General Education Teacher Toolkit Used To Support Students with Autism By Krista Carroll
What exactly is Autism Spectrum Disorder?Autism Spectrum Disorder is a general term which encompasses thefollowing:• Autism• Asperger’s Syndrome• Rett Syndrome• Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified (PDD- NOS)Facts:1 in 88 people are diagnosed with ASD. 1 in 54 boys and 1 in 252 girls.
What are typical characteristics of students with ASD? • Difficulty with social interaction• Examples: Little or no eye contact and difficulty initiating play • Challenge with communicationExamples: Delayed speech development and tendency for one- sided conversation • Engages in repetitive behavior Examples: Hand flapping and pacing
The majority of students that General Education Teachers tend to havehave either autism or Asperger’s. What are the main differences? Autism Asperger’s Severe problem with No significant language language delays Significant learning Less significant learning disabilities disabilities
How can you best support your student with ASD? Congratulations!Since students with autism thrive onroutine, structure, and visual supports, you are mostlikely implementing many successful strategies inyour classroom. Let’s take a look at differentexamples of the various supports available.
Seating• Seat your student away from noisy parts of the classroom such as pencil sharpener, water fountain, hallway door. Students with autism have sensory processing issues and a noise we consider “normal” noise can be far too loud for them.• If you have a paraprofessional working with your student, you should seat the child at the end of the row or group. This way your para can easily assist the student as needed.• Seat your child next to a helpful student.• Use a tactile cushion! These support sensory awareness, promote balance, and can help your student focus. (Ask your District’s Occupational Therapist if you can borrow one.)
Visual SupportKeep rules simple and clear. Use photographs with your students modeling the rule. Using pictures of themselves gives children a sense of ownership.
Visual Support• Students with autism have difficulty transitioning from one activity to another. Having a schedule that is posted in class helps them know what to expect next. Their personal schedule has the same activities as the class schedule but is one they can keep at their desk. By having the schedule at their desk as well, it limits disruption because they are not having to constantly “check” the class schedule throughout the day. Class Schedule Example
• Use a Visual Timer: Time is an abstract concept that can be difficult for your student with autism to understand. Using a timer gives students a visual of how much time is left before a transition.
Personal schedules can be made into a formal list with icons, divided intoa.m./p.m. assignments, or “To Do”/ “Done” board. These can be made outof index cards, regular copy paper, magnetic board with magnets, and anyother way that works best for your student.
Minimizing Sensory Processing IssuesAs mentioned earlier, many children with autism have sensoryprocessing issues. This puts all of their senses on high-alertwith sensitivity to noises, smells, bright lights, and lots ofclassroom stimulation. When setting up your classroomminimize distractions. • Avoid using room fragrances such as Glade Plug-ins, etc. • Keep your classroom decorated simply.
• Classroom lighting needs to be taken into consideration. Take advantage of natural light as much as possible and Keep lights as soft as possible. This is not an turn the bright, overhead lights halfway or completely off easy task with our bright, florescent lights but when possible. Table lamp lighting helps provide it is possible. Select times of the day when enough light without the harsh flourescences that we there is enough natural light and the overhead have become accustomed to in our classes. lights can be turned halfway off.• Provide headphones when a child is over-stimulated • Give your student advanced notice if there from the classroom activity and/or use during lunch in will be a drill and provide headphones if the cafeteria. Give advance notice when there will be a they are sensitive to noise. They can use fire drill in order to prepare your student as well as to these headphones during work time, provide headphones. These work well for ASD students cafeteria, etc. as well as your General Education students.
Social StoriesA Social Story can be a written or visual guide describing various socialinteractions, situations, behaviors, skills or concepts and wereintroduced and described by Gray and Garand (1993).These stories help teach specific concepts in kid-friendlylanguage.
Here is to a wonderful school year head! For more information visit: www.autismspeaks.org www.modelmekids.com www.templegrandin.com