July 20, 2015

Back to School Tips for Special Needs Classrooms Blog Hop



Hi All,
      I have teamed up with some AWESOME educators and parents who work with and are passionate about children with special needs. Together we are doing a blog hop of BACK TO SCHOOL TIPS FOR THE SPECIAL NEEDS CLASSROOM  These tips can be used at home or at school so if you are a parent or a teacher, Welcome!



Whether your child is completely non-verbal or has a few words, these 8 Steps have worked for me time and time again with getting my students more verbal.

STEP 1: GIVE THEM A CHANCE TO PROBLEM SOLVE 
 Because of the small class size of the special education classroom, we get to know our students about as well as a parent. It doesn't take long before we are able to predict the student's desires before they express them. It is quite possible to get through an entire day without exchanging words if we cater to their every need before they can even speak. My advice, BACK OFF. Don't be so quick to solve their problems. Give them a chance to try. Yes in many cases we know that there is a price to pay, the dreaded temper tantrum. But here, you get what you pay for. And nothing of value comes easy. If you are willing to deal with the tantrums, your child can be well on their way to becoming more verbal.

STEP 2: GIVE THEM WORDS 
Talk to them. If you followed my 1st step and they are in tantrum mode this is the perfect opportunity to give them words. Tell them, "STOP IT! You do not have to cry. You want the __? Then say __." Sometimes this gets their attention, sometimes they continue to fall back on the tantrum. Why not? It's worked fine until now, right?

STEP 3: INSIST THAT THEY TRY 
Once you have introduced the word (usually something that they want), be firm. Insist. DO NOT GIVE THEM THE OBJECT UNTIL THEY TRY. Yes, you may have a big price to pay. Many kids in this situation choose to tantrum louder and harder. This is when you become worried about disturbing neighboring classes. It's hard I know. But this is an important moment. If you cave, who wins? No one. The child learns that the tantrum is the most effective way to communicate their wants and needs and you continue to subject yourself to his/her behavior. Now is the time to break the cycle.

STEP 4: PAIR WORDS WITH PICTURES
For some students, a verbal word is not enough. They need to associate the word with a picture. When teaching the word, have a picture to pair it with. SHOW THE PICTURE EVERY TIME YOU SAY THE WORD. You can also do this with the actual object. This helps the student to make the connection between the word and what it represents.  Later, when you have time, here's a post about one of my students that I did this with.

STEP 5: CHOOSE MEANINGFUL WORDS 
You have to crawl before you can walk, right?  Give your non-verbal child MEANINGFUL WORDS. Start with the basics. Every child should be able to communicate hungry, thirsty, bathroom, and their favorite toy or activity. Every child should also be able to communicate their favorite calming activity. Here is a sample of a communication board that you can use to teach some really basic words:


STEP 6:  CREATE OPPORTUNITIES TO PRACTICE
Now that You have introduced these words it's time to PRACTICE!  Put favorite things out of reach. This causes the child to have to use their words to ask for help.  When they go to look for it, grab the picture.  "You want the __?, Say ___."  Have them practice using the words as often as possible.

STEP 7:  BE CONSISTENT
OK so they thought this was just a one time, "the teacher is tripping" kind of thing.  But NO, you need to let them know that THIS IS HOW IT IS FROM NOW ON.  WHEN YOU WANT SOMETHING YOU ARE GOING TO HAVE TO USE YOUR WORDS.  Once the child realizes that there's no way around it, he or she will conform.

STEP 8:  REWARD ALL EFFORTS
This is SUPER IMPORTANT!  Speech does not come easy for this child.  It's not natural for them and it takes effort.  Please don't let their efforts go unrewarded.  THEY NEED TO KNOW THAT THEIR WORDS HAVE POWER.  

If you are in the middle of a story and they say, "computer," stop what you are doing.  Make a big deal, Hug them, praise them, "You said computer! YES you can use the computer!"  

So you're going off schedule, but are you really?  There is a bigger lesson being learned here.  "My words have power!"  It doesn't have to be long.  Just enough time for him to realize that by using his words he got what he wanted.  This will encourage them to use words more often.  

LESS TANTRUMS, MORE COMMUNICATION!  

You are well on your way to a healthier and happier classroom environment!    

Thanks for stopping by!  I hope this was helpful to you!  Here's a FREEBIE for you!


Be sure to check out the other blog posts in the hop by clicking on the links below.  

BLOGGERS:  Please be sure to link back to this post to keep the party hopping!  Thanks!   =0)


2 comments:

  1. Asia,
    You have great tips! Empowering students who find communication frustrating by giving them the tools that they need as well as opportunities to practice is key! Thanks for sharing!
    Kirstin

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks Kirstin for taking the time to read my post! I can see that you are very insightful! Have a great school year!

    ReplyDelete

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