George Lucas Educational Foundation

Ideas anyone?

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I have a student with Autism this year that I haven't quite figured out yet. It is hard for me to tell what behaviors are due to his disability, and which are behaviors to just get out of doing any assignments. Do I insist on work completion- am unsure what he can and can't do since he's inconsistent in his responses on any given day. Do I send him to intervention to complete the work he refuses to even attempt? Any ideas?

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Tammy's picture
First Grade teacher

I have an autistic child in my first grade class. I have read through your suggestions and have found them all to be helpful. The only problem is: how do you get the parents to be on the same "page" as you. He likes to pick his nose in class. He has a shadow that works with him full time. Well we try to tell him that picking his nose is not good. We say "yuck". His parents on the other hand think that it is cute. They take pictures of him doing this and show it to him and laugh about it. Not only are we frustrated as educators, but I'm sure he is confused too. Any ideas on how to explain it to the parents?

Nicole J. Elmera's picture
Nicole J. Elmera
Behavioral Consultant, New Milford Public Schools glad you found the info helpful! Please keep us posted on how it goes or if anything comes up while implementing!

Nicole J. Elmera's picture
Nicole J. Elmera
Behavioral Consultant, New Milford Public Schools

Hi is very challenging to make sure interventions are consistent across both environments. Typically, having constant contact with parents on the current issues can help, but is not always feasible. In addition, making it clear on how such a behavior is socially stigmatizing and how his typical peers do not engage in such behavior may help the parents create healthy and socially appropriate expectations for their child. In terms of altering the behavior in question, reinforcing the absence of it rather than targeting its occurance can help to teach the skill faster and then let the parents know the strategy. Also, if you can provide a reinforcer that is unlikely to be awarded at home, it will be much easier to teach the skill at school. This could target your concerns at school where you are the adult in charge of the situation instead of the home setting where it may be more difficult to enforce a particular strategy.

Eric Levin's picture
Eric Levin
Director of Theatre Education at Southern Oregon State University

As a parent of a child with Asberger's, I have to say that as a behavior, nose picking was not even on the radar as a concern. Getting my son through the day without a meltdown, keeping him on task and teaching him how to work with others all came first. While nose picking might be gross, it also might be a repetative behavior which gives this child comfort. As a teacher, which I am also, you need to listen to the parents to get cues for the most important behaviors to deal with. You allow the child a place and time in which he can perform this action in private. But is nose picking such a deviant behavior for children of that age? I only wish wish that that was my son's teachers biggest problem with him.

Eric Levin's picture
Eric Levin
Director of Theatre Education at Southern Oregon State University

For many autistic kids the inability to complete work and unwillingness to complete work is the same thing. Often the amount of problems on a page can be daunting and cause meltdown. There are several techniques you can try. One is to give the student several options at any given time such as, "do you want to work on this English worksheet, these math problems or this science reading. They may not finish the task in one sitting, but by giving them these same options they will finish over time. Another approach is to look at mastery rather than repetition for these kids. Instead of a worksheet of 30 problems or questions which demonstrate the same skills, give them three or four problems and then reinforce the same skills a few days later. Inconsistancy of response in common. You say you insist on work completion, but to whose advantage is that, the child's or yours. I is easy to assume that because an autistic child did something yesterday he or she can do it today, but that is not the case. The adult needs to be flexible because the child cannot.

Beth Kaumeyer's picture
Beth Kaumeyer
Special Education teacher for seventh and eighth graders in Montclair, CA.

Hi. I'm a middle school teacher working with students with mild/moderate disabilities. While considered a teacher for students with learning disabilities, we are seeing more and more students exhibiting behaviors consistent with an individual on the spectrum. I recently had to take classes to receive my Autism Authorization. Through those classes I was introduced to a wonderful online resource. It's called AIMs: Autism Internet Modules and registration is free. They have many 'lessons' that would be useful in your search to find ways to reach your student. I'd highly reccommend the site. Good luck.

Lyris Mattis's picture

I have been doing extensive research on this topic and I've found some interesting information. Parents and educators need to come together to work out a plan for autstic children, it has to be across the board the parents has to know what the educator is doing and the educator has to know what the parent is doing, this would cause less lawsuits, help for the children that are involved. In reference to a previous post, the child his picking his noise you say thats yuck put the parent thinks the habit is cute. y don't u speak to the parent(s) about this behavior.. Their is a lack of communication happening with educators and parent(s), the parent(s) are the first educators, y not include them, not only on milestones but on everything, this is the problem, lack of.. Do anyone agree with intesive ABA given 40hrs per week?? General statement to those that belive the vaccines are causing autism, dont u find it weird that federal judges blocked the proceeding of lawsuits to proceed with trying to find the link between vaccine and autsim..

Eric Levin's picture
Eric Levin
Director of Theatre Education at Southern Oregon State University

The obvious answer is communication. But for many reasons this does not always happen. Parents are often in denial. Teachers often resent the interference of parents especially if the teacher does not really understand autism. Parent communication often sounds like second guessing the teachers skills. It is a very difficult situation. Additional teacher training in working with autism and focused dialogue on what strategies work for a specific student are needed. Does anyone have time?

Patti A.'s picture

Hi JB, I have a boy with autism that I have been homeschooling for over a year. This was a tough decision to make but my son was having a harder and harder time coping with the assaults on his senses and started to resist going to school and to cry, which he had never done. Things that are completely invisible to our senses/perception are 'assaults' to his. Also, the mannerisms of individuals working directly with him made the difference between a good, peaceful day full of progress and a frightening day that kept him on defensive mode and shot his nervous system into the ground (if you hear people talk to your student in a high pitched voice, loudly and in an insisting manner, ask them to lower their voice and pace themselves because they are quite likely contributing to your students distress without realizing it). If you can provide your student with a calm, peaceful environment and a 'shadow' with calm stable/steady energy you will be able to make progress. If your student acts up or resists there may be something causing him to 'disengage' and want to 'go hide'. It could even be something like thirst or needing to go to the bathroom or being tired. I created a board with velcro and images of things my son could potentially want or need or be feeling. Children with autism use echolalia or repetitive actions or the usual 'stereotypicals' as 'white noise' to water down our very hectic, noisy, unpredictable world. If your student is resisting classroom activities try having someone take him for a walk maybe to an OT room where he can swing or jump on a trampoline, etc. BTW - Once I took my son out of school his anxiety disappeared and his pediatrecian (also the parent of a child with autism), his dentist, music therapist and orthodontist all asked me what had I done to have brought about such change. They had assumed my son could never have a blood test without an army holding him down or dental work or braces. Well, it is a brand new day! :) Much success with your student and hang in there. For you it will be like learning a new language. For your student it will be learning that you 'get him' so there is nothing to fear or resist.

lisa yeoman's picture
lisa yeoman
MA Special education multi-cat/autism

I have been following this group and value your comments! I would also like to ask if anyone would please take this short survey (less than 5 min)concerning special education teachers only (past or present) it is necessary for my master's research. We need this information to move forward! Thank you!

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