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Teaching in a special school.............

Discussion in 'Personal' started by BelleDuJour, Nov 2, 2010.

  1. I am always very sceptical of people who claim to be an 'expert' in autism. Like any condition each and every person is different and the more I learn, the more I realise I will never know even a small proportion of the huge world of autism. As people with autism can live in worlds so totally removed from our own it is impossible to know how they feel and I imagine each child experiences their own unique world differently and that means every child needs a different approach- I am sure you are finding that with your two children already.
    Out of interest, how much support do you get outside of school? Have you any contact with other parents or agencies who can support you'? Sorry for being nosy but I have worked with parents who are becoming increasingly desparate as they are just not getting much support and having to fight so hard to get basis entitlements.

    We had some fascinating training from a lady with autism - she couldn't live an independant life but was able to explain her own world- and it is a different world. One thing I found fascinating, she was non-verbal until she was 9 years old but could understand everything. She used to think that when she thought in her head everyone could hear what she was thinking and would have huge tantrums when she wouldn't get what she had asked for in her head. Obviously this is not the case for all people with autism but just demonstrated one of the many ways autism affects people.
     

  2. That was exactly the same as my lad. He caused quite a stir at the age of six or seven when he constantly complained of hearing voices in his head....it took the pysch at least three months to work out that it was what most people called thinking. :¬))
     
  3. Anonymous

    Anonymous New commenter

    One of the autistic boys I taught in the sebd unit was much given to punching other boys (and staff) because he thought he knew what they were thinking. Unfortunately he seemed to think that everyone was having negative thoughts about him or his family.
    I don't think we are aware of how much the language we use routinely can be misinterpreted by children/adults on the spectrum if they have a tendency literal interpretation - apparently one colleague had said to another "you just read my mind" and the boy used that as evidence that this happened to everyone since it confirmed what he believed.

     
  4. Anonymous

    Anonymous New commenter

    (should have mentioned he had semantic/pragmatic language disorder which I think is called something else now)
     
  5. I am routinely frustrated by the fact that Standard Grade, Access3 and Int 1 English rely so much on being able to understand and use metaphor and other figurative language. Even CfE Literacy (not English) seems to require this knowledge. Even the kids who cope really well with mainstream school and are academically capable find this extremely challenging. It doesn't seem fair.
     
  6. BelleDuJour

    BelleDuJour Star commenter

    Absolutely. We work in a 'no chatting' environment and each adult is only to speak to the student he/she is working with. This is to reduce the amount of talk so that the student is able to focus more on what he/she needs to hear, and of course, so talk 'about' the student(s) is kept away from them.
    Interestingly there's one lad who was hitting other students. The words 'stop hitting' were used but he continued. It was then suggested we just use the word 'stop' and he stopped hitting. It seems he could only focus on the last word he heard and so 'stop hitting' was interpretted as 'hitting', which of course he did.
     
  7. I went on CPD about NLP and that was one of the behaviour management techniques suggested we use with all pupils. I've never been quite sure if it works for the reasons stated or simply because "stop" on it's own is a short, sharp command - a bit of both maybe.
     
  8. Moomoon, I do have contact with other parents, and am on the committee for the local branch of AutismNI. For the past 2 years though, I have not attended any of the branh meetings, as I often feel I have just had enough of autism. I still do the odd thing to help them out, say for their Christmas parties or summer outings, but I don't go routinely anymore.
    My 2 often expect me to know exactly what is going in their heads, and have things planned out that they expect everyone else to know about.
    Airy, my youngest despite being hyperlexic and having language scores far in excess of her age, takes everything very literally. For homework the other night, she had to look up spme words in the dictionary if she didn't know their meanings. The words were responsible, edible, incredible, flexible and some others that I can't remember. No problems, she could read them, spell them and she didn't have to look them up as she knew what they meant (she is 9).
    The next task was to write a sentence of her own to show the meaning of each word - and that is more or less the way it was worded. So she was busily writing away, and then she asked if I would like to read her sentences. When I read them I realised that she had actually tried to write the definitions of the words. I said I wasn't sure that this was what she was supposed to do, and explained that what she was being asked to do, was use the word in a sentence to show that she knew how to use it. She couldn't understand that at all. Then her dad also tried to explain, but by this time she was in floods of tears. She decided to change it, but then worried for the rest of the night, that we were wrong and she was right, and that she would be in trouble.
     
  9. Belle, it is often recommended, that instead of telling the child with autism what not to do, you should tell them what to do. So if you want them to stop hitting, you tell them what they should be doing instead. I don't know how well that would work with your children.
    Alternatively I suppose backing up a "no hitting" command, with a symbol might work.
     
  10. BelleDuJour

    BelleDuJour Star commenter

    We are told always to use the word 'stop' when we would otherwise say 'no' as the word 'no' has negative connotations and we sare to try to avoid any negative experiences for the students.
    It's amazing how quickly one learns to use these new strategies.
     
  11. Does her teacher know she worries like that? I'd never give a child a row for making an effort with homework even if it wasn't quite what I had intended they do and she might worry less if her teacher had a chat and explained that.
     
  12. BelleDuJour

    BelleDuJour Star commenter

    We often use the command 'sitting' to get them to sit down and thereby stop whatever behaviour they were engaged in.
     
  13. No Airy, she probably doesn't know, and I did intend to put a note in her homework diary to let her know. But I was distracted by something else and forgot. But I will put a note in on Monday.
    I am sure even if she had done the wrong thing, her teacher would not have told her off. This year's teacher is really lovely, and seems to understand her quite well. It would probably have been quite advantageous to actually let her see how she understood it. Maybe I shouldn't have corrected her, but I felt I had to :s
     
  14. Rather than use the command such as 'stop running', using the words that make your expectations clear such as 'please walk, ' have a more positive effect on a child, whether in a SEN or mainstream setting.
     
  15. We were always taught to do that at the toughest school I've ever worked at.
     
  16. Yup- it can be frustrating for a child to be told to stop doing something as they will be confused as to what to do instead. I could tell a child to stop hitting, but then he may well start head butting- in his head he did do the right thing my following original instruction to stop hitting.

    Belle - As for other tips- keep everything to a routine. For many autistic children they live in a state of insecurity as they do not know what is going to happen next so if lessons have the same order they will come to know what to expect- a sudden change in this routine can increase anxiety and associated behaviours. Do everything you can to let children know what is coming next- now and next timetables using photos, now and next using PECS- it really depends on the childs own communication system.

    You can also use this to work out at which times children become anxious and work out what trigger points there are - once you know what the triggers are you can work ways around them.,.. if there is no routine to the lesson and day it is impossible to workout what the triggers are..
     

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