"If you are going to increase your knowledge or create something meaningful, you are going to have to risk putting yourself out there and ask for it. - my Dad
Parent and Family FAQ's
What are the key characteristics of Autism?
Communication: Receptive, expressive and pragmatic language challenges.
Social: Challenges imitating and maintaining friendships and understanding the social terrain.
Sensory: Being over-whelmed or under-responsive to sensory input.
Behavior: Feelings of anxiety, obsession, confusion and frustration, as well as experiencing sensory overload, can cause individuals with Autism to engage in frequent tantrums and exhibit physical or even self-injurious behaviors.
How is Autism diagnosed?
There are no current medical tests diagnosing Autism, but when concerned, you should first have your physician rule out other medical issues. Psychiatrist, pediatric neurologist, neurophychologist or developmental pediatricians whose expertise is Autism are the best solution to obtaining a diagnosis. They can make their evaluations based on a specific set of characteristics.
What is the best way for individuals with Autism to learn?
Individuals learn differently. Different methods and interventions will be required, based on your child's individual core challenges.
Create an environment that promotes independence. Use high-interest and preferred activities, materials and people.
Provide a variety of learning environments (individual, small groups, structure, and semi-structure), and have your child actively problem solve in those environments.
Identify sensory challenges and accommodate.
An environment that is well-organized, sensorally and visually, maximizes learning.
Smaller student to teacher ratios are generally better for learning.
Allowing students to process information, providing learning breaks, and allowing choices help create a successful learning environment.
How can I locate a school / program that meets the needs of my child?
Communicate with your child's teacher and principal, and request an evluation for special education services. If unsuccessful, contact the Special Education Local Plan Area (SELPA) in your county and inform them that your child needs supports.
Coordinate your team of experts and encourage communication between members.
How do I work with my school district to receive services or find outside providers to work with my child privately?
Become familiar with your child's rights. Remember, you can ask for an IEP (Individual Education Plan) meeting several times throughout the school year. Provide outisde evaluations if you have obtained them. Bring outside providers to the IEP meeting to share their expertise and ideas. Work collaboratively.
Novels with characters who have Autism can be fun to read, such as Al Capone Does my Shirts, by Gennifer Choldenko. Her sister has Autism.
Rudy Simone wrote some great books, Aspergirls is one.
Connect with other teachers on site and offer to do some Autism Awareness.
Use older students on campus as tutors or recess buddies.
Be wise when integrating. Identify your student's strengths first and integrate a strength-based level. It is important that the other students see your student as successful in their environment, and for your student to feel successful.
Prepare your student, make a plan, take small steps. Use social stories and visuals.
How can I support my para-professional in my classroom?
Provide knowledge on Autism.
Set clear expectations, model and provide feedback.
Be encouraging, value input.
Establish clear, consistent communication expectations with parents.
The Para is NOT the teacher, and the teacher should always establish lessons, strategies, and activities to be completed, and be with the student each day at some time.