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.

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.

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.

We’ve got a Runner! A closer look at elopement and wandering for students with Autism.

Elopement and Autism

Elopement and Autism

When I used to hear the word ‘Elopement’ I thought of two lovers running off to get hitched… but having been in Autism Units and LIFE Skills classrooms for so long ‘Elopement’ means something different. It means something that’s downright scary.

We’ve got a Runner! A closer look at elopement and wandering for students with Autism.

And it is downright scary when you look up and realize one of your students has wandered away or “eloped” the sense of panic that engulfs you is petrifying. Just downright scary.

It is also exhausting when you have to constantly stand in front of a door or always block a student from running (like out the door and into traffic). Just downright exhausting.

So what do you do? How do you get some control back when studies suggest nearly half of student with Autism wander or elope? Well, here are a few helpful tips and strategies…

How to find and implement replacement behavior for hitting while working with students with Autism or Significant Disabilities PLUS FREE Data Sheet!

Replacement Behavior for Hitting

Replacement Behavior for Hitting

I’m getting the crap beat out of me. Help!

So, unfortunately, this is an actual conversation that I’ve had recently. It’s hard to get up every morning and go to work when you know you are going to get hurt.

So what should you do?

Where do you even start?

How to find and implement replacement behavior for hitting while working with students with Autism or Significant Disabilities PLUS FREE Data Sheet!

4 Steps to Replace Hitting Behavior

The good news is you can change Behavior. The bad news is it’s going to take a little while. So, first things first, here are the four steps to changing Behavior.

  1. Defining the Behavior
  2. Collecting Data
  3. Determining the Function
  4. Designing the Behavior Plan

It seems like such a no brainer, but when you are sitting in a classroom getting the snot smacked out of you all day long it gets hard to think things through logically. The only thing running through your head is how to make it all stop.

So let’s break down these four steps a little more.
How to find and implement replacement behavior for hitting while working with students with Autism or Significant Disabilities PLUS FREE Data Sheet!

HELP- What do for my Autistic Student who licks everything? Practical Tips and Tricks.

Autistic Student Licks Everything


Autistic Student Licks Everything

“My autistic student has licking habits.

She licks everything.

Everything means books, paper, plastic, the ground… all.

How should I teach her?”

    -M. Basel

HELP- What do for my Autistic Student who licks everything? Practical Tips and Tricks.

 

It can be a real challenge when students present behaviors that are extreme or that really cross the divide of what is socially acceptable.
Licking everything is one of those…

And having a student who licks everything is actually just a version of stimming behavior that’s so typical in students with autism. There’s no way for you to just expect a student with this type of behavior to suddenly stop. Instead what you will have to do is redirect the behavior into something more acceptable and also more hygienic.

Why Do Kids with Autism Kids Do That? Plus Teacher Tips to Help!

Why Do Kids with Autism Do That?

Why Do Kids with Autism Do That?

I have seen the power struggle first hand. A teacher, thinking they are doing the right thing and wanting to be in charge of a classroom, tells a kid with Autism to take their hands off their ears and work on an assignment in front of them. They students doesn’t comply. The teacher tries to coax or plead or force compliance… and they don’t succeed.

Why Do Kids with Autism Kids Do That? Plus Teacher Tips to Help!

The question is, why do kids with Autism do that?

I think if teachers really thought about the answer to that question, they would address students in the classroom differently and really pick their battles.

 

I used to work with a boy whose Autism presented pretty severely. He was nonverbal, had a lot of repetitive behavior, including rocking, and he nearly always had his hands over his ears. When a hand was needed to do something, he would press his shoulder to his ear and use that instead. I had a new paraeducator working with me over a summer session and the first day she really insisted he put his hands down. He would do it for just seconds and then his hands would return to his shoulders. I told her to let him leave his hands there and she asked Why? Why does he do that.

 

Do you wonder too?

 

Read on!

Teaching Students with Echolalia- Practical tips for getting authentic speech.

Teaching Students with Echolalia

Teaching Students with Echolalia

Talking to someone who repeats back everything that you say is tough.

Teaching them is tougher… so what can you do when you are teaching students with Echolalia and Autism?

Read on, and be sure to get your free printable!

 

Teaching Students with Echolalia- Practical tips for getting authentic speech.

Echolalia… Echolalia

Picture this… me teaching in elementary school during the early years of my career. I came out of alternative certification and had no idea about really working with students who have profound and severe disabilities. The section on those kids is super short… and really impractical, so I was winging it. Meet Johnny (not his real name) who was a very classically Autistic kid with severe social and communication deficits. He was smart, sometimes violent… and he educated me on Autism in a very hands on way. So, this was our snack time in the beginning:

Me: “Johnny, what do you want for snack?”

Johnny: “Snack.”

Me: “Johnny, do you want cookies?”

Johnny: “Cookies.”

Me: “Johnny, do you want an apple or cookies?”

Johnny: “Cookies.”

Me: “Here Johnny, here’s your cookies.”

Johnny: Throws cookies all over the place and proceeds to flip the table.

Me: *Sigh*

 

Sound familiar? If you are teaching in an Autism unit I know you have been there. So what do you do? How do you even start? First, what is Echolalia?