6 Mistakes Autism Unit Teachers and Paras Make…
Do you do any of these? STOP!
Working with students in self-contained settings or those with severe or multiple disabilities is hard, but I see many people in the classroom make these same mistakes over and over without really thinking there are any consequences. If you stop these 6 mistakes, your students will be the better for it- I promise!
1. Stop Talking So Much!
I see this in the classroom over and over again. We want to explain things to a student, so we do just that… we use a whole lot of words to explain. The problem is that students with multiple disabilities need more time to process language. Adding more and more words can actually slow down the processing time and make what you are saying more confusing. Simplify what you are saying, please.
2. Wait a Minute Please!
We just talked about needing more time to process language. So, right after we verbally bomb a student and ask them a question, we offer them no time to process and produce a response. Wait a minute… literally. After you ask a question, wait just one minute (and this feels like forever). Allowing that extra processing time will give a student a chance at answering!
3. Stop Doing It For Me!
So we asked a really wordy question, gave no wait time, and then when the student didn’t respond right away, we answered for them/picked the one we thought they wanted/ just did it for them. All the student learned was that if they wait long enough (or don’t say anything) people will do it all for them. It is the opposite of independence- it is learned helplessness. What is worse is that we become conditioned into doing for our students and stop offering the chance for them to try it on their own. Start helping students by allowing them the opportunity to try it themselves.
4. Stop Treating Me Like an Idiot!
A student who happens to need extra time to process language, wait time to think about it and respond, and then a chance to try it themselves- and then who fails is not an idiot. Moreover, the inability to talk does not mean the inability to think or to feel. Presume competence. Please. We have no idea what is happening inside the heads of nonverbal students and stories like that of Carly (click here for more) prove that inside students we label as disabled are feeling, thinking, normal people.
5. Stop the Meaningless Crap!
If I had to sit and do folder games for 8 hours a day, 187 days a school year, for 22 years… well I can think of better things. Having a folder game that has no purpose but to keep a student mentally sedated is not helping them gain a useful skill or practice something meaningful. I am a proponent of building independence into a classroom and having activities a student can do independently- but make sure there is some purpose, variation, and room for growth embedded in it. Otherwise it is meaningless crap.
6. Stop Sitting Me All Alone!
No one puts baby in a corner… but all day we have students isolated from the herd and that is somebody’s baby. Social interactions are so important and practicing is the only way to improve on that skill. Some of our students, however, only ever talk to grown-ups all day at school. Build in social interactions into the school day- building that skill is so important and needs to be practiced!
So, I know none of my Rock Star Readers would ever do any of these things, but if you know of anyone that is, please send them to this article so maybe they can see the light. Want to make sure that no LIFE Skills student is being tortured in the classroom? Tweet this article…
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