I have spent a wonderful day today at Geneva Centre for Autism's Symposium 2016 (#autism2016). It was wonderful because I got to reconnect with so many previous colleagues who have each gone in interesting directions, and some still doing fantastic work for Geneva Centre. It was wonderful because I started the day off on a plane with a gorgeous sunrise and a brisk walk from the airport to the conference. It was wonderful because I was sharing some of my work, and chatting with those who are in the field is always so rewarding for me. It was wonderful because I see self-reg everywhere, and it has literally had me grinning ear to ear ALL DAY LONG. For me, this is the culmination of the "Year of Reframing". What have I reframed? Here are a few examples.
How do YOU reframe? Drop me a line - I'd love to share ideas with you.
I love the internet. I love that for a critical thinker, most of the answers in the world can be Googled. That said, there have been too many incidences lately of the internet being used from a negative motivation that it's prompted my to say my piece. Not on anyone's site, page, or discussion but my own. I have always been interested in comments sections. Why? Perhaps because the sociology of people posting passive aggressive (and sometimes simply aggressive) comments behind the guise of anonymity interests me. Even when using one's own name, people post things online that they would never say to your face, as this would be socially unacceptable and cause you to come across as grumpy, miserable, or mean. I suppose people are not always making the connection between their online personalities and their real-life ones. In larger cities, people are more anonymous - in a smaller town, everyone is connected by 2 degrees of separation at most (give or take). By tomorrow, most of the people I bump into will know where I walked my dog this morning. Add in online networks, and this phenomenon quickly magnifies.
People who have never spoken a word to you in person may pop out of the woodwork when they misunderstand something they read, or simply don't take the time to think critically about possible intent or consequence. It certainly makes you wonder where the motivation comes from. Perhaps it is simply, as the picture suggests, an attempt at thought leadership, but it's nice to think that people might generate their own opinions based on fact, not Facebook.
In any case, apply this to some of the online harrassment and bullying that we are all so aware of in this field on the parts of our clients. Individuals are made fun of, and are the recipients of a barrage of negative comments because they have been misinterpreted, rather than accepted, by their peers. In a field where it is our goal to be open-minded, positive, and accepting, such comments on local charity pages from individuals in the field have struck me as highly ironic.
When posting online, perhaps we should follow a few simple unwritten rules (going back to my clinical work). See the following link for more on how we sometimes need to teach these rules explicitly to people using the internet. (Source: http://isc.sagepub.com/content/36/5/279.short)
1. When someone posts something, it has the potential to go to millions of people. Chances are slim to none (according to simple statistics), that the post is about you. Posting as if it is might make you look self-centred.
2. When you reply negatively to an online post, you are starting an argument. If you are feeling angry when you type, you are probably replying negatively. There are some great tips here: http://www.studygs.net/listening.htm. Consider them if you wish to engage in discussion as opposed to argument.
3. If you disagree or don't fully understand a comment, use a personal message, not a public post. Posting inflammatory remarks in an online thread can make you look argumentative and negative and will shut down communication. Personal messages are much more like a human conversation. Even better - pick up the phone and speak directly.
4. Ask yourself before clicking 'post': Would I say this to this person if we were talking face to face? How might I word it differently in person? Try rewording the message as if you were speaking face to face.
5. Bear in mind that everything you post online is permanent. You can delete comments, pictures or videos, but once it is out there even for a moment, someone can take a screen shot, and it will never go away. Be prepared to stand behind every word you include in a post or do not post it at all.
In summary, think before you speak / post. Everything you say can and will be used against you when there is friction, real or perceived. Don't let it happen. Be human - speak directly, and have real conversations. If you feel good about having your voice heard, be more assertive in doing so in real life - politely, with respect, and in a way which will will have you coming across as professional and assertive, not unprofessional and aggressive. Can't we all just get along?
Application of the term troll is subjective. Some readers may characterize a post as trolling, while others may regard the same post as a legitimate contribution to the discussion, even if controversial. Like any pejorative term, it can be used as an ad hominem attack, suggesting a negative motivation.
As noted in an OS News article titled "Why People Troll and How to Stop Them" (January 25, 2012), "The traditional definition of trolling includes intent. That is, trolls purposely disrupt forums. This definition is too narrow. Whether someone intends to disrupt a thread or not, the results are the same if they do." Others have addressed the same issue, e.g., Claire Hardaker, in her Ph.D. thesis "Trolling in asynchronous computer-mediated communication: From user discussions to academic definitions", and Dr. Phil. Popular recognition of the existence (and prevalence) of non-deliberate, "accidental trolls", has been documented widely, in sources as diverse as the Urban Dictionary, Nicole Sullivan's keynote speech at the 2012 Fluent Conference, titled "Don't Feed the Trolls" Gizmodo, online opinions on the subject written by Silicon Valley executives and comics.
Regardless of the circumstances, controversial posts may attract a particularly strong response from those unfamiliar with the robust dialogue found in some online, rather than physical, communities. Experienced participants in online forums know that the most effective way to discourage a troll is usually to ignore it, because responding tends to encourage trolls to continue disruptive posts – hence the often-seen warning: "Please do not feed the trolls".
A popular early article defining and explaining the issue of Internet Trolls included the suggestion, "The only way to deal with trolls is to limit your reaction to reminding others not to respond to trolls."
The above video is assumedly created with a positive heart. Certainly, we all think bullying is a problem. We may have differing opinions on what constitutes bullying, but that's a whole other post. This video shows kids being bullied, all the while singing about how one day they will be the bosses of the bullies, and will not give them raises, promotions or nice treatment in general.
A few thoughts, however...
People should not be given the message that the reason we shouldn't bully is because one day, the victim might bully you back. That's not why we shouldn't bully. That's a self-centred, "what is in it for me" attitude, and if the reason a kid stops bullying another is because one day he might be his boss, then something is wrong there. He/she should stop bullying because of his/her own internal motivation to simply be a nice person, to build his self-concept and self-esteem, not so people will treat him/her better, but to increase his/her own feelings of self-worth.
We shouldn't be taught to seek revenge. It goes against the idea shared before that we should be creating an anti-bullying CULTURE, not CURRICULUM.
Bullying is defined as the use of force, threat or coercion to abuse, intimidate, or impose domination over another, which is repeated and habitual. Are we thus saying that this is ok if it is your boss treating you this way? Are we excusing it if your boss was bullied as a child, or if you were mean to someone when YOU were younger?
We should be teaching kids to reinforce each other for supporting each other, for standing up for each other, and for not laughing along or remaining silent when witnessing mean or disrespectful behaviour. We should be modelling HOW to stand up for each other by NOT being silent when witnessing a mean or disrespectful act. We should look within ourselves and determine our own sources of discontent when making defensive or retaliatory remarks about others in front of our children or peers, and stop to try to understand the other point of view. In doing so, we teach others to do the same. Make it cool to stop fighting because it's simply a better world when we get along, not because the person might one day retaliate or seek revenge.
On that note, the efforts of the video maker are very much applauded. It brings in humour to reach a wide audience who doesn't simply want to be preached to, and is trying wholeheartedly to get a message across to those who are bullying by imagining what might motivate them to STOP bullying. Hopefully, the message that gets out there is that there is no long term benefit to bullying (and the whole karmic what-goes-around-comes-around message), empathy for the underdog, and certainly the "it gets better" message, which is such a strong message.
I leave you with that message as well (below). There are some wonderful messages as part of this campaign (The It Gets Better Project), but this one is powerful. We can't always change the problem overnight, but we can provide support to those who are victims of bullying (and there are many individuals and populations that are at higher risk), and both the videos included here shed light on the big picture - that nothing lasts, and that wonderful things are yet to come.
There is an earlier post in this blog about where to download free visual supports and how to copy/paste/print them for your own use. However, there are many more freebies available online, with more added every day. This outlines some of them, and what they have to offer.
First, I will repeat some of the links previously discussed, as they are fantastic resources that should be shared and used regularly:
Individually created visuals that you can open and print and share to your heart's content. Content is growing regularly, and watch for an upcoming app, where even more will become available in a simpler format.
Geneva Centre for Autism's Visuals Bank is a great resource, full of excellent printable visuals from their well-known workshops, and a collection of videos of autism experts demonstrating / discussing how to use them.
Do2learn provides thousands of free pages with social skills and behavioral regulation activities and guidance, learning songs and games, communication cards, academic material, and transition guides for employment and life skills.
CurriculumSET is a collection of resources that facilitate the sharing of customized technology-based content among educators working with students who use assistive technology. This searchable database enables educators to find, download, and customize activities, templates and public domain accessible books based on the ten areas of the curriculum as set out by the BC Ministry of Education.
PictureSET is a collection of downloadable visual supports that can be used by students for both receptive and expressive communication in the classroom, at home, and in the community. This searchable database allows you to find a wide range of useful visual supports for different curriculum areas, activities, and events.
While there are lots of visuals out there, remember to individualize yours to meet the needs and learning style of your child.
Here are some other great gems from the internet...again, all free!
ABA Data Sheets
An effective education program must continually be evaluated. Keeping good records is a great way to make sure that everyone who spends time with a child is encouraging and reinforcing the same behaviours. Each Activity Data Sheet gives condensed instructions for performing the activity, provides space to record the child’s performance, and has an area for notes. The data sheets are reproducible.
Public Information Sheets and Kits
The centre for disease control offers a variety of information sheets from screening to prevalence to early signs in different languages.
Autism Ontario hosts a variety of online publications and reports, videos (ok, these aren't free but are fabulous resources), and articles, and tear-off pads for professionals (doctor's offices, public health units, ELKP teachers, and so on) to offer information about early signs of autism.
Autism Parent Resource Kit: A comprehensive resource for families to better understand autism and the range of services and supports available in Ontario. The ministry talked to families and caregivers of children and youth with Autism Spectrum Disorder across the province to develop the content in this kit, and invites ideas, information and feedback from you, too.
Free videos, a great book list, a free physician handbook, a link to Autism Canada's Service Junction (a very comprehensive and searchable listing of services across Canada), and a listing of educational programs for those pursuing careers in the field of autism).
Free Materials, Activities, and Ideas
Both these links, via Building Blox, offer great ideas and downloadable materials to create some fantastic teaching material
And finally, some detailed tax information, just one day too late (sorry - but use this information to start collecting the information you need for next year's taxes!)
Tax information on what types of therapies and tax deductible (shameless self-promotion: Full Spectrum Learning provides psychologist-supervised programs in Sault Ste Marie in partnership with Emerging Minds).
Hopefully, you get some good resources out of this. Please comment below if you are aware of quality, useful (and FREE) resources on the internet, including a link and brief description. Share, share, share!
No Bully Zone. Bullying is a hug problem. I was bullied in school today. So and so is a big bully. None of these statements are helping to solve a problem. Thay are simply making a growing problem into a buzzword that annoys people and pacifies some into thinking they have an effective anti-bully campaign in place.
After seeing the movie, Bully (http://www.thebullyproject.com/), I became so emotionally invested that I've felt the need to share my thoughts on this subject. I work with a population that because of their social challenges, are too often a victim of bullying, and this film spoke to that. It also spoke to the fact that there isn't enough information out there to prevent bullying, and that there are children that are dying because of the psychological effects of what some describe as "kids being kids". The following article outlines one local family's story and some of the responses from community partners to this evergrowing concern: http://www.saultstar.com/2013/04/03/everyone-needs-to-act-when-bullied-teens-are-in-trouble.
My concerns and comments are threefold:
1. We can NOT stop bullying simply by telling bullies to stop. Creating a way for children to make themselves seem cool by rebelling is ineffective.
2. Wearing a pink shirt does not stop bullying. I have seen children wearing anti-bullying shirts while calling each other names.
3. You can't simply eliminate one behaviour without teaching an appropriate replacement behaviour.
We need to teach children the social skills to avoid bullying and appropriately stand up for themselves, and we need to spread awareness about how to effectively create schools and communities where bullying is simply not cool.
Look at peer-reviewed research on corrections systems. Look at peer-reviewed articles on behavioural strategies employed by the military. Look at peer-reviewed work on classroom behaviour management. Look up "punishment" on Google. You will find an incredible amount of literature all agreeing on one thing: punishment doesn't work. Why, then, is punishment still continued to be used as a go-to in so many schools? We have spent millions of dollars training school personnel in positive behaviour support. We have reams of research to show them that punishment isn't going to create a classroom of respect and positive behaviour. Yet still, even from a school having a wonderfully positive and inclusive culture, I received a letter from one of my daughter's teachers explaining a new behaviour policy as follows: every student starts with three checkmarks in a binder, that the teacher indicated, "I will keep for myself". For actions that go against classroom expectations, the teacher will remove one checkmark. If a student loses 2 or more checkmarks during class, they lose their recess time to stay in class and must complete a reflection essay. There is a reinforcement built in - only the students who have not lost more than 4 checkmarks across 4 weeks will get a pizza party. I pause here, having difficulty knowing where to begin.
Here are some points to ponder:
Starting at the top (three check marks) with the focus on failure to lose checkmarks is ineffective.
No one is perfect, but we all strive to improve. If you start at 3/3 checkmarks, there is nothing to improve.
Once you lose that first check mark, why would a student put in any further effort when it will not be reinforced? I wonder why the checkmark binder is kept for the teacher only. Shouldn't we be teaching students to self-monitor their own behaviour? (This is a fifth grade classroom.)
If the consequence of losing recess comes after 2 check marks, why are there 3 in the binder? What use does the third serve? Something to consider.
On the topic of losing recess, there is a wealth of research in this area. I will post some in the resources section which you can click on above. They discuss the importance of recess for physical exercise, for social development, and for self-regulation. Children who don't have a chance to get their energy out, relax for a short time, and reset
for the next portion of the day are less likely to be at the top of their game for the next class, not to mention the health and social benefits to this time of day. Too often we hear from teachers that children's behaviour and social skills are lacking, yet during this opportune time to teach them appropriate behavioural and social skills, teachers are inside having their own breaks. This is a reality, as everyone needs a break during the day, perhaps none so more as teachers. However, keeping students in from recess doesn't allow for this, and prevents the students from self-regulating, which may have been what caused the behaviour to occur in the first place. Further, having to write an essay on it may also increase frustration, exacerbating the problem, not helping to solve it.
Reinforcing those who failed to lose more than 4 checkmarks across a 4 week period...well, the idea of finding something to reinforce is good. Reinforcing failure to lose checkmarks is a little off the mark. Excluding those who didn't fail to lose more than 4 checkmarks is reinforcing those who weren't targets for behavioural change to begin with, and encourages competition, not working together to help each other stay on track. (did you notice all
the confusing double negatives that reinforcing failure to lose brought to that sentence!?).
Now, for something constructive...
I don't know this teacher, and am sure he is well-meaning. He certainly works within a school which has a wonderful educational philosophy as a whole,is very inclusive, and makes students feel a sense of belonging - I've often said that it's very much a family atmosphere, which I love.I would love to see the following happen, and plan to discuss these ideas with the principal / teacher. I just have thoughts on how this classroom could be more effective for both the teacher and the students.
Criteria should be individualized - those who typically have difficulty following expectations across one class should be rewarded for desired behaviour across 2 classes initially, then later for 3, then for a week, then 2 weeks, and so
on. Setting them up to go from disruptions in every class straight to perfect behaviour across a month is setting them up for failure, which doesn't help anyone.
A teacher's record of how many checkmarks have been lost is teacher-focused and based on losing privileges for NOT following expectations. That could be switched around, so it is student-focused and based on reinforcing successful following of expectations. This teacher could give each child a card/page with 5 boxes on it for each class time (one box for each of the specified classroom expectations). During, or at the end of each class, students could fill out their own chart indicating whether or not they met classroom expectations, and even have a space where they could indicate how their behaviour affected others if they did not meet expectations. This could be verified by the teacher, so the monitoring would be a collaborative effort between student and teacher, and specific examples could be jotted onto the chart for the student to monitor across a week. This would give students some control over their own behavioural choices, lets them keep track of their own behaviours and their effects on others, and gives students specific success criteria to strive for other than protecting what they already have.
THIS is where reinforcement could be built in - if a pizza party is chosen by the class as a good reward (that will be reinforcing for EVERYONE), then the pizza party can be earned once EVERY student achieves a certain number of check marks. Setting up this kind of situation is more likely to lead to students supporting and reminding each other so that collectively, they can earn a pizza party. Often, pairs or small groups of students will be a source of unwanted behaviour. One starts, the others laugh, and the students technically reinforce each other for making poor behavioural choices. We CAN flip this around, so that the reinforcement depends on student’s encouraging each other to make GOOD behavioural choices in order to meet a collective goal. Can you see how this philosophy applies to creating a positive, bully-free school? Well, that's a whole other post!) In any case, for this to effectively work, the party must be motivating enough for every student, and the criteria must be set so that students are reinforced often enough for it to matter.
For students who are unable to maintain classroom expectations for one day, trying to do so across a month will not be effective. A smaller reinforcer for a more approachable goal might make that student more likely to attend to his own behavioural choices. Further, perfect behaviour over an entire month is unrealistic; across a one-hour class makes more sense if perfection is the goal. Improvement across a week or month is easily achieved.
Start with where the students are successful. Are they on-task for the first 5 minutes? Reinforce them after 5 minutes with something meaningful to them (this doesn't need to be tangible - it might simply be that if they are on task for 5 minutes, the class earns a one-minute silly-time break). Are they most successful during a specific type of activity? Do more of that activity, and reinforce them throughout. You can then start building in increases to expectations. In doing so, you will always have success, in gradually increasing increments.
Differentiate behavioural strategies. Some students need more behavioural support. Some need more extrinsic reinforcement, where others are reinforced intrinsically (their own successes are reinforcing). Just as we adapt teaching style to meet the needs of each student, so should we with behavioural strategies. Success for one student may be increasing from 18 - 20 checkmarks earned across a month. Another student may increase from 3/5 checkmarks per day on average to 4/5 checkmarks per day on average across a week.
When there are behavioural concerns, SOMETHING is reinforcing that behaviour. If you don't look at the cause of the behaviour (it may be more stimulating to make jokes than attend to a boring lecture, or a peer's laughter may be reinforcing), then you won't find a good solution. Students should not be taught to behave according to expectations in order to earn recess. Why, then, should this be taken away if they don't behave according to expectations.
Find what is reinforcing them for this behaviour, and use THAT to reinforce what you want to see. If they are reinforced by their friends laughing during a boring time of class, make that time more interesting, and
give them time to make their friends laugh at an appropriate time. Build laughter into lessons so YOU are in control of when that reinforcement gets delivered, not the students.
That said, this is a wonderful school. I was, in fact, surprised to see a formal letter going home to all parents of students in this class explaining this behavioural strategy. It's my intention to offer some suggestions to the teacher if he is looking for some behavioural strategies that I've seen work wonderfully. It's not my intention to complain about this teacher at all - it's just something that I've seen in a few classrooms lately that's got me thinking. This is a teacher that my daughter quite likes, and one of her favourite subject areas. This teacher has
given her many new ideas and skills that are so valuable, and I've seen the successes he has had with her.
This is a wonderful school, which has given my daughter a place te be herself, to see successes and to problem solve with so much support around her. I look forward to connecting with them on this idea. In the meantime, I hope to get the message out there that as a society, I'd love to see us focus on success - starting where we are already successful, and gradually making improvements.
Albert Einstein once said that “If people are good only because they fear punishment... then we are a sorry lot indeed.”
The puzzle piece is often one used to
represent individuals with autism spectrum disorders.
I’m not sure where it originated, but it seems to be commonly known that
its existence is based on the thought that those with autism are puzzling, and
that we need to find the missing pieces to solve some sort of problem. I disagree with this mindset, and have spoken with many individuals on the spectrum who emphatically feel the same way.
Could it have come from the largest autism science and advocacy organization, founded by those who had the funding available to start up a $25,000,000 organization “dedicated to funding research into the causes, prevention, treatments and a cure for autism”? Personally, I think the medical view that if we put enough money into it, we can find the missing piece - a cure - is a negative view. Autism is a neurological disorder which I don’t see as a PROBLEM to be solved. It’s simply a means to describe a collection of attributes which relate to differences in processing, not to problems or missing pieces in society. Those with autism have contributed VASTLY to our world, from computer-based resources to livestock handling to some of the best art and engineering our world has to offer, among many other contributions in every area imaginable. For some, their contributions may well be a direct result of their autism - common strengths include exceptional visual processing abilities, ability to
focus on a task or subject area without distraction or boredom, and strong rote memory abilities, among many others, depending on the individual.
Focusing on a cure supports the viewpoint that we need to ‘fix’ those with autism, and gives individuals, caregivers, and those who support them false hope that autism is a medical problem to be solved. Autism is neurological, and autism is life-long. An individual on the autism spectrum may not always meet criteria for diagnosis their entire life, because fantastic services are available to help individuals on the spectrum use their strengths to support their
challenges. Is this a cure? No, it’s good teaching. Is there a cure for learning disabilities or other similar neurological disorders? No, but if we live in an inclusive world, we know that every child learns differently, and through good teaching, can learn to use their own strengths to support their own challenges, regardless of who they are and what diagnosis they do or don’t have.
Further, our current diagnostic process is behavioural. We diagnose autism based on the behaviours that we see.
If we are able to change behaviours, we are able to change a diagnosis, but autism is a neurological disorder, not a behavioural one. Have we changed neurology when we change behaviour? SHOULD we aim to change the neurology of those on the spectrum? These are certainly challenging and unanswered questions.
I see a problem when people use the phrases “suffer from” or “struggle with” autism. Having autism doesn’t have to mean suffering or struggling. I know individuals who have difficulty, and I know many who are simply living with autism, and enjoying who they are. Temple Grandin, a well-known figure in the autism world whose success surpasses that which most of us seek, indicates that if given the chance to go back and NOT have autism, she would not, as autism is a part of who she is.
Yet organizations continue to use the puzzle piece as a symbol of autism; as one large organization says it, the puzzle piece represents that they are “...bringing hope to all who deal with the hardships of this disorder. We are committed to raising the funds necessary to support these goals.” This organization “aims to bring the autism community together as one strong voice to urge the government and private sector to listen to our concerns
and take action to address this urgent global health crisis. It is our firm belief that, working together, we will find the missing pieces of the puzzle.”
I wish we could find another symbol. Unfortunately, I don’t have $25,000,000 behind me in order to make this a
reality. What I can do is urge those who consider a puzzle piece to be a symbol of autism to just think about
What about thinking about a puzzle piece representing each of us, and the whole puzzle is the whole world. We are each one piece, and when put together, form society. We are all interconnected, and the world is incomplete without any one piece.
When using the puzzle piece, consider that one sole piece isn’t really representative of anything –represent autism with several pieces in several colours, all connected, with no missing pieces. In terms of autism, I like the ribbon with the connected pieces. To me, it means that if we all link together, we can support each other and create a spectrum of possibilities, but without any one of us, the puzzle is incomplete. Together, we form a mosaic that is our
colourful and beautiful world.
(image courtesy of www.michellezelli.com)
Casey Burgess is the Director of Full Spectrum Learning, providing educational, behavioural, cognitive, and social support to individuals with ASD and learning differences in Sault Ste Marie, Ontario. www.fullspectrumlearning.ca
The holiday season can be stressful for parents, with last minute shopping trips, hosting and attending parties and family gatherings, and travel preparations. Imagine the stress on children with autism spectrum disorders who thrive on routine and predictability! Imagine the sensory, processing, and executive functioning required as well as the high social demand. While children with these challenges thrive in structured environments, not only do they deal with changes, but those who best support them are in a midst of UNstructure.
Children with sensory challenges may be overwhelmed by the increased lights, sights, sounds and smells during the holidays, a stress which can impact everyone in the family. While we can't always gear an entire family to the needs of one child (nor should we), we can add in supports to help.
We can use visuals (lists or pictures in a photo album) to prepare children for upcoming events, so their environment is more predictable. Let them know about family visits and upcoming parties (at your house orr elsewhere) through a simple weekly calendar. For children that can tell time, include this information. For those who can't, you may be able to draw what the clock will look like, so when the clocks match, it's time to go. Plan extra time for each event as running over can cause problems for children with less flexibility.
Letting family members (including siblings) know how to help can be a great support. Reminders for siblings of their brother/sister's needs (sensory, communication, etc) can help. Explanations of both how to help proactively and what to avoid can be huge in preventing overload. Provide lots of attention and reinforcement for supportive siblings and family members.
Wherever you plan to be, see if you can arrange a relaxing area where your child can escape the enviromnent if needed and let your child use it - perhaps even bringing a bag of familiar toys and relaxation activities (and your relaxation visuals) can help bridge this transition.
Holiday shopping is stressful for most - tack on sensory processing difficulties and we are talking anxiety levels that may surprise you. Stores are noisy, people are brushing against each other, there are phenomenal amount of extraneous decorations and advertisements, and an unknown man in a red suit ringing a bell and talking to you, and this is against every rule you have been taught!
Go armed with organization. Tell your child where you will go and for what, and for how long - USE A VISUAL to share this. Make a list of what you will get, go directly there (ask your child for help finding the item), and don't browse. Save browsing for child-less times like lunch hour. Take less busy routes through malls, even if it means more walking from the car. Give lots and lots and LOTS of reinforcement right from the beginning for following along and for taking deep calming breaths every 5 or 10 minutes. Bring along a fidget toy to play with if there is waiting time in lineups. Allow your child to listen to headphones while you shop to drown out all the noises.
Create stories / scripts of what the expectations are for your child during the holidays. Consider the hidden curriculum, or the unwritten rules of the holidays. For example, write a story about the Christmas Eve preparations and why we do that, about how to appropriately greet guests or hosts, or about how to politely say thank-you for each gift opened even if you already have one or even if you don't like it so that the person giving the gift will be happy (it's ok to tell Mom or Dad after you have gone home). You get the picture - consider all those little social nuances that are part of the holidays.
Remember - Don't expect perfection. There is no such thing as a perfect holiday. Simply strive to be flexible and make the best of each situation. Remember to enjoy yourself, your family, and your children over the holidays. That's what matters!
Please visit http://www.fullspectrumlearning.ca/visuals-bank.html for some visuals you can print - adapt them to meet your needs. Use the drop down menu to select areas of focus.
What are some of the things you have found helpful as a parent or supporter during the holidays?
Children with learning differences, learning disabilities and developmental disabilities such as autism spectrum disorders often have difficulty coordinating information between their senses, and integrating information presented through one mode into output through another mode. For example, they may have difficulty listening to a teacher's voice, processing the information, and then having to write a paragraph based on the auditory information. Extra processing time is often needed in the moment. Other strategies can help you effectively teach students with visual motor difficulties:
There are lots of great ideas in terms of using computers within the classroom. Sure, we are bound by funding and other challenges, but keep some of the following in mind when considering how to use yours.
Too few computers for too many students? You could time-share pairs of students, have them all work together, or have some on computers while others do related curriculum activities. Also, remember that not all students have the same ability level with computers, or even ability to access computers at home, so their usage and support needs in the classroom may differ.
Do you plan on using e-communication, prepackaged learning resources, or use the two together? Computer-mediated communication will enable you to contact students and receive communications from them. Chat rooms and access to the Internet can bring a wider input from different sources to support your work. Electronic bulletin boards or forums allow students to post and read messages, and allow file sharing between staff members and students. Teachers can now set up classroom pages for free through www.weebly.com, where they can post messages and information such as photos or worksheets as well as enrichment activities and information, create forums with administrative privileges, and communicate with other staff and students.
Worksheets or information summaries can be scanned in and printed. Information can be manually entered into such programs as Kidspiration to organise materials visually, or create an assortment of webs or flow charts than can be printed, or emailed to home for use there.
Kurzweil software allows students to copy and paste a passage in and it will read it aloud for the student. With the abundance of e-books now available, this is becoming easier as scanning isn't always necessary.
Consider the information accessible via the computer. Is it relevant, accurate, or appropriate? You need to provide "useful" sources (material you have already checked), information about how to use search engines or CD/DVDs which includes the material you have chosen. Each is a valuable approach, and while you might begin with one or the other, you should eventually come to use all three (and others).
Can you use a computer to assess student work? You may have the students submit homework via email, develop chat groups where chats can be monitored, or even have students in the classroom simply save their work to their own desktop file folder. What a wonderful opportunity to teach organizational skills in conjunction with computer skills. Teach students how to create subfolders within their folder to organize materials - good copies, drafts, subject folders, etc. Work could be posted if desired and peer reviewed. There are also an abundance of online polls that could be used to submit information.
Initially, motivation is high when the students are introduced to the computer. The novelty of computers will attract them, and most students will already be familiar with them, having played some computer games. The spell check is a great support, especially to those having problems with spelling, and keyboards erase handwriting challenges, having great self esteem benefits. How are you using computers in your classroom? Let's share our ideas!
Casey Burgess is an Autism Resource Consultant with a B.Sc.in psychology, an M.A. in Curriculum and Instruction, and a Ph.D. in progress in Cognition and Learning. She has 20 years experience with direct service, curriculum development, workshop facilitation, and supervisory experience supporting children who have Autism Spectrum Disorders, and their families.