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.

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!

Provide Choices-Antecedent Based Intervention

What are Antecedent Based Interventions?

As teachers we benefit from learning about Evidence Based Interventions (EBI) for students with autism. All teachers want to learn how to decrease the likelihood of challenging behaviors in the classroom. The only parts of the behavior chain we can influence or change are the antecedent and the consequence. Providing choices is a great Antecedent Based Intervention that teachers can use to prevent challenging behaviors.

 Layman’s definition:  Antecedent Based Intervention

 When we focus on helping students with ASD in schools, we know that changing the classroom environment and how we present information has a big impact on their behavior. Changing the environment, and modifying things before behavior happens can improve behavior in students.

ABI as a preventative interventions to set the student up for success.

  • Providing choices is an example of an Antecedent Based Intervention (ABI).
Children hard working in school were given a choice on what they wanted to do during literacy.

Choices may be more effective than using preferred reinforcers

(Dunlap, et al. 1994)

Where can we provide choices in the school environment?

  • Activities to be completed (math or reading)
  • Materials to complete the task (pencil vs marker)
  • location (table vs desk)
  • Person to help them (teacher or a seat partner)
  • A combination of them all

Forced choice:

One way of providing choices is to give what’s called a “forced choice” by allowing students to have a small number of options that you as the teacher are ok with. Too many choices can become overwhelming for students with ASD. Providing two choices may be appropriate to start with.

Youtube video about ABI and providing choices:

Vision Boarding for Teachers

This is the vision board I made during class. I now have it in my office.

I started creating and using vision boards back in 2008. At a bookstore, I stumbled upon a book about how to create vision boards and thought “I have nothing to lose by trying this out.”

Here is the link to the book I bought https://smile.amazon.com/Vision-Board-Secret-Extraordinary-Life/dp/0061579084/ref=sr_1_12?keywords=the+vision+board&qid=1555118702&s=gateway&sr=8-12

Now I get to teach vision boarding to pre-service teachers

One of the favorite parts of my job as a college instructor is to help future teachers reach and realize their goals. I have the privilege of influencing a group of amazing people who want to do one of the hardest but most rewarding jobs on the planet. I enjoy doing what I can to help them get everything out of life they want. 

For those of us who are visual learners and respond to images, it helps us to “see” our goals and intentions!

How vision boards have helped me reach a goal:

There was a period of time when I was substitute teaching while getting my license in another state. My dream was to work for a school district that was one of the best in the state. Everyone told me it was impossible to get a job in this district but I set this as my goal. I went on the district website and printed out a picture of the district logo, cut it out and pasted it on my vision board. I put my board somewhere I could see it daily. After a while, a job I was qualified for was posted on the website. I applied for it and got it over 150 applicants!

A few things to keep in mind about vision boards:

*Vision boards are a visual representation of your goals, and what you want to achieve

*Keep the board somewhere where you can see it every day 

*Take a picture of your board and keep it as your cell phone lock screen wallpaper of your computer or ipad 

*Vision boards help you stay focused on what is important to you including how you want to feel, what you want to achieve and what you want to experience 

*As you achieve your goals or if your goals change you can update your board 

*Creating a vision board is fun because you can let your creativity flow 

*Vision boards are great for student teachers who are starting their career

*If you like Pinterest you will like vision boards because it is a low-tech. version of Pinterest

*You can have multiple boards or fill different topics on one board

Vision board tutorial:

Materials needed: 

*Big butcher paper boards, foam board, cardboard, or other large surface such as a stretched canvas

*Glue sticks

*Magazines, pictures, visuals printed from a website, words or quotes 

First take some time to brainstorm the following: 

  1. What I want to achieve
  2. How I want to feel
  3. What I want to experience 
  4. Words/images to look for 
My students creating vision boards

Get to a place where you feel relaxed, put some music on and start looking for images you can use to represent your goals and intentions. Have fun with the creative process. You don’t have to create a board in one day but getting started will create some momentum for you to continue. 

I love creating and teaching vision boards. Have you ever used vision boards to reach your dreams? If so share in the comments…

The Incredible 5-point Scale-Teach students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) to manage anxiety

YouTube video showing the incredible 5 point scale

The incredible 5 point scale for support with ASD and anxiety

All people live with some level of stress and anxiety but when anxiety gets in the way of daily functioning in school, it becomes a problem. The incredible 5 point scale is a tool to support students with autism who experience anxiety.

Who created the incredible 5 point scale?

Kari Dunn Buron created the incredible 5 point scale. She created this strategy based on many years of working with students who experience autism. This author is committed to positive support for all students. She is passionate about teaching the skills needed for social success.

“More than any other issue for children with anxiety, loss of emotional control can lead to removal from the general education classroom to a more restrictive educational environment equipped to deal with behavior challenges.”

When My Worries Get Too Big- Karrie Dunn Buron

Here is a link to the website to find all of her products. https://www.5pointscale.com. To Learn more about the calming sequence featured in this book please read my last post http://behavior-boot-camp-teach-calming-sequence

Some additional notes about the incredible 5 point scale for supporting students with autism and anxiety:

  • Many students with ASD learn social interactions by using the incredible 5 point scale
  • Emotional responses are identified by the student along with solutions to support each challenge
  • This visual representation helps student with autism and anxiety understand their emotions
  • Students work with the teacher to identity activities, or other supports that will help them calm down or stay calm
  • The incredible 5 point scale supports inclusion by helping students manage their anxiety and stay in class
  • The incredible 5 point scale is is an example of a positive behavior support strategy
  • Students learn to become self-managers

Positive behavior support strategies help support inclusion and ensure students stay calm and continue to learn in class!

Thank you for reading.

If you use the incredible 5 point scale please leave a comment telling us your thoughts…

Behavior Boot Camp: Teach Calming Sequence

A calming sequence is a great tool to support students who experience anxiety:

This picture is an example of a calming sequence.

Behavior boot camp: teach calming sequence.

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How does a calming sequence help students in school?

All people live with some level of stress and anxiety but when anxiety gets in the way of daily functioning in school, then it becomes a problem.

“More than any other issue for children with anxiety, loss of emotional control can lead to removal from the general education classroom to a more restrictive educational environment equipped to deal with behavior challenges.”

-When My Worries Get Too Big- Carrie Dunn Buron

Tips about calming sequences for teachers

  • Students with autism and other exceptionalities may experience stress during the school day
  • The stress may manifest in different ways but could get in the way of their learning
  • Teach the calming sequence when the student is calm and organized
  • Ask the student what things make them feel calm and happy
  • Follow their lead on choosing a calming sequence that makes them feel the most relaxed
  • Use a combination of words and pictures to represent the sequence
  • Keep the calming sequence somewhere the student can access it during times of stress
  • Model the calming sequence and support the student through the sequence as they experience stress and anxiety

Here is a link to Carrie Dunn Buron’s book that I reference in the YouTube video:

https://www.amazon.com/When-Worries-Get-Too-Big/dp/1937473805/ref=sr_1_1?crid=2I2SQIJUK28WL&keywords=when+my+worries+get+too+big&qid=1553056209&s=gateway&sprefix=when+my+wor%2Caps%2C227&sr=8-1

Behavior Boot Camp: Penny Token Boards

Why use penny token boards?

Penny token boards are one of my favorite individual behavior support strategies! It takes some planning and managing on behalf of the teacher but can pay off big time!

Which students benefit the most?

A penny token board can help students with autism or other special needs stay engaged, learn and be successful in class. The board helps promote inclusion and ensures all students are successful. The penny token board is a great individual reward system for a student who does not respond to the classroom-wide behavior supports. This system is a visual representation of how the student is doing and when he or she will earn the reward.

A penny token board is one example of an individual token economy. The principals of this technique are grounded in applied behavior analysis. http://applied behavior analysis

I got the penny token board I share in the video at:https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Penny-Token-Board-Set-3039344

Target Behaviors

Pick a target behavior you would like to increase. One example of a target behavior is for a student to raise his hand with a quiet mouth. To increase the likelihood that this target behavior continues, you can reinforce it with the use of the penny token board.

How to use the penny token board?

The pennies are considered the “consequence” for performing a desired behavior. Start the board when the student has gotten away from a 1:1 reinforcement schedule. Each penny then represents about 4-5 times of the student performs the target behavior. Teach this board by starting out with 4 pennies on the board so students will quickly “buy into” this system. When the student earns the penny, provide positive and constructive feedback. This feedback informs the student about what behavior earned the penny. To learn more about positive and constructive feedback please read:https://spedadvisor.com/2019/02/09/provide-positive-constructive-feedback/

Make sure students have “strong” reinforcers

The penny token board are only successful if students are motivated so use highly motivating rewards. Make sure reinforcers stay “strong” by conducting a “reinforcer assessment”. This assessment helps you stay on top of what is most reinforcing for the student.

Offer a few choices on a choice board that you know are highly reinforcing.

Only offer reinforcer choices that are doable for you and your classroom. Earning candy or other primary reinforcers may not be appropriate but a quick 5 minute break in the peace corner may be more reasonable.

Never take away pennies

Once earned, the pennies cannot be removed. If the student doesn’t earn more tokens then they just don’t earn their reward…The penny token board should never become a punitive or reactive system. Using the board as a positive reward system will create the long term change in behavior that we all want!

I hope this is helpful and fun to start using with your students. If you have experience and success using penny token boards please share in the comments…



Behavior Boot Camp: Teach Social Behaviors

Teach Social Behaviors

*As we continue to discuss behavior support strategies, sometimes we forget about actually TEACHING social skills. We can’t assume students know how to take turns, manage interpersonal conflict and act appropriately in social situations.

*Social behaviors need to be taught just like any other skill. Finding time in your school day to teach social skills will pay off. Please watch my YouTube video and read the image from High Leverage Performances.

High Leverage Performances Number 9

Students with autism

Students with autism can lack social awareness. They may not be able to take the Point of View (POV) of their peer which can result in social behavior that is atypical at times. Students with autism still want friendship so teaching social skills will help with bridging some of the gaps in social behaviors skills.

Early childhood literature as social support

One of my favorite tools for addressing social behavior issues is to use early childhood literature to help support social learning. One practicum student in my class shared how she had students teasing one another. Her mentor teacher pulled a bin full of books about teasing into the classroom to read to hear students. As she read she asked questions, checked for comprehension and encouraged students to pair-share ideas for using kind and supportive language with one another. The book my student pulled to share with our class is called Just Kidding by Trudy Ludwig. Here is the link for the book online:

https://www.amazon.com/Just-Kidding-Trudy-Ludwig/dp/1582461635/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=just+kidding+book&qid=1550877013&s=instant-video&sr=8-1

Final Thoughts…

  • Teachers should explicitly teach social behaviors
  • Align the lessons with classroom and school wide expectations
  • Before teaching the skill, determine the nature of the social skill challenge
  • Continue to teach and reinforce the skill until mastery
  • One great way to teach social skills is with role playing!
  • Have fun with these lessons and know they pay off in the long term for your classroom climate and for students to learn social behaviors