This is part 2 of a 4 part series during which I share some tips and suggestions for successful community outings in the face of challenging behaviors. At the end of each post, there will be a FREE download to help you take this information and put it into action.
So, this post is all about the BEHAVIOR. I know it can be an uncomfortable topic to focus on. No one likes to talk about the times we, or our loved ones, are at their worst. But, if we ask the right questions, it can truly help to diminish the likelihood we will have to deal with this potentially scary and dangerous situation in a crowded aisle in the middle of Wal-Mart.
I cover lots of questions in the handout, but in summary, we need to consider:
Are there any triggers?
Key words or phrases
What does the behavior look like?
Signs an annoying behavior may be escalating
Targeting others (staff or strangers)
Destruction of property
How long does it last?
From start to end
This video clip is about 10 minutes and addresses these issues in more detail and I share some personal experiences I have had with my own son, Jimmy, and some of my students.
I hope you now see the value in asking these often difficult and emotional questions. Click on the button below to download the free list of questions to consider.
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There is a big push here in Pennsylvania to work more towards a true inclusive community. If your loved one receives support services, there is a goal for these services being provided in the local community setting for 75% of that individual’s day. It is a noble goal, and something that seems like common sense. But, for those of us with individuals with challenging behaviors, it also sounds really scary. We want to ensure that our loved ones are accepted as valued members of their community, but we also want them AND others to be safe. So, what can we as teachers and service providers do to make this dream a reality?
This is part 1 of a 4 part series during which I share some tips and suggestions for successful community outings in the face of challenging behaviors. At the end of each post, there will be a FREE download to help you take this information and put it into action.
Part 1 of this series focuses on getting to know the person. I am talking about REALLY getting to know the person. This will take some time, but that is okay. Especially if there is a history of struggles in the community, families will appreciate the fact you are willing to take a step back and really try to understand the situation. This also means talking to lots of people:
community members who know the individual
Of course, all this is done with permission of the individual and the parents. However, if we really want to understand why this behavior occurs and how we can be most successful, we need to gather information from as many sources as possible.
So, take a look at the list of questions I have provided by clicking here or on the image below. You can never know too much about the person you are working with.
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It is a holiday many of us fear as teachers. There are so many differing opinions on this holiday. What is and is not appropriate to teach? And then there is all that candy!! I’ve put together this group of resources, tips, blog posts and more to help you get through this spooky day. So grab your pillowcase and Wonder Woman mask, and come along with me! Just click on the pictures to go to that activity.
From Susan Jones Teaching, I found this group of 3 math counting games ready to download and print for free. You will need to pick up a few things from the dollar store to make the most of these games, but would be totally worth it for something you could use year after year.
From Grade School Giggles, here is a free pumpkin seed counting activity. You will likely want to do some laminating to make these more durable, but then you will have them year after year. Great activity for Thanksgiving as well!
From SunnyDays, there is this super cute bump Bingo game. Basically, the kids roll three dice, add the sum and cover the answer with their marker. Just print and go!
From Keeping Up with Mrs. Harris, comes some great ideas for decorating your little pumpkins to look like your favorite story character. Some really clever ideas here!
From Special Needs for Special Kids (me ;)), I have a free cut and paste or tracing spelling free download to snag. There are 2 differentiated versions.
For your older students, grab these awesome word searches from Tracee Orman.
From Literacy Lattes, is a super fun and easy experiment you can do with all that left over candy corn. The directions are well explained and there is a free lab guide to download.
A Classroom for All Seasons, has this amazing free download that has some great spider activities!! A nice resource for Halloween without actually teaching about the holiday.
From Happy Hooligans, come this super cool (pun intended) experiment that combines fine motor and sensory experiences all in one activity. There is a lot to learn with this seemingly simple set up. Perfect for the upcoming spooky day!!
Art, Fine Motor, & Sensory
From Teaching 2 and 3 year olds, I included this activity to address that sensory component so many of our special kiddos have. I also like that is is fairly mess free and allows for a lot of independence. Finally, it in not dependent on strong motor skills. Accessible for every ability level.
From Grade School Giggles, comes this easy recipe for that all-favorite slime. Again, the directions give great tips to make this mess-free and really plays into those sensory needs. In addition, there are some free downloads to make the most of this activity by pulling in science, writing and more.
From Early Learning Ideascomes 7 fine motor bins you can easily set up for your classroom this month. There are also 2 tracing templates to download for free at the end of the post.
Even for most of us it is always a challenge to remember to write the correct year after January 1. Our brain and finger muscles have had 365 days to practice writing 2018. Now, all of a sudden, we need to remember to write 2019. That may take us a while…
Now imagine if you have a significant learning disability. It may have taken you 300 of those 365 days to finally be able to “write” or “say” 2018 on your own. Now, for no reason you can comprehend, you must forget that, and learn a new number to designate the year. Very frustrating.
Admittedly, for many of the students I taught, knowing what year it was currently, probably was not high on the list of important facts to learn or be able to recite. After all, many of my kids did not write or even speak. But, there were always 1 or 2 that were at the high end of that curve who would go out for some time in the regular education setting and would be expected to write the CORRECT date on their papers. In addition, there was always that one parent who felt their child should be able to parrot back the year when asked, just like their current age. (Full disclaimer, I was one of those parents eons ago. I so wanted my son to appear “normal” and be able to know what other kids his age knew. It took a long time for me to be okay with the fact that at almost 21 years old now, he still does not know the current year or even how old he is. But who really cares anyway? Not him that’s for sure.)
So, how to go about teaching our students with disabilities that 2018 is over and now it is 2019? Here are (what I think) some important things to consider.
Use ERRORLESS teaching
If they already know what year it is, we KNOW they will answer “2018” when asked “What year is it?” So, you need to provide full prompting right away. Stop letting them practice saying or writing the wrong year. If you are asking your student verbally, then immediately follow your question with the correct answer and then allow your student to repeat you. For some students you may need to give the full verbal prompt several times before fading. For example:
Step 1= Teacher: “What year is it?”
Step 2= Teacher: “2019”
Step 3= Teacher: “What year is it?”
Step 4= Student: “2019”
If your student is still saying 2018 after step 3, then repeat steps 1-2 several times before fading the full verbal prompt. **Remember, there is a lot of research that shows that fading to partial verbal prompt is NOT effective. Just go from full verbal prompt to no verbal prompt. If this is still not working and your student can read numbers, try using a cue card with the year written on it. Pair that card with your full verbal prompt at first, then as you fade the verbal prompt keep the card. Eventually fade the card.
If your students are writing the year on their papers, have then trace the correct year on their work for a while. This will take some extra prepping on your part. Beforehand, write the correct date in pencil and have them trace it. Also put the correct date on the board or on an index card on their desk. That way, you can fade the tracing to a visual prompt. The index card is nice because it can go with them to various classroom settings if needed.
2. Practice, Practice Practice
Set up lots of time and ways to practice writing or saying the new year. The more frequently it is practiced the quicker the muscle memory will build for either saying or writing the correct year. Take every authentic opportunity to have students tell you or write 2019.
3. Vary the stimuli
Remember, students with disabilities, especially Autism, have difficulty generalizing what they learn. So, they may be able to put the date on their paper in your classroom, but not in Ms. Smith’s inclusion setting. Taking visual prompts to new locations will help, as will practicing the skill in different environments with different people. One way to practice is to try a cut and paste activity which you can download for FREE by clicking on the button below. This is a great way for students to visualize the new year and manipulate the numbers. I would try printing it on different colored paper each day for a while (repetition with variation). In addition, don’t forget you can add color coding for your students who need more visual structure.
So if you are teaching your students it is now 2019, I wish you the best of luck!! I am hoping to simply remember that myself this year.
***If you are looking for a unit to go with this activity, grab this New Year Unit in my store, over 40 pages for only $3.00. Includes a story, circle maps, and cut and paste activities all designed for students with special needs, especially autism.
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