Autism in one classroom (was Re: I have a very challenging situation and I need help)
- Ken (and blamirecyn) -
As I pondered this challenge a couple of questions occurred to me.
One - are those eight children with autism normally included with
the 18 "regularly abled" first graders? The normal definition of
least restrictive usually calls for *much* lower numbers for all
sorts of good reasons. If this setting really does try to make 26
first graders with that number of special needs students work all
throughout the day, I would definitely have an immediate sit down
with the special education case managers/teachers and the general
classroom teachers to find out how they're making it work for the
rest of the non-art day.
It's more likely that each of the special needs children has a note
on their IEP requiring inclusion for PE, art, and music as they're
available. Here are the questions I'd ask if that's the case: Is
there educational benefit to sending all eight into an inclusion
setting? Are all their other "specials" scheduled as an All Eight Go
Together group, too? What are the specific, individual goals for
each child in the art class?
If this group of children is a part of the larger, 26 child class
all day long, it's a different set of questions, but if that model
is just being used for specialists, you have another question that's
harder to ask: Should children in my class have the same
benefits/protections that they do with other teachers?
I've worked within several models through the years and have always
enjoyed the partnership with my special education peers. Whether we
did inclusion child by child or in a whole class model, we enjoyed
success. My current setting allows our high needs class to come to
art at their own time. Five of six are autistic, three are
non-verbal, and they come to me with three para professionals. My
classroom is designed to reflect TAB philosophy (if anyone is
unfamiliar with TAB, they can follow this link:
>and works well with special needs students. We've figured out which
activities are best suited for this group of students so I have
several possibilities laid out when they arrive. 3D construction
materials, collage, drawing, painting, blocks, and play dough are
all favorites. With a group that's appropriately sized, even loud
vocalizations can be a part of communication and individual goals
can be worked towards. I move between and among kids, managing
materials and helping get paintings to the drying tray (or offering
rags when cleanup is needed.) I capture pictures of kids and aides
working with my camera and make suggestions when a child tires of an
activity. One of my children with the autism label has highly
advanced skills with markers and likes to replicate the covers of
his favorite DVD covers. I gather some of those along with other
children's work and keep portfolios of their work for later sharing
with parents and their teacher.
One of the students has progressed to the point where he also
attends art sometimes with his "regular" inclusion classroom. He's
learning to do the kinds of things that children in that class do as
they rotate through the media centers. Sometimes his visit works
well and sometimes it's more of a challenge but everyone in the
studio enjoys the chance to include him in our artmaking choices.
I'd be interested in the answers to the questions I've suggested and
learning whether scheduling of those kiddos was made for their
benefit or because of finance/adult schedule needs.
Good luck all around!
K-5 Art Specialist (WA)
> 1a. Re: I have a very challenging situation and I need help
> Posted by: "Ken" kenroar@... kenroar
> Date: Fri Mar 4, 2011 9:11 pm ((PST))
> I just looked up a few things about autistic children and how to control them and I didn't like what I found. It appears from the advice that an art room is the worst place to put an autistic child. When you read these, you'll know what I mean:
> "Here are some of the factors that need attention and thorough consideration to success in the aim of teaching children with autism.
> 1. Teaching environment. Because of autism, children find it hard to concentrate especially in the presence of loud noises and colors. They get easily distracted by such elements. Therefore, it is a must that the classroom or wherever the teaching process takes place should be kept at its plainest form. It should also be quiet and peaceful enough in order to help keep the children feel the same.
> 2. Routine activities. Children with autism cannot handle surprises. The daily activities should follow a certain routine. The kids have a good idea of what is going to happen next. This is the only way for them to concentrate and learn.
> 3. Limited options. When making the children choose something, it is important to keep everything simple. They should not be subjected to a number of choices. It is very easy for them to get all confused over many selections. In the end, they learn nothing and might even feel bad about the whole process. Letting the child pick one over the other is the best way to do it.
> 4. Simple communication. Using simple words is the best way to get the points across and completely understood by these young autistic kids. More so, one should maintain a lower voice since loud ones tend to agitate these children.
> Autism in itself is a hard thing to deal with. However, it should not be something that limits what a child can do. Although their learning abilities might be limited, children with autism still have the capacity to learn. After all, autism is not equal to being stupid. In fact, many autistic children are very proficient and talented in certain areas. All it takes is a greater amount of effort and patience from the teachers."
> Retrieved from "http://www.autismpda.org/forum/viewtopic.php?id=23"
> In a case like this it appears that there may be little you can do. The task then is to try to minimize the distraction to the rest of the class. You also might tell the school counselor or whoever leads case conferences that you would like to attend the next IEP meeting for these children to voice your frustrations. Perhaps they will agree to alter the IEP.
> --- In email@example.com, "blamirecyn"<blamirecyn@...> wrote:
>> I have a class composed of eighteen first graders plus 8 autistic students combined. The autistic students come with three adult aides. It gets so very noisy that no one can hear me when I'm giving the class directions for an assignment. Students ask questions and I can barely hear them. A lot of them aren't following directions because they're distracted. I am stretched very thin. I cannot give any of them the attention they deserve. All of my classroom management skills aren't enough to hold their attention.
>> I have never been asked for my input in this matter and although I've asked for help or guidance in making this work, I've gotten no help.
>> Does anyone have any lesson plans that might work for a group like this? Any classroom management suggestions?
>> Thank you.
>> Feeling Frustrated