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.

ASD sensory support suggestions and tracking form

Free sensory resource for teachers and therapists

This resource is a pdf doc. for you to download with suggestions crated by my graduate class SPED 561.

The sensory supports are in four categories: 

  • Support for sensory seekers
  • Strategies for low registration (passive) 
  • Suggestions for students who are sensitive to stimuli 
  • Strategies for students who avoid sensory stimuli 

Our intention is to share this resource widely with teachers and therapists. https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/ASD-Sensory-accommodationssupports-tracker-4994260

*Ensure you have consulted with the student’s Occupational Therapist (OT) and case manager for specific sensory supports. This resource is a general list of suggestions to try.

Thank you to my wonderful graduate students who have helped create this valuable resource.

Sarah

Countdown visual for help with homework

This countdown visual is an example of how a visual can show the learner exactly how many items or tasks needs to be completed. Countdown visual supports can be used for any multi-step task.

How to use

  • Print in full color on card stock. laminate and use velcro to help the numbers stay down when tasks are completed.
  • Start with all five numbers showing. You can modify this if you only have a couple of tasks that need to be completed.
  • Have the learners pre-determine what they want to work for.
  • As pages of the homework are complete, have the learner put numbers down to count down.
  • Eventually all of the numbers will be put down and the learner can earn their pre-determined reward.

Visual support for autism

Visual Support is one of the 27 Evidence Based Practices identified by the The National Professional Development Center for Autism Spectrum Disorder (NPCASD). https://autismpdc.fpg.unc.edu/national-professional-development-center-autism-spectrum-disorder

Please watch this video showing how to use this strategy to help complete homework…

He had five pages to complete so we started with all 5 tabs open.

Thank you for reading and following my blog and YouTube channel.

Sarah

Reference:

Flexible Thinking Choice Board

Who should use the choice board?

  • Parents and teachers can use the choice board. 
  • All kids can benefit from having a clear set of choices. 
  • Kids with autism can have a hard time with “flexible thinking” 
  • “Flexible thinking” is a social skill that helps people move from one activity to the next (among other skills) 
  • If students tend to perseverate or get fixed on one activity, the choice board can be helpful! 

How to use the choice board: 

  • Print out the choice board and laminate it. 
  • Use wet-erase markers (not dry erase) to write in choices. 
  • If the child can’t read yet, draw symbols or print out pictures and with Velcro, affix choices to the board. 
  • Decide with the child which choices are available. 

If you want to download it check it out here: https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Flexible-Thinking-blank-choices-board-4934623

Thank you for reading,

Sarah

I think my student has autism.

What can I do now to support them?

I have general education teachers ask me for ideas and suggestions to help students who may be on the spectrum. It is encouraging to see teachers who are willing and interested in helping their students be successful in the general education classroom. 

This is not an exhaustive list of supports and suggestions but it is a place to start. Please check out this youtube video slide show.

Thanks for following this blog, and my YouTube channel. This blog is intended for my college students but I love that the ideas and suggestions I give them is accessible to people around the world.

You can get a free PDF file of this resource here: https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/I-think-my-child-has-autism-what-can-I-start-doing-right-now-to-support-them-4902846

Please reach out to me if you have an suggestions or leave a comment here…

spedadvisor@yahoo.com

Thanks for reading!

Sibling Behavior Chart

This positive behavior chart is intended for siblings to use to work together! 

When I searched, I couldn’t find a sibling chart online so I decided to create one. The research supports siblings working together on one chart! See research link at the bottom of this post…

TPT link: https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Sibling-Positive-Behavior-Chart-4885639

“Work together to get the LEGO character to the house!”

Here is a picture of my son’s chart (modified for one child)

How to set up the board:

  1. Print out both pages on card stock (colored or white).
  2. Laminate both pages
  3. Put Velcro on each square and one on the mini LEGO house
  4. Find your children’s favorite LEGO character and put Velcro on their back 
  5. Hole punch and put two O-Rings to connect the pages together to make the chart fold up. Use a binder clip to keep the chart closed and to hang it up in the house
  6. Use wet erase marker to set family rules and write in rewards
Set your family rules! State in positive terms and use a wet erase marker.

How to use the board:

  • Create three positively stated family rules “We keep our hands to ourselves”
  • Teach, model and practice the rules as a family
  • Pre-determine what each child would like to “earn” as a reward once the LEGO character gets to the house
  • Parents “catch” both children following one or more rules and advance the LEGO character one spot
  • Be explicit on why you are moving the LEGO character. For example say “I caught you both keeping your hands to yourself so we can move the LEGO character. Only seven more and you get to the house. Keep up the great work.”
  • Once the children get to the house, they get the reward and you can start over if you want. Make sure to check in and see what they want to work for as a reinforcer  

Helpful Hints:

  • When creating rules use positive language
  • Give a forced choice of two-three rewards to make sure the rewards are doable for you and the family
  • These rewards should not necessarily be huge items to work for. Small and consumable items may be a good start
  • Make sure any reward you are using is not accessible during other times of the day. 
  • Remember, a reward is only considered a reinforce if it increases the desired behavior
  • If you can’t find something reinforcing, continue to do reinforcement assessments until you find the right motivator
  • Don’t move the character backwards. If the child doesn’t earn it, just don’t advance the character. 
  • Encourage “buy-in” by having the children earn the reward quickly at first. 

Here is the research link if you are interested https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/anzf.1183

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