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Caring for a pre-schooler with autism advice needed completely new to this!!!

(6 Posts)
NotInTheMood Wed 17-Apr-13 21:13:49

I've just started in a pre-school 3 months ago. I am completely new to all this but have since been appointed as a one to one to a 3 year old with autism.
We seem to be bonding well and he seems confident and secure to come to me but I really feel a bit clueless although its only been a few days as a 1:1. Ive not been given any training yet so its a bit. of a learning curve.I haven't completed any IEPs yet and just getting to grips with he EYFS.

As a one to one do I need be next to him constantly or is it ok to stand back especially when he is moving from one activity to another. Generally I've been greeting him, dealing with his personal care, encouraging him to sit at circle time which causes melt downs :-/ sitting next to him and interacting trying to keep language simple one or two words. If he moves to another activity I will follow and will sit at the table but not right next to him iykwim just so I'm not always attached to him but at the same time making myself available. He will often come up to me any how but I just don't want to be in his face all the time. Does this sound reasonable??? I just feel it gives him a choice, allows him to play alongside others and maybe see me interact with other children whilst still keeping myself available to him. Obviously I do sit next to him but I am just trying to keep a balance.

I am going to speak to my supervisor at the end of the week for input on its going as i do feel a bit out of my depth but would like the advice or experiences of others too.

nannynick Wed 17-Apr-13 22:34:29

Read as much as you can about the autistic spectrum, communication methods such as PECS, Makaton and about Social Stories. You need to realise that it is a spectrum, someone can be on that spectrum at some point in it, over time they may move within the spectrum - such as a non-verbal child develops verbal language.

The bond between them and you I feel is important, they need to trust you. You need to be able recognise when things are getting too much for them and to pull the out of a situation before it kicks off. They need you to know of any triggers and thus to avoid those occuring.

Age 3 in my view is quite early for a diagnosis. The professionals involved may not know at this stage where the child is on the spectrum, or they may have a good idea and may have some intervention things they want tried, such as ABA.

For now, I would not worry about if they have a diagnosis or not... they have enough to get a 1:1 so you need to focus on why you are there, what is it that is aiming to be achieved. Little steps, achievable goals. Look at his current interest... Trains for example. Use that interest as a stepping stone, so in the case of trains you can use it to learn colours, some shapes, sharing with others, sounds, all sorts of things - topics can be expanded greatly sometimes.

Routines and consistancy may be very important to him. If he has to do a certain thing, then write it as a routine using pictures. can be used for creating pictorial routines.
This could be good for circle time... can you use pictures to describe what happens at circle time? Is there always something or multiple things that precede circle time... so could you create a routine for that bit of the day so he knows what is coming next. Does he really need to sit through circle time, is circle time too long? Things you will need to discuss with the pre-school leader... they may be able to adapt things, make it a fixed length for example.

Be aware of how close he will let people, including you be to him. Different people may be allowed a different distance. He may not like touch, or may let some people touch him but only in certain places.
Children on the spectrum can be sensitive to touch, sound, temperature. Be aware of what he likes, dislikes, reacts to.

One reason you are there could be to protect other children, so you do need to be quite close but as you say you don't want to be in his face.

Talk to the supervisor. Talk to his parents, what do they want achieved? Your local Early Years department may offer some SEN courses, so ask your supervisor about training opportunities.

cansu Thu 18-Apr-13 11:25:41

There are so many things you can do but I honestly think you need lots more info about the little boy and also lots more training and support. Anyway here are a few things off the top of my head
Morning circle would box of diddly toys help him to sit for a short time? Maybe a timer with just one minute to start with so he oly has to sit for a minute and you can then build up the time slowly as he becomes more at ease with it. Does he have to sit with the others? Would it be easier of he could sit to one side? Some children with autism find being too close to others stressful, some children struggle with noise and find songs make them anxious.

Communication you need a visual timetable of what is going to happen. Try and make this personal to him by taking photos of the activity so he can understand exactly what it is. Keep showing him the pictures saying first snack then outside play for example. When an activity is finished encourage him to help you post it in the finished envelope.

If he is non verbal try not to use too much language. Get some advice about using pecs a picture card system of communication.

Maybe find out what he really loves from his parents. With some children they really love physical games. My dd loved being tickled and loved being spun around etc. she also liked squeeze toys and little figures of tv characters etc. we used some of these as rewards as well for doing non preferred activities. So for instance we would present an inset puzzle with just one piece missing and she would put in this last piece and the n we would instantly reward her with a preferred item or a tickle game. This can then be built upon by gradually taking out maybe two and then three pieces so the child is doing more for their reward. You might have to do hand over hand to start with. But you can fade this back as the child gets more confident and also more willing to do the task. It could be a jigsaw or putting a ball down a ball run or any typical activity you might ask a pre schooler to do. It is important to back chain it though so the child starts with the last step.

Be aware that some children with asd don't like messy play. They can be over sensitive to paint etc.

Be close by. And ready to intervene if children crowd the child. Some children don't like others to get too close and lash out when this happens.

Children with asd are all different as well. Some of what I have said may not fit your little boy. I have two dc with asd and they are v different.
I think the important thing is to get to know what he likes and dislikes Nd get some proper help from someone to start putting some structure in place.

cjn27b Wed 01-May-13 14:59:58

I am a parent of a 4 year old with ASD and have had lots of au-pairs with no experience of autism successfully look after him and his younger brother.

First of all - no two kids with autism are the same. It's a huge spectrum.

Second - high functioning kids can be diagnosed early too, just because he's been diagnosed aged 3 doesn't necessarily mean he is severely affected.

Three - these early years are key. You can really help him and you can be a very positive influence. If you achieve this his parents will love you forever (we love our nursery team, regularly tell them, buy champagne at Christmas, end of term etc... They are worth their weight in gold).

I won't try and tell you what to do with this kid, as they are all so different. Read as much as you can. Ask to see copies of expert reports (if parents are happy for this to happen). Ask to sit in on any SEN meetings to discuss issues. But most of all talk to the parents, they will know his needs best.

Also as the others have said read as much as you can. You don't need to go overboard on stuff about the condition, but there are some really useful books on speech therapy techniques for both verbal and non-verbal children (look at the Hanen series). Also try reading on Applied Behavioural Approach. While implementing a full programme wouldn't be possible without vast sums of money, the ideas behind it are really easy and you can achieve loads (me and my au-pairs got our non-verbal son talking this way).

Trial and error is the way to figure out what works. Just keep trying, keep learning, keep talking to all involved.

You've already proved yourself to be engaged just by getting on here and asking questions. Well done you. Good luck, and if you ever get stuck try the special needs board (children section - not education as few go there). There's loads of mum's full of brilliant tips.

ConfusedPixie Thu 02-May-13 23:12:20

as you have had brilliant responses, the only thing I'll add is to speak to the parents before you try a set approach, the two families I have worked for (who have children in the spectrum) have had very different ideas about what is best for their child with asd (all children, especially those on the spectrum, and families being different after all!) And both would have been upset at using methods that didn't suit their style of working with their child.

Will you have a chance to meet the parents? Might be worthwhile finding out what books/resources they recommend as it might give you a better idea as to houw they want their child cared for.

good luck in your position, I'm quite jealous!

NotInTheMood Thu 09-May-13 19:52:58

Thank you for the responses. I have a bit more info so any further advice or tips would be brilliant. We didn't get the diagnosis as early days. The psychologist wants to concentrate on the interaction side and language so encouraging relationships etc. The child development worker wants to use intensive play, using one or two words etc. she wants the setting to adapt to suit the child where as the setting are not so keen. for example he can wash his hands but on occassion he will refuse and so play worker suggested a hand wipe whereas setting have told me no because they feel its a step backwards. And so i am piggy in the middle.
Basically the child does gets upset when activities end eg coming inside or if the water area is closed etc then he will have a melt down or run away or cower. They want him to choose to sit at circle time or have another choice where he needs to sit with me doing a jigsaw or a book. Again he does not always want to do this. He had a melt down because he could not continue playing so I had to take him out. He especially likes the water.
It's very similar to having a frustrated toddler who has tantrums iykwim.

Another thing is it good to keep a diary ??? weekly??? I am not being given much help and I want to make sure I am doing all the correct paper work. I did ask if I should be doing more and the today she said I hope yo are recording everything even though she hadn't said before!!!

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