In previous posts, I mentioned the difficulties that Christopher is experiencing at school. Here is some good news! Thanks to the persistent efforts of Christopher’s guardian, these useful strategies are now in place for this sweetie on the autism spectrum.
- A small picture on his desk of the Lego he can earn by keeping his “behavior points” (a classwide management system).
- A picture easel on his desk with his dad smiling (“green zone”) and frowning (“red zone”). I am second-guessing this one and would prefer words and symbols, not an actual face, but it seems to help.
- A picture of 2 cues for deep breathing (flower and candle) from a class on managing his stress levels. He needs an adult to support his use of this strategy, but Christopher has positive associations with those images, so he is eager to cooperate.
- Stress breaks. He walks down the hall with a whiz kid from his class. I think these work best when they are added to a picture/written schedule so ASD kids know there’s a light at the end of the never-ending tunnel.
I think another useful strategy would be sensory breaks (and the hallway walking provides a little of that). Some students benefit from weighted vests, blankets, or “huggy” bean bag chairs. Other need to push or pull on something; it could be the wall, a pillow, or a custodial cart. I found a rubber-coated, flexible something at a home improvement store and a student regularly went in the cubby area to stretch it. Other useful strategies are discrete headphones to block out sounds, “swinging” time on the playground, and a clipboard (with prompts) to hold during group time.
Many ASD kids thrive with access to a personalized schedule at their work space. If this is laminated or plastic covered, the teacher or assistant can easily mark adjustments BEFORE they occur. For example, if the teacher realizes that there won’t be time for sharing or a project, that activity is crossed off in time for the student to process the change.
Finally, one of the most useful strategies for ASD kids is sticky notes. A quick, short written prompt works much more effectively than 15 minutes of talking. Who wouldn’t want to get a note saying GREAT COSTUME!?!!