Category Archives: Pre-Service Teachers

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…

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.

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…

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

Behavior Boot Camp: Provide Positive and Constructive Feedback

Please watch the YouTube video which shares more about this positive behavior support strategy.

YouTube video talking about providing positive and constructive feedback

How do you feel after receiving positive and constructive feedback?

As an adult, how do you feel when your coach, supervisor or boss gives you positive and constructive feedback? Does it encourage you to continue working hard or make you feel demoralized? Most likely it will make you feel amazing! You have a clear understanding of what you are doing well and what you need to work on.

Make the feedback specific…

When a student get’s specific positive and constructive feedback, it is not just a “good job”. With the student’s goals and targets in mind you are helping inform them with the feedback. The feedback will give specific information how to improve and what is going well.

How do I give feedback?

Feedback in written or verbal forms are both great ways to give feedback. Make sure the feedback comes relatively shorty after the student performs the task and provide ongoing feedback until the student reaches his or her goals.

This behavior support strategy comes from High Leverage Performances…Here is a screenshot of the High Leverage performances number 8. I reference this in my YouTube video.

High Leverage Performances screenshot

Behavior Boot Camp: Routines and Procedures

Please watch my YouTube video…and subscribe https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCgQ8h0a1a59gTbXetGlEGGA?view_as=subscriber

Benefits of developing routines and procedures

Well thought out routines and procedures help create a calm, organized classroom. Students know what to do and how to do it. Without positive, routines and procedures, a classroom can easily fall into total chaos. Examples include: how we manage materials, enter the classroom, transition, and turn in work.

How do we teach routines and procedures?

Teaching routines and procedures starts at the beginning of the school year with explicit instruction. Just like academics, routines and procedures need to be taught, and reinforced. Establishing routines and procedures is one of the High Leverage Practices for special education and will be the bedrock for your classroom environment. I have linked more information about High Leverage Practices here. https://ceedar.education.ufl.edu/portfolio/ccsc-2017-high-leverage-practices/

Things to think about when setting up routines and procedures

Consider the age of the students. What is age appropriate for them? For example if you teach Kindergarten, the routine for entering and leaving the classroom will look different from a fifth grade classroom. Can your students handle materials being on the desks in tubs or do they need to be stored out of reach? There are many considerations but speak to your team, observe other classrooms and know it is ok to change a routine if it is not working for your class.

Support for students with special needs

Students with autism or other special needs respond well to classrooms with well established routines and procedures. Students with autism feel safe when they know what to expect. Focus on the transition routines for students with autism. Transitions are when we often see behavioral challenges from our students with autism. One great way to teach routines to students with autism is by using a social story. Here is a link to my YouTube video sharing what a social story is. https://youtu.be/lKl6cafmdVY

Consistent routines provide structure for students with autism which makes them feel safe secure and helps them understand what is going on during the school day.

Support for all students

Positive behavior support strategies such as this are helpful for all students. Students will be productive, calm and organized with these routines in place. Watch your mentor teachers around you and see how well run their classroom are. What would you do the same? Also think about what you would change or do differently? All of this reflection is important in developing safe and well run classroom routines and procedures.