Helping students with ASD stay calm & engaged



Todays blog is about how we can help children with Autism decrease their anxieties so they can do their best learing.

When students are happy, calm and focused they do their best learning

So How Do We That????

  • Keep the learning environment calm & predictable (consistent)
  • Establish daily structure ( with schedules)
  • Make sure students understand your expectations of them (simple, clear, manageable)
  • Support their challenges (sensory, physical, cognitive, communication)
  • Make sure they have an effective way to express/communicate their needs, wants, feelings, dislikes
  • Keep your directions short and deliver with a calm voice
  • Plan lessons that are fun, meaningful & accommodating to their level
  • Make sure they are getting a good night’s rest & are eating well
  • Make sure their medical needs are addressed
  • Provide breaks during the day
  • Create a quiet, clam space for them to retreat to when overwhelmed
  • If We Want our Students to have Self-Control;
  • They have to be able to integrate sensory information, their emotions & their thinking
  • They have to have the ability to make sense of sensory information coming into them & then organize it and be able to act on it. So assess noises, lights, smells, movement in their environment
  • Loud noises (alarms, people talking, background noises)
  • Bright lights & all visual things in their learning space
  • Tactile information (people touching them)
  • Textures (clothing, art projects)
  • Smells (cooking, perfumes, incense)
  • Address Sensory Challenges:
  • 1) Lower or turn off lights/cover windows if needed
  • 2) Keep distractions to a minimum/don’t have people walking in and out all the time
  • 3) Less is better in the room
  • 4) Use calm voices
  • 5) Turn off background noises
  • 6) Provide good space between students
  • 7) Make sure perfumes & fragrances are kept light
  • 8) Keep room structured , support their seating,
  • They Have To Be Able to Integrate;
  • Their thoughts and actions
  • They have to be able to pay attention to more than one activity at time occurring In the environment
  • They have to be able to plan their actions when people request or ask them to do something
  • They have to remember (Hold directions in their minds, recall past information)
  • Process words they hear
  • So They Can Problem Solve
  • Teach estimation: Guessing how long it takes to do things
  • 2) Set up stations and have several activities going on at once and have them move every 20 minutes
  • 3) Play games that ask them to follow the leader
  • 4) Give them problems to solve (what do we need for an art project)
  • 5) Give a direction and ask them to repeat it back before doing
  • 6) Play memory games
  • They Have to Learn to Control Their Emotions By:
  • Really understanding how big or little their problem is
  • Really understanding other people’s perspectives (ideas, feelings) & how their actions affect others
  •    * and then find and use solutions to create positive outcomes*
  • Create lessons around big problems & little problems & how they can be solved
  • Pencil needing to be sharpened? (Big/little) to them
  • Someone crying? (big or little) to them
  • Hungry? (big or little)
  • Bathroom need? (Big or little)
  • Injury to self? (Big or Little problem)
  • Forgot their lunch? (Big or little)
  • Not understanding? (Big or little)
  • TEACH THEM To recognize FEELINGS L J next
  • TEACH THEM WHAT EACH OF THESE FEELINGs LOOKs LIKE
  • A) Moving slow, feeling sick, feeling sad, being bored
  • B) Happy, calm, focused
  • C) Frustrated, overwhelmed, silly, wiggly, excited, worried, anxious,
  •  D) surprised
  •    E) Out of control anger and aggression
  • Then (Define them, draw them, take pictures of them, label them)
  • IDENTIFY Triggers to these Challenging Feelings next
  • What causes them to be frustrated, overwhelmed, silly, wiggly, excited, worried, anxious, surprised
  • Angry and aggressive
  • THEN IDENTIFY WHAT ACTIONS CAN HELP CALM THEM
  • Have the child make a list of what makes him/her anxious, worried, angry, fearful
  • Too much noise
  • Not understanding what I am supposed to do
  • Smells, being touched
  • Seizures, hunger, tired
  • Not knowing what is next
  • Being too close to someone
  • Triggers are Different for everyone
  • Then Make a Plan for What to do when each occurs
  • When there is too much noise: I can ask to leave & take a break
  • When I am tired I can let my teacher know & maybe I can have a shorter activity and then rest
  • When I am hungry I could have a snack
  • When I am anxious I could go outside for a walk
  • When I am frustrated I could ask for HELP
  • Calming Activities May Be Different for each Child
  • A break
  • A quiet place
  • Deep breathing
  • Exercise
  • Thinking positive thoughts
  • Asking for help with an assignment/activity
  • Have a snack or a drink
Karen Kaplan