Monthly Archives: February 2015

Directives From the Spectrum: If You Expect It, Teach It.

Johnny needs to learn to self- regulate. Billy needs to control his emotional outbursts.

Goals such as these produce  burning questions in my mind:

How exactly will this happen? Why has it not already?

Don’t get me wrong. I am all for developing goals around the development of self -regulation and emotional control for our students with autism. But, too often, I find myself wondering why we leave this up to the child? As educators, we know that a child learns by doing: a skill needs to be taught and practiced regularly. Then, and only then, can we expect the skill to be used.

So what are we doing to support the learning of self -regulation?10290812_s

Are we teaching progressive relaxation and breathing techniques? Are we making use of resources available in order to create calm, alert and positive learning environments? Are we carving out time in the craziness of the school day to providing opportunities for practice? Are we modelling our own use of self -regulation?

Kids won’t magically learn to identify their emotional and physiological signs of overload and employ calming techniques. This is especially true for students with autism, as they are stuck with a neurological system that works against these very goals!

It seems reasonable to assume that if we expect a student who has autism (or even those who do not) to use self- regulating strategies, then we need to find a way to teach those strategies. Some of my favourites:

Stress Free Kids

Fostering Self -Regulation and Emotional Control:

Progressive Relaxation for Kids

Dr. Ross Greene, author of the awesome book, The Explosive Child, reminds us:

“Instead of asking yourself, ‘What’s it going to take to motivate this kid to behave differently?’ ask ‘Why is this so hard for this child? What’s getting in his way? How can I help?”

If you EXPECT IT, then please, TEACH IT.

Jennifer Krumins

Copyright©2015 Autism Apirations

Directives From The Spectrum: Dear Teacher and Substitute Teacher

Dear Teacher and Substitute Teacher,

The substitute teacher sent me to the principal’s office because I kicked a classmate and threw a chair. I wouldn’t walk so she carried me. I was crying and yelling. I bet she was thinking that I am a brat. She was even angrier when the principal “released” me after I calmed down. I knew she didn’t want me back in class.

I want you both to know that when my teacher is away I feel so lost. As soon as I knew she was not here I could feel my heart racing and my stomach started to ache. I know I can tell you all the right ways that I should handle my feelings but to be honest, I didn’t even know that I was getting more and more upset. My autism makes my brain signal DANGER even when there really isn’t any. Then my thinking shuts down and I do things I “know” are wrong.

When the sub wrote my name with capital letters (not the way my teacher writes it) I told her it was NOT my name. She thought I was beingstressed bold. But, it really felt like she was not spelling it right! I really missed my teacher. My teacher spells my name right.

I am so sorry that I picked up a chair and threw it. I know it is not the right thing to do. It happened so fast that I didn’t even think about it. Can you help me tell my brain there is no real danger when you are not at school, dear teacher? Can you leave a note telling substitutes about how I have trouble with changes? Can we write a story about how I can cope when my teacher is not at school? If you send it home my mommy will read it with me. Can you teach me ways to control my feelings and practice every day so that I will not keep making mistakes? I don’t like feeling out of control and lost.

Substitute teacher, next time, will you come to my desk and talk to me quietly and calmly. I didn’t like it when you talked loudly to everyone. When you raised your voice at me it made me feel very scared. I need reassurance that you and I would have a good day even if my teacher could not be there. I was worried that my teacher was never coming back.  I need you to ask me if there is anything I need to tell you? I would feel safe if you could read the note that my teacher wrote to us for the days when she is away.

I feel better and act better when I feel safe. I am good at helping and I would like to be a helpful student. I don’t like it when my teacher is away but with your help I will be able to cope, learn and have a good day!

Yours Truly,

The Boy who Hates Change  😳