A VERY brief overview from a worthwhile FCPS training through SPED PD Introduction to Autism for General Educators
Quick Facts Autism occurs in 1 in 100 kids age 10 and younger at a 5:1 boy: girl ratio. By stats, FCPS should have 400 students with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder), however, there are currently more than 500 in FCPS. One if five families have MORE than one child diagnosed. Older siblings tend to have Asperger’s, younger siblings more involved.
"Autism"…. Think of a current or former student you’ve taught or encountered that was diagnosed with “Autism”. What characteristics do you think about with that child? What concerns (ed) you about working with him or her?
“A pervasive, generally lifelong developmental disability manifesting itself before the age of 3, and characterized by severe deficits in communication and relationships, stereotypic, ritualistic behaviors, and a hyper or hypo sensitivity to stimuli. Dr. Joanne Cafiero, 1992 (has done consultant work for FCPS) What is Autism?
Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (PDD NOS)
Involves: Impaired Social Interaction (2), Impaired Communication (1), Behaviors (1) Within the spectrum, children display a wide range of differences in academic, language, fine motor and behavioral skills, but there are common characteristics.
Difficulty understanding another’s viewpoint or belief (Can be taught but does not develop naturally) Uneven patterns or intellectual functioning Difficulty understanding or expressing emotions. (Common no matter where on the spectrum.) Difficulty with social activity and making friends Difficulty relating to people, events and objects (Can seem rude or arrogant, but NOT. Simply matter-of-fact) Behavior problems are a result of lack of communication skills (similar to toddler behavior) May repeat statements without understanding what they’ve said Often no fear of danger Excessive attachment to objects Difficulty generalizing, following directions, staying on task “Floppy” body – may be clumsy and awkward Hypersensitivity to sensory experiences (i.e. Classroom fan may sound like a freight train OR may require MORE sensory input (hypo) Different reactions to situations Interests often ahead of peers Common Characteristics
Possible anxiety, depression, isolation (lack of friendships may contribute) Overcompensation for feelings of incompetence (may seem arrogant) Limited ability to accept they may be wrong Tend to be visual learners (use visual organizers, even in discussion, not necessarily pictures) Difficulty with Cause/Effect – may continue to use unsuccessful or incorrect strategies and not learn from mistakes – academically and behaviorally Difficulty changing subjects frequently May have fear of making a mistake – perfectionists Fear of appearing stupid Advice can be perceived as criticism May excel at endurance or solitary sports Many have good mechanical and math abilities Many have musical talents Many have strong imagination Many have special and focused interests (vs. OCD… can you stop?) – accommodate so it doesn’t interfere with life. Characteristics, Continued
Autism from different perspectives http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2010/04/02/health/healthguide/TE_autism.html http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2010/04/02/health/healthguide/TE_autism.html
BE CONSISENT IN EVERY WAY! Do not take behavior personally Change activities often and try to end with a success Do not set expectations too high… OR too low Do not accept common behavior problems as part of Autism. Find what motivates the student (often different) Allow choice when possible Strategies for Working with a Child with Autism
Avoid power struggles – pick your battles Make learning activities as concrete as possible. Adjust for this learner as needed. Use personal connections (student experiences) to increase participation State directions positively Use peer buddies Prioritize strategies based on what most impacts the student Best Practices (General)
“They all have one thing in common: the language feels unnatural. Hans Asperger (1944) Speech
Waiting Tempting (create a situation where the student HAS to ask/seek help) Asking, Giving Choices (requires response) Modeling Jump start (I want the _________) Speech Strategies
Use short, clear, concrete language Tell students what TO DO not what NOT TO DO Check for understanding – have student repeat directions No sarcasm – students don’t understand it Be positive Avoid threats or reprimands Acknowledge communication attempts, even if out of turn or inappropriate timing Inclusion for models Students need to… request, gain attention of others, reject or comment, give information, seek information, express feelings, participate in social routines Make opportunities for the above during general activities Communication Strategies
In a sense, “set the student up” Give the student a container he/she can not open. Instruct the student to begin work without giving directions or materials Offer an item he/she dislikes …. Sounds not so nice, but sets the student up for communication based on needs! More on Communication –Creating Opportunities
Social Scripts – short encounters, involve other students Video modeling – research shows students can gain skills and generalize into other situations Peer Buddy – with someone who has similar interests Practice – Engineering situations for the child … most handled by SPED case manager and/or Guidance Counselor Social Strategies –Behavior interferes with social interaction
Be aware of loud areas and noises (open classrooms, assemblies). May offer different choice if possible. Be aware of textures Provide a Sensory Box for those who need more input (box with items to provide sensory experience – rice, bean bag, stress ball, Velcro…) ** if sensory activity is detrimental, ex. Nail biting, find an equal alternative Opportunities for movement and weight – (“floppy body”) – may carry heavy object, binder on head, may need lap weight to feel tethered to seat. Allow for computer time and/or drawing Sensory Strategies
Did you recognize any traits we discussed? Did you come across any strategies you can try with him/her in the classroom? Please stop by or email me if you find something that works –I’d like to hear about it! ** Keep in mind – With Autism, each child differs VASTLY from one to the next, so with your NEXT student, you’ll want to revisit it ALL! Think Back….. To your “Autistic” Student
Learning is circular We are a Team I think Differently Behavior is Communication Communicate Effectively Teach the Whole Me Be Curious Can I Trust You? Believe See Me as Capable Ten Things Your Student with Autism Wants You to Know…