Using AAC More in the Classroom

Recently we challenged our readers to start using AAC more in the classroom to ensure that every student has choice and voice. Hopefully you had an opportunity to download the freebie associated with that challenge. If not click here to read the article and get a free AAC tool to incorporate into your classroom.
Did you rock out that challenge?
Are you looking for more ways to build vocabulary with students who use AAC devices?
We’ve got some great ideas for you!

Are you looking for more ways to build vocabulary with students who use AAC devices? We've got some great ideas for you!

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The Supreme Court found that we need to do more than de minimis… but what does that even mean? 5 Ways to Guarantee you’re more than minimus!

IEP De Minimis

The Supreme Court found that we need to do more than de minimis… but what does that even mean?

5 Ways to Guarantee you’re more than minimus to keep your IEPs out of court!

iep de minimis

The Supreme Court found that we need to do more than de minimis… but what does that even mean? 5 Ways to Guarantee you’re more than minimus!

Supreme Court Ruling in a Nutshell

Several federal laws established how we educate students with significant disabilities. That includes IDEA (the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) and FAPE (Free Appropriate Public Education). The United States Supreme Court heard the Endrew F. vs. Douglas County School District case and ruled providing FAPE requires we “enable the child to make progress appropriate in light of his circumstance”.

That, my friend, is as clear as mud. I have heard campus administrators, classroom teachers, and parents of students with disabilities all talking about how this ruling will revolutionize how we educate students with significant disabilities. I, however, am not sure there will be much of a change.

In order to shed some light on the subject, let’s break this down.

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Not sure how to ignore bad behavior, reward good behavior, and teach replacement behavior… well, read on!

Ignore Bad Behavior Reward Good

“I have a student with some pretty bad behaviors.

How do you reward the good behavior if he’s also doing bad behaviors at the same time?”

-Allison H.

Ignore Bad Behavior, Reward Good!

I feel you Allison. You want to reward a student for not hitting except he is pulling your hair (that, by the way, actually happened to me). Just today I was trying to praise a student for sitting while he pulled on my clothes and arms (*ouch*).

So, what do you do?

Not sure how to ignore bad behavior, reward good behavior, and teach replacement behavior… well, read on!

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All your IEP meetings coming due at the same time? Not sure where to start or where to go? An IEP Goal Bank for Autism Units, LID and PMLD can help light the tunnel!

IEP Goal Bank for Autism

IEP Goal Bank for Autism Units, LID, or PMLD

I have been there. I really have. You are sitting in front of a computer screen tasked with writing IEP goals for a student. You sit there, glazed over, wondering what to write.

And it’s not that you don’t know your students. It’s not that you’re unable to write good IEP goals. The thing is you’re just not sure where they should go next. Once them master a goal, what is the logical next step?

 

All your IEP meetings coming due at the same time? Not sure where to start or where to go? An IEP Goal Bank for Autism Units, LID and PMLD can help light the tunnel!

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Students LEARN to sit back and wait for someone else to do it for them. Read how to break learned helplessness in students with disabilities.

Learned Helplessness in Students With Disabilities

I will never, never forget a community trip with students to Taco Bell back in the day. My two paraeducators and I took about 10 severely disabled students out to eat. It took some time to get everyone through the line and I will never forget helping my favorite student, Cameron. I helped him get his food and walked him to a table. There were two more students I had to get through the line, so I left him to wait until I could come back and help him open his packages, cut up his food, and help feed him (because of limited mobility due to his severe Cerebral Palsy). I went back to the line and returned to him about 4 minutes later… and he was eating.

Learned Helplessness in Students with Disabilities

I asked my para team if they had helped him. Both said no. I looked at Cameron.
“Who opened that for you?” He looked at me and laughed.
“I did,” he said.

 

My mouth dropped open. He has opened his taco and was eating- he had even opened up a packet of hot sauce and poured it on… and here we were opening everything and even feeding him!

 

Students LEARN to sit back and wait for someone else to do it for them. Read how to break learned helplessness in students with disabilities.

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Don’t know where to start with core vocabulary? This will give you a FREE starter board, tips and tricks to teach with, and even the first 5 words to start with!

Where to Start With Core Vocabulary

You may have read a previous post all about where to start with core vocabulary and communication boards for students who are nonverbal or minimally verbal. I have gotten a some great messages about AAC and core vocabulary success, but also questions on what to do next. Well, I’ve got a great roadmap for you!

Where to Start with Core Vocabulary

If you have not read the post on AAC and Abuse in kids who are nonverbal or minimally verbal, please pop over and do so. There you will find a FREE communication board you can place near the door in your classroom to teach the word “GO”. Recently I was talking to a teacher who had great success using that FREEBIE board. He found his student was able to learn the word and effectively use the board to communicate places to go within one school week.

That’s amazing!

More importantly it shows that with consistent use, communication boards can be successful for students. His question, of course, was what to do next?

To answer that question and give everyone some guidance, below you will find a road map to introducing core vocabulary.

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Do you have a student tearing up your stuff, roaming the classroom, or picking their own scabs? Have you ever considered FIDGET TOYS? Read why it helps and some to try.

Fidget Toys for Autism

I was in a classroom a few years ago and the student was like the ball in a pinball machine! He was up and moving during my entire observation. There were moments where he could be cajoled into sitting and attending to a task, but they were few (very few), far between, and super short. The teacher looked at me needing help. Her job had become an exhausting workout.

I left and came back the next day with a few ideas and some fidget toys. Guess what… it helped.

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Head Banging in Autism

“I have a student in my class with pretty severe behaviors- he hits his head a lot. Like all the time. I feel bad when he goes home some days with huge red marks on his face, but I’m not sure what to do to get him to stop. What can I do?”
– Kenneth J.

Head Banging in Autism

Kenneth, I feel you. It is pretty hard as a teacher to sit back and watch a kid seriously hurt themselves. Head banging in Autism is actually very common. There are a handful of tricks you can try to lessen the rate and severity of head-hitting, but first you want to try to figure out the reason behind the hitting.

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Ever wonder about instructional text versus grade level text when teaching literacy to students with Autism and significant disabilities? We have some answers!

Teaching Literacy to Students with Autism

Teaching Literacy to Students with Autism

I read a lot… I wish I had time to read more! I recently read an article about instructional level text as a tool to improve reading. This has always been something that has bothered me. Teachers have long believed that the only text appropriate for older students who happened to be low readers is instructional level text. In other words, text that corresponds with their assessed reading level. I have always thought otherwise. When you get to students in middle and high school, presenting only instructional level text limits a student’s exposure to challenging materials and also throttles their learning. So what does that mean when you’re teaching literacy to students with Autism and significant disabilities?

Ever wonder about instructional text versus grade level text when teaching literacy to students with Autism and significant disabilities? We have some answers!

Dora in High School

It never fails, at least once a school year I walk into a high school classroom and see an almost adult reading a Dora or Barney book.

 

It literally makes me groan.

 

What would make anyone think a 17-year-old would want to read a Dora book? Whenever I talk about it with the teacher, the reaction is always the same. The student is reading a book that is appropriate for their “instructional reading level”.

It sounds very formal, and almost convincing… But truth be told, teachers have been holding on to the idea of instructional level text for so long- does it really apply when you’re teaching literacy to students with Autism or other significant disabilities?

 

Personally, I don’t think so.

Ever wonder about instructional text versus grade level text when teaching literacy to students with Autism and significant disabilities? We have some answers!

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