Sue Larkey’s Lock Down Tips for Children with Autism
Setting Up Learning From Home for Students With Autism Spectrum, ADHD, ODD, PDA & Neurodiversity
1. Position To Learn
Where your child is seated is very important in how effective their learning will be. Students with autism often work best in environments where distractions are minimised.
I recommend finding a room with a door so they can close it to decrease/increase noise at their leisure. Ensure the student has a comfortable flat surface and chair to be working at. It is important that your child is comfortable and their individual sensory needs addressed.
60% of students with autism have dysgraphia. This means handwriting can be messy, slow or sometimes even avoided, especially as they get older. You may need to consider allowing iPads, computers and other forms of technology as their means of writing as the goal is that they do the work. In the younger years pencil grips can support handwriting skills.
(Grips available at http://suelarkey.com.au/product/pencil-grip/)
Students with autism often find organisation of their school equipment very difficult. Limit the number of books, and equipment, perhaps set up a system like colour coding to help with organisation.
This is particularly important in a home setting where it can be easier to be more relaxed about the rules. Organisation of school equipment can drastically reduce anxiety and provide order and routine to school.
4. Quiet Area
Ensure there is an area where the student can retreat to if they are feeling overwhelmed. This can be a quiet table, reading corner, hallway, alcove, ofce, etc.
It is important to recognise that even though the stressors of school are not present, there are still stressors involved in learning. Students with autism need to be able to take regular breaks to recalibrate their emotions
5. Teacher Assistant / Parents / Carers
Consider how best to use support time effectively in the first few weeks. You may need them to make additional support materials, schedules, visuals, social stories, organisation etc. See Cardinal Rules for Assistants in Teacher Assistants Big Red Book of Ideas page 4.
Teacher Assistants / SSOs see if you can Facetime/Zoom/connect online with your students to make sure they know you are willing to help and will support them through this tough time.
Parents, you are about to become your child’s teacher assistant “angel” providing one-on-one learning and emotional support. Make sure you equip yourself with timers, schedules, social stories, visual aids to support your child.
6. Scheldules / Timetables / Timer
7. Notepad and Pen
Always carry a note book and pen for when things change we tend to talk too much. Students with autism are visual and if you can write it down or draw a picture it can stop behaviour escalating.
Be aware many students have hyperlexia where they can decipher written words but do not comprehend what they are reading. I have a range of recommended books to help with reading and come with ready made resources on my website
9. BREAK TIMES
Make sure the student knows what times recess and lunch will occur everyday. What activities are they allowed to do during these times?
Have set break times. These can reduce anxiety in the student. I recommend introducing movement and sensory breaks to help them regulate their emotions and get some exercise in during the day.
10. Toilet / Drink
Many students with autism will not recognise they need to go the bathroom or have a drink. It is recommended you send them out at set times during the day to the toilet and get a drink as this can impact on their learning. BE AWARE they may not ask you to go to the toilet you will need to send them
(Great Podcast on this at: http://suelarkey.com.au/top-tips-for-toilet-training/)
11. SENSORY TOOLS
Many students require sensory tools to focus, process or calm. You will probably need to provide a range of sensory tools for the student. This may include a sensory mat to sit on, fidget tools, chewy necklaces, tubes or pencil toppers (see resources at: http://suelarkey.com.au/sensory-shop/)
Please note the above considerations are also important for your setting. You may need to also consider structure for nap times and often you will encounter more sensory issues because of the type of activities the children are engaged in, for example more play and craft activities can mean more sensory activities.
Excerpt from The Ultimate Guide to School and Home
by Sue Larkey and Anna Tullemans
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