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Autism Music Bootcamp

A colleague is about to start a new job. She's nervous, excited, and scrambling to research autism. You see, She'll be teaching four days a week at a public, special-needs-integrated preschool, and will teach the class of autistic students DAILY.

Oh my gorshk!

By this time next month, she'll be up to her eyeballs in social stories, accommodations, triggers, etc. Her old school had very mild special needs students, but nothing that required consistent intervention. She needs to bone-up on her autism awareness.

This article is for her, but, since the diagnosis of autism is becoming ever more common, I bet lots of you will appreciate boning up on your autism knowledge. Here is a great resource I've found.

22 Tips for Teaching Children with Autism

Read this article. It's great. Print it out and keep it with you. Skim it before seeing your students on the spectrum. Did you read the above paragraph? I used the term, "bone-up" twice. It's an idiom, and an autistic student would take it seriously. Use that in a class and the kids will be looking for jutting bones. "Where are the bones that will be going up?" they'll think. "Will they come out of her head? Do I need to take my own bones out?"

Read that article.

Having read the article, here are my bullet-points for myself and for an email that I would send a future boss if I were the teacher with a new integrated class.

Notes to self

  • Teach the same lesson for the first 3 days, change 1-2 songs on the fourth and give fair warning that there will be a change. 
  • Modify the autism class's lesson to include fewer songs and games because they will need lots of repetition to learn the rules of each game.
  • When introducing a new game, have some of the rules of the new game be overlapped with known game rules. 
  • After giving instruction to the class, check understanding with each individual. Autistic children may not assume that you address them when you address the class. 
  • Teach what, "finished" means. Chances are that each child will not get a turn at every game. This is very tough for autistic kids.
  • It's good that I use song cards to inform students what we will be doing at the beginning of every class.
  • It's good that I sing, "Hello, pre-school" and they answer in song, "Hello, Mrs. Gonsalves." It's a sweet, predictable routine.

Email to head of the school (new boss) and the classroom teachers

  • Are there objects or topics that individuals fixate on? (Dinosaurs, trucks, cars, colors, etc.) 
  • How do the children self-soothe? Are those soothing abilities available to them during my class?
  • For children with sensory issues, is there a way for them to muffle sound or have modified touch when we're singing or holding hands in a circle game? 
  • Is there an established place in the room where the children can observe class and be safe from having to participate straight away?


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