It is important for me as an autism specialist and neurotypical person to understand and share the first-person experience of (actually) autistic people.
Marcus shared what his life is like as a college student with autism and what life was like for him growing up autistic. He is a great role model to our young students and children on the spectrum. Thank you Marcus for taking the time with me and sharing your experiences.
Thank you for watching and subscribing!
If you are interested in being interviewed and sharing your experience on the autism spectrum please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
The incredible 5-point scale for social emotional check-in and support
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 for social emotional check-in is a tool to support all students when their anxiety gets too big.
Free download of a 5-point scale with a Superhero theme!
Thank you Chris N. from my Fall 2021 behavior class for your willingness to share this great social emotional resource with all of us!
Click the link below to access the free superhero 5-point scale…
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!
Erica, is now half way through teaching her second year in kindergarten.
I reached out to her to get some advice about how she survived and thrived during her first year teaching kindergarten. Here is some of her great advice:
Where and what grade do you teach?
I teach kindergarten in The Grants Pass School District.
What was your favorite thing about your first year teaching?
My favorite thing about my first year teaching was building such strong relationships with my coworkers. When you are student teaching you build relationships at your school but the most important relationships are still related to your college. During your first year it’s really important to create strong relationships with the people around you because they will help you with understanding the curriculum, helping specific students, and making sure you get the supports you need to be successful and thrive.
What was the most challenging thing about teaching your first year?
The most challenging thing about teaching my first year was accepting that I can’t help every single student but instead I can only give them the tools to be successful. It was painful to let some of my kiddos who didn’t reach all the grade level standards or who didn’t get the proper supports in kindergarten go to first grade. Accepting that I can’t fix but instead can only support has made my second year emotionally easier.
What surprised you the most about your first year teaching?
What surprised me the most about my first year teaching was how much poverty/ trauma there is in Southern Oregon. For some of these kids, we are ALL they have. Some of my students have gone through life events that I could not even imagine going through as an adult and all we can do is give them a hug and make sure school is full of love and support.
What is your advice for handling challenges communicating with parents?
I think the best thing you can do is rely on your teaching team and principal when it comes to challenges with parents. If you have a parent who is being unkind, I would advise telling your principal and asking for advice. Always ask for advice when you don’t know how to handle a situation.
How have you navigated work/life balance?
This is one of the biggest challenges that every teacher faces. You always have a long list of things to finish and it never seems to end. Remember you are allowed to say no! I made a promise to myself that unless there are special circumstances I will not stay past 4 PM and I do not go to work on the weekends. I work through my lunches and prep during every prep period so I can leave on time. Its worth it for me! I am a planner so Sunday nights I pre-plan dinners with friends during the week to make sure I still socialize. It’s easy to make school your life but balance is so important. I always plan a special event for the weekends as well so I have something fun to look forward to(this can be as simple as a Saturday morning hike)!
What are some ways you have taken care of yourself this first year?
Self care is so important! Some things I do include going to the gym after work, taking my dog to the dog park, meal prepping on Sunday’s so I have healthy food for the week, leaving work by 4pm, going to bed at a decent hour so I have energy for the next work day, and talking about how I feel with friends, family, and/ or coworkers. Remember that you can’t be your best self for your students if you aren’t taking care of yourself.
As a student teacher, what are the best ways you can prepare while in your teacher preparation program?
While in your teacher prep. program take advantage of the opportunity to learn about different teaching styles and classroom management systems. You will develop your own teaching style/ management system but it’s wonderful when you have ideas to build off of.
What advice do you have for job seeking when the time comes?
My advice for job seeking is to apply to as many districts as you can via the online portals. There are so many amazing job opportunities in the Rogue Valley, and outside of the Valley, and you will find the best fit for you. Don’t give up! Job interviews are very stressful but when you find the right school you will know! When it comes to interviews you need to be yourself. You will be asked questions about concepts that you learned in your prep program but that’s only about 30% of the interview. The other 70% is if you would fit into their school culture. Be honest about who you are and what you believe!
THANK YOU Erica for taking the time to share your insights and wisdom with us!
We are so proud of you and know you are making a huge difference every day when you show up for your students!
What is the DSM-V? The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (fifth edition) which was just revised in 2013 and written by the American Psychiatric Association. The diagnostic criteria for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) has been modified based on the research literature and clinical experience in the 19 years since the DSM-IV was published in 1994. It is important for teachers to know this because the DSM-5 is used in part, to determine ASD diagnosis and eligibility.
Here is a quote from the DSM-5 to further describe what the DSM-5 is:
“The American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) is a classification of mental disorders with associated criteria designed to facilitate more reliable diagnoses of these disorders….
DSM is intended to serve as a practical, functional, and flexible guide for organizing information that can aid in the accurate diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders. It is a tool for clinicians, an essential educational resource for students and practitioners, and a reference for researchers in the field.”
Here are the major changes from DSM 4 to DSM 5 in the area of autism:
The APA has gotten rid of the sub-categories Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD), Rett’s Syndrome and Childhood disintegrative disorder and replaced it with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
Another huge difference is that Asperger’s Syndrome has been removed from the DSM-5. It has been replaced with the term ASD level 1 without language or intellectual impairment. Most professionals are still referring to Asperger’s Syndrome in describing the disability because the term is widely used and understood in the general public.
The new diagnostic criteria for ASD have been rearranged into two areas: 1) social communication/interaction, and 2) restricted and repetitive behaviors. The diagnosis will be based on symptoms, currently or by history, in these two areas.
DSM-5 has also added a category under restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior, interest or activities called hyper or hypo-reactivity to sensory input or unusual interest in sensory aspects of the environment.
Symptoms must be present in early childhood but may not become fully manifest until social demands exceed capacities. Symptoms need to be functionally impairing and not better described by another DSM-5 diagnosis.
Symptom severity for each of the two areas of diagnostic criteria is now defined. It is based on the level of support required for those symptoms and reflects the impact of co-occurring specifier such as intellectual disabilities, language impairment, medical diagnoses and other behavioral health diagnoses.
The DSM-5 includes a new diagnostic category of Social Communication Disorder that describes children with social difficulty and pragmatic language differences that impact comprehension, production and awareness in conversation that is not caused by delayed cognition or other language delays. This diagnosis looks a lot like Asperger’s Syndrome to most professionals.
Hopefully this brief overview of the changes was helpful for teachers and parents who are on the diagnois journey.
Transitions are when a student moves from one activity to another in the classroom. Going from small group work time to large group work, lining up for lunch, going home and going to P.E. are all examples of transitions.
Transitions are commonly a time when children who experience Autism Spectrum Disorder can struggle. Wait time, uncertainty, and needing to go from preferred to non-preferred activities all contribute to this breakdown. Here are some tips for creating success with transitions during the school day.
Give ample warning for transitions: Use a visual timer and gently alert the child verbally about the upcoming transition.
Time Timer for visual support
Minimize wait time during transitions Hurry up and wait should not be the motto for your transitions. Waiting in line for example can exacerbate anxiety, frustration and uncertainty for students with autism. Continue reading →