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Autism and picking battles

(7 Posts)
MrsFergus Thu 09-Nov-17 19:50:05

Hi, looking for some advice please. I have a child in my class who has been diagnosed with ASD. He is 6 and this is his second year at school but he found last year very difficult.

He is generally doing well and we are seeing progress with his now/next board. He still often marches to the beat of his own drum.

I am finding it very difficult to know when to intervene with him though. For example, today at tidy up time he went and took out a painting set and started to paint while the other children were on the carpet. He was doing it quietly but he shouldn't have been doing intervening ended up with him screaming for ten minutes.

What are you supposed to do?!

BackforGood Thu 09-Nov-17 23:16:51

Have you asked for some training?
I know SEN training is generally appalling as part of Initial Teacher Training but there is more and more knowledge about Autism and working with children with Autism all the time. Go to whoever is responsible for CPD and let them know you need to know more. Or, better still, talk to the SENCo and ask them to arrange some whole staff training. Even a basic 'Autism Awareness' Course would help. AET (Autism Education Trust) deliver 3 Tiers of training around Autism, but there are loads of other providers too.
If you ever get chance to go to a 'Positive About Autism' training course, I'd highly recommend them (and you can sign up to receive monthly newsletters too). Look at the NAS (National Autism Society) website too - they have lots of course, but also forums and Q&As and booklets and conferences and all sort of help.
Do your LA not have some kind of Autism Outreach / Specialist Teacher service who will come in and offer you advice / support / training ?

nancyclancy123 Thu 09-Nov-17 23:17:02

How about a visual timetable as well as now/next board, so that he knows when he is able to paint. Do you use sand timers? Rather than trying to get him to stop painting straightaway, he could have 2 minutes and then he needs to come and sit down.
Does he have 1:1 support?

nancyclancy123 Thu 09-Nov-17 23:19:26

And absolutely everything that BackforGood has suggested.

Hannahfftl Thu 09-Nov-17 23:24:21

It all depends on the child. Could you have used his now and next board to let him know what he should be doing? Was he given a time appropriate warning that tidy up time was imminent?

All children with autism are different, some of my children would have needed the warning prior so anything they'd been wanting to do could be done, some would just need a now and next board to remind them of what the expectations were. Some would simply need a firm "no painting. Tidy time" and some would have had a "meltdown" either way, possibly because the noise of tidy up tim is upsetting and painting is a way to self regulate?

There are so many reasons for a child with autism to react in certain ways. You need to get to know him and his triggers and needs and sometimes let things go. I know it doesn't seem fair that he was painting while others were tidying, but in the grand scheme of things, does it matter? He's going to face more hardship in his life than most of the other children. And the children aren't soft, they will know and understand he is different and that he doesn't always do the same things as them.

I second the above suggestion, request some autism training, sensory processing training and just do some reading yourself on the subject.

noblegiraffe Thu 09-Nov-17 23:27:38

Hard to say. Do you have a visual timetable so he knew what he was meant to be doing? Transitions can be difficult, so does he have a warning before an activity finishes so he can mentally prepare?
It's possible he was starting to be a bit mentally overwhelmed and chose to take a bit of time-out to calm down (which is good!). Or he could simply be opting out of scheduled activities because he doesn't fancy them (which is potentially an issue).

I think if he found last year difficult and is generally doing well this year then the priority should be keeping him in the classroom and doing as much work as possible rather than total compliance. If he was painting rather than listening to a story (or tidying up, which could be hectic and unpleasant for him) then that's not a real problem. If it was rather than listening to the main input for a maths lesson then that would probably need some attempt to get him to engage (could you use a timer? 'I can see you're painting but I need you to listen to the maths, here's a three minute timer, once it finishes can you come and join us please?')

MrsFergus Sat 11-Nov-17 11:40:46

Mum says a visual timetable makes him more anxious so we don't have one. He did know it was tidy up time- our routine is a five minute warning for all children and one just for him and he helps me to put the cd in and press play.

His Mum says we aren't strict enough with him but being 'strict' is impossible when it results in a ten minute meltdown. I don't know when to be strict and when to let things go.

The other problem is that group story time is the one group activity which is accessible for him, so I've worked really hard on getting it set up for him- he has his own special cushion, he sits right at the front etc.

Our LA is running CPD early next year, so I've signed up for that. Thank you for the advice.

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