Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Effective Strategies for Engaging Students with Autism

Here is another session that I attended at the SC Council for Exceptional Children Conference in Myrtle Beach.  The presenter was Helen Lanier, a preschool special education teacher, from Burton-Pack Elementary.

1.     If they can’t learn the way we teach, we teach the way they learn” – O. Ivar Lovaas”
2.     “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”
3.     What is autism? – a brain-based disorder characterized by social-communication challenges and restricted receptive behaviors and activities.
4.     No 2 people with autism have the same symptoms
5.     Interventions and Techniques Not to Try
a.     Marijuana therapy
b.     Nicotine Patch therapy
c.     Bleach therapy
d.     Impairments: What does it look like in the real world
e.     Social interaction
f.      Inability to participate in board games
g.     Inability to participate in gross motor or social games
h.     Inability to take turns
i.      Difficulty waiting
j.      Dislike large groups
k.     Doesn’t respond to social initiation from a peer or an adult
l.      Dislike of physical contact
m.   Doesn’t understand nonverbal cues
6.     Communication
a.     Unable to answer direct questions
b.     Unable to recall information and/or events
c.     Unable to make inferences
d.     Unable to understand spoken language
e.     Fails to grasp figurative language and abstract concepts
f.      Inability to communicate wants and needs in a socially appropriate and/or age appropriate manner
g.     Unable to follow simple one step directions
h.     Unable to follow directions of more than one step
i.      No understanding of manners and social niceties
j.      Very literal when speaking
k.     Doesn’t understand conversational rules
l.      Doesn’t understand communication is done with/to someone else.
7.     Challenging Behaviors
a.     Stubbornness
b.     Insistence on same routine
c.     Transitions
d.     Repetitive sounds
e.     Inability to stay in seat
8.     Sensory Impairments/Overload
a.     Inability to sit still
b.     “crawling out of their skin”
c.     Impulsive
d.     Covering ears with loud noises
e.     Head banging
f.      Biting
g.     Hitting
h.     Climbing
i.      Spinning
j.      fidgeting
9.     Function of Behaviors - determines how you handle/address the behavior
a.     Why is this happening
                                               i.     Attention seeking
                                             ii.     Avoidance/get out of a situation/end a situation
b.     Find out what the function of the behavior is:
                                               i.     Observe when it happens
                                             ii.     What happens before
                                           iii.     What happens after
                                            iv.     What does the student do once the behavior ceases?
                                             v.     Does this same behavior occur at different times? Different settings? With different people?
10.  Attention Seeking Problem Behaviors
a.     Any attentions is good attention
b.     Remain calm
c.     Ignore as long as not dangerous
11.  Avoidance
a.      Remain firm and consistent
b.     If student needs to be removed, the student will need to return to the task before something enjoyable happens
12.  Techniques and/or Adaptions to Try
a.     Visual schedules
b.     Picture Exchange System
c.     Turn Taking Cue
d.     Visual Cues
e.     Short Concise Directions
f.      Choice Board
g.     Repetition
h.     Hand Over Hand Assistance
i.      Transition items
j.      Timers
k.     Busy Boxes
l.      Reward System
m.   First/Then
n.     Pointing

o.     Small Task-Reward-Small Task-Reward
p.     Favorite Toy to Encourage Eye Contact
q.     Nursery Rhyme
r.      Simpler Worksheet/Reading Comprehension
s.     Close Off Areas to Increase Requesting and Communication
t.      Remove Cue/Triggers
u.     Sound Cue
v.     Weighted Vests and Other Sensory Items (Body Socks)
w.   Obedience is Freedom
13.  Things to Remember
a.     Pick Your Battles
b.     Don’t issue ultimatums and/or rules you do not plan to follow through with.
c.     Behavior problems and other issues are more than likely a part of the child’s disability. These things cannot be taken personally.
d.     If a child is struggling with a specific skill that skill may need to be explicitly taught.
                                               i.     Task analysis
                                             ii.     Step-by-step instruction
                                           iii.     One-on-one instruction
e.     Our job is not just to have these students perform the way we want in our classrooms. We have to prepare them for the real world and real-life expectations.
f.      We do these students no favors when we let them “skate by” because it is easier and less work for us.
g.     Communicate with all staff members who teach and interact with your student. Everyone has to implement!
h.     Consistency, Consistency, Consistency!
14.  Desensitization
a.     A student may need to be exposed to something and/or a situation numerous times before it is no longer an issue
b.     Set up situations where the student has to deal with the issue.
c.     Help them through it a little at a time.
d.     Increase time/duration and decrease support as appropriate.
e.     E.g. thresholds, hair brushing, new situations
15.  Mind Set Change
a.     All students with autism are delayed in some area of development
b.     Even if their cognitive function is at typical levels their social and communication levels may not be.
c.     All students can learn and acquire new skills. It just may not be at the pace that is considered normal or on time.
d.     Celebrate small victories and accomplishments just like you would big ones.
e.     We don’t expect deaf students to change to fit our skills and abilities. We don’t expect them to learn how to communicate verbally. We learn sign language.
16.  When teaching children with autism we must be quick to adapt, follow our instinct and go off plan. – Adele Devine
17.  10 Things every child with autism wishes you knew by Ellen Notbohm

Original photo by Pat Hensley


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