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  • Including Children with Autism in Inclusive Preschools: Strategies that work Including Children with Autism in Inclusive Preschools: Strategies that work By: Sarah A Cates
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  • Autism: What is it? What does it look like? Autism: Children with Autism Disorder have a moderate to severe range of communication, socialization, and behavior problems. Many have mental retardation. These problems must present prior to the age of 3, but may not be diagnosed until after 3. Autistic children are usually described as the weird kids. They have a lot of repetitive movements. They have impairments in social interaction, imaginative activity, verbal and non-verbal communication, a limited number of interests, and activities tend to be repetitive. You will see them rocking a lot. Many times they will hurt themselves, or a specific person. Yet, they can be very loving, but only on their terms. Children with Autism are now in a group of disorders that have similar characteristics and are known as Pervasive Developmental Disorders (PDD)
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  • Autism: Social Skills The major component of Autism is a lack of social skills. This is evident in the lack of: Eye contact Inability to relate to peers Inability to share in others enjoyment, achievement, and interests. Lack of social or emotional reciprocity
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  • Autism: Communication The second major characteristic of children with Autism is a lack of communication skills. This is shown by: Delay or total lack of spoken language Spoken language = inability to initiate or sustain conversation Repetitive use of language often will imitate what another person has said Lack of spontaneous make-believe or social imitative play.
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  • Autism: Repetitive Patterns of Behavior The last major component of Autism is the repetitive behaviors that are exhibited. These are shown by: Preoccupation in a pattern or object that is abnormal in intensity or focus. Inflexible adherence to specific nonfunctional routines or rituals. Repetitive motor mannerisms, such as rocking, finger flapping, clapping, twirling things, etc. Persistent occupation with parts of objects
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  • Study from Article A study was completed involving 150 children from birth to age 6 and their families Children were in classrooms of 15 with 9 qualifying for special ed. services Abilities of children ranged from mild to severe to gifted. Approx. 30% of children with disabilities had Autism or another form of PDD.
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  • Instructional and Curricular Philosophy Goals of the program were: To provide classroom activities that promote dynamic interactions between children and the environment Work collaboratively with families to identify priorities, develop educational outcomes, and evaluate program outcome Translation of goals into practice: Apply systematic instruction to achieve educational goals Activities and strategies were developmentally appropriate Adhere to recommended practices for young children with disabilities
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  • Five Strategies Five strategies were considered central to providing educational services in inclusive settings Five strategies were identified by the teaching staff to help children with Autism achieve important outcomes such as acquiring skills, developing relationships, and participating as full members of the class
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  • Five Strategies: The Five strategies are: Teach communicative and Social competence Use instructional strategies that maintain the natural flow of classroom activities. Teach and provide opportunities for independence Proactively and systematically build a classroom community that includes all children Promote generalization and maintenance of skills
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  • Strategy 1: Teach communicative and Social competence Use of the Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) to teach an effective mode of communication. children communicate using pictures and symbols, and focus on initiations. Most of the students acquired the functional communication skills quickly using PECS, which allows children to communicate in understandable and acceptable ways.
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  • Strategy 1: cont Use of imitation to teach children with Autism to relate to others. Imitation is a critical tool. Children with Autism dont know how to imitate others (actions, and communication not words) Embedded training into the activities throughout the day. Not only increased imitation skills, but increased and improved social interactions Planned opportunities for students with Autism to interact directly with typically developing peers. Ex: Bubbles at opening circle, Mark requesting Dot Art
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  • Strategy 2: Use Instructional Strategies that Maintain the Natural Flow of Classroom Activities Teaching within context of developmentally appropriate activities and routines Draw peers into the instructional situation Teach using a variety of Naturalistic Teaching procedures including: Mend-Model procedures, time delay, incidental teaching, and interrupted routines and behavior chains Characteristics of Naturalistic Teaching procedures: Teaching occurs in the natural environment Individual teaching interactions are brief and spaced over hours or days Typically child initiated Uses natural consequences toys highly desired by the child
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  • Strategy 2: cont. Scaffolding is used in applying techniques different cues or prompts Necessary amount of support Only provide help required so that children do not become dependent on prompts Example: Jacob matching shapes - prompts from teacher.
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  • Strategy 3: Teach and provide opportunities for Independence Independence in classroom activities is expected for Kindergarten, but very difficult for children with Autism. 5 things that can help children with Autism have independence Give choices when possible, teach choice making when needed. Provide picture schedules and use timers to indicate duration of activities Make sure the day is filled with activities, and are conducted in the same way and in the same sequence daily. Make a special effort to give all children frequent chances to respond to teachers Maintain high expectations. Celebrate small victories and immediately increase the expectations. Dont say he cant; instead say How can we help him to ?
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  • Strategy 3: cont. Additional Strategies: Freedom to participate and interact with their peers throughout the day Adult support that facilitates independence, interaction and learning, rather than interfere. Jonathons choice - bad day, pict. Sch.
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  • Strategy 4: Proactively and Systematically build a classroom that includes all children Never question if a child is ready to participate, determine what supports or accommodations are needed for the child to be successful. Plan activities that engage children with a large range of abilities. Plan activities that the child with the most significant disabilities can do independently and are challenging for the typically developing child.
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  • Strategy 4: cont Activities must have multiple components, be open-ended, and support a variety of responses Day mixed with child-directed and teacher-directed activities. Recognize that children with Autism need more support during child-directed activities.
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  • Strategy 4: cont Group activities are important to create a classroom community. Large Group activities and Small Group activities. Large Group activities include: opening circle, songs, stories, and acting out plays Small Group activities include: games, art projects, pre-academic activities Activities need to be short at the beginning of the year and increase in length during the year.
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  • Strategy 4: cont Group activities address the strengths of children with Autism All group activities allow every child to have a turn and play a role. During some small group activities every child is in charge of handing out materials. This puts children with Autism on equal footing and teaches them to be receptive communicative partners and to interact with peers. Oliver Show and Share day - cue cards
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  • Strategy 5: Promote Generalization and Maintenance of Skills Unless skills are demonstrated in a variety of settings and maintained throughout the year these skills will be used only in the setting where they were learned. 4 strategies that promote generalization and maintenance are: Target skills that will be useful in each childs life. Use prompts judiciously (use least directive and intrusive prompt) and fade them rapidly Use naturally distributed trials not all instruction is formally scheduled Use common material for instruction Example: Joey - pretend play - developed script
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  • Conclusion Children with Autism have always been among the most difficult to include effectively in educational, recreational and community settings Two lessons were learned by successfully embedding instructional strategies into preschool routines and supporting children with autism in this environment: First, learned to view children holistically: young students with autism constantly show their strengths and skills Second, learned to view the outcomes of inclusion and effective instruction broadly
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  • Conclusion Children with Autism can be successfully included in regular classes if the right supports and stra