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down syndrome
Old 08-20-2007, 06:35 AM
 
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Hi. I have just been hired for a grade 2 position. I am excited, but I am nervous in that there are 2 special needs children, one with asperges, and the other with down syndrome. I have never worked with either, and I was hoping for advice on how I can be successful in teaching them. THere are only 9 kids total and I do have a TA, but I would really appreciate your input. Thanks,


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Old 08-20-2007, 09:23 AM
 
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I've had both. Children with Asperger's Syndrome can be pretty high functioning and their behaviours are sometimes similar to autism. While Down's Syndrome are usually not as high functioning, and you will usually be working on socialization skills. For both students, I believe that you will have to set up a highly routined (calm) environment. Both students will need to have clear expectations and consequences, and build in a reward system based on the students' interests. I found free time on the computer was a good reward (educational games of course). Children with Asperger's, in my experience, take everything literally. You have to be very specific in your communication with them, and do not assume anything. They seldom censor thoughts and reactions, which can be funny, embarrassing, and frustrating at times. They can usually follow the curriculum with some adaptations. Again all this advise is case specific. Down's Syndrome children are similar to working with young children depending on their functioning level. Based on the children I have had, they will test all the boundaries that you set out and you need to be firm with your discipline. They are very loving children as well, and generally want to please the teacher and their classmates. In most cases children with Down's Syndrome will have a modified program. They will not be able to complete grade level curriculum. You will be working on communication, fine and gross motor skills, safety etc. In both cases, it is very important that you work on integrating these children into the classroom, by educating your other students about tolerating differences, ignoring tantrums, and including them in play. You may have difficulty with children with Asperger's socializing as they prefer to be alone or with adults in my experience. Find a few students in your class who are patient, empathetic, and leaders to be buddies--for they will help guide the other students in behaviour towards your children with special needs. Lots of communication with your Special Ed. advisor, Teaching Assistant, and, most importantly, the parents. Perhaps you can mirror techniques used at home, or if there are problems at home, then you can work together on creating some consistency for these children. My experiences with special needs children have been some of the most difficult in my teaching career, but by far the most rewarding!!! Good luck!

Last edited by charmed; 08-20-2007 at 09:17 PM..
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Old 08-20-2007, 03:42 PM
 
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Thanks.

I have heard that the other kids are very understanding and tolerant of both kids, which is great. There is no special ed advisore.... I am it ! I guess I am not sure what to expect academically, how to differentiate the material I am teaching etc. I am sure the TA will be immensly helpful as she worked with them last year, but I am kind of jumping in not knowing how to plan my lessons .... any advice on the academic parts? TIA
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Old 08-20-2007, 09:42 PM
 
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It is so case specific. Wait until you get a chance to see their IEP's and how they performed on the goals and expectations set out for them last year. Usually we have our IEP meetings in the spring to set the goals that will be worked on for the new year.

In adapting your curriculum there are many things you can do like photocopying notes ahead of time, reducing the number of questions, doing more group work and assigning specific roles so that these students can work with others, allowing students to verbalize their understanding rather than written output, more time to complete tests/work, scribes, etc. It all depends on the goals set out for the child and evaluating their strengths and weaknesses.

In modifying your curriculum, this means that the student will have completely different goals, but you can align certain activities with your subjects. For eg. if the class is doing writing, perhaps your student with ds can do printing, or writing letters with chalk, or learning sign language. In reading the TA can read a text and do some predicting, drawing, summarizing--it really depends on their level of functioning. Is the student with ds verbal? In pe they can participate in most activities, but if not then give them a chance to work on specific fine and gross motor skills (bouncing different sized balls, balancing bean bags on head and performing a course, etc.). He or she can also do finger painting, glueing/cutting, building, sewing. Work on health and hygiene and nutrition. It all depends on the kids.

I'm sure your TA will be a valuable source of information as well, having worked with them before. Sometimes progress is very slow and these students will be working on the same goals year after year. Small steps are celebrated!!! Don't overwhelm yourself and/or beat yourself up about not meeting all of their needs. Ask the previous teacher what he/she did. They also will be a valuable source of information. Again, beg, borrow, and steal ideas!! Again Good Luck!
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