Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Perfecting the Visual Schedule-Object Schedule

Visual Schedules run my classroom; as they should in any autism classroom.  Visual Schedules provide our students with knowledge of what their day looks like including instruction, breaks, lunch, recess, etc.
We differentiate our instruction based on an individuals need, but are we differentiating our students' schedules?

Object Schedule
Use the object schedule for the student who is still learning basic noun identification.  Think of someone with a mental age of 6 months-18/24 months.  Find miniature objects which closely resemble the actual item.  For example, for snack time, have an empty cup; bathroom, have a small toilet; library, a small book.  Place velcro on the back of the item and hang on a schedule (include the students picture and a mirror), students then take the item off of their schedule and use the object as a transition item to take to the desired location; at the location have a place for the student to match the object (object:object or object:picture).  During your 1:1 instruction time with the student begin to develop the skill of matching the object to a real picture.  Once they student has mastered the skill of matching object to a real picture, it is time to transition the student to a real picture schedule.

Check back soon for other forms of the visual schedule.  

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Mind the Gap - Student Work

The Mind the Gap intervention has been going well.  The students understand how to map it out.  As I had mentioned previously we began with very basic choices: Do I want to eat Carrots or Ice Cream for snack.  Mapping it out: Stop-It is snack time.  Think-If I eat carrots-They are healthy, they digest well, they are crunchy; if I eat ice cream-It is unhealthy, I could get a cavity, It is tasty.  Act-I will eat carrots.  As we expanded we introduced the concept during our social skills group when they were not in a state of acting out or crisis.  Here is a video of a student explaining what to do when he is frustrated:

We then began to implement it during/after moments of crisis.  Here is a student's work before they decided to break a rule.  

We use this almost every day and not always for negative behavior.  We use it quite a bit to teach that everything we do in life is a choice, we have even tied it in to character studies (for our higher level reading students) to map out a characters thinking.

When we use this with a student before, during or after a crisis, we send a copy home to the parents.  Our parents have all been briefed in this intervention and have copies at home to use as well.  

If you are interested in this intervention technique and would like clarification please contact me through the blog.  If you are interested in using this within your classroom, please check out the product available on my TpT store.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Mind the Gap

Trying to teach students who lack empathy that their actions have consequences is challenging.  I struggle with it; there is a fine line of what and how to teach a child who takes pleasure from hurting others.  My student will give the scripted response that his choice is bad, or that the other person will be "sad" or "hurt;" however he truly does not understand that there is a consequence for him and a consequence for the person whom he has injured.  For example, if he pushes a shelf over onto another student, he understands that it is bad to do and that the other person will be "sad," but he does not understand that he loses privileges and that the other person may break a bone or bleed and not want to be around him.

I am a non-violent crisis intervention trainer, I have a background in behavior, and I have been teaching Autism and Severe behavior for over 8 years.  I keep coming across the "mind the gap" intervention but could never understand how to implement it.  I finally had that lightbulb moment!

Here's the overview:  We are all faced with choices each day and each choice brings us to a metaphorical fork in the road, each route has consequences directly related to the choices that we make.  Example:  I love shoes!  They make me very happy!  I was at the shoe store and I was faced with the choice of whether or not to buy a new pair of shoes (CHOICE).  ROAD A-If I buy the shoes I will not be able to go out for bagels and coffee each morning this week, but I will have new shoes.  ROAD B- If I do not buy the shoes, I will not have new shoes, but I can afford to eat the breakfast of my choosing this week.

Classroom Translation:  We teach our students that they are responsible for their choices and that a choice is either good or bad.  However, we never explain, or map out, what each choice means.  I have begun to implement this with my students, especially with my more aggressive students.  I phrase it in more of an if/then statement, "If you destroy property you lose your break time.  But if you follow directions you earn all of your break time."  I have begun to put this in visual form as well; we must remember that when our students are in their brain-stem thinking they are not comprehending our words, thus visuals are important!

Word of Caution:  You know your students.  I have to be very careful with my one student who enjoys violence and hurting others.  I teach him that his actions have consequences because of his future, not because I want him to be excited that he knows his actions hurt others.  I make sure not to validate that his actions hurt or upset me or others.  I try to keep emotions out of his teaching.

More to come on this later and hopefully a video of how to utilize this strategy!  A product will be up on TpT soon!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Dear Santa- Winter Handwriting Activity

I will be the first to admit that teaching handwriting is not my strong point.  I've often used the excuse that my students with Autism don't like to write, so we do what we must and get by; it's a technology world anyway.  Don't get me wrong, I do understand the importance of teaching our students with Autism to write, but was this something that you learned in school or just in passing conversation with the OT?

I have, however,  made it my professional goal to find ways to make writing meaningful for my students and to incorporate more writing activities into my students week.  It did not start out with a big project, it started very small, as a transition activity after lunch.  Each student now has a writing binder in which they answer a simple question or fill in the blank and then add a picture.  Now after a few weeks of getting my students desensitized to this, I expanded with this project.

We started with our pre-writing using the basics of Expanding Expression.  My students are familiar with Expanding Expression; we often use it during Language Arts instruction (more blog posts to follow about that).  A few of my kiddos already knew what they wanted for Christmas and were able to verbalize this to us; for those kiddos we found it online, to confirm it is what they wanted, and then printed a picture of the toy so we could help if they ran into difficulty.  For my kiddos that were not able to verbalize what they wanted we pulled out the Toys R Us catalog and went from there.

We did not do all of our pre-writing in one day, it took a few days to complete. Green=Group; Blue=What does it do?; White=What does it look like?; Brown=What is it made of?; White (with triangle)=Where do you get it?; Pink=Details-Why should Santa bring it?; Orange=Anything else/Thank you.

Here is a sample of what it looked like.

Over the next few days we worked on the final product.  The kiddos really seemed to enjoy this product and one student has even wrote another letter to Santa which we have mailed to the North Pole!  I had the Santa paper in a folder, but I'm sure I found it online somewhere.  I also hand made the Santa parts, except the mittens; click here for the sketch: SANTA

And the final product.....

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Cyber Monday

It is that time...Cyber Monday deals on TpT!  Head over for 20% off all products!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Christmas Freebie

Spreading some Holiday cheer everyone's way with this new freebie!  Teach and review Christmas nouns and verbs with this packet. Head on over to my TPT store for this freebie!  This is a great addition to your independent/TEACCH center!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

It's the small things that count

We all need a reminder every now and then to celebrate the small accomplishments!  As an Intervention Specialist we not only manage our students, but paraprofessionals, administrators, general education teachers, specials teachers, and parents too.  We need to not only remind ourselves, but everyone around us, to celebrate the small accomplishments that we and our students continue to make.  If we constantly look at the skills that our students lack we will drive our selves mad.  We need to celebrate the small things, like our students responding to a greeting, our most severe ED students spending time in the general education setting (even if it is only a minute longer than what they normally tolerate), a student asking a question, us taking extra data for the day, or getting to eat lunch with a friend.  When we focus on the skill deficits that our students have or the loads of paper work left for us to conquer, we lose sight on what truly matters.  So my positive message that I hope to spread to you...Celebrate the little victories!  Celebrate the little victories with those that you work with and help others feel like they are making a difference in our sometimes difficult and depressing field.  When you celebrate the little victories you begin to see the big picture!