- Good Practices
A pupil with ASD - AS in a mainstream primary school in Warsaw
The practice is about an 11-year-old boy who manifests a series ASD - as symptoms (Autism Spectrum Disorder - Asperger syndrome), communication and attention deficits, impulsive behaviour, including aggressive. It is overbearing - it works on its own terms. The boy has difficulties with a calm end of the business, and he reacts with anger inadequate. He has difficulty in understanding and feeling different emotions, such as sadness, compassion, shame and guilt.
In our school (one of the largest primary schools not only in Warsaw but also in Poland), such children usually attend so called integrated classes where in the classroom there is always an assistant who works with children with special educational needs. In addition, a child diagnosed with autism has a special assistant called a "shadow" (usually a psychologist). The child receives maximum support and assistance not only during lessons but also during breaks.
- Included in school/society, Pupil well-being, Social communication
- Students age range:
- Curriculum area:
- Not related
- Year period:
- All year long
- Step by step description, including actions to be developed for preparation and implementation:
- A boy with autism spectrum disorders and Asperger syndrome, communication deficits, with disrupted non-verbal communication; acting on his own terms, overbearing, with a low threshold of frustration, with impulsive behaviours, including aggressive ones. He exceeds boundaries in social relations, has difficulties with quiet ending of activities; he reacts with inadequate anger. The boy has difficulty in feeling and understanding various emotions, such as regret, compassion, shame and guilt. Periodic behaviour interfered with dysphoric reactions (state of anxiety and dissatisfaction). Disturbed intuitive thinking, disturbed theory of mind. The boy attends an integrated class and is supported by a "shadow" (psychologist) that stays with him all the time in school. The specialist helps the student to function both in the classroom and outside it. During the lesson, the boy is assisted by a teacher's assistant. The student attends special lessons called revalidation, where he learns social skills. The main goal of the course is to minimize the tension that arises in different social situations, building positive relationships in the peer group and learning to spend time with colleagues. Due to the boy's difficulties in establishing contacts, maintaining relationships and understanding, teachers and school specialists must support the student in this regard. Here are some tips formulated by shool specialists to support the boy with autism spectrum disorders and Asperger syndrome. Methods of working with the boy: TUS (Social Skills Training), building non-reactive relationships and behavioral methods; strengthening positive behaviors: motivational plan, day plan, stages of progress (a special graph with an increase in the score for good behavior and progress). The student influences his plans and rewards (number and type of points, etc.). There is no direct punishment for inappropriate behaviour. The lack of reward is a kind of punishment . During revalidation classes with school specialists (school teacher, school psychologist and "shadow"): The boy learns to follow the norms and principles of functioning in the group: - he learns the components of social messages (intonation, voice, gesture, content of statements, position in a group, context, body posture, personal space ...), - learns proper behaviour in different situations, - learns to read non-verbal messages (facial expression, body position, gesticulation, voice), - learns to respond appropriately in typical situations, - learns to recognize and name emotional states - both his own and the emotions of other people, and learns the ways of showing them in a way accepted by others, - learns and consolidates polite phrases, also through practical exercises. It is very important to individualize the requirements and methods of work depending on his current difficulties (deficits). At the same time, his strengths should be taken into account and strengthened by specialists. The boy's educational success depends on understanding his problems by teachers, educators, "shadow" teachers, their patience, tolerance for difficult behaviour, understanding and acceptance of the fact that a student with autism will require more support and commitment from the teacher than his healthy peers. A very important aspect in improving the student's functionalities are activities and duties adapted to his current psychophysical state - both at school and at home. The tasks facing the team of teachers include not only supporting the boy in the teaching process and adapting teaching methods to his needs, but also ensuring his social integration in class and school. In contact with the boy, it is important to support him, be friendly and consistent at the same time and predictable attitude of teachers. Work and proper control of emotions are necessary. Detailed instructions for the teacher while working with the child. Organization of classes (mainly by "shadow"): 1. At the beginning of the school year, the student should be thoroughly familiar with the topography of the school - know exactly where the rooms are located. The new environment and new situations may cause anxiety and fear, which is why they should be foreseen (plan the day). 2. Keep an appropriate work schedule (schedule of the day, schedule, classes) and stability of activities and places. The boy works better when he knows the schedule and when he is not surprised by any changes. 3. If new situations appear (change of routine activities or day plan, for example a trip, going to the cinema), the boy must be informed about this and should receive information about the expected behaviour. It is a good idea to present a plan of the day both orally and in a written form. A student can have such a plan on his desk or in a pencil case. Supporting the boy in the sphere of contacts and social skills: - help in the careful selection of colleagues, which can improve his social skills and help him to make friends; - encouraging and supporting student participation in simple group activities, games; - teaching appropriate phrases to initiate and support conversations; - observation and assistance in case of difficulties in social contacts by discussing the situation, indicating behaviors that would be appropriate in it, finding a solution and indicating how to avoid similar problems in the future; - developing the student's ability to read emotions using appropriate drawings, photographs, video recordings of facial expressions and gestures, cartoon stories in which he must complete the facial expression or write down what the person is thinking or feeling; - in the case of endesirable behaviour, do not ask questions such as: "Why did you do it?" name his emotions and say what is expected in such a situation; - when the emotional tension is increased, make sure that the boy is excluded from the stressful situation, find a place that gives him a sense of security. Supporting the boy by class teachers (in different subjects): - in a situation of anger and excitement, isolate the boy for the necessary time and give him a chance to relax and calm down. A good solution is a separate room to calm down; - do not intervene when his teacher "shadow" is with the boy because it can cause unnecessary student anxiety and impulsive reactions; - check if the child is experiencing aggression from other people; - in a situation of growing emotions in a boy, withdraw and let him calm down; - in case of naughty behaviour of the boy, analyze the situation and recognize what caused bad behaviour; - do not be offended, even if you hear a very unpleasant thing from a boy or when you feel an unpleasant situation. The boy badly tolerates noise and excess stimuli. In such situations: - try to leave the boy in a quiet place; - minimize background noise, eliminate annoying sounds for the boy; - periodically release a child from physical education classes, during which there is noise, also from exercises and team games (if necessary). Develop communication skills and language understanding: - encourage the student to enrich the language with the thesaurus (synonims); - let the student keep his own dictionary of concepts and new terms related to the training (if he wants to); - explain metaphors and ambiguous words; - use a simple and unambiguous language: avoid irony, jokes, metaphors (they can cause unnecessary confusion, anxiety, fear); - remember that due to the boy's difficulty in correct understending non-verbal signals, every facial expression and gesture should be supported by verbal information. Supporting concentration and attention of the boy: - make sure that the boy's environment has the least distracting (visual, auditory) stimulus - there should only be items needed for work on the desk; - the boy should be away from possible sound sources, back to the window (the window can be covered with a blind); - check if he understands the command; explain, ask questions, motivate to further work, recall his attention when he is distracted; - if the child has problems with the tasks performed during the lesson, divide them into shorter parts; - when the boy is not responding to commands issued to the whole class or to do homework, say his name, repeat the command, check if he knows what to do and wait for him to start working; - when you give commands, use short sentences, make sure the instructions are clear; - encourage the boy, if necessary, repeat, simplify the command; - set a smaller number of tasks to be carried out; - extend the test time if the student's work pace is slow and does not follow the rest of the class; - make sure that the necessary information (for example homework, test date) is written down by the boy in the notebook. Student's motivational plan, the purpose of which is to improve the social functioning of the boy. The motivational plan includes a few rules (optimally 3-5), which are often chosen by the student (from different rules he learned during revalidation classes). Then he has the impression that they were invented by himself. Among the introduced rules is only one or two, over which the student must work. The rest of the rules from a given week is much easier, even known to the boy. This gives the boy a sense of success and strengthens his motivation to work. Once a topic has been successfully developed - then the plan is modified. The controlled principle (rule) remains in the plan so that the boy can do it well. The student influences what appears in his plan. That is why the boy has the feeling that this plan is his own plan, prepared only for him; a plan that is individualized for his needs. The numbers (points), the scoring scale are agreed with the student. The calculation of the average result from the lessons, from day to day, is done together with the "shadow". Placing the colour of the quality is the task of the student - thanks to this he learns the right insight into his skills, condition and appropriate criticism (he is often more critical towards himself than his "shadow" teacher). The motivation plan allows the teacher to monitor and evaluate the student's progress and deficits. Different weeks and even months are compared by the "shadow" and the boy.
- Resources to be used, including human resources, materials and spaces:
- A school team consisting of school counselors (pedagogues) and psychologists, class teachers, teacher assistants and "shadows" meet at the beginning of the school year to in order to elaborate and develop the ways and methods of working with students presenting autism and other special educational needs. They discuss "cases" and formulate the tips in a document called Individual educational and therapeutic program, saying how to work with those students. The school specialists also support their parents; they discuss the problems and help to solve them. The whole process is directed by the headteacher. Working materials, meeting room, classrooms, books, notebooks, crayons, IT equipment, stamps.
- Difficulties found while implementing it:
- Sometimes there is a problem with employing a good, devoted psychologist with proper qualifications who would like to work as a "shadow". In addition, we encounter difficulties in cooperation with some parents. Not all parents are ready to get involved into the process. Some are willing to take part in all activities carried out their child; whereas, some of them do not want to participate. Many of them come to meetings only from time to time. In the case of the 11-year-old boy, there is a problem with his parents who do not follow the rules and tips (guidelines) formulated by school specialists. What is more, the boy should take medicine, but his mother does not always give him the necessary pills. Moreover, there is a problem with good and proper communication with the boy's mother.
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