Guest Author - Bonnie Sayers
As another school year comes to a close we are encouraged by reading about Grads with autism and busy giving teachers, therapists and classmates year-end gifts. I have found a perfect book to give to teachers and assistants that will be teaching our children in the next school year.
Strategies at Hand - Quick and Handy Strategies for Working with Students on the Autism Spectrum is the perfect tool for both general education teachers and special education teachers. Paraeducators and parents will find this very useful as well as not like any other book they have perused.
This six-page pdf excerpt will give you a sense of the style along with an example of how the color coding of pages is sorted. I would describe the pages of Strategies at Hand - Quick and Handy Strategies for Working with Students on the Autism Spectrum similar in size to a laminated bookmark with dozens of them compiled neatly into a nice stack secured with a metal screw.
The colored pages spread out as if you were shuffling a deck of sleek colorful cards. The sections are categorized as follows:
Blue - Learning environments
Purple - Areas of student need
Green - Transitions (planned and unplanned)
Orange - Alphabetical explanations of strategies marked with an (*)
Yellow - Resources and References
"The interventions are presented from least to most restrictive, meaning that the earlier strategies are often simple and easy to provide, whereas later strategies may require more support and knowledge/training."
I like that the text is only on one side of each card with specific details in bold font. It is well organized and easy to comprehend with explanations and examples of the terminology utilized. This is especially helpful for General Education Teachers who may not utilize these terms on a daily basis.
Here is the breakdown within the color coded sections:
Blue - Gen Ed Class, Special Ed Class, Specials and Electives, Transportation, Community/Field Trips, Lunchroom/Cafeteria, Home-School Connection. These cards have separate categories within them. They cover sensory, academic, communication, social, behavioral, visual and environmental.
Purple - Academic, Behavior, Communication, Sensory, Social, Visual
Green - Transitions, Scheduled, Unscheduled: Substitute Teacher or Paraprofessional, Assemblies, Fire Drills
Orange - Assessment of Light, Sight and Odor, Behavior Intervention Plan, Classwide Behavior System, Countdown, Differentiated Instruction and Universal Design, Functional Behavior Assessment, Graphic Organizers, Home-School Communication, Leveled and E-Texts, Parent Mentor Program, Personalized Behavior Point System, Picture Communication Systems, Positive Reinforcement, Preferred Activity Following Fire Drill, Priming, Replacement Behaviors, Reverse Inclusion, Social Scripts, Surprise Card and Wrap-up.
The orange section has two areas on many of the cards and more categories than all the other areas. I did not include them all as there are too many to get through. There are also icons and visual supports on these cards to assist in these tasks or teaching process. This includes steps on what to do during a fire drill, a sample self-monitoring system, a chart for reinforcer inventory and a sample of school to home communication notebook.
Yellow - This is a listing of books on Asperger Syndrome, Educational Programming, Children's Books, Videos, DVDs, CDs, Software to Support Instruction and Websites. The books are listed alphabetically according to author.
Since my son Matthew will be transitioning into Middle School in the fall and more than likely taking the school bus with his assistant for the first time, I am going to share some tips from these two areas of Strategies at Hand - Quick and Handy Strategies for Working with Students on the Autism Spectrum.
Transportation - Communication - Provide written or pictorial directions. Social - Let student listen to music, provide fidget or other activity during ride. Behavioral - Explain behavior plan to bus driver, teach student to use self-monitoring system. Environmental - Use preferential drop-off/pick-up, provide water and snacks as appropriate, assign students to the same seat everyday. Visual - provide visuals (picture of bus/labeled seat). Sensory - provide inflatable seat cushions (move 'n sit), make available sensory items.
Transitions - Scheduled - Review personalized schedule at the beginning of each day, remind student of next activity throughout the day using pictures/words, use timer to show time left in an activity, eliminate down-time, provide student with preferred activity during fire drill, then transition to regular schedule, practice going to assembly ahead of time, put assembly into schedule and rehearse, arrange preferential seating so student can move around, inform parents of change in schedule.
I really learned a lot from these tips and ideas like earplugs or headphones for the assemblies and how they can practice and prepare for all types of changes and situations that may arise. A few changes for Matthew going into a Middle School is the school uniform as well as the gym uniform and going into a locker room.
When Matthew was with his previous assistant in past years we had included in his Behavior Support Plan that a substitute assistant needs to be present before his assistant goes to lunch or on break, otherwise this leaves my son wide open for leaving the classroom unattended and without adult supervision. I am prepared to have an IEP at his new school if this problem arises at that school. One of the suggestions in Strategies at Hand - Quick and Handy Strategies for Working with Students on the Autism Spectrum is to have a list of names, likes and dislikes ready for the substitute teacher or paraprofessional.
A few years ago the Occupational Therapist we had for three years suggested creating a book with hints and tips from all therapists and teachers to take to new schools. I will see about having something created in these last two weeks of school. Luckily he has this new assistant that will be following him and can share with new teacher and therapists all his strengths and issues.
I really feel this is a book to give to new teachers and assistants to help them along the school day. Even other school personnel like the RSP teacher and psychologist would benefit from the strategies listed. This is a must gift for parents to bring to the new classrooms. It would be worth reading over the summer to gain insights before the school year starts again.
Educational Autism Tips for Families 71 page resourceful ebook for families entering the school system with a recent autism diagnosis. Find out what issues take place over the course of a school day and meet these challenges head on.