Category Archives: Parents

My Special Interest Social Story

SIA= Special Interest Area

Definition: SIAs are often solitary pursuits or preoccupations that dominate the person’s time, attention, and conversation

Benefits of Special Interest Areas for students with Autism

  • Improves academic skills: high motivation in SIA
  • Supports communication:develop advanced vocabulary
  • Improves self-confidence:student becomes “expert” in this area
  • Helps reduce anxiety: more relaxed and fewer meltdowns
  • Intrinsic engagement: instrisic motivation and engagement
  • Increased social engagement: when SIA is included into treatment plans
  • Executive functioning:improved focus on SIA 

My Special Interest Social Social Story

Although there are many benefits to SIAs, sometimes kids need to take a break from them to focus on something else. The social story teaches how to re-focus then go back to the SIA when done learning something new.

I created a social story to help kids with autism understand their special interest area.

Here is a sneak peak at the story:

The first part of the story defines and shares the benefits of a SIA:

The book asks the reader what they like. The story then goes on to discuss the need to sometimes “pause” the SIA to learn something new.

A free first-then schedule is included in this social story! You can laminate or use a plastic page protector and use a wet erase marker to write on it.

Get the story here: https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/My-Special-Interest-Social-Story-5517826

With love and respect,

Sarah

sarahrazzano@yahoo.com

Forced home school schedule for working parents

Remote working parent:

I am so fortunate that I get to work from home! I completely understand that many people in other industries are not as lucky to be able to work remotely.

Forced home school schedule:

As a licensed teacher, it is in my wheelhouse to provide this type of instruction for my child! Working on top of home schooling, can add another layer of stress so routine, at this point is key to survival.

Routine is KEY!

Now, for an undetermined amount of time parents are in the position of also being our children’s home school teacher. Overall, having a schedule will be the best approach to managing a home-school day and also having some time to complete remote work.

I don’t want my son to be in front of a screen for 6 hours a day so I created a schedule that has blocks of time where he can be on an an online learning platform and times when he is screen-free.

I have shared the schedule that I have created for my fist grade son. This schedule embeds times when I can work and he can complete activities independently. I can do some direct instruction during the day as well! To download my whole schedule you can access it here: https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/forced-home-school-daily-schedule-for-parents-who-are-working-from-home-5337660

Flexibility:

Every day is different and remote work demands will change daily. I have laminated my schedule and for those who do not have a laminator, you can use a page protector. Use a wet eraser (not dry erase marker) to modify the base schedule daily. Here is a video on how I can modify the schedule daily! https://youtu.be/F50bwnoFmYM

Morning Schedule: Sneak peak of my son’s schedule

Afternoon Schedule:

Evening:

Stay strong parents and happy (forced) homeschooling!

Respectfully,

Sarah

sarahrazzano@yahoo.com

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:

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

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.

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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

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!

Dr. Temple Grandin-My biggest takeaways from her keynote speech

I got to meet Temple!!! 

Temple Grandin at the US Autism Association keynote address 

Getting the chance to watch Dr. Temple Grandin talk has been a career long dream of mine!

I ran into Dr. Grandin at the airport!!!

When I started working with children with autism back in 1997, her book “Thinking in Pictures” was one of my first introductions to autism.  

Dr. Grandin was one of the first individuals with autism who could articulate what life is like for people on the autism spectrum. Parents and professionals both clamored for her knowledge, expertise and valuable insight. 

Here is a link to the first book I read…

https://www.amazon.com/Thinking-Pictures-Expanded-Life-Autism/dp/0307275655

Temple Grandin’s book 

I just had the amazing opportunity to hear her speak at the US Autism Association! 

Here are the major takeaways I had from her keynote speech: 

  • Limit screen time for children with autism to less than 1 hour per day. She noted that many of the children who could succeed in computer science are sucked in to video games and no longer can access their full potential due to their addiction
  • Parents need to “start letting go”-foster independence from a young age. She likened this to the adult cow who still wants to nurse from the mama cow. She said we need to “wean our children” so they are not dependent on us
  • “don’t over-protect”the child with autism
  • Allow children a multitude of hands on experiences because true learning takes place with hands on experiences not through screens
  • Teach young children how to “wait” and how to “take turns” and use board games as a way to teach these skills
  • Having real jobs are important for young adults with autism starting at age 13 (or so). 
  • Don’t get hung up on the label of autism
  • Focus on the strengths of the child not the deficits-build upon a child’s special interest which could end up leading to a valuable career one day. As an example, a child who is interested in pipes can become a plumber. 
  • Don’t make kids with autism do “baby math” if they excel in math. Allow the child to excel in the area they are gifted in
  • Encourage friendships through shared experiences such as cub scouts, school clubs etc. A shared interest will help build the friendship 
  • There is NO need to disclose autism diagnosis for milder cases due to some prejudice surrounding autism. Instead, tell what you need “those lights give me a headache”
  • Stretch students to grow and don’t overprotect them!
  • Allow for choices

If you were at the conference or have learned from Dr. Grandin yourself, please share what your biggest takeaways are in the comments! 

Here is a link to a youtube video of her (not from the conference I went to). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MWePrOuSeSY