We can all agree — we want our children to learn and enjoy their education. Because of our children’s needs, we need to be EXTRA thoughtful, creative, and helpful to teachers. Children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) have different reactions to environments. Sometimes they are OVER-STIMULATED and sometimes, UNDERSTIMULATED.
Each child is different! Creating a short cheat sheet is a great way to teach others about your child’s needs –when it is too much or not enough! No one knows your child like you do!
When Your Child is Under-Stimulated
Often children can feel UNDER-STIMULATED especially in the classroom! Things they may do to get more stimulation are:
- Looking out the window
- Frequently leaving their seat
- Talking out
- Tapping pencils
Your child maybe saying — YOU GOT IT! “I need MORE STIMULATION!”
So let’s give him more stimulation to increase focus and learning without disrupting the class!
Check Out The Following Ideas For Increasing Stimulation:
1. I Like to Move It Move It!
Fun Movement breaks for the WHOLE class throughout the school day. Movement breaks should only last 23 minutes and occur several times a day — more often for the little ones. Lots of stimulation + super fun time = ATTENTION & LEARNING.
- Act like your favorite animal
- Silly stretch to music
- Spin like an airplane
- 2-minute dance party
- Draw and guess
2. Talking about interests
Usually children diagnosed with ASD have REALLY strong interests such as a certain video game or animal. Give them a minute (timed) to talk about their interest after completing part of an assignment or making it through a transition. SUPER DUPER FUN!
3. Wiggle seat
The Isokinetics Inc.’s disc is a REALLY COOL wiggle seat! It fits right on a chair and provides stimulation that helps INCREASE ATTENTION. A child can even stand on it when needed! http://www.amazon.com/Isokinetics-Brand-Exercise-Balance-Cushion/dp/B000WQ4Z94/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1454860333&sr=8-5&keywords=wiggle+seat
4. Homemade interest puzzle
Print out a picture and cut it in pieces to make a simple puzzle! Break up an assignment into sections. For each section completed, give your child a piece of the puzzle. Learning is so fun!
5. The MotivAider
Love, love, love this thing! The MotivAider looks like a little pager. It VIBRATES to get your child back on track.
6. Fun Balloon fidget!Dig in and do it your way — DIY-style. Fill a balloon with sand, rice or playdough and enjoy
7. Chewable pencil toppers
These cool pencil toppers double as chews and fidgets. Chomp! http://www.amazon.com/GoGoChews-Chewable-Toppers-5-EXCLUSIVE-Sensory/dp/B01714DXYW/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1454860224&sr=8-2&keywords=fidget+chew+pencil+toppers
8. Fidget pencil toppers
Fantastic fidgets to increase stimulation. My favorite? The wing nuts!
9. Chubes chew necklace
By far my favorite chew necklace! Get the stimulation your child needs while having both hands free for academic work and fun. YAY!
10. Standing during school work
A simple way to stay on task is to stand instead of sit!
When Your Child is OVER-STIMULATED
Often children can feel OVER-STIMULATED especially when there is TOO MUCH going on in the classroom or other places in school. Things they may feel/do –
- Covering their ears
- Covering their nose
- Covering their eyes/blinking
Your child maybe saying — “I need LESS STIMULATION!”
Check Out These Ideas For Decreasing Stimulation:
1. Picture or Written Schedule
What would happen if you walked out a door and had no clue where you were supposed to go? How would you feel if everyone around you was busy and knew what to do but you had no idea? Stressful? Right! These are some examples of how to decrease anxiety when a child is stressed and over-simulated –
- Morning routine schedule including hanging up his/her coat and backpack
- Seat work instructions
- Class schedule so your child sees when a less preferred activity will be over and a more preferred activity will start. Because writing feels like it will never end!
2. Give one to two step instructions at a time
When a child is given several instructions at a time, they may become over-whelmed! They are more likely to be unsuccessful because they don’t know what to do first. What if they only complete one step out of three? They are LIKELY to get in trouble for not following through with all three steps. They are less likely to get praise for the one step they did complete. Don’t forget to give one to two steps at a time and PRAISE for all steps completed.
Noise can be really tough! Pencil tapping, humming, shuffling papers, squeaky shoes and the list goes on! Headphones can be helpful in decreasing tough noises and helping your child stay on-track.
4. Plan ahead!
Planning ahead is important! If your child has a really tough time during pep rallies, do they really need to go? Would reading in the library be a better choice? Can they take a break outside prior to a scheduled fire drill?
5. Cozy corner or safe place
Sometimes the classroom can become too much! Consider making a corner with a bean bag and comfortable pillows for a short break.
6. Weighted lap pad
Weighted lap pads are fantastic! The pad is placed over your child’s lap and helps them to feel calm at their seat and during circle time!
I recommend these ideas and products because I think they are awesome. I am neither an affiliate of these companies nor do I receive a fee for the links above. Always consult with a physician prior to using a product or starting a new treatment plan. For example, if your child has medical needs, you may want to consult with his/her pediatrician prior to having them stand during academic work. Make sure to check the integrity of the products (daily) to ensure they are working properly. For example, if there is a tear in a chew, throw it away, my FRIENDS!
Holly Blanc Moses is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst, Licensed Professional Counselor, and Licensed Psychological Associate with 17 years’ experience. Specialties include diagnostic evaluation and treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorder, treatment of anxiety, ADHD, impulsivity, social skills deficits, depression, aggression, self-injurious behavior, and self-help skills such as toileting. She has published numerous research articles and is a frequent presenter on topics such as learning, challenging behavior, ADHD, autism, and parenting stress.
This article was featured in Issue 46 – The Time for Acceptance