Autism Toilet Paper
Here to Help with the Messes
Asperger's is Autism
Having, using and sticking to schedules provides routine and structure to students with Asperger's. We all know that changes to routine are common. When something changes, quickly write in "Change" and put in the new information. This decrease the the stress of the student and increases the chances of a smooth transition from expected routine to new event.
Many times students with Asperger's are perceived as Rude! Keep in mind that it is more likely they don't understand the social expectations of the situation, read the situation wrong, or don't know how to respond. Students with Asperger's want friends, but don't understand the complexities of social interactions. Many of them have issues with their sensory system and that causes them to respond in unpredictable manners, or have behaviors that impact their ability to connect.
Motivation is a killer! Students are rarely motivated by the same types of things we as educators expect like praise, good grades, proud parents, work satisfaction, pleasing the teacher. They are motivated by what they find motivating. That often lies within the area of their restricted interest. Sometimes it is a release from work. Find what they will work for and use that to encourage them.
Here Comes the MELTDOWN
The meltdown usually isn't one event. It's a series of events that students go through when social/emotional situations become too much. Here are the basics, for more information follow the links.
You may see small indicators in your students like throat clearing, muscle tensing, mumbling, tapping, or grimacing. They may be more overt like engaging with other students verbally or physically. Strategies to try at this level: Remove the student (non punitively) to help them calm and regulate the social/emotional tension; Proximate Rule, move close to help the student see they are rumbling; Signal Interference is a technique where the teacher makes eye contact or uses a "signal" show the teacher sees the rumble then introduce a fidget; Just Walk Don't Talk is having the student walk it out, but don't talk about it; Home Base is a predetermined place where the student can go to regroup to escape stress for a designated time. It's important to know the student because some of these techniques can escalate the behavior based on the student.
The student is disinhibited and acts emotionally, impulsively and sometimes explosively. These may be externalized (acted out by screaming, biting, hitting, kicking, etc) or internalized (internalized and look like withdraw or shut down). The focus in this phase is the student's safety and dignity and keeping others safe.
The student feels bad about their behavior and are worried about people's perception of them. They may withdraw, be sullen or deny the behavior, or sleep. It is important to try an intervention when the student is receptive otherwise it may re-enter the rage phase.
Information from: The Cycle of Tantrums, Rage, and Meltdowns in Children and Youth with Asperger Syndrome, High-Functioning Autism, and Related Disabilities, Myles, Brenda Smith, Anastasia Hubbard
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