Author Archives: spedadvisor

About spedadvisor

College instructor in the college of education, supervisor for student teachers in early childhood and special education. Devoted mother to a kindergartener and advocate to all children.

Parent input form for IEP meeting

Parent input form

Attending an IEP meeting as a parent can be overwhelming and intimidating. At every meeting, parents have a chance to give input. As a teacher, I have seen parents who on the spot, are not able to express their child’s strengths and challenges.

The graphic organizer I created helps parents plan ahead of time what they want to share. The document includes a section to write in strengths, concerns and remedies.

Teachers can give this form to parents to fill out before the IEP meeting to help them organize their thoughts.

What are some ways you have shared your concerns with the child’s IEP team meeting?

Please follow the link to the TPT store to find the free downloadable form

10 tips for student teachers

Now that the school year has started, I am so excited to see all of the student teachers embarking on their new careers as teachers!

Being a student teacher can feel nerve wracking and kind of intimidating at first.

I created this short video on my 10 tips for student teachers!

If you have been a student teacher, what tips do you have?

Book Review: The Reason I jump: The Inner Voice of a Thirteen-Year-Old Boy with Autism

Title of the book: The Reason I Jump: The Inner Voice of a Thirteen-Year-Old Boy with Autism. By Naoki Higashida

Summary of the story/book content:

This is a fascinating book written by a 13-year old boy from Japan who experiences autism. His autism impacts him to the point where he is non-verbal. Unlike some of the other books on the market about autism written by parents, or professionals, this first-person account gives insight into what life is like for individuals with autism. As stated in the forward by David Mitchell, “The book goes much further than providing information, however: it offers up proof that locked inside the helpless-seeming autistic body is a mind as curious, subtle and complex as yours, as mine, as anyone’s” 

Even though the author, Naoki is nonverbal, he was able to write the book with the use of an alphabet board. This relatively low tech augmentative communication device is how he communicates in his daily life and he has written some poems as well. My initial reaction when I heard this was concern that they used facilitated communication which is not an evidence based practice. Naoki does not however receive any type of physical assistance or facilitation while using the alphabet board. The book was translated from Japanese to English and is now a best seller around the world. 

Parents and caregivers are now able to hear directly from someone who experiences autism which can give hope, and a deeper understanding of what is needed to support their child on the spectrum. In the past, we have had limited access the first-person accounts on autism besides that of Dr. Temple Grandin. She, as an adult, has become a voice for those who are not able to share their reality. This book is interesting and easy to read as it is from the point of view of a child. What struck me was the absolute profound and deep way this child was able to articulate his experience. Many neuro-typical children with autism are not as adept at sharing with others how they feel as well as Naoki has done. 

Reflections on the ways the individual described in the book demonstrate the characteristics of a person with Autism, as well as his strengths and needs: 

This book is written in a question-answer format and many of the most common questions that many of us have about living with autism are asked and answered. The answers are fairly brief and easy to read and digest. I will share a few of my biggest takeaways from the questions and answers he provided.

Question #13: “Do you prefer to be on your own?” 

Naoki dispels a commonly misunderstood trait of individuals with autism when he describes “No, for people with autism, what we’re anxious about is that were causing trouble for the rest of you, or even getting on your nerves. This is why it’s hard for us to stay around other people. This is why we often end up being left on our own.” He goes on to describe how he likes being around people, but because things don’t go well with people he has gotten used to being alone. He said that when he hears people say that he would prefer to be alone, it makes him feel desperately alone. When I read this, it was such an eye-opening thing to learn. Although he does not speak for all individuals with autism, I have always made the assumption that children with autism want to be left alone. Now that I have learned about the desire to be with others, I will be more cognizant of their deep desire to be around others. I may be more attuned to creating situations for students with autism that go well so they can experience success. 

Question #30 “Why are you too sensitive or insensitive to pain?”

In this answer, Naoki describes how some children with autism will cry out in “pain” when their nails are clipped or have their hair cut while others who have a serious injury will stay calm and not react. He does not believe this has all to do with nerve endings but is more about “inner pain” expressing itself via the body. This again is a very deep answer that I did not expect. He notes that bad memories of these events may come back as flashbacks and become expressed in a way that looks like a negative reaction. The memories of students with autism are not stored in a clear and chronological manner he writes so many of the reactions are based on these fragmented memories coming back to the child. Now that I know this “inner pain” idea I will be more careful in approaching a situation that may “hurt” a child or trigger a bad memory. 

Question #31 “Why are you so picky about what you eat?”

This is a question I have often wanted to know more about for children with autism because I have worked with many children with very restrictive diets. In the book, Naoki states that he does not have issues with having a narrow diet and he acknowledges that trying new foods isn’t just about nutrition but is also about enjoying life. The routine of liking the same food and not giving other foods a chance is the main reason for the picky eating. The child may think all other foods don’t have any taste and discount them as tasteless. Beyond the thought that their sense of taste is messed up, he encouraged us to give children with autism more time to try the foods and to continue to encourage them to eat a variety of foods. 

Question # 33 “Is it difficult for you to choose appropriate clothing?”

I have worked with many children with autism who insist on wearing the same clothing regardless of the weather. If the weather is hot, they still wear the same hoody sweatshirt and have to be encouraged to take it off to cool down their body temperature. Naoki confirms that its very common for children with autism to “forget” to take off or put on layers of clothing based on the weather. For children with autism, he said clothing can be seen as an extension of their bodies almost like an outer shell and they may find it reassuring to stick to the same outfit day in and day out. Protecting themselves from uncertainty and wearing comfy clothing is one way of doing that. Knowing this is so interesting and I never thought of clothing as being reassuring for the child with autism. This information is valuable and can help parents and teachers support the child with autism while being sensitive their unique needs about clothing. 

Final Thoughts:

This book provides so many gems of wisdom and insight for teachers and parents of children who experience autism. Many of the children we work with are unable to express their needs and wants. It is reassuring to learn that even the most seemingly unaware and “in their own world” child is still aware and attending to the life around them. This book gave me greater sensitivity to the deep and unique way children with autism experience and view the world around them. I highly recommend anyone who works with children with autism pick this up for your library as a valuable resource. 

Here is a link to the book: https://www.amazon.com/Reason-Jump-Inner-Thirteen-Year-Old-Autism/dp/081298515X/ref=asc_df_081298515X/?tag=hyprod-20&linkCode=df0&hvadid=312154663427&hvpos=1o1&hvnetw=g&hvrand=13651881292818639831&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=&hvdev=c&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=9033107&hvtargid=pla-432564544453&psc=1

Why kids act out…exploring distal setting events

Article Review: Here is the full article I reference in my YouTube channel.

What are distal setting events?

Distal setting events are sometimes called slow triggers or setting events. They are setting events that can trigger challenging behavior but don’t happen immediately before the behavior occurs. These are things such as:

  • Lack of food (hungry)
  • Got in a fight before school
  • Lack of sleep
  • Being sick
  • Conflict at home
  • Missed medication or medication issue

We can help a student’s behavior when we know the distal setting events

Imagine this scenario: How do you feel if you have not eaten and you have to do a strenuous task? On top of that imagine that, you got bullied in the hallway going to class and you only got three hours of sleep last night. All of these factors add up to distal setting events that can set a child up for failure.

Teachers respond to challenging behaviors all day long. We often forget about the distal setting events that can lead to behavioral challenges. The focus is usually on what happens immediatly before behavior happens. A functional behavior assessment can take into account these distal setting events to help us get a full picture. This assessment will give us a better idea of “why” or the function behind the problem behavior.

Keep lines of communication open

Open lines of communication between home and school are vital for us to pinpoint the distal setting events. Having a morning check in around wellness can also help us get a “pulse” on how the child is feeling and their general wellness. A community circle is a great way to do a group check in if you don’t have time to do individual check-ins.

Watch and subscribe to my YouTube Channel

Here is another great article written about setting events if you would like to read more!

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/319973271_Understanding_Setting_Events_What_They_Are_and_How_to_Identify_Them

source: Robertson, Rachel & Coy, Justin. (2019). Your Student is Hungry, Angry, Tired–Now What? Addressing Distal Setting Events in the Classroom.

What distal setting events have you seen have the most impact on your students’ behavior?

Thank you for reading and for my support on this blog and my YouTube Channel . Subscribe here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCgQ8h0a1a59gTbXetGlEGGA?view_as=subscriber

With Gratitude,

Sarah Razzano

Ten Things Every Child with Autism Wishes You Knew

A mother of a child with autism wrote an article called Ten Things Every Child with Autism Wishes You Knew. In 2005 it become a book. The latest revision was in 2018. Even though this is not a new book, I wanted to take a moment to share it and encourage both parents and professionals to put this in their library!

Here is a copy of the original article written by Ellen Notbohm

Please watch my Youtube video where I share my thoughts on this book…

Here is what is inside the book…

Here are the chapters. Each chapter gives tangible examples and straightforward advice on how to handle each topic. It is easy to read and digest for people who are just learning about special education. When a topic as complex as autism can be boiled down to easy to understand terms it really helps the community understand this topic.

1. I am first and foremost a child. I have autism. I am not primarily “autistic.”

2. My sensory perceptions are disordered. 

3. Please remember to distinguish between won’t (I choose not to) and can’t (I am not able to).

4. I am a concrete thinker. This means I interpret language very literally.

5. Please be patient with my limited vocabulary. (updated: listen to all the ways I’m trying to communicate

6. Because language is so difficult for me, I am very visually oriented. (Updated: picture this! I’m visually oriented)

7. Please focus and build on what I can do rather than what I can’t do.

8. Please help me with social interactions.

9. Try to identify what triggers my meltdowns.

10. If you are a family member, please love me unconditionally.

Here is a link to the most recent edition on amazon.

p.s. I am not an affiliate for this or any products. I just want to share my knowledge and passion for autism supports .

If you have read this book please leave a comment and tell us what you think…

Self-Management Cards and Autism

Self-Management Card for Kindergarten

Self-management systems are

“behavioral strategies used to assist students with autism spectrum disorder in monitoring their own behaviors and administering their own rewards.”

Laura J. Hall

This is a personal application of a behavior change tactic that produce a desired change in behaviors.

Student with ASD are able to monitor their own progress with acquiring new skills and decrease problem behaviors with self-management systems. From a young age, self-management strategies are an important part of encouraging independence. It is also an evidence based strategy. 

How self-management cards help students with ASD:

Self-management allows students with autism who typically have poorly developed self-management skills to participate in the development and implementation of their own behavior management.

Students are being instructed to:

(a) observe specific aspects of their own behavior

(b) provide an objective recording of the occurrence or non-occurrence of the observed behavior.

The student is in charge of determining if they engaged in a specific behavior. Research shows “the activity of focusing attention on one’s own behavior and the self-recoding of these observations can have a positive relative effect on the behavior being monitored.” 

Questions to consider

  • What is the target behavior?
  • In what settings will the student self-monitor?
  • What type of promo (cue) is most appropriate?
  • How often will the student self-monitor?
  • What external incentive or reward will be given?

There are certain steps that have been outlined that I will share here:

Here are the steps necessary for implementing self-management systems

  • Step 1: Identify preferred behavioral targets
  • Step 2: Determine how often students will self-manage behaviors
  • Step 3: Meet with the student to explain the self-management procedure
  • Step 4: Prepare a student self-recording sheet
  • Step 5: Model the self-management plan and practice the procedure
  • Step 6: Implement the self-management plan
  • Step 7: Meet with the student to determine whether goals were attained
  • Step 8: Provide the rewards when earned
  • Step 9: Incorporate the plan into a school-home collaboration scheme
  • Step 10: Fade the intervention

Have you used self-management systems? What are your thoughts?

(source-The Best Practice Guide to Assessment And Intervention For Autism Spectrum Disorder In Schools 2nd edition by Lee A. Wilkinson)

https://www.amazon.com/Practice-Assessment-Intervention-Spectrum-Disorder/dp/1785927043/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?keywords=The+Best+Practice+Guide+to+Assessment+And+Intervention+For+Autism+Spectrum+Disorder+In+Schools+2nd+edition+by+Lee+A.+Wilkinson&qid=1558837133&s=gateway&sr=8-1-fkmr0

Myths of autism

The other day I had someone ask me if people with autism die young and I realized there are still a lot of unknowns and myths out there about autism.

I decided to create a YouTube post all about dispelling the myths. If you have any other questions please contact me. I would love to discuss this further.

I used this book as a guide to share some common myths about autism:

Thank you for reading and following my blog and my youtube channel. I feel so lucky to be able to share my knowledge and passion on autism with the world.

Thank you for reading, following and sharing my blog.

Sarah

P.S. I am not an affiliate for this book or anything on my blog. I just want to share great resources with my network.

Book Review Parents guide to High Functioning ASD

Title of the book:

A Parent’s Guide to High-Functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder. How to Meet the Challenges and Help Your Child Thrive

https://www.amazon.com/Parents-High-Functioning-Autism-Spectrum-Disorder/dp/B01K0QDVTU/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?keywords=A+Parent’s+Guide+to+High-Functioning+Autism+Spectrum+Disorder%2C+Second&qid=1556511707&s=gateway&sr=8-1-fkmr0

Authors:

Sally Ozonoff, PhD, Geraldine Dawson, PhD, and James C. McPartland, PhD.

A brief synopsis:

This book is a wonderful resource for parents who have children on the Autism Spectrum and is specifically focused on resourcing parents who’s children are high-functioning.

Parents and educators can both benefit from learning about the supports, guidance and information presented in this book.

The book is broken down into two parts:

Part 1: Understand high functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder

This part of the book helps readers understand high functioning autism spectrum disorder.

This part includes chapters on:

  • What is high functioning autism spectrum disorder?
  • The diagnostic process
  • Causes of Autism Spectrum Disorders
  • Treatments for high-functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder

This section gives a great foundational understanding of ASD and what it takes to get diagnosed. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual was updated in 2013 and this book was written in 2015 so it gives the most current and up-to date information about diagnosis.

Treatment options are clearly stated and both evidence based and emerging practices are briefly reviewed. This book gives a good overview of many of the most commonly used and researched based intervention strategies. Teachers who are new to the field or want to learn more about interventions could benefit form reading this section.


Part 2: Living with high-functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder

This second part of the book discusses living with high-functioning autism spectrum disorder.

This part includes chapters on:

  • Channeling your child’s strengths
  • High-Functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder at home
  • High-Functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder at school
  • Looking ahead: high-functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder in late adolescence and adulthood

The section I enjoyed reading the most was how to channel your child’s strengths. Many children with ASD have special interest and unique talents. The book gives great examples of how parents and teachers can see these traits as assets and skills.

Why would I recommend this book?

I recommend this book because it represents current and best practices for children with high-functioning autism. If a parent is facing a new diagnosis or entering a new chapter in their lives such as adulthood, this book serves as a helpful guide .

The book also has many “real world” examples and vivid stories that are helpful to contextualize high functioning autism. The information is engaging because each section starts with a small vinette to illustrate ways to help kids with ASD relate more comfortably to peers, learn the rules of appropriate behavior and become more successful in school.

This book is formatted and written in a way that is easy to read. It is laid out in an easily digestible format where a parent can jump to a section of the book that is relevant to their needs.

The chapter on high-functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder at school also covers important special education laws pertaining to school supports, accommodations and modifications. Taking the time to read this section will support parents as they face complex rules surrounding special education law and supports.

I hope you get the chance to put this in your professional or parent library!

P.S. I am not an affiliate or get anything from promoting this book. I just wanted to share a great resource with you!