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Ideas to manage behaviour in an autistic child.

Discussion in 'Special educational needs' started by RJR_38, Sep 13, 2010.

  1. RJR_38

    RJR_38 New commenter

    I run a KS2 SEN unit in a mainstream school and we have had a new child join us this September. From reading his paperwork prior to him coming I was unsure of his suitability but was willing to give it a chance - however my fears seem to be well founded and I am running out of ideas already!!
    All the children in my class are statemented and we run a highly differentiated curriculum with lots of 1-1 teaching sessions. We have all the usual things of visual timetable, reward systems, clear expectations etc and although we have rough days with some of our other children it generally works well.
    However, this new child refuses to follow adult instructions or listen during input sessions. He also purporsefully (sp?) antagonises the 2 the other boys - one of which does have 'violent' tendencies and who so far has managed to hold it together but really not sure how much longer he will be able to do this (he too is autistic). For example he will shout derogatory comments across the classroom or laugh any time this childs name is mentioned in a slightly 'negative' way
    We have tried time out for 1 minute/5 minutes with sand timer (he simply laughs, runs round the classroom and grabs any available toy/item to play with).
    We tried to miss minutes from playtime - he is not fussed and again simply laughs.
    We noticed that he likes Lego/computer time so I hve created a 'working towards' card for tomorrow - this is my last option.
    We are spending all our time dealing with this one child and the others are missing out - even though there may be adult still working with them they cannot concentrate as he is so loud and disruptive (the other half the class have ADHD so you can imagine their concentration span anyway!!)
    I said all along I thought he was more suited to the local MLD school but as usual my views were ignored!!
    So, anyone got any good brainwaves as to how I can control his behaviour - a week and a bit in me and my 2 TAs are exhausted and running out of options!!
  2. ScotSEN

    ScotSEN Senior commenter

    Your trying most of the things I'd suggest. Hope the reward idea works. Is there anyway of the time out taking place where there is nothing for him to play with and with no or minimal reaction/response from the staff(and pupils too)It does sound as though he might be looking for a response!
  3. Eek! Are the other children in your class allowed to get away with this kind of behaviour? If not, then why is this boy doing it? Make sure you are being totally consistent in your application of rewards and sanctions or you could be creating a source of stress for the child that he is struggling to understand. You could make him a 'sit, look, listen' symbol strip for use during input sessions. What is his level of understanding? It may be that he cannot understand the instructions being given (too much language) and you need to reduce them to key words. Does he have auditory sensitivities? That could be why he is being loud and disruptive - to try and block out the other noises he doesn't like. Can you create a withdrawal area to where the child can be removed if his behaviour is disruptive? Or a workstation for him? Like any behaviour management programme it takes time, consistency and effort on the part of the class team before you begin to see any results. A visual reward system might be useful for him, obviously one that fits with your usual class rewards - the incredible 5 point scale book has lots of great resources. If you do a google image search you will see how simple they are, but very effective (and something you could knock up easily yourself).
  4. RJR_38

    RJR_38 New commenter

    Well, today was marginally better - he seemed to respond better to the working towards card so hopefully that will continue. And dinx67 I created it in WIDGIT so nice and visual.
    No, the other chldren are not allowed to get away with this and nor is he if I get my way! We did eventually get his 5 minutes of time out by me simply stopping the timer, taking the toy, waiting for him to sit and then starting the sand timer from where it was. The time out is a sanction we use consistently in our room and it has done us well over the past year (usually 1 minute timer sufficed and rarely used 5 minutes!!) He has only been in our unit a week now and I feel we are staetin gto see his true colours - my TAs were equally shocked/flummoxed!
    As for his level of understanding... he is Y5 and generally has good speech and often sounds like he understands - certainly his comments are always apt! From what I have seen of him since he has started I would say his understanding is probably that of and 'ordinary' Y2 pupil? He definitely understands right from wrong and which buttons to press with each child. This is why I am beginning to wonder if he is simply trying it on majorly and is simply being naughty grrr (but I am loathe to punish him the way our mainstream children are with lunch detentions etc... YET...)
    Unfortunately we are in a temporary classroom which is about half the size I would like it to be so there is no chance of a withdrawal area (we already have a calm down area but this has cushions, calming posters etc for our angry children so lots for him to 'play with' or a workstation. Also, the reason he has been placed with us is because the council in their wisdom?! have decided that he is a child who can be partially integrated into mainstream and so I feel that ceating his own separate workstation would go against the aims of our unit? If a workstation is what he needs on a regular basis is this not another indicator that the MLD is more appropiate for him? I don't want it to sound like I want to 'pass the problem on' but I just wonder if their provision is more appropiate for his needs as at the moment I feel like we are failing not only him but also the other 7 children in my class!
    I will look at the book you mention dinx67 as it sounds useful! Thanks

  5. RJR_38

    RJR_38 New commenter

    ScotSEN - I really do think it may be the whole 'looking for a response; thing - the staff are ignoring as much as possible and using minimal language during punishment. I would say most of the children are able to ignore him but one of the other boys is really finding this difficult (also autistic but perhaps more angry/violent tendencies) and does tend to react which does make the whole situation worse. We have them sitting opposite ends of the room not facing each other at the moment...
  6. silver2003

    silver2003 New commenter

    I am a teacher in a primary ESBD school and we now have such a high ratio of ASD children that we have separate ASD classes. I gennerally find that ASD children do not try to wind others up, although their behaviours does easily wind up typical ESBD type children so well done for what you have done so far.
    ASD is usually a communication difficulty and children can not read social cues and have poor reseptive and expressive language. If he has a special interest try to focus activities on this as this will engage him. Also this interest could be used as a reward. You could maybe do an ASD profile on him so you can access areas where he is hyper/hypo sensitive and work with this info.
    I find that visual works very well. Also short instructions and precise information only.
    All instructions should be short, backed up visually and ask child if they understand.
    Social stories and comic strip conversation helps them to work on areas of difficulty
    hope this helps. Also don't be afraid to ask for help. County may have an ASD advisor who can come in and support.
  7. silver2003

    silver2003 New commenter

    Sorry for typo/spelling I am watching Waterloo road and typing at the same time[​IMG]
  8. mermaid

    mermaid New commenter

    I am also primary EBD and we too have many ASD children.
    (Actually we are doing research that ASD and ADHD are both symptomatic of underlying Executive Dysfunctions and we don't use separate terms anymore but that's a different issue...).
    It sounds to me as though this child may not be ready YET for intergration into a class setting (I mean your class RJR, not the mainschool). Could you set him up a seperate low arousal area to work in and a time table of his own staffed by you and your TAs? Then you would work him into the group gradually, only putting him in for brief, structured periods when you can set him up to cope initially and then build him up?
    I know this would reduce the amount of support the other children have for a while but may be worth it if it gives you a chance to 'train' him to function in a group.
    A technique we are trying is to video children and show them their own behaviour. Maybe you could show him successful group times directly before you reward him to build up his concept of himself behaving appropriately. Make sure he knows what's in it for him to behave that way by explicitly linking that behaviour with getting something he wants (time with his special interest item etc).
    Good luck with him RJR!
  9. RJR_38

    RJR_38 New commenter

    Thanks for both replies - much appreciated! We already use lots of visuals and short instructions etc as standard in our room but I haven't had chance to do any social stories yet - I wouldn't know which area to begin working on first to be honest!
    I find it interesting that you said in your experience ASD children don't wind other children up intentionally (I'm sure you have much more experience than me - I'm only in my 4th year of SEN work). This issue was bothering me as well as I would have previously agreed with you so I asked one of my TAs to do an observation of the child this afternoon while we were working to see what was happening. She found that the child was *generally* ok while he had my direct attention (though still very loud and distracting to others) but as soon as I turned my attention elsewhere he would head for this other child - wither to physically annoy him or verbally by saying 'X is a baby' etc. So that is one issue to think about!
    I also decided to work with him 1-1 in maths today at one end of the classroom away from the others where he could focus. Although he did the work asked (was like pulling teeth...) once again he was very very loud - my TAs had one child getting so angry because he couldn't concentrate his hands were white from gripping the chair and 2 girls were crying. Great learning environment!
    I spoke to my head today who has arranged to have an emergency DMG meeting at the council to discuss his placement as I really feel we are doing him an injustice (and despite how it may sounds I do like him and I am starting to feel we are punishing him for being himself which isn't fair) and that the other 7 children are suffering. As you say mermaid, he probably does need a low arousal area but we do not have the space for this and it also goes against the aims of our unit when the council set it up last year. We are supposed to do lots of group/social/interaction type work and I really don't feel he is capable of this. It will be interesting to see what the outcome of this meeting is.
    Thanks for all the ideas and support though!
  10. RJR_38

    RJR_38 New commenter

    Oh, and the videoing thing sounds really interesting!! What sort of results have you had with it so far?
  11. <font face="Calibri">When an autistic person gets a response or reaction from an action they have carried out, this will then be used to achieve the same outcome, because the autistic person does not have the facility to create or explore alternatives. </font><font face="Calibri">Everything for an Autistic person is based on experience; once is sufficient to set a precedent, which is EXTREMELY hard to alter ..... the words we use such as &lsquo;You <u>can&rsquo;t</u> do that...&rsquo; is nonsense to the autistic person.. ie. they <u>can</u> do it because they <u>did</u> it once upon a time...... What was really meant was you are <u>not allowed</u> to do that which is different to can&rsquo;t do it.</font><font face="Calibri">For example &ndash; </font>

  12. I think this is a bit of a generalisation. Autistic people vary considerably in the degree to which they can 'create and explore alternatives'. And this facility can be developed with support and often improves as the child grows older.
    With regard to autistic children making connections which are problematic, it's quite possible to pair the signal (screaming) with another signal (pressing the tv remote control 'on' button, if that's appropriate for the child) until the s/he has learned to associate the 'on' button with the tv coming on, and then to extinguish the screaming.
    Also, it's not safe to assume that the screaming was due to it being seen as a trigger for the tv coming on. Tvs often make high-pitched whistling noises inaudible to the adult ear, and Jack might have been screaming because of that. My daughter can't bear the tv on when it's not tuned to a channel because of the whistling - when the sound comes on she's fine.

  13. RJR Does this child have PDA? These behaviours sound quite characteristic - they often do not respond to the usual autistic strategies and are very demand avoidant. They do have more social skills than typically autistic children but they need to feel in control all the time. Just wondered if you had considered it because you may need to use a whole range of different strategies if he is
  14. RJR_38

    RJR_38 New commenter

    I'm probably going to sound really stupid now :S but I've never heard of PDA and can't find any reference to it on the internet - what does it stand for?
    On a more positive note (for him and the others I teach) the wheels are in motion to reassess his placement - hopefully this will mean he can attend a place more suited to him.
  15. It's Pathological Demand Avoidance Syndrome - sounds like a political correctness joke but does what it says on the tin.

    My personal experience has been that not only do many of the usual ASD strategies not work, they may make things much worse.

    The most helpful resource I have found is right here on the TES website - the PDA mind map. It might be worth trying some of the suggestions - you could be very pleasantly surprised. With PDA it isn't what sort of placement but whether the staff understand and are willing to use the right approaches.
  16. RJR_38

    RJR_38 New commenter

    I'll take a look and despite the doubts creeping into my mind from its somewhat PC name I'll reserve judgement until I've had a good read and mulled it over. Thanks!
  17. RJR_38

    RJR_38 New commenter

    Thanks for that lead. It was very interesting reading and have looked at some other bits online - pretty certain its not linked to our current child but its something to consider for the future so thanks. (And if it turns out he does have it then he is DEFINITELY in the wrong place as we are expected to do lots of very small group and 1-1 work with plenty of positive praise. All of which would send him over the edge by the sounds of things!)
  18. Lots of very small group work and 1-1 and plenty of positive praise can work very well in PDA (I am not actually sure how you would get anywhere without it). But you have to be creative in the way you do it.
  19. I went through this exact type of thing last year when I had a new child in my class. I had been in a unit attached to a mainstream school and I had 7 boys all of whom had diagnosis of ASD and they definately wound eachother up, I think it really depends on the individual child and how high functioning their autism is. The boys i had last year were quite high functioning whereas I am now permanent in a special school where it is very low functioning autism and the children dont wind eachother up at all as they are unaware of them.
    I had so many meetings about him i went crazy we were lucky though we had a classroom split into two and a calming space. As he was new I really started from scratch with him as I thought it may have been the disruption that was making the behaviours worse. He would run away a lot out of school when he could, punching hitting broke my ta's finger and toe we were exasperated so one monday i decided a totally separate timetable for him, i know it goes against inclusion but I wanted to try it. Really really short periods of inclusion, 2 minutes in class, off to independent work working it up to 5 minutes in class then off to work. i moved him all over the school using the different resources never staying in one place longer than 15 minutes and creating really fun activities for him which meant he was engaged but also learning. I never gave him time out for more than 2 minutes instead we had time out then a little radio slot where we asked eachother questions about how we felt and what makes us angry happy etc it helped to see where the crisis came from and how we could use things that made him happy to help him. He slowly became more included in the class and it really only took a couple months now he is in class all the time and accesses mainstream for numeracy every day and a pe lesson.
    good luck with it because i really understand how hard it is
  20. If that doesn't work how about trying a response cost system. So instead of working towards earning time on lego / computer you are then introducing consequences of his behaviour. I'm sure he'll soon figure it out when he loses all his time!!!!

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