Scout it Out

Middle School TransitionHere’s a transition tip for families who have a child who is transitioning from an elementary school setting to a middle school setting. It can be super scary and anxiety-provoking, especially for a student with ASD who needs structure and routine!! My recommendation is to tour the school ahead of time (and map out how to get through all 6 periods of the day), make arrangements to meet with his/her teachers, and prepare the student with school rules. For example, “Once the first bell rings, you have 5 minutes to get from one class to the next.”

 

Remember to discuss P.E. rules especially, because our kids with ASD miss social cues and nuances. P.E. rules can include “Focus on yourself’ or “Keep your eyes and comments to yourself.” Perhaps a role play at home would be beneficial as well. A go-to person at this new school would also be extremely helpful. Maybe it could be the school psychologist, school counselor, or even homeroom teacher. The student should be told that he/she may go to this person for problem solving during frustrating moments during the day or week. This list can go on and on… 

Oprah Would Approve

PuppyAs Oprah would say, I had an moment that changed me as a teacher. I recently bought a puppy. Easy enough, but one day puppy day care loomed. I did not anticipate how hard it would be to hand her over to a stranger. A very qualified stranger, but still a stranger. At that moment I realized how emotional this must be for my students parents. Here I am, almost in tears wondering if my pup is going to have fun and be watched. And this is just a puppy!

 

When I returned, I was given a real gifts¦ a report card with a picture. How important for parents to not only hear about their child’s day, but also to see it. This year I gave my parents the same gift on the first day of school. Because of their enthusiastic feedback, Its going to do it monthly.

Emotions: Scared? Afraid? No… Brave!

Scared faceScared. Afraid. Brave. We target these emotions during October because of Halloween. We discuss what scared looks like in how we move and what is on our faces. We talk about costumes and not real/ pretend. The staff often introduces this concept using a mask or scarf over someone’s face in a group circle activity… “Where is xx?” When removed, “Look, it’s XX!”

We discuss being safe in simple social stories (thanks, DC!).It’s night time when I trick-or-treat. It’s dark. At night time, I see the moon and stars. A house with lights on signals, someone is home. My mommy or daddy carries a flashlight so we can see. We hold hands and stay in a group.

We look for these types of environmental cues in the books we read this month. Some favorite picture books with lots of recurring lines for choral or group responding include: The Little Old Lady who was not Afraid of Anything/ Linda Williams, Go Away Big Green Monster/ Ed Emberley, and We are off to Find the Witcha’s House/ Mr. Krieb. It’s trick-or-treat time, but build this awareness throughout the year when you drive or walk in your neighborhood.Be brave!

A Three Kleenex Moment

Three Kleenex momentBefore the students returned to campus this year, I was asking myself if I was ready for school.There were still questions about my caseload, my computer wasn’t working, and my office was still upside down from a last minute move. As soon as I started seeing the kids and their bright smiles, though, I knew it was good to be back. Hi, Miss Kathy! See my new backpack. Are you coming in my class this year? Look- I lost a tooth! When do I see you? Are you going to be on the playground?

But a single comment from a young girl was what reminded me of how much I loved my job. I had first met her as a preschooler challenged with autism, and now she was entering her third year in elementary school.Pretty as always and growing in confidence, she greeted me as soon as I entered her classroom. Turning from her desk, she shouted, Hello, Miss Kathy! Then she stood up, hugged me and added, You are the best speech teacher in the whole world. It was a three Kleenex moment. Yes, I love my job, and it is great to be back.