Sunday, April 29, 2012

Feelings/Pain Scale

I had a wonderful question cross my desk this week from a mom who has three children with Autism. She was looking for a way to teach them to communicate with her when they are not feeling well or are in pain. Like this mom, I too struggled with this very same issue when my own daughter was younger. In fact, we still do have problems with this type of communication when she is not feeling well or is in pain.

Individuals with Autism may not even realize they are sick or in pain, so we have to teach them a concrete and visual way to express this, even if they are verbal. Do2Learn does a great job of giving an overview of Reciprocal Communication and giving examples of how to use visuals in working with individuals who have Autism on identifying illness/pain.

Perhaps one of the best FREE tools that D2L has to offer is the free Feelings Scale. Below is a small version that you can click on and it will take you to the full size that is printable. Laminate it and keep it in a handy place. I would print several so that when your child is injured or sick you can assist him/her in identifying where that pain or sick feeling falls on the scale. I have noticed over the years that Emergency Departments throughout the United States utilize similar scales for pain indicators too. It sure beats the old 1-10 scale that was never helpful to an individual with Autism.

If you have questions please post them on our Facebook site or you can post them here on this blog. I can also be reached at . We love helping others out and your questions could help the thousands who read this blog!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Transition Toolbox—What's the Plan?

Do2Learn's JobTIPS Transition Toolbox will be a huge help to transition teams and educators as they ponder the following challenging questions that arise for students who have Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

  • How can educators best prepare students with Autism Spectrum Disorder for post-secondary educational and work environments?
  • How can a transition team take optimal advantage of the unique interests and strengths of students of ASD?
  • While addressing the standard course of study how can the transition team support the goals of self-advocacy, judgment, and social integration in ways that meet the goals of IDEA?
  • How can educators apply ASD intervention practices that have been identified as evidence-based to transition programming in an integrated fashion?

The JobTIPS Transition Toolbox intends in five units to help transition teams answer these challenging questions.

Of course the answers to these questions, vary greatly depending on the individual with ASD. One thing that we know for certain, is that the move from school environments into adult residential, vocational and community environments is a very challenging transition. This transition can take much time beyond the end of high school to get to meaningful and fulfilling routines in all three areas. Both residential competence and community integration are important areas of focus in transition planning.

More to come, so stay tuned!

Transition Toolbox--Do2Learn Does It Again 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Emotions Color Wheel—Part I

Most individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) have a difficult time accurately labeling their own emotions and the emotions of others. The Emotions Color Wheel can help teach these individuals with ASD (and anyone who has difficulty in this area for that matter) to group feeling in a visual and structured way.

As you can see each emotion is assigned a color, but within each emotion there is a range of intensity. Less intense on the outside to more intense in the center as shown in the example below.

Here is another visual way of looking at how lighter colors = less intense emotions and darker colors = more intense emotions.

We want to teach individuals with ASD that it is safer to stay with the lighter color emotions, the less intense emotions, because they make those around them feel more comfortable. For example people are more comfortable if you are 'unsure' rather than 'hysterical', 'aggravated', rather than 'enraged' as shown in the example below.

We can teach that the emotions toward the center can cause other people around us to become more emotional and more intense with their own emotions. As teachers we can use the Behavior Thermometer and teach our students to keep their emotions below a 3 to stay out of the center of the Emotions Color Wheel to avoid strong responses from others.
Stay tuned for Emotions Color Wheel Part II—coming soon!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Job Charts In The Classroom and The Home—Why?

Job charts provide routine and visual structure which is perfect for the classroom setting and at home. Let's look at what having jobs at home and in the classroom can do to enrich and prepare a child with ASD for the future.

Children need to help take care of the classroom and their home.
  • This helps children become invested in the class room itself and learn to take care of the materials in it. The children also learn to value their own property at home and that of others that live with them.
  • Give each student a chore or job to help maintain the classroom.
  • At home give children a chore/job that they can complete successfully and be sure to praise and show the child that others in the home have chores as well.

Children need to try their best on each task.
  • This helps to establish a work ethic and reinforce the value of learning.
  • Avoid having students grade each others papers. This helps lessen the anxiety and embarrassment some children may feel knowing a peer will know their grades.
  • Post the job chart where it is easily visible and set aside a time for these jobs to be completed. Ideally this would be the same time each week.
  • Each week change the jobs around so that the children get the opportunity to learn and try new skills.  Do this at home as well.

Do2Learn offers more information about how establishing classroom routines assists students with ASD on their website. Here is an example of a classroom job chart. This chart can be easily posted for viewing and the names and jobs switched around for variety.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Transition Toolbox--Do2Learn Does It Again

Once again Do2Learn has put together a team of educational and clinical experts to design a new program to meet the challenge of workforce preparation for students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). This team is putting the final touches on the this program and getting it ready for release, but they want to let the public know what they can expect from the JobTIPS Transition Toolbox. So, in the next few weeks and months you will see several blogs that will address what Transition Toolbox will be offering. To make sure that you don't miss any important announcements, go ahead and subscribe to this blog by entering your email address in the “follow by email” box to your right and below our popular posts.

Who needs to follow the Transition Toolbox blogs?
  • High School Educators
  • High School Administrators
  • Vocational Rehabilitation staff
  • Transition Coordinators
  • Advocacy and Training Organizations
  • Professional Clinicians
  • Job Coaches
  • Parents

Who will Transition Toolbox serve?
  • High school students with ASD who are post-secondary (college, tech school, etc.) or job bound who participate in the standard course of study and/or spend the majority of their day in the regular education setting.

So what's stopping you? Sign up now so that you won't miss out on all the information that is heading your way about Transition Toolbox!

Transition Toolbox—What's the Plan?

Monday, April 9, 2012

How To Keep Structure On The Weekend

You (the parent) do so well during the week keeping structure and schedules going so that your child with Autism knows what activity is next. You know that when you do this it makes life a lot simpler and that this structure actually builds in flexibility. We talked about this in the A Schedule? She's Two? blog. Oh, but here comes the weekend and there goes all the structure. You have things to do, places to go, and sometimes you need to shift gears pretty quick. How can you help your child with Autism make those transitions along with you and avoid the meltdowns?

Elizabeth Byers, a TEACCH Therapist, has offered her expert advice to us with an on-the-go Activity Folder.  She also offers complete instructions on how to make and use the folders.  I found this to be a great weekend folder that could travel on errands and outings to make those transitions go smoothly. I recommend practicing using this folder during smaller, less stressful trips and then build up to the weekends.
You may also find other uses for the Activity Folder as well, so don't limit it to just the use that has been suggested here.  Happy transitioning!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Let's Talk About STRESS---Do2Learn Can Help

Individuals with Autism have a really hard time labeling their own emotions and the emotions of other people. There are many ways to approach the challenge of teaching this vital skill and Do2Learn has designed a wonderful set of materials and activities that can be used at home, in the classroom, small group, or one-to-one setting.

Home Emotionis the way you often feel when alone with no input from anyone else. D2L has a great Emotional Check-In/Check Out worksheet for use in the classroom as the students enter and exit each day.

Emotion And Scenario CardsD2L offers 3 Levels of FREE printable cards to be used with individuals in role playing and learning more about emotions in different scenarios.

Signs of Stressit can be very helpful for individuals with Autism to be able to identify the physical signs of stress. This way if they can identify those signs it may help in preventing meltdowns. Do2Learn has a wonderful worksheet to assist in going through Psychological Responses to different feelings. I recommend having a word bank for the individual to chose from with words that are familiar to that individual to make this activity less stressful.

What are Stress Triggerswhat makes your student stressed? D2L's worksheet is designed for the individual or a parent to complete.

The worksheets above are great to use periodically during the year as benchmarks to see how on individual is making progress towards a goal. Often teachers will use these during IEPs to provide information to the rest of the IEP team in a structured and organized way.

Below are more worksheets available under Do2Learn's Social Emotional Skills section of their website. All of this material has been made available to you FREE of charge. You will not that there are explanations for how to use the materials and suggestions on what type of paper to use, when warranted. 

Please see our website to check out the rest of the worksheets that will assist you in teaching about STRESS and then ways of relieving that stress.  You be happy to have discovered a structured way of doing so.