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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Austism in the classroom

4 Replies 554 Views

I have a student this year with Autism. She is a wonderful person with a very kind heart. This student does not get any special services, as per parent request, and I try to differentiate for her but she won't do anything less than what the other students are doing, though she is unable to do so in the time given and then quickly frustrates. I have tried many things to keep her from getting so upset, like physically cutting an assignment in half, highlighting only the questions she needs to answer, and having an Educational Assistant preteach lessons in math. Does anyone else have any ideas on how I can help this student feel successful? She gets very down on herself when she compares herself to the other students. Thanks!

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Maureen Romanowski's picture

What age group are we talking about? I teach children with autism and they do like to complete something once they start it. She sounds like she is very high functioning and apparently aware of what the other students are doing. What happened when you cut the assignment in half? Did she get upset? Does she act out when she gets frustrated or does she use her words? Does she know that she has autism? I know I am asking a lot of questions, but there are so many variables that go into deciding how to handle each situation.

Betsy Sanford's picture

Hi Maureen,

Thank you for all of your questions. I teach second grade and this student is very high-functioning. She didn't like that her page looked different than the other students' work when I cut it in half. She gets upset and she cries without being able to communicate what is bothering her. She just says "OK" repeatedly as if she can't articulate what she is agreeing with. I believe that she knows that she is different, but I am unsure if she would know the word autism. Thanks for your help! After reading some of our articles about brain research this week, I kept thinking of this student and how little I know and understand about her thought processes. Any little bit will help!

Maureen Romanowski's picture

Betsy,

What she is doing is self-talking to calm herself down. For many of our students once they get to this point you have to try to let them just calm themselves down. You can try to talk her down, but she won't really hear you. Unfortunately, as the skills get harder and the social demands start to increase it gets harder for our students to keep up. It usually happens around third grade when the writing demand goes way up. I understand the parents wish to have their daughter included as much as possible, but as she gets older it will get tougher. She is pretty young to be told about autism and it definitely is a decision to be made by the parents. Do you have a behaviorist in your district? She sounds like she could benefit from social stories. A behaviorist could write them for you. She needs some more appropriate coping strategies, or replacement behaviors, for her crying out. Have you tried just enlarging the page so that her page is the same size as all the other students but it has less problems on it? Is she only having issues in one content area or is there multiple areas? Is going to a resource room to complete the problem content area an option? Sorry I didn't get back to you last night.

Betsy Sanford's picture

Hi Maureen,

Thank you so much for your help. We are currently working with our behaviorist and we are using social stories more since she is frustrating more. It is not just one area that is bothering her, but as you said, the writing is starting to effect all academic areas. I love your idea about blowing the paper up so it is the same size. That is genious! Going to the resource room is an option, but she views it as a puncishment and wastes a lot of time walking down there. I can tell that she wants to be in the classroom as much as possible. Thanks again for all of your help!

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