Special Issues High School Transition, and Job Readiness
The Basics of AutismSpectrum Disorders Training Series Regional Autism Advisory Council of Southwest Ohio (RAAC-SWO) RAAC Training Committee 2011
Training Series Modules Module One: Autism Defined, Autism Prevalence and Primary Characteristics Module Two: Physical Characteristics of Autism Module Three: Cognition and Learning in Autism Module Four: Getting the Student Ready to Learn Module Five: Structuring the Classroom Environment Module Six: Using Reinforcement in the Classroom
Training Series Modules Module Seven: Autism and Sensory Differences Module Eight: Sensory in the Classroom Module Nine: Communication and Autism Module Ten: Communication in the Classroom Module Eleven: Behavior Challenges and Autism Module Twelve: Understanding Behavior in Students with Autism
Training Series Modules Module Thirteen: Social Skills in the School Environment Module Fourteen: Functional Behavior Assessment Module Fifteen: Working Together as a Team Module Sixteen: Autism and Leisure Skills to Teach Module Seventeen: Special Issues of Adolescence Module Eighteen: Safety and Autism Module Nineteen: Special Issues: High School, Transition, and Job Readiness
Training Series Modules Module Twenty: Asperger Syndrome: Managing and Organizing the Environment Module Twenty-One: Asperger Syndrome: Addressing Social Skills
High SchoolAdolescence is a challenging time for typical children.It is especially hard for adolescents with autism. Theyare: Socially sensitive Note differences with peers Time of great change and transition Peers are planning their futures Health risks include depression and seizures
Special ConsiderationsHigh school students with autism need: Structure and consistency but with some flexibility. Schedules – use notebooks or consider I-Phones or I-Pad to keep schedules – we all use them. Teaching that matches their learning style. Preparation for change and transitions. Positive attention and acknowledgement of their special gifts; look for specialized interest groups where they can show their talents or special knowledge. Direct teaching of social rules and opportunities for practice. Encouragement for social interaction with options to work independently. Motivators that include things that interest them. Shared learning environments with peers as much as possible.
Big Idea High School students with autism may need the same level of supports that they used in earlier grades. Just because they are older does not meanthat supports (i.e. schedules, organizers) should be taken away.
Special Issues of High School Social Interaction with Peers Bullying Sexuality
Social Interaction with PeersIndividuals with ASD typically struggle to respond toand understand the social aspects of a situation. Without intervention and support these challenges can result in poor communication and strained social relationships with teachers and peers, including bullying. Students may need time to learn the skills and rules, including changes in routine and where to go for help. Need for social skills may range from basic skills, such as how to have a conversation, to reading social cues and interpreting another’s point of view. Social instruction needs to be directly taught since the student with autism often does not learn social rules by observation alone.
Bullying Bullying often begins in earlier grades but can intensify in high school. Most people with autism report bullying experiences in school. Some research indicates that 94 percent of children with Asperger Syndrome are bullied in school. Bullying further isolates high school students with autism from their peers at a time when they most want to “fit in”.
Key Components of Bullying Power imbalance – A bully may be stronger, have better social awareness or social status, and have other physical or psychological advantages. Intent to harm – A bully may take negative actions with intent to generally cause physical and emotional suffering or injury. Distressed target – A bully often focuses on a person who is most different than most of the others in the group. Repeated negative actions – Bullying is not a simple, one-time event. It is a series of attacks that tens to escalate over time.
Signs of BullyingConsider the following signs or behaviors that astudent is the target of bullying: More scratches and bruises than usual – Other students may be pushing, punching, or excessively roughhousing with the student. School avoidance – Student may want to stay at home or have school refusal, complaining of a stomachache or other illness. The stress may even lead to real physical illness. Changes in character – Student may appear more sad or depressed. The student may act out the behavior toward him with becoming a bully to others or even pets.
What Can I Do About Bullying? Don’t underestimate bullying’s effects on students, especially those with differences. It leaves lifelong scars. Educate other staff about the serious damage of bullying and openly discuss concerns that you may have for specific students. There are specialized curriculums to teach students about bullying and what to do. Awareness is a powerful tool. Bullying is a covert activity and bullies most often do not do it openly, especially in front of adults. Give students safety strategies, such as traveling in a group or hallway routes that might avoid potential bullying situations.
Big Idea Difficulties in reading nonverbal social cues may be part of the reason why children with autism, especially Asperger Syndrome, havesuch a high rate of bullying. You must directlyteach social skills to students with autism and practice them every day.
Autism and Sexuality Sex and sexuality is a hard topic, especially related to learners with ASD, and one that we might rather avoid. Sexuality is an integral part of the personality of everyone. Avoiding discussion and active teaching about sexuality and can hurt our students in the long-term if it is not addressed openly and honestly. As with other social skills or interactions, the individual with autism is not going to learn the cultural rules or norms about sex without being directly instructed. Schools need to be in partnership with students’ families as sexuality issues are addressed.
Myths About Sexuality and the Individual with Autism Persons with ASD have little or no interest in sexuality. Persons with ASD are hypersexual, or have an higher than normal interest in sex. Persons with ASD are solely heterosexual.
The Truth Is….. Persons with ASD are sexual beings, as are all of us. Individuals with ASD may have sexual feelings that are out-of-sync with their level of social development and awareness. As individuals with autism grow older, their social and sexual skills sets are likely to show a wider difference from their chronological age and appearance. Other people will base their expectations on their chronological age, NOT their developmental age.
Guidelines to Teaching Sexuality Think ahead and be proactive. Do not wait until the student demonstrates an “inappropriate” sexual behavior. Be concrete. Be serious, calm, and supportive. Break larger areas of information into smaller, more manageable ideas. Be consistent and be repetitive.
Big Idea What we do not know CAN hurt us. Be proactive in teaching students with autism about sex and sexuality before theydemonstrate “inappropriate” sexual behaviors. These behaviors can target the student and make them even more the brunt of peer teasing or bullying.
Another Big Idea Sexuality Education increases the likelihood that people with disabilitieswill either have the skills to stay safe, orwill be more likely to report victimization after it occurs.
Transition Planning Transition planning requires making a plan for the student with autism for life after school. Federal law requires that transition planning in schools must take place by age 16 for students with disabilities. Ohio law asks that this planning begin by age 14. For students with autism, transition steps need to be small and incremental. Transition skills cannot wait to be taught at age 14.
Transition Planning Priorities Solicit student and family input as to where they want to be in 1 year, 5 years, 10 years. Survey current and future environments. Assess the skill needs across environments in terms of work, social, and navigation skills.
And….. Prioritize skills that occur across multiple environments. Attend to safety skills. Attend to skills that reduce dependence. Attend to skills that you will need to provide future support persons.
Ultimate Transition Strategy When speaking about skill development always remember that for a specific skill:1. If you can teach the skill, teach it.2. If you can’t teach the skill, adapt it.3. If you can’t adapt it, find some way around it.4. If you can’t figure a way around it, teach other folks to deal with it.
Basic Transition Skills for All Students1. The ability to assess themselves including skills and abilities and the needs associated with their autism.2. Awareness of the accommodations that they might need.3. Knowledge of their rights to these accommodations.4. The advocacy skills necessary to express their needs across multiple environments.
Some Useful Transition to Community Skills Personal Mobility Safety Skills Seeking Assistance Endurance Self Checking for Job Functional Quality Communication Self Monitoring for Age-referenced Behavior Clothing and Hygiene Social Interaction Skills
Big Idea Most people spend 75-80 percent of their lives as an adult. Autism does not go away when the child leaves school. We need to give our students the skills and supportsthat they will need to see success as adults in the community, work, and college.
Job Readiness and Successful Employment There is a need to redefine work readiness. We often underestimate or create barriers for student’s work readiness. Most job readiness is on the job training with sufficient supports. Time needs to be spent on co-worker training to support the individual with autism on the job. The need is to teach self-advocacy and the individual’s ability to ask for help when it is needed. Autism awareness needs to promote competence over disability. Must attend to the social dimension of the job and teach those skills. Pay attention to job match considerations.
Job Match Job match is goodness of fit of person to the job. This includes physical and social aspects of the work environment. To the largest degree possible, job must meet the individual’s needs of challenge, interest, comfort, social supports, status, hours, pay & benefits. Teach the skills that are important to the specific job and in that specific environment. This includes the social skills of the workplace. The number one cause for job loss or inability to find appropriate employment is lack of social skills.
Big Idea Teaching wrong or inconsequentialskills well is no better than teaching right or important skills poorly.