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. Preparing family
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
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.Social
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:
- Reduce the time demands, allow extra time, and just go for accuracy.
- Consider photocopies and prior “loading” of materials for children who cannot write quickly.
- Allow the use of keyboards/computers to complete work, or even recording one's answers on tape rather than the high demand of writing.
- Highlight information such as important worksheet instructions
- Removeor reduce distracting information from the environment - on walls, on the board, or on worksheets. Find a way to blosk distractions and highlight key information to make it easy to access when needed. For example, velcro fabric over bookshelves, use a cardboard cutout frame to tape over the current area of focus on the board, and don't surround the clock with unimportant 'decorations'.
To support language processing:
- Supplement verbal with written directions; write your aural instruction onto the child's notebook when relevant.
- Further, slow down! Speak slowly, clearly, and avoid additional words. Cut to the chase! Paraphrase if you aren't seeing the response you want.
- Wait for responses. Ask a question, give a minute for students to think while you busy yourself with something, THEN ask for responses. Even giving a 10 second window to respond helps.
- Provide a list of key words and concepts prior to the lesson, preferably with visuals (colour, photos, drawings).
- Direct student's attention to key concepts, essential points, etc nonverbally - point to it or circle it on their page.
- Use visual aids.
- Encourage feedback: ask student to explain what is required in math problem to ensure understanding and to teach self-monitoring (If I repeat the instruction to myself, I can prompt myself to do the right work)
What else do you find useful in yoru classroom? Occupational Therapists and Speech and Language Therapists are wonderful resources for this type of information - contact yours for more information.
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!
(To view with pictures, please click here
)Last year, I purchased the Discovery Toys starter kit, because I had used so many of their toys in the past, and they are fantastic for therapy and teaching. I didn’t want to sell the products; I just wanted $420 in toys for $140 and access to the consultant discount . Some were Christmas gifts, some were used in therapy and teaching, and some are in my own children’s playroom. Here are 10 of my favourite toys, and how I use them – not all are Discovery Toys – it’s my all-around favourite toys list.1. Progressive Puzzles – these are great because they are step by step. There are simple-picture puzzles ranging from 4 to 9 pieces. I take it one step further and photocopy the puzzle onto cardstock, and place this inside the puzzle frame at first. You can then fade out the picture so the child next completes the puzzle without it (technically, he’s matching when that visual is included, not doing a puzzle), then later complete the puzzle without the frame at all. I use these as part of the ABLLS Visual Performance Domain. 2. Castle Marbleworks for early learners, and Marbleworks for older children. Great for problem solving, Marbleworks allows me to connect and expand communication skills while building the track (building on prepositions, turn taking, sharing, colours, shapes, following instructions, asking for help, and so many others). Plus, it allows me to use the marbles as reinforcers throughout the activity, and provides visual sensory reinforcement. While engaged in such a fun activity, it’s easy to slip in targets and maintain reinforcement throughout. 3. Wiz Kids – great for working on feature/function/class. It’s a set of cards – half have a letter on them with a point value (like in scrabble), and the other has a category. You pull one of each, and see who can come up with something from the category starting with that letter. Ignore the letters to make it simpler if you choose, so simply coming up with something that is part of that category is the goal. Great travel game as it’s just a small card box, and scorekeeping is as simple as holding the cards with your points on them. 4. Don’t Break the Ice – Not a DT toy, this one is available at your local toy or department store, and works as a great motivator. It’s fun and very easy to play (you take turns hammering plastic ice blocks out of a frame until the skating bear figure falls in). I begin the game setup, leaving maybe 10 blocks out. I hold onto the last 10 blocks, giving one to the child I’m working with for each response he provides, as a reinforcer (essentially a token system). When he has all the blocks, we can play the game together. 5. Rainfall Rattle – simply put, the most popular sensory bin toy I’ve ever had. Small beads rain down through colourful disks, making the sounds of rain, and a visually stimulating show.
6. Roll & Play – simple game where you roll the big stuffed die, pick up a card with a colour match to what you rolled, and act out what is says on the card. Great for building motor imitation skills, vocabulary, and following instructions.
7. Giant Pegboard – great for working on visual matching, imitation, sorting by shape and / or colour, patterning, and horizontal / vertical block design. Again, I love to build in reinforcement by ending with an activity to build the tallest tower we can, and crashing it over.
8. Tangiball – another popular sensory bin toy, the Tangiball smells great (small smells like Vanilla, and big smells like strawberry). They squeak when squeezed gently, and have a nubby texture that’s great for tactile and proprioceptive input.
9. Flip Flop Faces – one of the most fun ways to teach emotions I’ve ever seen. Cartoon facial expressions are printed on the outside of plastic bowl-shaped domes. Domes are placed open side up (face side down), and when a beanbag (labelled with the corresponding emotion word) is thrown into it, it flips itself over and you can see the face.
10. Play Doh (store bought or homemade) – well, what list is complete without Play Doh? Rolled along your child’s hands and forearms for deep pressure input, used with teaching imitation, written in to develop letter awareness, shaped to develop shape awareness, scented with Kool Aid to provide olfactory sensory input, used as a stand for the abovementioned Wiz Kids cards – the possibilities are endless. Do you have a favourite recipe? Mine is posted in a previous blog post at www.fullspectrumlearning.ca.
Get some of your Christmas shopping done and shipped direct to you without having to leave home. Products above as well as many many more can be purchased online at www.discoverytoyslink.com/caseyburgess. Proceeds go to support local programs for children with Autism Spectrum Disorders.
If you are interested in a great kit of toys with or without deciding to sell or in a business opportunity with great product discounts, tax writeoffs, and a fun way to make extra income (or even start a new career), please visit www.discoverytoyslink.com/caseyburgess. Contact me for more information.
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WOW * WAY TO GO * SUPER * THAT’S INCREDIBLE! * OUTSTANDING * EXCELLENT * GREAT * GOOD * NEAT * WELL DONE * REMARKABLE * I KNEW YOU COULD DO IT * I'M PROUD OF YOU * FANTASTIC * WHAT A SUPERSTAR * NICE WORK * LOOKING GOOD * YOU'RE ON TOP OF IT * BEAUTIFUL * NOW YOU'RE FLYING * YOU'RE CATCHING ON * NOW YOU'VE GOT IT * YOU'RE INCREDIBLE * BRAVO * YOU'RE FANTASTIC * HURRAY FOR YOU * YOU'RE ON TARGET * YOU'RE ON YOUR WAY * YOUR HARD WORK PAID OFF * SMART * GOOD JOB * THAT'S INCREDIBLE*YOU DID IT * DYNAMITE*WHAT A TALENT * YOU'RE UNIQUE * NOTHING CAN STOP YOU NOW * GOOD FOR YOU * I LIKE THAT * YOU'RE A WINNER * REMARKABLE JOB * BEAUTIFUL WORK * SPECTACULAR*YOU DID IT! * YOU'RE SPECTACULAR*YOU GOT IT JUST RIGHT * WONDERFUL TRYING * GREAT DISCOVERY * YOU'VE DISCOVERED THE SECRET * YOU FIGURED IT OUT * FANTASTIC JOB * HURRAY * BINGO * MAGNIFICENT * MARVELOUS * TERRIFIC * WHOOHOO! * PHENOMENAL * SENSATIONAL * SUPER WORK * CREATIVE JOB * SUPER JOB * FANTASTIC JOB * EXCEPTIONAL PERFORMANCE*NICELY DONE*HIGH FIVE * YOU SHOWED GREAT RESPONSIBILITY * THAT’S SO EXCITING * YOU LEARNED IT RIGHT * WHAT AN IMAGINATION * WHAT A GOOD LISTENER * YOU ARE SO MUCH FUN * GOOD CHOICE * YOU TRIED HARD*THAT WAS A GREAT IMPROVEMENT * BEAUTIFUL SHARING * OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE * YOU'RE A GOOD FRIEND*GREAT TRYING * YOU'RE IMPORTANT HERE* I LOVE HOW YOU DID THAT * YOU LEARNED SOMETHING NEW * YOU HAVE A NEW SKILL * I RESPECT HOW YOU DID THAT*YES! * THAT'S CORRECT * WHAT A JOY*THAT’S EXACTLY IT * WONDERFUL*PERFECTLY DONE * AWESOME * A+ JOB*YAY! * YOU MADE MY DAY * THAT'S REALLY COOL*YOU WORKED SO HARD AND IT PAID OFF*THAT’S IT EXACTLY*YES, KEEP IT UP*FABULOUS
For a printable copy for your home or classroom, please click here
Creating Your Own Visual Supports
First of all, check out available web sites to see if the visual you want is already made. My favourites:
If not, here we go...
Open Word (or a comparable word processor, but I’m familiar with Word). Decide what you want the visual to say. Write the text in, leaving room for pictures to be added in.
Don’t worry about borders or anything just yet – that’s easier at the very end. Right now, you just want a simple layout.
Adding Pictures and Graphics
Make sure the cursor is at the bottom – it will make adding pictures easier. Wherever the cursor is is where the picture will end up, and sometimes it temporarily shifts the words around. They will self-correct when you do the next few steps either way, but if you ever panic, just click edit/undo. It will undo what just happened. You can back up a few steps this way by clicking edit/undo a few times.
Adding Graphics and Pictures Built In To Word
Insert Shapes: You can click on “insert” for a variety of options – you can add shapes, call-outs (what someone is saying or thinking), line arrows, block arrows....even arrows that you can add text into! Just click insert / shapes, and select the one you want. When it shows up, you can drag the dots around the border to make it bigger, smaller, thinner, or wider. You can select it, then click “text wrapping” and choose “in front of text” to make it easier to move around where you want it by simply dragging it. You can click the yellow dot on some to make part of the shape bigger (such as the pointy part of the arrow). You can click the green dot to rotate the shape around.
Insert a text box: You can insert a “text box” or a piece of text that you can shift around as if it were in a box. Click insert / text box and choose the kind of text box you want from the pop-up. When it shows up in your document, just type into it. You can right click the text box and play around with the style – removing the border, filling it with a colour, and so on.
Inserting clip art: You can click insert / clip art and a window will pop up on the right. Enter a search term, and a selection of items will pop up. When you click one, it will insert into your document. You can adjust the size with the corner dots, rotate it with the green dot, or even flip it over by dragging the dot on one side across to the other side.
Smart Art: Smart Art is included with newer versions of windows, allowing you to use pre-made graphs, flow charts, and so on. Play around with them – they work just like layers of pictures all together.
If anything is too tricky, leave it out, and draw it in by hand after. It isn’t worth getting too anxious over.
Adding In Your Own Photos
To add in your own photos from your computer, click insert / picture and navigate to the picture you want to enter. When it pops into your document, click the picture to select it, then click “text wrapping”, and select “in front of text”. Then you can move it around to where you want it. Use the border dots to resize.
Adding Internet Photos
Google Images: To add in pictures from the internet, you can use Google Images . Open Google, click on “images” in the top left, and enter the item you are looking for. Be cautious with young children around – you never know what will pop up. Browse through the pages until you find the picture you like; you can see the full sized version by clicking on it, then clicking “see full sized image”. From there, you can right-click the picture and click “copy”. Go back to your Word document and click “paste.” It will show up where your cursor was with a frame of black squares around it. To make it easier to move it around where you want it, click it, and at the top, click on word wrapping, then ‘in front of text’. The border squares are no longer solid, and you can just drag the picture where you want it, as well as resize by dragging the dots in the corners.
You can do the same with pictures from web sites. Right click, then click “copy”. With both google images and web site images, though, be aware of copyright issues. If you are using pictures for your own personal use, it is usually ok, but if you are sharing the images, please request permission from the owner.
Flickr Creative Commons: On Flickr.com, you can click on “Creative Commons”. This is a collection of images that the artists have provided permission for the public to use. Restrictions for each are indicated. It’s a good idea to use this route if you plan to share your visuals with others or to distribute them otherwise. You will need to click the image, download it, then you can enter it into a document like you do your own photos.
Play around with Word – I like to add a border to my visuals to make them look nicer and easier to cut out. You can do this by inserting a shape – a square, perhaps. Draw the shape around the edge of your visual, then right click it and select “send to back” and/or “send behind text”.
Add your copyright – it’s your work! Click ctrl/alt/c for the copyright symbol, and add your name and the year you created it!
Remember that there are lots of sources of help out there. If you run into trouble, email me – I would be glad to help you out!
© Casey Burgess, 2010www.fullspectrumlearning.ca
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Getting ready to start a new school year causes anxiety in most children; especially so for children on the ASD spectrum. As a parent, what should you be doing to help prepare your child for the highest level of success through this tricky transition?
Try the following tips to ease anxiety:
1. Visit the school beforehand with your child, especially his own classroom. If this isn't possible, see if you can visit alone and take some pictures, or ask the teacher to email you some pictures. A visual preparation of what to expect can make it easier to visualize and prepare mentally. Visit with the teacher if you can, and do a bit of a walkaround of the classroom. This is an ideal time to talk about your child's optimal learning environment with the teacher.
2. Try to obtain some of the curriculum and/or lessons that will be taught this year. If the teacher doesn't have this planned out yet, you can visit your State or Province's Department/Ministry of Education website; curriculum can be either downloaded or ordered. In Ontario, you can download the curriculum (by subject or by grade) at http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/curriculum/elementary/grades.html
, or click on "Publications" to have them send the books to you at no cost. You will need to order each subject. Having the curriculum at hand allows you to pre-teach, making school a little more predictable.
3. Drive the bus route a few times to practise. Many school boards send around a bus route list. Drive the whole route, including having your child get into the car where he/she will be catching the bus. Borrow a few neighbourhood kids to make it a little more realistic. If your child is younger, he/she may carry a picture of the school bus along this ride to generalise a little easier.
4. Write a social story about what to expect, acknowledging feelings of anxiety, and providing some illustrated examples for reducing anxiety throughout the day (deep breathing, square breathing, Tony Attwood's toolbox, etc). Visit www.fullspectrumlearning.ca/resources.html
for some examples. Try to include real photos of the school in the story, and script out the major transitions throughout the day - arrival, getting to the classroom, going to the washroom, lunch, recess, and return hom. Read the story daily, and talk about what might happen. If there are specific anxieties, write social stories for those as well.
5. See if you can arrange for an earlier or later start time on the first few days. Sometimes, the commotion of the first few days, especially at arrival time, can be overwhelming. At the very least, try to arrange a quiet spot for your child to wait as soon as he gets there to avoid some of the chaos.
What have you done to ease school transition and create success? Please click on our forums above to share your ideas, or post a comment to this blog!
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