Showing posts with label Autism. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Autism. Show all posts

Why classroom visual supports help

I use visual supports for lots of things. I have students with visual schedules, reinforcements/rewards, and even on my anchor charts. It’s the first thing I look for when walking into a classroom—to support students. Many of my students need as much structure as they can get but in my building like many don’t have tons of extra support. Visuals provide that for them. You can never have to many visuals.

Visual supports can be very powerful tools to help increase independence and supporting students. Remember students not just those with autism have communication deficits they cannot express themselves effectively. Language difficulties may make it difficult for these students to understand what is expected of them. They may be confused about what is happening. Visual supports can reduce problem behaviors and increase effective communication interactions for students.

Visual supports have proven to be a huge success with my students when helping to mainstream them into their general education classrooms. Visual supports will allow students with special needs access to the general education curriculum and will help with the inclusion process. For some students, their visuals are almost a lifeline to help them through their day.

I often laugh at my observation that many times an adult is the one who is causing the problem for a child who is having a meltdown. One day, I just could not figure out why one of my students was literally
in tears heading to music class. Oops! Forgot his visual schedule! For this particular student, his visual schedule book helps him understand the rules and expectations in music class. He knows exactly what he needs to do and for a child who has such a severe language impairment and therefore cannot communicate like other students, his visuals help him connect with everyone else. A brief jog back to his classroom to grab that book and he was all ready for music with a smile on his face! Whew!!

I am often shocked at the unwillingness of some teachers to implement visuals for students who could benefit from their support. But when I take a step back I realize what we all know is true: change is difficult and if we are going to put in the effort to implement something, we want results! Like anything, visuals are going to take time to TEACH.

A student will not be able to use them successfully their first day, or even their first week. But, with continued exposure and explanation, visuals will help students. And the great thing is – visuals have not only been shown to be successful for students with disabilities but with ALL students.
If you create a classroom for a student with autism, you have created a classroom for all students to thrive in. Visuals should be part of that classroom!

Not only can you create a visual schedule for the day, but you can create a visual sequence of events for different activities in you class. For example at the art table, you can have a set of pictures or written rules with step by step directions for the project.

I'd love to hear, what kind of visuals do you find that you and your students can't live without?

Strategies for Teaching Reading to Visual Learners

There seems to be confusion about whether or not students with autism are able to learn to read. While students with autism may have a difficult time with phonics instruction and comprehension they CAN learn to read. Even when students aren't speaking and writing, they can learn to read and spell. Keep in mind that literacy covers a wide range of skills from exposure to print material to formal instruction.

Why spend the time to teach reading?
The ability to read can help to increase functional communication. Information a student may not process and understand auditorally may be understood visually. Reading will increase knowledge as well as provide a leisure skill. Reading can also increase social skills by providing a common topic to talk about.

Why teach reading using whole words instead of phonics?
Many children with autism have strengths in visual learning and decoding skills and are weak in auditory learning and comprehension. By modifying a reading program to focus on visual learning styles, students with autism can experience success. There is more than just a link between literacy and language. Language is the basis for literacy. Text that we read is oral language set down in visual mode. We cannot see spoken words, but we can see written words. For children with strong visual spatial skills, this can be their key to opening a locked door. One child with autism stated that learning to read was like finding water in the desert. 

How early should literacy skills be introduced?
Koppenhaver & Erickson (2003) conducted a study in North Carolina with preschool students with autism. They found that by providing a literacy rich environment for preschoolers with autism and severe communication impairments, the students increased their understanding and use of print materials and tools (without direct instruction, but in a tightly structured environment). By increasing natural opportunities for engagement with printed materials and writing tools, emergent literacy behaviors increased.

What Can I Use in My Classroom?
Comprehensive Literacy: The most popular method currently practiced is a comprehensive literacy approach. Many educators are using a 4 Blocks framework developed by Patricia Cunningham. The Blocks include:
  • Guided Reading – to enhance comprehension
  • Self-Selected Reading – to build fluency
  • Word Block – to develop spelling and word decoding
  • Writing – to teach how to write

This method includes a phonics dimension, but does not focus on phonics. Exploring more on this topic may be useful. Many books and courses are available that teach the dynamics of the 4 Blocks framework.

During reading, take photos of the student and constructed into a book. The books are duplicated so that all students have their own copy during a guided reading activity. The target words in the language experience story are used in word games for additional practice. The book is duplicated; some copies are adapted, and made available to the students for self-selected reading. The target words are also used for writing journals and daily news. Preliminary results from research indicate that more literacy behaviors are exhibited when the student uses language experience books that are adapted with Picture Communication Symbols (PCS).

What do these ideas have in common?
Instruction starts with words, not letters or sounds.
Instruction begins with words that have meaning and motivation for the student.
Instruction and materials are individualized for each student.
Games are incorporated into instruction and provide lots of practice when working with words.
Remember that language made visual will enhance communication and that all students can learn to read. Keep reading material on the child’s instructional level.
All students are different and what works for one child may or may not work for someone else. The important goal is to begin teaching every child to read, regardless of the barriers. If you hit a barrier, be creative and find another way to get to the goal.

Ideas for Your Room
  • Look over your classroom and see if there are any modifications for making language visible and to encourage reading.
  • Try setting up an interactive bulletin board or word wall with a picture and word match activity.
  • Set up baskets or boxes with various levels of reading materials. You can include books, magazines, maps, menus, training booklets or just about anything that has words on it.
  • Set up a writing center with different types of writing tools (paper, pens, pencils, crayons, letter stamps, magnetic letters on cookie sheets, etc.)
  • Consider adapted books based on language experience of the classroom routine.
  • Take digital pictures of the daily activities
  • Insert the pictures into a PowerPoint slide show.
  • Write a sentence for each picture
  • Adapt with Picture Communication Symbols (PCS) to make language visible.
  • Print and Enjoy Reading!
  • Encourage students to use literacy materials in their dramatic play. For example, in the home area place food packages, appliance instructions, and menus.
  • Read aloud to your students and use pictures to insure comprehension.
  • For primary students that are progressing on a reading program, Teach Me Language, by Sabrina Freeman and Lorelei Dake have published a language program that incorporates reading. 
Don't forget an extra 20% off at my TpT store today and tomorrow.
Have a great week.

Poetry, Visualization, and Glogster

Picturing Penguin
6th graders have wonderful visualization skills when paired with poetry. Last week (before our half day and field day) they started working of how to visually describe a poem in only pictures. Visualization is important because it means you have to infer using pictures. When readers visualize, students construct meaning by creating sensory images. I started with poetry to help my students gain a deeper understanding of inferring.

As a group, we started with Eloise Greenfield's "Honey, I Love and other Love Poems." Rope Rhyme helped students begin to think outside the box. I put both poems on an chart paper without the title. I wanted to group to infer a title before I told them. The group keyed into important words like "jump right in" and "clappedy-clappedy sound" to infer the poem was about jumping rope.  As we worked through the poems as a group, we created a list of things they saw. This list would then become the list of pictures they would go and find.

I also used "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" to help a new student access the concept. She was able to see the poem and create a list of items that she could find pictures for. She list was more literal but with the help of the others in the group she added a space shuttle, moon,and  planets. The students each picked out their own poem to create a list of pictures that they could go and find that described the poem.

Once they had the list of pictures, they went looking for them on Google. When they have their pictures, they will go to Glogster to create the poster of their poem. The only words they can use are their name, the title and author of the poem. Nothing else. Pictures to come. How do you teach student visualization? Which mentor text have you found to be the best?

My new student joined us from out of state four weeks before the end of the year. I created both of these hand outs to help her classroom teacher understand Autism.
Tips for Working With Student With Autism Teaching Students With Autism

Autism Awarness

April is Autism Awareness Month.

CDC estimates 1in 88 U.S. children has autism

New estimates from the U.S. Centers forDisease Control and Prevention show that roughly 1 in 88 American children hasbeen diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder, representing an increase ofmore than 20% over previous estimates. It is unclear why the number ofdiagnoses are on the rise, though some say the higher numbers are attributablein part to changes in strategies for screening, diagnosing and serving childrenwith the disorder. "One thing the data tells us with certainty: There are manychildren and families who need help," said Dr. Thomas Frieden, director ofthe CDC.

Earlier this month I saw the heading. I know that in recent months there has been lots of talk about what the medical community isdoing with the DSM and the chages they wish to make to how Autism and otherSpectrem disorders are diagnosed. I have had more students with Autismmainstreamed into my school in recent years and am always looking for whatothers are doing to help students with Autism be successful in their homeschools.

I have added a page with information that has comemy way. Please let me know when links fail to work. As I find current andpowerful information I will add it to the page.

Autism is a hot topic this week in Colorado as weare hosting the CEC National Conference. The Council forExceptional Children (CEC) is the largest international professionalorganization dedicated to improving the educational success of individuals withdisabilities and/or gifts and talents. They have tons of information forclassroom teachers and parents.

About Me

Welcome to my all thing special education blog. I empower busy elementary special education teachers to use best practice strategies to achieve a data and evidence driven classroom community by sharing easy to use, engaging, unique approaches to small group reading and math. Thanks for Hopping By.
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