Tag Archives: special education

Where to start! Teaching students with Autism: Foundational Evidence Based Practices (EBPs)

When we look at high quality interventions for students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), we want to learn the foundational SIX EBPs first! When teachers are able to intervene and use strategies with fidelity, students have better outcomes!

This is one of my new lectures that I am posting here. I hope to empower and teach new teachers and parents.

I would love to hear how you are able to incorporate these foundational interventions into your work with students!

Respectfully,

Sarah

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

20 tips for including students with autism in the mainstream class

My Foundations of autism class created another FREE resource for our teacher colleagues…

With the collaboration of my Fall 2019 SPED 561 Foundations of Autism class, we created this FREE resource for teachers. We want to promote inclusion and provide 20 current and helpful tips for including students in the mainstream class. These tips are support suggestions that have worked for us for students with autism spectrum disorder.

Please download our free resource here

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/20-tips-for-including-students-with-autism-in-mainstream-class-5046503

Thank you for reading and watching as I continue to share my passion for supporting students with autism and their families.

Very Warmly, 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:

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

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

What is “masking” and autism?

“Masking” and Autism- Sometimes this is called “camouflaging” 

On social media (twitter) I have seen multiple people who experience Autism describe the concept of “masking” and autism. At an autism conference I recently went to, a young man with autism described how he was able to “mask” his Autism and at the age of 22 has recently received a diagnosis. 

What is “masking”?

•Masking is when a person who has Autism tries to blend in or go unnoticed among their neurotypical peers. 

•They will fly under the radar, try to go unnoticed and copy or mirror as best as possible the social scripts of their peers.

•They work hard to be the “good student” and not bring extra attention to themselves. 

•Research shows that those who have Autism level one (aka. Asperger’s) often camouflage.

•Masking happens when a person with autism is more aware of their social differences to the neurotypical world. 

•Girls with autism tend to “mask” more than boys on the spectrum.

Why is masking an issue?

•Masking suppresses the natural state of the person with Autism. 

•Students who mask are often misdiagnosed because they have camouflaged their symptoms. A misdiagnosis of mental health difficulties may happen. 

•A feeling of social isolation may happen because they are not able to be their true selves. 

•Masking can lead to loneliness, depression, self-harm, self-medication, anxiety anger and is most notably it is exhausting.

If you suspect a student is masking, talk to your educational team, a special education teacher, school counselor or other professional. Getting others involved will help support you as an educator to determine the next steps to take in helping the student.

What teachers need to know about autism sensory issues

  • Behavioral issues may be caused by a student’s unique sensory needs.
  • 85% of students with autism have sensory processing disorders.

Did you know that there are actually 8 sensory systems in your body, not just 4?

Our bodies take information in through the following sensory systems:

The The functional four:

  • sight
  • taste
  • smell
  •  hearing

and then we have the foundational four: “body based”:

  • tactile (touch)
  • vestibular (movement)
  • proprioception (input from muscles and joints)
  • interoception-A lesser known sense:  (internal sensors indicating physiological conditions)

Sensory Processing: A person’s way of noticing and responding to sensory events that occur during life. These patters of responding affect how people respond in situations. (Dunn, 1997)

Occupational Therapist (OT): An OT is the experts on sensory processing. They will work with the family and the IEP team to conduct screenings and assessments to determine the needs of the student within the context of the school environment. The goal of looking at sensory processing is to improve participation, NOT to change the sensory processing patters. To learn what an IEP is please read What is an IEP?

The DSM-5 includes langauge about sensory processing and autism as part of the diagnosis for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)…

 Hyper- or hyporeactivity to sensory input or unusual interests in sensory aspects of the environment (e.g., apparent indifference to pain/temperature, adverse response to specific sounds or textures, excessive smelling or touching of objects, visual fascination with lights or movement).

To learn more about the DSM-V and autism please read Changes In The DSM-V For Autism

Neurological Thresholds: Describe the level at which the brain will respond to sensory stimulation. When a student has a low threshold they respond to everything around them and often have sensory profiles that are “sensitive” or “avoiding.” Students who have a high threshold can appear be passive and don’t respond often to sensory stimulation. They may have sensory profiles that are “low registration” or “seeking”

Unique Sensory Profiles:

Low Registration: Indicate a high threshold and a student is slow to respond to stimuli in the environment.

Seeking: indicate high thresholds and this student will often add movement, touch, sound and visual stimuli to the school day.

Sensitivity: Indicate low thresholds and children detect more details than others and may be more hyperactive, distracted and easily upset because they notice more things in the environment than their peers.

Avoiding: Indicate low thresholds and children may avoid work to reduce input. They may seem resistant and unwilling to participate in activities, particularly in unfamiliar ones.

Check out this “model of sensory processing” chart and watch the linked Youtube video for more detail on how to interpret this chart…

Screen Shot 2018-11-07 at 7.31.28 PM

References:

Learners on the Autism Spectrum 2nd edition by Kari Buron and Pamela Wolfberg

Dunn, W. (1991a). The impact of sensory processing abilities on the daily lives of young children and their families: A conceptual model. Infants and Young Children, 9(4), 23-25.