Suggestion #19: Don’t touch the child or the child’s stuff without asking them.Children with autism may process sensory inputs differently than a typical child does; this may cause them to be very sensitive to touch. Additionally, they do not always understand social situation and social norms. If they walk onto the bus, and the bus monitor grabs their backpack, they may think that the person is trying to take it from them. There is a good chance that they will not understand that this taking is just temporary. If the monitor simply said “may I please help you with that until you are in your seat with your seatbelt buckled,” that would be very helpful for the child’s understanding. However, even this may not be enough if the child has difficulty communicating or has limited communication skills. So please try and wait for the child to actually tell you that it is okay for you to touch them or their things.
- A couple of years ago, I found my autistic child locked in a small cold cement cell at his school. The cell had no windows, no furniture, and was slate gray with low lighting. The cell was also sound proofed so parents and teachers outside wouldn’t hear him crying. I am writing this blog as a campaign to change the way these children are perceived and treated in our society.
Thursday, August 4, 2011
Wednesday, August 3, 2011
Category: General guidelines when dealing with autistic childrenSuggestion #18: Ask the parent about early indicators and develop techniques that help calm the child.
Ask the parent how the child reacts when they become over stimulated. Each child is different, and you want to know the child's earliest signs that they have become agitated. Although the child may not be easy to read, there may be a tell tale sign or indicator that they are starting to become frustrated: their shoulders may slouch, or they may only grunt responses rather than talk, or they may look at the ground and not look up. Whatever these early indicators are, you want to know that the child is becoming over stimulated or frustrated so that you can implement some calming strategies. A typical calming strategy would be to move the child away from whatever is frustrating them and have the child go to the break room that is mentioned again in Suggestion #42. The occupational therapist may have some strategies that may be put in place; music may help calm the child, or drawing. Each child will be different so look for things that the like to do that could also be considered relaxing.
Tuesday, August 2, 2011
Category: Before the child’s first day in the classroom
Suggestion #17: Create a reward structure for the child and review with the parent and child
Have the school psychologist create a reward structure for the child that is appropriate for the child’s attention span, age, and special needs. Review this reward structure with the child and parent during the meeting in suggestion #9.
Monday, August 1, 2011
Category: Before the Child’s first day in the classroom
Suggestion #16: Create a list of guidelines for the adults who will come in contact with the child
Based on the guidance you have received from the school psychologist and other information that you have gathered on the child, create a list of simple rules that those interacting with the child would want to know. Although the bus monitor and your teacher’s assistant may have ample experience dealing with special needs children, they may not be aware of some of the unique requirements of an autistic child.
I will be posting some general guidelines for dealing with autistic children. Please read them over, have your school psychologist review them, and add or make notes appropriately.