Do you you suspect you're teaching autistic children in your classroom? Here are the recommended first steps for teachers.
It's important to start right in a new relationship, so start with confirming a diagnosis.
Confirm that the child has had a complete medical to ensure that there are no physiological problems. Ensure the child is seen by a medical professional who has in-depth knowledge of autism spectrum disorders (including Aspergers Syndrome).
Confirm or arrange a vision test
Confirm or arrange a hearing test for the child. Make sure it includes an auditory processing test which will tell you if the child understands what they hear. Make sure the child is checked for sound sensitivity as well.
Confirm or arrange an assessment from a psychologist that is well versed with autism and especially Aspergers Syndrome.
Tips for the assessment:
Call local advocacy associations like Aspergers Ontario and the Learning Disabilities Association for a list of psychologists who they would recommend.
Many psychological tests are auditory- based and if the psychologist starts testing before the results of the auditory processing are ready, the tests could show low levels of ability in the child.
Make sure the results are very detailed.
Avoid accepting reports where the subset scores are averaged. Many children are overlooked if they have a high intelligence and their average subset scores are in the normal range. If looked at as separate scores, it could show a gifted-learning disabled student.
Make sure the diagnosis is in the report and a series of recommendations are attached to assist in developing an individual education plan (IEP) for the student.
Prepare a list of the child's strengths and needs.
Talk to the parents and the school team. They may have ideas for both the teacher and parent
Once all the information is gathered, the parent and teacher should meet with the school identification team. This process legalizes the child's right to have their needs met with appropriate special education accommodations and / or modifications.
The human rights commission has determined that special education is a service and therefore the child must receive the appropriate interventions.
Remember that these activities are not a one-shot deal. Each year will bring new challenges.
Always be aware of the child's stress and look for ways to help.
Early intervention is the most positive way to help a child experience success. It's also the best thing you can do to help you in teaching autistic children.
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