28 05, 2014

Dear Math Teacher

Dear Math Teacher, You asked me: “Why are you in this class? You must have other subjects you are good at. Why are you taking my course when you are not a “math” student? You seem offended that I did not take your advice in grade 11 when you suggested that I not take senior math. But, with all due respect sir, I learned early on not to pay a lot of attention to what people said I could not do. When I was really young I could not talk and I was afraid of everything. I screamed and cried a lot. My parents learned that I had severe autism and that many things would be very hard for me: speaking, reading, writing, math, interacting with others, showing empathy, and even taking care of myself. My parents loved me enough to get me good doctors and great therapists. They practiced

15 05, 2014

I Can’t Decide! Helping Kids with Autism Make Decisions

Sometimes I just can’t decide! Temple Grandin has shared that the process of making decisions is difficult and she, like many others, will avoid decision-making. Research supports Temple’s difficulty. Studies have shown that for folks with autism decision making is linked to anxiety and   exhaustion. Exasperated teachers and parents describe children who won’t choose an activity, a character, or a topic for fear of getting it ‘wrong.’ Being asked to make decisions will result in crying, angry outbursts or defiance. It seems that no amount of reassurance will ease the apprehensive feelings that making decisions, even insignificant ones, create for some individuals with autism. How can we help? Start with narrowing the number of options available. Instead of offering four or five options, provide two possibilities for a treat, two topics to write about or two activities to play. Avoid wide open choices such as, “choose a topic.” Visually show

8 05, 2014

When All Else Fails: Using Tactical Ignoring Effectively

What do you do when you have utterly exhausted solution you know for tricky behaviour problems? There comes a time when we have taken all the steps necessary to determine what an individual’s behaviour might be communicating. We are on the verge of pulling our hair out.  Nothing we change is working to decrease the silliness, crying, nose picking, spitting, screaming and/or lying on the floor. There is one tool left in your toolbox. It just might be the game changer- if it is used sparingly and expertly. It is called: IGNORING. Yep. That’s it. To be sure, this is not just any ignoring. No, this is the ‘PLANNED IGNORE or TACTICAL IGNORING.’  It is executed well when we resist any urges to look at, chime in, respond, or even chastise the actions of a student or child. Truth told this kind of ignoring is hard to do! The first