What would you like teachers to know about ASD/autism?

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Shlinker
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08 May 2012, 1:11 pm

Hello everyone,
I am currently taking classes so that I can better understand and work with students with ASD/autism. I would love to hear about your perspective of school and what you would like teachers to know so that they can help you grow academically, socially and emotionally?

Thank you for your response,
Shlinker



CornerPuzzlePieces
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08 May 2012, 2:59 pm

Im not sure how much could've been done to help me, but one thing that really upset me was group projects.

When we were "asked" to pair off into partners was worst. My partner got bored because I wouldn't chat and left to find their friends. Or made me do the work while chatting with others. I eventually just gave up and sat there till the teacher noticed I just didn't give a crap. Which made them think I was a "rebel" now that I think of it.. It put me in a bad situation and it wasn't my fault yet I was getting the blame. Not a good thing for me personally.

If group projects are made, basically assign people or draw numbers out of a hat. Don't let everyone freerange it.

As for discussions in groups, im good at idea generating but horrible at getting it out there. Im either shy or I have to wait till no-one is talking and often it ends up going unsaid.

Fear of standing up infront of a group also contributes to this. If there is a group leader and all ideas are given to them to present this makes it easier.



scubasteve
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08 May 2012, 4:39 pm

Hi Shlinker,
I'm also studying to be a special ed teacher, so I will be following this thread with interest...

What CornerPuzzlePieces said reminds me a bit of a student w/AS I've been working with in a regular classroom. Any time the teacher asks students to find partners, or form groups, he's always the odd man out. But if we assign him to a group instead, he will just sit and work on his own while the other group members collaborate.

I think the trouble is, he has a very difficult time organizing his thoughts and communicating rapidly with his peers. So far, the only way I've been able to get him to socialize effectively is by sitting with the group and acting as a facilitator, redirecting any questions he asks of me toward his peers instead. This is where having another adult in the room can be helpful...

In a class of over 30 students, unfortunately, there is only so much the classroom teacher can do here. Any service providers who pull him out are likely in a better position to help him with the social and emotional aspects. They can also be more of a "friend" to him, whereas the classroom teacher really can't take that role. And ultimately, the classroom teacher will be judged on how he performs on the state tests, not how many friends he makes... Not that the latter isn't equally important, but I think there needs to be another adult involved to pull out and work with them on this.



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08 May 2012, 4:44 pm

I went to school in the 50's so I don't know if this is relevant to today.
At recess I always sat alone on a concrete curb in the playground. I saw other girls gathering into groups and talking. it was a mystery to me. I had no idea what they were talking about or what I would have to do to join them. I don't know if I even wanted to join in, but I was so embarassed and ashamed of being all alone. If there were other people sitting on the curb I would move closer to them hoping no one would notice me.
Even at the time, I wondered why none of the teachers noticed or did anything to help me.
I was very withdrawn and alone in my own little bubble. I liked being in my bubble and didn't like people trying to get me to come out of my shell, but I did feel lonely. It would have helped if someone gave me something useful to do during recess.



scubasteve
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08 May 2012, 4:51 pm

Yes, Marybird, unfortunately it is still very relevant... The child I mentioned in my previous post is the same way. He just sits on the bench for most of gym. It's not that nobody notices though. It's just that there's one teacher there, and her job is to supervise all of the children. She can't engage one directly and also watch the other 30+ students carefully... It's a tough situation. I'm not really sure what I could do differently, aside from letting him bring a book and read. Any ideas/suggestions?



questor
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08 May 2012, 5:53 pm

You will need to watch out for bullying of the kids on the spectrum. Also, look out for other stressful triggers that can cause a melt down or a shut down. Some triggers are:

- Bright lights.
- Loud noises.
- Being touched.
- Too much stuff going on at one time.
- Too many people around.
- Having others try to force the kid to do stuff they don't want to do, or are just not interested in doing, or that is too hard for them.
- Being made to stop doing something they want to do.
- Social conflicts.
- Having others try to take away a toy or other thing that the kid is using.
- And of course, being bullied and teased by the other kids.

There are other triggers, but I can't recall all of them off hand. My school days are decades in the past--fortunately. My biggest problems were being bullied and teased, including unwanted touching, and the teachers not taking it seriously; being forced to do stuff that was of no interest to me; and social conflicts with the other kids. I also didn't like it too crowded or too loud. Because of my mental processing delay, it always takes me a bit longer to understand/do stuff, so that was a problem for me when I was growing up, too. This, along with my different behavior, often lead to me being called a retard. I actually have a high average intelligence, and since the second grade read well above my grade level. I have not done as well with math, though. I can handle basic math okay, but not higher math. I don't need and have no interest in higher math, though, so that doesn't matter.

Unfortunately, back when I was growing up, they didn't recognize Autism spectrum disorders, so I didn't get the help I needed. Instead we were diagnosed as having emotional or behavior problems, and/or being a discipline problem.

You will need to guard against thinking that the spectrum kids are being rebellious, when it is just that we don't always get stuff, or we can't see the need for something, or are lost in our own thoughts, or are in shut down mode.

I am sure there is a lot more I could say if I spent more time at it, but this is a good start. Hope it helps.


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zooguy
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08 May 2012, 6:04 pm

I allways felt no one saw me that I didn't exist, don't talk to me you will scare me mostly not the teacher I probably will shot down. I didn't care about what others were talking about. I was an alien and still am at 60. I became an over achiever but not with anyones help. I think mostly they need to know we simply can not communicate in the same manner as the NTs. Can Not be grouped together. And we may appear without emotions but to me I have allways been overcome by them and so put up a 2 foot wall to survive. So to know we or at lest for me am allways at a point of emotional brakedown. I now love being ann aspie accept for communication.



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08 May 2012, 6:58 pm

There's SO MUCH that could be said here.

For me school was frustrating; what took me five minutes to understand seemed to require two classes and practical work for other students in my classes to understand so I got very bored, but if I tried to learn more such as by asking a teacher a more advanced question they'd assume I hadn't understood the initial principle so treat me like I was behind in the class. So not only was I bored to tears the teacher didn't acknowledge my good work, both teacher and students were even more likely to treat me as if I were stupid - this lead to my acting out and refusing to do any work, I needed to be challenged.

We can come across as arrogant or awkward - teachers like everyone else can take a dislike to us because of this, obviously they need to realise that we don't mean to be this way and once you find a way to clearly explain what you expect from us and communicate with us you'll find we can be great students. Often schools are hostile environments, teachers can be easier for us to try to relate to than our peers and we may try to relate by asking questions - appreciate our efforts, don't scorn us for them.

I was doing a part-time sign language college course last year - group-work was needed to practice signs but other students in the class kept excluding me and I was unable to integrate so I went to student support who not only blamed me for not joining-in and for lacking eye contact, they insisted in putting a classroom aid in the class with me. This aid talked to me like a simple-minded child, it was humiliating as all the students who had already rejected me were now able to see this aid talk to me this way, and the aid also then tried to force the other students to accept me which made for a really hostile environment. This shows both not to talk down to us and not to let people pick their own partners or groups - assign partners or groups, try to mix it up occasionally, and don't FORCE group work...if the AS/ASD kid is working then let them work rather than trying to force them into an uncomfortable position which may make things hard for them.


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Wandering_Stranger
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09 May 2012, 4:35 am

questor wrote:
- Being made to stop doing something they want to do.


I found the easiest way was for the teacher to say, "you have 5 minutes left and then we have to do this". Being warned about change in advance helps a lot.



VMSmith
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09 May 2012, 6:14 am

Wandering_Stranger wrote:
questor wrote:
- Being made to stop doing something they want to do.


I found the easiest way was for the teacher to say, "you have 5 minutes left and then we have to do this". Being warned about change in advance helps a lot.

this is a good suggestion. dont say stuff like "when you're ready" because that will be taken literally. on that note, dont word things in a vague manner or use figurative language. and whoever said dont ask students to pair off- that was a good suggestion. the autie will always be the last one left and its awkward. and if they are by themselves all the time dont automatically think that they are lonely. some people like working alone or sitting by themselves.



glider18
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09 May 2012, 10:41 am

I am a teacher, but I am going to relate something from when I was a student in high school that some of my teachers didn't understand with me---that I do to this day. I like to carry around books/magazines/etc. related to something I am interested in. As a student I usually had out a roller coaster book on the corner of my desk. It did not distract me from my lessons---and that can be proven by my typical straight-A honor roll status. But at least one teacher was annoyed by my roller coaster stuff and complained about it. After that teacher made me not bring the roller coaster stuff to her class anymore, my grade went from an A to a B. Thank you so much for understanding me Miss G---I have never forgotten it---and you may be surprised to know that I listened and took notes on everything you lectured on---I wish you had listened to me.


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Wandering_Stranger
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09 May 2012, 12:06 pm

I would love teachers to do what each of my lectures at uni did:

They each asked me what I need them to do, instead of assuming that this works when it doesn't. I was also able to email them and say "I need this" and was told they'd sort it for me.



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09 May 2012, 12:44 pm

Everything.


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09 May 2012, 1:54 pm

Please do not cold call on the AS student. If the question was asked to the class at large, I could choose if I was comfortable enough to answer the question and volunteer. If the teacher pointed at me and said "Nebrets, what is the answer to ..." I would not be able to answer and all information on the subject seemed to leave my mind as I was suddenly forced to be the center of attention.

On group work, grade individual effort on the group project, and find a way to judge who put in what effort into each area. I always struggled with people who did not do their part of the work, and I ended up doing four people's work and then my grade suffered for it. I did have one teacher who did make a way to judge individual work, and the project was divided up into four, I got an A because my part was great, two people failed because theirs was awful, and the fourth got a low B. The others might not have been happy that I did not put effort to do their work, but I was relieved that I did not have to keep up with what others were doing.
If this is not doable, on group projects have options for it to be done individually.

I had sensory overload during pep-rallys and the like, but often I did not have a place to go, and I was forced to go. I will say I was diagnosed at the time. But ask the administration if there can be a quiet place where students who do not want to go to loud events like that can go. They would need to be quiet and read or do work, but a place to be safe from the noise is important even if they are not on an IEP. Often I would hide in the bathroom until it was over, but I got in trouble for that a few times.

I also had a problem with large amounts of repetitive homework. I did not mind homework on principle, but when it was doing the same thing 10 times, and I had mastered it after time 2, I had problems finishing it. Lots of homework also did not give me time to decompress with my special interests, which brought my anxiety levels even higher. I also graduated high school as 10th in my class, and graduated my undergrad as magna sum laude. Homework does not define achievement. In elementary school I was barely passing several classes because I refused to do homework, but I received A's on my tests (except spelling, I failed that legitimately, and I did the spelling homework), it would have been easier on me, my parents, and my teachers if I had been given less homework.

With all of these problems I was a gifted and talented student, I competed in the academic team, band, and speech team representing my school at the state level tournament multiple years. Having understanding and support from a two teachers, and the administration and my parents helped greatly.

edit: Having a safe place to go from bullies is also important. And not having to eat in the cafeteria. I am very grateful for the teachers that let me eat in their room.


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09 May 2012, 3:33 pm

Bloodheart wrote:
I was doing a part-time sign language college course last year - group-work was needed to practice signs but other students in the class kept excluding me and I was unable to integrate so I went to student support who not only blamed me for not joining-in and for lacking eye contact, they insisted in putting a classroom aid in the class with me.


I was doing a part-time sign language college course last year as well - and had the same problem with group-work and not being able to integrate. I didn't go to student support. I dropped out instead - it was an 8 month course, I made it month 6 but then just couldn't cope with the situation any more. Sounds like either way is not satisfactory ...


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