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  1. Understanding Challenging Behaviours in Autism Patricia Assouad, Consultant for Autism Christina Kyriakidou, Consultant for Autism Helene Packman, Speech-Language Pathologist Lester B. Pearson School Board February 20, 2009

  2. We are all a piece of the puzzle! External supports Teachers Internal Supports Family Peers Child with Autism

  3. What is a challenging behaviour? • Causes injury or harm to self, others, and/ or property • It inhibits the individual from participating in daily routines (independently/ appropriately) • It interferes with learning

  4. What is Autism? A neurological disorder that is characterized by: • Qualitative impairments of language and communication • Qualitative deficits in social interaction • Restrictive, repetitive and stereotyped behaviours and interests The number and intensity of symptoms displayed determines severity

  5. Learning Characteristics Associated with Autism Spectrum Disorders • Concrete/hands on • Difficulty with comprehension (very literal) • Highly distractible/intensely focused • Rule bound • Difficulties with unstructured time • Organizational difficulties • Need for predictability and routine • Need for activities that motivate • Need for repetition

  6. Functions of behaviour • Communication • Attention-seeking • Avoidance • Desire to obtain a tangible • Self-regulation

  7. Fundamentals of Behaviour • Behaviour patterns exist because they are being reinforced, therefore we need to stop the behaviour from being effective. • Behaviours express real needs and wants; it is the means of expressions that are inappropriate, therefore we need to provide other means of satisfying those needs and wants.

  8. How Do We Handle These Behaviours In An Inclusive Classroom? Positive Behavioural Supports

  9. “When the challenging behaviors continue despite consistently enforcing rules, it doesn’t matter anymore whether the behavior was intentional. We need to understand how to alter the triggers to those behaviors and/or teach better ways to cope with those triggers.” Dr. Jed Baker

  10. Let’s Take into Account: • Student’s sensory needs (sight, sound, smell, touch, taste) • Student’s medical needs (medication, co-morbid diagnoses) • Student’s natural temperament/personality • Student’s previous experiences

  11. Best Practices • Address anxiety • Address sensory needs • Assist with organization • Structure the learning/physical environment • Use visuals • Motivate! • Be an effective communicative partner

  12. Coping with Anxiety • Teach students to ask for ‘breaks’ • Teach relaxation techniques • Priming • Use visuals to increase predictability

  13. Coping with Anxiety • Being aware of your own anxiety level • Understanding anxiety and its effects • Adapting your behaviour accordingly

  14. Incredible 5-Point Scale A tool to help students better understand their emotions and reactions in different situations • Makes behaviours more concrete by breaking them down into sequential, understandable parts • Individualized to the students’ specific issues or needs as he or she is an active participant in creating the scale • Suggests alternative, positive behaviours at each level of the scale

  15. 5-Point Scale http://www.autismnetwork.org/modules/behavior/stress/fig1.jpg

  16. Address Sensory Needs • Reduce auditory and visual distractions • Make sure the student is attending • Don’t insist on eye contact • Be aware of sensory over-reaction and under-reaction • Take sensitivities seriously • Allow the student to take sensory breaks 

  17. Structure the Learning Environment For every task, the following items must be clear to the student: • What is expected • Where to begin the task • When the work ends • What to do when the work is finished • What the reinforcement will be • That he/she is competent at doing the task

  18. Structure the Physical environment • Examples of built-in physical elements of a student’s surroundings: • physical space (too big or too small) • location of materials • location of temptations • seating arrangements • size of the chair • visual distractions • who is there

  19. Use Extrinsic Motivation • Student feels that he/she is working towards a reward • Task will become more meaningful to accomplish • Tells the student when the work will finish • Positively reinforce positive behaviour • Can use “I am working for” or “First/Then” card

  20. Use Visual Supports Visual supports can help: • Decrease anxiety as students will know what comes next • Promote independence • Give clear expectations • Support the students’ difficulty with sequential memory and organization of time

  21. Examples of Visuals • Written directions • Boundaries to help organize space on paper • Checklists for completing multi-step tasks (math problem-solving, book report) • Cues for asking for help • Reminders for classroom behaviour

  22. Provide Opportunities for Choice • Allowing for choice-making increases sense of control and may avoid behaviour problems • Show available choices visually • Build in many opportunities for choice-making throughout the day • You may have to teach the skill of choice-making

  23. Being an Effective Communicative Partner • Reduce the amount of language you use • Speak slower with natural pauses • Reduce the number of questions that you ask • WAIT for the student to respond • Reduce the amount of verbal prompts • Don’t overestimate students’ comprehension level

  24. Case Study #1

  25. Case Study #2

  26. References • Baker, J. (2008). No More Meltdowns.Arlington: Future Horizons, Inc. • Dunn Buron, K. and Curtis, M. (2003) The Incredible 5-Point Scale – Assisting Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders in Understanding Social Interactions and Controlling Their Emotional Responses.Shawnee Mission, KS: Autism Asperger Publishing Co. • Hodgdon, L. (1999). Visual Strategies For Improving Communication: Practical Supports for School and Home. Troy, MI: QuirkRoberts Publishing • Hodgdon, L. (1999). Solving Behavior Problems in Autism: Improving Communication with Visual Supports.Troy, MI: QuirkRoberts Publishing • Notbohm, E. (2006). Ten Things Your Student with Autism Wishes You Knew. Arlington: Future Horizons, Inc. • Pratt, C. (2005, May 19) Supporting Students in Typical School Settings. Presented at PREM-TGC 5th ID- PDD conference, Montreal, QC • Twacthman-Cullen ( 2000). How to be a Para Pro: A Comprehensive Training Manual for Paraprofessionals.Higganum, CT: Starfish Specialty Press, Websites: • www.lbpsb.qc.ca/eng/asdn/index.asp • www.thegraycenter.org • www.setbc.org • www.UseVisualStrategies.com • www.5pointscale.com

  27. Thank You !!!