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Parents of children with ASD, what advice can you give me as a teacher?(116 Posts)
I will be teaching a child with ASD this coming year in a mainstream setting. While I know that every child with ASD is very different, I'd love your advice on what teachers have done that has made life easier and more enjoyable for your child at school and things that have caused upset or difficulties that I may never have considered.
Acknowledge that the parents are the experts on their child and use this to underpin your whole practise.
Agree with Patti. Include the parents in decisions. Give the child space and understand he can be acting out of fear, frustration and anxiety and is not purposefully disruptive. Good luck xx
Are they male or female because they present differently?
Be aware of sensory issues eg the child may be distracted by noise behind them. Scraping chairs are horrible too. They may find the lights quite bright.
He/she will probably have most difficulty in group tasks. Teach the nt DCs about tolerance not just the asd DC how to conform.
Find out what their special interest is and use this to help them engage.
Have a visual aid of the class's daily and weekly routine.
If they aren't interested in reading and writing fiction give them alternatives.
Don't think they don't like you just because they don't show the usual facial expressions.
Watch out for signs of them being bullied.
If they are smell sensitive don't wear strong perfume.
Don't expect them to look you in the eye when having a conversation.
Say what you mean and mean what you say. Don't use idioms like 'pull your socks up'.
"Acknowledge that the parents are the experts on their child and use this to underpin your whole practise."
If a child with ASD is apparently fine at school, please don't look at his/her parent like they are deluded and repeat "but he's fine"
One thing that's really helped ds is that his school allows him to choose whether he goes on trips or takes part in the play. He wants to do them, but needs to feel in control, so he is much happier about them now.
What a great attitude, op
Don't take offence if they point out something you've done "wrong". (Ds1 often tells teachers if they've miscalculated something for example. His current teacher gets so pissed off...)
Agree with a pp -look out for signs of them being bullied.
Be clear and concise.
My DS's teachers are very accepting of his foibles, it's just the way he is.
They visited him before he started there to find out what made his day a good one and what made a day bad. They found out what situations made him anxious (eg. being hemmed in, in assembly and cloakroom) and did all they could to avoid them. So he sits at the end in assemblies, has the peg next to open corridor. Loads of tiny details that make all the difference.
They also don't sweat the small stuff - if he wants to pick his lunch apart, that's fine. If it doesn't adversely affect anyone, they let it go.
If they're on a special diet, make sure the lunch staff don't give them biscuits/bread/sponge and custard because they feel sorry for them!
Be aware that every unusual behaviour has a trigger, even if it's not obvious!
And even the most placid well behaved child with ASD is likely to be highly anxious for a large part of his day because he doesn't get the subtle clues.. body language, intonation of voice, and may well take every word said to him literally!
And never ever say to a child with ASD.. 'go to the toilet and wash your hands' (My son has autism and I work in a special school with autistic children... )
The first (and last) time I said that I found the child kneeling by the loo...washing his hands in the toilet bowl....!!!
Some of the biggest problems can occur during less structured time. Play times are particularly prone to problems. This is the hardest to support and the one thing that can make a huge difference sometimes.
They won't always mean how things come across, it is the choice of words/tone of voice that is wrong not the concept they are trying to convey
space - respecting other's space/not liking people invading space can be tricky with carpet based work. The spot seating system in this can help establish rules for all on this.
Think about the impact of change of routine, what most kids feel is fun might be hell to an asd kid. Eg Christmas lead up events and fun activities. Do not tell them it WILL be fun it can create more stress when they find it stressful and think they are failing to have fun.
loud assemblys can be tricky, removing might be a short term solution but if reintroduction to assembly occurs it does not mean that they are ok with the assembly and wont need to be removed when there is alot of change (lead up to christmas/end of the summer term etc). It can be one step forwards, one back, two forwards, one back, one forwards, two back progress. Stick with it, understand and in the long run progress will be made.
Literalism to the nth degree, the way you chose your words will impact more greatly. They don't pick up on unspoken/assumed follow on rules, you will have to make rules very specific and cover all bases.
Eg here we have to say "good night, sleep tight. See you in the morning unless there is an emergency such as you are hurt, it is dangerous and some one might get hurt <insert several more things> "
it was like this for a year but now we have it down to 'good night, sleep tight see you in the morning unless I need to wake you due to normal rules.'
before we had this rule ds woke in the night, needed help due to a nose bleed and didn't wake me up because it wasn't morning. So be aware of unexpected consequences from literalism.
Do not expect her to tell you what is wrong, 99% of the time she won't be able to. She may well not know what is wrong, she may well just know it isn't right. Parents can help, as can knowing a child's tells when they are struggling.
And ASD individual's biggest problem can be other people and the expectations placed on them. Some times it can be the expectations they put on themselves. Frustration can be expressed in many ways.
Often you can think the problem is one thing, but mostly it will be about something else. Delayed response and the last straw trigger point can be common.
This is great to read. Well done OP. I am the mother of an ASD child. I noted the comment above about "don't look at the parent like they are deluded if the child seems fine at school"...I have had this quite a lot as my DS is also a fantastic communicator and his issues don't always "present" immediately. I agree re : sensory issues, for us loud noises, bright light, sudden sounds can and do cause issues. My DS likes his own space, he likes to play alone, will appear very happy that there is a large group of children but will inevitably go off and do his own thing and that's fine. Routine is exceptionally important. My son doesn't like wearing socks...so frequently arrives at school without them and wears his indoor shoes without them. The school have been great about this. He also has a very particular way of lining things up and then observing them by having his cheek flat on the floor. He also takes things literally...so care is needed! Fine motor skills can be an issue and he is a little delayed with handwriting as a result. Some things are easier to play with than others, Lego for example can be a struggle. Duplo, on the other hand, is perfect.
Our school have been absolutely brilliant, supportive, a senior teacher actually came to DS's diagnostic appointment. That is the kind of support that you really appreciate. You don't say how old the child is. My DS is only four so some of this may not apply. However, I truly applaud your attempts to understand and I expect you will be a wonderful teacher!
Teen Ds had a number of teachers who found it hard to accept that a bright, capable and very academic lad couldn't read social situations (ie in a class room dynamic where a teacher might raise an eyebrow or say "settle down"). He'd miss these signals until the adult got quite cross, and then wonder why he was in trouble.
Some lovely teachers were happy to modify their approach a little at our suggestion - ie direct a comment at him and say (example) "sit down and stop talking now" rather than "settle down" or "that's enough" which most pupils would understand, but he wouldn't.
Some were a lot less understanding and thought he was being badly behaved and making up his lack of social ability and genuine distress at certain noises, smells, textures and mess.
I think the lack of eye contact when stressed or upset (and shutting down verbally when not sure how to respond to something) can look like cheeky behaviour to some people too.
Watch how the other kids interact with this kid. Ideally you'll get some caring ones who will help explain that Miss OP means blah, but you may well also have some who realise for example that leaning over this child causes her to panic and lash out, and do so because it's funny, and then it's not good if Teacher punishes ASD child for hitting (who doesn't even realise they've done it as it was a startle reflex), and the kids who provoked it are told that they weren't doing anything unreasonable so get away with it. So do it again. Even worse if ASD kid is punished by loss of playtime despite not understanding why, " because that's the behaviour policy". Hello, reasonable adjustments!
I don't have an ASD child but I have taught many.
Two things that have really helped are:
If doing group work, place the child in a group yourself. This can be very stressful for ASD children otherwise and they often get left out.
When you have set the class off on a task, expect to give her her own instruction and be very direct eg. Pick up your pen and write the date. Check on her every few mins and explain the next task - some students also respond well to a time limit eg I'm coming back in 5 minutes, see if you can do x by then.
If she has her hand up for help and you are busy avoid phrases like "I'll be there in a minute" - she may time you! Better to say "I'm just helping Jane then I'll come over to you".
You could also give her an outline of the weekly time table to take home so her parents can prepare her for the next day.
You will find this all comes as second nature before long.
That's more than 2 things - good thing I don't teach maths
Not got time to read the whole thread (will do when I get back in)
DS is in reception and just at the early stages of getting an ASD diagnosis (although we all know what it is). School are fantastic and working with me, I keep them informed they keep me informed.
They treat him as an individual, his teacher was quick to point out that every child with autism is different so on that note my biggest bit of advice would be to get to know that child and what works for them
Things that have helped my son...
He hates a visual timetable aimed at him so all classes have one 'as a matter of course'
He has a laminated copy of the timetable in his bag. Any changes that are known about in advance are written on the timetable with a wipeable marker so we can prepare.
The school, where possible, uses a set range of supply teachers so if his teacher is off he still knows the person teaching him.
One thing to remember is that each child with an ASD is also an individual and may not respond to the things they are 'supposed ' to. As I said my son hated the whole velcro visual timetable thing as it made him stand out. What works for one may not work for another.
As a PP has said above - listen to the parents and remember that what you do in class may have a massive knock on effect at home.
As above watch out for the children who get an amazing buzz out of winding a child with ASD up.....
There's some fantastic advise here already so I hope you won't mind if I add my experiences from my own ds's.
I've found that with both of my boys that patience is key. I get the sense that the teachers that give them a lot are rewarded with a lot, basically you get out what you put in.
I've also found with my boys that they are different at school. The eldest was completely non verbal at school for the first year or so as he built up trust. At home he talked fine. My youngest does what he can to get through the school day. he bottles up all the frustrations and brings them home where he completely unleashes it all. I suppose that goes back to listening to the parents.
I would say good luck but it doesn't seem apt. Have fun? Enjoy this fantastic little person and the new experiences you will both share
ignore the stereo types. Listen to her parents especially regarding what is worrying her. Tell them good things as well as issues and difficulties.
watch these videos,
read "Emergence" by temple Grandin and watch some of her talks on utube
read "Send in the Idiots" and marvel at the different outcomes from different expectations.
Please don't try to fix her. Try instead to help her get the most out of HER life experience. Passing as normal is not a worthy aspiration any more than trying to pass as any other group is.
Yes I agree with lots of the above posts. I have two children with asd. My df needs different support to ds. DD loves school trips and though she struggles with group work she still is enthusiastic about activities like plays and singing, but neds to be allowed opportunity for self expression as does not follow direction well. While ds struggles with school trips, 'fun' activities, anything off timetable and needs to be given time to adjust to changes. So it I true that the parent will be the best guide initially for what the child may struggle with.
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