March 19, 2020

How to Manage Runners: Autism

Are you a special education teacher; parent; or caregiver of a child on the autism spectrum who runs?  Managing runners can be hard but it is not impossible.  Here are my 10 best tips for managing children on the autism spectrum who run:

Stay in Shape:

You don't have to be a fitness guru, but you do need to be flexible with quick reflexes and a decent amount of stamina.  I recommend a few stretches every morning and some type of core exercise like sit-ups.  You don't have to do a ton; just enough.  Maybe 10 or 20 everyday.

Wear Comfortable Clothes & Tennis:

This is no time to be cute!  You need to wear something that is comfortable that does not restrict or hinder your movement.  And you need to wear tennis in case you have to run!

Utilize Child Safety Door Knob Covers:

These can be a total life saver.  The key is don't let the child figure out how to use it.  Don't let them watch you open the door and don't let them play with it which gives them time to figure it out.  

Use Strategic Furniture Placement:

Fill any wide open spaces.  Try to deflect attention away from doors by placing other furniture near the door or on the same wall.  Arrange furniture in L shapes or corners throughout the room as stopping points.

Utilize Picture Schedules and Routines:

Life is so much easier and a whole lot calmer once the child has learned a schedule with regular routines!  I cannot emphasize this enough!  You may have to do this hand-over-hand for the first month or 2 but I guarantee it is worth it!

Use Picture Symbols or Objects During Transitions:

This is key!  The picture schedule is not enough.  The fact that they know the schedule/routine is not enough.  Don't ask me why this works it just does.  I will say like Nike, "Just Do It!" =D  What?  Your student has words?   Still use the picture symbol.  The combination of the verbal and the picture symbol helps with processing.  The child is more inclined to cooperate during transitions if he/she knows where they are going.

Hold the Child by Their Forearm:

This is somewhat optional.  It depends on how much running you care to do.  I personally like to hold a runner by the forearm during transitions as extra security so they don't run.  Though I pride myself at being able to catch even the fastest of runners quickly; it gets  Holding the forearm is much better.

Inspect the Perimeter:

Before taking your runner outdoors for recess be sure to inspect the perimeter.  Make sure that all exits and any other possible escape routes are locked.  

Watch Them Carefully!:

These little ones MUST be watched at all times!!  Sorry, no chit-chatting and no fooling with cell phones during recess for you.  You must keep your eye on the child at all times.  Even in a fenced in yard you need to watch them because FYI; most runners are also climbers!  They can scale a fence with no problem.  All that fence does is slow them down just long enough for you to catch them so WATCH THEM!

Enlist Help for Field Trips!:

Don't even think about trying to take a runner on a field trip with just you and your para.  Don't even think about it if there are other teachers.  You need a dedicated chaperone for your runner so there are no regrets.  It is always better to be safe than sorry.  And who better a chaperone for your runner than their parent or guardian?  Ask them for help.  Ask them to accompany you on the field trip and be in charge of their child.  


Use a Harness or Stroller: 

If you don't feel confident that you or the parent can keep the child secure during the field trip then by all means practice SAFETY FIRST.  If that means using a harness or stroller so be it.  Some people have feelings about the harness but I'm pretty sure that if they ever had to manage a runner they would change their perspective.  Do what you have to do to keep the child safe.  If you go on the field trip with 10 kids; you need to return with 10 kids!  (The same ones you left with =D)  

      Well those are my 10 Best Tips for Managing Runners.  I hope they were helpful.  If nothing else I hope that they let you know that you are not alone.  I have a few older blog posts about runners here and here if you're interested.  Also, I go into further detail on the tips above in this video:

      Thanks for taking the time to read my post and thanks for stopping by! 



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Just Asia

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