Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Take A Look, It's In A Book

Ok, so we have sensory therapy on Mondays and speech on Wednesdays. Then, OT on Fridays, or is it speech on Mondays and OT on Wednesdays. With all the therapy it takes to help a child with Autism it’s tough enough keeping up with where you’re supposed to be. However, it is also important to know what’s going on in those sessions. Each therapist has valuable information on things they are working on that you can use when you get home. Your teachers at school can also help you to understand what you need to work on. We have found that a communication notebook is a great way to keep up with his busy schedule.

The notebook can be used for many different reasons. The most important is knowing what each therapist is doing with your child, but it can also be used as a checking system to make sure that you, the child, the teacher, and the therapists are on the right track.

Let’s start by looking at what is inside Konner’s Notebook. I’m just going to go through our notebook with you in the order that we have it set up. If you’re doing one yourself you can change things to an order that helps you. We just used a three ring binder and some section pages with labels. The forms are easy to find online for free, or you can make your own specifically for your child. Make sure that you save the forms so you can print more later.

The first section is a parent section. This part is filled out by either my wife or me. This is broken down by day so that we can share what Konner has done on the weekend, Monday, Tuesday, etc. This information includes meltdowns, what sparked the meltdown, if he’s having a good day, if he did something special that night, or anything that you want to share with the therapist to show good and bad behavior.

The second section we have is for teachers. The teacher takes five minutes at the end of the day to write down what his behavior was like through the day. This helps us know what kind of day he had, what we need to do for discipline when he gets home, or if we just need to talk about proper behavior in the classroom. It also helps us to work with the teacher to adjust his classroom modifications. Our list includes who he played with through the day, so we can see if he is developing social skills. We also have a section for meltdowns letting us know what he was doing when the meltdown occurred, how long it lasted, and what was used to stop it. Konner has an aide in class to help out, and she usually fills this out so that the busy teacher can concentrate on the 15 or 20 other students she has.

The next two sections are similar because they are for his therapists. There is a section for occupational therapy and one for speech therapy. If you have sensory therapy or physical therapy you could add those as well. These sections include a space for the date, and the objective or activity performed that day. This will help you know what they are working on, and you can carry this over to the home. There is also a space for comments so they can let you know the child has had a good or bad session, and why or why not.

We’ve also added our mileage voucher forms so that the therapists can sign off on those. You could include any verification forms that you need.

The next section we have includes the evaluation from the psychologist. This is included in ours so that the therapists, teachers, administrators, and anyone else that needs it can read it. We take this notebook to our Individualized Education Plan (IEP) meetings, and this has come in handy during those. However, some may not feel comfortable with this information readily available for just anybody to see, so you may want to leave this section out.

We have also included a section for our IEP. This is a reference point for the teachers, aides, administrators, and parents easily available in the notebook.

There is a section for a behavior plan if you child has one, and extra forms in the back. We also try to keep extra pencils or pens.

During the summer this book is carried with us to all the therapies to help us keep track of what we’ve been working on.  However, we always try to ask the therapists what they have been working on anyway to keep up good communication with them and help understand what we need.

During the school year this book seems to be more important. We keep it in Konner’s backpack, and, because he receives most of his therapy at school, it’s a good way to keep up communications with the therapists and other advocates that we don’t see on a regular basis. It is also a way to make sure he’s receiving the therapy he’s supposed to. This is why dates are important.

It’s important that no matter what you use this as a tool to help you at home. You have to work at home with your child. The therapists may tell you what they are doing and why, but they only get an hour or two a week with them, the rest is up to you.

Disclaimer: I am in no way claiming to be an expert. I’m just a father who is trying to learn as much about Autism as I can to help my child. I hope that you all can learn from me, and I from you. I ask anyone who has questions or comments about something I have written, or autism, please contact me at I will try to answer questions as I have time, and if I find it interesting enough I may touch on it in my column.

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