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First time teaching in LifeSkills/Autism classroom....HELP!

SHARON CARROLL Elementary Special Ed teacher

Hi! I am coming from 10 years experience working with students with SLD. I have just been hired to start up a new K-3 lifeskills classroom, from ground zero. I'll have 11 students and 3 assistants. 4 kinders in the morning, 5 kinders in the afternoon and 2 1st graders all day. My classroom doesn't even have furniture in it yet, let alone materials. They are all on order. If you were me, what would be the FIRST things you would have up and ready to go by Sept 7th? I want to utilize what little time I have to get as much done as I can. I have access to their IEP's and have already looked over goals and objectives. I will have access to STAR, Edmark, Read Well K and Handwriting without Tears. THANKS!!

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Elementary Special Ed teacher

Oh, and FYI....I have NEVER

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Oh, and FYI....I have NEVER worked in this placement setting before.

High School Special Education Teacher from South Carolina

I would say talk to your

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I would say talk to your assistants as soon as possible! They will be an invaluable support system for you! I teach high school, but I would say try to find time for centers. I use my two aides and myself in three centers. It is a good way to see what the kids are learning & spend some one on one time with them. You have a small group it sounds like, which is good if it's your first year! Keep a schedule and routine is important. There are some great resources that you can use on the web to make picture schedules- this will be helpful for your kids since they thrive on routine. Also, make some "First...Then" boards for your kids. Leave boxes with Velcro so that you can place picture in the boxes. This may be helpful for your kids as well. You place a picture for what they need to do (the "first"), and they can choose from (maybe three things) what the "then" will be. For example, "First work, then play with the bubbles." There are also some great Autism websites that you can get ideas from. I hope this helps!

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Hi! I have taught a class before with children who are diagnosed with autism. You have a lot of children in your class. I would say the best thing to do is to create a happy and positive atmosphere when they first come in. I would have all play stations around the room to engage the kids in. The work will eventually come but you want to pair with your students at first.

Substitue Teacher: Sp Ed, Life Skills, Learning challenges, Early Elem

I currently substitute Sp Ed

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I currently substitute Sp Ed and thus get exposed to all areas, from emotion/behavioral to learning to the mentally challenged. Autism is unusual and requires a different approach. I hope your assistants have experience. I belong to and recommond two organizations: (1) Autism Society http://www.autism-society.org/site/PageServer and (2) The National Association of Special Education Teachers (NASET) http://www.naset.org/
If you are not a member of these groups I suggest you join. They offer a lot of information, courses, and material that I think you will find very helpful.

As a teacher and a mom to a

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As a teacher and a mom to a child with autism I recommend that you find out first what types of issues each child has before you arrange for play areas. Some textures may be irritating and some fascinating to each child... same with colors. And some items (like rubber balls) may be tasty enough to lick or eat. Loud noises may be very upsetting, so a quiet area needs to available. Music may be soothing to the savage beast but it sends my son into orbit when others sing in the room. But mechanically produced sounds are just fine - like music from a CD.
There is a great Yahoo Group called Texas Autism Advocacy run by Michelle Guppy and there you will find LOTS and LOTS of parents and professionals on a list discussing all the subjects important to learn about ... and many from the parents' perspective so you'll learn how much is involved. Even if you don't live in Texas and don't have a child with autism yourself you can learn much about autism from these folks and they will welcome with open arms. Ask them your questions and see how many wonderful answers you'll get! From the sound of it you'll do just fine. Just remember each child is so different that only by seeing them each day will you ever be able to figure out what works well and what really doesn't.Remember to be kind but firm and try not to make the room too busy with lots of stuff on the walls or to make it too colorful as that is not a plus for many autistic children. And lastly ... if you tell them you'll do something and you forget ... be assured the children who are able to communicate will remind you what you've forgotten to do, LOL! So don't worry ... you'll do just fine. You'll just have to give it some time to learn about each little one.

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I taught in a K-2 AS classroom for 7 years...if you have access to boardmaker...it will be the best resource. You will need to make individual schedles for the students to follow on a daily basis. This will be an enormous help in behavior and expectations. Also, look at TEACCH method and google watson institute (in pgh) for a great website...also google cindy glew for a helpful website.

In effort to promote and

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In effort to promote and maintain a level of excellence, there are some items that must be basic foundations in classes that serve students with autism. Promoting a basic foundation for your classroom will help you create structure in your student's program. Classrooms serving students with autism should have basic items in place to help that student be successful in the school environment. Below is a list of items that your classroom, which serves children with autism spectrum disorders, should have:

1. Schedule - A classroom schedule should be posted that reflects the following: independent work time, 1:1 (or 2:1) work time, small group instruction, social skills instruction, sensory play, structured play/structured recreation-leisure opportunities, fine motor work opportunities, personal management opportunities, limited large group activities.

2. An Effective Classroom Set Up/Engineered Environment for Students with Autism- An engineered environment created specifically to meet the needs of students with Autism is critical to the success of your classroom program. These items, such as visual supports, creating boundaries, individualization and organization should be seen, utilized and programmed into the daily operations of your class.

3. Data Collection System- A data collection system should be in place to measure each student's IEP (Individualized Education Plan) objectives. IEP objectives will need to be measured using effective data collection methods. Data collection sheets should be ready for the start of school.

4. Written Plan for Classroom Roles and Responsibilities- Your classroom should have a posted written plan that designates the major responsibilities each staff member assumes. This plan should also include the areas of the classroom each staff member is responsible for during the instructional parts of the day. For example, running the art lesson, recording attendance, preparing the snack time lesson, supporting the language lesson, preparing the daily calendar, may be the types of responsibilities noted. (Please understand that sometimes responsibilities overlap or change). Classrooms serving students with autism require a great deal of teamwork; a plan in which responsibilities are clarified will positively contribute to the productivity of your team.

5. Weekly Scheduled Debriefing Sessions- It is extremely important to meet with your team members concerning the needs and issues of your students. Your classroom team should have at the very least 1 weekly debriefing session before or after school. Suggested topics during this session are discussion of students, review and revising communication strategies, teaching strategies, behavior interventions, scheduling and classroom roles and responsibilities. Input from all staff members should be encouraged to help create a successful learning environment for staff as well as for students.

6. 3-Step Prompting Series- To serves as a guide for making requests of students should be used consistently in the classroom. Posting this on the wall will help remind staff of the technique.

7. Language Based Techniques/Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) - These techniques and strategies must be embedded in all activities throughout the child's day. AAC methods can include picture symbol task analysis, picture exchange, natural aided language techniques, visual cues for behaviors, picture symbols, photographs, written words (if the child is reading), etc.

8. A Written Behavior Plan- A plan should be in place for each child's targeted behaviors. If students have inappropriate behavior(s), there should be a plan for dealing with that behavior(s). All staff members in your class should have a copy of the behavior plans. The behavior plans can be very short or extensive depending on the needs of the student. Behavior plans can cover information as minor as "what to do when the child keeps taking of their shoe" to something as major as aggression, hitting, kicking etc. In each case, you will want to conduct a Functional Behavior Assessment to develop a Behavior Intervention Plan. The behavior plans should be a written plan of action so that each member of your classroom team responds in the same way to a behavior.

9. Sensory Issues- Sensory issues should be addressed throughout the school day. Sensory issues should be identified for each child, when applicable, and programmed for and incorporated in the daily schedule.

**I have a book called "How to Set Up a Classroom for Students with Autism" it is equally useful for any self-contained life skills class. Just email me (at the AutismClassroom website)if you want me to send you a complementary copy also AutismCLassroom.com has some free materials for setting up a classroom. Hope all goes well.

College Living for Students with Learning Disabilities etc

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life skills elementary teacher

Schedules and Rapport

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the first thing you need is:Paitence and Stamina! Second, keep your aids "in the know" about what you expect them to do. Make sure you have a master schedule and each student has an individual schedule. Build rapport with the children first, teaching them what's expected by use of positive reinforcements and possibly a token reward system (STAR program is GREAT), In the first 4-6 weeks establish routines, and behavior expectations, and utilize all the help you have in the classroom. dont be too overly concerned with centers, IEP objectives and grades that first six weeks... work on rapport building with the children, finding out their likes and dislikes. once this is established...then teaching academics or IEP objectives will come easier because youve taken the time to get to know the students and will have more success. Good Luck! Ive been teaching elementary lifeskills/ABA training/behavior managment for 6 years. Its a tough job,,, but I love it!

ID-Moderate II

Hi Jennifer: I have been a

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Hi Jennifer:
I have been a special programs teacher for twelve years. I taught AU four years and this year I became so burned out that I made a transission to elementary. I am excited about this change. So far it has been less stress. I know what you mean by establishing a routine and building rapport. Needless to say, so many of those studnets in this setting and those who struggle academically in meeting the standards for a high school diploma, I often wonder will our school system ever support the idea of a vocational school for these students. I believe if they had some working skils even if it was a shelter workshop it would benefit the student and parent by promoting a good work ethic and a sense of being independent. What do you think?

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