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5 Ways to Maintain Positive Communication with Teachers

Let’s take a moment to pat ourselves on the back for making it through the first month of school we did it! As a parent of a child with autism, it’s especially important to maintain positive and continued communication with teachers. There are so many day-to-day happenings that are important for both parents and teachers to know about. Here are some helpful ways to maintain a strong relationship with your child’s teacher.

    1. Ask for their preferred method of contact. This is important. The last thing anyone wants to happen is to find out you’ve been writing emails to someone who never checks their inbox —  yikes! Asking them for the best way to reach them from the beginning can clear up any confusion early on.
    2. Try to communicate outside of Individualized Education Plan (IEP) meetings. IEP meetings are a great way for teachers, parents and therapists (if your child has one who comes to school) to sit down and review the child’s progress and where they need improvement. However, sometimes things can’t wait to be shared at the next IEP meeting. Setting up meeting times in-between IEP meetings can help parents, teachers and the child tremendously.
    3. Be respectful. As a parent of a child with autism, your child’s needs are evident. A teacher can have many other students in the same classroom with varying needs. We need to respect that our child is not the only one in the equation. Trust that the teacher is doing the best they can to not only meet your child’s needs, but those of their peers.
    4. Give them your tips. A child can have many teachers and faculty come in and out of their life. Communicating your tips and tricks to your child’s specific needs can be a tremendous help. Also, it may give you some relief that the teacher is going to use the same techniques that you do at home. Consistency in the life of your child with autism can be beneficial to them.
    5. Remember: This is a team effort. Everyone involved wants to see your kiddo succeed. Knowing what they do at home can help the teacher throughout the school day — and knowing what they did at school can help you at home. With effort being shown and communicated on both sides, you can expect to see some positive results this school year.

 

 

We are all busy. Sometimes, maintaining communication with a teacher can’t fit into your schedule. We totally get it. But occasionally using and sticking to a few of these methods can make a difference in the school year. We already conquered one month, so here’s to a happy and healthy nine more! #autismawarenesseveryday

How We Help: Navigating Children Who Are Non-Verbal

Diagnosis autism! The diagnosis itself is is certainly a sliding scale. Your child may face varying challenges and varying degrees of those challenges depending where they land on the spectrum. We understand the difficulty of wrapping your head around the shock, especially when it pertains to someone you love! Coupled with acceptance of the diagnosis is an added layer …children who are non-verbal.

Merriam-Webster defines non-verbal behavior as communication “involving minimal use of spoken language”. One common misconception about non-verbal communication is that the person is deaf. A majority of children with autism can understand those who are verbally communicating with them, but have difficulty mirroring what they think and feel in a spoken way. There is no clear-cut formula to “cure” non-verbal tendencies, but that is where we come in. We offer a list of techniques and strategies to help teachers and parents communicate with their non-verbal kiddos in a way they understand and can mirror the communication.

Cayer Behavioral Group offers the following resources to teachers and parents who love and educate those who are non-verbal.

  • Tools to learn: Sign Language. Sign Language is a wonderful way for kids who are non-verbal to communicate their wants and needs. We provide parents and teachers with resources to learn the basics of sign-language so they and the students can communicate.

  • Tools to teach: Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) devices. AAC devices include flashcards, tablets, or computers to convey thoughts, feelings, and emotions. Pictures, interactive games, and voice help children with autism overcome barriers. These devices can rapidly increase the child’s brain stimulation by using pictures, interactive games and voice to make communication easier and fun for everyone involved! Cayer Behavioral Group assists teachers with the use of these devices and how to implement them into the child’s Individualized Education Plan (IEP).

  • Tools to implement: The Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS). PECS gives children who are non-verbal the opportunity to communicate using a series of pictures. Children, adolescents and adults using PECS are taught to approach another person and give them a picture of a desired item in exchange for that item. This way, the “speaker” appropriately and effectively initiates communication.

  • Apps: There are many apps available to parents and educators. The primary objective across these tools is to increase reciprocal communication between kids living with autism and those who aren’t. A few apps available to children with autism are:

  1. Bag Game: This game is a spin-off of 20 questions, but with pictures instead! It is perfect for social skills and playing with peers because each individual playing chooses  their own level of difficulty. Verbal description, auditory memory, and question-asking are a few of the many skills that this app can help improve.
  2. Learn with Rufus: This app uses a child-friendly character to teach emotion words, facial expressions associated with emotions! Using this app can help someone who communicates non-verbally to appropriately convey their emotions through expressions and understand others’ non-verbal communication.
  3. Articulation Station: Just as it’s titled, this app assists with articulation. Images are used to represent target words. Kids can practice words, phrases, sentences, and stories all in one place!
  4. Grid Player: This app allows users to create sentences and hear them spoken. Each “grid” contains a sentence starter (adjective, noun, verb, etc).  “Grids” are also animated with pictures. The animation paired with the written word allows the child or adult using the app to recognize the action or item they want to communicate, place them in contextual order, and hear it played out loud!
  5. Baby Sign and Learn: Please don’t be fooled by “baby” in the title of this app. It is fun for all ages! The app provides images that correlate with Sign Language. Then, a character in the game demonstrates the sign for that particular image. It provides a fun and easy way to learn with your non-verbal loved ones!

Verbal communication is always the primary goal as it is and will be the most preferred method of communication worldwide. However, all is definitely not lost if your little one with autism best communicates through sign, an augmentative communication device or PECS. Hang in there parents! Dreaming new dreams and finding your new normal is often an uphill battle but keep in mind: “normal” is nothing but a dryer setting. You got this! #autismawarenesseveryday

 

Homework and Task Strategies

Having a child sit down and focus on homework after a long day at school can be an uphill battle. Kids with autism often have more problems at homework time than their peers. Please, have no fear. Cayer Behavioral Group is here to help you and your child get through homework scotch-free!

Before starting, make sure the homework assignment is understood by your child. Having clear instructions outlined (in tiny steps) may make a world of difference when they are trying to understand the purpose of their homework. Also, make sure the homework is in step with your child’s Individualized Education Plan (IEP). Don’t be afraid to refer to your child’s IEP for help when communicating with the teacher and the overall immediate goal.

Next, place your child in an environment where they can succeed. Establish a designated homework-spot and time for you and your child, or even the whole family! This way, everyone in the household is aware: it is time to focus and distractions and interruptions are very limited. This way, you and your child can focus on what’s important–their success!

Last but not least, motivate and reinforce your child’s accomplishments, no matter how big or small! And, don’t be afraid of taking breaks. If a five minute task is taking ten to fifteen minutes, thank them for focusing and give them a little, well deserved, breather. Thanking them for focusing or completing a series of problems and allowing them to walk away from the task at hand will make a massive difference in your child’s motivation and mentality about homework. If your child sees their efforts are noticed and appreciated, homework time is bound to be more enjoyable!

Homework time may not always be smooth sailing, but Cayer Behavioral Group hopes these tips lighten the load! Remember, you are never alone and everyone involved wants to see your child succeed! #autismawarenesseveryday