Thursday, March 08, 2007

ASPERGER'S SYNDROME: Classroom Strategies

The programme for an individual pupil will need to be based on the assessments of the pupil's individual needs and developed by close collaboration of all those involved with the pupil. However, Basic strategies would include:

- Providing a very clear structure and a set daily routine (including for play). Ensuring the pupil knows the day's programme at the start of each day and can make frequent reference to this throughout the day, e.g. providing a 'picture board' with the day's activities 'laid out'. The child can move the activity 'picture' to the 'finished' section on the board before moving on to the next activity. Placing this board in a neutral ' area (i.e. area not linked with specific activities), creating a 'transition' area to enhance the understanding of finish and moving on to the next activity.
- Teaching what "finished" means and helping the pupil to identify when something has finished and something different has started.
- Providing warning of any impending change of routine, or switch of activity.
- Using clear and unambiguous language. Avoiding humour/irony, or phrases like "my feet are killing me or it's raining cats and dogs", which will cause bewilderment,
- Addressing the pupil individually at all times (for example, the pupil may not realise that an instruction given to the whole class also includes him/her. Calling the pupil's name and saying "I need you to listen to this as this is something for you to do" can sometimes work; other times the pupil will need to be addressed individually).
- Repeating instructions and checking understanding. Using short sentences to ensure clarity of instructions.
- Using various means of presentation - visual, physical guidance, peer modelling, etc.
- Ensuring consistency of expectation among all staff... and avoiding any 'backing-down' once a reasonable and manageable target has been set.
- Recognising that some change in manner or behaviour may reflect anxiety (which may be triggered by a [minor] change to routine).
- Not taking apparently rude or aggressive behaviour personally; and recognising that the target for the pupil's anger may be unrelated to the source of that anger.
- Specific teaching of social rules/skills, such as turn-taking and social distance.

- Minimising/removal of distractors, or providing access to an individual work area or booth, when a task involving concentration is set. Colourful wall displays can be distracting for some pupils, others may find noise very difficult to cope with.
- Seeking to link work to the pupil's particular interests.
- Exploring word-processing, and computer-based learning for literacy.
- Protecting the pupil from teasing at free times, and providing peers with some awareness of his/her particular needs.
- Allowing the pupil to avoid certain activities (such as sports and games) which s/he may not understand or like ; and supporting the pupil in open-ended and group tasks.
- Allowing some access to obsessive behaviour as a reward for positive efforts.

It is probable that these children will not take any advantage from counselling or from activities such as Circle Time. Instead, adults will need to constantly monitor the context to identify possible sources of uncertainty, peer-interaction problems, or other sources which could lead to stress for the pupil and consequent difficult behaviour. Once such possible sources are identified adults may be able to create changes in the context that diverts the potential difficulties (such as establishing an enhanced tolerance of the observed behaviours and style), or act as a 'mediator' to help resolve any problems.

Close liaison with parents and with other professionals (Educational Psychologist, Speech and language Therapist, Paediatrician) will need to be maintained. This will enable close monitoring of the pupil's progress in social and communication skills, and scholastic performance. It will also be important for sharing the process of interpreting behaviours and identifying triggers for negative or anxious episodes.

2 comments:

Lillian McMcMahon said...

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sexy mom said...

oh, you're Teacher Sol! i have been seeing your name in the teachers' network J Angelo was involved with. and you're in washington, dc, not manila! will be dropping your site more often now, it's time for me to know parenting--the children's side, so that i will understand how it is with the young kids now. you see, every now and then, someone comes to me for advice with regard to rearing kids, i can only see the side as a mother, not the side in school. God bless you :)

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