Education / Classroom

Education can be a challenge for those with ASD and their parents. This section includes topics like: back to school tips for parents and teachers; easy strategies for inclusive classrooms; and how to advocate for your child at school.

Autism Awareness Centre Inc. Celebrates 16 Years

June 2019 marks Autism Awareness Centre’s 16th anniversary. When I co-founded this company in 2003, my children were 4 and 6 years old. I was only four years in to the autism journey. Today my children are 20 and 22, young adults. So much has changed in the autism field these past 16 years. Some of our biggest advancements have…

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A Viewpoint on Token Economies

Bo Hejlskov Elvén is a Swedish clinical psychologist and author of several books on challenging behavior. He is also part of the Studio 3 Low Arousal Approach group. You may have heard Bo present at one of our Canadian conferences in Vancouver, Halifax, or Edmonton. Bo has a wonderful website where he blogs in English on a variety of topics…

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For those of us with ASD children, becoming autism “experts” is a survival skill

It’s not often that I write about personal issues I am facing with either of my children on the autism spectrum, but this struggle has to be told because I would hate to see other parents go through what we have for the past 3 months.

Our daughter, Julia, has been in an inclusive setting since kindergarten. We have been fortunate in our choice of school because class sizes has been relatively small, the teachers have been accommodating and caring, Julia has been with the same supportive peer group since kindergarten, and she has had the same aide since the first day of school. Even with a severe coding for her disability, her aide support has been gradually reduced from all day in kindergarten, to 2 pm daily for grades 1 – 2, and down to mornings only from grades 3 – 6.

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Great Expectations – Starting the School Year Off Right

September is here which means the start of a new school year. Great expectations and high hopes abound. Maybe your child is going to a new school this year or attending school for the first time. Parents and children can feel both excited and anxious. How can you make this year a successful one? What is both reasonable and attainable this school year?

At Home

  • To make mornings a little less stressful, lay clothes out the night before, make lunches and check agendas for communication, forms etc.
  • If your child has trouble waking up, set the alarm 15 minutes earlier than needed to allow time to rise.
  • Post a visual schedule or checklist where your child can see it to know what needs to be done before leaving in the morning – bathroom routines, packing a backpack, dressing etc.
  • Be cautious about overscheduling with extra-curricular activities. For many children with ASD, it takes great energy to cope with the school day and down time can be needed after school. Look at alternative ideas such as one day events or weekend activities for things to do.
  • Decide if your child will do homework or not. If you decide to do homework, assign a quiet spot where it can be done and a regular time in the schedule.
  • Create some visual organizers for items that have to go back and forth to school. This could be a basket or bin by the front door.

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Supporting Executive Function in Children With Autism (Part 2)

As was outlined in the last post, executive function disorder affects many of those with autism in ways that can make tasks that most of us find quite simple, very challenging. Laura Munoz, an occupational therapist in Nelson BC, supports many children on the spectrum to develop executive function (EF) skills. When asked what she thinks is the biggest learning…

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Inclusion at school: new study finds that public school may reinforce negative self image for those with autism

Inclusionary measures for those with disabilities in the public educational system have become far more widespread in the last few decades. With more understanding and support at the public school level and programs like Sesame Street developing characters with autism, we have come a long way to creating inclusion for those who don’t fit the mold. Continuing to educate our society as…

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Back to School with Autism – Elation or Deflation?

Most parents have mixed feelings about sending their children back to school. The relaxed schedule of the summer is suddenly gone and evenings become hectic with homework, extra-curricular activities, making lunches and getting clothes ready for the next day. On the other hand, it can be a relief to get back into routines and a scheduled day. Most parents need a break from their children by the end of the summer.

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Story PALS: How Reading to a Dog Gave My Daughter a Voice

My daughter, Julia, and I discovered a public library program called Story PALS back in 2009. The program is designed for reluctant readers ages 6 – 12. A child comes to the library and reads aloud to a dog once a week to make them less anxious about reading aloud in front of people. The dogs come from an organization called…

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Gunilla Gerland: 5 Secrets to Success for Professionals in the Autism Field

While at the Autism Europe Conference, I had the great pleasure of listening to Swedish lecturer Gunilla Gerland  speak about being a professional in the autism field. Having grown up with Asperger Syndrome in an unsympathetic environment, she had great insights. She wrote a book called Secrets to Success for Professionals in the Autism Field. Gunilla talked about essential tools…

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How expanding interests helps those with ASD – The LILA Principle

Over the years, I have tried to expand my children’s interests to help them increase knowledge, keep their lives interesting, and to foster growth. This has also been an educational goal in both school and home therapy programs. My son Marc, now 19, has a great range of interests that has broadened beyond ceiling fans and Thomas the Tank Engine.…

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Tips To Teach Whole Body Listening: It’s a Tool Not a Rule

Adapted from an article by: Elizabeth Sautter, MA, CCC-SLP Phrases like “pay attention” and “listen carefully” ring out in classrooms across the country. Moms, dads, and other caregivers can be heard saying some version of these same words to children everywhere. Paying attention and listening to others are not only considered essential for social communication, but also for learning to be…

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