Guest Author - Bonnie Sayers
The book club selection for the Autism Spectrum Disorders site for September 2006 is Incorporating Social Goals in the Classroom - A Guide for Teachers and Parents of Children with High-Functioning Autism and Asperger Syndrome.
This is written by Rebecca A. Moyes with the foreword by Susan J. Moreno. Rebecca is a former teacher. She currently works as an education consultant for children with autism spectrum disorders. Susan is the Founder and President of MAAP Services, as well as a parent to an adult daughter.
Since September is the start of the new school year it is perfect timing to feature a book in the book club on social skills in the classroom. This is a book you do not have to read from cover to cover, but peruse as the need arises and most certainly prior to an IEP meeting.
The lesson plans, assessment tools and teacher checklist are worth photocopying for a teacher and other professionals to utilize and parents to share with one another.
There are seven chapters, references and an index for a total of 187 pages. There are black and white icons, charts and short term objective for IEP development. The chapters are categorized as follows:
Chapter One - Is It Autism or Asperger Syndrome? - Diagnostic Criteria Here you will find the table listing the criteria from the DSM-IV for Asperger Syndrome. I believe this will be very helpful to parents and teachers. As a parent to a son who is higher functioning I come across parents and professionals who assume Nicholas has Asperger Syndrome. This is not the case and I like how this book has the diagnostic criteria handy.
Chapter Two - Deficits in Social Communication - Scenarios are presented with examples of how a child with autism or asperger syndrome will have problems with turn taking and how they are very literal in their comprehending language.
There are great examples of how someone on the spectrum interprets sarcasm and how they can be quite blunt. There are six lesson plans with a listing of materials needed along with IEP Goals and tips for parents to work on at home. One of the goals listed is - "The student will be able to demonstrate an understanding of words with multiple meanings."
Chapter Three - Deficits in Social Behavior - There are more scenarios with examples of how children might avoid eye contact in conversation, may not be able to share their feelings or reading of non-verbal gestures and cues. The examples cover children in all age groups.
There are seven lesson plans, diagrams and a page of icons showcasing feelings. The parent and student practice segments of each lesson offer words to practice with, like pride, sadness, anger and feer. This is appropriately explained for boys and girls alike.
Chapter Four - Sensory Differences in Children with Autism and Asperger Syndrome - This starts off by listing areas where sensory processing is a concern that includes visual perception and vestibular differences. There is an example for all eight areas plus a section on strategies for teaching. You will read some calming methods for children who suffer from these issues.
Chapter Five - Social Skills Assessment Tools - Samples and Descriptions - These are great resources of checklists, observation forms, placement tests, interaction and classroom skills. I suggest photocopying these as they change over the years and would be worth giving to teacher, therapist and/or Resource Specialist.
Chapter Six - Interventions to Promote Acquisition - Circle of friends, social skills scripts, visual supports, game playing skills, modeling and coaching are explored and explained. There are examples of waiting in line, schedule, drama and role-play.
Chapter Seven - IEP Development - There are examples of a social skills report card, goals, observation form, preparation checklist for IEP, related services and rules for IEP development.
Parents who have children that are considered higher functioning on the Autism Spectrum and those with Asperger Syndrome will benefit greatly from utilizing the resources within Incorporating Social Goals in the Classroom. Therapists that teach social skills training groups would gain further insights into the classroom issues their students face and can incorporate the checklists and examples in their therapies.