Sorry it’s been so long between posts. Wrapping up the end of the year was CRAZY! I’ve recently started a new job in the Special Ed department of the Region 15 Education Service Center. I will be working primarily with access to the General Ed curriculum and accountability. During my first week, Region 15 was hosting their second annual Autism Conference. There were some GREAT presenters! The objective of this post is to share information and resources gained during this conference.
REMEMBER: Just because the conference was geared toward Autism does not mean this info applies only to Autistic children. Every child is difference and these strategies would apply to many kids, no matter their label!
I set in on a presentation called “Practical Strategies for Teaching Students with ASD: focus on HFA & Asperger Syndrome”. It was presented by Dr. Lori Ernsperger, Ph.D., BCBA-D. You can find more information about her on her website www.loriernsperger.com
It’s important to remember that teachers are required by law, No Child Left Behind and IDEA, to use research based practices and strategies. As a teacher I didn’t always know what this meant or where to find these researched based strategies. http://autismpdc.fpg.unc.edu/content/briefs this link takes you to The National Professional Development Center on ASD. Here you can find specific info for over 24 Research Based strategies for students with Autism. Below are links to the specific strategies.
You can also watch training modules at www.autisminternetmodules.org These are free modules on an array of topics.
Dr. Lori really stressed the ABC’s of behavior. If you’ve had any training in behavior you know these, antecedent, behavior, and consequence. If you can pin point what is “triggering” a behavior you have a better chance of changing that behavior.
It’s also important that you give replacement behaviors. Simply telling a child to “stop” without giving them a replacement behavior will not help change the behavior.
Dr. Lori also stressed the importance of teaching social skills to ALL of our student, but especially those with Autism. She explained it in a way that will make sense to any educator. If you have a student walk into your class who can’t read, you teach them to read. If they can’t add and subtract, you teach them to add and subtract. But for some reason when they lack social skills or social thinking we do nothing about it. This has to change. But you need a plan for teaching social skills. It’s easy and can be done using VERY little class time. (As little as 5 minutes a day) But you need some resources. www.socialthinking.com has some great resource for teaching social skills. There is also a post on this blog and a page dedicated to social skills. Take a look and get some FREE resources.
Below are some addition resource that I found helpful. I look forward to posting more ideas and resources as I learn. Enjoy your summer!
Texas Statewide Leadership for Autism
ASD Video Glossary
National Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center (NECTAC) Autism Topic Page
Office of Special Education Programs
I recently attended a workshop that discussed using social skills to address challenging behavior. The presenter was Linda Davidson for Region 20 ESC. One slide in particular caught my attention and I wanted to share it.
My teachers are very good about using strategies to try to head off negative or disruptive behavior. But sometimes that isn’t enough. The teachers who directly work with students who struggle with behavior know how to deal with a full “meltdown”. But teachers who don’t come in contact with these students regularly don’t always know how to handle it and will often inadvertently escalate the situation. So this is information for those teachers who don’t work with this daily.
What is a “meltdown”? It may look like a temper tantrum, or it may look like sever defiance. These are different for every kid and start for different reasons. You may see screaming, kicking, rolling on the floor, covering ears or eyes, crying; you may also see complete silence, head down, refusal to move.
What causes a “meltdown? It’s different for every student. Some students have sensory issues and it may be caused by loud noises or a smell, it may be a change in schedule, or a request the student doesn’t like. There are many reasons for what can cause these types of behaviors. Again the key it to know your students and head them off before they start, but here are some tips for what to do after it’s too late to prevent.
If you come in contact with a student who is having a meltdown first get help so you are not alone, then remember these strategies.
- Remain calm: if you act excited the student will notice and could increase behaviors.
- Avoid excessive talking, questioning and handling: the student may not fully understand what is going on and if they are spinning out of control you aren’t going to be able to explain anything to them.
- Zip it and show it: use pretaught visuals instead of words (the key is pretaught, if they don’t already know and use them, this isn’t the time to introduce them.
- Remember this is NOT a “teachable moment”: This is the number one mistake I see; wait for the kids to completely come down before trying to address the behavior.
- Proximity control: not too close you could get hurt, or too far away they could run or hurt themselves.
- The Antiseptic Bounce: move the child away from the problem area, change in scenery
- Wait out minor meltdowns: once it starts you often have to wait it out.
- If the student becomes aggressive, remove other students and restrain only if necessary.
I hope you never come across a student who is having a major meltdown, but if you do these simple suggestions can help. The number on thing to remember is to GET HELP! Even if you are just going to wait it out, don’t do it alone.
Many students, both with diagnosed disabilities and without, struggle with transition. We often see this in school when students start a new year and they are adjusting to a new situation or when they go home for a long holiday break and have to adjust back into the school routine. Sometime the anxiety and confusion caused by these times of transition can create challenging behaviors. These behaviors may seem defiant or disrespectful and once they occur in the school setting they must be addressed. This often leads to punishment that the student doesn’t understand or respond too.
In an effort to head off some challenging behaviors in the classroom or at home consider looking into transitional strategies to help during times when the students schedule will change.
1. Calendar-Many parents of Autistic students keep a calendar to review with their child every day. This calendar will have days that school will not be held as well as appointments or family events. They review it at the same time everyday. By making this calendar part of your daily routine, your child will get use to the pre-warning of change. (This works for ANY child who struggles with change.)
2. Visual Schedules- Some students require a visual schedule to be successful both at school and at home. The student would have a schedule of their day with pictures of each activity and as they go through activities they would remove the pictures. This is can go from home to school and can help with everyday transitions like, coming to school and going to lunch.
3. Timers- Some students need a pre-warning before they change activities. Especially activities they are working on independently. A timer can be of great use. Set the time and pre-warn the child that in 5 min* they will change activities. This also works well at home if you want to transition from computer, TV or outside time. (*The amount of pre-warning time may vary from kid to kid based on need.)
4. Count down– As students go home for long breaks, like Christmas, it is important for them to remember that they will come back to school. You can create a count down to monitor daily. This can be done on the computer or it can be part of you calendar. Also as something special, if your school would help, give Christmas cards to teachers to fill out. One for every day the child will be out of school. EX: If you are out for 14 days, then 14 different people will write a simple card. “Merry Christmas, hope you are having a great break. See you in 14 days.” The child will open a new card everyday and the cards will count down until the last card says “see you tomorrow”.
These are a few of the most common transitional strategies. If you have a student or a child who struggles with transition check into strategies that can help them be more successful. If you wait until after the transition then you may see an increase in challenging behaviors that can be hard to handle.
Check out these web sites for more ideas:
Moving right along!
Child Behavior Guide
Technology is everywhere! My two year old can work my phone as well as I can. If you have students in class or kids at home who are struggling with behavior, speech, communication, routine or social skills you may try using technology to teach them.
Click on the link to access a document containing apps for students with Autism Spectrum Disorder. ASD Wheel These apps are good for any student struggling with any of the listed skills. You DO NOT have to be Autistic to benefit from these apps.
How it works: the inner ring describes a behavior, the next ring has common learning traits, the next has app categories and the outer ring has links to more information about specific apps in that category.
This is a cool tool that was passed along from Region 15 ESC.