CAPAAS Members and associate members please use the login below.
The login will take you to a wealth of resources which may be useful to the followng:
Teachers, Teaching assistants, Learning Support Assistants, Special and Mainstream Schools.
Resources for Parents, Carers, Statementing model letters, SEN Education, Health and Social Care.
Resources for Professionals, Various resources for Autistic Spectrum Related Disorders/Conditions.
Resources for all PDF Documents Policies National, Local, Schools etc. policies and other documents Governing bodies are required to have by law.
Below are just a few tips for all, for more indepth information and model letters please contact CAPAAS for membership information and login details.
During the course of your child’s education it is most important, that as a parent you play a vital part in the education of your child, and are equally involved in this process. Part of this process should effectively see parents as truly equal partners in the team that develops the child’s Individual Educational Plan (IEP).
Throughout this time parents are likely to interact with a great many professionals, being able work with these people effectively is vital, by exchanging ideas, highlighting areas of concern, constructively communicating about what works and what is not, are all key elements to your child’s educational success. It is also important to remember, be diplomatic while at the same time being a strong advocate for your child. ‘Parents are the experts by default’ is a phrase I often use for reasons I feel should be quite obvious, as we know our children best; we also have the greatest investment in them.
CAPAAS feel these are the points to remember.
Work constructively with the teachers/ support staff who work with your child.
Obtain/source information; be aware of all your options.
An effective way to keep communication open with effective dialogue between parent and teacher is to use a home to school diary. Ask teachers/ support staff to write in these each day, you can do the same. The use of these is especially effective with non-verbal children
Working with the school can a very emotional, personal process, as it is your child, remember it's very easy to feel defensive. With this in mind it is important to describe your needs in behavioural terms, not emotional terms.
Inform teachers and support staff immediately of anything occurring at home which may have an effect on your child. Having a stressed child who cannot attend to task, who may be exhibiting disruptive behaviour, may well be misconstrued by teachers/support staff who may misread the signs. See CAPAAS classroom passport.
Keep things in perspective: Think, "Is what my child is doing typical for his age group, or is this behaviour to do with his disability?" Use of the CAPAAS passport could encourage those who work with your child to do so, too.
Remind Educational staff of your child's strengths. Encourage teachers to praise him or her.
Ask the teacher to have your child be in the helper position at times, not always the one being helped.
Remember to think of your child first. The disability is just part of who your child is.
A good thing to do is also to write letters thanks or make calls to say thank you when things are going well. Let teachers/support staff know about any successes, especially those that occur outside of school. Also send a copy of your letter to the
Head Teacher, so he or she, too, knows what a great job your child's teacher is doing.
Support the Teacher/support staff who works with your child even when things aren't going as well. Encourage them to keep trying, that tomorrow will be better, and how you appreciate their efforts on your child's behalf.
Be willing to take part in things yourself. Volunteer to help out with things. Be as involved as possible.
Should you feel that perhaps decisions are being made without you, contact those concerned, ask to be included in discussions? Suggest perhaps a "pre" IEP meeting to talk about some of your ideas/aims. This is especially helpful for meetings including those that involve therapists and/or both teachers/support staff. Quite often, talking before the meeting with the specific people who are responsible for your areas of concern, will enable you structure the formal meeting so it goes smoothly as such the entire group can sign off.
Remember parents have a lot of power. If something is not resolved quickly, work on it,. Teachers don't always have as much leverage as you think. Woking with your child’s teacher/support staff could resolve things much faster. By communicating early, you can avoid becoming angry and frustrated; by intervening early, you can avoid a situation escalating into a huge problem or crisis.
Evaluate yourself closely; identify habits or attitudes that may possibly interfere with effective communication or your being taken seriously.
If you are not sure about how to talk with teachers, connect with other parents of the CAPAAS support group get a parent advocate to work with you someone who's gone through what you're going through. Or contact other parents at school; talk with them about what they are doing.
Remember where you feel it possible ask that your child participate in everything, even at a modified level of activity.
Convince teachers/support staff to try new activities or approaches before disqualifying them, even if it's suggests that are tried for a trial time of perhaps one month.
Even if you don't always agree with the methods that are being used, if your child is improving, recognize it, and acknowledge it. Maintain good Parent Teacher/support staff relations. Above all always remain open to sharing information about your child. Bring someone with you to any meetings, for moral support, we at CAPAAS feel you should not attend a meeting on your own, they can help you remember
If you're part of a parent group like CAPAAS, consider inviting teachers/support staff to a meeting every now and again. They may curious about what parent groups talk about and would appreciate being included in discussions. Their perspectives are often valuable. Always aim to maintain a "we" attitude. Ask how "we" can work together to solve a given problem.
Lastly remember that inclusion isn't only for kids, it’s for everyone.
Permission allowing the use of this copyrighted article has been given to Steven McGuinness to use on this page, by Arthur Becker-Weidman, Ph.D.
Center For Family Development
5820 Main Street, suite 406
Williamsville, NY 14221
The Asperger’s (AS) child may have a powerful predisposition to inertia especially when he is stressed or tired. This profound lack of energy or ability to initiate action is seen in the child’s school, home, and social life.
Inertia may prevent the AS child from being able to get out the door to school. If his parents do get him to school he freezes up when he has to make social contact with other kids sitting at a table in the lunchroom. He is stuck in the corner of the room and has to be gently guided out by a teacher. Feeling totally overwhelmed, he ends up staring straight ahead and cannot remember what he’s supposed to do next. When his teacher addresses him he grunts out a reply but does not return to his work. He may have a very difficult time telling his teachers what he needs and he tends to be passive in the face of their criticism. He cringes at his PE teacher’s verbal abuse and does not report it. In a social setting, he is rarely the first one to initiate a social contact and needs to see someone else doing it first.
This lack of ability to initiate activity probably relates to the fact that Asperger’s kids may be deeply apraxic when it comes to affective, cognitive, and behavioral tasks. That is they do not automatically visualize what movements look like, what conversation with others might sound like, or generally what will happen in the future. Having no way of seeing the potential future, the child cannot plan his present action and so does nothing. Normal people continually feed themselves flashes of images of the next movement a split second before the movement happens. The child with Asperger’s Syndrome may lack this awareness. As a result he is slowed in movement to the point of not moving at all.
Here are five survival strategies to help the Asperger's child realize his gifts and reduce the challenges posed by his attention differences.
1.Consult with him to find ways to reduce the stress that he experiences. Talk to him about what is going on at school or on the job. Asperger’s children tend to be very proud. If they cannot follow along in a class (because of the wrong teaching methods), they may attempt to resolve the issue by just refusing to get on the bus in the morning. It’s easier to say "Hell no I won’t go," then to say, "I feel stupid not being able to do the work. Help me!" If they cannot keep up the pace in a job that requires tight teamwork, they are apt to throw down their apron and leave in a fit of anger and frustration.
2.Use a prearranged touch prompt. In the example above of the boy who had the debilitating "space outs" while cooking, I suggested that his parents help him keep on track by touching him firmly on the shoulder (a place where he could tolerate strong touch) while suggesting the next step he needs to accomplish in the recipe. A good prompt should provide just the right amount of verbal and tactile stimulation along with a clear and concrete suggestion for the next step stated in visual terms: "O.K. Stephen, looks like you need to open the recipe box and look up the card for oatmeal cookies."
3.Lead from behind. To reduce inertia you have to get in the habit of following behind the child somewhat. You go at his speed. If he stops, you stop and get into a consulting role with him. "Jeremy, you’re doing great work getting out the door. You looking for something right now?" Curb your own anger, take a breath, and bridge to his issue. Give him the time that he needs.
4.Help him calm by pacing his breathing. If he freezes up and can’t get out the door to take the bus over to his friend’s house for a birthday party, ask him what you can do to help. If he does not answer, assume that he is experiencing anxiety, and that though he seems serene and very still on the outside, his mind is racing at break-neck speed on the inside. Just sit next to him calmly and let your relaxed pace of breathing relax his. Tell him whatever you think he needs to hear to be more relaxed and then get back to helping him to the next step when he is in a better place to hear.
5.Teach him binary decision-making. One of the most powerful causes for inertia is the feeling of the Asperger’s child that some task is so vast and complex that he can’t possibly accomplish it. To overcome this barrier, teach him how to factor any problem into two decisions. He makes one of those decisions and then factors the next part of the issue into two more decisions, and makes one of these decisions until the job is done.
If you want to get him to clean up his room, have him first make two piles. One pile is for things that stay. One pile is for throwaways. When he’s down to the pile for things that stay, divide it into one pile for clothes and one pile for electronic parts. When this is done, take each pile in turn. In the electronic parts pile, put all parts that pertain to current projects on one shelf and all parts from past projects on another, and so forth. He needs a very concrete way to work from the whole to the parts. It’s easier to get going on things if he deliberately uses the "yes/no," "zero/one," language of binary code to break the problem into manageable chunks.
The classroom routines should be kept as consistent, structured and predictable as possible. Children with AS often don't like surprises. They should be prepared in advance, when possible, for changes and transitions, including things such as schedule breaks, vacation days, etc.
Rules should be applied carefully. Many of these children can be fairly rigid about following "rules" quite literally. While clearly expressed rules and guidelines, preferably written down for the student, are helpful, they should be applied with some flexibility. The rules do not automatically have to be exactly the same for the child with AS as for the rest of the students--their needs and abilities are different.
Staff should take full advantage of a child's areas of special interest when teaching. The child will learn best when an area of high personal interest is on the agenda. Teachers can creatively connect the child's interests to the teaching process. One can also use access to the special interests as a reward to the child for successful completion of other tasks or adherence to rules or behavioral expectations.
Most students with AS respond well to the use of visuals: schedules, charts, lists, pictures, etc. In this way they are much like other children with PDD and autism.
In general, try to keep teaching fairly concrete. Avoid language that may be misunderstood by the child with AS, such as sarcasm, confusing figurative speech, idioms, etc. Work to break down and simplify more abstract language and concepts
Explicit, didactic teaching of strategies can be very helpful, to assist the child gain proficiency in "executive function" areas such as organization and study skills.
Insure that school staff outside of the classroom, such as physical education teachers, bus drivers, cafeteria monitors, librarians, etc., are familiar with the child's style and needs and have been given adequate training in management approaches. Those less structured settings where the routines and expectations are less clear ten to be difficult for the child with AS.
· Try to avoid escalating power struggles. These children often do not understand rigid displays of authority or anger and they will become more rigid and stubborn if forcefully confronted. Their behavior can then get rapidly out of control, and at that point it is often better for the staff person to back off and let things cool down. It is always preferable, when possible, to anticipate such situations and take preventative action to avoid the confrontation through calmness, negotiation, presentation of choices or diversion of attention elsewhere.
· A major area of concern as the child moves through school is promotion of more appropriate social interactions and helping the child fit in better socially. Formal, didactic social skills training can take place both in the classroom and in more individualized settings. Approaches that have been most successful utilize direct modeling and role playing at a concrete level
· Teachers should be alert to the potential for mood problems such as anxiety or depression, particularly in the older child with AS. Medication with an antidepressant (e.g. imipriamine or one of the newer serotonergic drugs such as fluoxetine) may be indicated if mood problems are significantly interfering with the child's functioning. Some children with significant compulsive symptoms or ritualistic behaviors can be helped with the same serotonergic drugs or clomipramine. Problems with inattention at school that are seen in certain children can sometimes be helped by stimulant medications such as methylphenidate or dextroamphetamine, much in the same way they are used to treat Attention Deficit Disorder. Occasionally, medication may be needed to address more severe behavior problems that have not responded to non-medical, behavioral interventions. Clonidine is one medication that has proven helpful in such situations and there are other options if necessary.
Permission is required to copy articles for use beyond your personal individual use. ©2002, Center For Family Development. All rights reserved.
5820 Main Street, Suite 406
Williamsville, NY 14221
Copyright © 2000-2005 Center for Family Development All rights reserved.
All rights reserved
Permission allowing the use of this copyrighted article has been given to me Steven McGuinness to use on this page, by Ellen Notbohm author of the new book Ten Things Every Child with Autism Wishes You Knew, winner of iParenting Media's Greatest Products of 2005 Award, and co-author of 1001 Great Ideas for Teaching and Raising Children with Autism.
Ten Things every child with Autism wishes you knew.
Some days it seems the only predictable thing about it is the unpredictability. The only consistent attribute -- the inconsistency There is little argument on any level but that autism is baffling, even to those who spend their lives around it. The child who lives with autism may look "normal" but his behavior can be perplexing and downright difficult.
Autism was once thought an "incurable" disorder, but that notion is crumbling in the face knowledge and understanding that is increasing even as you read this. Every day, individuals with autism are showing us that they can overcome, compensate for and otherwise manage many of autism's most challenging characteristics. Equipping those around our children with simple understanding of autism's most basic elements has a tremendous impact on their ability to journey towards productive, independent adulthood.
Autism is an extremely complex disorder but for purposes of this one article, we can distill its myriad characteristics into four fundamental areas: sensory processing challenges, speech/language delays and impairments, the elusive social interaction skills and whole child/self-esteem issues. And though these four elements may be common to many children, keep front-of-mind the fact that autism is a spectrum disorder: no two (or ten or twenty) children with autism will be completely alike. Every child will be at a different point on the spectrum. And, just as importantly - every parent, teacher and caregiver will be at a different point on the spectrum. Child or adult, each will have a unique set of needs.
Here are ten things every child with autism wishes you knew:
1. I am first and foremost a child. I have autism. I am not primarily "autistic." My autism is only one aspect of my total character. It does not define me as a person. Are you a person with thoughts, feelings and many talents, or are you just fat (overweight), myopic (wear glasses) or klutzy (uncoordinated, not good at sports)? Those may be things that I see first when I meet you, but they are not necessarily what you are all about.
As an adult, you have some control over how you define yourself. If you want to single out a single characteristic, you can make that known. As a child, I am still unfolding. Neither you nor I yet know what I may be capable of. Defining me by one characteristic runs the danger of setting up an expectation that may be too low. And if I get a sense that you don't think I "can do it," my natural response will be: Why try?
2. My sensory perceptions are disordered. Sensory integration may be the most difficult aspect of autism to understand, but it is arguably the most critical. It his means that the ordinary sights, sounds, smells, tastes and touches of everyday that you may not even notice can be downright painful for me. The very environment in which I have to live often seems hostile. I may appear withdrawn or belligerent to you but I am really just trying to defend myself. Here is why a "simple" trip to the grocery store may be hell for me:
My hearing may be hyper-acute. Dozens of people are talking at once. The loudspeaker booms today's special. Musak whines from the sound system. Cash registers beep and cough, a coffee grinder is chugging. The meat cutter screeches, babies wail, carts creak, the fluorescent lighting hums. My
brain can't filter all the input and I'm in overload!
My sense of smell may be highly sensitive. The fish at the meat counter isn't quite fresh, the guy standing next to us hasn't showered today, the deli is handing out sausage samples, the baby in line ahead of us has a poopy diaper, they're mopping up pickles on aisle 3 with ammonia….I can't sort it all out. I am dangerously nauseated.
Because I am visually oriented (see more on this below), this may be my first sense to become overstimulated. The fluorescent light is not only too bright, it buzzes and hums. The room seems to pulsate and it hurts my eyes. The pulsating light bounces off everything and distorts what I am seeing -- the space seems to be constantly changing. There's glare from windows, too many items for me to be able to focus (I may compensate with "tunnel vision"), moving fans on the ceiling, so many bodies in constant motion. All this affects my vestibular and proprioceptive senses, and now I can't even tell where my body is in space.
3. Please remember to distinguish between won't (I choose not to) and can't (I am not able to).
Receptive and expressive language and vocabulary can be major challenges for me. It isn't that I don't listen to instructions. It's that I can't understand you. When you call to me from across the room, this is what I hear: "*&^%$#@, Billy. #$%^*&^%$&*………" Instead, come speak directly to me in plain words: "Please put your book in your desk, Billy. It's time to go to lunch." This tells me what you want me to do and what is going to happen next. Now it is much easier for me to comply.
4. I am a concrete thinker. This means I interpret language very literally. It's very confusing for me when you say, "Hold your horses, cowboy!" when what you really mean is "Please stop running." Don't tell me something is a "piece of cake" when there is no dessert in sight and what you really mean is "this will be easy for you to do." When you say "It's pouring cats and dogs," I see pets coming out of a pitcher. Please just tell me "It's raining very hard."
Idioms, puns, nuances, double entendres, inference, metaphors, allusions and sarcasm are lost on me.
5. Please be patient with my limited vocabulary. It's hard for me to tell you what I need when I don't know the words to describe my feelings. I may be hungry, frustrated, frightened or confused but right now those words are beyond my ability to express. Be alert for body language, withdrawal, agitation or other signs that something is wrong.
Or, there's a flip side to this: I may sound like a "little professor" or movie star, rattling off words or whole scripts well beyond my developmental age. These are messages I have memorized from the world around me to compensate for my language deficits because I know I am expected to respond when spoken to. They may come from books, TV, the speech of other people. It is called "echolalia." I don't necessarily understand the context or the terminology I'm using. I just know that it gets me off the hook for coming up with a reply.
6. Because language is so difficult for me, I am very visually oriented. Please show me how to do something rather than just telling me. And please be prepared to show me many times. Lots of consistent repetition helps me learn.A visual schedule is extremely helpful as I move through my day. Like your day-timer, it relieves me of the stress of having to remember what comes next, makes for smooth transition between activities, helps me manage my time and meet your expectations. Here's a great website for learning more about visual schedules: www.cesa7.k12.wi.us/sped/autism/structure/str11.htm .
I won't lose the need for a visual schedule as I get older, but my "level of representation" may change. Before I can read, I need a visual schedule with photographs or simple drawings. As I get older, a combination of words and pictures may work, and later still, just words.
7. Please focus and build on what I can do rather than what I can't do. Like any other human, I can't learn in an environment where I'm constantly made to feel that I'm not good enough and that I need "fixing." Trying anything new when I am almost sure to be met with criticism, however "constructive," becomes something to be avoided. Look for my strengths and you will find them. There is more than one "right" way to do most things.
8. Please help me with social interactions. It may look like I don't want to play with the other kids on the playground, but sometimes it's just that I simply do not know how to start a conversation or enter a play situation. If you can encourage other children to invite me to join them at kickball or shooting baskets, it may be that I'm delighted to be included.
I do best in structured play activities that have a clear beginning and end. I don't know how to "read" facial expressions, body language or the emotions of others, so I appreciate ongoing coaching in proper social responses. For example, if I laugh when Emily falls off the slide, it's not that I think it's funny. It's that I don't know the proper response. Teach me to say "Are you OK?"
9. Try to identify what triggers my meltdowns. Meltdowns, blow-ups, tantrums or whatever you want to call them are even more horrid for me than they are for you. They occur because one or more of my senses has gone into overload. If you can figure out why my meltdowns occur, they can be prevented. Keep a log noting times, settings, people, activities. A pattern may emerge.
Try to remember that all behavior is a form of communication. It tells you, when my words cannot, how I perceive something that is happening in my environment.
Parents, keep in mind as well: persistent behavior may have an underlying medical cause. Food allergies and sensitivities, sleep disorders and gastrointestinal problems can all have profound effects on behavior.
10. If you are a family member, please love me unconditionally. Banish thoughts like, "If he would just……" and "Why can't she….." You did not fulfill every last expectation your parents had for you and you wouldn't like being constantly reminded of it. I did not choose to have autism. But remember that it is happening to me, not you. Without your support, my chances of successful, self-reliant adulthood are slim. With your support and guidance, the possibilities are broader than you might think. I promise you - I am worth it.
And finally, three words: Patience. Patience. Patience. Work to view my autism as a different ability rather than a disability. Look past what you may see as limitations and see the gifts autism has given me. It may be true that I'm not good at eye contact or conversation, but have you noticed that I don't lie, cheat at games, tattle on my classmates or pass judgment on other people? Also true that I probably won't be the next Michael Jordan. But with my attention to fine detail and capacity for extraordinary focus, I might be the next Einstein. Or Mozart. Or Van Gogh.
They had autism too.
The answer to Alzheimer's, the enigma of extraterrestrial life -- what future achievements from today's children with autism, children like me, lie ahead?
All that I might become won't happen without you as my foundation. Think through some of those societal 'rules' and if they don't make sense for me, let them go. Be my advocate, be my friend, and we'll see just how far I can go.
© 2005 Ellen Notbohm
Ten things Your Student with Autism wishes you knew.
These ideas make sense for other kids too
Author's note: When my article Ten Things Every Child with Autism Wishes You Knew was first published in November 2004, I could scarcely have imagined the response. Reader after reader wrote to tell me that the piece should be required reading for all social service workers, teachers and relatives of children with autism. "Just what my daughter would say if she could," said one mother. "How I wish I had read this five years ago. It took my husband and I such a long time to 'learn' these things," said another. As the responses mounted, I decided that the resonance was coming from the fact that the piece spoke with a child's voice, a voice not heard often enough. There is great need - and I hope, great willingness - to understand the world as special needs children experience it. Ten Things Every Child with Autism Wishes You Knew became a book in 2005, and now the voice of our child returns now to tell us what children with autism wish their teachers knew.
1. Behavior is communication. All behavior occurs for a reason. It tells you, even when my words can't, how I perceive what is happening around me. Negative behavior interferes with my learning process. But merely interrupting these behaviors is not enough; teach me to exchange these behaviors with proper alternatives so that real learning can flow.
Start by believing this: I truly do want
to learn to interact appropriately. No
child wants the negative feedback we get
from "bad" behavior. Negative behavior
usually means I am overwhelmed by
disordered sensory systems, cannot
communicate my wants or needs or
don't understand what is expected of me.
Look beyond the behavior to find the
source of my resistance. Keep notes as
to what happened immediately before
the behavior: people involved, time of
day, activities, settings. Over time, a
pattern may emerge.
2. Never assume anything. Without
factual backup, an assumption is only a
guess. I may not know or understand the
rules. I may have heard the instructions
but not understood them. Maybe I knew
it yesterday but can't retrieve it today.
" Are you sure I really know how to do what is being asked of me? If I suddenly need to run to the bathroom every time I'm asked to do a math sheet, maybe I don't know how or fear my effort will not be good enough. Stick with me through enough repetitions of the task to where I feel competent. I may need more practice to master tasks than other kids.
" Are you sure I actually know the rules? Do I understand the reason for the rule (safety, economy, health)? Am I breaking the rule because there is an underlying cause? Maybe I pinched a snack out of my lunch bag early because I was worried about finishing my science project, didn't eat breakfast and am now famished.
3. Look for sensory issues first. A lot
of my resistant behaviors come from
sensory discomfort. One example is
fluorescent lighting, which has been
shown over and over again to be a major
problem for children like me. The hum it
produces is very disturbing to my
hypersensitive hearing, and the pulsing
nature of the light can distort my visual
perception, making objects in the room
appear to be in constant movement. An
incandescent lamp on my desk will
reduce the flickering, as will the new,
natural light tubes. Or maybe I need to
sit closer to you; I don't understand what
you are saying because there are too
many noises "in between" - that
lawnmower outside the window,
Jasmine whispering to Tanya, chairs
scraping, pencil sharpener grinding.
Ask the school occupational therapist for
sensory-friendly ideas for the classroom.
It's actually good for all kids, not just
4. Provide me a break to allow for
self-regulation before I need it. A quiet,
carpeted corner of the room with some
pillows, books and headphones allows
me a place to go to re-group when I feel
overwhelmed, but isn't so far physically
removed that I won't be able to rejoin
the activity flow of the classroom
5. Tell me what you want me to do in the positive rather than the
imperative. "You left a mess by the
sink!" is merely a statement of fact to
me. I'm not able to infer that what you
really mean is "Please rinse out your
paint cup and put the paper towels in the
trash." Don't make me guess or have to
figure out what I should do.
6. Keep your expectations
reasonable. That all-school assembly
with hundreds of kids packed into
bleachers and some guy droning on
about the candy sale is uncomfortable
and meaningless to me. Maybe I'd be
better off helping the school secretary
put together the newsletter.
7. Help me transition between
activities. It takes me a little longer to
motor plan moving from one activity to
the next. Give me a five-minute warning
and a two-minute warning before an
activity changes - and build a few extra
minutes in on your end to compensate.
A simple clock face or timer on my desk
gives me a visual cue as to the time of
the next transition and helps me handle it
8. Don't make a bad situation worse.
I know that even though you are a
mature adult, you can sometimes make
bad decisions in the heat of the moment.
I truly don't mean to melt down, show
anger or otherwise disrupt your
classroom. You can help me get over it
more quickly by not responding with
inflammatory behavior of your own.
Beware of these responses that prolong
rather than resolve a crisis:
" Raising pitch or volume of your voice. I hear the yelling and shrieking, but not the words.
" Mocking or mimicking me. Sarcasm, insults or name-calling
will not embarrass me out of the behavior.
" Making unsubstantiated accusations
" Invoking a double standard
" Comparing me to a sibling or other student
" Bringing up previous or unrelated events
" Lumping me into a general category ("kids like you are all the same")
9. Criticize gently. Be honest - how
good are you at accepting "constructive"
criticism? The maturity and self-
confidence to be able to do that may be
light years beyond my abilities right
now. Should you never correct me? Of
course not. But do it kindly, so that I
actually hear you.
" Please! Never, ever try to impose discipline or correction when I am angry, distraught, overstimulated, shut down, anxious or otherwise emotionally unable to interact with you.
" Again, remember that I will react as much, if not more, to the qualities of your voice than to the actual words. I will hear the shouting and the annoyance, but I will not understand the words and therefore will not be able to figure out what I did wrong. Speak in low tones and lower your body as well, so that you are communicating on my level rather than towering over me.
" Help me understand the inappropriate behavior in a supportive, problem-solving way rather than punishing or scolding me. Help me pin down the feelings that triggered the behavior. I may say I was angry but maybe I was afraid, frustrated, sad or jealous. Probe beyond my first response.
" Practice or role-play - show me-a better way to handle the situation next time. A storyboard, photo essay or social story helps. Expect to role-play lots over time. There are no one-time fixes. And when I do get it right "next time," tell me right away.
" It helps me if you yourself are modeling proper behavior for responding to criticism.
10. Offer real choices - and only real
choices. Don't offer me a choice or ask
a "Do you want…?" question unless are
willing to accept no for an answer. "No"
may be my honest answer to "Do you
want to read out loud now?" or "Would
you like to share paints with William?"
It's hard for me to trust you when
choices are not really choices at all.
You take for granted the amazing number of choices you have on a daily basis. You constantly choose one option over others knowing that both having choices and being able to choose provides you control over your life and future. For me, choices are much more limited, which is why it can be harder to feel confident about myself. Providing me with frequent choices helps me become more actively engaged in everyday life.
" Whenever possible, offer a choice within a 'have-to'. Rather than saying: "Write your name and the date on the top of the page," say: "Would you like to write your name first, or would you like to write the date first?" or "Which would you like to write first, letters or numbers?" Follow by showing me: "See how Jason is writing his name on his paper?"
" Giving me choices helps me learn appropriate behavior, but I also need to understand that there will be times when you can't. When this happens, I won't get as frustrated if I understand why:
o "I can't give you a choice in this situation because it is dangerous. You might get hurt."
o "I can't give you that choice because it would be bad for Danny" (have negative effect on another child).
o "I give you lots of choices but this time it needs to be an adult choice."
The last word: believe. That car guy Henry Ford said, "Whether you think you can or whether you think you can't, you are usually right." Believe that you can make a difference for me. It requires accommodation and adaptation, but autism is an open-ended disability. There are no inherent upper limits on achievement. I can sense far more than I can communicate, and the number one thing I can sense is whether or not you think I "can do it." Expect more and you will get more. Encourage me to be everything I can be, so that I can stay the course long after I've left your classroom.
© 2005 Ellen Notbohm
Ellen Notbohm is author of the new book Ten Things Every Child with Autism Wishes You Knew, winner of iParenting Media's Greatest Products of 2005 Award, and co-author of 1001 Great Ideas for Teaching and Raising Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders, winner of Learning Magazine's 2006 Teacher's Choice Award, from which this article is adapted. A columnist for Autism Asperger's Digest and Children's Voice, her articles on autism have also appeared in numerous and websites. Your comments and requests for reprint permission are welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are not to sure how to react if something has been said to you, watch other people or ask for help.
Try to keep your obsession's to yourself.
When routine is changed, try and learn to develop a new one.
When misunderstandings arise try to clarify things.
Try not to interrupt others when they are speaking.
Is it a joke? if your not sure its probably best not to laugh.
As you feel a tantrum coming on, find your best strategies to deal with it.
If people say you annoy them or you are being anti social, accept what has been said apologize and try not to do it again.
If you are listenVing to instructions, concentrate on what is being said don't be afraid to ask the person to it repeat if necessary.
Set some time aside for yourself to do something just for you - this will help you relieve some of the stress that inevitably builds up, through caring and sharing a life with a partner or child with asperger syndrome.
Try to talk to someone who might understand their may be an autism help line in your locality.
Remember that you may be able to help your partner or child by taking some of the stress away using coping strategies