Welcome! Lenkaland shares my adventures in creative photography, raising two kids, writing, living with chronic illness, raising a daughter with dyslexia, and swimming with mermaids. Hope you have a nice stay!

Structured Teaching Model and Effective Learning Environments for Children on the Autism Spectrum

*  Disclaimer- The following post contains notes and musings while attending an Autism Spectrum Conference. It is not meant to be a scientific, authoritative article.  Enjoy. The goal with teaching children on the spectrum is independence.  If students are dependent on prompting or adult guidance, we are not giving them lifelong skills.

As people, we react faster to visual structure.

There is a discussion about changing Autism Spectrum Disorder to Autism Spectrum Differences.  How can we better understand the systems that we take for granted, and how can we build bridges with a group of people that finds the traditional modes of interaction strange and cumbersome?  What can we do to help all kiddos be effective in our world?  Skills do need to be taught towards independence.  But perhaps we do not need to impose a sense of less-ness.

Today is a discussion about the importance of structure and creating an effective physical space that supports students towards independence.

We're watching examples of structured classroom spaces.  Some great ides: gross motor play area and a fine motor play area- where students can explore different activities with different clear instructions.  Blocks and board games do not share the same space.  Then a sweet, cozy little area for book reading or quiet leisure.

A challenge I see already in implementing the plans in our class is the general education needs for sight-lines.  I need to see everywhere in the class.  Which can be a challenge in creating enclosed spaces to minimize distractions.  A suggestion was shorter portable screens.  Or temporary, table-top screens.  A fun idea is calling an enclosed areas an Office, which would be fun for everyone.  I get so many ideas for rearranging our classroom next year :)

A perspective- if you do not prepare, the child will act on on anxiety and frustration with behavior issues.  So if there is not adequate support and structure, time will go into behavior-interventions.  Where do we want to invest our time?  Antecedents or outcomes?

How to effectively structure work for students.  Predictable is important.  Making more visual structure is a key component.  A work folder with a to-do and a finished side.

The tricky part for me as a general education teacher is how to integrate these seemingly thousand little Velcro pieces into a mainstream classroom.  I don't carry all of these little icons or reinforcement tokens or folders with Velcro-lists all over the classroom.  I can see creating center-work classroom-wide.  I have to mull this over, let it marinate a bit for a solution.  Because the core skills are useful for all children.  But the management . . . how to manage the pieces of the work-structure activities is the big puzzle.

A lot of information about making visual schedules, building a visual world so that information is not dependent on auditory processing.  Again, how can the world be seen from a different perspective?

Assume nothing.  Be open for new ways of doing the same old thing :).  Sounds like fun.  :)

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