Helping Children On The Autism Spectrum Thrive

Happy Great Kindness Challenge, Day 4.
Did you catch the Kids for Peace Kindness Team 
on Good Morning America this morning?

Click the Kids For Peace Kindness Bus image for the schedule.
I'm so excited that the Kindness Bus is making its way from NYC down to our town in Texas over the next few days; they're set to arrive Monday evening and help us put the finishing touches around the playground that they've donated and beautify the area around our kindness rocks Peace Garden. Isn't it phenomenal?
Come play with us!

The Challenge Course sign went in this afternoon.

What kind things have warmed your world this week?
My friend Ann found this book and bought it for me;
isn't that so kind? I can't wait to dig in.

Click the image to find out more.

I found this freebie download for a Kindness Kit

the posters are so pretty and this Texas educator's gift so generous.

Then, Kelly Tatera, a therapy provider in Austin, reached out to me to kindly offer a guest post on ways to help children with autism. I'm feeling warmed from the inside out.

Six Learning Tools and Tips to Help Kids on the Autism Spectrum Thrive

For many school teachers and counselors, figuring out how to best accommodate children with special needs in school settings can be tricky. Each case of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is unique, accompanied by its own set of behaviors and personality traits. While there’s no ‘one size fits all’ approach for autism inclusion, there are a number of tools and tips that teachers can implement in their classrooms.

1.     Visual teaching

In an Indiana University article, Temple Grandin, one of the most recognized voices in the autism community, outlined her experiences with learning in ways that worked for her, stressing the importance of visuals. 

Many individuals on the spectrum are visual learners, so it helps to have some kind of visual to go along with lessons. For example, teaching words like “fast” and slow” could be demonstrated with toy cars moving at a fast pace versus a slow pace.

2.     Highlight skills and talents

Many children with autism are extremely gifted in areas like art, music, mathematics and computer programming, to name a few. Encourage these talents and incorporate them in the child’s curriculum. These are the areas that can cheer them up on a challenging day and potentially even serve as future employment opportunities.   

3.     Teach lessons in multiple locations

Generalization is one of the obstacles in teaching children with autism. They might learn how to overcome a challenging behavior at school, but parents could still see this behavior at home. It’s important to teach in such a way that a skill or behavior is learned and can be applied in all settings.

One way to help with generalization is to work on a lesson in a few different areas around a classroom or throughout the school. Also, make sure to keep parents in the loop with different lesson plans that they can help work on at home.

4.     iPads and Autism Apps

Children on the autism spectrum often struggle with communication or are entirely nonverbal. iPads are a great tool to help with communication, as well as some of the other challenges faced by those with ASD. 

There are a variety of iPad apps engineered specifically to meet the needs of those on the spectrum. Apps can offer an alternate means of communication, help teach emotions and behaviors, and provide prompts and visual schedules to ease the anxiety associated with transitions.

5.     Use reinforcements

In order to reduce the amount of undesirable behaviors in those with special needs, it’s important to reinforce the desirable ones. Reinforcers could be a fun toy, a favorite snack, stickers on a chart to earn prizes – get creative with it.

6.     Use fixations to help teach

Children on the spectrum often become fixated on specific objects or topics, like cars or dinosaurs. Use these fixations to help teach other academic subjects, like math or reading. For instance, read books about dinosaurs or teach addition and subtraction using toy cars.

About the author: Kelly Tatera works for Action Behavior Centers, a therapy provider for children on the autism spectrum. Through online and community outreach, the ABC team strives to educate others on ASD and raise autism awareness.

Please join me in thanking Kelly for sharing her expertise.
Here are a few more resources to complement her post.
I've been reading this interesting manual.

Click image to go to the book's website.
Here's what the Smith Publicity Press Release had to say:
  • Applied Behavior Analysis: The best opportunities to lift the trajectory of the life of a child with autism is through this therapy seldom found in public special education
  • Access, Not Excellence: Special education in the United States is based on the concept of access, which is no longer sufficient
  • IDEA: The upcoming reauthorization will provide an opportunity for the law to catch up to scientific advances and social change
  • Unbundling: IDEA is likely to follow the societal trend of unbundling to offer more tailored services and protections
  • Social Media: The existence of social media greatly enhances parents’ ability to organize and advocate
  • Reading Disabilities: Why reading disabilities could be moved from special education to mainstream education
  • How Autism is Reshaping Special Education can be purchased from Amazon and Barnes and Noble

Do you know about Jetpulse Comics? Visit the link to meet Jake, a 7-year-old with Asperger's who wants to be the greatest superhero that the world has ever known. Prepare to be amazed; I think you'll agree he's well on his way.

Julia Cook's new book Uniquely Wired addresses autism;
I can't wait to get my hands on a copy.

Finally, click {here} for a Feelings Book template 
to help increase emotional literacy in your students.

No comments

I really enjoy hearing from my readers; thanks for sharing your reflections with us!