Tag Archives: timetable

Tips for preparing preschoolers with Aspergers for full time education

13 Jan

School isn’t an easy place for the child on the autism spectrum. Here’s some tips to prepare preschoolers on the autism spectrum for what lies ahead as well as some tips designed to help you, the parent, find the right school for your child.

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1- If possible introduce your child to a play school or a nursery setting so that they are given the opportunity to get used to being around other children. If you don’t, then you run the risk of problems when it becomes compulsory that your child is educated.

2- Introduce social stories that are centred around that of your child’s first day at school. Continue using social stories that cover school in general… especially trips, sports days and other activities that don’t happen on a daily basis.

3- When deciding on what school to send your child, take your time looking into the different options. If your child has a statement you also have the option of looking into special schools.

4- If possible take your child with you to look at schools. They may only be a pre-schooler but its important to see how the school sits with them. Be sure to choose a school that has experience of educating children on the spectrum and one that offers all the support your child will require.

5- Check ofsted reports as well as online reviews its important to do lots of research when it comes to schools.

6- Ask teachers if you could possibly take some pictures of the school and classroom setting (obviously not the children)! It would also be great if the class teacher and head teacher wouldn’t mind you taking a picture of them (the teaching staff). With these pictures you can build your child a social story that is centred around the school they will attend.

5- Pictures like those above could also be added to a child’s visual timetable. You could even create them a travel book. Inside this book you can display pictures of the teacher, toilets, playground etc… This would allow the child to use visual clues throughout the day in a number of ways. It would be an especially great tool for the non verbal child.

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6- Engage your child in role play. Have fun playing a game of schools, therefore preparing your child for the real deal.

7- Prepare your child for the world of education by starting out early. Giving a child a head start in education is a wonderful gift regardless of whether they have autism or special educational needs. Counting games and colour matching, arts and crafts and reading are all great ways to learn and will help your child practice concentration techniques needed for the classroom.

8- If your child has poor sensory processing then start introducing them into the world of sensory play. By playing a number of sensory games, over time such exercises could help your child adjust & adapt to different types of sensory stimuli.

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Above image from my autism and sen pinterest board (pinned from the awesome site Carrots Are Orange

9- If your child is yet to be diagnosed then do all you can to get professionals to see your child as early on as possible. Lots of children are diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum much later on once attending school. Children with Aspergers can often find themselves struggling in primary or even secondary school, while parents are battling the system for that of a medical diagnosis or a statement of SEN… quite often its usually both. Though, it should be noted that some traits of autism, especially Aspergers Syndrome may not surface till much later on, once a child is in school. Its not always a struggle to obtain the diagnosis. Good schools and SENCOs may be the first to spot a problem and therefore refer you to a specialist for an official diagnosis.

10- Children with Aspergers prefer a good set routine. School is a very structured setting and the child on the spectrum will really like this aspect of their school day. However, there are times when routines have to be slightly altered and changes need to take affect. We have found that unannounced supply teachers upset little man more than anything (even when he does have warning he still finds it hard to adjust)! Be sure that your child’s teaching team fully understand the importance of routine and the need to inform you of changes asap. Of course there will be times when changes are unavoidable and occur last minute but the earlier you know the better prepared your child will be for the change… However big or small it may be.

School is a substantial part of a child’s life. It is a place they will attend 5 days per week, for an average 6 and a half hours per day. Its imperative that they are comfortable in their learning environment. As parents it is our job to see that they are!

How to make your own visual aid in 10 easy steps

12 Nov

Visual aids are a fantastic resource for a child on the autism spectrum and can be used in a number of ways.

This could be anything from PECs to encourage communication, reward charts for the encouragement of appropriate behaviour; schedules (whether for the whole day or just parts of it, such as school, bedtime etc…) Social stories to help prepare for change and many others.

We have used visual aids for the last few years and I discovered the true beauty of them, back when I went on the ‘Early bird plus’ parenting course for parents of children with autism & aspergers syndrome, which was ran by NAS and our local authority, a good three years ago! At first I spent a small fortune kiting us out with a load of tools, from visual cards for games to schedules and social stories. Of course when you’re a mother to a newly diagnosis child, you spend a small fortune on these things just doing what you think is right! Well, Like many I learnt the hard way, and I’ll never fork out big bucks for something that can be easily made in the comfort of your own home (Well, unless someone presents me with a well made product that’s fairly priced and sold by someone who isn’t just looking to make a quick buck from my child’s diagnosis, that is)!

We don’t use an all day schedule for Little man, though we used to, however, our life is a tad crazy at times and it becomes a little hard to follow. You see, I don’t want Little man becoming to reliant on routine, yes, routine is good and he loves it, but life cannot always be this simple and sometimes a little thing called “Life” gets in the way. Nonetheless he has one at school and also follows one to help him with his bedtime routine.

HOW IT WORKS

Little man has a chart that has a small pocket that holds a number of small cards each displaying its own symbol or image!
What’s great is, by designing your own you can completely customise it to fit around your own child’s routine (or in most bedtime cases, desired routine)! Here’s an example… Your child maybe the type of child who settles only after a story, may take medication and also have a small bath an hour before bed. You would therefore make cards that resemble these actions, plus any additional cards that symbolise other areas of the routine like… a tooth-brush, pyjamas, warm drink, toilet, kisses, lights and bed. This doesn’t even need to be in the form of pictures, your child may even prefer words! You may start with pictures and as they grow change over to text, whatever works best for you, that’s the beauty of it.

Another great aspect to the whole concept of schedules is that they work for children with and without autism. This means your child wont feel that its anything out the ordinary, especially if schedules are being used both in the home and educational setting. Children with Aspergers Syndrome especially, are quite aware of their differences and can sometimes get downhearted, I try my best not make Little man feel singled out, as-well as trying to avoid his sister feeling left out, if you know what I mean? That’s why I have ensured that both the children have a bedtime schedule as well as a chart to display their own set of targets to ensure they keep all of their pocket-money or even add to it (quite a new thing, it has its up and down weeks) this way it’s a win-win scenario as no one feels singled or left out!

HOW TO MAKE YOUR OWN SCHEDULE

I wouldn’t mind getting me own brand of schedule out there and onto the market! One that’s simple yet fun, easy to follow and doesn’t leave you feeling poor! I’m forever having ideas for schedules running away in my head, maybe because I’m always thinking of ways to make life that Little bit simpler for both little man and the family as a whole. However, life offers little time, so for now… how about I show you a dead simple way to make a bedtime schedule with nothing other than a few bits and bobs from your craft box?

WHAT YOU WILL NEED

3/4 sheets of paper or card
Velcro Dots (available from all major craft shops)
laminating sheets & laminator
PC and printer (though not essential)
brightly coloured pens
ruler (if not using a PC)
scissors
small piece of sticky tap
Glue stick
Glue Dots (Optional) can use a glue stick
some stickers for decoration (optional)

Step one: Decide which area of your child’s life will benefit most from a structured routine, then make a list of the symbols or words that make up your routine (bed, tooth-brush etc.-etc). Next you need to make the base for your main chart. You can download and print templates from an array of sites that offer free downloadable resources such as symbols, I will include some resources at the end of this post. Otherwise if you fancy getting really creative simply use a ruler to make your own (I made my own using text edit in my mac). Once you have finished printing or drawing your chart, you may wish to cut it down to size, depending on how many symbols you have to attach. We used A4 paper so cut it in half. If you have lots of symbols, keep it at A4 size.

Step two: Once you have done the above, put it to one side, its time to make your cards! These are quite small and you can make these in a number of ways…

a) Download from one of the sites given in the resource at the end of this post or check out free clip art on google! Once you have found what you want, you can then print them out.

b) Use your ruler to mark out the number of square boxes required to make up all the symbols or words in your routine (just count the number of items in your list). We made our boxes 3 by 3 cms but you could make yours bigger or smaller if desired! (If using text as opposed to symbols you may wish to make these slightly larger, you could use rectangles over squares) just make sure there is enough space to house them all on your chart.

c) If you are using instruction ‘B’ over that of ‘A’ you will then need to add the images or words to your cards! If you fancy doing a bit of a freestyling, then great… draw away, otherwise look in magazines or uses the google images ect, make some cuttings and get sticking, attaching your cuttings to the card templates. If using words, write these in nice bold lettering, or even add some small text above your symbols as I’ve done .

Step three: Now take a laminating sheet and laminate the paper containing your card templates. Note you should not have cut out your cards as yet, all should be on the same sheet of paper regardless whether you downloaded them (Step two [A]) or made them by hand (step two [b]c]).

Step four: Once laminated, cut each of your cards out and leave to one side.

Step five: Next bring forward your base chart and before laminating, you can decorate if you wish, using the brightly coloured pen (important don’t add stickers just yet).

Step six: Once decorated, laminate your chart.

Step seven: Take your Velcro dots and your glue dots (a glue stick works fine also) and glue the rough side of the velcro dot to your chart, with the other smoother side to your card. Do this for every card in your routine, these can then be attached to the Velcro on your chart.

Step eight : With a small piece of paper fold it in half and use the tape to stick down the sides and end. Apply a Velcro dot to the back and the other side to your chart , then use stickers or whatever else you fancy to decorate. This will be your envelope to store your symbol cards when not in use.

Step nine: Here’s the fun part ! Its time to decorate your chart by applying the stickers to the base chart. These can be easily removed and wont damage the chart due to its laminate casing. This will allow you to apply new stickers whenever you like, completely revamping the whole chart meaning it can therefore grow with your child and his/her changing interests.

Step Ten: Hang on the wall, choosing somewhere quite low, making sure its accessible to your child. Last but by no means least, have some fun as you but your creation to the test.

Congratulations
You just made your very own visual aid.

FREE RESOURCES  

Click on any of the links listed to uncover download resources to help you create your schedule.

Visual Aids for learning

SymbolWorld

Use visual strategies 

 Trainland

 Tinsnips

Pics4Learning

Do your homework!

20 Aug

As a parent I’ve read many articles floating about the net, all written with the aim of assisting parents who have children returning to school this September. I find that many do not offer any information to assist those parents of the “non typical” children, the child with autism or aspergers.

 In some respects I kind of think, “Well, why would they” but when I  think about the high numbers of children being diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum, I ask myself, “Well, why the hell haven’t they!” I’m no expert, “Far from it” but as a parent of an almost 11 year old  boy with a diagnosis of Aspergers syndrome who has been through both mainstream and special school (where he thankfully now resides) a child who was an active school refuser, who had been excluded more times than I care to remember, I have needed to tried one or two techniques aimed to ease the whole returning to school situation! It’s these few little techniques that I am willing to share with you here today! Sadly there are no quick fixes, believe me I know!

  I Hate this uniform

 Uniform, a total nightmare for the child with autism, especially the one who is tactile defensive! We all like to buy new school uniforms at the beginning of  the new school year (we often don’t have a choice what with the rate they grow)! However, if that uniform still fits, don’t change it! Of course there are those times it unavoidable, change of school, the start of secondary school is one great example that a new uniform will need to be brought! When little man was at his mainstream school, they suddenly introduced a new school uniform policy. Uniform posed a massive problem for little man causing all sorts of issues (even exclusion). He went from no uniform to full uniform, a huge change for any child! So, Here’s some tips on ways to make wearing uniform that little bit easier for your child on the autism spectrum!

 Get it washed

That’s right, wash new uniform in your usual detergent, not once but a good few times prior to your child returning to school. Use a fabric softener and if possible dry in the tumble-dryer as opposed to the washing-line, where clothing tends to become stiff. The tumble-drying of uniform will help to create maximum softness of garments.

 Test run

Get your child wearing the uniform for a few minutes each day increasing the time as you go. This enables your child time to get used to uniform rather then expecting them to wear it for the first time when returning to school. Think of it as wearing in a new pair of  shoes to ensure they don’t hurt your feet when you wear them on your big night out for the first time.

Let’s not go Shopping

 Most children with autism hate the prospect of shopping, even those that enjoy it fail to cope with it well. If you are lucky enough to be in the position of leaving your child with a loved one when doing your, “back to school shop” then do so. If something don’t fit you can always return it! Shopping online is another good idea. Try to buy from those you have brought from before. This way you will have an idea of the ranges they stock and the service you will receive (fast delivery, good  returns policy , etc.) Your child will also be familiar with the texture, material of the clothing, important for those who are sensitive to certain tactile input. If you do find you have to take your child shopping then go at a quieter time/day. Have the aim of buying everything in the one shop (if  possible). You can also check stock before hand if stock is in! Some stores will be helpful enough to check and then hold the items back (especially if  you explain your situation) This means you can pretty much do an in & out job which could save your child from experiencing a sensory related meltdown!

 Advanced preparation

 Most schools will introduce all children to a new teacher or learning environment (classroom) before the last day of term. This is fine for the typical child but those on the spectrum may require that bit extra!  If your child is in a special school then it’s my guess lots will be done to prepare your child for even the smallest transition.  Mainstream schools also have a duty to make reasonable adjustments for the child on the autism spectrum and this would be considered one of  those adjustments! Speak to your child’s teacher or school senco to see if the child  could maybe spend extra time with the new teacher in the run up to the end of term (school year). Maybe arrangements can be made for your child to spend a  few hours per week in the new classroom starting a few months before hand ( though there are times that schools will not be aware of the child’s new learning arrangements till the last few weeks of term, nonetheless, careful preparations need to be made). All the above and more should be done for a child making the transition from pre-school to reception and those off to secondary , etc.

 Social stories

 A great idea would be to create a social story for your child. This could be done with the help of your child’s teaching team. A picture of the new classroom  in-which your child will learn and even a photo of the new teacher could  prove a massive help. You can spend time going through your child’s social story with your child during the school holidays. If this is something you haven’t done already, don’t panic! You can create a social story with the focus of change and returning to school with cut-outs from magazines, newspapers or from visuals downloaded from the net, it’s never to late!

 Visual aids

It’s important to use visual timetables at home if used in school, this helps to create some level of consistency. Many children require images & picture symbols where others do just fine with words. Visual timetables can be expensive but you can get creative and make your own (maybe I will show you how in a post one day). Be sure to highlight during the holidays how many days are let till the return to school (Children on the spectrum like to know what’s coming next). We had this highlighted at the side of  little mans home made magnetic timetable. We just used the symbol for school with the correct number next to it as to indicate how many days remained till he returns to school. This is also a great way to avoid school refusal.

Consistency 

Another good thing to do is remain consistent throughout the school holidays. I mean keeping the bedtime routine the same. Sadly little man has trouble maintaining bedtime routines at the best of times which  technically puts me in no position to advise on the matter! Still, the concept is a good one, which is basically to keep things the same! Who knows it could work for you.

 Well, that’s it, I have an arm arch from the typing, so I’m done! I hope my little tips assist you in some way, even if it just makes one thing less trying that’s got to be something?

 Little man has just two and a bit weeks left. Here’s hoping we have a  good return to school.

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