Speaking from the Spectrum
Let's begin with a well known fact. As a parent raising a child on the spectrum, we have accepted our roles of full time caretaker, advocate, top chef for selective cuisines, master of technological issues including iPad resets, website errors, locked pin codes, Bluetooth and Wifi wonders!
Did I mention we are the only humans that can calm our kids in a meltdown, speak their language, read their minds, and still be attentive to others without skipping a beat?! Now in the event of a total school district shut down, several parents are adding In Home School teacher to the list.
Brain Spasm! Lucky for us we already hold the skills of keeping calendars, logging behaviors, and the most important tool of all...BUILDING SCHEDULES!!!
Personally, I am not cofident what the end of the school year looks like, so just incase, I must prepare myself to make sure my child hits his goals. It's important to pull from all recourses on this one.... I find myself relying on Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) tactics.
In this blog I will cater to both High functioning and Low functioning children techniques.
For those who are pending evaluations I can touch on definitions in plain english...no medical jargon here.
* Low Functioning: Non to little Verbal Ability. Low cognitive skills meaning lack of quick and swift movements caused by delayed brain development. Minimal coordination.
* High Functioning: Limited to Average Verbal Ability, minimal to adaptive coordination, and closer to functioning in what the world calls "general population".
Create or blend school assignments into daily schedule. Structure is Key and having a physical concept to set a reminder of daily tasks can set reinforcement.
*Low functioning: Use a visual, draw the time or create a scedule in writing.Keep it in a main eye range like the pantry or fridge. Keep it simple! 11 is for reading! or 12 is for counting! ect.
Break up hours based on attention span.
Use a visual checklist to keep up a boost of confidence and set the tone for future assignments. This is similar to a reward system too. After so many tasks have been completed they will gain access to a desired or prefrerred activity.
*High functioning: Reassure with them throughout the day so that expectations are not high.
Ex. Give times, topics of the day, and set a main goal.
Keep a log for data intake. You can monitor how many times you had to prompt them during a certain task and eventually remove prompts to minimal use.
If hesitance or distraction occurs, use the FIRST and THEN method, "First we must finish.....Then you can.... (use an incentive for Free Time to work towards)
This method is helpful for both low and high functioning.
If you have trouble getting your child to sit to work... still use a desired tangible.
(preferred toy or snack)
Cognitive ability and Patience may run low so do not expect 8 hours worth of work to be done in your home setting. It's ok to build 30 minute sessions to an hour or a block of assignments to be completed throughout the day.
When getting through an assignment, break it down and set timers!
Timers are your best friend! Use your best judgment with timing.
*TIP for smaller or irritable children: Let them feel interactive and press the buttons to set it or close it out. Keep them engaged in controlled settings.
If they are mentally checked out and working up to a breakdown, use the timer to motivate them showing it will be over soon. As they move along their goal, treat them with an incentive. (3 goldfish at a time, sensory toy, 1 favorite song on YouTube, 5 minute break ect.)
For example my son hates writing, so I have to break down each line, each expectation, and reward by giving him something to hold sensory related.
I bought colored erasers and I hand over one individually after he finishes each word. Ding. Ding Ding Ding. Time's up. Move on to the next step.
To keep up the momentum and desire to breakaway from their "safe spots" we have to encourage them by keep it fun. Most important we have to maintain patience. If one day is worse than others use that day as an example how to approach the next day.
In ABA we use Mass Trials which are the repeated presentation of prompts. Now that we have that one on one workspace with our child we can use this time to test their ability into mastering specific targets. Set the mastered response (example: write name, repeat or recognize answer to a question.)
The trial will be 5 times. Every 10 minutes prompt the mass trial. Example: Now it's time to answer our question of the day! or Ok time to show me how to write your name! Use mass trials as a practice tool.
Remember MASS TRIALS are used to target unwanted behaviors and turn it into a mastered skill.
This is the time to use it while you are face to face during a classroom setting. You may see things that your teacher previously brought up and now you can help get it under control. Many of us are now recognizing behaviors that we never saw up close and personal in a classroom. Now we can get a grasp on making sure these behaviors are recognized and treated.
This is just basic tabletop techniques to what's happening in our daily routine today but every one is on different parts of the spectrum so insert your own agenda and set your own standards. Once this pandemic passes we will be more in tune to what our child needs not only from an academic perspective but from a personal level to make them a stronger student in todays world of expectations.
Autism Awaeness month is a week away so stay tuned for more helpful tips and motivational stories!