher Comrade

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2010
    Messages:
    263
    Likes Received:
    0

    Aug 3, 2011

    Thanks ciounoi! Here is what I've come up with so far...

    Knowledge of Autism:

    -Have trouble communicating, eye contact is rare, seem lost in their own thoughts/world
    -Have trouble regulating emotions and have poor social skills
    -Very sensitive to sensory stimuli (sights, sounds, touch, tastes, smells, etc.)
    -Thrive on schedule and order, have trouble with transitions or unpredictability
    -May perseverate on something (a toy, activity, hobby, etc.) and become very upset if they are unable to have/play with/participate in that thing.
    -Sometimes show anxiety through stimming, a repetitive motion (flapping, twisting, etc.) that stimulates them
    -Visuals are extremely important and help students transition.
    -Providing multiple sensory breaks can be helpful, as can joint compression
    -Speak in short, direct sentences when giving instructions. Use visuals and sign language to help.

    Why I want this job/ why I’d be a good fit for the job:

    -I want this job because I am very interested in working with special needs children, and I think this would be a great opportunity to learn and grow as a teacher.
    -I am very patient and have a calm, soothing presence with children.
    -I am very eager to learn new things, and I pick up on things quickly.
    -I understand the importance of meeting each child where they are at, and I love coming up with ways to meet my students’ individual and unique needs.
    -I spent part of last year working in special education rooms, including working with a couple of students with autism.

    Questions I have:

    -What ages are the students?
    -What are the ability levels/functioning levels of the students?
    -What will be my role in the classroom? What is expected of me?
    -What does a typical day in the classroom look like?
    -What resources could you point me towards to learn more about autism and how to work with students with autism?
    -Will there be any type of training or professional development that I could take part in?


    Anything that I am missing or need to change?
     
  6. Proud2BATeacher

    Proud2BATeacher Phenom

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2005
    Messages:
    4,896
    Likes Received:
    5

    Aug 3, 2011

    Please keep in mind that you are speaking in general terms. Not all students with autism have all of these characteristics and the characteristics they have may will be of varying degrees.

    I kind of cringed when I read the list and unless you were being hired for a class with students on the more severe end of the spectrum, I would be a little wary of your knowledge of students with autism. I work with people who think all students with autism have these characteristics and they let my students get away with murder b/c they don't allow themselves to look beyond the autism diagnosis.

    - Routine is also very important for some students with autism.
    - If you know anything about social stories...have ideas for behavioral strategies...list some types of body/sensory breaks a student may take
     
  7. BumbleB

    BumbleB Habitué

    Joined:
    May 10, 2011
    Messages:
    917
    Likes Received:
    0

    Aug 4, 2011

    Yes, I agree. I have one girl who rarely makes eye contact, non-verbal and stims constantly. However, her receptive language is at the level of any typically functioning person, so she can understand everything. Most people wouldn't assume that looking at her. I don't let her get away with anything because she knows the correct way to behave, even though she has autism.

    There's a saying that "if you've met one kid with autism, you've met one kid with autism". They're all vastly different, and that's part of the reason why I love working with them. Be careful not to sound like you just researched autism on the Internet and spewed out some symptoms. Do you have personal stories of your interactions with students who have autism that you could share with the interviewer?
     
  8. HOPE-fulTeacher

    HOPE-fulTeacher Comrade

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2010
    Messages:
    263
    Likes Received:
    0

    Aug 4, 2011

    Sorry, I think I let an incorrect impression get out there...I know that not all students with autism will display all (or even most) of these characteristics, and I definitely know that they are very capable and should be held accountable for things. I didn't mean to say that I thought students with autism should not be held to high standards. I am just trying to be prepared for anything because I don't know what to expect. I haven't been told about the position or severity levels that I'd be working with.

    The 2 autistic students that I worked with last year (ages 3 & 5) were both very bright. The five year old was just like any other kid- he was at the top of his class and was excited to play games and learn- he just flapped his ears when he was anxious about something, had trouble making friends and would cling to 1 boy, and was anxious about transitions or changes to the schedule. I would always make sure to explain any changes to him and reassure him when he was anxious about something. We also worked with him on social skills and how to communicate his needs to us.

    The 3 year old, who was in the process of being diagnosed with autism, was also very smart. (My teacher wanted him in an autism room because she felt that her ECSE class- made for mostly speech and language impaired kids- was too low and repetitive for his needs. He needed more of a challenge.) He knew what you were asking him to do, and would refuse to look at you and say "no" when he didn't want to do it. He also very rarely made eye contact or participated in what the rest of the class was doing, and he perseverated on a specific toy in the room. He needed sensory breaks or compression every 5-10 minutes, so either myself or the other assist in the room would do that for him. We also used visuals constantly, for transitions, to show him proper social behavior (quiet mouth, sit down, etc.) He also liked the feeling of being in closed, tight spaces, so he would seek those out in the gym or classroom, and he would also climb onto our laps for us to hug him tightly and give him the pressure he was seeking out.

    Some of the sensory breaks that we did with him and a few other students were proning on a peanut shaped ball (either holding themselves up on their arms or else using their arms to walk back and forth and grab small objects), rolling the peanut ball heavily on their backs to create compression, wheelbarrow walking, pulling an assistant on a scooter with the student and the assist both holding ends of a stretchy band, talking them for a "fast walk" (almost run in some cases) up and down the halls, having the student climb steps to a big donut shaped thing (something the PT used) and then jump inside it and land on a bean bag (then crawl out and repeat several times), sit on a T-stool and throw a heavy ball to me (or hold a bat in both hands and hit a normal weighted ball back to me, although I don't think we used that one with our autistic student)...I think those are all of the ones we used, although I'm sure the teacher has a lot of things she uses already that she can teach me too. I learned all of the previous things from the OT at the building I assisted at last year. I don't remember using social stories with our autistic students, but we did use them for a few other students, so I am familiar with those.

    I hope this gives a little more information? Like I said above, I don't know anything about the position (which actually isn't even posted), so I'm just trying to be ready for whatever it is. I am hoping the teacher will explain more about it at the interview this afternoon. Thanks for your insights and comments- I didn't mean to communicate what apparently came through, so I will make sure to approach it a different way in the interview. :)
     
  9. clarnet73

    clarnet73 Moderator

    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2002
    Messages:
    6,123
    Likes Received:
    0

    Aug 4, 2011

    You have GREAT information from your experience... use that when you interview, rather than spouting out generalities ;)
     
  10. xiangnong

    xiangnong Companion

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2011
    Messages:
    105
    Likes Received:
    0

    Aug 4, 2011

    One minor tip for you, Hopeful--Some parents or teachers might be offended by "autistic students." You might want to say "students with autism." (I have a son on the spectrum, and it doesn't bother me. I have heard that others are touchy about this, however.) Best of luck!
     

Share This Page

Members Online Now

  1. stargirl,
  2. Shannon Graves
Total: 248 (members: 3, guests: 216, robots: 29)
test