Tips for School

I went to seminar given by Tony Attwood and Michelle Garnett, presented by Sue Larkey. They had some great tips to help children at school, so I thought I’d share them for any teachers or aides, or even parents whose children may be finding school a challenge. This may also help them with homework as well as in the classroom.

It is often difficult for children with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) and Aspergers to start a task and they often can’t finish it in time. To assist them in this, allow them to mark the questions that they can do in green, the ones they need help with in orange, and the ones to leave for later in red. This way they can start the task with the questions that they find easiest and gain momentum. Often they will feel compelled to finish the whole task. In fact, they may get distressed if they haven’t finished the task they are on before it is time to move on. In this case Sue Larkey advised to put in a marked box for completion later if they run out of time. Designate another 10 minutes later for them to finish.

Tony and Michelle talked about errorless learning. Children with ASD and Aspergers are perfectionists – they want to not make errors and will often get upset or have a meltdown if they make a mistake. Understanding this can help them. Set a realistic task they are likely to complete. Help them finish. Maybe do half each e.g. you read one page, get the child to read the next.

Some days are worse than others. On a bad day give revision rather than new material, Make it achievable. Tony and Michelle said that Aspergers behaviour is often cyclical. i.e. bad days may be predictable to a certain extent. For this they suggested keeping a diary to see if a pattern emerges.

Praise success, focus on when the child is correct. If they struggle, move on to next question or task and try again. Work on gaining a momentum of learning and success. They thrive on success. Always be positive.

Their primary motivator is not pleasing the teacher or their parents, although they will often get upset after the fact if they have let them down. Encourage their intellectual vanity. They take pride in their intelligence!

Use their special interest in the classroom to teach a range of things. For instance, if a child’s special interest is trains, this can be used to teach geography, history, science, maths etc. Children with ASD like to collect facts, so this is a useful resource to tap into. Solitude and special interests are the “cure for Asperger’s”. These children will often engage more, have better social skills and more frequent eye contact when exploring their special interest.

Focus on relaxation and pleasure. These can lead to an economy in teaching, extending their special interest. If special interest goes dark however (eg an interest in weapons), this may be sign of depression.

Create a “workstation” – a distraction free zone, that anybody can use so the child with ASD isn’t singled out, but they have somewhere to go if it all gets too much and they can’t concentrate.

Teach them how to use lists.

Use visual timetables and schedules to help with their organisation skills (see do2learn)

Asperger’s… What Does it Mean to Me?

If you only buy one book on Aspergers, let this be it.  It is an invaluable workbook which enables you to learn all about your child and your child to learn all about themselves, and what it means to have Aspergers Syndrome or High Functioning Autism.

It is well set out and separated into distinct sections. Each section has information for parents and teachers, and a section to be filled in by the child.

It covers a great many aspects of the child’s life, from styles of learning, schedules and routines, sensory sensitivites, their interests and talents, understanding people and friendships, hopes and fears, thoughts and feelings and much much more. It has simple multi-choice questions and places for your child to write their own answers, as well as easy to understand text for children, explaining many of the issues associated with Aspergers Syndrome.

You can sit down and work through it with your child. It allows you to tailor your child’s home and school life to enable your child to reach their full potential.

Fast ForWord

Fast ForWord is a program that was developed following the discoveries by neuroscientist Michael Merzenich and his colleagues at the University of California and Rutgers University.

It is designed to address auditory processing difficulties using distorted speech sounds and tones. Many of the speech sounds use commonly confused phonemes and train the user to differentiate between these. There are various levels of the program available, ranging in complexity from basic to advanced based on the user’s age and abilities, from preschool upwards. They have found favourable results for those with a mild to moderate APD, and can often assist with reading difficuties associated with Auditory Processing.

The Fast ForWord provider in Australia