JoAnn Morton, Autism Specialist
In March 2012, the CDC released data and statistical information regarding the prevalence of Autism. This report estimates that about 1 in 88 children have been identified with an autism spectrum disorder. Autism occurs in all racial, ethnic and socioeconomic groups. It is five times more common in boys (1 in 54) than girls (1 in 252). Information made available also reports that about 1 in 6 children in the U.S. had a developmental disability in 2006-2008, ranging from mild disabilities such as speech and language impairments to serious developmental disabilities, such as intellectual disabilities, cerebral palsy, and autism.
As educators we want to know what we can do to provide the most appropriate educational environment and supports. Although you will want to tailor each student’s program to best meet their individual needs, the following *suggestions are offered a guide.
- Ask yourself these two important questions, “How does my student communicate his or her needs?” and “What can I do to help promote their ability to communicate functionally?”
- Provide the student with an individualized visual daily schedule.
- Maintain a consistent routine and structure. Gradually implement change where/when appropriate to also teach flexibility.
- Explore each of the settings where your student will receive instruction/engage in activities. What do you see, feel and hear in these environments? Our students are often overwhelmed by visual stimuli such as the fluorescent lights, people moving about and items used to “decorate” classrooms as well as the auditory sounds coming from heaters/air vents and the echoing of large spaces such as lunch rooms and gymnasiums.
- Give verbal directions that are clear and concise, omit unnecessary verbiage. Use visual supports to help convey directions. Our students with autism are generally overwhelmed with lengthy or prolonged verbal directions. More is not always better.
- If your student is having difficulty in a specific situation(s), look at how you can modify that activity or the amount of time they spend within that activity.
- Provide consistent reinforcement/reward for desired behavior. The best way to guarantee change is to build upon the positive.
- Contact your core AEA team members with your concerns and/or any questions. They will be your initial source of support and are able to access the autism team for additional assistance.
By accessing Great Prairie AEA’s course catalog, individuals will find five classes available to teachers, support staff and parents that provide more comprehensive instruction in implementing many of these strategies. The courses include: Structured Teaching for Autism – Basic Components (ST-AT1), Structured Teaching for Autism Communication- Leisure and Social Skill Components (ST-AT2), Social Skills for Autism (SSA), Communicating with Visuals (CWV), and ABA Strategies and Curriculum; Using the STAR Program to Support Students on the Autism Spectrum.
*The majority of these suggestions are based on strategies referenced in The National Autism Center Report, 2009, as established or emerging treatments for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders.
The following reference is provided as an additional source for educators: http://www.autismvoice.com/2006/08/07/ten-things-your-student-with-autism-wishes-you-knew/
April is Autism Awareness Month:
Please visit the Autism Society of Iowa home page www.autismia.org to read about all the upcoming activities. These include (but not limited to), Autism Awareness Walk/Run, Bake Sale and launching of the 2013 Autism Society of Iowa’s cookbook; favorite recipes are needed!
The B-Town (Burlington) Autism Walk is Saturday April 20 from 9-2, registration at 8. At the lake at Great River Medical Center, contact: Heidi Sewnson 319-457-7944 or e-mail:firstname.lastname@example.org
TSA Support for Individuals with Autism
With springtime upon us, and more importantly spring break trips quickly approaching, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has a number of options available for adults and families living with autism to help make the process through the airport security checkouts as easy as possible. Click on the following link: TSA Support for Individuals with Autism