By Kodey Toney
For the Good Times
We were having family over for the holiday, so we went into super-cleaning mode at the Toney house. During all the tidying Jen found a letter from Konner's aid that he had the previous three years, Mindy Hale. She had left a "List for Konner", and I thought I would share some of the information because I think it is good to know for any parent, teacher, aide, etc. most of this will be Mindy's words.
This will probably be a two-parter since there is so much info, but I'll just start at the beginning.
"He has to have a locker on the end top! If he is in the middle it will be overwhelming and cause a meltdown." It's best for Konner if he's not crowded, pushed around, or hovered over by the other students. In fact we've tried to work out a schedule where he goes into the hall before everyone else so that he isn't overstimulated.
"He needs to have an assigned seat in every class so he knows exactly where to go each hour. He will also have a visual schedule in his locker to help." Consistency is important with children on the spectrum. He needs to know that most things are going to be the same. He also needs to know what is coming up next.
"Konner will need supplies in each classroom: pencils, paper, colors if needed, erasers, chewies (chew toys to help him stem). A seat sack (a little sack that hangs on the back of the chair) would be great to keep them in, or a special place in the room especially for him. If he has to leave the room to get something he gets upset if he misses anything." This makes the transition from each class as seamless as possible. The less he has to carry the easier it is to move through the halls.
Konner really does get upset if he misses anything, to the point that he has had a meltdown asking the teacher to start over. It's best to just avoid those situations if possible.
"Konner is also going to need a safe room in case of a meltdown. It needs to be easy to get to and a place all to himself." Konner has a small space in a separate, quite room where he can go to calm down and get ready to transition back into the classroom. An important thing to remember is that this is a "safe" room. The doors should not be closed unless it's his choice or absolutely necessary. Also, don't get this confused with the discipline area. You can't give them timeout in the safe area. It sends mixed signals.
"He will also have a reward system that will need to be in place every hour. So when he has reached a goal or has received a reward he will need a little free time to do so! (iPad, computer, or marker board)" Konner has a "star chart" that he receives a sticker each time he's doing something well. He builds up those stars until he earns a reward, as mentioned before. However, if he does something negative he has a star taken away. The point is positive reinforcement though. If he's just sitting in his seat quietly the teacher should walk by and reward him for doing the right thing. If he's working on his paper like he should he earns another star.
This is a good place to end for this week, but there is more good advice coming next week as well. I hope it helps.