Category Archives: Pre-Service Teachers

Autism Spectrum Disorder and the Secondary Student

Autism and the secondary student

  • As a teacher, have you ever noticed there is less information and supports for students with ASD in the secondary age group?
  • Have you wondered what to look out for and how to support students with autism in your secondary class?
  • Do you know why girls with autism present differently than boys with autism?

Video Lecture

The video lecture linked below has some of the answers to these questions… The intended audience is general education pre-service or inservice teachers and anyone interested in learning more about ASD! Thank you for your commitment to being an inclusive educator and supportive advocate for students with ASD.

Respectfully,

Sarah

UDL and Distance Learning

Universal Design for Learning #UDL

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) should be the bedrock and foundation in which we design any distance learning curriculum. I teach in higher education and encourage my future teachers to become flexible educators who use UDL strategies whenever possible!

Universal Design as a Support For All students

UDL strategies can be used for all students in your class to minimize barriers and maximize learning opportunities. I would love for you to watch this video lecture which describes UDL in more depth.

Additional UDL Resources

I highly recommend you listen to some of the prerecorded webinars from OCALI about UDL here…https://www.ocali.org/center/udl.

Thank you for your commitment to being an inclusive educator!

Respectfully,

Sarah

I have school at my house now: social narrative

Schools are closed due to the virus and kids are all learning at home. School is being delivered remotely and some kids are having a hard time adapting to this change.

Benefit of Social Narratives:

Social Narratives aka Social Stories are widely used supports for students who have Autism Spectrum Disorder. All kids can benefit from this simple and easy to use evidence based practice!

“The goal of a social story is to improve social understanding” (Gray & Garland, 1993)

Gray, C. (2010). The New Social Story Book. Arlington, TX: Future Horizons.

I have school at my house now

My first grader did not understand why he was all of a sudden having school at his house. I made a social story to help him. Hopefully this story will help others understand how to complete school work at home and that they are not alone!

I have included a few pages here but you can download the whole story here: https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/I-have-school-at-my-house-now-Social-Story-5448771

Cover page of I have school at my house now.
My school is closed now! Page 2

I hope this social story will help your family as much as it has helped mine!

Email me with any questions,

Sarah

sarahrazzano@yahoo.com

My parents work at my house now: social story

Download the story here: https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/My-parents-work-at-my-house-now-social-story-5403639

Due to the virus, the public schools and our workplaces have closed for the time being. My son and I worked together to create a social story (aka social narrative) to teach him about what “work” looks like for mom. He didn’t realize that me looking at my phone or using my computer could be “work.” Now after reading this social story, I tell him “mommy has a work call” and he remembers some of the things he can do while I am on the phone.

This 13 page social story helped us so much that I want to share it with other families.

My son helped me come up with this title! “My parents work at home now.” I tried to make it general (not mom or dad specific…) so it can apply to any home.

Here is a sneak peak at the book: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ie_Jv2pIDo0

Page 1

Page 2

The book gives children suggestions for what to do when parents are working and asks kids to come up with their own ideas.

The book goes on to give ideas for what to do while parents are working and encourages children to cooperate to help out. 

We are all in a strange time in history and if this social story can help others as much as it helped my own son I would be pleased! 

Please contact me if you have any suggestions or ideas for other social stories! 

Respectfully,

Sarah 

sarahrazzano@yahoo.com

10 Tips for preventing ASD meltdowns

My college students who are going to become general education teachers often ask me “how do you handle autism meltdowns?”

I have given my top 10 suggestions for handling them which entail preventative strategies to start with!

Please watch the video and subscribe to my YouTube Channel and Blog.

The links for the free resources mentioned in the video are here:

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/ASD-Sensory-accommodationssupports-tracker-4994260 ASD sensory support tracker and https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/ASD-Sensory-accommodationssupports-tracker-4994260

Thank you for reading and following!

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!

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

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…