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

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

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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 worked in this placement setting before.

Mrs. K. Brown's picture
Mrs. K. Brown
High School Special Education Teacher from South Carolina

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!

Jennifer's picture

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.

Ross Jones's picture
Ross Jones
Substitue Teacher: Sp Ed, Life Skills, Learning challenges, Early Elem

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 and (2) The National Association of Special Education Teachers (NASET)
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.

Jeannie's picture

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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