Friday, 10 July 2015

"Making it a Success" - Sue Larkey workshop

I've returned home from the Sue Larkey "Making it a Success" workshop and like the other two Professional Development courses I have attended this year (read about the Tony Attwood workshop and the Genevieve Jereb workshop) I have come away FILLED with information and practical applications for the classroom and home! 

"The two biggest challenges that children 
with ASD face are Anxiety 
and having Limited Problem Solving skills"
 - Sue Larkey

To understand this more, we began our day with a little task which had us reflect on how we structured our morning to ensure we arrived at our destination on time, calm and composed ready to learn - most answers centered around managing time, having routines, using sensory stimulus and having information to help keep us calm. We need to remember that the same applies to our children with ASD - and we also need to remember that we need to explicitly teach our kids HOW they can handle situations that cause them stress by using a range of strategies:
  • Time - anxiety management
  • Routine - know what is happening now and next
  • Visuals - used to refer back to
  • Information - calming; used for planning
  • Sensory - music, drink, fiddle toys.
  • Social - information, help etc.
(This is also important to remember for your neuro-typical children if you want to avoid tantrums and make transitions easier for all).
Click to access this
& other tip sheets.

While I could go on and on about all the things that were discussed and shared at the course, I'll list some of the major things that I took away from the day.
  • No = Never! Kids with ASD hear NO and think it means never. Choose your words wisely.
  • Special Interests or 'obsessions' can provide calm time for children with ASD - This can be screen-time, gaming time, flapping, rocking or humming. But boundaries MUST be put in place and a replacement behaviour should be chosen by adults/teachers.
  •  Kids on the spectrum won't start things unless they know they can finish it - THEY LIKE TO COMPLETE TASKS! They often struggle to know when things are finished, so visuals should be provided. Give them time to finish, warn of the transition by informing them of the next task, and remind them of the next opportunity to do special interest.
  •  Explicitly teaching social skills is vitally important for children with ASD - teach them to ask their peers for help before approaching a teacher - "see two then see me".
There were so many more points, so if you can only attend one course then I highly recommend that you attend Sue's course! Being a teacher, Sue presents a fast-paced (you're in and out in under 6 hours, and this includes a morning-tea AND lunch break), practical and light-hearted course that is sure to have you leaving filled with enthusiasm and skills that will help both you and the children you work with.

And remember the 3 golden rules of working with children with Autism:
1. To know someone with autism is NOT knowing autism;
2. Strategies wear out; and
3. Strategies may only work for 1 in 10 children, but that 1 strategy could be the difference.

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