Does anyone out there teach a self contained class with Autistic children? I have worked in a variety of settings and I'm thinking of switching to a self contained Autistic unit next year. What do you like/dislike about teaching this population? What techniques work best with Autistic children? Any advice would be helpful
I have a lot of tips for you. Since, I have HFA; Higher-Functioning Autism. Feel free to email me at Luvs2Write16@Aol.com, and I will send you my advice and so forth. Some advice includes: social stories, sensory integration techniques, eye contact, and so forth. Feel free to email me at Luvs2Write16@aol.com - write in subject line: Teaching Children with Autism - and I will reply.
I will be more than happy to assist you. Thanks for reading my post.
HFA; Higher-Functioning Autism, Bipolar Disorder, and ADHD
My first teaching job was in a self contained autistic program. I have a lot more to say about it than would fit in one little post - but if you'd like you can message me with more specific questions. I'd be happy to share my experiences.
I just interviewed for a class of Deaf Autistic children as my first teaching job!! I know very few people have any experience with this population, but I'm looking for creative ways to get them involved and give them some real quality experiences. I'm thinking about units or theme areas to bring into the classroom. I'm not sure I"ll have this group but I'd love any ideas!
hello michelle, I have a HFA son. It seems to me he is extremely bright, but i cannot seem to get him to hold a pencil to write. it is like he has no interest. He is at a very good school for the autistic, but they don't seem like writing is important at this age. he will be five next month. I was wondering if you had any ideas on what i could try at home. Should i force him to sit and write. Maybe i could use rewards. i wouldn't know where to start. I also cannot keep his attention for more than a minute thank you so much! I hope things are going well for you. Stephen's mom
I was offered a position teaching austic elementary students ranging from k-5 in a self contained classroom. There would be 10 students, 2 teachers (including me) and 4 aides. The other teacher would be training me since I am not a special ed teacher. I was also offered 3rd grade in another district. The position with the autistic class was my preferred location. I would be moving from NJ to AZ for either position. What advice can you offer about teaching autistic children? I'm not sure if it would be for me. I'm leaving my current position because I feel burnt out since it is such a difficult urban population. Will this type of position be rewarding and enjoyable or tiring and draining? I appreciate any advice you can offer.
Without knowing more about you and your teaching goals, it's hard to say how you will feel about your new position. I can just tell you what my own experience was.
When I took my job teaching autistic children, I was very young. Just out of college. I had worked with many children before, but never an autistic child. I had read about autism, but found the day to day reality with the children to be very eye-opening. In the beginning I relied on my assistants and interns, and only after following the system they already had did I feel comfortable taking a leadership role and changing it. Some things were counterintuitive to me - I felt like I was learning to work with children all over again.
I found the job to be very rewarding and got lots of great experience, but it was tiring. Sometimes the kids would appear to make progress and then suddenly "lose" the skills we'd taught them. It frustrated me very much when I couldn't get them to comply or when they engaged in behavior that was bizarre or hurtful to themselves or others. I developed a very close attachment to them, but it felt quite alien at first. You don't always get the typical feedback from them - you can't always tell by looking at them whether they are listening to you as you speak, or even if they know you are present. Some kids are very affectionate, but others may not show any signs that they like you or even recognize you from day to day. Some of my kids took a whole year just to learn to say my name - but when they did, it felt amazing. That is one of my proudest moments as a teacher.
If you are still deciding which job to take, I'd try to investigate a few things:
- what are the educational programs and interventions used with the autistic children? do they follow a behavioral approach, how rigid is it, would you feel comfortable with it? do they use food rewards, and if so, are you OK with that? (some people aren't)
- When the kids don't comply or act out, what system is in place? Will they train you in it? How upsetting would it be for you to actually implement it? I learned how to physically restrain students and never needed that training, but when it did actually come time to do it, I found that the school was over-using the technique, and furthermore, that the technique was designed for smaller children rather than the 100-pound boy I was dealing with. This led to my decision to leave the program.
- who will your assistants be? are they paraprofessionals, interns, etc? what education and training do they have? My assistants were a mixture of college students and long-time paraprofessionals. They were mostly great and willing to cooperate with me, and loved the children. The ones who didn't, didn't make it in my classroom. Coworkers can make the difference between burnout and loving your job - I have been there.
- What is your definition of success in teaching? Would it be OK with you to work for a year with a child who makes little observable progress or who appears to lose skills s/he's learned? This was hard for me, especially in the beginning. My classes always contained a mix - some students made huge gains, others very few. The ones who really soared kept my spirit up to deal with the ones who struggled.
I have taught for 17 years - the past 6 in an autistic class - I really enjoy "specializing" in one disability - and being that autism is on a spectrum - there is certainly enough to learn on just that! I feel I have been able to focus my training and learn as much as I can on autism -and consider myself well educated on the subject - tho there is still lots to learn - it is easier from a teaching standpoint - as I can create an environment that best suits all thier needs - the past 2 years I had a mixed group - some medically fragile - 3 autistic - 1 high functioning spina bifida - 1 cp - it was really hard to keep the autisitc kids on task and meet thier needs - using picture schedules and pecs cards and sensory techniques - and meet the needs of the other kids also - I did the best I could - but I always felt like someone was missing out and I was being pulled in 15 directions - and I did have quite a bit of help - but with so many levels and different needs - it was hard - this coming school year I will have 6 autistic preschoolers - 1 cp child and 1 medically fragile - I think it will be a little easier -(at least I hope! Good luck!
i have worked in special ed as a sub for 2 years, a 1:1 for a year and have just finished my first year of teaching...my students have moderate to severe behaviors and disabilities, the majority of them have asd's...several are severely autistic......it is a self contained class in a self contained special ed non public school...
i love the kids and also my class team but i do not always get the help from admin that i need....i think that the school is run too much like a business and that our main admin doesn't know much about being in a classroom and what goes on there...they pretty much just hand down edicts and expect stuff to get done, we are hardly given any training at all...no real teacher supports...a lot of staffing issues....also..they don't pay the aides much and i do not imagine the interview process for them is too indepth...a lot of worker apathy...a lot of staff behavioral issues in the classroom...
but yeah ...you were asking about the kids...! lol...well...a big room works well because you can make seperate areas for different learning groups/subjects...have space for a quiet area....often students with autism have processing disorders and need a place to quiet down..and the rest and repair rooms we have inside the room echo loudly and are used primarily for cool downs and behavioral students....so i would like to have an area for quiet time that does not have a consequence association to it...also...have clear spaces...often you may find students with autism love to expel energy by walking / jumping / running around...and we should let them...not all the time though but trying to keep them seated too much i think is a disservice to them.....i have one student that jumps high up and down flapping his arms...one that loves to walk circles around my desk..one that loves kicking his heels and jumping/laughing and another that loves to run up and down the classroom making noises and inspecting things on my desk...give them room..help those types learn more kinesthetically....
try not to make the room decoration too distracting, sometimes things haging from the ceiling may be engaging for them to play with but it will distract them from the work...give short lessons, be consistent and repetitive. ask questions often and for the students who are nonverbal write your questions large on the board or on a piece of paper and ask them if they understand...or model a question for them to answer....
not sure if this helps but any more specific questions let me know.....
there is nothing i dislike about teaching students with autism....the problems i have are with the admin/staff sometimes.....
Just wanted to reply. 5 really is too young for a child to hold a pencil, and your son isn't quite 5! Let the school do the teaching- they know what they are doing, and if you push him, he'll hate the idea of writing altogether. Of course he's not interested, pencils are boring! Let him do paints, crayons, pastels, whatever his sensory needs wil tolerate.
Also, don't ever jeopardize your relationship with your son over something as trivial as a pencil! (Or anything else that may come along)
I am interested in your tips for reading instruction. I have taught children with Autism for 14 years yet find myself in a challenging position and I need help with REAL PROOF verses "Over the years I have read..." because my current student's mother works in the same district yet her understanding of Autism and mine are a world apart. Also, she reads data with a mothers eye and I read as an educator. Most of the research supports visual/sight approach for so many reasons that I am sure you and I both understand but I am having trouble locating research data due to excessive amounts of info available. Do you have a few strong research web sights that I might visit? Out of a desperate desire for son to read she had him put into a Dyslexia program and I need to have strong evidence that decoding is not the best way because he foeever sees the word in its decoded state...
I'd love to hear advice on how to approach learning in a regular ed classroom. I have one autistic child with 23 others. The resource teacher comes in for 45 minutes a day 4x a week. She had much more special ed teacher time in her first two years of school. At the end of last year she was exited from the inclusion model of schooling. This child has already demonstrated that the learning piece will be difficult in a large classroom setting. It's me and 24 children most of the day. In her defense she just wants to do the right thing, but she interrupts me frequently, shouts for clarification and persists until she's satisfied. This goes on all day.
I have just been assignd to work 1:1 with autistic 11 year old boy...great personality. Flash cards, edmark, photo cards, etc. have been the teaching strategies used for the past few years. Jumping on a trampoline helps discharge some of his energy, however...Mother says no real progress during this time, but no deterioration either. I'd like to teach him how to tell time as measurable goal for assessment by state. Any ideas or suggestions?? thanks again
Do not force him to sit and write. and rewards would not help. This is a musle tone problem. My son had the same problem 2 years ago.
A lot of Autistic children have this problem they do not have the palm musles developed. We did a lot of thera putty and pincher grips therapy to build these muscles.
But to help him in short term start him out with crayons, chalk (it is easier than a pencil) and break them till they are a 1 inch long. They cannot put all their fingers on it and they have to use the three finger hold. Once you build up to a pencil try a triangle pencil or a gripper. It also helps if he rights at an angle and not flat on the table. I hope this helps
I am not having much success in teaching reading to my student. I think he understands, but since he does not speak many words, I am not sure. He does knows sign language.
Any ideas or help you can give me would be appreciated.
I read your message. I do have an HFA autistic child who is in Grade five but his reading level is in Grade 3. He loves reading but hates Math. I have used computer activities and tried teaching him calculator skills for addition and subtraction because he hates these skills. I would appreciate your tips.
Thank you very much,
I have been teaching for several years now, but this year I got the pleasure of having an autistic child. This is way over my head. I've been studying and studying, observing and observing, and I still haven't found a way to reach him. My autistic child is very low functioning. He's nonverbal, does not talk, and is not potty trained. I have observed him in putting unifix cubes together (black and white) by colors, but other than that not much more. He does get excited when he hears a familiar song, but I want to do so much more. How can I reach this nonverbal child? How can we progress together? Any ideas?
First of all congrats on the new job! I am currently going to school to be a Intervention Specialist, what qualifications did you have to have to get your job? I don't know if I should get accredited for mild/moderate, or moderate to intensive? Thanks!!
I teach prek level students with autism. Since your student gets excited when he hears a familiar song, use music to help him learn. My students have learned to read the days of the week, months of the year, and can match pictures of the weather to the words (sunny, cloudy, rainy, snowy) because we started out singing the songs. I use music to teach my students new concepts and graduallly use more "teach" time than music.
First off, you are on the right track by observing, so give yourself a pat on the back and persevere! Second, here are a few suggestions for potty training: we use plastic gloves and gently facilitate the process by encouraging the child in a firm but not stern voice to sit on the toilet. If the child gets up and resists, the child is further encouraged by helping remove clothes etc. - one of our students had a routine of removing all of his clothes but he did learn to go to the bathroom this way and eventually we changed his "routine" by telling him "Pants and underwear only" etc. and sometimes saying "Ms. T.A. does not take off socks. Ok to leave socks on." etc. If the child responds well to visual and spoken cues, I have noted that simple directions (two to three words work best). Focus by using child's name (notice if this child has a problem with noise - then speak softly to focus - some autistic children are said to have super hearing or loudness sensitivity) "Please - pull down pants, sit down, sit back, scoot back" or "Sit down" etc. (one please is good for most directions to show respect). At first, eventhough you always respect the child's privacy, you may have to repeat the child's name for every direction to focus and if a boy encourage the child to "push down" etc., get down on their level works well too. (We can look like monsters looming above them!)
It is a lot of trial and error but patience and understanding is the key and once some piece of the skill is mastered, privacy and respect are essential to ensuring positive repeat performance. (Reward may work as well ..."Go potty, get computer time".) Choices for learning that work for us : TEAACH tasks, picture cards with three or two post-it note pull off identifiers, set tasks to music or have music playing in background, 2-3 choice reading questions - also post -its to pull off choices. Laminated photographs with simple word choices - girl puts on coat etc., boy eats cereal, puzzles and semsory exploration.
hi name name is Charmaine and its my first year working with a special austic child his age is 7yrs and he is averaging the age group of 3-5yrs. I would like him to learn how to speak alot more words, so far i have tought him to say I want---- I see the---- give me-- toilet---please and thanks. He is also quite board with the same things he has learnt in pre primary and grade one and now is in grade two so i would like to progress with higher teaching level to keep his interest. As he has only having a 15min attention span so its hard to keep up with him or think of new things to do for him. He loves the Wiggles I have got alot of Cd Dvds and tapes for him at school. His parents are very good and are always willing to help out.
love to get new ideas thanks from charmaine.
I read your note. In need your help. I am applying for an ESE secondary school teacher position teaching autistic children in a sel-contained class. I would like to know, according to to experience, what classroom behavior management techniques work best with autistic students? and What teaching strategies work best when working with this population. Your help on this matter will be really appreciated.Thanks.
I read your note. In need your help. I am applying for an ESE secondary school teacher position teaching autistic children in a sel-contained class. I would like to know, according to to experience, what classroom behavior management techniques work best with autistic students? and What teaching strategies work best when working with this population. Your help on this matter will be really appreciated.Thanks
I have a child in my daycare program with autism. I have taught autistic children before, but I really need some help with this one. He is a lot of behavioural problems at the time. He hits his head a lot on different objects and with his own hands and he also tantrums a lot when faced with simple rules. the one thing that calms him right now is food. any suggestins would be helpful.
I have a son who is on the autistic spectrum and is nearly 6. We have been experiencing a difficult fortnight at home and at school and would like some advice on clothes. Jack readily gets dressed every morning in full uniform to go on the bus to school. As soon as he gets to school, off comes the trousers, shoes and socks. He does this when he comeshome from school but NOT at the childminder who he is with for about 3/4 hour after school.
Are there any tips for helping Jack keep his clothes on. We are worried about health and social issues. At home we have managed to get him to wear my fleece but he still insists on no shoes and socks.
I read your post as I begin a search to learn more about how to work with children with autism in my regular ed classroom. I would love to hear any advice or tips you may have to offer.
I am a mother of a six year old boy. He was diagnosed with autism when he was three. His is quite intelligent and has been able to learn how to speak though his speech is limited. I am very proud of my son, John. Unfortunately, his first year in a "real" school has been a nightmare. He resists handwriting when it is requested of him; however, I do find him drawing pictures of pizza, the television, crayons, and even his first name when he chooses to. I am very curious of my son and have been trying to find someone who can give me an idea of what is going on in his head (since that is something that he is not able to express at this moment). I do believe that his actions speak pretty loud to me and I am interpretting that my son has a stubborn side, but I cannot be for sure. I read your posting and am curious to know what it was like for you growing up? Were you always able to speak or did you have problems in the beginning? Was handwriting ever difficult for you? If you had any problems such as these how did that make you feel? How did you react? What interventions helped you? I have many many questions to ask if you are willing to answer! I appreciate any input you may have!
Mother of John, Autism
I am a father of an autistic son who is six years of age here in London, England and would like some suggestions on teaching our son to talk. He understands a lot of commands, but doesn't produce words, he sings, not that we can understand, so in this case isn't totally non-verbal. Can someone please help or offer suggestions.
what would I need to do to get my child in a class room with children like her she has autism.But her teacher and the staff refuss to put her a in a special class.Ive try All they say is if she staff around normal children she will learn more. To thats mest up
You really didn't explain her abilities so it's hard to speak specifically to your child. The spectrum is very broad. If they feel she belongs in a regular class, then probably they see her as a child who is bright and will succeed in a less restrictive environment. I think that's a good thing. Dont you? I have a child in my class who will be going to a mainstream class next year. He has autism. He stims often with a pencil waving it in front of his eyes. He has a one on one para that is always with him. He is extremely bright. (10yo) Keeping him in a self contained class when he doesn't need it academically will stifle his social, academic and emotional growth. He needs good role models. Maybe tell us more about your dd, then we can advise better.
I have an autistic student in my class, I adore him. He is very bright, and does very well academically, and he lets me know quite frequently what a good student he is. He's an emotional kid,very sensitive. He's had one major episode this year, but otherwise he does great. I was really worried about teaching an autistic student at first, my first experience with this, but now I know how wonderful it can be.
My name is Doug Johnson and I work in a Lifeskills class room. One of my students is a young girl (11 years old) and I have the responsibility of teaching her to write her name. We are having trouble drawing the letters of her name correctly. I have tried the dot to dot method, the hand over hand method and while they work, she is unable to produce the correct letters on her own. Any ideas to help us?
Hi Doug, I teach a self-contained classroom with the majority of my students (5 out of 8) being very low-functioning autistic children. I have found that sometimes they need various sensory-oriented activities first, before correctly using a pencil to form letters correctly. Some of the things I have done to help students write their name are:
use different types of materials to "write" letters; such as, writing in whipped/shaving cream, pudding, sand, or on textured letters in their name (sandpaper letters, etc.)
Using instruments, other than pencils, that do not require the student to use such a fine-motor grip. Items like thick crayons/markers or sidewalk chalk work well.
highlight letters in their name... it is easier (visually) for them to follow the bright, thicker lines in a highlighter.
There's more strategies I use, but not thinking of them right now. Hope some of these help... good luck!
I am a personal aide for an 11 year old, 4th grade girl. I don't work with any other children. From my point of view it requires a ton of patience and a ton of creativity. It is very rewarding on the good days and extremely frustrating on others. To me it is worth every minute because I am helping her develope crucial lifeskills that she might not get if I weren't there. I totally say try. I think this might just be the change your looking for. I know I was wonderfully surprised with how meaningful this job (it's way more than a job)could be.
Have fun with what ever you choose.
I have just read your post and it really has helped me! Ive been working in a new job first time on my own with no help or assistants with a 5 year old autisic child, it has been so challenging and I have felt many off the things you discribed he does not seem to know who I am, no emotion, I was taking it personnaly when he said hurtful things ect.....
Im going to keep at it and hope I will go back tomorrow stronger!
Do you have any suggestions on an independent activity for students who have severe autism. I teach in a self contained room and usually have the students do a morning worksheet then type a paragraph or personal information. I would like to find a different activity for them to do in the morning. Something functional and worthwhile. Any suggestions would help-
The students I teach are ages 15-18
It is very tiring and I've only been at it less than a year. The higher functioning children are very enjoyable, but the lower functioning require SO much. They spit, hit and bite the teachers and the teacher's aids. They often need frequent clothing and or diaper/pull up changes. Some like to smear their feces on the walls and some like to use the classroom as a toilet.
Find out what you are getting yourself into first. Can you visit the school for a day?
I work at a Preschool on a relief basis, were I help with a Severely Austistic 4 or 5 year old boy. He does not communicate at Preschool whether he does at home I am not sure. He only maintains eye contact fleetingly. He watches the other children occasionally, he walks around hitting his hands together and also presses them to his mouth. He also makes sounds like "mum mum mum" or either he is calling his Mum, I'm not sure. I would like to come up with some more activities for him. I have given him coloured rice to play with, he also has some sensory toys to play with. The others Child Care Workers plus myself have tried to get him to draw but he shows no interest in this. I have given him playdough to play with which he squeezes in his fingers and tries to eat it, which he also does with the rice. I would like to come up with other ideas in trying to get this little boy interested in other activities suitable to his ability, if possible.
I would appreciate you advice very much, as he is a lovely little boy. Every now and then he finds something that amuses him and he starts to laugh, and that is such a lovely sound to hear from him expressing enjoyment from something.
I teach a self-contained class of 5/6 grade and although some of the children are not Autistic, most are. They are verbal and can learn, but I am finding that it is often easy to mask their abilities behind echolalic speech, and therefore until they have aged almost out of my class, I am being fooled by their abilities! It is rewarding, and also frustrating. Being aware of the goals for their lives is what is key to keep your instruction focused on purposeful teaching. If they are alternate assessment students, it is a little bit easier because you have more flexibility in how you deliver the instruction. The alternate assessment process is also easier now than it was 5 years ago. Anyway, the population is increasing and these students are in more and more school environments and I think it is very important to remember that guiding their social development has to be key and all instruction needs to support this...
I am in my third year teaching a self-contained autism classroom, although this is my 15th year of teaching. I am having doubts about whether a self-contained classroom for children with autism works. The students in my class are ages 8 to 10 and are severely autistic. At times it is difficult for me to teach, and students to learn due to the distractions of loud verbalizations, screaming, and the many behavioral distractions of the students. Administrative expectations are high, yet administrative support is low.
I think whether or not a class like this will work is based on the availability of positive and interactive administrative support, the number of well-informed paras who have a positive attitude, and the severity of the students' disabilities.
Good luck! I hope you post and let us know how you are doing.
I have a 12 year old Aspergers son, who I am now home schooling. One of my goals is to help him develop creative writing skills. He can explain things in great detail, using wonderful vocabulary; however, when he has to do a writing excercise he cannot (or will not), do it. When he does compose something, he keeps it to the bare minimum with no use of grammar or punctuation. I am now beginning to understand the challenges he has with sequencing,etc so can you suggest any resources I can use to help him develop this skill? He does not hand write, all work is done on computer.
I am teaching my 4 year old autistic niece. She does not talk and has little or no attention span. How can I encourage her to talk she says the first sounds of words sometimes! but mostly makes her own babbling sounds. Should I use picture cards for vocabulary and model them?? And what should I teach her letters numbers? What is a good way to improve her attention span ?
Without a doubt this would be a great move. I am not a teacher, just an EA... but children with autism have taught me more than anyone else. They have been the reason I enjoy a sun rise. They have blessed me more than they will ever know.
I have had experience with 3 of these children. The first one was very easy to work with. The second could only speak Spanish and I could speak only English. I now have one in first grade and he is very high functioning. He has very few socials skills and behavior skills. I would be so grateful for things to put into his IEP for this year. I would be grateful for any skills I could use to teach this young man.