Category Archives: Uncategorized

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!

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: 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.

The difference between an IEP and a 504 plan

Section 504 plan: 

The Law: A 504 plan is governed by a civil rights law 

Students with 504 plans: Qualify under the section 504 Rehabilitation Act 1973 (PL 93-112)

“No otherwise qualified handicapped individual…shall, solely by reason of his/her handicap, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subject to discrimination under any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance”

To be protected under Section 504, a student must be determined to:

(1) have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; or (2) have a record of such an impairment; or (3) be regarded as having such an impairment. 

  • A 504 plan is a plan to ensure accessibility but does not include specialized instruction and services such as occupational therapy, speech therapy etc. 
  • the child’s disability must be negatively impacting his learning in the general education classroom
  • If your child has a disability and it is impacting their educational experience, and accommodations are all that are needed, a 504 plan is ideal.
  • An example is a quiet place to take a test.  
  • A 504 plan can stay with a person for a lifetime 
  • A written plan is created 
  • Periodic “evaluation” is required but no annual review is required 
  • There are no goals or progress monitoring 

The student’s 504 team will determine what these accommodations will be and it is the responsibility of the classroom teacher (and other members of the team) to follow through on the plan in class.

IEP-Individual Education Plan 

The Law: The IEP is governed by special education law 

Students with IEPs qualify under Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA): Public Law No. 94-142 (last amended 2004)

  • A student must have one of 13 “disabling” conditions to qualify for an IEP. 
  • The disability must negatively impact the students access to the curriculum 
  • The IEP includes specialized instruction 
  • An IEP is used in public schools for students between the ages of 3-21 
  • A written plan is created 
  • Initial assessment is based on standardized assessment tools and a student must be re-evaluated every 3 years. Every year the team must meet for the “annual” IEP meeting. 
  • Goals are written and reviewed at least every year 

Continue reading

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