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ann123
 
 
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autism and discipline
Old 04-05-2007, 12:59 PM
 
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I am hoping that someone here can offer me some guidance. I teach Sunday school and Children's church at a small church. I know these boards are for K-8 teachers but I am in need of your expertise.
I have a 6 year old boy with autism in my class. He does not have a good home situation and is brought to church by his grandmother. During class he jumps on tables, tears things off walls, and hits/bites/kicks me at random. He also has times when he can be very sweet and loving. In the past I have handled his behaviours by giving him 1 warning then sending him back out to his grandmother. This was wroking fairly well but now grandmother will not keep him with her and sends him back to class. I am the mother of a special needs child but my son does not have behavior issues, so I am totally at a loss. I only have about 1 hr 45 min with these kids on Sundays. I want this boy to stay in the class but I have to figure out what to do with the behavior. I do not expect him to sit through the whole class and am fine with him looking at books or sitting on the floor, it's the behaviors mentioned above that are a problem. He is big for his age, non-verbal and only knows a few signs. Thanks in advance for any advice!
Ann


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Without knowing the child...
Old 04-20-2007, 11:00 PM
 
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...or the particular set up of your class, I don't think I can give you any direct advice. Are you looking at when these behaviors happen and noting specific triggers? Perhaps some of them can be "headed off at the pass". What purpose do the behaviors seem to serve for him? Is there a way you can meet those purposes in advance of the behavior, or give him the skills to get those needs met appropriately?

I'm drawing blanks about some good, quick resources to recommend in terms of best understanding autism spectrum disorders. WWW.tinsnips.org has some good stuff, but it's geared largely to primary teachers. Googling "autism society america" will probably end you out at the ASA homepage, which should have some pamphlets to download.

Fundamentally, you're not there to teach him new skills--children functioning at his level need an extraordinary amount of repetition, practice, and individual instruction/intervention, and you don't see him often enough or intensively enough to take that on. If I were you, I'd look at arranging the environment so he was more likely to engage in appropriate behaviors--have a little trampoline available so he get the sensory stimulation he may be seeking with the table jumping, put things he prefers to use in the part of the room with the fewest wall decorations, etc. Communicate to grandma exactly what he's doing--ask her what this usually means at home, and how SHE responds. (If I work with a kid who hits/bites me, the first thing I do is figure out the warning signs and the function--then, I intervene as soon as I see warning signs by prompting the child through a behavior that meets the same function, like signing for "break" when he's trying to get out of doing something).

Good luck!
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Old 06-14-2007, 10:32 AM
 
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I have taught Sunday School for years and have found that as a whole, most churches are not prepared to meet the needs of special needs kids. I would like to suggest several things: speak to your pastor and sunday school director to inform them of the situation. A home visit may be helpful to both of you. You could see the home situation and the child can see you outside the church. Second: solicit the help of another adult who can help you in the classroom. If this does not work, perhaps someone in the church will agree to meet one on one with this child to meet his/her needs. Remember with kids on the autism spectrum, less is more.
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one on one is the key
Old 06-14-2007, 11:11 AM
 
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I have a 12 year old with autism and I have had many children with autistic children in my classroom.
One on one is the key for the situation, I would almost guarantee it. This is not "routine" for this child and that is one of the things children with autism thrive on....once a week for a short amount of time is VERY hard for them. Your environment is different, you are a different person that he is used to and - I'm guessing, you are doing different activities each week....this is his mind creates chaos.
So,
I would go to the pastor and ask if maybe he knows someone with a background in sped....a para or aide perhaps.... or maybe a CNA or nurse even...someone who can be VERY patient with someone
Then, I would work with this person to create a predictable routine for this child. Ask Grandma what he likes...what are his favorite things.....use this knowlege to help get him to come in the room,
Next, establish and write a schedule of what will happen when the child is in the room with that person.....then, put the words with pictures and show the child....first, we come in (show a pic of a child coming through a door) then we sit down and say a prayer (another pic this time of a child praying......)
you need to have this schedule stay the same as much as possible because you have very little exposure to him.
Ok, of course their will be times when schedules HAVE to change.....holiday celebrations,etc.... during those times realize that this change IS NOT fun for this child it is more chaos....if he can go off to the side with that 1:1 person and just do his routine, it will be a lot easier.
I would not be this rigid in the classroom, but since this is SUCH a limited amount of time and the home is not a supportive, safe place, well....I am trying to give you tricks to help both of you have a calm, learning environment.
As he gets to know you and trust you - you will be able to add new things with the schedule.
If you want, message me anytime. I know we're lucky to have had lots of help with our son.
Kym
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I have some questions for you (long)
Old 06-14-2007, 12:12 PM
 
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before giving any suggestions:

1. When you say "he does not have a good home situation", what do you mean? It is possible that most if not all of his behaviorial issues are due to that.

2. If he has autism, he could be low-, medium-, or high-functioning. From what you say, if he is non-verbal, he might not be high-functioning, but he could be. Has he been evaluated by a professional and can grandma share some of that information with you, since you have become one of his teachers? Autism can run a pretty wide range of functioning and behaviors. Can you get the grandmother to tell you more about his evaluation(s), or to find out and tell you? Really, without this information, you won't know how much to realistically expect from him. It's not fair to you for the grandmother to just drop him off with you with no information to work with. You're not a baby-sitter, you're a teacher and you are entitled to some information here.

3. Can you ask the grandmother WHY she will not keep him with her, especially if that was working fairly well before? I'd ask her if I were you. Seeing as his behavior falls into such a wide range, I think you are on safe ground to ask her for more information and to get an answer. As a last resort, you can tell her that if "we" cannot get these behaviors under control (make sure you tell her about the hitting, biting, and kicking), he might not be able to continue to stay in the class. Maybe that will at least get her attention and get her on board to support and assist you with some information.

4. A child who hits/bites/kicks you at random may be a risk to you and/or to the other children. I would quickly get that conversation in with grandma and plan a strategy. I agree with prior posters that you might need to "bone up" on dealing with autistic children--but I would attempt to find out more about where on the spectrum he lies first, and understand the role of his home life in his behavior.

5. I don't know many 6 year olds who can look at books or sit by themselves on the floor for 1.75 hours, much less a child with autism. He may need a level of attention that the situation does not permit you to provide, if you are teaching the other students. You need more information to come up with a strategy that supports him (and you).

Hope that helps. Keep us posted.


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Helpful book
Old 07-16-2007, 05:42 AM
 
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There is a book "Unto the Least of These" which deals with setting up special needs ministries. You will probably find it helpful. Be aware that due to its age the terminology used is not politically correct.
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