Strategies In Training Autistic Employees

Researchers estimate around 50,000 young people with autism turns 18 every year. Is your organization read to train these new employees?

What is Autistic Spectrum Disorder?

Autism Spectrum Disorder is a neurological disorder that includes a wide range (spectrum) of skills, symptoms and levels of support. Although no two people are alike, characteristics may include ongoing challenges with social skills that include difficulty and interacting with others. For those on the higher end of the spectrum, characteristics may include:

  • ·         A normal to high intelligence and good verbal skills
  • ·         Trouble understanding what someone else is thinking or feeling
  • ·         Difficulty understanding non-verbal cues
  • ·         May suffer from anxiety or depression
  • ·         Strong long-term memory
  • ·         May have executive functioning difficulties 
  • ·         Being highly creative
  • ·         A high sense of justice and fairness

It is important to note that autistic employees vary in the workplace. Younger employees may have received a diagnose very early their childhood while those in their 30’s to 50’s were more than likely diagnosed as adults. Many in fact may not realize they are autistic due to lack of information during their formative years. This rings true especially for women who did not fit the typical stereotype of autism.

Challenges Training Autistic Employees

The use of idioms, sarcasm, irony, metaphors and figure of speech may be difficult since most are literal thinkers.

Due to sensory sensitivities, harsh lighting and certain smells may be intolerable.

May feel anxiety working with groups during an activity, which includes role-playing and case studies.

Discomfort with noise

Coping with the unpredictable

Strategies In Training Autistic Employees
  • ·         Structured breaks- give notice in advance
  • ·         Give visual instructions. Verbal instructions are difficult to remember
  • ·         Do not assume that the employee is not listening or paying attention
  • ·         When explaining, use explicit and concrete language
Accommodations

A diagnosis of autism also qualifies under the American Disability Act (ADA).  While some may not want to disclose their diagnosis, It’s always a good idea to make sure each person is comfortable in the training. The following are some suggestions:

  • ·         Provide advance notice of topics to be discussed if possible
  • ·         Allow employees to use items to hold such as hand-help squeeze balls 
  • ·         Allow use of a noise-cancellation headset
Tips to Remember

Some autistic employees have a history of being bullied, which for many have carried over into the workplace.  Set rules in the beginning of the training that all participants should be respected.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Resources on Teaching Scissor Skills

One of the ways to improve fine motor skills is helping children and adults develop cutting skills also help with pre-writing skills and pencil control. Below are resources that will help in developing and teaching scissor skills.

Cutting Skill Development

2 years- snips with scissors

2.5 years- Cuts across a 6-inch piece of paper

3.5 years- Cuts along a 6-inch line

4.5 years- Cuts out a circle

6-7 years- Cuts a variety of shapes and pictures.

Resources on Teaching Scissor Skills

5 easy ways to introduce scissor skills

How to teach a child to use scissors

How to use scissors

Scissor cutting skills: Why they are important

Teaching kids how to use scissors

Teaching preschoolers to use scissors

The importance of teaching your child how to use scissors

Tips for teaching scissor cutting skills

Practice Scissor Skills- The following links below include practicing cutting straight lines, curved lines and circles, zig-zag lines and mixed lines.

10-page scissor skills packet (Mama’s Learning Corner)- geared towards preschoolers and kindergartners.

12 free shapes and cutting page (www.mpmideas.com)- geared towards preschool aged children

Construction truck scissor cutting practice sheets (MO & MH)- Kids will practice cutting lines.

Cut, copy and glue for spring (Your Therapy Source)- Free 3-page packet in black and white. Includes a butterfly, ice cream cone and a snail.

Free cutting and coloring pack (Tot Schooling)- Cutting pack features straight, diagonal, curved and zig zag lines.

House scissor practice (Teaching Station)- Download free worksheets. Includes shapes of circles, squares, triangles, and rectangulars.

Printable preschool cutting busy box (Fun with Mama)- post includes ways to teach kids how to use scissors and develop cutting skills

Rocket scissor practice (Teaching Station)- Kids will practice cutting and pasting shapes to make a rocket.

Snake spiral worksheet (www.education.com)- Kids can both color and cut out the spiral design.

Trolls, hair-cutting (Tot Schooling Net)- Several different levels of difficulties.

When an Employee Has a Seizure

According to the National Epilepsy Foundation, 1 in 26 people will develop epilepsy in their lifetime. Epilepsy is a neurological disorder caused by abnormal nerve cell activity in the brain. Epilepsy involves recurring seizures.

More than 30% of people with epilepsy will experience generalized seizures.  It would not be unusual for a person to experience having a seizure in the workplace.When providing first aid for seizures, try to keep calm and make sure the person having the seizure is comfortable and safe from harm. A seizure can last from a second or several minutes.

Call 911 if:
  • The person has never had a seizure before.
  • the person has difficulty breathing or waking after the seizure.
  • The seizure lasts longer than 5 minutes.
  • The person has a seizure back-to back.
  • The person is injured during the seizure.
  • The person has an additional condition like diabetes, or heart disease.
Steps
  • Ease the person to the floor.
  • Turn the person gently onto the side (this will help the person breathe).
  • Clear the area around the person of anything hard or sharp
  • Put something soft and flat, like a folded jacket, under his or her head.
  • Loosen ties or anything around the neck including button on a shirt.
  • Time the seizure.
Familiarize Yourself With The Warning Signs 

Each person is different. Typically warning signs of a seizure may include:

  • Loss of consciousness
  • Stiffening of the body
  • Jerking of limbs
  • Slight twitching
  • A loss of awareness
Do Not:
  • Do not hold the person down or try to stop his or her movements.
  • Do not put anything in the person’s mouth. This can injure teeth or the jaw. A person having a seizure cannot swallow his or her tongue.
  • Do not try to give mouth-to-mouth breaths (CPR). People usually start breathing again on their own after a seizure.
  • Do not offer the person water or food until he or she is fully alert.

After the seizure:

After the seizure ends, the person will probably be groggy and tired. He or she also may have a headache and be confused or embarrassed. Try to help the person find a place to rest. If necessary, offer to call a taxi, a friend, or a relative to help the person get home safely.

Don’t try to stop the person from wandering unless he or she is in danger.

Don’t shake the person or shout.

Stay with the person until he or she is completely alert.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Source: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

Strategies In Training Employees with ADHD

Have you ever conducted a training with employees where you experienced a participant interrupting you while you were talking, blurting out answers before you complete your sentence or appearing not to pay attention? Chances are you may have an employee diagnosed with ADHD.

Most people think of children when they hear the word ADHD, but the fact is that ADHD can continue into adulthood and as a life-long challenge. Currently, 4.4% of the U.s adult population is diagnosed with ADHD. Of these adults, 38% are women and 62% are men.

What is ADHD?

Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common neurodevelopmental disorders which is often characterized by a pattern of inattention/or hyperactivity/impulsivity that can impact workplace learning through making careless mistakes,the inability to complete a task, staying organized and excessive talking throughout the training.

Typically, a person with ADHD, the difficulties lies in the part of the brain that allows people to perform higher level task known as the executive function. 90% of people with ADHD also have an executive function disorder. This is the part of the brain that engages in goal-direction and self-regulations.

Two Types of ADHD:

Types of ADHD

Type 1: Inattention Without Hyperactivity

  • Trouble paying attention
  • Trouble following direction
  • Trouble following through with task
  • Easily distracted
  • Seems disorganized or careless
  • Slow to process information

Type 2: Hyperactivity Without Inattention

  • Trouble paying attention
  • Restlessness
  • Impulsive speech and action
  • Excessive talking
  • Difficulty waiting turns
  • May have a quick temper
  • Overactive
Challenges Training Employees with ADHD

Workplace learning in most cases for the participant means learning new information, participating in training activities, sitting for a period of time and given direction.

  • A participant with ADHD may have difficulty in sustaining attention and remaining focused during lectures.
  • May need questions repeated
  • May have difficulty in grasping main ideas or details during the lecture.
  • Become easily distracted by both internal (day dreaming) or external (noises) stimuli.
  • May blurt out an answer before a question has been completed.
  • May have difficulty in listening in environments with noise distractions.
  • Difficulty in following through with instructions
  • May talk excessively
  • Difficulty in taking turn in a conversation.

The upside is that often when a person with ADHD is interested in a topic, they may hyperfocus, meaning they will fully participant in group discussion, and show great enthusiasm for the subject matter.

Strategies that help in training employees with ADHD include:

Telling participants what they will learn

Vary instructions- auditory alone will not be effective, participants with ADHD will need visual aids as well.

Allow for frequent breaks.

Summarize key points of the training as a way to reinforce the lesson

Create a leadership role such as assisting in setting up any training equipment and giving out training material.

When possible, alternate between physical and mental activities.

Stick to the expectation of the time. It will be difficult for the participant to sustain focus once a time of dismissal is given.

Conduct a stretching activity for the group when possible, I would sometimes include a game of “would you rather.” This works great but should tie into the theme of the training.

Tips to remember:

A diagnosis of ADHD also qualifies under the American Disabilities Act regarding workplace accommodations.

 

 

 

Free Asthma and Allergy Training Modules

Before Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month ends, I wanted to post links to free training modules on asthma and allergy. Below you will find a few that are all self-study which you can review on your own time. I included one for teachers and parents that focus on created a lesson plan for children which would be great for child with and without asthma and allergy issues.

Asthma and Nutrition Training Module– Developed by the University of Florida Pediatric Pulmonary Center, this course provides participants information on asthma and nutrition that may be used in assessing and counseling clients. This is a self-study module in a PowerPoint format with audio capture.

Asthma on Wheels Teacher Training Module– Created through the Mecklenburg County Health Department Asthma Education Program. This teacher training module provides a lesson plan to students with discussions of asthma and learning activities and list ways to educate students about asthma being a controllable condition in which students can live actively healthy lives.

Asthma Program- Indiana State Department of Health– Website includes information and resources for healthcare providers including a printable asthma medication poster and an asthma guideline implementation steps and tools.

Continuing Education for Healthcare Professionals– A free online course presented by Cross County University. This course focuses on information on assessment and monitoring, control of environmental factors, medicine management and patient education.

Food Allergy School Staff Training Module– A 30 minute module is designed to assist the school nurse in staff training and increase food allergy awareness for all staff including teachers, administration, aides, specialist and coaches.

30 Must-Know ADHD Teaching Resources

Studies show that in the United States, 6.4 million children between the ages of 4-17 have been diagnosed with ADHD. The average age of ADHD diagnosis is 7. Males are almost three times to be diagnosed with ADHD than females.

30-adhd-teaching

The DSM-V defines ADHD as a persistent pattern of attention and or hyperactivity-impulsivity that interferes with functioning of development. Inattention symptoms include the following:

  1. often fails to give close attention to details
  2. often has difficulty sustaining attention in task or play activities
  3. often does not listen when spoken to directly
  4. Often does not follow through on instructions
  5. Often has difficulty organizing task and activities often avoids, dislikes or is reluctant to engage in task that requires sustained mental effort.

Hyperactive symptoms include:

  1. trouble paying attention
  2. restlessness
  3. excessive talking
  4. loud interaction with others
  5. frequent interventions
  6. may have a quick temper

The following links provide tools, resources and information for parents and special education educators on providing support to children diagnosed with ADHD.

Accommodations

Information on classroom accommodations including teaching techniques, learning style, schedule, environment, material, assistance and behavior management.

8 easy classroom accommodations for students with ADHD( Blue Mango)

10 ways to support students with hyperactivity and attention needs  (The Starr Spangled Planner)

Accommodations for ADHD students (ADDCoach4U)

Classroom accommodations for ADHD(Understood)

Every 504 plan should include these ADHD accommodations (ADDitude)

Top 20 ADHD accommodations and modifications that work (Promoting Success Blog)

Classroom Tips and Strategies

The following links are tips and strategies that are specific to teaching techniques and helpful information on behavior approaches, rewards, eliminating distractions and seating arrangements

15 strategies to help students with ADHD (Student Savvy)

30 ideas for teaching children with ADHD (Kelly Bear)

50 practical strategies for teaching ADHD without drugs (ASCD Edge)

ADHD and piano lesson teaching strategies (Teach Piano Today)

ADD/ADHD in the classroom: Tips for teachers and parents (hsana.org)

ADHD Teaching Strategies for the Classroom( Promoting Success Blog)

Classroom interventions for ADHD (pdf)

Classroom rules that keep student’s attention on learning (Additude)

Helping the student with ADHD in the classroom (LDonline)

How can teachers help students with ADHD (Education World)

Ideas and strategies for kids with ADD and learning disabilities (Child Development Institute)

Setting up the classroom (ADD in Schools)

Supporting students with ADHD (Free Spirit Publishing)

Teaching students with ADHD: Instructional strategies and practice (U.S. Department of Education)

Tips for teaching students with ADHD(ADHD Kids Rock)

Concentration

Tips and information from websites on helping students concentrate in the classroom.

5 simple concentration building techniques for kids with ADHD (Empowering Parents)

5 ways to improve your child’s focus (Understood)

17 ways to help students with ADHD concentrate (Edutopia)

Ways to improve concentration in kids with ADHD (Brain Balance)

Executive Functioning

Executive functioning helps students analyze a task, planning, organization, time management and finishing a task. The following links provide articles on understand executive functioning and its relationship to ADHD.

Classroom strategies for executive functioning (Understood)

Executive functioning explained and 20 strategies for success (Minds in Bloom)

Executive function skills (CHADD)

Executive Functioning Issues (Understood)

Handwriting for kids with ADHD (Look! We’re Learning)

Social Skills Resources for Parents and Special Education Teachers

For some autistic children, social situations can be overwhelming and cause a great amount of anxiety. One of the characteristics of having an autism spectrum disorder is social interaction. Dr. Lorna Wing described social interaction as:

  1. not paying attention to others
  2. being aloof, distant and uninterested
  3. being alone and withdrawal
  4. difficulty in making and sustaining relationships
  5. a lack of social skills

social-skills

Social skills vary from conversation to friendship skills. The following links provides social skills resources on a variety of topics:

5 tips for running a social skills group ages 7-11. This site provides tips on increasing social skills via working in a group.

12 activities to help your child with social skills. This article by the Friendship Circle describes 12 ways to help improve social skills

101 ways to teach children social skills. Written by Lawrence Shapiro, this ready-to-use reproducible activity book (pdf) contains information on communication, being part of a group, caring about yourself, and problem solving.

Building social skills through activities. Danny Pettry created an e-book that focuses on various activities that will increase social skills for children.

Kind words sensory lesson friendship activity. This article includes information on why kind word are important through sensory play.

More tools for teaching social skills in school. Examples of role-plays, worksheets and student behavior.

Social skills activities. Free printable activity sheets on developing and practicing social skills.

Social skills lesson activities. Developed by special educator Angela Cardenos, this website includes various lessons on social skills and friendship

Social skills lessons on friends. A lesson plan and activity on identifying the qualities of a friend and naming behaviors that a friend may exhibit.

Social Skills Worksheets. This site includes printables for social skills designed to develop appropriate social skills.

Braille Teaching Resources

 braille

January is Braille Literacy Month.  Invented by Louis Braille, at the age of 15 years old while attending the National Institute for Blind Youth in Paris. Braille lost his sight during a childhood accident at the age of 4. Braille is not a language, rather it is a code that uses symbols formed within units of space that consists of six raised dots , 2 across and 3 down.

The following sites describe Braille:

Braille: Deciphering the code

Braille: What is it?

What is Braille

The following links below include resources on teaching braille:

 

braille-teaching-resources

 

Braille Teaching Resources

  1. A kitchen curriculum for the parents of visually impaired children. A functional skills curriculum for visual impaired children from infants to 12 on up.
  2. 3 tips for teaching young children with a visual impairment how to become strong readers. Kristen Smith describes ways to prepare young children for reading including creating story boxes, and using all the senses.
  3. 5 ways to teach your blind child how to use an iPad. This article includes a few demonstration via videos and an infographic.
  4. 10 strategies for teaching math to children with visual impairments. Hillary Kleck shares ten strategies for teaching math to children who are blind or visually impaired.
  5. Creating a theme for your braille classroom. Liz Eagan shares tips and suggestions on creating a braille station in the classroom.
  6. Fun ways to teach braille to partially sighted students. Game activities for students that are partially sighted braille readers.
  7. Tips for promoting braille in the classroom. A number of suggestions that give students the opportunity to explore and understand braille
  8. Ten tips to help you teach yourself braille. Wonder Baby’s article includes a braille cheat sheet and a downloadable Braille alphabet and numbers sheet.
  9. Teaching Braille Writing. Tracy Fitch outlines 5 ways to help new learners on using a braille writer.
  10. Tracking activities for pre-braille learners. Resources including a variety of tactile material that can be glued to index cards or braille paper

40 Autism Teaching Resources You Should Know About

autismteachingres

The latest estimate shows that 1 in 68 children (1 in 42 boys and 1 in 189 girls) as having autism spectrum disorder. This means that more than ever, special education teachers in order to be effective, will require additional resources and support. the following links showcase a number of blogs and information on working with children with autism.

Autism Teacher Blogs

Savvy teachers are creating and developing blogs on teaching children with autism. Many of the blogs give first -person accounts while others share classroom activities, lesson plans and classroom management.

Adventures in Flapping

Adventures in Special Education

Autism Classroom Resources

Breezy Special Ed

Special Ed Spot

Teach.Love.Autism

Teaching Special Thinkers

The Autism Adventures of Room 83

The Autism Teaching Blog

You Aut-A Know

Classroom Management

The following links discuss strategies on engaging learners and managing students in a classroom setting.

Autism and Classroom Management: Interventions that Work (Bright Hub Education)

Autism Classroom Management (Edutopia)

Classroom Management for ASD Students (Autism Investigation Project)

Classroom Management for Autistic Children

Classroom Management for Students with Autism (Amy Glade-Prezi.com)

Classroom Management in an Autism Classroom (Minds in Bloom)

Classroom Tips and Strategies

The following links are tips and strategies that are specific to teaching techniques and helpful information on setting up the classroom, data collection and scheduling.

10 Practical Tips for Classroom Aids of Autistic Children (colotraining.com)

17 Tips for Teaching High Functioning Students with Autism (gadoe.org)

22 Tips for Teaching Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (Monster.com)

Inclusion Strategies for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders (Learn NC)

Teaching Students in Inclusive Classrooms (Child-autism-Parent-Café)

Tips for Teaching Students with Autism (Scholastic)

Tips for Working with Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (Project Independence)

Tips for Working with Autistic Children (Love to Know)

Teaching College Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (Faculty Focus)

Teaching Tips for Children and Adults with Autism (Temple Grandin)

Social Skills Lessons

Articles, tips and lesson plan information on social skills development

5 Tips for Running a Social Skills Group Ages 7-11 (Super Power Speech)

How Are My Social Skills? Checklist. (PDF)

How I Use the Social Thinking Curriculum to Teach Flexible Thinking (The Autism Vault Blog)

How to Run a Social Skills Group (Speech and Language Kids)

Social Skills Activities for Kids with Autism (Love to Know)

Social Skills Training Groups (Autism Speaks, PowerPoint Presentation)

Tips for Teaching Social Skills When it does Not Come Easy (Lemon Lime Adventures)

Classroom set-up

12 Tips for Setting up an Autism Classroom (Principal Kendrick’s Blog)

Seven Steps for Setting up a Stellar Autism Classroom (The Autism Helper)

Life Skills

Developing Life Skills: How to Teach a Skill (TACA)

Life Skills for Children and Teens with Autism (North Shore Pediatric Therapy)

Social Life on the Spectrum (Autism after 16)

Teaching Important Life Skills (Autism Speaks)

Teacher Resource Sites

The following sites are great resources specifically for teachers working with children with autism. Many of the sites include free downloads and other resources including curriculums, lesson plans and data collection.

Autism Educators

A resource for teachers, therapist and parents including a free IEP goal bank, parent resources and an assortment of tools and resources on a variety of topics. Autism Educators, Inc. is currently offering a Teacher’s Wish List promotion.

Autism Teaching Tools

This site includes information for individuals with autism and other developmental disorders. Links include information on topics such as toys and games, curriculum management and child safety just to name a few.

Cindy’s Autistic Support

This site contains free resources on lesson plans on a variety of topics including data collection, seasonal, inclusion for teachers and life skills. A great site for parents, therapist and teachers.

Educate Autism

Downloadable printables on topics relating to body parts, colors, data recording, handwriting and emotions.

National Autism Resources

Provides therapeutic tools and resources for individuals on the autism spectrum.

Positively Autism

A resource website for parents, therapist and teachers. Resources include information on fine motor, structured task, social skills, and at home.

Practical Autism Resources

Provides more than 100 pages of free printable items.

The Autism Helper

An autism blog created by Sasha Long, a board certified behavior analysis and certified special education teacher.

Do you know of any links and resources not listed? if so, please send an email to: specialneedsresourceblog@gmail.com and we will add them to the list.